My husband turned 40 this year. Initially his plan was to host a huge party for friends and family, but as the date got closer and it became apparent to us that our life was about to get a lot more complicated, he opted for a smaller dinner party in our backyard. The idea was for him to invite the 40 people (and their spouses) that have meant the most to him over his 40 years. He spent the month up to the date hand writing letters to these people, letting them know how much they meant to him and the influence they had on his life. Guests ranged from parents and friend's parents, to high school teachers, to fairly new colleagues and friends.
When I think of my husband, I see a man impervious to the passing of time. He's the sort of guy that appreciates old things, accessorizes with a pocket square, and has a collection of eye glasses. He likes music on vinyl, heating things up on a stove instead of the microwave, and buying old instead of new. He's classic. So that was my goal for this party. I knew I wanted to create something memorable for the invitation and Illustrated Weddings blew it out of the park. They are a local company, who also owns Lola Lorena, so I was able to order all of my signage and paper products through them. I invested in the illustration, and then we were able to use it throughout the party.. and a framed print made a very special gift as well. I think there is a fear out there that going custom means blowing your budget, or shopping local is going to cost you way more. That's just not true. Yes the illustration was a small investment, but it wasn't crazy and it provided that personalized touch that brings it all together. And the paper products... they were actually LESS expensive than going with a larger online company. It also helps to work with someone who can use their firsthand knowledge on things like paper upgrades and envelope liners.
The evening of the party was beautiful, not too hot or cold, and not a cloud in sight. I did have an alternative location picked out just in case though. As guests arrived they were directed down the driveway to the backyard. Big Mike and Reagan James both played throughout the night. If you haven't heard Big Mike around town, he can do anything. And Reagan James, I still can't get over the fact that she agreed to come! Her voice in absolutely incredible and it's crazy to think that she's only 18 years old. Guests were greeted with photos of my husband through the years, and a cheeky sign suggesting they might want to use bug spray. We have our yard sprayed biweekly but some people, like myself, are major mosquito magnets and it can really ruin an evening. HD Liquid Catering provided the bar as well as our amazing bartender, Betty Cocktail. I love HD because although they will build the drink menu you ask for, they create custom drinks as well. There's no need to come up with all of the ideas yourself... I explained my vision and what the vibe for the evening was and they did the rest! Betty crafted several signature drinks and and made her syrups and mixers from scratch. I don't think I need to stress how important it is to use a TABC certified bartender, even at a house party. Safety first y'all! Pretty Little Plates set up the bar back and glassware display, featured some of our newest glasses for the cocktail hour. I've slowly been building a set of glassware that is more appealing for the bourbon drinker and classic cocktail crowd. Heavier, easy to grip, short or no stem, strong colors like browns, ambers, shades of greens and thick cut clear glass. This collection definitely has the groom in mind, and those that like a nice cigar after dinner.
I knew I wanted to keep the dinner tables simple and masculine. Moss Floral was able to guide me on making the most out of my floral budget and nailed my vision. A simple greenery runner and tons of brass candlesticks softened the tables and provided huge bang for my buck. Bonus.. the greenery stayed fresh for dayyyyys, I reused it all over my house. :) For tabletop rentals I chose to focus on creams, golds, browns, and greens. Of course I used our rentals, pulling our ironstone plates as well as patterns that had a heavy amount of gold. We kept the glassware simply on the tables, a unifying wine glass and clear and green for the water glasses. This party was under 100 people and because my husband is a big foodie we didn't want to cut corners on the wine pairings. I was able to set up a tasting at Total Wine and make sure the wines we chose would go well. I was surprised at how affordable the wine was, it's an area I actually came in under budget! The food was served family style using our serving dish rentals and that reinforced the ambiance that D wanted... close family and friends just enjoying a nice meal together. Feastivities provided the sides and passed hors d'oeuvres, and a friend smoked tenderloin for everyone. I felt bad telling people they couldn't hire him for their own party, it was beyond delicious. If you are trying to keep your food costs reasonable, but also keep your work load realistic, having a caterer provide the sides only is a great way to do this. During dinner my husband said a few words and handed out his letters. Does anyone like a long drawn out speech when you just want to eat your food? We don't either.
Our large rentals came from Taylors. I love to use them for house parties because their delivery and set up fee is so reasonable. It really takes the pressure off when all of the heavy items are set up for you. My husband built his bourbon bar himself out of our old coal furnace that we pulled form our basement during our home renovation. We set out cigars and bottles of his favorite bourbons (don't forget the large ice cubes and maraschinos!) He also built the dessert bar I requested. #superspouse I should have asked him to make it even larger because I couldn't fit all of the fabulous treats that Hurley House provided. I'm not exaggerating when I say there wasn't a slice of cake or bite of cookie left by the end of the night. Their bourbon soaked carrot cake was ordered with the birthday guy in mind, but everything was amazing. We provided take away boxes and bags for guests who wanted to take seconds home (also a great diet tip if you're hosting a party! I'm definitely doing this again.)
After dinner Big Mike and Reagan picked the music up a bit and guests wandered over to the bourbon bar and the Photo Booth set up. A few months ago I bought an app called SimpleBooth. They do have a professional version but the personal version was all I really needed. It was about $40, which seems pricey for an app but it was so worth it! I fashioned an open air booth out of a tripod lamp stand and a ring light, and attached my iPad to the center. It was fun for guests and really fun for us to look at later on when everyone left. People can get crazy when they don't realize anyone else will see their photos, ha! We spent the rest of the party out on the lawn under the cafe lights, enjoying the music and company.
Last but certainly not least, when you work hard on something, and all of the people you hired work hard too, you want to remember that time. We are so thankful to Winter Loves Kate for photographing this party for us. She came early and snapped the detail shots that I really want, and she stayed throughout the party to capture the birthday guy and his guests. She weeded out the photos and really delivered to us a story of the evening and we are so grateful to have the beautiful memories.
Overall it was truly an awesome evening and it couldn't have gone better. My husband loved it and I was happy to play party planner for him.