Besides always having photographic documentation of all life’s events, there is one other perk to being the kid of a prolific photographer… fabulously styled parties! Shannon Von Eschen is one of our favorite photographers and always throws the most creative birthday fetes for her little one, Eli. In fact a few months ago, we swooned over Eli’s pumpkin-themed first birthday. Oozing with creativity and sophistication, Shannon’s parties are redefining the traditional children’s event. Take for example, the nautical themed affair she threw for Eli’s second birthday. Shannon breaks down all the delightful details below:
As a mother who’s also a photographer, I have a hard time throwing the traditional cartoon, plastic tablecloth and balloons birthday party. There’s nothing wrong with those parties, its just that I’m an over-the-top person and not big into cartoons. Neither is Eli. Just yet. So, even though he was turning two, I wanted to create a space that would bring our families together, but also hold a story.
My husband and I own a tree nursery in Boulder, so I chose to host his birthday party in an old barn on our property. My father helped build the pergola out of four vintage wooden front-porch posts I found laying outside of an old 1900s home. We used old barn wood from our first office to attach them all together. But my father was so much more than a handyman. He hand-made a wooden sailboat for Eli and a very large wooden anchor to match. He also spent long nights hand-making mini sailboats as party favors for the guests and little wooden fish that hung over an old fence door as decor. My mother made half of the food and chocolates, pies, and other desserts that matched the theme.
A picture of the USS Chauncey sat on an old armoire — the boat my grandfather sailed on in the Korean War. He recently passed away, but it would have thrilled him to see this sailboat party. I used a ton of old antiques I found inside my mother-in-law’s vast collection, including an old painting of a sailboat that we used as a focal point over the buffet table, and a wall of vintage national geographic maps that filled a whole wall with a sea of water.
The seats for the tables were old stumps from trees from our nursery, and I brought in a few ornamental grasses. The cakes were custom made by a dear friend and award-winning cake designer here in Colorado. I simply gave her a few inspirational images of what I was hoping for and she created a gorgeous three-tiered cake of fondant waves, toped with an anchor. And then for Eli’s smash cake, she made a smaller cake of sugar waves and topped it with a hand-cut sailboat.
From a simple nautical vision that popped in my head, a whimsical party came to life before my eyes. But seeing Eli’s face light up when he saw his very own boat and all the people he loved in one room was the very best part. Almost as good as the icing on his cake. Almost!
Photographer: Shalynne Imaging // Other Location: CreekSide Tree Nursery // Cake Designer: Intricate Icings Cake Design // Culinary: Kendall Lind // Other: Newel Post Antiques // DIY or Handmade Goods Designer: Twigs & Treen