I realize that our blog lately might make it seem as if we're super self-centered and just keep throwing parties for ourselves, but that's because we are.
No, no, I'm kidding. It's because both Colette and I are very lucky and excited to be celebrating big milestones in our lives right now and throwing parties is obviously how we mark these occasions.
Bryce and I are expecting our little girl (Arlo!) at the end of November. We're floating on cloud nine and can't wait to meet her. We were so excited to get to celebrate her impending arrival with 50 of our closest friends and family this past weekend at our new home.
THIS IS A LONG POST, PREPARE YOURSELVES. GRAB A SNACK OR SOMETHING.
Colette and my mom, June, hosted the most wonderful baby shower for us. We are BEYOND spoiled. We had so many family members and friends pitch in to help us get our house ready and make this magical day celebrating our daughter possible. We have felt especially loved these past few weeks.
I'm not an easy person to throw a party for, as you might imagine, so our amazing hosts really had their hands full planning a party with me at my house. (I try to be chill, I really do, but I have a VISION, you know?! Uh, I'm the worst. Moving on.) My Mom and Colette are kindred spirits in many ways. They are both much more chill than I am about many things and both worry about and love me way too much. So, of course, when it came to planning this shower, they wanted me to ask for help and not do too much (impossible) and wanted me to relax and have fun. Have I mentioned I'm very lucky?
Admittedly, I tried to cancel this thing three times and Colette had to talk me down. Because let's be honest, when you're an event planner, and the event is for you, and the event is at your house, you're going to have a lot to do no matter what. And I was just too pregnant and busy to feel like it was worth it half of the time. I was wrong as usual, it was worth it.
But more than that, I really hate being a burden and the idea of my mom and Colette spending money on me really, truly upset me. Thankfully, Colette and I are in the event industry (did you know?!) and we have great friends and a few tricks up our sleeves for throwing parties with a mostly reasonable amount of money. Also, I forced them to let me pay for some things. That made me feel a little bit better.
So, on to the party itself because I assume that's why you're here! We wanted to throw a casual, co-ed, backyard baby shower with a german beer garden vibe. Sound weird for a baby shower theme? Yeah, it is, but here in Milwaukee we LOVE our beer gardens. We hang out on long group tables, drink beer, eat yummy snacks like soft pretzels, and spend hours relaxing and chatting in the sunshine. Now, minus the drinking beer part for me, this is exactly how I wanted to spend time with my favorite people to celebrate our growing family.
Bryce designed the invitations, advice/prediction cards, and beer labels for the home brew made by Colette's fiance, Mike. Everyone was obsessed with this beer and I saw multiple people searching around the other beer for more of it in all of the buckets and coolers we had. We also had many people take the labels with them as little souvenirs. Nice work, gents!
My dad made and my mom designed the custom cornhole game. My mom also customized the "wein" and "bier" buckets, made the spicy pretzels and snickers rice krispies we had as favors, and a bunch of things I'm forgetting right now. And that's just party related. They also both helped us with the many, many house projects we wanted to accomplish before the day. Seeing my mom and dad have fun at the shower with some of their closest friends was the best. They both get so cute and giggly, I freaking love it.
Colette arranged everything and worked her magic with all of the vendors. She took these amazing photos, hand-selected all of the wine and beer, and again, a million other things including keeping me fed and watered the whole day. She also made sure I didn't do too much so I wouldn't get tired and then "cranky". I was like UGH! at the time, but you know she was right, guys. No one has a greater best friend than I do, I can say that with absolute certainty.
Wood Violet put together these floral arrangements straight out of a fairy beer garden. They were MAGIC and also smelled incredible. Trust me, my nose is all-powerful right now. We love Emily & her team at Wood Violet so very much. The talent is mind-blowing!
Our friends Jimmy & Aimee started a catering business called Stove + Salt at the exact time we were looking for a caterer. It was destiny. Jimmy is a well-known professional chef aka god of food, wizard, magic man. Aimee is the sweetest person on the planet and somehow saves lives by day and beautifully plates food by night. Jimmy, Aimee, and their team produced gourmet beer garden food out of my tiny, weird kitchen and my garage. HOW, YOU GUYS?! I sent Jimmy a ridiculous menu I had perculating in my head and he took it and ran with it. They even packed up the food and cleaned which was AMAZING.
The Menu (for weirdos like me who care):
Homemade Soft Pretzels, Beer Cheese Sauce + Italian Red Sauce
Wisconsin Cheese Curds, Rustic Malted Ketchup
Dutch Frites, Sriracha Mayo + Lemon Aioli
"Belgian Cheese Snack", Carr Valley Gouda, Ground Mustard, Celery Salt
Blueberry Goat Cheese, Fig Compote, Lavash Crackers
Apple, Pecan + Irish Cheddar Salad, Mix Leafy Greens, Radicchio + Dijon Dressing
Crisp Romaine Salad, French Bread Croutons, Shaved Parmesan, Vegan Caesar Dressing
Market Crudite, Garlic Hummus + Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip
Lentil + Pecan Sliders, Vegan Thousand Island Sauce
We also had desserts from my favorite place, C. Adams Bakery. Cherry cheesecake, berry chiffon cake, and chocolate silk pie were all very rapidly demolished. The berry chiffon cake had a teensy bit leftover which I have been enjoying when the baby is hungry. (Yeah, the baabbbby is hungry, suuuuure.)
In addition to the wine and beer, I made pineapple sage shrub and raspberry shrub for mocktails. If you don't know what shrub is, I highly recommend you do some googling and whip some up for yourself!
For those of you who came here looking for legitimate party planning advice, here's some tips for designing a party. Pick an initial design aesthetic for your party and move forward from there. If you're a current or past Noir client, you know that we aren't fans of starting with picking arbitrary colors for your wedding and building off of that. We start with how you want to feel, how you want your guests to feel, and the overall vibe of the party. That's what we did here. I wanted the vibe of a beer garden where the typical awkwardness of a baby shower was (hopefully) avoided so that everyone would feel comfortable, including me, and get to enjoy some good food & drinks. From there, we wanted the design to fit with our backyard so we went with natural wood, neutral florals, and flowy white linens for guest tables. We needed a pop of pattern for accent tables so looked in that direction and landed on black & white stripe. And, since it was a baby shower after all, added in a little girly, child-like whimsy with balloons. The accents come together naturally after that.
Once the guests arrived and the party was rocking, it was a really beautiful afternoon. We had loved ones travel from as far as Texas, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to celebrate with us. We were overwhelmed by a mountain of generous and thoughtful gifts for our little girl. We were mostly thankful to get that time with the people in our lives we love so very much. I may have cried for a quick sec when thanking everyone.
It was a beautiful, happy day. We can't wait to welcome our little baby cake in ten weeks!