El Cena by Lauren Carnes Photography

Lauren Carnes Photography CHM Spanish Dinner-15.jpg

We love this shoot Lauren sent us, because of not only the beautiful patio party, but because of her very first sentence, “marriage truly begins in ‘doing life’ together.” Enjoy!

From Lauren : A wedding marks the start of a marriage, but marriage truly begins in “doing life” together. From slow Saturday mornings of coffee and pancakes to dancing in the kitchen, “life” often happens around the table. We were initially inspired to create this dinner gathering by the warmth that comes with hosting friends for dinner as a newlywed couple. We drew inspiration from Lauren’s own love story - a relationship sparked in the south of Spain over conversation and glasses of red wine on outdoor sidewalk patios. The incorporation of the Spanish guitar was a nostalgic addition, as it is handmade by a Spanish guitar-maker and was purchased as a souvenir by Lauren's husband from their time in Spain. Home to tapas and flamenco, the inspiration for this Spanish themed dinner comes from a love of food, wine, shared experiences and a sweet sense of home.

Through our Cena en el Patio (Dinner on the Patio), we hope to share the feeling of preparing and sharing a meal with friends with a Spanish flair. Upon peeking into gates along Spain’s quaint streets you will find endless open-air courtyards full of gardens and bold colors. Warm and welcoming with an organic nature to it, Cote Designs’ studio garden was the perfect space to create this dinner gathering. The mango colored brick and arbor covered with climbing vines fit the bold but rustic aesthetic and color palette inspired by traditional Spanish wall tiles and orange-tree lined streets.

We wanted to evoke the sense of a couple inviting their closest friends to share a meal of dishes full of flavor and life. And this isn’t just any meal – each element is carefully tended to with much thought, much like the meals in Spain. The art of preparation for meals is one often lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life, but Lauren recalls from her time in Spain and Karin of Cote Designs from growing up in Europe, that meal preparation is an experience in and of itself – one that is done lovingly and with detail.


Guests are invited to the “cena” with a handmade invitation complete with a tile patterned envelope liner. Upon arrival, guests can choose from a selection of Spanish wines from throughout the country, as well as a signature Spanish cocktail: Agua de Valencia. Later, from gazpacho shooters to Spanish paella to churros con chocolate, each course for this “cena en el patio” offers a peek into preparation of a meal in a couple’s new home. Add in a wine bar and the serenade of Spanish guitar and the night is guaranteed to create new memories as warm as the Spanish sun. Upon leaving with a full stomach and happy heart, guests will be inspired to host the next gathering of friends in their own homes to continue building family, community and life together… all around the table.

Photography by Lauren Carnes Photography :: Floral Design, Styling & Venue: Cote Design :: Paella, Cheese Board & Vietri Plates from Plum Pudding :: Other Food Items by Libby Salvador :: Calligraphy & Invitations by Leen Machine Calligraphy & Design