In the image of the white-cotton-candy Marc Jacob’s Daisy commercial, as August floats it’s way to September, the return of balmy evenings creates multitudes of opportunities for the return of al fresco dining, our favourite kind.
Those on TikTok might have seen the rise of private chefs, such as Reilly Meehan, who started posting interactive videos from his client’s summer home in the luxury of the Hamptons, and saw his engagement nearly double, bringing the attention of dining firmly back to the home.
So with this in mind, we thought we’d take a little deep dive to the gastronomy we’ve been enjoying lately. Expect limited fuss, a lot of herbs and a bounty of fresh, delicious cooking.
What are we drinking?
Natural orange wine in bold-labelled, avant-garde bottles spring alive with quirks of the slightly imperfect – leaving thick sediment in your glass but promising slightly fewer sore heads tomorrow.
Somewhat dividing its audience, orange wine – white wine fermented with the skin of the grape –has been trending for some time now so we know we’re not the first at the game. Yet, summer feels like a nice cause to have a bottle on our table.
Yes, 2023, feels like the year of orange wine – the once-traditional oaky chardonnay in her streamlined bottle feels somewhat antiquated? We’re not saying she doesn’t have a place – denying this would be foolish – but this summer does feel alive with a touch of eccentricity – of the idiosyncratic – of the unconventional. The Czech Milan Nestarec does a nice one, which comes in a 1 litre bottle for a larger-than-life kick but we leave the choice up to you.
On the table?
There doesn’t seem to be an option of too much this summer – we’re not talking greed, and sustainable concerns are never far from the mind as we prioritise zero-waste, but perhaps to enforce a curated menu, we’re enjoying “more is more” colour on the table.
La Double J’s Napoli Iraca Placemats make a nice choice or take the metaphorical hydroplane to Capri, with their equally enchanting lemon-posset-channelling friend Capri raffia tablemats. Play with texture and fabric to add levels to the table with La Double J’s Iraca napkin rings with earthy hues evoking copper – and brass – and rust (one of our favourite colours for the summer).
In our cooking?
Firstly – and before we even detail recipes – let us just lightly speak to our love of fresh herbs. Herbs give simple dishes life, and we love this – simple and fresh. Sure, there are days when you want to WOW your guests and channel your French Masterclass hour, but for us – August – we want easy food. Food that can be scattered together in a perfect epiphany of taste and texture.
So, we’re going back to basics – food that can be put together in under an hour and can be shared amongst all – and herbs are the epicentre.
Enter left @boroughchef and her courgette and fried butter beans. Courgette, a little like our trusty aubergine, is another vegetable that wears many hats in our kitchen.
For this recipe, for the quickest and most convenient way, take two courgettes through a mandolin (if you have one – we don’t – but accepting of all kitchens here) or for those without, a sharp knife thinly slicing the vegetable into rounds will also do the trick. Rinse a tin of queen butter beans thoroughly in cold water, dry, fry and soften now-sliced courgette in a different pan, think low heat, a little olive oil, thyme, garlic if you have it – then combine beans into courgette slice pan with lemon, fresh parsley (think – h e r b s – we can never have too much – be generous) and season.
Summer on a plate. Yum.
Painting a picture with colour
We all know the feeling, it’s March, winter looms on and that jumper / jeans combo, which seemed slightly novel in September, is starting to lose its appeal (if it was ever there in the first place). The crisp, golden leaves of autumn have been replaced with the muddy puddles of bleak winter, and it’s progressively harder to romanticise any form of your life.
So we look to light!
We’ve seen them pop up around London – the 70s, Capri style, electric interiors of Big Mamma’s Gloria and Circulare Populare – the all-day long Trattoria oozing the sunny coasts of Naples from the heart of Soho.
What we haven’t seen until now, however, is the new effect this “larger than life” persona is having on weddings. Bearing on the “kitsch” (a term which implies a slight over eccentricity), Spring 2023 sees the fusion of yellow, magenta, fuchsia, turquoise, bright green, purple and their collaboration together. This clash of colour seems a staunch pendulum swing away from the minimalistic 90s aesthetic – a nebulous line between chic and tacky, that perhaps only Nicky Haslam could judge.
