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 little afternoon tea for a little miss to be!

My little girl is almost 8 months old (photos of the mini stylist soon, I promise!), however before she came into this world, I celebrated her impending arrival with my closest family.  I put on a small afternoon tea at our place (my husband kindly made himself scarce)  to allow the guests to see the nursery (and it meant that at 7 months pregnant I did not have to travel!)

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I kept things simple with a non-alcoholic punch, champagne & sparkling mineral water for drinks and my family help provide sweet and savoury nibbles.  We used simple white fine bone china with a silver detail and served food on white platters and serving stands.  I kept the decorations sophisticated (white pom pom decorations from Papier D’Amour) with just a little hint of “baby” – cute mini singlets on baby white coathangers formed part of the main display…and a little singlet greeted guests at the door.

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I asked guests to leave a tip or trick for my husband and I…or just their best wishes.  It was just lovely reading through them together later in the evening after everyone had gone home.

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Needless to say little Miss-to-be was completely spoilt!

xx catherine and grace

The details:

* Coathangers – children’s 11″-14″ white wooden hangers, from MyCoathangers

* White singlets – similar styles available from Bonds

* Tea service – Vera Wang Grosgrain fine bone china, available from Peters of Kensington

* Paper pom-pom and lantern decorations – Papier D’Amour

* Acrylic frames for signage – Wedding Bling

* Stationary & signage – created by catherine and grace

* Ribbon – Papier D’Amour

* Glass canister – similar styles available from Domayne

Style tips…if you can’t beat them, join them

Just a quick one today….
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Always be prepared to change your ideas when you see the venue. Some venues are neutral and allow you to freely choose your colours or other theme. However, if you find yourself with a venue that already has an innate theme or is permanently decorated in certain colours, it is usually best to go with it, rather than fight against it.
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You do not have to slavishly follow the colours already used, instead you can complement them, use them as a base colour or, if you are feeling brave, clash them with an opposing colour.
The main thing is to keep your mind open!
xx catherine and grace
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