how to throw a mid-century welcome party

From the photographer, Melissa Desjardins

Why a Welcome Party:
By hosting a welcome party for guests who are coming from out-of-town, or who don’t necessarily know each other, you are creating a more intimate and meaningful experience for them. When they meet again at the wedding everyone will have a much more enjoyable time!

Mid century Cuban inspired welcome party Welcome party signs Tropical floral centerpiece Mid century party Palm from cushions with tassels Vintage cocktail book Mid century cuban inspired party

Why Mid-Century:
The concept for the welcome party was inspired by a time when cocktail parties were a popular social event for the middle and upper class. Mid-century entertaining put a great emphasis on formality and social etiquette. The cocktail party is the perfect event for smaller spaces, shorter timeframes, and it is an event that creates movement.

The social setting begins with an invitation, sent via snail mail. The tropical theme was digitized to have a more modern play on our mid-century design. We had place cards made for our authentic mid-century pineapple place card holders. The table setting was a stack of modern pieces with a mid-century feel. The green and gold plates set the color tone for the whole shoot. Cloth napkins were always used and often were embossed with the host’s initials.

Custom orange cocktail Welcome party food Emerald sequin dress Emerald green and gold plates Bite sized appetizers Mid century modern furniture Emerald sequin dress

Mid-Century Etiquette:
Buffets were considered “not quite proper,” and some members of the upper class might even consider them “lazy.” Most hostesses would hire a caterer to pass fancy finger foods. Mosaic catering made several colorful appetizers to be passed. As the saying goes, “you eat with your eyes.” They also created a signature drink to be served to the guests:

Blood Orange Rum Runner
2 parts rum
1 part blood orange liquor
pineapple juice
splash of club soda

How to throw a wedding welcome party Mid century modern candlesticks Emerald and gold plates and flatware Bar setup Mid century Cuban themed party Wedding welcome party

More Mid-Century Etiquette:
Hostesses never used paper or plastic plates at their cocktail parties. Crystal snack trays were very popular and hugely convenient. You would hold your tray in your left hand with your appetizers and punch cup. This would leave your right hand free for introductions. It was, and still is, considered bad form to offer a cold handshake. By having your punch cup on your tray your free hand remained warm. As a play on the necessity to have a punch at your cocktail party, Ever Laser created a Spike the Punch Sign, and we did just that!

Drink orders were taken by the host or hired help. As the night progressed guests were invited to help themselves from a fully stocked bar cart. It was critical that each drink was served in it’s correct glass. Any mixer or wine would have been put into a decanter beforehand. The bar was fully stocked with all of the liquors and glasses that you could ever want.

Bar sign Mini tequila bottles Custom popsicles Mid century bar Bar cart tools Cigar lounge sign Pineapple decor Mid century modern bar

Fun Details about the Shoot:
The bar cart was outfitted as a “POP CART.” The Pop Cart was stocked with sparkling water, champagne, and custom-made popsicles from King Of Pops. This is a great conversation starter and a great refresher in the summer months.

Smoking was all the rage during this timeframe. The men would have broken off from the women to smoke cigars in a dedicated lounge. As this was primarily a “men only” area I thought it fitting to create a “Smoke and Mirrors lounge.” Complete with string art, a wooden printed sign, and a wall full of hanging mirrors.

The design inspiration came from the international sign of welcome, the pineapple. The pineapple led to a tropical theme which was very popular during the mid-century!

Mid century party Appetizers Orchid chair garland Mid century modern party Turquoise vase Mid century modern party Custom popsicles Mid-century modern bar cart Mid-century modern dresses

More Fun Details about the Shoot:
The Pantone color for 2017 is greenery, and this is a more modern take on the trend. The Hofheimer was selected as our venue as the design aspects for mid-century are simple and clean, with a few bold pieces. The most popular wall color during this time was white, which allowed hostesses to show off their unique decor and the lines of their furniture.

By creating various lounges around the venue that were filled with unique details I created conversational pieces. This was imperative in keeping the party alive! During the entire design process I had to remember that these people might not know each other. I needed to create interesting and surprising vignettes as ice breakers and conversation starters.

With a few exceptions, all of the furniture, decor, snack trays, glassware, and design elements were authentic mid-century pieces. Paisley and Jade contributed an amazing selection of vintage furniture and details. What they didn’t have I sourced from local thrift stores, yard sales, and vintage shops. The pillows were hand-made, the signs were made by small shop designers, and this was a true labor of love. It was important to me to source from small businesses, use authentic pieces, and create an atmosphere indicative of an era passed!

Palm frond place cards Wedding welcome party ideas Cigar barn sign Gold rimmed glassware Cigar bar Tropical floral centerpiece Rooftop party Cigar bar Cigar bar

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Photography: Melissa Desjardins // Planner: Lauren Purcell of Swoon Soiree // Fashion & Makeup: Rachel Yonan of Touting My Wears // Catering: Mosaic // Florals: Leann Moore of Whimsical Floral Design // Rentals & Décor: The Runway Dish, Thread Therapy, Classic Party Rentals, Ever Laser, AFR Rentals, and Paisley and Jade // Lighting: The Lighting Professors // Stationery: Miss Design Berry // Models: Beth Spurlock & Bree El // Custom Popsicles: King of Pops //  Venue: The Hofeimer in Richmond, Virginia.

About Sara Burnett

Editor of Burnett's Boards, which she founded to showcase global creativity in the wedding industry. Sara currently lives out of a suitcase while island hopping the Caribbean and beyond. Learn More // Follow on Instagram.

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