Ideas For A Bridal Shower

Plan a successful bridal shower. How to keep everything in order from planning to completion, including guest list and door prizes.

Traditionally, a bridal shower was intended to "shower" the bride with enough utensils and other household necessities to basically cook and care for her husband until he, as the head of the household, was able to provide said items for her. Hence the name: bridal shower. In fact, there was a time when only women and toddlers could be found at a bridal shower. Today, however, times have changed and rules have softened. In many parts of the country, Jack and Jill Wedding Showers are in style! Gifts are purchased with both the soon-to-be bride and groom in mind, and invitations are sent to both female and male family members and friends. Also, bridal shower gifts today are much less "work oriented" as they have been in the past.

But, regardless of what kind of wedding shower you're shooting for, planning and organization is the key to its success.

RESPONSIBILITY:

The responsibility for organizing the shower falls on the Maid of Honor's shoulders. If she is unable to throw the bash, anyone else can step in and get the ball rolling. The important thing is to make sure the shower takes place, and that it's at least one month prior to the wedding. Equally important: all guests invited to the shower must also be included on the wedding guest list.

SET A DATE AND PLACE:

Planning preparations should be put into action at least six months in advance of the actual date. At that time, the Maid of Honor or whoever is organizing the event should speak to the bride and groom and find out which date is best for them and how expenses will be handled. A shower does not need to be expensive and the person throwing the bash should ask the bride or groom's mother for help. Most mothers are anxious to make sure the event goes off without a hitch and would be happy to give advice, or be in the thick of things. In fact, my suggestion is that you do invite both the bride's and groom's mothers to help with anything and everything if you want. That way you won't offend anyone.

When chosing a location, just about anyplace will do. If money is an issue, hold the shower in a house or someone's backyard. If you have enough people invited to warrant renting a hall, check to see if anyone in the family is a veteran or member of an organization associated with a banquet or large hall. If so, take advantage of their membership discount. Also, check into renting a tent or holding the event in a restaurant.

INVITATIONS AND THEME:

If there is to be a theme, make sure everything coincides. In other words, if the honeymoon is to take place in Hawaii, perhaps the shower theme should reflect a Polynesian atmosphere. Fake palm trees, flower lais as shower favors, grass skits on the brides' maids, pineapple centerpieces, and doorprizes of suntan oil and other beach necessities would be fun. Also, make sure the food has a decidedly tropical flair, as well. A watermelon boat filled with exotic fruit will be the perfect centerpiece for the food table. Add a few candles and viola, you have captured the essence of Hawaii! Remember to create a favor for each guest.

Invitations should be sent out at least one month to three weeks in advance. This is important so don't let it wait until the last minute. Guests need enough time to fit the date into their already busy schedule as well as time to shop for the perfect gift. Invitations should include any and all places the bride and groom have registered. This not only assures the couple they will receive the items they truly need, but that there won't be duplicates. Additionally, if it's necessary to know exactly how many people will be attending, make sure you provide an RSVP phone number and deadline for acknowledgement, or return RSVP complete with stamp and return address. Finally, a new tradition is to ask the guest to forget wrapping the gift. Instead, have the guest place the gift inside a plain grocery bag or plastic trash bag, and use the money they would have used to buy wrapping paper and ribbons to purchase staples for the kitchen or soaps for the laundry room. By the time everyone's gift is opened, the bride and groom with have baskets of macaroni, spaghetti sauce, cake and muffin mixes and other necessary items for their pantry.

FOOD:

Food, whether only deserts or a complete meal, will be expected by your guests so don't disappoint them. Again, if the shower is being provided on a strict budget don't worry, just improvise. You'd be surprised how many relatives would be happy to provide a dish to pass. Set up a food schedule, find out who would like to help, and assign dishes to each. Don't let them bring whatever they chose or you might end up with six potato salads and nothing else. Don't leave anything to chance. Remember plates, silverware, napkins and cups. Always serve coffee and water. If the budget allows for it, add punch. Sliced ham goes a long way and is a good compliment to salads. Remember bread and butter or buns, they're delicious and filling. If a bridal shower cake is needed and there's a family member who decorates and/or bakes cakes for a living, ask if she'd like to donate a cake or make one as her gift.

Munchies should be placed on each table. Good ideas for munchies include small candies, afterdinner mints, nuts, popcorn, and pretzels. If the theme is western, go with peanuts pretzels. If the theme is Hawaiian, go with sliced, dried fruits.

GAMES AND DOORPRIZES:

Shower games can be as simple as asking who's birthday or anniversary is nearest the bride's or as complicated as having the guests unscramble 50 words that pertain to marriage. Example: monheynoo - honeymoon. I suggest at least two games. Try bingo using bingo cards that are decorated in the honeymoon theme, with the bride and groom's names on them. The first one to fill the bride's name wins a prize. Other games include, numbers on the bottom of plates or chairs. Another traditional game is to set a timer to ring every five minutes while the gifts are being opened. The person who purchased the gift currently being opened gets a doorprize gift when the timer goes off. Calling favor numbers is another way to give several gifts. Expect to give away anywhere from 20-30 small prizes.

Prizes can be anything. Cake mixes, address books, plants, seed packets, candles, dish towels, etc. If children and men are expected, it is adviseable to have separate prizes for women, men, and children. Shop for these gifts well in advance and take advantage of sales. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles are great gifts for children.

LAST MINUTE PREPARATIONS:

Two weeks before the event, perform a last minute check with guests who have offered to bring a dish to pass. Make sure the food list is complete. Order flowers for centerpieces and coursages for the bride's mother and the soon-to-be mother-in-law. If someone is creating the centerpieces, check on their progress. Speak to the one in charge of renting the hall or restaurant, or homeowner where the shower will be held, and set up a decorating committee.

The only thing that should be left for the last week, is the preparation of food and decorating. Everything else should be completed.

Remember, the whole key to a successful shower is to begin praparations well in advance. That way, if something doesn't fit or won't work for whatever reason, you have time to reconsider your strategy. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and accept help that's offered even if you haven't asked. Delegate chores, don't get stuck with too much to do! Each of the bride's maid should have several tasks. Your main job is to oversee the preprations and give gentle nudges where needed, so don't overload yourself with duties. Finally, and again, if money is an issue, Thank You cards can be handed out at the door. (If doing it that way, save the stamp. Afterall, the whole reason for handing them out at the shower was to save money.) An easy way to make sure you don't miss anyone and to make sure you have the correct addresses, is to have each guest fill out a Thank You card envelope when they enter the building.

CLEAN-UP CREW:

Last, but not least, if the shower was held in someone's home, make sure you have a clean-up committee on hand. Do not leave the house until every dish is clean and every crumb swept away. Also, some rental halls require you to do the cleaning up afterwards. If that's the case, make sure you have a clean-up crew. (Take advantage of the manpower for this one. Men are great when it comes to moving tables and washing dishes!)

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