Your First Dinner Party!

Words and Photo by: Meaghan Carey

What’s incredibly exciting and daunting all at the same time?

If you’re in the midst of wedding planning, the answer will probably be – starting a new life with your partner.  At the moment, you may be noticing that your life is changing.  Gone are the “single girl” days, when a dinner party meant gathering your girlfriends for wine on a Friday night.  Okay, that will still happen!  But as a married couple, how you entertain will change.  Hosting an elegant, intimate dinner party is a lovely way to welcome family and friends to your new life and home.

When planning your “happily ever after,” take time to think about how you will want to host as a couple.  By talking through traditions, your style together and dreams for the future, you and your partner will be able to create a registry list that will make hosting family and friends an enjoyable experience.

To help you create a memorable evening, here are a few tips for hosting your first dinner party as a married couple:

Cocktails & Hors D’oeuvres
Once your guests have arrived, take a few minutes to sit and enjoy your company.  They will be grateful for your attention and even if things aren’t perfect in the kitchen, this will give the illusion that they are!

If you have to excuse yourself to finish the meal, place hors d’oeuvres throughout your entertaining space.  Instead of just one main platter of hors d’oeuvres, place smaller dishes in areas where people may congregate. This will let your guests know that they are not restricted to one room.  Don’t forget cocktail napkins and depending on your hors d’oeuvre, you may need small plates.

Music is an ideal way to set the ambiance for your dinner party.  It can help with the flow for the evening and relax your guests, since there will be no awkward silences.  A wireless speaker is an easy option to play music and can be moved and controlled from your home computer or smart phone.

A beautifully set table will be warm and welcoming to your guests.  It’s a good idea to set the table early in the day, even before you start to cook.  To begin, select a tablecloth or table runner which will be the base of your tablescape.

When you are hosting friends, a patterned tablecloth will add vibrancy to your tablescape, while a neutral tablecloth would be more appropriate for formal occasions, such as entertaining parents or work colleagues.  When hosting a dinner party, cloth napkins and napkin rings are a lovely finishing touch!

A good rule to remember is to keep your centerpiece low.  It should not interfere with your guests’ conversations or with serving the meal.  A low arrangement of fresh flowers, a bowl of fruit or candles, are simple and elegant options.

Now that you’ve set a beautiful table and welcomed your guests, it’s time to focus on the food. The night of a dinner party is not the time to experiment with a soufflé.  Stick to a menu you are familiar with and comfortable preparing.  Plan it so that your preparation is done and cooking is started before your guests arrive.  This will allow you to be more relaxed and focus your attention on your guests. A good set of cookware is a must!  Whether you are a novice in the kitchen or a savvy “foodie,” a good set of cookware will make cooking and baking easier.

The last and most important tip for hosting a dinner party is to remember that the dishes will still be there in the morning, your guests will not.  Take the time to enjoy your guests and the love and laughter that will fill your home.

Communication Tip:
Set clear responsibilities before guests arrive.  Instead of expecting your partner to serve the cocktails or clear dishes; communicate the specific tasks that you would like help with!

Registry Tip:
Try to resist overly colourful or ornate patterns for dinner ware. Instead, opt for a white or cream coloured china set.  The food should be the art and the plate the canvas, not the other way around. Once you’ve selected a neutral china set, you can easily purchase accent plates and chargers to follow decor trends or holiday themes.

For more tips from Meaghan, visit her blog at: