Mina and I met in middle school. I knew we’d be best friends when, in 8th grade, we both agreed that the best way to present our archeology assignment to the class was to rap it.
Not that I hear the term “Carbon-14 Dating” often, but when I do… I smile.
It was such an honor to plan and host a baby shower for Mina’s first child. Together we have crossed two graduation stages, traveled across the country, prayed for each other at the altar, gambled too much money on college football games, and served as bridesmaids in each other’s weddings.
What an honor to again stand beside her during this new part of life.
The same ideas we use to design and decorate a home can be used to plan a party, especially when you are renting a venue. Here are some questions I ask myself when planning an event.
1. What are your guests going to see first?
Just as the entryway is your home’s first chapter, the invitation is your party’s opening scene. For baby showers, I like the idea of having a similar feel between the nursery and the invitation.
2. When your guests arrive at your home or the venue you’ve rented, what are they going to see first?
Mise-en-Scene is a french term that is used in theater or film to describe “the arrangement of everything in a frame.” Create a “scene” for the opening of your party. Give your guests their first glimpse of a few elements that will be repeated throughout the party. I like for this to be either before they actually walk in or right at the entryway.
For Mina’s shower, I used a framed Bible verse that is going to later hang in the nursery, draped a fresh rosemary and rose garland on the side, and tied 3 large balloons to the easel.
A fresh flower garland draped on the side will be an element repeated throughout the room, as well as the colors gold, white, and various pinks.
3. Where in your home or venue can you create at least one more visual?
Some great places to create “visual frames” are the dessert/cake table, the bar, and the buffet if you are having one.
Don’t forget to create your scene by repeating 2-3 elements consistently.
Think of how the eye travels and plan for varying heights. The dessert or cake table is great place to create a scene. I wanted there to be a beautiful backdrop for Mina’s cake. So, I made a
fabric and ribbon backdrop. It was very easy to create and actually ended up being fun!
I used a yard of soft, floral fabric and varying textures of ribbon in shades of cream, gold, and pink. I had the cake’s topper made (Scrapping Plus on Etsy) to mirror a monogram that is going to hang over the crib, and the cake was kept classy with just textured icing.
For the Love of Cake in Jacksonville, Florida is my favorite bakery. Their cakes are not only works of art, but delicious.
3. If guests are seated at tables, how will they be decorated?
Dinky table arrangements are the worst. I’d almost rather them be empty than to see a sad votive or two on a 60 inch round table.
Things to think about: real linens, runners, and the height of your arrangements.
I bought pink toile fabric that complemented the pink and blue chinoiserie repeating elements and my best friend Amanda cut and hemmed them into wide runners for each of the tables. With a beautiful, patterned runner you do not need much else on your table.
Blue & white ginger jars from home were filled with a bunch of baby’s breath to anchor each table.
4. Will your guest of honor open presents? If so, where is he or she going to sit?
This is a great place to create another visual frame. Think about the chair she will sit in and how the eye will travel. Guests will be looking in this direction for quite a bit, so make it pretty for them.
Again, I wanted height and a blank canvas to work with so I used a metal frame and hung white curtains to create a backdrop. I wanted the feeling of a home despite not being in my own.
The eye travels from left to right, top to bottom… so design that way.
I made a fresh flower garland that morning to drape on the left corner of the “frame.” A gold mirror hung in the middle and a tall plant stand from home held another chinoiserie vase with pink roses; allowing the eye to travel from left to right. Mina’s chair was placed on the left of the scene, framed by the flower garland.
[repeating elements: consistent colors, blue and white vases, flower garlands]
It also made a great backdrop for pictures with the guests.
5. Will your guests have a treat to go?
I love the idea of offering something for your guests to take with them in addition to the memory of a sweet gathering. Bake or Eat Sweets is run by such a talented young lady. I gave her a copy of the invitation and allowed her to take it from there. She made and packaged the most beautiful, hand-painted cookies for the guests to take home with them.
And for those with gluten allergies like the mama-to-be, we had a candy table with baggies so she could take a sweet, gluten-free treat to go, too.
Even though I love designing and styling little scenes, I know without a shadow of a doubt that these elements are nothing compared to the people and love that fill a party.
Mina was surrounded by a league of strong women who shared with her advice, memories, prayer, and wisdom.
…to read your child stories about the heroes of the Bible, to take a moment to just breathe, and to drink in every moment because you never know when it will be the last diaper, the last bottle, or the last ride with the training wheels on.
At the end of the party one of the girlfriends, Heidi, said, “My stomach is full, but my heart is fuller.”
There could be no higher compliment for a hostess to hear.
My heart remains so, and I wish my Mina and her Layla, a life that is just as full.
Photography: Heidi Cross
Cookies: Bake or Eat Sweets, Jacksonville, Florida
Cake: For the Love of Cake, Jacksonville, Florida
Venue: The Blue Fish in Avondale, Jacksonville, Florida
Paper Goods & Invitation: HOSTandSERVE
Fabric: Fabric.com & Carousel Designs