If a formal multicourse dinner in a stately ballroom is out of your budget, or just doesn't feel very you, scale back the pomp of a traditional reception and ramp up the good times with an elegant cocktail party instead.

Here, tomato tartare arrives stacked on Parmesan crostini and topped with a sunny-side up quail egg. The hors d'oeuvres were created by Beauty & Essex, the restaurant on Manhattan's Lower East Side where we threw our party.

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