June 22 2019 – Laura Wright
W E A T H E R P E R M I T T I N G
Hi there, friends!
When you plan a wedding shower for a wedding planner, the stakes are high. And high risks yeild high reward, so, when designing this event I took a big risk and planned an outdoor event with no backup plan. None. Nada.
The invitations stated that the event would take place in an outdoor, gravel parking lot and to plan accordingly. In my head, the day would be sunny and even if a light drizzle whisped through, umbrellas would look adorable in photographs. Welp. The day was not sunny, and as heavy storms swirled through town, I thought to myself, “the show must go on!” I prayed for the rain to stop. It did. Hallelujah!! We loaded our vehicle with our party props, pitchers of fresh margaritas and a bounty of salsas, rushed to our party spot and began to set up... an ambitious feat after waiting for the rain to clear out. Everything would be smooth sailing from here on out...
Alas, it was not.
What I had not planned for was wind. Wind?! WIND!! Chase and I worked quickly to hang adorable banners. They flapped in the sky at uncontrollable speads, tangled amongst themselves and buzzed like helicopter blades. We brought out large party props and they sailed away time and again with the irradic gusts (even after reinforcement measures were taken)! We fought a long fight trying to make this set-up Pinterest-perfect, but after an hour of constant frustration and failure, and with only an hour until guests arrived, we needed to come up with another plan....
OUR HOUSE? No. We were in the middle of major interior projects. Everything was a mess!
OUR YARD? No. We were building a fence and there were piles of lumber and hazards everywhere... and even still, we would not have a solution for rain.
...OHHHHHH MOM AND DAD...?! Can we use your house?! Destroy it with spills of lime juice?! Take it over with a spread of salsas?! Entertain 20+ people you do not know?! GREAT. We will be there in five.
...And so, the car was packed. Many (seemingly) critical decorations were left behind and the mad rush for party set-up began again... this time with even less time and more pressure. We flitted around, sent a mass text to notify others of the change and pulled ourselves together just in the knick of time. The party came and went. The guests enjoyed themselves and were only minorly aware of the improv nature of the event...
Here are a few details on the original plans and the actual events...
THEME: Mexican Street Fiesta in honor a favorite bride and groom
DATE/TIME: Memorial Day, 2:00pm-4:00 in the afternoon
DESIRED LOCATION: A downtown gravel alley situated between two towering brick buildings... scene to mimic the illustration above.
ACTUAL LOCATION: My parent’s house. Guests were able to move freely between the kitchen, dining room, sunporch and outdoor patio.
INVITATIONS: A new design for ‘Ready-Made’ fill-in-the-blank invitations, modified for extra flare. Available upon request.
DECOR: Mexican serape blanket TABLE RUNNERS (and also THIS STYLE and THIS STYLE for color and variety) and TABLECLOTHS, a CACTUS PINATA, MEXICAN PARTY FLAGS, MINI SOMBREROS, bright florals and a 5’ x 6’ custom illustrated photo prop board (that was sadly unable to be used, due to transportation difficulties).
NAPKINS: Colorful paper napkins from Hobby Lobby, altered buy using ‘fringe’ scissors to give the edges a pinata feel.
GLASSWARE: Forget disposable glasses, these LIBBEY glass glasses were both reasonable price and quality. My only negative thought is they could have held a bit more liquid (though, the smaller size may have slowed guests down on their consumption... so maybe the size was a positive after all...)
MENU: An array of homemade salsas and churros from a local restaurant, LOS MOLCAJETES for dessert. Assorted tortilla chips (whole grain, restaurant style, cinnamon, sweet potato) were bagged in brown paper lunch bags in individual servings (who else hates a bunch of hands in the chip bowl?!)
- FRESH MANGO SALSA
- AVOCADO FETA SALSA
- BLACK BEAN SALSA
- WATERMELON SALSA
- AVOCADO SALSA VERDE
- RESTAURANT SALSA
DRINKS: Three kinds of homemade margaritas (all pre-made and in pitchers ready to serve), Dos Equis, Corona, and assorted sparkling waters.
- CLASSIC MARGARITA: My dad's recipe. 1/3 cup tequila, 1/3 cup cointreau, 1/3 fresh squeezed lime juice, 1/2 cup agave nectar. *Fresh squeezed lime juice is critical!!
- POMEGRANATE MARGARITA: A friend's recipe, modified: 4 ounces pom juice, 2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce cointreau, add gingerly to taste.
- KIWI MARGARITA: Make sure your kiwis are ripe and sweet!
T I M E L I N E
SIX WEEKS BEFORE: Plan your event. Order your decorations. Discuss your guest list.
FOUR WEEKS BEFORE: Send your invitations. Plan your menu.
ONE WEEK+ BEFORE: Cut your fringe napkins.
THREE-FIVE DAYS BEFORE: Buy your groceries. Order your churros from a local restaurant.
TWO DAYS BEFORE: Buy and arrange your flowers. Prep and chop all ingredients for salsas.
ONE DAY BEFORE: Make your salsas. Squeeze limes and prep any necessary cocktail ingredients.
DAY OF: Mix your cocktails and pour into pitchers for serving. 2 hours before: mix your Avocado Feta Salsa. Pour salsas into serving bowls. 20 minutes before guests arrive: send someone to pick up your churros.
T I P S / F I N A L T H O U G H T S
1. PLAN B. If you’re planning a tempermental event, have a back-up plan. Period. End of story.
2. STAY SIMPLE. Only plan for what you can reasonably execute.
3. BE FLEXIBLE. Not everything is going to go smoothly. If you have a positive attitude and are able to adjust quickly, your event will still be a success. Nobody but you will know what your guests are ‘missing’.
4. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. If money is of concern, a simple menu, such as salsa and margaritas are an excellent way to keep your budget friendly... even with large groups. I highly recommend shopping at a variety of stores (time permitting) including Sam‘s Club and Aldi when entertaining large groups.
5. HOUSE BRAND. Sam’s Club’s house-brand tequila is perfect for large-batch margaritas. Your fancy conessier friend may notice a difference, but everyone else will be raving.
6. VOLUME. I was so tickled when I bought two dozen Coronas for around $15 dollars. Only later did I realize they were baby-sized bottles! Ha.
7. SHORT AND SWEET. A party that lasts a couple of hours and states an end time is perfect for a holiday weekend or for an event with your busiest friends. It let’s them know that the party won’t suck up their entire day, but still allows time to gather and enjoy one another’s company!
8. CHANGE OF CLOTHES. If you find yourself in a position to set up event away from your home and/or in a rush, wear something other than your party outfit to do your tasks, then change and freshen up at the last minute before guests arrive.
9. ENJOY YOURSELF... it’s a party, afterall!
10. ONCE AGAIN. Just another friendly reminder: HAVE A BACKUP PLAN for rain and/or other flippant circumstances.