A Midsummer Night’s Dream is probably my favorite play by Shakespeare. It’s filled with fanciful prose, crazy love triangles, mystical personalities, and encompasses a unique approach to that most serious subject of love. No wonder I immediately gravitated towards this magical bohemian dinner created by Michelle Burke, who brought Shakespeare’s tale to life by utilizing the natural backdrop of the Georgian countryside.
Originally from Southern California and currently residing in Atlanta, Michelle started her own event planning company, Burke | Design + Planning, that sprouted from her love for all things design. She believes in a special kind of magic that happens when a group of people come together to experience an intimate and uniquely tailored atmosphere. Her Shakespeare-inspired soirée was no exception, and we’re excited to share this exclusive story with you here on Camille Styles.
• ADDITIONAL CREDITS •
events by burke | design + planning • photography by alea moore photography • venue/cuisine provided by milton’s cuisine • jewelry by brezeart • makeup by becca whittinghill makeup artistry • hair by some claudia girl • dream catchers by whispering wildflowers • paper goods + hand lettering by cbrannen design • baked goods by eileen carter creations • table runner by katrin reifeiss • vintage plates by vintage english teacup • florals by stylish stems • clothing from calypso st. barth
Could you tell us about the creation of your gorgeous invitation suite?
Callie Brannen of C Brannen Design is an Atlanta-based hand lettering wizard! Her style is fluid and dreamy and after experiencing her work, I just knew she would be the perfect match to create this suite.
I think the invitation is one of the most important parts of an event, because, after all, it’s the first experience of the event that your guests get to have – I really wanted this suite to be ethereal and whimsical to match the style of the shoot and Callie’s final products were nothing short of the perfect match!
What can you tell us about the beautiful location?
Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails is a fabulous restaurant in Milton, Georgia, a suburb north of Atlanta. Milton’s is comfortable and quaint, but still entices an upscale feel – not to mention, their contemporary southern cuisine is TO. DIE. FOR.
The best part about the restaurant is, of course, the 1-acre outdoor garden nestled behind the main restaurant, where our shoot took place. We set up at one of their big farm tables sitting out in the middle of the field, which honestly made my heart skip a beat.
What inspired the concept behind your soirée?
The “Boho-Glam” concept itself was inspired by the desire to create an environment that captured the essence of summer: bold, lavish colors, over-the-top florals, ice-cold cocktails and most importantly, community. All too often, we wait until there is an occasion such as a birthday or a wedding to get together to celebrate – I wanted the “Midsummer Night’s Soirée” to embody the joy of simply gathering together with your closest friends to celebrate life.
OK… So what’s not to love about living in Georgia?
I know! I’m originally from Southern California, but I’ve come to call Georgia my home and just love the life I’ve built in the city of Atlanta! I melt at the sight of a fresh bouquet of blooms, have an unhealthy relationship with iced coffee and my idea of a perfect Friday night is sitting on a porch, soaking up live music (or my Spotify playlists) and sipping on a glass of Cabernet.
Could you tell us the first steps you take in designing your party concept?
One of the most important things about the initial stages of designing a party concept is getting to know my client. For my style, incorporating details that highlight a client’s personality or their company’s culture is a really important aspect of creating my overall vision. After that initial meeting, I take time to really do my research on unique venue options, color schemes, exceptional décor and themes and build several versions of an “inspiration board.”
Can you tell us what cuisine was served at the party?
Milton’s whipped up a variety of delightful menu items including their Garden Herb Flatbread, Fried Green Tomatoes and a Baby Romaine Salad – their chef puts a lot of heart into the food they make and the presentation is nothing short of art!
Also, what type of leaf was the menu painted on?
The hand painted menu, designed on an elephant ear leaf, was another product of Callie Brannen’s work and was one of my favorite elements. I knew I wanted the menu to be designed on something different and unique and after some collaboration from my fellow vendors, the elephant ear leaf menu was born!
Michelle: I knew I wanted to create something beautiful to highlight not only the location, but the dreamlike feeling that washes over me every time I drive by Milton’s.
What design elements do you think are necessary for throwing a “grown up” dinner party?
Details, details, details!
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is “If you think it’s too much, keep going.” Your guests will appreciate the extra mile you go in your design and one of my biggest goals for any event is for my guests to walk away feeling with their hearts more full than when they arrived.
Michelle: I must say that the Georgia Peach Basil Mojito from Milton’s was a bit of a selfish choice… I absolutely adore Mojitos! I think they are the perfect summer drink: refreshing, light and colorful, which made for the perfect signature cocktail for the night!