Covid brought in a new appreciation of eating rustically and enjoying the comforts of our own home. We reverted to “the simple times” and felt a slight nostalgia for times gone by. It was also however a vast amount of time without the ability to travel.
For Spring 2023, we’re seeing the influence of abroad permeate traditional English settings, as we look to define the outside, at home. The Dutch have a word “gezelig” (to create a warm, fuzzy vibe whilst enjoying a meal) which springs to mind. We’re seeing the reintroduction of “mix and match”, of different shaded glasses, a multitude of textures. If we wouldn’t have thought of bringing it together before – now it works! – think lace, cotton, bamboo – all mixed together in a beautiful cocktail of spring.
Through our binoculars, we see a constant motif of East meets West; a merging of styles and influences; the Bosphorus or Turkish Hammam meets the light breeze of English summer. The ornate meets bold, lace meets cotton – a beautiful topsy-turvydom of fabric, and light, and colour.
Drawing attention to tablescaping, think floral tablecloths (Mark D Sikes range for Anthropologie springs to mind) with a colour palette of spring green, yellows, pale pinks, pale blues.
Of course, we couldn’t write this article without mentioning luxury British homeware designer Maison Margaux’s lookbook for Spring. Incorporating elements of the French riviera – we see a return to the Chinese blue and white porcelain aesthetic in Blue Petals – to more contrasting, rustic reds and pinks in Alana pomegranate. Mauve pink is stated to be one of the most sought after colours for Spring/Summer 2023 and we’re very excited to see how this unfolds!
Colour is everywhere, and geometric shapes embellish any space. For an added touch, play with dish shapes – think Green Cabbage Leaf Dish contrasted with Mini Vintage blush port set for a play on colour and texture. If Spring 2022 was the era of green, we look to the coupling and deliberate, beautiful clash of colour and texture for Spring 2023.
Lisa Corti brings her own Italian warmth to her table scaping, with strong influences of the al-fresco dining she used to enjoy in summers on the Italian coast. Her bazaar-like, world of colour mixes sophistication with a unique sense of charm.
Continuing with an aesthetic of pieces that will stand the test of time, Les Ottomans will always be a headline choice for any perfectly laid table. We love their Bamboo collection for Spring, with its focus on muted pinks and greens, pulls together a “hopeless romantic” – meets-70s-Italian-riviera aesthetic, which yearns for balmy spring evenings and the twittering of birds. As Shakespeare mused, “If music be the food of love, play on” – and yes, do play!
Advancing the geometric, CasaCarta brings together ruby reds and fuchsia pinks in its wondrous swirled butter dishes – an intoxication of colour, but somehow… it works? Post-Covid expressionism is back, and better in a whole new way. For this aesthetic, think of the beautiful La Double JJ in Milan; a place where homeware is as important as fashion, and tie in an element of that much missed travel that we yearned for during Covid.
Finally for a more subtle affair, become wrapped in the hazy daydream of Rebecca Udall’s Ruffle Gingham Linen Tablecloth, set amongst a sea of Nina Glass Candleholders and Scalloped Abaca Placemats. Flirting with frills and scalloped edges, Udall’s designs bring the familiar to the foreground, embellishing them with an elegant flair. Stay tuned.
We are delighted to have won the “Best Party Planner” award at the Bridelux Awards. The votes were cast by industry professionals, and announced at the Awards dinner at the London Rosewood Hotel.
We are grateful to all our wonderful suppliers who help us to be good at what we do, and we very much appreciate all the support.
We are dreaming of beautiful places around the world which would make amazing spots to get married.
Top of the list is the magnificent Castello di Reschio in Umbria, an 11th century castle transformed by the stylish owners into a hotel and villas. The pool is dreamy, with a view to die for, and the restaurant is supplied predominantly from the estate’s organic garden. A wedding here would be stunning, with a number of beauty spots to choose from for each part of the day.
Second in line, Wilderness Reserve in Suffolk has just opened a second part of the estate at Chapel Barn, meaning you can now sleep over 100 guests amongst the 15 houses. With expanded options for where you can hold your wedding, the estate has also used lockdown to improve areas like the bonfire night up in the woods perfect for a fun and unusual pre-wedding party, and a Prosecco truck and an oyster shucker around the sunken pool for a post-wedding knees up.
