Inspired by the desire to bring together like-minded creatives and to foster real-life relationships beyond an Instagram feed, event planners, PJ Dunn and Frances Liu, decided to host a whimsical wintertime barn bash.
The results of this flower-filled, flavorful affair are enough to have us wishing for quality time with our own favorite creatives, and we have a feeling that you’ll fall just as hard for the beautiful black-and-white details. Scroll on to get a behind-the-scenes peek at the event and to hear from PJ and Frances themselves!
What was your motivation for hosting a White Barn Bash?
Our motivation for hosting the White Barn Bash was to build friendship and community with all of the vendors in our immediate region to celebrate the season. More often than not, we are all friends on Instagram and comment on and “Like” each others’ posts, but some of us have never met and made that connection in person—that’s the good and the bad of social media. So, we wanted to get a little ol’ fashioned and take the opportunity during the holidays to gather everyone together so that new friendships could be formed and existing friendships could be celebrated fully.
There is an abundance of amazing talent here in the greater San Francisco region, so we also wanted to shed light on what a special group we have in Silicon Valley. It was so fun to hear guests say to one another, “I didn’t know that you lived here—we’re practically neighbors! Let’s hang out!” Connections made like that are priceless!
We love the modern “farmhouse”-meets-“mid-century” look you were able to pull together! Tell us how you settled on this vibe, and what accents brought it to life.
We wanted to create something that was different and unexpected for the holiday season. We were so blessed and grateful to have Sand Rock Farms host us at its venue—it truly was the best fit and vibe that we wanted to set for the event! To create the modern mid-century look, we pulled in elements that are of the mid-century style by incorporating a black-and-white color palette mixed with wooden elements. We chose farm tables for guests to dine on and set the table with black-and-white striped napkins from La Tavola and black bistro chairs. The china that we chose included charcoal and grey marble plates paired with gold flatware with black stems. The glassware were crystal cut stems from Frances Lane and smoky water goblets from Chairs + Cups.
Gavita Flora did an amazing job creating all-white and green centerpieces with some darker accent florals and lots of texture. My favorite detail was the cotton stalks that they added to the centerpieces! They also created an amazing garland installation that perfectly draped through the beams of the barn, made with Douglas fir. We also had One True Love Vintage Rentals bring in a lounge that was cozy and inviting, even the resident cat on property thought it was fitting for a snuggle!
Can you share a few party-planning tips for those of us looking to design a winter-themed event? What types of textiles, decorations and colors speak to the season?
Think outside the box when coming up with a color palette for your event! When designing, I generally like to use two accent colors with two shades each, 1 to 2 neutral colors and one metallic accent. If you want to go traditional and include red and green in your décor, I would suggest adding in blush and teal to create more interest, and choose a neutral base like ivory or gray, and either a silver or gold accent. Adding in wood textures and textiles, like plaid or knitted fabric table linens, will help create a sense of warmth.
For our white barn bash, we wanted to go a little more modern and sophisticated, so we used black and white as our main color palette and accented it with gray marble, gold and fresh greens. The vintage rugs had some color on them, which worked because the rest of the décor was so neutral and didn’t compete.
In terms of centerpieces, I’m a big fan of using mixed winter greens. They’re low maintenance and smell amazing! My favorites are eucalyptus, pine, cedar, balsam, rosemary and juniper. They look great both as a garland or arranged in a vase. Get creative with what you have! You don’t have to look too far from your own backyard to find pine cones, greenery and herbs to decorate with.
We wanted to get a little ol’ fashioned and take the opportunity during the holidays to gather everyone together so that new friendships could be formed and existing friendships could be celebrated fully.
What are some of your favorite ways to show gratitude this festive time of year?
Holiday gifts are always a great way to show gratitude—who doesn’t love receiving gifts? But my favorite way to show gratitude is the ol’ fashioned way of getting together with my favorite people and sharing cups of hot cocoa or a meal. Nothing replaces human connection, and as we all become increasingly busy over the years, I’ve found that the best gift is the gift of time and honest conversation.
Tell us about the menu for your White Barn Bash!
Our menu was created by Chef Molly from Organicopia. As its name states, everything was made using organic ingredients. We had a charcuterie plate with fresh cuts of meats and prosciutto-wrapped shrimp on rosemary skewers (a crowd favorite!), truffle cheese fondue with the most delicious vegetables for dipping, a Christmas harvest salad that included fried onions and pomegranate seeds, chilled potato leek soup shooters and the most delicious “aphrodisiac pasta.” Guests also warmed up by having mulled apple cider to sip on throughout the event, as well as designlovefests’ “Wildest Dreams” white blend provided by Winc, with their lunch.
What has been the best moment of 2016 for you so far?
Frances: I am a huge family gal. I was fortunate enough to see my family so much throughout the year and travel to Australia and New Zealand with them over the Thanksgiving holiday. I was also so lucky to have visited with my sister (my favorite person in the whole world) seven times this year! She’s a project manager for Paperless Post and resides in New York City, so suffice it to say, my heart is full.
PJ: Like Frances, I am big on family, too. I’m originally from LA (where my parents still are), but me and my siblings are spread out. My sister and her husband welcomed their first child—a beautiful baby boy—into their family in April and hosted Thanksgiving at their home this year. It was pretty special having my family all in one place and watching my brother (who was visiting from London) meet our nephew for the first time!
Favorite wintertime playlist: go!
PJ: My husband put together a fun holiday playlist on Spotify that I like to play. It’s a mix of oldies, folk and indie music. When I’m not listening to that, I love listening to Sufjan Steven’s songs for Christmas and Bon Iver’s new album, “22, A Million.”
Frances: I always love when artists put out a holiday album. I love hearing their renditions of their favorite songs of the seasons. I love Kacey Musgraves—she just came out with a Christmas album and it’s a combination of Southern and retro vibes. I’ve also found that the *NSYNC Christmas album is always a hit for holiday parties. It seems that everyone has owned that album at one time or another, and everyone always recognized it.
What’s your 2017 New Years resolution?
PJ: Fitness is my token New Year’s resolution, but I usually don’t have just one. I would like to complete Kayla Itsines’s BBG program and commit to making a healthier lifestyle change. I’ve started and stopped her program four times this year and would really love to do it at least once and be more intentional about meal-planning and clean eating. I definitely felt and saw results when I was doing her program, but didn’t prioritize it enough, hence the starting and stopping. My job as a wedding and event planner can be very physical on event days, so I want to be strong and in the best shape I can be to not only take care of myself and prevent injuries, but also have a lot of energy to serve my clients and vendors the best I can!
Frances: Like PJ, fitness and being healthy is also a New Year’s resolution. It’s important to take care of our bodies and healthy eating, and having a solid fitness regimen is what I strive for in the new year.
Vendors & Resources:
Planning & Design by Charmed Events Group and Going Lovely Event Design & Coordination, Venue was Sand Rock Farm, Videography by Adam of Danielle Poff Photography, Floral Design by Gavita Flora, Paper Goods & Calligraphy by Blush Type, Catering by Organicopia, Wine from Winc, Dessert by Just Bakecause, Live Music by Ivy Hill Entertainment, Vintage Rentals by One True Love Vintage Rentals, Party Rentals by Classic Party Rentals, Tabletop Rentals by Chairs + Cups, Vintage Tabletop Rentals by Frances Lane, Linens from La Tavola, Swag Bag Beauty Sponsor was Oak & Ashland, Scent Station & Swag Bag Beauty Sponsor was Antica Farmacista