Foodies take note. If you are going to throw a farm-to-table birthday bash, this is how to get top marks. A casual, yet unique setting, incredible food (and of course a doughnut bar), plus a few whimsical notes for fun all inspired by Sunday suppers. Ashley Nicole Events planned a fresh get together, including Catering By Design‘s incredible food, and loads of imagery captured by Rachel Havel.
When it came time to decide a theme for Tom and Nicole’s 30th birthday soiree, it was clear that a farm-to-table dinner party was the obvious choice. Both originally being from the Midwest, they wanted to pay tribute to what those beloved “fly over” states bring to the table (pun intended). While farming isn’t part of their immediate families’ livelihoods, rows of corn and beans and meadows full of cows were an everyday occurrence of their childhoods. They’ve been in Colorado for the last 4 years, and those memories of running through cornfields and trying their hand unsuccessfully at cow-tipping still play out (albeit differently) in their new home through hikes in the mountains and buying locally whenever they can.
It was also important to Tom and Nicole to create a sense of community and fellowship among our guests, who all came from such opposite parts of their lives. And, they wanted guests to feel welcome and comfortable right from the beginning. So, Gram Paper + Design created an invitation that was not only unique but also warmly invited guests to gather for a dinner party. While Rachel with Rachel Havel Photography documented the party for them, she also mingled with the guests, helping maintain a comfortable and intimate festivity.
The produce, whether enjoyed on a plate prepared by Catering by Design’s team or as the décor, became the focus of the entire event. Suspended carrots, tomatoes, onions, radishes and other fresh fruits and vegetables over the dinner tables added height to the perfectly rustic barn at Blanc Denver, a new and pleasantly unexpected venue in downtown Denver. Ashley Nicole Events’ team continued the fresh produce from the ceiling to the exposed king tables, accented with bunches of bright, whimsical flowers and greenery and persimmon branches provided by Newberry Brothers, antlers (a nod to Colorado’s wilderness) and candles. The king tables and tub chairs from By Design Event Décor contributed to the rustic atmosphere in the barn.
Upon entering through the sliding, metal barn doors for dinner, guests found their seats by locating their names on cheese-knives, wedged into blocks of sharp cheddar cheese from the local dairy in Tom’s hometown, Hastings, Minnesota. Each cutting board was hand-written by Ezer Photography with the menu that the guests were about to enjoy. The mismatched, cut-glass stemware, vintage flatware and plates supplied by Chairished Vintage Rentals complemented the overall décor perfectly, reminding Tom and Nicole of the place-settings their grandparents’ used for Sunday Suppers.
To quench guests’ thirsts, Peak Beverage treated everyone to classic cocktails from the prohibition era. Guests sipped Old fashions, French 75’s, Manhattans and Sidecars while lounging on furniture from the homes of the Ashley Nicole Events team. Guests commented on how the chairs looked familiar, and then slowly realized that some of the pieces were from Tom and Nicole’s living room. Bringing their “home” into this gorgeous venue unpredictably created a familiar and intimate environment for their guests, who have all spent time in their home in Denver.
The barely-there frosting on the exposed cake by Leaf and Crumb perfectly emulated the rustic surroundings of the venue and guests admired it as a work of art. And, the wood cow, pig and chicken décor from By Design Event Décor was a topic of conversation as it transitioned from a décor piece to a sautéing table for the warm maple, bourbon and brandy butter donuts.
Opposite from the delicious cake stood Tom and Nicole’s “market.” Perhaps the catalyst for the entire theme, it not only showcased the focal point of the celebration, but it was also the guest favors. Close family members came together to build the wall, and Lighting & Design by Scott illuminated it as the sun set towards the end of the party. As guests departed, they filled large paper bags with produce from Isabelle Farm in Lafayette, Colorado and Rocky Mountain Fresh in Longmont, Colorado.
Tom and Nicole were absolutely astonished by how impactful the market was among their guests. Undoubtedly, guests were thrilled to have their grocery list reduced, especially given that the next morning was the beginning of the workweek. The part that was so unexpected was the extended interaction it created during the rest of the week. Tom and Nicole received texts from guests who were using the berries in a smoothie; phone calls that they were roasting the corn for a salad and baking the kale for chips. People were reaching out for recipes for produce they’d never tried before. Even during the 4-course dinner, guests were exchanging phone numbers and emails to pass along recipes, inspired by some of the produce they were surrounded by.
A subtle emblem of Tom and Nicole’s childhood, the farm and its crop is easily identified as the theme of our party. But, the more personal and memorable conclusion is, perhaps, around fellowship. There’s no doubt of the strong tie between food and community, and they found it was touching to see how the produce at their party brought the people from all different corners our lives together
Photography: Rachel Havel | Floral Design: Newberry Brothers | Cake: Leaf & Crumb | Invitations: Becky Shriver, Gram Paper + Designs | Catering: Catering By Design | Lighting: Lighting And Design By Scott | Beverage Service: Peak Beverage | Event Space: Blanc | Furniture: Ashley Nicole Events | Market: Ashley Nicole Events | Menu Calligraphy: Ezer Calligraphy | Place-Settings, Rugs: Chairished Vintage Rentals | Planning & Styling: Ashley Nicole Events | Tables, Chairs, Animal Display: By Design Event Decor