Just in time for summer, our friend Jonathan Parkey of J. Parkey — a one-stop-shop for all your wedding and event planning, branding and interior design needs — has designed the dreamiest garden party!
We chatted with Jonathan and got the inside scoop on the inspiration behind his design and how to make your guests feel right at home.
After getting married in Little Rock last October, Chris and I have been waiting anxiously for the weather to turn, our garden to bloom, and the perfect opportunity to treat the most important Southern women in our lives to a summer luncheon. The inspiration behind the party was to say thank you for the love and support these wonderful ladies showered us with during our wedding season.
As a wedding planner, I always speak to my couples about how they might go about thanking these important individuals after the dust has settled, and Chris and I couldn't think of a better way than a classic Southern summer luncheon.
Early on, these high-spirited ladies taught Chris the essentials of hosting, cooking, and knowing the difference between a soup and gumbo spoon. Adding that to my years in the event industry created a great deal of pressure for us to "put on the dog." As an event designer, I wanted to make the day bright and cheerful and also utilize our wedding china, silver, and gifts we received last year.
Calling on the seven years I spent in the New York fashion scene, I also wanted to flip a few things on their head. My motto has always been "know the rules and then break them" and that's why our Queen Elizabeth sterling cracker scoop makes the perfect ice scoop for making cocktails. Further, I took inspiration from Mottahedeh's Blue Canton pattern and the ever-classic, Tobacco Leaf and opted for colorful free spirit roses with a mix of green, blue, and white hydrangeas.
Tied neatly into a square knot, bright blue, pink, and orange grosgrain ribbons adorned the acrylic Chiavari chairs that also held the place cards. With the Southroad Terrace gardens consisting mostly of various types of perennial shade plants such as a wide range of hosta varieties, four types of Japanese maples and alocasia, these punches of color added interest and sophistication without being over-the-top.
The ladies were greeted with Gloria Ferrer's Blanc de Blanc or a zippy lemon lavender mint vodka spritz and a few appetizers such as onion souffle, mini lox bites and a fruit and cheese grazing board. Quick to point out that recipes serve more as guides than the gospel, Chris drew menu inspiration from the summer suppers his grandmother used to whip up at noon during the growing/farming season on her Delta farm as well as ideas from Julia Reed's "South," Little Rock Junior League's "Big Taste of Little Rock" and a few handwritten recipe cards that are stuffed in an old United Methodist cookbook.
Creating a taste of summer with a fresh tomato gazpacho paired with tomato sherbet, hot fried chicken breasts with a summer corn and field pea succotash and accompanied by Presq'uile Chardonnay and Gobelsburg Rose, we rounded out the luncheon with my grandmother's famous banana pudding in cobalt McCarty bowls of all sizes. Amongst the gossip, laughter and tall tales, we heard most loudly, "I sure hope they pull together A Taste of Fall."
China: The Everyday Chef, Little Rock