Conversations with Matthew Mead

We love Matthew Mead's new book, Entertaining Simple, in which Matthew outlines a back-to-basics approach to entertaining that tackles everything from crowd-pleasing recipes to stocking your pantry - all with remarkable style. We took time to chat with Matthew to get his thoughts on great ideas every bride-to-be and new bride can use. Whether you're planning a wedding or just settling in to a new life together, read ahead.

Somewhere between the tricked-out espresso machine and the art deco lamp for the guest room, brides seem to forget the basics that make their house a home. Starting in the kitchen and working your way out is a simple way to register for everything you need. In his book, Matthew outlines ideas for core items brides should consider when dressing their kitchen. He suggests beginning with all white dishes and clear glassware. "You can constantly change the look of your table, but you only need one set of dishes to do it" Matthew says. Using patterned tablecloths or colorful napkins can enhance or create a look. With white as your palette foundation, you can use details to change your style for any occasion. Matthew also suggests registering for twelve place settings of china. Not only will you have plenty of everything, but you can also mix and match dishes for smaller gatherings.

In addition, it's also important to get versatile pieces that mulit-task. In particular, Matthew loves very thin glass tumblers, saying "They are useful for serving any kind of cold drink, but I also turn them into candle holders or flower vases...very multifunctional." A nice set of porcelain mixing bowls can be used for both preparing food and serving food and a simple large serving platter can be embellished for different occasions or holidays. Using white and glass as the basis of your serving pantry "gives you a surprisingly wide range of options," says Matthew. You can mix old, new and handed-down pieces and they will all work together. Simple, chic basics will meld seamlessly with almost any design theme you choose for your new home.

We also loved Matthew's ideas for fall weddings. Drawing inspiration from nature and natural materials, his concepts are easy to pull off and offer a nice detour from the overdone "leaves and acorns" motif. From centerpieces to favors, you can put your own spin on any of these ideas.

When planning an autumn soiree, gather materials and create your own storyboard. Take a trip to the marketplace to find colors and fabrics to create a mood and set the tone for your decor. You can weave your palette into the table setting with handmade tablecloths or napkins from fabric that inspires you. Consider using seasonal items for your tabletops, like nuts in the shell, apples or jack-be-littles. Matthew suggests, "you can rub off decals and actually put a monogram of the guests' name on a jack-be-little that can go right on their plate."

Think of natural elements that can be used as unique, inspired favors. One idea Matthew suggests is to hollow out a whole walnut and fill it with a single truffle or chocolate. Tie the shell back together with twine and it makes an excellent favor. "I try to think of really simple things that are accessible," Matthew says. One of his favorite ideas is filling votive cups with natural potpourri or candied nuts. He also suggests creating an autumn-inspired menu with items like fresh apple chutney with pork tenderloin or anything with cinnamon tones. Using nature as your inspiration, it's possible to take traditional concepts and and make them original.

It's no secret that newlywed entertaining can be a little overwhelming. You're barely back from the honeymoon and everyone wants to visit. You want to be the perfect host, but let's face it, we're not all Betty Crocker. In Entertaining Simple, Matthew offers easy ways to entertain everyone, from the bridal party that put up with you, to the mother-in-law that can't wait to see you in action.

Matthew suggests dishes that can be prepared ahead of time and/or can be served at room temperature. This is a great way to make sure you aren't stuck in the kitchen while your guests are mingling. Try dishes like individual servings of lobster and avocado salad or single-serving shrimp sandwiches and use frozen or pre-packaged ingredients to cut down on prep time.

Entertaining Simple also offers great party ideas for new brides including a "Girl Talk" afternoon tea, "Family Fusion" and a "Lazy Day Brunch", all of which have simple menu ideas, recipes and theme suggestions. If you have registered wisely, these menus can be as creative as your tabletop. Matthew says, "It's about spending time with your guests. That's what I want people to get out of the book." Whether you're planning a wedding, stocking your cabinets or throwing your first get-together as a newly married couple, Matthew's new book is all about "restoring sanity without sacrificing style."

For more great ideas and stylish inspiration, check out Entertaining Simple or visit Matthew Mead Style.

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