REAL STORIES: A Summer Bridal Shower with Modern Architecture, Bright Colors and Stylish Foods

June 7, 2011 ,
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A sensational creekside home just outside of Philadelphia marries modern architecture with vibrant color and stylish foods for this sophisticated bridal shower.

[Photos:  David Mielcarek]

A European-style gravel drive and wide descending stone steps greet guests as they arrive at the bride’s mother’s home, a stunning modern villa carved into the rocky creek beds of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania.  Lush gardens designed by celebrated landscaped designer, Vincent Smith-Durham, surround the home with a contemporary English garden setting.

The bride fell in love with the whimsical custom-designed calligraphy of Leigh Wells and in addition to the playful tangerine and coral invitations, Leigh provided a welcome sign, note cards and menus for the bridal shower.

The bride had a specific vision of how she wanted to celebrate her bridal shower:  bringing a contemporary and colorful garden into the minimalist interiors of her mother’s home.  That meant, upholstered furniture that usually resides in the living and dining rooms was placed in the screened in porch.  Iron patio furniture and bamboo chairs from the 1960’s and 1970’s were then placed in the living and dining room amongst potted perennials and shrubs brought in for the party.  Brightly colored silk pillows in fuschia, chartreuse, sunflower and tomato were placed throughout the home and terraces for additional pops of color.

The bride as she greets her little guests.

Peter Callahan designed a light and fresh summer menu for the party balancing his signature miniature passed hors d’oeuvres with beverage bars and food stations.  Guests enjoyed a “help-yourself” beverage bar that included a choice of watermelon and mint, Meyer lemonade, sparkling water with verbena, and white peach iced tea.  Classic American favorites were cleverly presented on starkly modern trays, including breakfast favorites like scrambled eggs and bacon, smoked salmon on bagels, blueberry pancakes and strawberry smoothies; as well as tongue-in-cheek savory bites like fish tacos paired with mini Patron sippers, “potted” chicken salad in edible potato pots and zucchini frites in paper cones. (Below, from left:  caprese salads in pita, Maine lobster salad on cucumber “under glass”; and mini milk & cookies.)

Although guests did bring gifts to the bridal shower, the bride planned to open them in private after the event ended rather than stop the flow of the party for the traditional “unwrapping” ceremony.  Guests were encouraged to mix and mingle, sitting inside the house or on the terrace overlooking the pool below.  Of course, no one could avoid having their photos taken by the flower girls!  Multiple instant cameras were placed on a black marble-topped table with patterned paper note cards and colorful pens to offer messages, anecdotes and memories for the bride-to-be.

From one side of the house to the other brightly hued monochromatic floral arrangements enhanced the colorful theme, many placed in the homeowner’s extensive collection of blown glass vessels:  orange roses in cobalt blue glass vases, hot pink roses in turquoise pottery, happy yellow roses in raspberry swirled glass, green hydrangea in tall glass vases, blue delphinium in forest green urns, and purple irises massed together in salvaged aqua blue glass vases.

A summer lunch buffet offered a variety of light salads and savories: grilled lemon chicken, whole cold poached salmon with cucumber dill sauce, grilled herb oil ficelle slices, grilled summer vegetables, shaved fresh corn with olive oil and butter, heirloom tomato salad, and a grilled peach, feta and arugula salad.

A dessert “mosaic” was placed in the living room for guests to sample at will with bite-sized brownies, key lime pies, summer berry tarts, “peanut butter & jelly” cookies, and sugared donuts. White square platters lined with various colorfully-patterned papers were placed precisely on the table for a clean, modern presentation.  In the center of the six foot glass coffee table a collection of tomato red vases filled with single stems of white snapdragons provided a modern floral display.

One of the sweet flower girls finds the perfect spot in the screened in porch for an afternoon nap as the party continues on without her.


  1. Lovely………….Menu works well for Florida as well!.l
    “As You Like It “…event planing..Elaine M. Eberth Faber and Paula Stevens

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