This is a very detailed behind-the-scenes, so I recommend that you go make yourself some tea, grab a slice of pie, and make yourself comfortable. As you saw on my Instagram, last weekend we hosted my parents-in-laws' 50th Anniversary dinner and I've been so excited to share all of the details and photos with you!
All good tales have a back story, and this is no exception, as Philip and I had been discussing this anniversary for literally a year. What can I say? He REALLY wanted to do something special for them! We explored hosting an event in San Miguel de Allende, and pondered the idea of surprising them by showing up on their vacation in Europe during the summer. We considered an event at one of the gorgeous wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe in Ensenada, and even looked at some venues in both San Diego and LA. But, after much thought, we came to the same conclusion: nothing would feel more special and personal than doing it here in this magical house. I said, "Listen: just let me handle the creative and you can handle logistics." Also, I said, "Tell me your budget, sir, and I’ll surpass it by like double and ignore you if you complain." Ha!
But seriously, Philip and I are used to working together on everything from child-rearing to book tours, so a party for a couple of incredibly loved grandparents was bound to be a breeze... and it was! Isabella, our in-house photographer and food stylist, owns a table-setting business with her mother Ericka called Hija de tu Madre Décor @hijadetumadredecor. I asked if they’d be willing to take on the whole event to coincide with my detailed specifics and, when they agreed, we just went full speed! You see, for me it’s about the details. We’re party-planners and gathering-holders in my familia and if there’s one thing I understand well, it's how to make someone feel welcome, special, and at-home when they come over. Granted, this was a larger party and we were headed outdoors, but if the sentiment is the same, the result should be as well, right?
So off we went! I wanted to enjoy the party, so I called one of my biggest inspirations in the kitchen to cater, Ms. Cristina Artigas @cristina_artigas_catering, creating traditional Mexican food and appetizers served elegantly on a beautiful buffet. You can see the menu in the photos, but people LOVED the caramelized ancho chiles stuffed with black beans, the shrimp escabeche, the mole, the huitlacoche enchiladas… everything was just superb, perfectly presented, and at the appropriate temperature. And, when planning a party, there are actually a couple of things I consider just as important as the food. For example, ambiance is everything to me. The proper lighting and music, whether it’s a party of 4 or an event for 60, can make or break your event. Another important element? Proper spacing. I usually have seating for 80% of the RSVPs with extra chairs hiding somewhere. Nothing bugs me more than seeing empty chairs at an event... I love the feel of a full, warm room! Too-large of a space makes it feel like people didn’t show up! Anyway, in hitting that essential element of having the right music, Philip and I actually sat down and discussed what the variety and timings would look like. We opted for a live band, Genero Humano @generohumano, to get everybody warmed up but not too crazy and loud during dinner; a mariachi band @mariachiestrellasdechulavista to sing happy birthday to my father in law and wake everybody up after dinner; and then, finally, a DJ, Oscar Valenzuela (@val3nz), to get EVERYBODY on the dance floor! And just how we planned it, so it happened!
I once heard that God is in the details and it stuck, so we had Alicias Delicias @aliciasdelicias hand paint cookies with a portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Button's wedding photo on each. That cookie, along with homemade chile oil and a small, potted succulent placed in a gorgeous wooden box, became the party favor. We placed a box at every other place setting, with printed menus set on the plates that didn’t have them. Mrs. Button is a very elegant and beautiful woman with impeccable taste so - let’s all be real here - we were all a little nervous. And, truth be told, she would have loved it no matter what... but it was reiterated that simple and classic would be key. No gold anything. Simple neutral tones and eucalyptus leaves. White candlesticks. A subtle pop of blue with the water goblets… and that was it.
Now, I always like to think of events as an experience where the 5 senses need to be stimulated and entertained. Because we were outdoors and we couldn’t smell the food, candles from Capri Blue @capribluecandles scented the gorgeous November air. And even though Ms. Artigas made flan, we also fashioned a candy bar filled with Mexican treats and traditional candy from Cacao Events @cacaoevents. A spectacular salted caramel, 3-tiered celebration cake by Danielle Flores @daniflowers wowed everybody as well.
I also color-coordinated my little family’s outfits because I knew it would be a GREAT opportunity for a Christmas card photo. But, like, who am I kidding? I would have color-coordinated us anyway.
Honestly, it was perfect... any event created with so much love would be! I got myself a little tipsy and even said a few words (you’d think I'd love doing that sort of thing, but it’s actually quite the opposite!) - I just had to say thanks because my guy is who he is because of how he was raised, and they were the ones who did that. I am reaping the rewards of 50 years of their hard work, so I ended it with a wish that truly comes from the very depths of my soul: that our children will one day grow to want to celebrate us with as much love as Philip had in celebrating his parents.
So anyway, thanks for coming along and enjoying that night with me, and enjoy the photos… there’re a lot! Oh! And one last thing! I'm working on a little project and would love to learn what your biggest concerns are when entertaining... did these tips help a little?
See you next week!