Pinch me moments don’t happen too often in life, but when they do it’s generally best to stop and take close notice. Slow down…take the moment in…breathing deeply, consciously appreciating the subtleties of the minutes passing. This dinner party in Nashville was most certainly a “is this really happening” moment in my life, as the beauty of the people involved and the southern hospitality vibe for this sweet dinner/launch party couldn’t have been any more ideal or goose-bump evoking.
A few months back I had the pleasure of traveling to Nashville, Tennessee to design and style a dinner for the latest print issue of Anthology Magazine. From the moment Anna and I arrived at Emily & Sloane’s beautiful home and atelier in East Nashville, I realized what a spectacular couple of days were ahead of us. Emily is an amazing artist (she’s been painting since she was a toddler!) and her 1950′s studio took my breath away.
I couldn’t imagine a more inspiring space to create a dinner party reflective of the artist herself – from her inspiration boards scattered amongst completed works, to her jars of colorful brushes & the dappled light from the skylights overhead. Sloane was kind enough to make the tables for our dinner (I paired them with rustic benches rented about an hour south of Nashville) and upon arriving, Emily with her sweet baby bump in tow, was gracefully displaying some of her latest work on the outer rim of the space where we set up the tables. To have the opportunity to support such a beautiful couple in celebrating the re-launch of Emily’s work was quite the honor.
With every table design must of course come the food. Oooooohhhhh the food!! Words cannot even describe the complexities of taste and delight that came with the feast Lisa created for us. Lisa is a spectacularly talented pastry chef (check out her blog Buttermilk Road for her inspiring Sunday Suppers!), so we were certainly blessed to have her spend much of her day in the kitchen kneading & rolling fresh yeast rolls, primping a summer salad, and perfecting her coq au vin. Yum!
Any time I sit down to initially visualize a tabletop design for an event or party, I reflect on what makes this particular celebration so special and unique. I shared lots of details of my inspiration for this dinner on Anna’s blog in this post last week, but the short of it was that I really wanted the dinner to envelop and reflect art through a plethora of mediums. From colorful paint splattered brushes for name cards, pottery centerpieces filled with wild vines and Emily’s studio brushes, to a colored pencil embossed menu on illustration paper, I was hopeful that each detail reflected the purpose of the evening. I intentionally left the paint spotted sheets covering the floor of studio in their place during the dinner to also reflect the authenticity of the space and beauty of Emily’s art palette.
One of my favorite details of the night were the flowers. When I arrived in Nashville I had no idea what to expect as far as availability, color and stem options, but when Emily suggested we venture about 20 minutes away to her Mom’s garden I could barely contain my excitement – it doesn’t get much fresher than that! I hand cut stems of Lenten roses and vines from her mother’s beautiful yard the morning of the party, and allowed them to organically flow from the pottery pieces I spread across the table. I loved how the vibrant green of the leaves and stems added that “living” touch to the table. It made the event all the more special to have her mama’s garden breath life into the decor, and meeting Emily’s mom was the cherry on top of the day.
Although every last bit of the juice soaked rolls made us groan with delight, Lisa’s dessert : a gorgeous coconut cake (I pretended it was my birthday cake, as I turned 30 on the day of the dinner) made my night. Everything paired beautifully with Robin’s selection of wine’s and I laughed endlessly amongst the conversation around the table. It was so much fun getting to know some of Emily, Lisa and Sloane’s most cherished Nashville friends and each person’s personality complemented the evening so so well.
Intimate dinner parties happen to be my favorite kind of celebrations to design for. There are so many opportunities for unique touches (they usually allow you to be more budget friendly too!) and you’re often inspired to pull serving elements & props straight from your surroundings. Emily had the most amazing brass flatware on hand (just enough for our group!) and tiny french glass yogurt jars held votive candles that provided just enough light as the sun settled.
Anna, Emily, Lisa, Amy and Sloane thank you so much for taking me into your hearts and for making my first visit to Nashville so special. It was an honor to meet and work with each one of you, and I will treasure our time together and that scrumptious dinner for many years to come.
Be sure to snag the current issue of Anthology Magazine for more images and the fantastic recipes from the night!
photography credit : amy dickerson