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Last weekend Roberto and I celebrated our engagement with our family. Thinking back on it we implemented a lot of really easy, but effective entertaining tips that I thought I would share.

We really wanted to add something of ourselves to the evening. We both really love the ocean and we are planning to add elements of the ocean, the beach, sand, palm trees etc into our décor for the wedding and thought it would be fun to hint at that through our choice of foods as well as some of the decorations for the party.

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A nice easy way to arrange flowers is by placing seashells in the vase and using them to anchor the flowers in the positions you want them to be.

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The colors for our wedding will be turquoise lime green, a nod to the ocean and the islands, where we will be honeymooning and renewing our vows, so we picked these beautiful roses to go in the arrangement. The placemats we used were turquoise and the plates were lime green.

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For the centerpiece at the table we got a flat dish and filled it with sand and some seashells that we have collected on our many beach excursions and placed a pillar candle in the center. Simple but beautiful and totally us.

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To add other personal touches we made foods to remind us of our pasts. We created a white sangria with peaches and blackberries, a look back to Roberto’s childhood when he used to eat wine soaked peaches for breakfast.

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My mom made Italian potato salad, one of my Nana’s famous recipes (to see more of her recipes click here and here and here) so that her memory would be close to us on this special day.

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Instead of serving a traditional fruit salad, we served fruit on bamboo skewers with a lime-yogurt dipping sauce, served of course, in a dish that looks like a shell.

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The purpose of this party, like the purpose of most parties was to spend time with our guests. So we prepared a simple menu consisting of grilled foods and cold salads so we could be with our guests instead of slaving away in the kitchen (we prepared everything that morning – so we did the slaving earlier!)

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However, we created a little bit of flair to these simple dishes by adding interesting accompaniments, like pancetta and smoked Gouda to the burgers, making bite sized Caprese salad and a refreshing 3-bean salad.

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I am just getting into baking so in order to motivate me to do a good job and spend the many hours required assembling and preparing this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge, I decided to make the cake for this occasion and it turned out great! It made the cake all the more exceptional to serve it to our special guests.

So it doesn’t have to be hard to create a beautiful party full of unique touches if you use these simple tips!