Finally, Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro remains high on our list of places we’d really like to hold a wedding. Set on its own peninsula, the hotel lends itself to a private buy-out so the place becomes your own. The multitude of different piazzas, gardens and beaches mean you can pick where to have your wedding ceremony, your wedding dinner, your party, and all the pre- and post-wedding events.
This year, Christmas is going to be slightly different from years past. With smaller gatherings and many families staying at home, we’re channeling our inner creativity to bring you touches that will make your Christmas at home look chic.
Make your own Christmas crackers by taking Christmas illustrations or wrapping paper and covering cracker templates bought from Etsy, along with writing family jokes that beat the usual terrible cracker jokes hands down.Personalised presents for each person will have everyone shunning shop-bought crackers forevermore.
Write each person’s name beautifully on the cracker with a coloured ink pen, and tie each end with velvet ribbon.
Snowglobes are another fun way to jazz up your place settings, which can be personalised with a bespoke designed backdrop, and they appeal to every age group. We’ve had guests call us asking for their snowglobes to be delivered to them after the party as they loved them so much!
Parties may not be allowed in 2020, but a good cocktail made at home can still put you in the party mood. The Rum Runner suggest a “Jilted John”: mix 2 shots of tequila with pineapple juice, coriander and fresh chilli, shaken with ice, and served in a whisky glass. For those who prefer vodka, the “KK” is made from mixing 2 shots of vodka, lemongrass, ginger beer and kafir lime leaf.
However you’re spending Christmas this year, embrace your creativity and challenge yourself to making all those aspects you’d normally buy, you might surprise yourself!
Have you had to postpone your wedding due to Covid-19? Use this time as an opportunity to ‘up the style stakes’ and find personalised and inventive details to add to your wedding.
For all you brides out there who have had your weddings postponed due to Covid-19, many of you would’ve been putting finishing touches to your weddings, but now may have to wait until next year to walk down the aisle.
However, why not put this extra time to good use and come up with personal details to make your day truly unique, as well as upping the style stakes!
The clever Era Calligraphy are now selling”Learn Modern Calligraphy at Home” kits meaning you can learn to write beautifully like a pro at home in your pyjamas! The kit comes with everything you need so you should be an expert by the time your wedding comes around, meaning you can write all your own place settings and invitations.
Not only are you adding a personalised element to your wedding, but you are also saving money (which perhaps you can now justify to spend on a second pair of wedding shoes!). Once you have mastered the art of calligraphy, there is no need to stop at writing on card, you can write on items such as these little marble tiles for a chic twist.
Are you planning a destination wedding? If so, why don’t you use the extra time to make little welcome gifts to be waiting in guests’ hotel rooms. This bride getting married in Athens chose locally sourced olive oil and a bottle of wine.
Make chic placements to really inject your personality into the wedding. We love these bespoke lavender bags, especially pretty for a wedding in the South of France
We love these personalised water jars a bride made that were also used for the soft drink during the wedding reception
If you are planning a winter wedding, get going with making personalised crackers. They take time to make, but are really worth it.
AFTER DINNER DIGESTIFS
If you want to give guests a little pick me up after dinner, make little bottles of after-dinner digestifs. You can personalise each bottle so that they also double up as the placement. You have a bit of time before you need to start as the damson and sloe picking season starts in September.
If you are a budding artist, consider drawing or painting an illustration for your wedding invitation. This graphic can be used throughout the wedding on menus and placement cards. What could be more personal?
Are you drinking a little more during lockdown? Justify it by saying you are collecting corks to display your seating plan!
Once we are allowed to gather again for weddings, we think guests will be in need of a big party. Why don’t you use this time to make hangover bags to help your friends heads the next morning? We fill ours with Berocca, Big Tom mix, face masks, mints and vodka!
Get in touch if you’d like to discuss fun ideas for your party or wedding: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are fascinated by the clever ways our suppliers have adapted to these extraordinary times of COVID-19. Surviving, and in many cases thriving, they have pivoted their business models to bring their clients joy in these challenging times.
With parties and weddings outlawed under lockdown, survival is key in an industry full of small businesses who rely on a busy summer season. As we currently sit at home, unable to gather in large groups, these companies have used their ingenuity to bring cheeriness and comfort to our lives. We salute them.
