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When Alicia Lund’s cousin Nikki was nearing her wedding day, it was her mom who volunteered to organize the bridal celebration. But when Alicia offered to help, she ended up running with it. “I’ve had so much fun planning parties lately—I think it’s my next calling,” says the Cheetah Is the New Black blogger and cofounder and buyer for the Northern California women’s boutique Syllabus. Alicia—now with her mom’s help!—assembled 14 guests on June 27, 2015, to toast Nikki with an intimate food- and flower-filled girls’ get-together on the back patio at Stable Café in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood.
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A Warm Welcome Table
“Nikki is a very laid-back and chill girl, so I didn’t want to plan anything fancy or stuffy,” Alicia explains. “That said, she definitely has a girly side so I had to play that up a bit.”
To strike the right balance, Alicia first had to find the venue for the bridal bash. “I was looking for a garden setting or outdoor patio that was casual but private, which is actually hard to come by in the city,” she says. Stable Café offered exactly what she was seeking. “This quaint coffee shop has a garden in the back with a side patio and extra indoor space, so it was perfect,” she explains.
She turned to local florist and friend Shannon Mahoney of Thistle and Honey to dress up the urban locale. “I gave her my inspiration—wanting whatever was seasonal and organic looking,” Alicia says. She started by outfitting a wood table at the entrance with an array of arrangements, from potted succulents to a lush bouquet and an antiqued wooden box bursting open with lilies.
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To create the lush arrangement that welcomed attendees, Shannon gathered roses, dahlias, ranunculus, scabiosa, lysimachia, and chocolate cosmos in a no-frills white pot. “For the foliage, I used geranium and jasmine and threw in some blackberries, as well,” says the florist.
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“The plums were actually from the plum trees in the courtyard at the café,” Alicia says. “They were dropping before the shower, so I decided to incorporate them into that front display. Later, one actually fell and hit me on the head!”
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“I wanted to have floral crowns for the guests when they arrived, but Shannon came up with the great idea to have Nikki stand out as the only one in a floral crown,” Alicia says.
The sweet topper was woven from textural bits of foliage and included a band of white spray roses and ranunculus. It paired beautifully with Nikki’s Trina Turk white bridal shower dress.
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Flowers in Your Hair
The other guests were greeted with flower combs. As Nikki, a physical therapist, is moving to Shanghai this fall with her husband-to-be, Matt, who is on the retail finance team at Apple, Alicia asked the florist to work with Chinese-inspired pink and red blossoms to create the combs. Each comb was presented alongside a card. “I had my girlfriend Meredith write everyone’s name in calligraphy for me because she has the best handwriting,” Alicia says. “I also had her include the Chinese symbol for love and happiness.”
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Like Mother, Like Daughter
Alicia, a former market editor for ELLE, chose to wear a lined off-white lace cutout below-the-knee Self-Portrait dress to the afternoon festivities. In addition to her flower comb, she finished the look with a Jennifer Fisher necklace and beige Manolo Blahnik stilletos. Her mother and cohost wore a black shift dress.
“My mom, my sister, and I greeted each guest as they arrived with a glass of Champagne and helped them find their flower comb and put it on,” she says. “It was a fun, girly touch!”
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Bougainvillea From Above
The fuchsia bougainvillea was a built-in bonus. The flowering tree soared to the patio’s ceiling and popped with its bright pink against the industrial aluminum siding.
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“We didn’t hire a caterer,” Alicia says. “It was just a simple dessert party.” And even though there was a coffee bar, so friends and loved ones could sip the Stable Café’s delicious brew, Alicia set the assortment to resemble high tea, with her aunt adding homemade cookies and her mom and grandma bringing fresh strawberries and cherries.
The plates of goodies were placed on a wood and metal-topped table among succulents, terrariums, and the arrangement of roses, dahlias, ranunculus, scabiosa, lysimachia, and chocolate cosmos.
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Alicia’s mom brought all of the silverware and dishes for the afternoon soirée. “They were passed down to her from her mom and grandmother,” she says. “I loved the mix-and-matched sets together.”
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“My mom had the idea to use her mom’s tea set collection,” Alicia says of the antique floral china cups and plates that revelers used. “That added such a sweet, sentimental touch.”
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Alicia called up San Francisco’s Miette to provide the afternoon’s sweetest treats. “They are so good, my fave!” she says. She ended up picking its carrot cake and Strawberry Tomboy to serve to guests. The latter features tiers of double chocolate cake sandwiched between a strawberry buttercream frosting, made the European way, starting with Italian meringue and then adding Straus butter. A floret of frosting tops off the pretty dessert.
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Shower games were out of the question, per the bride-to-be’s request. But the group still rallied around a simple q-and-a activity about the groom while eating dessert.
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“Nikki and I are a year apart in age and all of us girls are super close, more like sisters,” Alicia says. Here, Nikki stands between her sister and Alicia’s sister on the special day. “The shower was lovely,” she says. “The thing that stood out to me the most were the special details Alicia thought of: our grandma’s china, the calligraphy Chinese character on the name tags, and the unique floral arrangements. I felt so special and loved having the close ladies in my life there to celebrate with me.”