Mother Nature clearly missed the memo that April showers bring May flowers because on May 5, just days before Blair Laborde’s 40th birthday fete, the forecast projected a week of wet weather ranging from light sprinkles to full-blown thunderstorms.
“Tents were oversold almost everywhere by the time I rolled out the rain plan,” says the Nashville event designer, who had spent months planning the outdoor dinner party in the backyard of her Belle Meade home.
“When I finally found a company that had one left, I went into overdrive to adjust the floor plan and lighting setup. My mood needed major adjusting, too, so I tried to lighten things up by adding a few fun, unexpected touches. I had eight dozen white umbrellas shipped overnight from a vendor in Virginia to give to all the guests. I was so bound and determined to have them that I would have driven all night to pick them up if I had to!”
It is this kind of creative energy that has Blair’s social calendar perennially packed. Since founding Sarah Blair Designs in 2016, she has produced some of the Music City’s most exclusive events and developed an A-list client roster. A self-described dreamer, Blair had been pondering party plans for her milestone birthday since she was in her mid-30s. With the exception of the inclement weather, the night was everything she envisioned and much more.
As she does for all of her events, Blair designed and arranged all of her own flowers. A mix of ceramic and glass containers in a myriad of shapes and sizes overflowed with ranunculus, peonies, garden roses, king protea, orchids, hydrangeas, and tulips—all in shades of white.
Each place was set with a single peony in a bud vase for guests to take home at the end of the night. Hand-calligraphed and watercolored place cards and menu cards by artist Lexie Armstrong had guests’ jaws dropping and mouths watering in anticipation of the meal, which featured Gulf Fish à la Commander’s Palace, a nod to Blair’s Louisiana upbringing.
“It might have been a white party, but it was such a colorful night,” Blair says. “Having my family and close friends from all over the country and all phases of life underneath one tent was the best birthday gift I could ever receive. Fifty will have some big shoes to fill, so I better start planning now!”
Scenes from the Party
Oversize beach balls create a sculptural look and provide entertainment for the kids.
A plywood bar covered in mood moss brings the outdoors in.
White tulips in a simple vase impart effortless elegance.
Sea grass baskets with whitewashed wood name tags were filled with goodies for each guest.
Mixologists concocted watermelon palomas and other bespoke libations.
Hot chicken with homemade pickles and pickled onions
Bruschetta on homemade crostini
Local arugula tossed in lemon vinaigrette and topped with roasted beets, fennel, goat cheese, and honey-roasted pecans
Cregan and Blair Laborde
“When we bought it, I barely even looked at the interiors,” says Blair of her Belle Meade home. “I was focused on finding the perfect party yard, and that we did!”
Guests arrived in white attire and in the party mood.
Blair sets the tables in the dining tent.
In lieu of string, cotton zipper tape dangles from the balloons.
- Event and floral design, Blair Laborde of Sarah Blair Event Design, sarahblaireventdesign.com
- Catering, South Fork Catering, southforktn.com
- Desserts, Dessert Designs by Leland, dessertdesignsbyleland.com, and Copper Whisk Cakes, copperwhiskcakes.com
- Photography, Mary Craven Photography, marycraven.com
- Entertainment, Halfbrass, halfbrass.com, Instagram: @halfbrass
- Tableware and glassware, Please Be Seated, 615-712-6940, pleasebeseated.com
- Linens, BBJ Linen, bbjlinen.com
- Rentals, Bright Event Productions, 615.866.8796, brighteventproductions.com
- Menus and artwork, Lexie Armstrong Watercolors, lexiearmstrong.com, Instagram: @armstronglexie
- Invitations, White Ink Calligraphy, whiteinkcalligraphy.com, Instagram: @whiteinkcalligraphy
By Margaret Zainey Roux | Photography by Mary Craven Dawkins of Mary Craven Photography