Sometimes simple is best: How I planned my daughter’s engagement party
Essentially, we had the reception before the wedding—all of the fun and none of the stress.
When our only daughter became engaged, you can imagine my excitement! Alex, an assistant district attorney in Hilton Head, and her fiancé, David, a real estate attorney, met in law school at UGA, where their friendship blossomed into a loving partnership.
As entertaining editor of this magazine and author of a book named Picture Perfect Parties, you can bet that I immediately began plotting the ideal wedding. My styling and production skills poised for action, I waited eagerly to begin planning with Alex. It’s fair to say I was born for this moment.
But Alex and I have always been opposites. She’s rather conservative, and I am more, ahem, bohemian. She’s pragmatic, I am not. She’s frugal and sensible—me, not so much. When we sat down to plan her wedding, she had one word for me: simple. In fact, she wanted a courthouse wedding in Charleston with only family present, and she wanted to wear my wedding suit (my husband and I were married in a courthouse ceremony). I’m not going to lie, my heart sank. I was gutted.
For many months, I thought surely she would change her mind, for my sake at least. But alas, she remained steadfast. Sharon Fisher, a close friend who is also a party planner, listened to me lament for weeks. Then, unbeknownst to me, Sharon called Alex and talked her into letting me host an engagement party. Brilliant!
I quickly went to work orchestrating a memorable evening at our home. I worked with a marvelous local caterer, Sun in my Belly, to craft a menu that would be true to my style of entertaining, with plenty of Italian recipes. Another friend, Oma Blaise Ford, contributed signature cocktail recipes. I did all the flowers, including floating blossoms and candles in the pool. The photography book Beauty Everyday by Athens artists Rebecca Wood, Rinne Allen, and Kristen Bach served as a guest book for our friends to sign. Loved ones toasted the bride and groom. A DJ spun our favorite tunes, and the party became so epic that everyone wound up in the pool with their clothes on!
I must say that hosting a big party for the bride and groom without the pressure of a wedding was really fun. Essentially, we had the reception before the wedding—all of the fun and none of the stress. The bride was right—sometimes simple is the way to go. Months later, Alex and David said their vows in Charleston’s Old Courthouse, surrounded by family. Alex looked beautiful in my wedding suit. It was picture perfect.
Learn how to throw a simple, fun engagement party with the recipes below:
All food recipes provided by Sun in My Belly.