The amazingly talented Kitten has started an online shop for farm-to-vase bunches of flowers delivered to your door. Each week they offer two looks in their signature KGF-style: Bacchus, the darker look, named after the god of agriculture, wine, and theatre, and the lighter look, Apollo, inspired by the god of sun, dance and light. Our houses are going to look so cheery with some of Kitten’s beautiful flowers.
William Deal from Archie’s Food was one of the first to adapt to our new way of life. Introducing weekly deliveries of delicious ready-to-eat dinners, as well as fresh pasta, fruit & vegetable boxes, and latterly 3-course weekend suppers with cocktails thrown in. Their order process is super easy on their new website, and their food is a delightful break from cooking ourselves.
Usually found designing themed sets for luxury parties, this talented production company had the inventive idea of making slot-together flatpack furniture for home-working and home-schooling. It’s super stylish and can also be packed away at the end of the day. In addition, Maestra are supporting NHS England by using the company vans to deliver over 1000 meals daily to feed NHS frontline staff at hospitals across London. We are in awe of their effort and hard work to use what they do best to forge forward in this new world.
The uber-talented Lucy Vail has teamed up with Doggart and Squash to deliver food and flower boxes to your door. It’s a one-stop-shop: a fantastic selection of flowers and plants, and a variety of delectable food.
For children’s entertainment, we always call the fantastic team at Sharky & George, leaders in keeping children entertained during any event so the parents can let their hair down! They have adapted to lockdown with virtual parties and after-school clubs to keep little ones entertained, with live streams of an at-home science lab and a quarantine rave. If your child has a birthday coming up, they will also send out Isolation Birthday Boxes to everyone that was due to attend your child’s party. Lockdown hasn’t stopped these guys having fun!
Clever Daisy and Kitty have come up with a way for you, your friends and family to make a lip-sync movie from home when you can’t be together for birthdays and parties. Compile guest list, choose a song, give lines to guests, invite them to film their clips, review the clips, add your own photos and then get Jenks & Co to edit into a finished video
One of our favourite caterers has launched Goodness.London with a daily changing menu as well as meals for the freezer, cocktails, deli & store cupboard essentials and drinks. Order their barbecue box for a real treat now that small scale socialising is back on the cards.
Get in touch with us at Albion Parties to hear more about these dedicated suppliers. Taking what they’ve learnt from these past few months, they will be back stronger than ever catering, flower arranging, and production designing as soon as weddings and parties return.
@albionparties @kittengraysonflowers @archiesfood @maestragroup @lucyvailfloristy @sharkyandgeorgeevents @jenksandco @harryhensman #albionparties #partiesintheageofcorona #athomedinners #athomeentertaining #zoomparties #floralinspiration #flatpackfurniture #homedesks
The recent trend for bespoke illustrated invitations continues to grow, thanks in part to the power of instagram. Our ability to view aspects of people’s lives that were not as readily visible before social media, has helped illustrators to grow their business exponentially. Additionally, artists can design from home and send their artwork digitally to their clients around the world.
These days, illustrators are commissioned well beyond just designing the invitation. The project begins with a consultation with the client, followed by a list of stationery including, but not limited to:
- Save the Date (digital or printed)
- Invitation (printed)
- Information booklets
- RSVP cards & envelopes
- Wedding or party website
- Dinner Menus
- Cocktail Menus
- Thank you cards
- Welcome Letters
Choosing design details that reflect a couple’s character is the best way to personalise a wedding or a party. You want your friends and family to open the invitation and feel excited for what’s to come.
Here is a round-up of some of our favourite illustrators:
- Leading US illustrator, Happy Menocal, stays at the top of their game by continually evolving their ideas, while retaining a clear stand-out style that keeps them ahead of the game.
- UK-based Fin Fellowes has many fashion clients amongst her fans, as well as an international clientele throwing weddings and parties. Creative in every way, Fin has a distinctly chic aesthetic, pushing the boundaries of what’s been done before to design a sensational stationery set for her high-end clients.
- Lara Pilkington has been an artist amongst other professions for many years, and only recently started designing invitations. Her great talent and attention to detail has produced some stunning creations for weddings and parties alike.
