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16 Ways to Plan the Ultimate Bridal Shower

Featured Image - Bridal Shower

A bridal shower is one of best ways to officially celebrate a bride-to-be. Not only is it one of the first pre-wedding events where friends and family get to meet each other, it’s also filled with fun decor, bubbly, and more! If you are wondering how to plan a bridal shower and need some guidelines, read on!

1.  Bridal Shower Defined

A bridal shower is a pre-wedding celebration in honor of the bride-to-be that traditionally is an opportunity for guests to give her gifts to help set up her new home. While the types of gifts and bridal shower themes have become much more varied in recent years, the general format remains the same: a daytime women-only event in celebration of the bride-to-be’s upcoming marriage.

2.  Hostesses and Budget

Hostesses

The bridal shower is usually hosted by the bridesmaids, the bride or groom’s mother, or other close female relatives. No matter who is hosting, be sure to communicate clearly to ensure you aren’t planning two separate bridal showers!

As for the bridal shower budget, draft it as soon as possible and divide the financial responsibilities between the hostesses accordingly.  Make the budget responsibilities are very clear before proceeding with planning so there is no confusion.

3.  Guest List

As with other pre-wedding events, the guest list should be limited to people who are also invited to the wedding. For the bridal shower, this usually includes the bridal party, the bride and groom’s mothers and sisters, aunts, close female cousins, and grandmothers. Often other female friends are included, though the number invited depends on how large the event is intended to be. Ideally, the guest list will consist of between thirty and fifty guests.  Unless the bridal shower is a surprise, the bride-to-be should assist with the guest list, but then be removed from the planning.

4.  Invitations

Invitation

While there are a couple of different options for bridal shower invitations, there are pros and cons for both.  Using an electronic invitation service via the internet is the quickest and easiest way to contact your invitees.  It’s also a great way to keep count of the RSVPs.  The other method is very traditional and, of course, more expensive.  However, sending a beautiful invitations through the mail might entice the invitee to attend because the bridal shower looks polished and more organized.

You might think that paper goods aren’t worth the cost, especially since electronic invitations are available. Don’t they eventually get thrown out? Consider this.  If you pick stationery that’s easy on the eyes, guests will be impressed.

5.  Date

Usually the bridal shower is held between three months and three weeks before the wedding. Choose a date that is convenient for both the bride and her guests of choice, whether that means hosting something a little farther in advance or planning it to coincide with a trip to the bride’s hometown or some other get-together, such as a bachelorette party in the evening after an afternoon bridal shower.

6.  Dress Code

Bridal Shower White Dress

Be sure to mention any dress code on the invitations so that the invitees can have plenty of time to secure any necessary outfits for the bridal shower.  This is especially true if the bridal shower has a theme and invitees are expected to dress in a certain manner.

Under no circumstances should you wear white to a bridal shower as this color is reserved for the bride-to-be.  This is not just the rule for those in attendance at the wedding.  For all pre-wedding events, white is reserved only for the bride-to-be to wear.

7.  Location

Kelsey Combe PhotographyCopyright Kelsey Combe Photography // (@kelseycombephoto)

Choosing a location that is perfect for the bridal shower can be quite daunting.  You have to consider the bride-to-be’s preferences, space availability, and spatial concerns.  Is the bridal shower more of an intimate occasion?  If so, then one of the hostesses homes might be preferable.  Does the bride-to-be want a grand event with a stunning backdrop?  The ambiance of the grounds near St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City might be a consideration (see photo above).  Regardless of the location, be sure that the venue matches the theme and décor.

8.  Theme

Tea Party

Themes are a great way to add cohesion to a bridal shower.  While having a theme isn’t an essential part of the bridal shower planning, it can be the perfect way to add some personality to the party with invitations, food and drink options, and decorations to name a few things. Some favorite themes range from a brunch bridal shower, a tea party, a trip to a winery, to even a fun flower-arranging party.  Check out these ideas when choosing a bridal shower theme.

