Wedding party tips: Planning a bridal shower
Once you decide to offer a bridal shower, things will go smoothly if you pay attention to detail. Whether the guest list is large or small, having the day outlined well in advance will eliminate headaches the day of the event.
Most brides-to-be welcome a shower, as it gives them a chance to obtain much needed items for their new home as well as enjoy the company of their friends and family while they are still single. Some brides have many showers, others have only one. Showers can be as much fun with a handful of people in someone’s living room as with a crowd big enough to fill a hall – providing the person planning the shower has done her homework.
Unless she’s thrown a surprise party, the bride decides how many showers she wants, as well as the guest list for each. A shower is almost like a birthday party, with cake and ice dream, but instead of celebrating another year older, folks are celebrating a new member to their family, whether it be bride or groom.
Most brides have a separate shower for their own relatives and her closest friends, then one for her husband’s side of the family and his closest friends, and there could also be one from co-workers. For women with a large circle of friends and family, separate showers work best. If the woman is shy, has little family, or doesn’t work, she could limit herself to one shower comprised of those closest to her and her fiancé. Each circumstance is different.
In years past, second marriages didn’t warrant a shower, but in this day and age, anything goes. Etiquette also requires that someone other than the bride’s mother host the event, but if the young woman only has her mother to help out, the rule is ignored. Whoever plans it will need assistance and the more the merrier in planning the event. Less people are needed for small showers, and a group of planners is needed for larger ones.
The first order of business is to decide on a date with the bride-to-be, and it should be within one and three months prior to the wedding date. If a shower is held too close to the wedding, the bride will be too busy with preparations to enjoy it as she should. If it is held too far from the date, and things go wrong between the happy couple, embarrassing gift returns could prove to be too much for a once-future bride. The bride should also give the hostess a list with the names and addresses of those she wants invited.
If it’s going to be a small shower, and one of many, a gift theme should be decided upon. For a handful of people, a kitchen theme would be appropriate, and gift selections would be easy – dish cloths and towels, cooking gadgets, baking and sauce pans, low-fat grills – anything a new bride could use would be appropriate. And because these gifts can be as inexpensive or as costly as a person wishes, each person could bring her own gift, rather than a group going in together on a costly item, and it would be more fun for the bride-to-be to open several individual gifts than one from the whole crowd. If, however, it will be a shower for over fifty people, persons going in together on a present would net lovely gifts for the home, and guests wouldn’t sit for hours watching as the bride-to-be opens one after the other of her packages.
A decoration theme should also be planned before mailing out the invitations. The long-identified theme of a bridal shower has been an umbrella, because a shower of wishes rains down on the bride. Some people start their theme with the invitation and then incorporate it into decorated cups and cake plates for the shower itself, as well as table centerpiece and cake decorations. A shower is not a shower without a lovely decorated cake. If you order the cake from a bakery, specify bridal shower cake, or you could end up with a baby decorating the top.
Invitations should be mailed four weeks prior to the shower. RSVP’s are necessary if the hostess is planning a meal, so she has an idea of how much to purchase for the event. The same holds true if the hosts are reserving a restaurant or hall for the event. In that case, RSVP’s must be returned two weeks before the shower. If the bride-to-be is registered at stores mention that on the invitation. The gift registry is one of the best inventions since wedding gowns. The guest can go into the store, put the bride’s name into a computer, and get a printout of items she wants but does not yet have. As the guest pays at the register, those items are taken off the next printout, and when the next guest goes into the store to buy, she will see what is still needed by the bride-to-be. It sounds shallow and commercial, but it saves recipients the chore of trudging back to stores returning duplicate gifts, and it saves the stores from having to restock the shelves.
Though most showers are held on Sunday afternoons, they can be held most anytime, especially if they will be at restaurants or reserved halls. There are even couples’ showers, where the future groom is a guest as well, and both men and women are invited. If men are invited, evening dinners or cocktail parties are a good idea. For location, they can be in the home, outside in the yard, at a party hall, or at one of the finest restaurants in the city. It all depends on the host’s budget. The menu can be something as simple as cake and punch; or a full-course meal can be served. Luncheon fare could include such entrees as chicken salad, rolls and butter. Dinner parties could include salad, roast beef or baked chicken, and baked potato. There can even be informal showers offering pizza and wings, but the host would need to provide plenty of moist towelettes to keep fingers clean. Keep in mind that gifts are opened after the meal, and allow for time. Showers for a hundred people can become long and tedious, as well as expensive. Cake and coffee may be enjoyed while the guest of honor opens her gifts.
Games, which used to be a necessity at bridal showers, are now an elective. If there is a small gathering, a few quick, simple games would be fun. If there is writing involved, be sure to have a box of pencils or pens on hand, so participants aren’t rooting through their purses or checking their pockets for a writing tool. If there is a large crowd, games could be a headache. Years back, if games were conducted, the person who won received a gift and passed it over to the bride. Now hosts can buy two gifts per game – one to pass to the bride and one for the person who actually won the game. It’s only fair. Everyone likes a little reward for their effort.
Large showers held at reception halls or restaurants sometimes have table decorations for the guests to take home as a remembrance of the day. Small organdy bags of scented potpourri are nice, as are colorful candy kisses or Jordan almonds tied in organdy with a colorful ribbon. Table centerpieces can be found at most stores, and party stores offer complete themes, giving the hostess many ideas of what type of shower she will offer. Whatever size the shower, finding someone with a video camera to record the event and presenting the couple with the tape afterward is an excellent gift.