Weddings bring about cause for a lot of smaller gatherings. I'm often asked for guidance or advice on hosting brunches, showers, rehearsal dinners or even welcome dinners for out of town guests. With everything we see online appearing seemingly perfect and plucked right out of a Martha Stewart photoshoot it's common that people feel pressure to produce this caliber of events at home. Well, I'm here to say forget about it! Use Pinterest for inspiration but set your reality meter to "reasonable" knowing that you can still have a great gathering without too much fluff and a professional photographer there snapping photos of you laughing together with martinis in hand. The best intimate events are those that have four key elements:
Music - Whether you're hosting a brunch, a ladies luncheon or a dinner party music is a must. Pick a genre that suits the mood and occasion. If you want to create ambiance keep volumes low with something smooth. If you're hosting a cocktail party pick something upbeat and turn it up a bit. Music is the best way to create a mood and get people loose!
Drinks - Having something to sip and hold seems to be an icebreaker, and it doesn't always have to be alcoholic. I love juice bars at brunch, If you feel so inclined throw in the option of champagne and fresh fruit. Having an area set up and prepped for self service drinks is also great. It gives guests an activity and it's a good way to spark conversation. I'm always purposeful in drink selections because I feel it's a way to make things fun. Moscow Mules and Whisky Sours are great for a mingling setting. Champagne and fresh berries go over great at an all ladies affair. If we're hosting dinner I select a red and a white that go nicely with what I'm serving and I like to pick out something I haven't tried before or have an expert recommend something new.
Eats - If you are cooking and prepping all of the food for your gathering, I think it's a myth that everything has to be ready and perfectly placed before the doorbell rings. I love having friends over for dinner and inviting them into the kitchen with me to help with the finishing touches. The kitchen is the most social place in any home and it should be open and inviting to guests. It's naturally where everyone seems to congregate. Even if it means sipping on a glass of wine and helping me salt the vegetables as they come out of the oven, if I invite you over I want you to be in the kitchen with me! Don't fret too much about the menu and food particulars. Anything tasty seems to go over well with guests.
Decor - This is where most people get overly stressed. In terms of decor I'm of the school that you shouldn't try to make something what it's not. Most of us have personal style that is reflected in our home's decor and atmosphere. If you're hosting a small gathering try to nicely complement what you already have by adding flowers, candle light or a few simple decorations here and there but there really is no need to get overly themed. All that does is waste a lot of time and energy to create something that looks forced. Relax a bit and focus more on guest enjoyment as opposed to trying to re-create the circus themed bridal shower you saw online. I promise you your pocket book will thank you and you'll be happier in the end without the circus. No pun intended!
If you are getting married, or you're responsible for the task of putting on a celebration for the soon to be newlyweds, keep these tips in mind. Remember that the best small gatherings are fun and relaxed. Let the focus be on the why and not the what.
Photos provided by Erica Rose Photography