Early-summer evenings beg for alfresco dinners. And when the soirée is set on the North Shore of Long Island and hosted by interior designer Meg Braff, then prepare for party perfection. Meg grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, where entertaining was and is considered a high art form. “My mother would prepare food for days, and on the night of the party, I would help set the table and then get dressed up and ‘pass the rolls.’ It was my official job,” says Meg.
With the rhythms of life so different today, Meg wisely plans with collaboration in mind, but not just any collaboration. The story begins with, of all things, Instagram. Having followed Meg for a while, I was smitten by the crisp, chic style of her outdoor entertaining, often under a cheerful black-and-white striped awning with a vintage Woodard wrought iron table and chairs finished with robin’s-egg blue cushions.
I kept noticing a familiar last name associated with the catering duties when she entertained at home: Mar Slocum. Having had a stepfather with the same last name, from the same hamlet, I couldn’t help but imagine there might be a family connection. And of course, there was. When I pitched the idea of a dinner party and photo shoot to Meg, we instantly agreed, not surprisingly, that Mar would do the cooking honors.
The afternoon of the party, the two spent a good while chatting and giggling in front of the china cabinets, perusing stacks and stacks of plates. “My mother and grandmother instilled in me a love of fine china, linens, and the art of setting the table. They are certainly the root of my china-hoarding tendencies,” Meg confesses.
Meg’s inspiration was a classic Tassinari & Chatel floral fabric-cum-tablecloth in summer-bright colors. She picked up the vibrant green in the tablecloth in vintage lily pad plates by Jean Roger and oversize lettuce leaf–form water glasses.
“When I’m decorating, I like to thread color throughout a home, so there is continuity from room to room. The same holds true for the scheme of a dinner party.” — Meg Braff
Her abundant gardens yielded the lion’s share of the flowers for table decoration and throughout the house. Meg’s trusted friend and team member Jason Schwartz artfully mixed them with selections from the flower market in New York City. On arrival, guests were offered a refreshing seasonal cocktail—a passion fruit margarita garnished with edible flowers and sprigs of mint—with replenishment available from a festive bar cart out on the patio. Dinner consisted of a simple, elegant menu conceived by Mar.
“We know each other so well,” Meg says. “She knows how I entertain, and she makes it easy. I like to keep things light in the summer, so a green salad, chicken breast with fresh vegetables, and Pavlova and peaches for dessert was perfect. Mar always knows what’s fresh and in season.”
After meeting and getting to know my long-lost kin, as well as a complement of colorful and talented guests, and experiencing the shimmer of a party beautifully planned and executed, I glanced over at one of the guests, who happened to be Meg’s mother. She was wearing a glowy, loving look of approval and pride, as well she should.
More Scenes from the Party
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By Margot Shaw | Photography by Brooke Slezak
Interior design and party styling, Meg Braff, megbraffdesigns.com; catering, Mar Slocum Catering, Instagram: @bymarslocum; select outdoor furniture, Woodard, woodard-furniture.com; monogrammed napkins, Julian Mejia Design, julianmejiadesign.com; Vladimir Kanevsky porcelain cabbage tureen, thevladimircollection.com; Tassinari & Châtel floral fabric (used as tablecloth), scalamandre.com.