The Georgia Peach Basil Mojito
- Shellback Rum or 360 Vodka
- Fresh Peach Puree
- Garden Basil
- Soda Water
- Lime Garnish
What trends are you currently obsessing over in particular, in the event planning world?
I’m really loving that the days of “playing it safe” are in the past – planners and designers everywhere are testing the boundaries and trying out new, unique ideas at events – pattern mixing, geometric shapes, bold color pairings, working with a lot of white space and overflowing greenery are all trends I’ve been crazy about lately!
We love that you used such bold and rich colors contrasted against the natural hues of the Georgian landscape! How did you decide on the perfect color scheme?
The inspiration for the color scheme began when I saw Katrin Reifeiss’ hand-dyed indigo – the rich, blue hues and one-of-a-kind patterns absolutely took my breath away… I immediately jumped to the thought of an indigo table runner becoming the basis for this color scheme. I also really appreciate contrast, so I knew that I wanted to layer colors and textures that gave the shoot a fairytale-like essence – that’s where elements like the DIY metallic gold painted rocks and the jewel toned antique glasses that I collected became incorporated. Lastly, I knew I wanted to unexpectedly throw pops of color into the tablescape, which is where the bright pinks and lush peach colors came into play!
Okay… so we love Calypso St. Barth. How did you guys end up working with them for this shoot?
Oh man, Calypso St. Barth is a long time boutique-crush of mine! Their clothes are the perfect combination of luxury and bohemian glam and emit an effortless elegance which I just knew would be the perfect match for this shoot! I ended up calling the store manager of one of their local Atlanta stores and pitched them the idea to collaborate and they very quickly agreed to partner, which was a dream come true!
What details can you give us on your gorgeous place settings?
I love layering textures and colors to achieve “just the right” look, so this shoot really lent well to that – especially since the handmade farm table was the perfect blank palette to work from. I started with the hand-dyed indigo linen napkins and then we layered on the vintage china and flatware. To finish off the look, I included a variety of antique style glassware – a mix of Anthropologie and thrift shop finds to really embody the Boho Glam style! Lastly, the name cards were handlettered on oyster shells in gold ink which was such a fun and unique element!
What’s the story on those beautiful jewelry pieces?
A local artist and good friend, Breze Schmitz of Breze Art, generously offered to supply our models with her one-of-a-kind hand crafted pieces and I think the combination of the Calyspo St. Barth outfits and Breze’s jewelry really made for the perfect look.
The chocolate “naked” cake looks sinful, how did you decide on the dessert?
Working with Eileen Carter of Eileen Carter Creations was like a dream! I’d seen vanilla and red velvet “naked” cakes done a lot, but when Eileen suggested a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, I just knew it would be the perfect addition… not to mention it was DELICIOUS.
What makes for a great dinner party?
Sweet friends, meaningful conversation and a solid supply of ice-cold cocktails are all fundamental elements of a successful dinner party. Whether you’re gathering around a fold-up picnic table or attending a “Midsummer Night’s Soiree”, you can’t go wrong with those 3 things.
Is there an entertaining rule you always abide by?
Good lighting is key. There are so many aspects about entertaining that I love and cherish, but for me, that one is at the very top of my list. When I host people at my home or when I’m putting on an event for a client, I am always sure to incorporate just the right lighting – never underestimate the power of clusters of mixed pillar candles or even just a good dimmer on a light switch!
The dream catchers are so fitting to the bohemian theme – how did you find them?
Kari Widener, owner of Whisper Wildflowers, makes each of these dream catchers by hand and when I stumbled upon her shop, I was really drawn to incorporate her work. I think the dream catchers really added to the dreamy and whimsical style of the concept.
The “seed-to-fork” or “farm-to-table” dining experience is fast growing, is this philosophy something you try to utilize?
There’s something special about the idea of creating food that is grown in your own community or food that is served in-season at the peak of its ripeness. The flavors and colors make for a true dining experience versus just a regular meal. I find sincere value in this movement and always looks forward to working with catering vendors who adhere to the “farm-to-table” philosophy!
Milton’s farm-to-table program grows 90+ types of different vegetables, fruits and herbs that they use in their kitchen daily.
Michelle’s perfect playlist for “A Midsummer’s Night Soiree”…
- “Soulfight” by The Revivalists
- “Luckiest Man” by The Wood Brothers
- “Hard Livin’” by Railroad Earth
- “Hang Loose” by The Alabama Shakes
Michelle: This event was sincerely a labor of love. It’s a truly special feeling when you get to see everything come together from a mere dream in your mind to the actual photographs of your design. Getting to put this wonderful dinner together alongside some truly amazing creatives was so fulfilling and joyful!
Stunning. Thank you for sharing your labor of love with us Michelle!