FH Dinner Party Series: Mrs. Southern Social

Back when we lived in Nashville {see the Home Tour here}, I met the incredibly talented and equally as sweet, Mary Huddleston, the founder of Please Be Seated Rentals, one of the premier party and wedding furniture rental companies in Nashville. From the moment I arrived in Nashville, Mary welcomed me to the city with open arms, offering to meet for coffee, introduce me to friends, and more. Kindness like that is something you don’t forget, especially when you are the new girl in town, so Mary, first and foremost, thank you for your friendship.

Mary and myself, both being business savvy ladies, collaborated immediately, throwing a gorgeous Calligraphy Party together as well as partnering on a beautiful Bridal Shower Shoot for her catalogue and my website, both beyond gorgeous features! Since leaving Nashville, Mary expanded her business and started Mrs. Southern Social, which you will learn more about below, but essentially is a resource for those of you who want to throw a fab party but maybe don’t want to handle every single detail.

I am thrilled to share a gorgeous Mother’s Day Celebration Mary created and to share an interview with this fabulous Nashville woman!

FH: Tell me a quick bio of how you came to start? 

Both Please Be Seated and Mrs. Southern Social started in response to a gap in the special events market. I worked as a wedding planner for over a decade in Texas, and upon moving back to Nashville, TN, I realized there was a lack of luxury event rentals available in the Southeast. What started as a “side project” for me turned into a full-service event rental company in just four years. We now offer beautiful tabletop items, dining chairs, specialty tables, bars, linens and many other décor pieces for weddings, social and corporate events. Mrs. Southern Social is my personal Instagram account, and soon-to-launch blog that focuses on entertaining at home without any DIY components. I use either rental items (since I own a rental company- ha) or disposable items in almost all of my tablescapes, to highlight a side of entertaining where everything is delegated. I’m a working mom who enjoys hosting events in my home, but I just don’t have the time to cook or make things myself. Mrs. Southern Social is for the woman who wants to “delegate” things out by calling in help, whether it’s a florist, caterer, entertainer, etc. I’ve been honored to be included as one of Nashville’s Women of Influence (awarded in 2017), as well as an ambassador for Draper James. I’m southern to my core, and the Draper James brand is right up my alley. I like to think of the Draper James woman as someone who enjoys hosting parties (they have great dresses for that), without sweating over all the details. I’m all about that.

FH: How would you describe your blog or company? 

Both Please Be Seated and Mrs. Southern Social are focused on making entertaining as easy as possible. Please Be Seated is an actual brick-and-mortar storefront where you can rent almost anything you need for events, whether it be an intimate dinner for 10 or a gala for 800. People can also visit the Please Be Seated social media pages for ideas and inspiration, as we are constantly posting pictures from our events. Mrs. Southern Social is all about how I entertain at home. I offer tips, tricks and ideas that are never “hand-made” or require a ton of pre-planning. I’d also like to think that people are starting to follow Mrs. Southern Social for the party “eye candy.” I’m always looking for ideas and inspiration myself, and I hope that I too can offer this to others.

FH: What is your entertaining style? Traditional, Contemporary, Seasonal?  

My entertaining style is traditional with a twist. I’m a southern girl from Nashville, and I’ve always relied on tradition when it comes to hosting events of my own, so naturally my events look and feel more traditional than anything else. I love looking back at pictures of family birthdays, dinner parties and holiday suppers, hosted by my grandmother. They appear so elegant, timeless, and comfortable, which is my go-to aesthetic as well. The main difference between the two of us is that she cooked. You will rarely find me in the kitchen, unless it’s to heat-up something pre-made!

FH: How often do you entertain and for how many guests?

I’m definitely the go-to hostess for our group of friends and my family. I love opening our home for birthday parties and especially for the holidays. This means I’m usually hosting something about once a month, but not everything involves the same amount of planning or decorating. I’m very fortunate in that I have access to tabletop rentals at any time, which I use when hosting under 12 people (what my formal dining room seats). Any event over 12 people, and I have a slew of paper goods vendors I will order from to keep things as easy as possible (from table to trash as I like to say). When it comes to entertaining, more is more, which is great, because it means I will always have content to share on Mrs. Southern Social!

FH: Do you have a go-to recipe or dish or cocktail {or do you avoid cooking at all costs}? Can you share a link to this or even quick steps for readers at home!

I avoid cooking at all costs. This includes baking. HOWEVER, I do have a slew of great bakers and caterers in town on speed-dial when I do need something special. For day-to-day dining, I’m a huge fan of Whole Foods, since they offer an amazing selection of pre-made foods and desserts, whether I’m feeding my family of 4 or a bigger crowd.

FH: Did something inspire you for today’s table? A certain color, flower, plate? 

I recently found and purchased an old hand-painted screen at an estate sale. This screen served as the inspiration for my “Mother’s Day Table.” I love how soft and elegant it is, as it reminds me Gracie wallpaper, which I absolutely love. The floral and bird motif is so beautiful, and I based the entire tabletop selection on the screen’s color palette. The amazing florist I hired also used the screen as inspiration for their floral designs included on the table.

FH: What’s your favorite element in today’s tablescape? Can you share with readers tips for re-creating at home! 

My favorite element in this tablescape are the hand-illustrated cards I put at each place setting. They read: “I Love My Mother Because…,” and then include blank lines for each guest to fill-in. Not only do the cards look beautiful on the table, but they also serve as keepsakes for whomever you are honoring at the lunch. These can be ordered from Grace and Paper Designs, and she designed these particular cards to match our tablescape design, but she can customize them just for you. It’s such a special and meaningful detail that can be kept for years to come.

FH: If you could give one party tip for readers what would it be?

Delegate. You will see this word used very frequently on @mrssouthernsocial, as it’s become my personal party “motto.” I’ve learned over the years that the more I try to do myself and the more stressed I am at events, the more I hate hosting. I suggest delegating out as much of your to-do list as possible, so that you can actually enjoy the parties you’re hosting. The more fun you have at an event, the more fun your guests will have.

FH: Did you partner with any brands to bring this table together that you would like to share?

I like to include a “Dress to the Décor” component to my Mrs. Southern Social posts. I thought it was very fitting for my “Mother’s Day Table” to include one of my favorite mother/daughter ensembles. My 5-year-old daughter, Georgia, loves wearing her Tutu Moi tutu, and they make the most darling tutus not only for kids but for adults as well. They come in a variety of styles and colors, and we chose blush tutus for this shoot to coordinate with the table décor. We each paired our tutu with a classic white button down, but I also love wearing mine with an off-the-shoulder black top and heals to go out on the town. Georgia basically lives in her tutu, so there was no arguing over dressing up for this shoot!

FH: Table top… Share all the deets!!

  • Plates: Please Be Seated Rentals
  • Salad Plates: Please Be Seated Rentals
  • Bowls: Please Be Seated Rentals
  • Napkins: Wisteria
  • Water glasses: Please Be Seated Rentals
  • Wine glass: Please Be Seated Rentals
  • Silverware: Please Be Seated Rentals
  • Centerpieces/ Vases/ Candle sticks: FLWR Shop
  • Chairs & Dining Table {optional}: Please Be Seated Rentals
  • Any notable Pieces of art behind table: Hand-painted screen purchased from an estate sale
  • “I Love My Mother Because” Cards (at each place setting): Grace and Paper Designs (@graceandpaperdesigns)
  • Tutus: Tutu Moi (@tutumoidotcom)

Home location: Belle Meade, Nashville, TN

Photography by: Lele Fain Photography