Simple summer sundays: a family engagement celebration

A simple engagement dinner for my brother and his beautiful fiancée, using a palette of gold & white and lots of fresh flowers – a look that can easily translate to your Christmas table

{the inspiration}

I have been styling the house in a palette of gold and white in preparation for the festive season – see Feathers & fairy tales – a catherine & grace Christmas – so I wanted to carry that colour scheme through to the styling of the engagement dinner for my younger brother and his beautiful fiancée.  Not only does gold scream C E L E B R A T E  – it also meant I could use some of the items I had sourced or made for my holiday styling.

{the styling}

A piece of beautifully soft, white linen was strewn down our wooden table, twisted slightly and used as a very organic looking table runner.  Mini bottles were filled with white flowers & green foliage and placed along the table.  Guests were guided to their seats by place cards attached to kiwi fruit – a nod to the fact that my new sister-in-law to be is a New Zealander.  White linen napkins, white plates and crystal wine glasses on white & gold coasters completed the table setting.Hessian {burlap} cut into luggage tag shapes and dipped in gold glitter, together with crisp white paper tags were used as place cards, attached to kiwifruit with a toothpick.  Tip: use under ripe kiwifruit so you don’t get kiwi juice all over your table setting!Gold washi tape was used to decorate simple cream coasters.Armfuls of hydrangea, peonies and roses were sourced the morning before and casually placed in buckets along the console behind the lounge, together with a small posy at the front door.2013-12-01 - Will & Lou engagement diner BLOG - copyright Catherine Wilson for catherine & grace15Simple Summer Sundays BLOG image 1Simple Summer Sundays BLOG image 2Simple Summer Sundays BLOG image 3

{the food}

Keep things really simple for a Sunday evening, or for Christmas lunch.  Serving all cold dishes not only keeps you out of a hot kitchen on a hot Summer’s evening, it also removes the need to time the cooking of the meal… which means more celebrating for the host!  A quick trip to the fish markets in the morning and we came home with smoked ocean trout, prawns and Sydney rock oysters, plus ingredients for salads and some amazing cheeses and sourdough.  Place all the food on share platters, either in the middle of the table or on a side bench as we did.  Ensure there is plenty of ice-cold champagne, relax and enjoy!will & lou engagement dinner image 5

{the guests of honour}2013-12-01 - Will & Lou engagement diner BLOG - copyright Catherine Wilson for catherine & grace24{the details}

– Styling & photography by catherine & grace

– Kiwifruit & hessian place cards – a catherine & grace DIY

– Plates – Grosgrain dinner plate, by Vera Wang for Wedgwood available from Peters of Kensington

– Napkins – square white linen, by Linen & Moore, tied with Vandores white paper cord from Papier D’Amour & Gutermann gold embroidery thread from Spotlight {available at most good sewing stores}.

– White & glass mini bottles – catherine & grace

– Coasters – cream coasters decorated with gold washi tape from Crafty Creations 2013 on Etsy

– Florals – sourced from EQ Village Markets, styled by catherine & grace

– Vases & buckets – stylists own.

xx Catherine JPEG

Saved by the sun… an engagement party in the park

A picnic style engagement party for my cousin and her love,
with last-minute styling by catherine & grace

Sar and Dan’s engagement party was scheduled for 1pm in Centennial Park.  At midday it started to pour.  Having been asked to help out a bit with the styling a few days earlier I decided it was up to me to calm the nervous couple.  I insisted no decision should be made about whether to move the party until 12.30pm.  At 12.30pm it was still raining but seemed to be clearing… Sar decided to keep the party at the park.  We unpacked the car while being rained on.  The first couple of guests arrived; it continued to rain.  And then, around about the time for 10th guest arrived, suddenly the sun came out.  It stayed shining for the remainder of the afternoon.  A glorious day of good food, great conversation, a quick fire rapid bowling game of backyard cricket with the obligatory one hand one bounce rule and lots & lots of really quite delicious wine!

{the styling}

An early morning trip to EQ Markets resulted in gorgeous roses, peonies and hydrangea that we styled in large buckets, some covered in hessian and other with a sweet reminder of the guests of honour in chalk marker.  Single bright pink peonies were styled in mini glass bottles to brighten the picnic tables, spread with crisp white tablecloths.

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Sar + Dan collage 3 Sar + Dan collage 4

Sar + Dan collage 1

Signs on drinks buckets informed guests of the carefully chosen wines, beers and cider.

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We stamped bamboo cutlery with a custom stamp from Sweet Style.

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{the amazing food}

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{the day}

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{the very happy couple}

Sar + Dan collage 2

{the details}

* Styling, florals & photography by catherine & grace

* Sar + Dan stamp {on bamboo cutlery} from Sweet Style

* Bamboo cutlery & plates sourced wholesale by catherine & grace

* Catering done completely by the engaged couple and a few friends and family {bread rolls kindly gifted by the Harris Family from Harris Farm Markets, friends of the bride to be}.

xx Catherine JPEG

A relaxed, elegant summer engagement dinner…in the rain

My sister and her long time (and definitely part of the family) boyfriend announced their engagement this past summer while holidaying in Barbados! To celebrate they hosted an intimate dinner party for their bridal party and immediate family and they asked me to style the event.


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We originally planned to have one long table out on my parents’ front lawn on Sydney’s leafy North Shore, with fairy lights twinkling over the entire table. However, the weather was not kind and on the morning of the event we made a
decision to move the party indoors. Once the decision was made the stress levels dramatically decreased.

Tip: make wet weather plans in advance and decide early whether you are going to risk it or abort for the wet weather option.

I redesigned the table layout to have two shorter tables side by side, which luckily fit well into the lounge room (once all furniture had been removed by my team of helpers (dad, brother, husband and soon to be brother in law!)


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I wanted to celebrate my sister and her fiancé as a couple. They have been together for 8 years, travelled the world and seen each other through university, jobs, career changes, work & uni stints overseas, deaths in the family and so very much more. My starting point was a long “gallery” of photographs of the two of them, displayed in clear acrylic frames of various sizes. I love acrylic frames as they look sleek and neat and, because they are clear, they don’t take up any visual “space”.

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I hired tables with crisp white linen and white Italian wedding chairs. This was a small expense and really made the whole styling. It is often tempting to use the tables and chairs you have at home. When catering for a large group this often means a mish mash of chairs from different rooms and borrowed from family or friends.

Tip: If you have the budget I strongly recommend splashing out on hired linen, tables and chairs. The cohesive look of hired tables and chairs means that from the moment the guests enter a feeling of celebration and special occasion is achieved.

It is often possible to save money on the styling and decorations once you have the right table and chair base.

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Along the centre of the tables I placed square mirror tiles to reflect the light around the room and add to the celebratory feel. White flowers in trough vases echoed the length of the tables as did the display of photographs in rectangular and square frames. Small LED tea lights in frosted votives gave subtle flickering light without the risk of guests tipping over an open flame. They also helped to steady the acrylic frames.


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On side tables where guests could leave gifts, I placed wooden initials, a heart and a XO, together with some more tea lights and photos.


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Everyone, especially the newly engaged couple, had a fantastic time, which really is the only measure of a successful evening!

xx catherine and grace

The details:

* Florals – Floreat Floral (my fav fav fav florist!)

* Table, chair & linen hire – Party Hire Group

* Mirror tile hire – Floreat Floral

* Acrylic frames – purchased at Papier D’Amour warehouse sale, similar styles available from the Digidirect store at Westfield Bondi Junction

* LED tea lights – Wedding Bling

* Frosted tea light votives – available from Pink Frosting

* Wooden letters & heart – Typo

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