Spring Fling

Recruit the help of these local businesses when planning your next outdoor fête

By Vanessa Pascale Rust

Since spring’s arrival, we all want to be outside more, basking in the warmer weather and bright sunshine among the flora and greenery with friends and family. And what better way is there to welcome the season than with an outdoor fête? When planning a dreamy outdoor dinner party, garden grad party, or alfresco rehearsal dinner, you must consider a list of things – the space, food, ambience, setup, time of day… A lot goes into hosting a successful party, which is why we culled a few local businesses that can help elevate your open-air party with their services and sage advice.

A Warm Weather Menu

When it comes to your event’s fare, Oakhurst Market — a local market that offers locally sourced produce, fresh house-baked bread, beer and wine — has you covered. “We have a butcher on site, offer sandwiches daily, have a great variety of prepared foods and, of course, provide catering,” says Paula Connor, who oversees Catering and Special Events at Oakhurst Market.

Connor is a big fan of their assorted crostinis. “They offer a great variety and are easy to eat while standing. Our menus are based on some of our most popular items offered in the store and what our past customers have enjoyed at their catered events. We can certainly customize the menu to fit our customers’ needs/wants.” Oakhurst’s presentation and flavors are top-notch. And their Earl Grey and Lemon with Madagascar Vanilla Bean Buttercream topped with Fresh Berries is the perfect dessert –it’s lightweight yet decadent.

Connor’s top three must-haves for an outdoor fête are food, drinks and music. Her other tip is to consider the flow of the event and what is needed to set up the space, like chairs, tables, tents and more. “I think the fresh air, not being in a confined indoor space and being able to move around more freely are good reasons to have an outdoor party,” she concludes.

Cocktails for a Crowd

No party is complete without drinks. If you really want to level up your event, bring in The Tippy Tap Company, featuring a vintage Piaggio Ape from Italy transformed into a gorgeous six-tap bar. “We started the importing process in 2018 and got it in our hands two weeks before I had my baby boy in 2019! I’m a Southern girl from Louisiana. My background is in bartending, hospitality and service, so starting The Tippy Tap was like second nature to me,” says founder Alice Wallace.

Whatever you need when it comes to party beverages, The Tippy Tap handles. “We want our client, the host, not to have to worry about a thing as far as the drinks are concerned, and we want all the guests to feel well taken care of. We are always trying to pair the drink menu with the food, the crowd and sometimes, even the weather. Nothing better than a cold glass of dry French rosé on a hot summer day,” Wallace notes.

The Tippy Tap can serve any assortment desired, from Champagne, wine, beer, custom craft cocktails and custom craft mocktails to juices, kids’ drinks, cold brew, kombucha…you name it. “Even though we are an Italian truck, our most popular drink is, surprisingly, our skinny spicy margarita. We have clients that hire us back just for the margaritas!”

Wallace’s best tips for throwing a successful alfresco event are to consider the elements your guest will be experiencing, such as the weather, where the sun will be during your party and even mosquito season to ensure your guests will be comfortable. “Don’t over stress. People love being taken care of, so making sure your guests are comfortable, well fed and have enough to drink are the most important elements,” she remarks.

Alluring Ambience

Every outdoor party needs an alluring ambience. Set the scene with fresh flowers or greenery styled in an assortment of vases of varying sizes to add some color and freshness to the space. Lighting is incredibly important — think patio string lights and candles (real or battery-operated) to give the area a soft glow. Turn on some music that suits your party’s theme. And lastly, create a memorable tablescape with the help of Retro Party Rentals, a boutique event rental company in Atlanta.

“In 2017, I was selling vintage glassware on Etsy. A friend was bartending a party at Kelly’s Closet, and they inquired about renting glasses. I hadn’t thought of providing vintage rentals before, but I had the glasses to make it work. My business grew from there, and now, I supply vintage glassware, flatware and dishes for events,” says founder Jennifer Odendahl.

Every successful outdoor event needs proper glassware for cocktails, the right music, and good lighting, if you ask Odendahl. “I love the look of mismatched dinnerware with unique glassware; it elevates a gathering and can be a conversation starter. Also, vintage glassware and a spirit, like Murrell’s Row, distilled in Decatur, make a perfect hostess gift!”

When designing an outdoor space for a party, Odendahl always starts with the occasion/theme and then works with any seasonal cocktails, the event’s colors, the outdoor space and of course, the weather. “One favorite party was a fiesta and featured a tequila tasting station complete with vintage mini aperitif glasses. Another party featured a blind taste test of a high-end wine versus a low-cost wine, and everyone voted on their favorite.” Her best tips for throwing a successful alfresco shindig are to be prepared for anything, including wind, rain, sun, cold snaps and mosquitoes — and to keep guests hydrated. “I like putting out carafes on the table,” she says.

Remembering the Moment

Don’t forget to take lots of photos! Having a professional photographer snap pictures during your alfresco bash allows guests and you to relive the wonderful time you had through photographs. Local photographer Robert Lambert — whose work includes photography, documentary shorts, music videos and more — helps create lasting memories with his beautiful photography. Having a professional is great for capturing those joyful candid moments and group photos, plus images of the decor. Another plus is that you don’t have to worry about having one person sit out of the group shot to take the photo.

“A good candid moment caught on camera will keep bringing smiles to you and your guests and highlight the joys of coming together in celebration. When the party’s over, revisiting those intimate times with friends through images can remind all of us that we should plan another get-together,” says Lambert.

“I like photographing outdoors because it’s exciting to capture the serendipity of light, shadows and color — and it gives me and the subjects space to move around, feel relaxed, and explore different compositions, he adds. “Spring is the perfect time to get outside for photos; the colors in the trees, blossoming flowers and a longer golden hour all make for perfect conditions to play with a camera.” According to Lambert, the three things every outdoor party (and party photo) should have are friends, food and music. “Get outside and make the most out of the weather and colors around you!”

For more information, visit:
Oakhurst Market oakhurstmarket.com
The Tippy Tap Co. tippytap.co
Retro Party Rentals retropartyrentals.com
Photographer Robert Lambert robertlambertcreative.com

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