Photography Credits: Lucy Cuneo, Helen Abraham, Dominique Bader, Pemberly Fox
The first question after a bride announces her engagement is “where are you going to get married” followed closely by: “and where are you going to get your dress”? This can throw even the most cool-headed bride into a spin.
We always advise brides to make sure they have answered the question, before they head off to try on wedding dresses. A summer beach wedding abroad, for example, is going to require a very different look from a London wedding in December.
Once your location is confirmed, start a Pinterest board of dresses you like. Don’t hold back, even if you think your style is all over the place, as after some time you’ll start to see a pattern of specific details which you keep pinning. Is it buttons down the back of the dress; a halterneck style; a long train; or no train. We even once had a bride who wore a white fur-trimmed long length coat to the church, only to reveal a beautiful silk red dress underneath when she reached the Wedding Reception.
First of all, make appointments at a variety of different dress shops, take a friend and go and have fun! Treat it as a recce, and be open-minded to different styles, looks and materials. You may find you’re surprised by how you feel in one dress, which is the total opposite of what you thought you’d like.
Secondly, remember this is your day, and the most important thing is to feel comfortable and happy when you are centre of attention. Many brides decide they want to get in the best shape of their lives for their wedding day, and knowing your dress fits you perfectly will help relieve the pressure in the run up to the big day, so you won’t be crash dieting and needlessly getting stressed about how you’re going to look. Try to have a final fitting as close as possible to your wedding day, as many brides lose a final few pounds from nervous anticipation the week before their wedding.
Lastly, find a designer who puts you at your ease, as you’ll have several fittings throughout the process, and having trust between you and your dressmaker will make the process so enjoyable. Some designers include the fittings and alterations as part of the deal, others charge for every additional change. Make sure you know where you stand before you sign on the dotted line.
We recommend all of these dress designers for their bespoke creations and excellent service.
Photography Credits: Lucy Cuneo, Lucy Davenport, Alex Lloyd, Ann Kathrin Koch
The recent limelight shone on the issue of climate change, led us to discuss how we can make high-end events more sustainable. The luxury services market is often happy to ignore the huge amounts of wastage that occurs, because rarely does a private client demand this as part of the decision-making process.
Thousands of pounds-worth of flowers are thrown away the following day; destination weddings have guests flying from all corners of the globe; and electricity to power a small town is used to produce a band’s single 90 minute performance.
Of course, we are in the entertainment business, but what can we do as an industry in order to shift this and make it more of a priority?
We came up with a few starting points for reducing the Carbon footprint:
1. Ask your client about their priorities – we tend to assume that clients with deep pockets throwing large amounts of money on a party aren’t interested in their environmental impact, however, we should dig deeper to discover their sense of social responsibility. Many billionaires are at the forefront of investing in sustainable products – for example the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – and we should suggest ways in which their party or wedding could have aspects that would retain impact, but that would be more responsibly sustainable.
2. Choose suppliers who are aligned with your environmental impact outlook – for example, a caterer who has invested in a food wastage scheme where food preparation is kept to a minimum, recycling is at a rate of 95% or higher, and leftover food is sent to an anaerobic digestion plant, where green energy and fertiliser are produced.
3. Go paperless and plastic-free – a small step, but whether this is just in your office, for example showing clients budgets, moodboards, proposals and floorplans online; or extending to encouraging clients to send out email invitations rather than hard copy card which needs to be posted and delivered around the world. We love a beautiful printed invitation as much as the next person, but is it time for the industry to catch up with bigger priorities? In terms of plastic, most bar companies and caterers in the UK will only use paper straws now, but consider all areas where you can use sustainable products instead of throwing away items at the end of the night.
Overall, we should be taking steps towards an industry-wide commitment to sustainability in order to ensure the future of our industry. Imagine how our industry will change with an increasing reluctance from guests to travel on planes/trains/buses to attend an event; the extra contingency planning required for natural hazards such as flooding, landslides etc, which are said to increase with global warming; the changes in food availability as crop production around the world is affected by higher temperatures.
To conclude, the overlap of the events industry with the hospitality, tourism and design worlds shows we are not alone in needing to tackle an issue that would be easier to sideline as a threat to our industry. If we harness the positive outcomes that could come from taking big steps to make our industries more sustainable, we are far more likely to guarantee a bright future.
For further information on this subject, please click here for an article about sustainability in the wedding industry.
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