A Bastille Day Party by Tara Guerard

How the event planning maven turned a birthday fête in Charleston into a Francophile-friendly dinner party you won't soon forget

Christine and Eric Jablon hosted a sophisticated French-inspired birthday fête at their historic home in Charleston, South Carolina.
Christine and Eric Jablon hosted a sophisticated French-inspired birthday fête at their historic home in Charleston, South Carolina.
Guests mingle during cocktail hour.
Guests mingle during cocktail hour.

A 70th birthday is as good a reason as any to throw a party. A 70th-birthday that happens to coincide with Bastille Day, the French national holiday that commemorates the storming of the Bastille and the onset of the French Revolution? Even better. So to celebrate both occasions, Christine Jablon and her husband Eric hosted a French-inspired fête that honored her father-in-law in the most stylish—and historically conscious—way possible. Click here to view more photos.

With the location set—the Jablon's historic home in Charleston is a grand 18th-century townhouse with a shady swath of lawn that serves as the perfect backdrop in which to celebrate—the hostess was able to focus on the party itself. To get the festivities underway, Christine enlisted Tara Guérard, the woman behind the magazine-worthy 2012 nuptials of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds and who planned Jablon’s own wedding seven years earlier. Together, the pair chose a sophisticated blue-and-white palette with understated touches of red appearing in items such as the calligraphed name cards for each guest. “I didn’t want the connection to Bastille Day to be too literal,” says Guérard. Instead, she infused French-inspired details in subtle ways throughout: mini baguettes wrapped in the day’s menu sat at each place setting; handmade cocktail stirrers featured paper toppers meant to resemble fireworks.

To subtly nod to the French theme, Guérard focused on a traditional blue-and-white palette.
To subtly nod to the French theme, Guérard focused on a traditional blue-and-white palette.

"As long as you can get to the bar to get a drink, life is good."

–Tara Guérard

A Bastille Day Party by Tara Guérard
Guérard and her team crafted drink stirrers to resemble Bastille Day fireworks. Left: A wooden server was moved outdoors to create a post-dinner cheese and port station.
Guérard and her team crafted drink stirrers to resemble Bastille Day fireworks. Left: A wooden server was moved outdoors to create a post-dinner cheese and port station.

To make room for the party of 50, Guérard moved furniture from the patio to the lawn, in the process establishing an intimate space that encompassed an outdoor living room, a porch-top bar area, and an intimate dining nook using a long rectangular table already owned by the Jablons. "When a party seems really full, it is always more fun," says Guérard. "As long as you can get to the bar to get a drink, life is good." Her team strung lights and candle-carrying lanterns from neighboring branches to create a soft glow as the party lingered into the evening. And when the heat threatened to force the party indoors, the organizers installed fans in the trees to keep guests cool. Unlike on Bastille Day, there were no actual fireworks to mark the occasion at the end of the night—but there were sparklers, which proved just as festive.

The youngest Jablons find time to play while guests celebrate.
The youngest Jablons find time to play while guests celebrate.
The Daily Dish

Though the decor followed a traditional French theme, the menu focused on a selection of locally sourced plates by Charleston-based Cru Catering. Here's a taste of what guests enjoyed.

  • A Bastille Day Party by Tara Guerard

    SALADE

    To start, a salad of grilled peaches and figs with walnuts and goat cheese was served on a bed of butter lettuce. 

  • A Bastille Day Party by Tara Guerard

    POISSON

    Le plat de poisson was a pan-seared local grouper with summer corn succotash, basil-parsnip purée, and truffled-citrus beurre blanc.

  • A Bastille Day Party by Tara Guerard

    FROMAGE

    An elegant French cheese and port station provided post-dinner snacks for guests that weren't quite ready to bid adieu.

  • A Bastille Day Party by Tara Guerard

    GÂTEAU

    For dessert, the guest of honor chose the coconut cake that's on the menu at the Peninsula Grill, his favorite sweet.

I'm the former Deputy Editor at Lonny.
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