Back in March, I decided I wanted to put together a styled dinner party shoot to show readers of All About Women magazine how simple it could be to plan one of their own. Never having met, I found Paige, of The Laurel Collective, on Instagram and contacted her for her guidance. This girl, y'all. She took the reins and the broken/scattered/incomplete idea of what I wanted BLOSSOM. I also gained an incredible new, talented and thoughtful friend while I was at it :).
After several emails, texts and coffee dates Paige and I's idea finally came to life. Little did I know it wasn't going to be "styled" at all. It turned into a full on party! We had SUCH an amazing time with all of the ladies that were involved in this project. Every photo is full of such laughter and enjoyment. Thanks to everyone involved! You can see this photo and more in the May/June issue of All About Women magazine.
For this blog post I've invited Paige to do all the talking. She says it all perfectly. Hope you enjoy!
How can you be a stressless hostess?
"Even the best planners who imagine all the different scenarios could still manage to find themselves in a degree of stress every now and then - we're all human right? I think evaluating why you are hosting can help alleviate any anxieties - a baby shower for a first time mama, surprise birthday for someone not nearly celebrated enough or a family leaving the area to explore what's next - you're just loving on people no matter the reason and I think that's why you said yes to hosting in the first place ;)"
"Be intentional - have something specific to your guests, whether it be a nameplate, favorite wine or playlist. When people arrive, they know you thought about them specifically beforehand."
Sometimes people are timid to host. What would be your advice to them?
"One of my all time favorite books is Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist in which she says, 'People aren't longing to be impressed; they're longing to feel like they're home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they'll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.' That's always been and will be my number one goal when planning or designing events - to make each guest feel seen and welcome no matter how small or extravagant the gathering is."
How to come up with a plan/theme and stick with it?
"Find a few images on social media or magazines that inspire you and let it morph from there. A friend of mine had made a floating bar a few years ago that I had been wanting to try out that matched the feel of an image that had caught my eye originally of an intimate but casual, table in the woods with vibrant yet earthy tones. I chose three colors and a few key terms to describe what I wanted the dinner to look and feel like and brought those elements throughout - the nameplates, food display and linens. Also, twinkle lights make everything perfect just as a PSA for your life."
"Focus on one element and let that inspire the rest - whether it be the food, florals, venue or color scheme. We knew we wanted our food to be displayed on charcuterie boards and we designed the rest of the style off of that."
How did you prepare for the dinner party? How did youR ideas come together?
"After we created a feel we were hoping to achieve, I started with what I already had on hand. After bringing in friends to help, I added in a few pieces that helped make the dinner a little more special. I love bargain hunting and thrifting but if that's not your thing, there are places you can rent pieces from in town to mix in with what you already have!"
"There's something beautifully vulnerable about allowing people into your home that you don't know very well. Mix it up with some new faces - everyone craves community!"
How did you feel seeing everything come together and the guests enjoying one another?
"I hope that after many more years of doing this hobby-turned-business, that I still have the same geek-out excitement as I did after this dinner. This group of women didn't know each other but they all have a desire for living in and creating community. My passion is bringing people together and giving them a safe space to connect so watching the mood change through the evening from anxiousness to gut laughter and asking when our next party was going to be made my heart burst! I woke up a few times that night just to look at pictures - no judgement, ya'll!"
Many thanks to all of the WONDERFUL vendors who contributed to this shoot:
Venue & Catering: Proper Restaurant
Photography: Megan Sheppard Photography
Planner & Stylist: The Laurel Collective
Dinnerware: Miss Match Rentals
Floral: Fuschia Moss Floral Design
Desserts: Ugga Mugga Bakery
Table & Chairs: Mountain Craft Rentals
Calligraphy: Alpine Paper Co.
Clothing: Lililu on King
Cheers to you, your loved ones and to successful summer dinner parties full of laughter, love and most importantly - good food :)