If you’ve been asked to be a Maid of Honor, you may be expected to host a bridal shower. That can seem like a massive undertaking, especially if it’s your first time, or if you’re on a budget. But don’t worry. There are a few key elements that EVERY great shower has in common… nail those, and your party is sure to be a success.
1. A Theme
You don’t have to rent a castle, learn quidditch, and buy butter beer in bulk to have a theme that wows. Themes, while traditional, are often very simple. In fact, some of the best parties we’ve been to have had the least fussy themes. Favorites include:
The All-White Shower. Ask ever guest to wear white, and choose white décor. All-white showers always lead to magnificent, Instagram-worthy pictures. They ensure the attendees all look great together, and they are a fun trial-run for the big day. These showers always guarantee an atmosphere that is bright, relaxed and feminine.
It is the 20’s. Gatsby-parties are in and easier to throw than you might think. If the bride to be is a night-owl, how about finding your nearest speak-easy and making hers a cocktail affair? You could ask everyone to wear wigs in 1920’s bob cuts. You could have a bucket of costume jewelry on hand and plan games where guests can win their favorite pieces. To complete the theme, ask that the gifts be items she’ll use after dark.
If she’s more of a morning person, consider a champagne brunch, or even high-tea like she’d find in London. These kinds of parties are just as good in a garden as they are in a spa, and the delicate food choices (think cucumber sandwiches) are perfect for a bridal shower on a budget.
Whatever theme you choose, don’t over-complicate it. The best bridal showers really are beautifully relaxed. One way to ensure you aren’t going off the deep end with your theme is to set a reasonable budget (most bridal showers cost between $15-40 per guest), and stick to it.
If your theme has you spending fortunes, consider choosing something simpler and easier to pull off. It’ll be just as pretty. Besides, the theme is only the backdrop. You don’t want something so elaborate that it steals attention from the bride.
2. A Thoughtful Guest List
It’s really important that you don’t invite anyone to the party who isn’t also invited to the wedding. For this reason, we highly recommend asking the bride for her wedding guest list. If you want her shower to be a surprise, ask her fiancé or even her mother to get the list for you. You may be surprised at who’s not on it.
With the list in hand, make sure you identify her closest friends, her nearest and dearest female family members, and the female relatives closest to the groom. Though you may not have met them yet, the groom’s sister is about to be her sister-in-law. She should definitely get an invite.
And while we’re on the subject of invites, whether you do paper invites or a shower website, be sure your invitations are an extension of your theme. This will help set the mood, and your guests will appreciate a heads up so they have time to plan their appropriate attire. We recommend sending invites out four to eight weeks before the date of the shower.
3. Great Food and Drinks
Having beautiful, delicious food is so much more important than having copious amounts of food.
Don’t try to tick every box by having all her favorites. If she loves pizza but also adores Indian cuisine, choose one, and make it pretty. That could be a spread with all kinds of chutneys, or it could be a build-your-own pizza party. Decorated donuts are a sure to please everyone, and they're plenty photo-worthy for a shower. The key, again, is to keep things simple and streamlined.
Likewise, don’t try to stock a whole bar’s worth of bevies. For non-drinkers, offer just one or two spa-inspired waters. Cucumber rose and lemon vanilla bean are both stunning flavors. Then have one fabulous adult bevy, whether that is a bubbly cocktail such as French 75’s, or a pretty punch. Pinterest has loads of cocktails we love, and again, your food and drinks should be natural extensions of your theme. If you are doing London’s high tea, for example, be sure your cocktail is a tea and gin based concoction.
4. An Activity
We recommend having just a couple of these in mind. They’re great ways to break the ice and make sure guests who don’t yet know each other can interact on even footing. However, too many activities can start to overwhelm the party. You don’t want to fatigue your guests or cram so much in that the party feels rigid. Instead, a game or two, that everyone that everyone has an equal shot at winning, is a superb way to liven things up without taking too much emphasis off the bride.
5. Gifts She Actually Wants
The easiest way to pull this off is to ask the Bride. If she’s registered somewhere, ask your guests to shop her registry, but if she is the sort who feels funny registering for presents, don’t worry. A little direction can go along way. We’ve been to great parties with themes such as, “gifts for the kitchen” or “gifts that pamper.” Have a conversation with the bride. Figure out what kinds of things she’d appreciate most as she begins this next chapter, and pass those suggestions on to your guests.
A surprise appearance. Yep. If you’ve had a daytime shower, letting the groom crash the very end of the party can be an amazing way to end her day. For one thing, it means she won’t have to drive home after one too many champagne spritzers. But even beyond that, after having an incredible day with all her favorite gals, there is nothing she’ll love more than showing that joy to her fiancé.
Allowing him to come see what all the fuss was about will definitely make her feel even more like the cat’s meow, and that, ultimately, is what a great bridal shower is all about.