Tabletop Tuesday: A Secret Garden Party

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by Candace Brower

My beautiful client for this event has a biblical name, yet I don’t think of her in an old testament kind of way. Ruth is fabulous, fly and on trend for everything happening in the food and beverage world. She works for Kimpton Hotels and Kimton Hotels seems to work for her.
Pacci Restaurant Staff (photo by Chia Chong)
(That’s Ruth, front and center, with some of her staff at Pacci Restaurant in Savannah, GA) photo by Chia Chong

Ruth’s vision was to create a Secret Garden table with a few “down the rabbit hole” elements for 20ish friends/family/patrons. This is what I gave her. A Secret Garden dinner table with a Southern sensibility and a little touch of crazy that I hope Ruth and Lewis Carroll would approve of. I know for sure that one of the two did.
Secret Garden Dinner Party from Libbie Summers

Here’s how the layers came together:
•Clear the space and create a table base. I used 5 of the existing outdoor furniture tables that were on the property and moved everything else away.
Secret Garden Dinner Party Table  Step 1

•I layered on two canvas drop cloths from Home Depot as a base tablecloth (I love using drop cloths because they are affordable and can be laundered again and again AND can be used as actual paint tarps when I need them).

•Then, I assembled a mix of chairs –outdoor furniture from the venue mixed with vintage velvet I rented from Savannah Vintage Rentals (check any Wedding Rental business in your area, the chairs were affordable and included a drop of and pick up fee).
Secret Garden Dinner Party Table Step 2 from Libbie Summers

•I added in fabric table runner that ran down the center of the table AND about 5 feet out on either side for drama. This is yardage I picked up at Jo-Ann’s Fabric store and cut it in half lengthwise for more bang for my buck.
Secret Garden Dinner Table Step Three from Libbie Summers

•Set the table. Here, my assistant Candace is using a mix of vintage plates I’ve been collecting over the years. I rarely match my china at any dinner party and it’s especially not necessary at a party like this. There was a “likeness” to each piece chosen –all having a hint of floral to them. We used the wine glasses and flatware from the venue. Napkins were my signature. Always hand torn pieces of fabric. Always.
Secret Garden Dinner Party Step 4 from Libbie Summers

•I made 4 wine/water bottle candelabras to run down the center of the table. This is such a fun and affordable way to turn any bottle into a candelabra! I purchased 4 of the candelabra tops and spray painted them a kelly green (they come black). Added fresh flowers to a water bottle and filled with water (TIP: don’t sweat the flowers not going all the way down, just fill the bottle nearly full with water and give it a little shake and the flowers will move around so you don’t have to painstakingly move them with a chopstick). Add a fun colored candle (we had to duct tape the end of the candles because they were a little to narrow for the holder openings, but I don’t mind at all…actually kind of love the extra pop of neon green.
Wine Bottle Candleabra from Libbie Summers

•Start decorating the table!
•I used deer moss, fresh mushrooms, homemade paper flowers, fresh flowers and old books! The moss and paper flowers I attached with corsage pins. Don’t forget to add a little pop to the floor around you. Since we were outside I just threw a lot of paper flowers on the ground. A fabulous rug would work too!
•I also added in battery operated tea light candles and hid them under the moss with the light coming up through like fireflies.
Secret Garden Party Step SIX from Libbie Summers

•Always have a great centerpiece! This one involved a French Bust and a head piece made out of tule, ribbon and flowers. I made two and decided I liked the red one better. How about you?

•Have fun!
Secret Garden Dinner Party
Secret Garden Dinner Party

•Enjoy the party! (lots of laughs with chef’s Dusty Grove and Roberto Leoci) Remember if you are having a good time your guests will ALWAYS be having a good time.
Chef's Dusty Grove and Roberto Leoci with Libbie Summers

A heartfelt thank you to Ruth White for allowing me to be a part of her vision. The wonderful staff at the Kimpton/Brice Hotel/Pacci Restaurant who so kindly moved furniture around for us and were so excited to see each layer come together. Big thank you to Candace Brower for busting her ass all day in the hot sun and for the wonderful chef’s at Pacci for creating such a delicious menu for the event.

Luckily, photographer Chia Chong, was on hand to take REALLY good images from the event. Mine (that are seen in this post) are just sloppy seconds. I hope to share some of Chia’s with you soon. In the mean time, here’s a picture of Chia taking a picture before the guests arrived! And, that’s Ruth in the adorable cabana striped shorts off to the right!
Chia Chong getting the shot


No comments yet. You should be kind and add one!

Get the latest from Libbie!
Stay up-to-date with the latest recipes, photoshoots, videos and much more!