Courtney Caplan & Sarah Miller

By Chanel Dror
End of Summer Dinner Party Al Fresco

Courtney Caplan and Sarah Miller make one hell of a team. As the dynamic duo at the helm of Austin’s Caplan Miller Events, the two friends (along with their talented team) are the go-to when it comes to producing a drop dead gorgeous event in this town, and it’s with good reason. Within five minutes of meeting the local legends, I already felt like I was in the company of friends — that is, friends with really really good taste. The laid back-yet-energetic vibe at Sarah’s classic home in Austin’s Northwest Hills, along with breezy chatter and lighthearted humor made it known that we were in the presence of total hospitality vets. And with a knack for pulling off total blowouts without so much as a hitch, it was no surprise that the Caplan Miller team threw this jaw-dropping summer potluck dinner together in a flash. Click through for all the details, as well as a few can’t-miss recipes…

*photography by Kate LeSueur

What a gorgeous table! What are you ladies celebrating?

Sarah: Summer is my favorite time to entertain. Everyone is relaxed and the weather cools off just enough in the evening for an al fresco dinner. The farmers markets are also overflowing with wonderful local produce and other fun finds.

Summer also means event planners are working overtime to get ready for the busy fall event season on the horizon and the thought of planning a party for ourselves seems a bit overwhelming. So, the inspiration behind this party was simplicity. We did this by hosting a potluck dinner so everyone can be involved in the preparations and still be able to relax and unwind and enjoy that last few precious weeks of summer.

Your must-have entertaining tool:

S: I’m a sucker for textiles. I love mixing in a variety of linens both new and vintage. From an heirloom monogrammed cocktail napkin to crisp white table cloths. Table linens make a big impact on the overall look and feel of your gathering.


Always in your refrigerator?

S: A bottle of Secco (the perfect bubbly for champagne cocktails),  OMGreens Juice from Juice Society, and chocolate flavored almond milk (for the kiddos).

What’s on the menu tonight?

S: I’m a nutritarian, but love to eat yummy food. It was important that the menu be healthy, fresh and fun! Tonight we’ve prepared:

  • Blueberry-Peach Mojitos with Basil
  • Crispy Chickpeas with Pimento Salt
  • Chopped Salad with Marinated Artichoke Hearts, Kalamata Olives, Black Pepper Croutons and Emulsified Cucumber dressing
  • Mexican Street Corn crusted with Cotija and Cumin Lime Crema
  • Traditional Seafood Paella
  • Roasted Berries with Whipped Coconut Cream

Click here to get the recipe for this Blueberry Peach Mojito with Basil

What scares you about entertaining?

C: I worry that I’m not providing my guests with enough things to do, but ultimately people just want to hang out with good food and drinks.

pictured here: Dani and the company mascot, Cooper

Where do you shop for party supplies and entertaining pieces?

Courtney: I’m not gonna lie… Amazon. I’m always last minute when planning something for myself personally, so Amazon Prime saves my butt on a regular basis. S’mores sticks, funky straws, you name it… I find it on Amazon and get it within a day!

SarahWendow, Breed and Co., Spartan and Hacienda.

Describe your entertaining style in 5 words or less?

S: Fun, fresh, comfortable, casual, fun!

C: Fun, comfortable, easy, pretty, yum!

Click here to get the recipe for this Chopped Salad with Marinated Artichoke hearts, Kalamata Olives, Black Pepper Croutons and Cucumber Dressing!

Your standard hostess outfit:

S: I’m always looking for something that is comfortable, effortless, but still has an edge about it. Most often, I wear a dress that allows me to move around and can be thrown on right before my guests arrive.

The restaurant meal you’ll never forget:

S: A 12-course, 4-hour dinner at Tru in Chicago with Courtney and Anita. The attention to detail and elegant service were truly unforgettable. I broke a few dietary restrictions that evening, but absolutely worth it!

Click here to get the recipe for this Seafood Paella with Shrimp, Scallops, Calamari and Mussels!

Your signature entertaining dish:

S: I’m always looking for fresh new recipes to try that are healthy, vegan, and also kid-friendly. I source a lot from Cookie and Kate… her kale salad recipes are the absolute best!

pictured here: Marissa enjoys a helping of chopped salad served family style.

Current favorite color palette for parties:

S: Wedgewood, ivory and grey with pops of mixed metallics. Though I am really loving emerald green, ivory and gold these days.

The taste you’re always craving:

C: A real Coke. Like, Coca Cola. The real deal. Preferably fountain.

Who are your dream dinner party guests??

C: Paul Rudd, Amy Schumer, Kristin Wiig, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and Will Ferrell to make me laugh. Taylor Kitsch to sit and just stare at.

The entertaining rule you rarely break:

C: Overstock and never run out! I’d rather have too much of something than stress about running out of something.

The perfect dinner party playlist includes:

C: 80s and 90s pop (don’t judge me!)