From cocktail parties to corporate events and seated dinners, the holiday season is officially here and party planning is in full swing! But event planning takes a lot of thought, creativity and an incredible attention to detail.

Recently, I had the opportunity to see a group of the most fabulous, industrious and amazingly talented women doing what they do best: party planning. They designed a gorgeous fall fete and stunning outdoor space – all in my front yard and photographed beautifully by the amazing Kerry Kirk! The design Little Coterie dreamed up, the perfect chandelier MM Lighting provided,the delicious food KB Table served, and the beautiful calligraphy from NancyB Creative made this such a fun event!

 

The brains behind Little Coterie, Laura U, NancyB Creative, and MM Lighting

 

I was not only inspired by the creativity of this talented group, but also by their entrepreneurial drive and amazing command of the logistics to produce a seamless event. Y’all, each of these gals is a force of nature and I’m beyond thrilled to have hosted them at my own home. Today, I’m excited about the opportunity to introduce you to the party planning women who made this gorgeous fall fete happen.

 

Courtney Paddock, party planning maven

 

Courtney Paddock, Little Coterie. 
Little Coterie is a design and event management company specializing in detail-heavy soirees.  

 

LU: What are your top 3 must-haves for the perfect party?
CP: 1) The right combination of personalities! Make sure there is a common thread, so that there is something to talk about. Nothing is worse than an awkward get-together! 2) Um, hello! Adult beverages ! and 3) Ambiance: Lower the lights a tad, turn on some tunes and help your guests relax by being a relaxed and gracious hostess. One of the best dinner parties I have ever been to, the house was a mess, the hostess was barefoot, but they were happy and relaxed and it rubbed off on their guests.

 

LU: What about the small details – what’s a way to make guests feel extra special?  
CP: Show them that they are special by setting a pretty table, lighting candles, and pulling out the silver. Life and loved ones should be celebrated so don’t wait for the holidays to do these things…we do it on a Tuesday night at our house, for pete’s sake. And don’t forget the “Sam Cooke” station, it is THE best dinner music for all generations!

 

LU: The events photos on your website are gorgeous! Where do you find your inspiration?
CP: Other creatives via Instagram and Pinterest….ssssshhhhh!! It is so easy to “research” with hashtags and search words, the internet is your oyster. 

 

Houston Party Planning with Laura U and Little Coterie

 

LU: What are your go-to stores and boutiques for event décor?
CP: I love Anthropologie for interesting and affordable pieces, Kuhl-Linscomb has more than you could ever dream of and I always love Indulge (you can even find a hostess outfit there). 

 

LU: Fill-in-the-blank: My best party planning advice would be…
CP: Plan ahead. Label serving platters, write out a timeline, pick out your outfit and mark your nail appointment on your calendar days prior. Today’s fast-paced lifestyle requires organization so you don’t answer the door with an apron on and your hair halfway done. And above all else, smile and enjoy the experience!

 

Amy Margolin of MM Lighting

 

Amy Margolin, MM Lighting. 
MM Lighting is a Houston-based lighting showroom, specializing in decorative residential and office lighting fixtures.

 

LU: Tell us more about this incredible chandelier.
AM: When Courtney and Nancy came to the showroom looking for a piece to place outdoors, the Tilda chandelier was one of the first that came to mind. Made of five tiers of real wood dowels, it has an organic form that fits the image of an outdoor fall-inspired party. Plus, the whitewash finish provides a great contrast to any surrounding that’s dense with color. On a personal note, I happen to love that the manufacturer of this chandelier, Arteriors, is a family-owned Dallas-based company. I love any chance to support family-owned businesses in our great state!

 

LU: You have an enormous showroom at M&M Lighting. Do you suggest planning for the visit or coming in with a blank slate and open mind?
AM: For better or worse, I think more than one trip is absolutely necessary! For one, I’m always putting out new pieces, but it’s also nice to see things and let them sit with you a while before making any decisions. Lighting can definitely be a trendy accent in your home, but I also like to think that these are pieces you’ll live with for a while. The first visit is great for getting ideas and the second visit should be about having all your dimensions and hammering out the details. 

