One of the unabashed highlights of the run-up to the wedding is the bridal shower, a once in a lifetime opportunity for the bride and her closest friends to get together and celebrate the past and the future in one walloping great party. Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, hold that thought, because when it comes right down to it planning a bridal shower can be a lot of work. Like any important event, there are a bevy of choices to be made and complicated questions to be answered.
There’s more to a successful bridal shower than just getting everyone together and popping open a bottle of bubbly. Much more. So, let’s talk a bit about the ins and outs of bridal showers, and try to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions in the process.
Who’s In Charge Here?
The first question to consider is who will be in charge of the festivities. Traditionally, the task of planning the bridal shower falls to the maid of honor, with ample help from the bridesmaids. That means deciding on the date and venue, handling all of the invitations, arranging for refreshments, and planning all of the entertainment and activities for the big bash. While there really are no set rules governing bridal showers, there are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind:
- Only guests who have been invited to the wedding should be invited to the bridal shower
- Choose the date carefully, and try to avoid any dates (holidays, summer vacations) when guests may not be able to attend
- Plan ahead, and choose a date and time that works best for the bride (a month to two months prior to the wedding day is ideal)
- Create a schedule for the party that includes plenty of time for laughter, games, a light meal, and (of course) the opening of presents
Choosing a Theme
While it’s not necessary to set a definite theme for the shower, it often helps to guide the planning process and to create a more festive atmosphere for all of the guests. Your bridal shower theme can be as simple or as complicated as you like, always keeping in mind that it should reflect the personality and interests of the bride herself.
In other words, if the guest of honor would like nothing more than a night of bowling don’t plan an overly elegant cocktail soiree (and vice a versa). Discuss possible themes with the bridesmaids until you settle on one that suits the bride to a T.
Here are a few popular bridal shower themes to give you some ideas:
- Wine Tasting Shower – A wine expert will attend the event with a selection of fine wines for tasting. This can make for a delightful evening, but beware if there will be underage guests.
- Honeymoon Inspired Theme – Set the shower’s theme according to the couples honeymoon destination, with food and entertainment inspired by that destination.
- A Couple’s Shower – Showers today don’t just have to be for the bride. Include the groom and invite everyone, regardless of gender, to the festivities.
- The Spa/Makeover Shower – Treat the bride and her guests to spa treatments and enjoy a glass of wine or two while being pampered and getting some beauty tips for the wedding.
Bridal showers have always included games, and that’s one tradition that thankfully hasn’t gone by the wayside. After a couple of cocktails your guests should be ready to let their hair down and have a laugh or two, and nothing promotes conversations and laughter than a well chosen game or two.
Again, keep the tastes and personality of the bride in mind, and choose your games accordingly. A couple of examples should give you an idea of the fun that can be had with the right diversion:
- Telephone Toast – This whispering game relies on the garbling of whispered messages to conjure up laughs and potential embarrassment (in a good way of course).
- Finish That Thought – A wedding themed version of Mad Libs. Guests write down their marital advice on cards, and guests have to match the silly and serious assertions to their authors. (Best played with a drink in hand).
- Shower Gift Bingo – Guests are given cards printed with a list of shower gifts. As the bride opens her presents, guests mark off each gift on their cards until they score ‘bingo’. This is a great way to keep everyone involved in the gift opening ceremonies.
Finally, it’s time to talk about refreshments. Choices here will largely depend on the size of the shower and the number of attending guests. If you’re planning a sizable party for an evening’s entertainment, it may be best to opt for a proper sit down meal catered by a local eatery. This takes some of the pressure off of the planning committee, and ensures that everyone enjoys a stellar meal. Showers with a smaller guest list might be better served by a light buffet or cocktail service with hors d’oeuvres, or even a light brunch if you’re planning the party for earlier in the day (just don’t forget the mimosas).
Planning a bridal shower should never be seen as a chore, but it can be a complicated business. If you been honored to be chosen as a maid of honor, then it’s your responsibility to see that the bride has a merry and memorable shower before she ties the knot. Having said that, there’s no need to stress. Just take your time, plan early, and allow these simple tips to guide your way.