9.  Décor

The choice of décor will rely heavily on the theme, if any, that you choose.  There are some mainstay decorations that should be present at any bridal shower.  These include fresh flowers, balloons, table clothes, champagne flutes, and place settings.

artedevie.comCopyright Arte De Vie (@artedevie)
Styled by Blue Skies Events Nola (@blueskieseventsnola) & Bee’s Weddings and Events (@beesweddings)

Another way to make the bride-to-be feel extra-special is by creating a “Bride’s Chair” that’s decorated especially for her.  Using the above image as inspiration, you can decorate the chair using flowers, greenery, and anything else to make it beautiful.  The bride-to-be will truly feel like the toast of the town.

10.  Itinerary

Most bridal showers follow a similar format: cocktails, food, bridal shower games, gift opening, and party favors.  While there may be some deviation depending on such things as the bride-to-be herself or the theme.  Regardless, most bridal showers unfold similarly.

  • Menu

Hors d'Ouevres

The menu is as different as each individual bridal shower is.  The bride-to-be may have favorites and preferences.  The theme may call for certain dishes to be served.  Will the bridal shower have a sit down meal, a buffet, or passed hors d’oeuvres?   There are a myriad of factors to go into planning a menu.

  • Cocktails

Various Brunch Cocktails

Many bridal showers are held around brunch time or lunchtime.  The perfect drinks are the mimosa and Bellini.  Of course, there are plenty of other drinks to serve, but there are the most popular.  Check out my article on cocktails here.  Get ahead of the curve and select a signature cocktail for the wedding!  Check here for a list of signature drinks!

  • Bridal Shower Games

Bridal shower games are a fun way for wedding guests to get to know one another.  They create camaraderie among guests and make the entire wedding experience more enjoyable.  For a comprehensive list of bridal shower games, click here.

11.  Bridal Shower Gifts

Gift Station

Unlike an engagement party, guests are usually requested to bring gifts to a bridal shower.  There should be a set time when the bride-to-be is to open her gifts.  It is customary that the bride-to-be should open her gifts surrounded by her guests.  To ensure no gift goes misplaced, create an area where guests can place their gift as they arrive, such as on an entry table.  Make sure as the bride-to-be is opening each gift, the hostess(es) record which gift is from whom, so she can easily write her thank you notes!

Regardless of the selected bridal shower date, make sure that the bride-to-be has put together a wedding registry before the invitations are sent out so guests can purchase gifts.

12.  Create a Ribbon Bouquet

As the bride-to-be is opening her gifts, have a member of the wedding party collect all of the ribbons to create a pretty decorative bouquet. This isn’t just a pretty keepsake, it’s a tradition for the bride to carry the ribbon bouquet from her bridal shower down the aisle during the wedding rehearsal.

13.  Toast

Toast

Each hostess (if more than one) should toast the bride-to-be and officially congratulate her on her upcoming nuptials. In addition to the hostess(es) introducing themselves, the toast should include a few words thanking the guests for attending this very special event.  The toast doesn’t have to have to be too formal or too long,  Introducing yourself and saying a few encouraging words is sufficient.

14. Wedding Hashtag

Keep all of the bride-to-be’s wedding-related images neatly pulled together in one virtual place with a wedding hashtag, and she’ll have an album to click through for anniversaries to come.  Creating the perfect wedding hashtag can be a bit tricky, but here are some suggestions for designing one.

15.  A Surprise!

Groom

It is a great idea and wonderful surprise to plan for the groom-to-be to show up when the party’s nearly over.  He can bring along a bouquet of the bride-to-be’s favorite flower, a bottle of bubbly, or something for the crowd, like mini desserts.  Ask him to invite his groomsmen (if they live or are in town). It’s a fun way to follow tradition by keeping the bridal shower ladies-only, then letting the boys and girls mingle later.

16.  Party Favors

Party Favors

Lastly, it is always a good idea to give out some kind of favor as another way to say thanks. Bridal shower favors can range from something edible like a frosted cookie (above), to something wearable like personalized jewelry. There are a lot of options that can work for any shower theme and guests will love being able to take home the gift too!

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