 

MM Lighting at Laura U's home

 

LU: Let’s say someone is looking for a statement piece and price is no issue! What would you recommend?
AM: Oh, that’s like asking me for my favorite pair of shoes! There are so many stunning options out there. It really depends on your personal style. That said, I’m loving this company called SLAMP where every piece is made to order in Milan. My favorite is a Zaha Hadid designed chandelier called the Avia. It’s luminous and sculptural and even though it’s a very contemporary line, I think it would look incredible juxtaposed in a rustic, more traditional setting.

 

NancyB holding a KB Table Dish

 

Kelli Bunch, KB Table
KB Table is a catering and meal planning service located in Houston focused on using fresh, local ingredients.

 

LU: You say that you’ve always had a passion for cooking and that family dinners hold a special place in your heart. What is your favorite home-cooked (maybe mom-cooked!) meal? 
KB: A lot of my cooking style comes from my mom! As we are both hard headed, we don’t usually tend to follow recipes or instructions. To be honest, some of our favorite meals together is a lavish cheese board and a nice bottle of wine. My mom is an avid gardener so including fresh herbs and vegetables from her garden is a must! My mom comes is of Lebanese descent and it has been our tradition that during Thanksgiving my Nana will come over to help hull out baby yellow squash, which takes all day. Each is filled with minced meat made with sweet and spicy Lebanese spices and simmered in a homemade tomato sauce. Everyone will snack on them all week long!

 

Kelli Bunch from KB table makes squash soup

 

LU: You’re planning a small get together and want to wow your guests. What’s on the menu?
KB: For starters, we typically have an elaborate cheese and charcuterie board on the menu, as it is always a crowd pleaser! I love to cook seasonally and introduce clients to ingredients they may not have tried before. Repetitive menus can get boring, that’s why I pride myself on no one menu being the same. We love one-bite appetizers so every guest can try a little bit of everything! For those special occasions, we love to create signature cocktails like the Blood Orange Margarita for this event! For seated dinners, I love to surprise our guests with an amuse bouche; anything from truffle deviled eggs with caviar to a bite-size beef carpaccio. My goal is to always wow my clients and give them a taste of my cooking style and some of my favorite dishes!

 

Mmm...Blood Orange Margs!

 

LU: Your dishes are always nutritionally balanced. As the holidays approach, what is your go-to yummy, yet healthy side dish? 
KB: I hate coining the term healthy, as it tends to turn people away especially during the holidays, but using fresh, locally grown produce is truly the best! When roasting vegetables, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper goes such a long way for those dishes people tend to steer clear of! I can’t encourage people enough to eat seasonally and to use olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper to season roasted vegetables. It truly goes a long way. As one of my muses, Alice Waters said, “when you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is.”

 

Toasting the Perfect Party!

 

These women make event planning looks incredibly easy, but that’s why they’re the professionals! If you want your event to be sophisticated and elevated, my advice is to get professional party planning help. And these are the best ladies in Houston to help you plan a stunning event.For more design inspiration and event ideas, follow me on Instagram.

Event Planning and Design: 
Little Coterie | Lighting: MM Lighting | Catering: KB Table | Calligraphy: NancyB Creative | Florals: Maxit Flower Design | Rentals: Aztec | Photography: Kerry Kirk Photography | Video: Swiggard Creative
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5 thoughts on “Fall Fete: Party Planning Perfected

  1. natalia blachuta on November 7, 2018 at 8:08 pm Reply

    Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and the photos are amazing. Keep sending more like this!

    1. Laura U on November 8, 2018 at 10:55 pm Reply

      Thank you, Natalia. Hard not getting amazing photos with this crew.

  2. Pamela on November 7, 2018 at 9:41 pm Reply

    Great photos Laura and such a nice location/backdrop with the gorgeous trees !. That chandalier is to die for !

    1. Laura U on November 8, 2018 at 10:52 pm Reply

      Thank you, Pamela! Shout out to Amy at MM Lighting for the stunning chandelier. It was the perfect choice.

  3. Sheri Roane on November 7, 2018 at 11:52 pm Reply

    Awesome! Love Laura U!

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