With their boss, Charleston event planner Tara Geurard expecting her first baby, Kate Badger Little and Susan Kelly could have thrown a perfectly precious baby shower.
Instead, they dispensed with the fussy and froufrou for a thoroughly elegant garden party celebration. "I've learned to think like Tara," says Kelly. "Her taste is a little bit more modern with some traditional aspects. Nothing too silly."
Bearing gifts for the guest of honor, Little leads the way into the scenic backyard garden on the marsh.
The invitations set a whimsical, yet sophisticated, tone and featured a polka-dot giraffe, a zebra print, and shades of yellow and blue -- colors and motifs found in Guerard's nursery.
Baby Shower Blueprint: Explore ways to put a twist on a traditional practice. Little and Kelly suggest a spa baby shower where guests don bathrobes, receive treatments, and have lunch.
With Guerard's relaxed-meets-refined style in mind, Little and Kelly created a 20-guest garden luncheon. "We wanted it to be casual but a bit fancy, so guests would have a reason to put on a cute little dress," says Kelly.
The tables turned on Guerard, who had no hand in the party preparations.
The hospitality extended to the well-appointed table, set with silver flatware and lined with gerbera daisies. Giraffe rattles serve as napkin rings and carry the motif first introduced by the invitation.
The menu, prepared by Guerard's favorite Charleston chef, James Burns, included dishes the hostesses knew were her favorites, such as quail.
Baby Shower Blueprint: "You can have traditional food, but if you serve it in a different way, it makes it more exotic," says Little. "Sometimes that just means serving it in a different type of dish. We have done oyster shooters where we served an oyster in a tall shot glass with Bloody Mary mix."
Place cards display each guest's name, along with its pronunciation and meaning.
Baby Shower Blueprint: "We're always striving to create and invent new layouts and ways to make the party flow," says Little. "We've discovered that four-by-four-foot square tables seating two on each side encourage more conversation than a large round table, where people are so far apart."
Whimsical circles in shades of blue carry the polka-dot theme onto the cake.
Party favors include custom cookies shaped like onesies, bottles, and giraffes.
Baby Shower Blueprint: When it comes to favors, Little and Kelly don't want guests to pitch a token shortly after they receive it. "If it's not edible, we do something useful," says Kelly.
Little suggests tying the favor to to the location of the party. "In Charleston, for example, you could do a bag of grits, along with a recipe for shrimp and grits," she says.
On the day of the party, glasses clinked and blueberries made fizzy trails to the bottoms of Champagne flutes as guests mingled below a canopy of live oaks. The seated lunch was a welcome alternative to finger foods.
A mixed bar of Champagne, wine, lemonade, and fruit nectars made for a gracious and unfussy welcome. "We wanted to convey the relaxed feeling of 'come on in and help yourself,'" says Little.