“No Reservations Needed”

As a professional Event Designer/Planner for many years now, during this time, I’ve noticed one recurring theme; people love beautiful spaces! It doesn’t matter the person’s gender, age, their ethnicity, or social background. At some point, everyone desires to relax in an exquisite surrounding. It doesn’t matter if you live in a mansion or a one-bedroom apartment. When the opportunity for a luxurious upgrade presents itself, who wouldn’t choose that option? The premium look and feel of your “event spaces” shouldn’t be any different.

Creating spaces that captivate the imagination and take guests on an enticing voyage is fundamental to my way of doing business.

I am a Wedding and Events Planner by trade, but when I get some rare downtime, I adore hosting dinner parties. My aim is always the same at each event—to ensure that the evening is one to be remembered.

One by one, at varying times throughout the course of dinner, my guests would often come over. They would compliment me on the look and ambiance of the environment. Many would often say, “It feels as if we’ve been transported to another place.” No matter the theme, they seemed to feel as though they had been to some place different, new, and exciting.

Their excitement would quickly turn into, “How can I create something like this?”  I started thinking and realized that anyone can do this. They just need to know the fundamentals.  The key to throwing a perfect dinner party is knowing that 75% of what you need is probably already in your home.

When I started, I learned this concept through trial and error.  I had no idea where to start, so I trudged along for a while until I finally figured it out. This book is my attempt to keep you from making the mistakes (some costly) that I made. I created this book with aspiring event planners and “undercover” designers in mind. No Reservations Needed is meant to be a template that will “coach” you how to host your own amazing dinner parties in and around your home.

Think about it; it’s such a waste to only use your pristine china on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Anniversaries. Life is worth celebrating every day, so why not put that once-a-year china to good use? Don’t be afraid to add some ambiance. The experience will only be what you make of it.  If you are a naturalist, use fresh flowers and fruit.  If shabby-chic is your style, try lace and antiques.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, to plan an out-of-the-box experience.

When my guests come over, they never expect anything traditional; they expect an extraordinary experience every time. Because of their high expectations, and my desire to give them more than they could ever expect, I try to incorporate everything I’ve learned into each design.

Within the pages of this book are nuggets of information that will explain the basics of table settings, along with a few treats and tips. You will be whisked away to intimate dinner parties in unconventional places. I’ll show you settings that were created from just my imagination and vividly bring them to life through the pages of this book.

No Reservations Needed will stimulate your creativity. Just remember, you have 75% of what you need in your home, and if you set the tone, everything else will fall into place.

I hope you have as much fun reading and recreating some of my settings as I have had preparing them for you.

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Lenee Valentine-Smallwood
Leneé Valentine-Smallwood is the CEO and Creative Director of Leneé Valentine Weddings & Events, a full-service event-planning firm. Her work has been showcased in various venues across the United States. With over twenty years of experience, Ms. Valentine-Smallwood is highly sought after for her event planning and styling expertise. Her creative eye, original designs, and professionalism have afforded her the opportunities to work with many local businesses as well as celebrity-level event designers. Her work has been featured in publications including: Munaluchi Bride, Preston Bailey’s Blog, Bombshells in Business, Home, Confetti, Style, Redefine, Two Bright Lights, Urban Style, Pretty Perfect Living, Party Style, You Mean the World to Me (UK), The Maven Bride, Showerbelle, Posh Bridal, Southern Maryland Weddings, Swan So Sweet, Mazel Moments, and LaBelle Africana, just to name a few. She has been invited to deliver keynote speeches on the importance of setting goals and living your dreams and has appeared on several occasions as a guest on Fox 5 DC. In addition, Leneé has recently launched her newest company called Grooms Matter Too®. The company was created from the philosophy that the groom’s satisfaction and enjoyment mattered just as much as his beautiful bride to be. The goal is to guide the groom along his new journey while assisting with all the wedding details that relate specifically to him and his groomsmen, for example: surprise proposals, rehearsal dinner, styling, groomsmen gifts, outings with the guys, transportation and more… In her free time, she loves to spend time with her friends and family. In addition, she enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and empowering people to live their wildest dreams.
Lenee Valentine-Smallwood

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