Have you heard of Outstanding in the Field? I’m dying to go to a dinner and would love to snag a seat at one of the two dinners in Virginia later this year (they’ll be here during my birthday month, hint, hint certain someones who might be reading), but in the meantime, the tables Outstanding sets has me dreaming of dining en plein air…
Although outdoor events come with unique sets of logistical considerations (that’s another post or ten for another day), they truly are the most fun to plan. What’s better than being outdoors, sky above you, yummy food upon your plate, surrounded by the ones you love? Nothing, I’m quite sure!
all images via Outstanding in the Field
Katie and Max’s May wedding at home last May on the Northern Neck was truly full of heart. From the brightly colored heart confetti that accompanied their letterpress invitations, to the hearts throughout the reception…along the walkway to the ceremony on the waterfront, handmade muslin hearts on each place setting, brightly patterned hearts on escort card tags…so much love was put into this celebration. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Gay offered such great insight into what it means to serve dinner “family style.” Here are a few technical things about this dinner style…
*Design your floor plan to match the service style. Nearly 250 guests attended Alex and Paul’s reception. Although that’s a large party, we really wanted the reception to feel intimate and for the focus to be on conversation and feasting! That was the entire point of serving dinner family style, after all. For that reason, we grouped tables end to end and created a u-shape around the dance floor. The table set-up facilitated conversation and passing of platters.
*Using escort cards and place cards are a must with this floor plan! Each table seated eight people, but with tables grouped end to end, some table groupings seated as many as 40 guests. When tables are grouped in this fashion, it is really important to number each table in the group (as shown below) and to offer both escort cards and place cards. Even though each table will be numbered, without place cards, it can be difficult for guests to discern where one table ends and another begins.
*Vary the look of the tables. To keep things interesting and to make sure the tables weren’t a sea of sameness, which could have easily happened with this many tables, we decided to seat guests at a mix of linen covered tables and farm tables.
*Don’t forget to leave some room for platters! We really labored over how much decor to put on the tables. Because dinner was served on larger platters that were passed from guest to guest, we had to be mindful of leaving space on the table. Unlike a plated dinner service, where you could literally create a “runner” of floral down the center of the table, we had to be sure to leave some breaks. We also had to be mindful of budget — long tables can be more expensive to decorate. Ultimately, we decided to group jars of flowers in threes and spaced the groupings with hurricane candles. To add a little more sparkle to the table, we scattered tea lights.
photography by Don Mears
Unless you’re renting a sperry tent, which has really beautiful wooden poles that support the tent, you’ll likely have metal poles to contend with. Draping is one way to conceal unattractive metal poles. White chiffon-like draping is a classic choice, as in the first image below by Leo Patrone, but you can also go the custom route, matching draping to your tent decor, as in the second and third images.
There is nothing on earth that I love more than an outdoor wedding. The opportunities for personalization are endless when you’re outdoors. Tacky ballroom carpeting? No problem out here. Clashing color palettes. Nope. Not here. The world is your oyster under a tent. And if I were choosing a tent, I would certainly, hands down, no question choose a Sperry Tent. And, then I’d order blonde folding wood chairs (to match the wooden tent poles in the Sperry, of course).
Broadway: one of my favorite furniture sets for outdoor parties. Perfect for lounging about during cocktail hour, while you watch friends play lawn games and sip on a mint julep. Yum.
Speaking of lounging, varied ways to partake in sunshine and the iced cold bevs are welcome. Simple blankets with pretty pillows are a win. And, everybody loves kites, right? And bocce ball. Or how about a friendly game of badminton on the lawn? (p.s. I am madly in love with everything about this wedding)
Happy weekend everyone!
photos: Sperry tent image courtesy Skyline Tent Company; Sofa via American Furniture Rentals; Cooler via Everything Fabulous via House and Home Canada December 2010 via Heidi Claire; Chris and Tim’s wedding via Martha Stewart Weddings