A bridal shower is one of those parties that are fun and practical at the same time. The obvious reason for a shower is to give things to the future married couple that will help them establish a home together. But the underlying reason for a bridal shower is that it's a nice occasion for the close family and friends of the bride to spend relaxed time with her before the big wedding day.
It's a time for sharing funny stories, for relatives to give advice to the bride, and for friends to show their support. The bride is the princess of the day, so be sure that in your planning you don't do anything that will make her feel uncomfortable.
A bridal shower is commonly hosted by the maid-of-honor and bridesmaids. Although it was once considered poor etiquette for family members of the bride to host the shower, it is now acceptable. Here are some other considerations as you plan a shower:
- The event is usually held within two months of the wedding, up to two weeks before the big day.
- Don't invite guests to the shower who have not been invited to the wedding.
- You will need to decide whether this will be a traditional 'girls only' event or a couples party, often referred to as a "Jack and Jill" shower.
- Any time of day is acceptable, but most often showers are afternoon events.
- Make your guests feel comfortable and have fun with bridal shower games. Planning a few of these games is a particularly good idea if a large number of the guests don't already know one another.
- Encourage the bride to register for gifts. With so many couples living on their own before getting married, it's difficult for guests to guess which things they still need.
- Remind the bride to include a reasonable number of inexpensive items on her registry for guests with limited budgets.
- Decide whether the party will be held at a home or in a restaurant or other locale. These days many shower planners now choose activities instead of the traditional finger food/gift opening shower. For example, many bridal parties take the bride out for a day at the spa instead of a shower. Or for an active Jack and Jill shower, the party could be a beach barbecue complete with volleyball, Frisbee, music, and dancing.
- Unless you feel it's mandatory to surprise the bride, involve her in the planning. Ask her if there's a particular theme she'd like for her shower. Some popular themes include lingerie showers, kitchen item showers, around-the-clock showers (where everyone is assigned a time of day for which to select a gift) and travel gift showers.
- Don't forget to give party favors to all guests. These can be traditional favors such as small boxes of candy. Or they can be something that relates to the theme of the shower, e.g. drawer sachets at a lingerie shower.
As you plan the bridal shower, be sure to give careful thought to the decorations. Decorations will be the most important thing for setting the stage for your event. Don't be afraid to be creative. With the abundance of wedding bells and umbrellas, you find in the bridal shower section of party stores, one might think that's the only possible motif for this event. Think again. It can be very simple and relatively inexpensive to be a lot more creative than that. Here are three possible decorating plans to get you started.
Follow Your Theme
When you've selected a theme for your shower, decorations will help to support your selection. Here are some decorating ideas for a kitchen theme shower:
- Get plain white paper table cloths and stamp fruits and vegetables in garden colors around the border.
- Create a centerpiece for each table using a stainless steel mixing bowl filled with a seasonal selection of colorful fruit. Alternatively, purchase attractive 6-inch pots and fill with dirt. Place a colorful candle in the center and plant herbs around it.
- Give out small spice packets attached to measuring spoons as a favor.
- Use recipe cards as place cards.
- Tie each napkin with a small piece of twine and insert a miniature whisk under the bow.
Make It Romantic
Romance is the underlying reason behind all showers, so why not celebrate it with your decorations?
- Consider hosting a bridal shower tea party that is perfect for a romantic mood.
- Top your tables with pink linens.
- Use white napkins that have been pushed through heart-shaped cookie cutters as a napkin ring.
- Your centerpiece should reflect the ultimate symbol of romance - a clear vase filled with red roses.
- Sprinkle the table with heart-shaped confetti in assorted colors of pink, red and silver.
- A small heart trinket box that has been wrapped with a red bow is a lovely favor for your guests to bring home a little of the romance for themselves.
- Create place cards by folding over small paper lace doilies.
Remember the Bride's Interests
Consider the interests of the bride when you select your theme. Here are shower ideas for a bride who is passionate about the beach.
- Cover the tables with blue, white and yellow striped cloths for a nautical feel.
- Create seashell napkin rings by gluing miniature seashells around plain wooden or plastic napkin rings.
- For this party's centerpiece, fill a clear bowl with blue marbles and water. Place a few starfish along the sides of the marbles so that they are visible from the outside of the bowl. Top with white floating candles.
- Tie a length of rope around the back of each chair and glue a cluster of seashells at the point where it ties.
- Give each guest a small votive candle holder that you have hand-painted or stamped with seagulls, and fill them with an ocean-scent candle.
Bridal Shower Menus
Bridal shower menus are often comprised of finger food recipes that can be enjoyed while guests walk around socializing with one another. That is certainly one way to handle your menu, but a sit-down luncheon can work just as well for a small group. Just be sure to leave time for guests to mingle after the meal.
As luncheons are a popular time for the traditional bridal shower that will include friends and family together, here is a flavorful lunchtime menu that will put everyone in a celebratory mood.
- Champagne Punch - This champagne punch is a fruity and fun beverage for the many happy toasts to the bride.
- Crab Quiche - Bake this in a square or rectangular pan, then cut into small appetizer-size squares for serving.
- Shrimp and Tortellini Salad
- Roasted Turkey Breast Stuffed with Herbs - This is a juicy crockpot recipe. Serve it with sandwich rolls.
- Field Greens with Peaches and Blackberry Dressing
- Calla Lily Cookies - These beautiful cookies are a deceptively decadent treat for your guests.
- Mini Lemon Cheesecakes - You can serve these either in lieu of or in addition to a traditional bakery shower cake.
If you'd like to find more of Donna Pilato's advice on hosting parties and entertaining friends and family you can visit her at The Delicious Dozen.