We’ve featured many little girls’parties, but those for little boys have been harder to come by. It doesn’t matter though, because this next party is so good, so lovely, and so creative that it’ll be the only event you ever need to reference from here on out. Captured and designed by Shannon Von Eschen of Shalynne Imaging, I feel bad for any nautical themed party that comes after it. Oh, and there’s a lot more in the gallery too!

From Eli’s mom… As a mother who’s also a photographer, I have a hard time throwing the traditional cartoon, plastic tablecloth and balloons birthday party. There’s nothing wrong with those parties, it just that I’m an over-the-top person and aside from Toy Story, I’m not big into cartoons. Neither is Eli. Just yet. So, even though he was turning two, I wanted to create a space that would bring our families together, but also hold a story . I love curated spaces with obvious color palettes and though I slept hardly at all the week prior, the whole day was worth it.

My husband and I own a tree nursery in Boulder so I chose to host his birthday party at “work” in an old barn on our property. The party was entirely last minute on my part, so this made planning and designing a bit easier since I could do it in-between clients and editing while still being with Eli during the day. And he was even able to nap in the next room while I set up all the decor! ;) But the best part was how special the set-up and design really was because of how many family members of mine pitched in to bring my vision to life with such little time. My father helped me build the pergola out of 4 vintage wooden, front-porch posts I found laying outside of an old 1900s home owned by my in-laws. We used old barn-wood from our first office to attached them all together. But my father was so much more than a handyman. He hand-made a wooden sailboat for Eli and a very large, wooden anchor to match. He also spent long nights hand-making mini sailboats as party-favors for the guests that matched Eli’s boat, and little wooden fishies that hung over an old fence as decor. My mother made half the food & chocolates and my grandmothers made pies and other desserts that matched my theme. And a picture of the USS Chauncey sat on an old armoire–the boat my grandfather sailed on in the Korean War. He recently passed away, but it would have thrilled him to see this “sailboat party.” ;)

I used a ton of old antiques I found inside of my mother-in-laws vast collection, including an old painting of a sailboat that we used as a focal point over the buffet table, and a wall of vintage national geographic maps that filled a whole wall with a sea of water. The seats for the tables were old stumps from tree our nursery, and I brought in a few ornamental grasses we were selling at the time too. The cakes were custom made by a dear friend, and award-winning cake designer here in Colorado. I simple gave Rachael a few inspirational images of what I was hoping for, and she created a gorgeous three-tired cake of fondant waves, topped with an anchor that looked identical to the one my father made. And then for Eli’s smash cake, she made a smaller cake of sugar waves and topped it with a hand-cut sailboat to match the mini sailboats we had for favors.

From a simple “nautical” vision that popped in my head a week before his birthday, a whimsical party came to life before my eyes. But seeing Eli’s face light up when he saw his very own boat, and all the people he loved in one room was the very best part. Almost as good as the icing on his cake. Almost.

Photographer: Shalynne Imaging | Event Design: Shannon Von Eschen | Cake: Intricate Icings | Invitations: Shannon Von Eschen | Culinary Styling: Kendall Lind | Handmade Wooden Decor: Twigs & Treen | Paper Goods & Lables: Natosha Cooke | Stamps: Verde Studios | Tree Nursery: CreekSide Tree Nursery | Vintage Props: Newel Post Antiques