Looking to pull off an outdoor soirée with panache? Event planners Deirdre Young and Sinead Bailey Kelly of H&G share some advice.
What’s key to pulling off a successful outdoor gathering?
As much as we all hope and pray for that majestic sunny day, it’s fair to expect that in Ireland, it could very well be rainy and windy. Hiring a reasonably-priced gazebo makes for a good back-up plan.
How best to add impact without breaking your back with effort?
We are scavengers by nature, so we collect found objects, old branches, used wine bottles, old tin cans before upcycling these items with spray paint and glitter. The Auction House in Rathmines is excellent for weekly ornate finds on a dime. Making a pit stop to the Victorian flower market on Arran Street is a must – you can create some really beautiful wild flower arrangements on a budget for any occasion.
Are there any key tropes that you carry from one event to the next?
Over the years we have created a very distinct look for ourselves – somewhat unintentionally! – usually consisting of earthy, rustic and sometimes spooky found objects. Add a few candles and a touch of glitter and boom… magic!
What advice would you give a relatively inexperienced party planner when it comes to preparing for an outdoor dinner event?
Make sure your guests are as comfortable as possible. A nice touch would be some storm lanterns or jars with church candles, portable heaters, a small bonfire if and where possible. Throw a few blankets on the back of your guests’ chairs, too. If it’s a fine sunny evening at least you’re giving them the option to snuggle up when the sun goes down.
What are your top styling tips for a table and outdoor dining space?
Flowers are the star of the show on any tablescape. It’s essential to make a table feel fully personalised to your theme, colours, and your guests’ personalities. Making little items like hand-written name tags and party favours will really make your guests feel like a million bucks teer away from having items that have too much height or take up too much space – you don’t want them getting blown away in the wind, or impede people’s ability to have top notch conversational craic with someone sitting across from them.
Where do you guys take inspiration from?
Everywhere! Travelling to new places, friends, Instagram, the Internet in general, and viewing unique venues are great for getting those creative juices flowing. A good name often kickstarts the planning process! Pinterest is a fantastic tool for anyone looking for inspiration for a unique event.
What styling trends are H&G observing for dinner parties and events?
We’re seeing more modern pop with big, bright colours and linear aesthetics. Pineapples, geometric shapes and tropical plants are all being used to create some amazing centre pieces and focus points. Colour is back in a big way! Rustic is also a constant theme that is always being reinvented. We love hanging garden installations coupled with wood, moss and wild flowers. Using conventional materials in an unconventional way is always inspirational and fun.
Finally, what is your ultimate goal when styling and planning a dinner event?
Food, style, atmosphere and our guests making new connections in a meaningful way should all be on par. Our main objective is always that the guests’ experience is a positive one. If they leave happy and with a few new friends, our job is done
For more outdoor living advice, pick up the May/June issue of Image Interiors & Living.