We love seeing a peek at what our stylish GWS brides + grooms have been up to even after their wedding day has passed. Renata from Big Bear Photo Co was the bride from one of our most popular weddings (filled with lots of pretty paper flowers!) and grabbed our attention once again when she sent us photos from the intimate outdoor dinner party she threw herself for her recent birthday!
The dinner, held in her Utah backyard for 23 of her closest pals, was majority DIY + planned in just under two months. She says, In order to stay in line with the budget, I basically repurposed things I already owned, made many visits to the Dollar Tree and crafted everything else: invitations, envelopes, napkins, macrame party favors, salad plates, and even the dining tables.
Since we thought Renata’s party turned out so great, we wanted to ask her to share her top 10 tips for throwing a boho-chic outdoor dinner party! We think her event is the perfect inspiration for throwing a backyard bridal shower, engagement party, or fun, fall dinner!
Tip #1: Send paper invitations! I have nothing against evites. As a matter of fact they are far better at managing your guest list. I just feel there’s something so special about receiving things in the mail. Since I dabble a bit in graphic design, I was able to make these simple invitations in Adobe Illustrator and had a large custom stamp created from rubberstamps.net. The envelopes were marbled using nail polish in water!
Tip #2: Flowers make everything better. Soooo, I’ll admit…I’m suuuper lucky to have best friends in the floral and wedding industry (shout out to Rachael from Lace and Likes / Siren Floral Co!) so I kind of cheated here…BUT, all of the greenery for centerpieces were foraged from the local trails near my house and a few of the flowers were picked from my garden. Florals are quite expensive, so foraging as much as possible really helps keep the cost down. If creating an epically large centerpiece is outside your skill set, a few gorgeous blooms in mix and match wine bottles and brass containers would also look gorgeous. You may also want to consider an all-greenery table runner to keep costs reasonable.
Tip #3: The right napkins help pull your tablescape together. I actually made the napkins first and arranged the look of the dinner around them! I shibori dyed a few dozen frayed linen napkins in different patterns to provide a coordinated look without being too matchy.
Tip #4: Bring the indoors outside. The pillows were found on clearance at a local store and borrowed rugs and blankets from various rooms in our house and layered under the table to made it feel cozier on a brisk fall day.
Tip #5: Use real plates (this doesn’t mean spending a lot). All of the plates were from the Dollar Tree and it made the dinner seem so much nicer than eating off of paper plates. I DIY marbled the salad plates using nail polish and water (but not to worry, they were strictly decorative)
Tip #6: A simple table provides the best backdrop. My husband DIY’d two tables and we sat on the floor to avoid having to build benches! You literally need a skill saw and drill to make these and all of the materials can be found at your local hardware store. See the DIY I followed here. I’m lucky enough to have a handy and willing husband, but if you don’t have this as an option, consider using a folding tables covered with a linen tablecloth.
Tip #7: DIY your party favors. I made these mini macrame wall hangings as party favors and to layer on the place settings. It made the dinner seem waaaay fancier than it was.
Tip #8: Make a signature cocktail. We have very talented friends in the cocktail business so they helped create a custom tequila cocktail that paired with our dinner perfectly. A signature cocktail is great because it keeps the cost of liquor down since you don’t need a full bar.
Tip #9: Figure out your guest list. We had 24 people, which gets out of hand kind of fast. 10-12 guests is way more manageable and much cheaper to host.
Tip #10: Keep food simple (and cheap). We did a taco bar with carne asada, pollo asada, and veggie skewers. Sides included rice, beans, guacamole, and homemade salsas. We were able to feed 24 people for around $140. Also, don’t be afraid to ask friends for help. They love being involved!
Renata shares, I actually calculated the retail value of the dinner which came out to be about $7000. I can tell you we spent well under $1000. WOW! A thousand points for DIYing a smaller party like this! Especially when you’re likely spending big bucks on the big day!
A bonus tip from Renata: Remember to sit down and enjoy! What’s the point of a party if you don’t get to spend time with the humans you care about? We do photography on the side and love capturing all of the moments, but when you’re too busy showing everyone what a good time you had, you missed out on actually enjoying yourself. Try to put down your phone, camera, etc. and spend quality time with your guests.
Thank you SO much, Renata, for sharing this special celebration + your helpful tips with us! We loved seeing what you + Jess are up to these days! You can check out more of Renata + Jess’ work here.