A Tale of Two Events
Personal Touch Party Planning
Sweet Cakes created this Jane Austen themed book cake. Hinkle’s Twinkles created silhouette cookies.
Photos by Katie Hinkle
It was only seconds after Southport native, Kaitlin Kelly, announced her engagement to Bobby O’Neill that her adoring aunts, Mary Kate Gardiner and Barbara Durkin, chose a bridal shower theme: Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen’s iconic love story is the bride’s favorite novel and set the stage for a great idea and then a fabulous party. Kelly, a longtime fan of historical fiction, has always been drawn to Austen’s strong female characters, but assures us her new husband does not share Mr. Darcy’s penchant for sharp-tongued remarks!
“Bridal showers don’t have to be boring,” says Gardiner. “Personalizing the party to the individual makes the event livelier and allows people to feel connected to the guest of honor—a lesson passed on from our mom.”
Whether it’s a novel, a holiday or a single color, the little details bring it all together—even if they cost next to nothing. The two sisters typically scour Pinterest for inspiration and keep costs down by assembling decorations and favors themselves. Case in point, lyrics to “Chapel of Love” were distributed for a musical send-off for the bride. Another inexpensive DIY element—the white tissue paper peonies tied with tulle were scattered among the decorations complimenting the fresh flowers in period appropriate shades of peach, lilac, and ivory.
Gardiner and Durkin designed décor and refreshments that would make a Bennet sister swoon. Guests were greeted with stemless glasses adorned with Mr. Darcy’s profile and the phrase “Talk Darcy to me,” conjuring images of witty banter. Silhouette cookies from Fairfield’s Hinkle’s Twinkles satisfied the sweet tooth while the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice played in the background.
For a modern twist on party punch, the hostesses provided individual bottles of prosecco with a striped straw attached by lace ribbon. The event’s tasty denouement—the ultimate Pride and Prejudice cake— featured Mr. Darcy on bended knee proposing to Elizabeth Bennet atop the novel itself, a custom creation from Fairfield’s Sweet Cakes.
Naturally, the Durkin home was decked out in an array of Austen themed items. Framed photographs of the bride and groomsuperimposed with lines from the novel—including a photo-shopped version of the BBC movie poster—set the stage for a festive day. Cocktail napkins printed with one of the book’s most romantic quotes, “You have bewitched me body and soul and I love, love, love you” was attributed to both grooms. And what’s a party without favors? Friends and family were sent home with lace fans and of course, a copy of the novel, with a special inscription on the cover page commemorating Kelly’s “novel” shower.
Party Pig out
Cammie Liberty also inherited her love of party planning from her mother, Fairfield’s go-to caterer, Suzie Dale. When daughter Meredith turned two, Liberty chose a barnyard theme based on her daughter’s love of farm animals.
To say she went “whole hog” is an understatement. A live petting zoo with sheep, goats, roosters, and rabbits was the highlight of the celebration, entertaining guests of all ages. The farm-style photo station complete with haystacks, bandanas, and cowboy hats allowed parents to capture the merriment on camera. A de-rigeur round of Pin the Tail on the Donkey rounded out the offerings. Kudos to Liberty for knowing that standing idly on the sidelines can be torturous, so activities in which kids can interact with each other and their parents are a win-win strategy.
A variety of snacks, nestled in gingham-lined baskets at the “Pig Out” table, kept little guests happy while the clever chalkboard labels amused the adults. Food offerings included U pick berries, farm fresh deviled eggs, chicken feed” (aka Chex Mix), piggies in a blanket, and a veggie stand were paired with drinks from the watering hole.
Thoughtful details like these that make events both personal and wonderful are a festive take on Walt Disney’s words: If you can dream it, you can do it.