There’s a reason the folks at Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Martha Stewart Weddings, among others, turn to Lynn Easton for style advice. She’s the arbiter of understatement, the Oz of fresh elegance. She sets a mood like nobody’s business—maybe because it is her business, as the founding director of Easton Events, which specializes in luxury destination weddings, and creative director/cofounder of Easton Porter Group, a boutique hospitality enterprise that brought us Zero George Street hotel and Cannon Green.
Wander around Zero George and you’ll get an immediate sense of the sublime magic she works using nothing more than subtle neutrals, lush textures, thoughtful arrangement, and an abundance of candlelight. But Lynn’s flair for creating an inviting ambiance really shines when she brings her friends into the mix.
“Spring in Charleston is pure enchantment—if you love the casualness of outdoor entertaining as much as I do, there’s no better time,” she says. While in the midst of a major renovation at their Church Street home, Lynn and her husband, Dean Andrews, took advantage of Zero George’s courtyard and kitchen to share a simple garden supper with friends. Her secrets for a flawless spring fling? Luckily she shares those, too.
Lynn’s Dinner Party Secrets:
- Make it a team effort. Do what you do best and enjoy the most, then tag-team or outsource the rest. “Dean is the primary cook,” says Easton. “I focus on the décor, mood, and music; he does the cheffing.”
- Pick a focus for the menu. This one is Mediterranean, featuring Italian-influenced pasta, accented by Italian china and linens. Lynn believes that “you eat with your eyes,” so she makes sure her menu complements her tablescape and vice versa.
- Add your signature flavor. Lynn likes to make her go-to dressing: a homemade Champagne vinaigrette for the arugula salad.
- Keep it simple. Lean towards preparing something tried and true rather than over-challenging yourself in the kitchen. “The bottom line: if you’re relaxed and happy, your guests will be, too.”
Setting the Stage
Each place setting pairs the Italian plates and bowls she and Dean selected when they were first married with bright chargers and Vietri utensils. “We have beautiful family silver that we use for more traditional dinners,” says Lynn, “but the colorful cutlery just says, ‘Fun!’’
- Mix it up. Don’t be afraid to indulge in a little pattern play—mix color, texture, and pattern in your table settings. Here, Lynn combines handmade Italian plates and bowls with Anna Weatherly chargers. “I love the marriage of the traditional shape with the very bright and modern hue,” she says.
- Offer subtle surprises with color. Add a refreshing pop to a table setting with a colored water glass.
- Keep the bar simple. Red, white, and sparkling wine will do the trick. (“But always have good vodka in the freezer and aged Bourbon on hand—just in case!” says Lynn.)
- Set up a self-serve station. Make it easy for guests to serve themselves. “A nice touch is to freeze fresh herbs in ice cubes for non-alcoholic beverages,” she notes.
- Don’t angst over formal flowers. Showcase the best branches or blooms in your garden, or outsource to your favorite florist.
- Create a mood. “Put a candle on every surface, but never use scented ones at the dining table!”
Though her professional life entails managing the minutia that goes into logistically complex high-touch destination events, Lynn doesn’t confuse work with pleasure. “My job requires me to be in full management mode, making sure vendors are on point and everything falls into place, but hosting friends is all about being fully present as someone enjoying the experience,” she says. In both cases, though, she doesn’t skimp on creating a beautiful table and all the elements that go into a magical evening.
A Moveable Feast
The beauty of entertaining outdoors is that guests feel free to wander a bit and explore, an inclination Lynn likes to encourage. “That’s one of the things I love about Zero George and its interior courtyard. There are all these spaces-within-spaces. It feels very personal and intimate,” she says, which is also the type of atmosphere Lynn and Dean create at their own home. Using an environment to its fullest and in imaginative ways is a signature of an Easton venue and event, whether it be a fully-staged wedding or a relaxed alfresco evening with friends.
- Set your playlist in advance. Don’t forget to test the speakers or Bluetooth.
- Create a staging area for handbags and coats. And do your best to keep cell phones away from the table, too!
- Keep the party moving. Invite guests to different areas. Here, Lynn chose an alcove with oyster tabby as a lounge space for cocktails and appetizers, the courtyard for dinner, and the porch for dessert and after-dinner drinks.
- Stir up the seating arrangements. Especially when gathering good friends, Easton likes to plot unpredictable seating. “It’s always a good idea to add singles into the mix,” she says, “and to separate couples.”
- Remember Mother Nature. Prepare for the elements with bug spray, umbrella holders, and a Plan B in case of rain.
- Time it right. Just before guests arrive, open the chilled wine, “then apply lip gloss,” Easton adds. “Priorities!”
Lynn’s Spring Garden Menu
Lobster Roll Bites
Arugula & Heirloom Radish Salad with
Lynn’s Champagne Vinaigrette
Dean’s Linguine with Shrimp & Basil
Sgroppino Dessert Cocktail
Sliced Oranges Marinated in White Wine with Toasted Almonds & Cinnamon