"It's important to note that making a celebration memorable doesn't have to mean making it formal and fussy... my goal is to create a setting that gives people lasting memories... When you bring beauty, care, and attention to an occasion you mark the moment- for a lifetime."
For me, entertaining is about celebrating life as well as special events; spending as much time with loved ones and friends as possible. This is something I learned from my mother who never missed a beat, from flowers to delicious food. Not every event was a grand affair, sometimes it was flowers from her garden with tea at the kitchen table to view her dear friend's newest grand-baby pictures, other times it was elaborately themed birthday parties for my brother and I, or lovely candlelight evening soirees with business partners and friends. Everything was always done with flowers and a beautifully set table. Once, she set up the patio with potted hibiscus and earthenware dishes for a bon voyage party for her friends' upcoming second honeymoon... Inspired by my mom, I am always looking for new ideas and how to's for entertaining.
I was first introduced to the gorgeous designs of the very successful New York event designer DeJuan Stroud while researching corporate party ideas. What I found were pictures of spectacular events that were at once beautiful and inviting. I was thrilled to learn of the release of Mr. Stroud's first book Designing Life's Celebrations, fulfilling his dream to inspire and encourage everyone to bring flowers and beauty into their lives in effortless ways.
DeJuan Stroud grew up gardening with his parents and grandmother in Alabama, he watched them as they were greeting guests and arranging flowers, and he saw the joy that they took in celebrating life's milestones. After a successful run on Wall Street, he launched Dejuan Stroud, Inc in 1996 with his wife Debra; twenty years later, he is one of the most successful event designers in New York City.
His new book is beautifully written, filled with gorgeous photos and helpful how to's - showcasing that every event tells a story. From a Venetian-inspired birthday, to a lovely garden luncheon, you will be inspired to design each and every one of your life's celebrations. Designing Life's Celebrations is a welcome gift for a hostess and a must-have for your entertaining library. Here is just a sneak peak. Enjoy!
"These four photographs are from the wedding of my daughter, Emily. She carried a bouquet of cream Vendela roses, green ornithogalum, Iceberg roses, and variegated hosts leaves. The room was set with a long tables in the shape of the letter E in tribute to Emily and her husband, Eric. Flower arrangements of several different styles were placed down the lengths of the tables; a Venetian vase held a simple bouquet of Sterling roses. The floral arrangements were all low, and candles added height to the tables."
From Part I
An Elegant Dinner in Greenwich
Romance at Home
Contemporary Loft Dinner
"Often when I speak to the parents of our brides and grooms after a wedding, they say that they wish they could experience the whole evening all over again. Debra and I felt the same way, so when Emily's in-laws came to our house for dinner a few months after she and Eric were married, I thought it would be fun to relive the wedding dinner by setting the table with a scaled-down version of their wedding decor..."
"The table was set with antique glassware and silverware, simple silver-bordered white china, natural linen napkins, and pretty place cards by the wedding calligrapher."
From Part II
In the Garden
An Old-Fashioned Ladies' Lunch
Bold Bridal Shower
Vintage Road Trip
"When four long-time friends who are avid gardeners came together for a late-spring luncheon, the hostess' garden was the natural choice for the location..."
"The table's centerpiece was a profusion of spring flowers. This abundant bouquet of anemones, Mascara, viburnum, ranunculus, nerines, parrot tulips, and hyacinths was a bit oversized for the table, marking the luncheon as a special celebration.
Chinoiserie-style chairs painted neon pink punctuated the garden setting."
"I'm having a Meet the Fockers luncheon... Because she is a venerable New York City hostess known for her creative parties with interesting themes and notable guest, I knew that it was important for the decor to have impact and a certain élan. After several conversations, we settled on an al fresco lunch in a colorful Bohemian style. ..."
"The casual Bohemian style of the table was well suited to the patio setting. An overhead view shows the unusual blue stain on the table and the bold striped canvas chair-back covers and cushions. Dried artichokes held the napkins in place."
"With bright flowers, casual ceramic dishes, bowls of cold soup, and colored glasses, the table epitomized summer dining."
From Part V Workbook
Flowers and Containers
One Arrangement, Three Ways
Caring for flowers
"One of the sweetest techniques I have used over the years is to create a breakaway bouquet. ... several small bouquets placed close together in one vase to create what appears to be single large arrangement. ..."
"At the end of the party, the arrangement can easily be disassembled and the small bouquets wrapped in tissue paper, tied with ribbon, and given to guests as they leave. ..."
"...The recipe for each bouquet is three roses, three anemones, two Italian diathuses, six ranunculus, six stems of Viburnum Lucidum, and one small artichoke on its stem."
A sincere thank you to Elizabeth Cohen at Jill Cohen Associates- Where Beautiful Books Begin for the opportunity.
A thank you to Ron Longe at Rizzoli USA for providing this beautiful book.
Photographs by Monica Buck
Quotes curtesy of DeJuan Stroud