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In late July I received a phone call from Dan, who wished to throw his wife a surprise birthday party. He and his family recently moved to the area so he was unsure of restaurants and locations to hold such a fête. We discussed a plan: the family would have dinner in Ballard, then head to Golden Gardens for cake and light floating lanterns. Soon afterwards I got down to business and sorted out the logistics…. like a site visit.

field to beach- sparrow soirees

On the big day, I arrived a bit early to Golden Gardens, before my assistant, which meant unloading on my own (for fellow event planners, you know this is where we get our big workouts). After finding one of my spots (I had about three picked out from my earlier visit), I asked a cyclist who was reading a book near-by if she’d watch my supplies while unloaded (thank you ma’am!). After the second trip, a complete stranger asked if I needed help (uh, yes please!). I really hope his kindness is returned somehow, someway, because he seriously deserves a couple rounds of goodwill.

birthday party gear-sparrowsoirees

During set-up a lot of people stopped and asked what was happening (a pop-up dinner? a proposal? a party? a photo shoot?). I think all of Seattle was out enjoying the beautiful break between storm systems moving through our skies. I also think Seattleites knew this was the last summer night of the season.

Beach Party Setup-SparrowSoirees

Needless to say, it was a beautifully sublime sunset. I was thrilled to know the family was able to enjoy it from the near-by restaurant too. And shortly later, they arrived…

Beach Party Sunset-SparrowSoirees

And his sweet wife was totally surprised. I think she knew something was up (why not order dessert at the restaurant?!) but I think she was completely surprised at what we planned. The group, including a few relatives who had flown in for the special occasion, were treated to strawberry cake (a family tradition) and lit 40 floating lanterns to mark the special milestone. I think their kids had a lot of fun too helping light and watching the lanterns float away on the water.


For me, the cherry on the top was another complete stranger, who was walking by, asked if she could take pictures of the set up (yes please!). And Linda Gayle’s photos are amazing – and you can view more on her blogbirthday-party1-lindagayleparker-sparrowsoirees

Thank you so much to Dan and his family for allowing Sparrow Soirées to be a part of their special evening! And a big thank you to the kindness of strangers!

cake: dahlia bakery // flowers: pike place market // event design: sparrow soirées

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