Forty years is a long time. Especially when you’re talking about being married. My parents recently made it to that milestone–and we (their children) are very lucky to have such role models in our lives. To celebrate their 40th anniversary, we held a casual sit down dinner party for 16 people out in my parent’s beautiful backyard.
The inspiration for this event came from the green of the early summer in Virginia and a piece of Tommy Bahama fabric I found. Which led to an inspired menu of “Floribbean” food. Some of which had to be driven up from Florida–who knew plantains were so regional?
This party is a great example of how you can make just a few special touches using quality materials and simplicity and have a beautiful outcome.
Paper lanterns from Beau-Coup were strung from the pergola on the porch and hundreds of twinkling lights hung to create a bit of atmosphere. Tea candles were also placed along the length of the table and around the porch area for ambiance. I just love a party with a little twinkle!
The hydrangeas weren’t quite in full bloom by the time this party was held, but I was able to walk through my father’s garden, along with those of a few neighbors, and gather enough big blue blossoms to fill my vases. Each vase was specially wrapped with jute for extra detail. The place settings had inexpensive round placemats layered with white plates and napkins tied with banana leaves and raffia. One of my favorite things sitting down to eat during the party were the water bottles on the table–we chilled then and set them out for self-service during dinner. A little jute detail made them fit in perfectly!
Since this was a Leatherbury family event, the food was really REALLY good. I’m starting with dessert first, because it’s just more fun that way. My mother requested a carrot cake, so the simple “wedding cake” was carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. But I really wanted to keep with my Floribbean tropical theme, so I made a few extra small bites. The absolutely heavenly coconut cake with rum-toffee frosting from the Winter issue of Festivities Magazine were recreated–and they were just as fabulous this time around. The key lime pie recipe was also put to use with one small change for the better: we made them into key lime dark chocolate shooters. The dark chocolate ganache paired with the tart key lime sent my tastebuds dancing. Definitely one to try!
For appetizers, there were guava empanadas, rum-pinapple skewered shrimp, churassco skewers with chimmichurri sauce and a lovely credit and fruit tray. My mouth is watering just thinking about it all again.
For dinner, we made Caribbean classics. Jerk chicken topped with mango salsa, black beans, rice, plantains and sweet potatoes rounded out the menu. Between you and me, the sweet potatoes (and the rest of the menu) were/was a selfish choice–it was all perfect carb up food for the half marathon I ran the next morning. Too bad I couldn’t convince anyone else at the party to come on my jog with me!
I think maybe it was the liberal pours of wine that kept them in bed the next morning.
As a nice personal touch through the party, I added blown up and mounted photos from my parent’s wedding 40 years ago. Hard to believe they were ever so young! Just loved looking at all the photos all night and imagining them both at the beginning of their lives together.
We sent our guests home with these darling favors from Beau-Coup. A set of heart-shaped measuring spoons – which if you know my father and his love for cooking, you’ll see how they made a very appropriate thank you gift.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I wish you many more blissful years together!
Paula Biggs is a professional party planner, DIY crafter, and owner of Frog Prince Paperie, where you can find hundreds of party and craft ideas. You can also buy birthday party supplies, printables and accessories from the Frog Prince Paperie Etsy shop.