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

A double “A” engagement party

Bondi Social was the venue for the engagement party for my very good friends, a gorgeous couple from Bondi.  As busy professionals they had no time to organize styling, wine tasting or menu choosing so asked me to step in only a week and a bit out from the party!  Ever up for the challenge…here is how we did it.
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I was originally inspired by a stunning Scanlan & Theodore navy dress that the groom-to-be had given his (now) fiancee years earlier.  I thought a navy and silver theme would complement this elegant couple.  However, when I arrived at Bondi Social to scope the venue and chat to the event manager, I realized that navy and silver was not going to work at this venue. The venue has a warm, red, orange and chocolate-brown theme, which would be lovely and warm on what was forecast to be a cold July evening.
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We decided to maintain the colour scheme and use As as the defining theme, given both the bride and groom-to-be have names starting with A!  At the entry a truly stunning and original floral arrangement greeted guests and indicated a table to place gifts. As the guests moved through the entry hall a collection of As, lit by candles, guided the party goers into the main section of the party which was decorated with multiple red, orange and brown hanging paper decorations from Papier D’Amour.  We sourced a large number of LED battery operated tea lights and frosted votives.  All lit up they looked truly spectacular and, not only did they last the whole night without running out, they were safe and meant there was no risk of the girls’ dresses catching alight!
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For a personal touch we created coasters with As stamped on one side in the colour theme and trivia about the guests of honour on the back!  We also created a photo collage shaped in the form of the letter A.  Guests loved finding themselves in amongst the photos of the guests of honour and challenging each other with the trivia.
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I put together a custom playlist for the mingling and a separate one for when it was time to start dancing…and once the dancing started up it did not finish until the early hours of the morning!  The party was a great success, thanks mainly to the couple’s friends and family all being there to celebrate such an exciting moment in their lives.  Just goes to show that a few personal touches can make an ordinary party something to remember…even on just one weeks notice!
xx catherine and grace
The details:
* Paper decorations – Papier D’Amour
* Tea lights – Wedding Bling
* Letter “A”s and “a”s – purchased from Papier D’Amour and Typo
* Photo collage “A” – created by catherine and grace
* Trivia coasters – created by catherine and grace
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