HOW TO PLAN A BRIDAL SHOWER
1. Plan your budget.
When planning for a bridal shower, you must consider who will be contributing to the budget. If you are a bridesmaid, consider the other bridesmaids, the bride’s mother and the groom’s mother. Or if you are paying for the shower yourself, then you will have a very good idea of how much money you will be able to spend.
Once you have your budget amount, remember your budget will have to include:
c. room rental, if applicable
e. beverages and/or bar service
h. favors or small gifts for your guests
i. a cake or special dessert
j. floral corsage for the bride, mother of the bride, mother of the groom and grandmothers, if applicable.
2. Decide on the guest list.
It’s most appropriate to select from the family and friends already invited to the actual wedding. If you are planning a bridal shower on the small side, it is customary to invite only the bride’s closest family and friends. If you are planning a large bridal shower, then you may want to consider inviting all of the female guests on the actual wedding guest list, aside from those who are living out of town and not in the bridal party.
Make sure your have good addresses, email and phone numbers for each guest if possible. This will make for easier follow-up if a guest doesn’t respond by the RSVP date.
EVENT PLANNERS TIP: If you will be inviting elderly guests who don’t drive or like to drive in unseasonable weather, find out prior to mailing invitations if you are also inviting someone who lives near them or will be responsible for picking them up and dropping them off at home. If no one on the guest list can do this, you might have to add an additional guest that may have not been on your original bridal shower guest list, such as their daughter, niece or neighbor who can handle those duties for you.
3. Plan your Color Scheme.
Establish the color scheme for the bridal shower. For instance, if you are planning a Cinderella themed bridal shower, the colors of lavender, periwinkle blue, pastel pink and silver are a complementary colors to the Cinderella theme and most decorations you will find will use those colors.
EVENT PLANNERS TIP: If you want to use other colors than those, a great way to find complementary colors to create an event color scheme is to head straight to your local paint store. They have thousands of shades of complimentary color swatches and most of them are displayed in a way that you can see the greater part of them at once. This is so helpful in deciding on complementary color schemes and makes it so easy to select 2-3 colors that will be successful in setting the tone for your event. Also, the paint swatch cards are free, so grab a few for color matching fabrics and other décor down the road.
4. Select your Venue.
The venue may be a fancy restaurant favored by all in your crowd, your mother in laws living room, or the local club. Wherever the bridal shower will be, make sure you know ahead of time of any costs and what that cost includes.
EVENT PLANNERS TIP: If you are using a restaurant or private club, make sure your contract is in writing, not verbal. If you can, make sure it includes the wording of who will responsible for the following tasks/equipment:
a. Who is your contact person at the venue?
b. Who will provide the tables and chairs for the event? What is the cost?
c. Who will set up and arrange the tables and chairs for the event
d. Who will tear down the tables and chairs after the event is over
e. When will the food be served, if venue is providing food as well
f. Who will receive any food leftovers from the event, if venue is providing the food
g. When may other vendors arrive for set-up (i.e. – bakery with cake)
h. Who will provide the linens (tablecloths and napkins) for the event?
i. If the venue is providing, what is the charge and are there color selections to choose from?
j. How long will you be able to occupy the space? Will that be long enough for set-up, the event, and tear-down after the event or will you be rushed to accomplish all of that in the time allotted? Make sure you will have ample time at the space.
k. What is their drink policy? Will alcohol be allowed to be served?
l. Will there be any people to assist you with removing gifts and other items from the space after the shower is over, perhaps a waiter or member of the sites janitorial staff?
m. Do you have any handi-cap guests attending the shower and if so, will the venue suit their needs for mobility, restroom accessibility and will they be comfortable?
n. Get the total cost for everything you will need in writing from your venue manager. Make clear and concise arrangements for when deposits and final payments are due to them and in what form payments are accepted.
o. Bring a copy of the contract signed by both parties the day of the event so there are no discrepancies on prior agreed responsibilities.
These simple common sense tips are in no way exhaustive of all the things you should make sure are on your venue contract, but they will certainly push you in the right direction and assist you and the venue manager in creating a contract you both agree upon making it less likely you’ll both wind up in front of Judge Judy.
5. Select your Bridal Shower Date and Time.
This sounds easy enough, but it can sometimes be a little harried. Speak with your bride first (if it is not a surprise bridal shower), and find out the days and times that work best for her schedule within a four week window of when you would like to host the shower. Then speak with the bride’s mother and groom’s mother to ask which of the dates the bride gave you are good for them as well. Then you will speak to the bridal party and important guests, if you can and make sure the narrowed down dates are good for them as well. Since you should have a selection of dates, this will assist you in narrowing down the available date to the best one of the list.
Ideally, no matter how much fun and activities you want to plan for this bridal shower, people will give you about two hours of their attention. After two hours, interest begins to wane and guests will want to leave with any excuse they can think of to scat. Try to limit your bridal shower activities: greetings, lunch, any games-if applicable, opening gifts, groom visiting – if possible, and closing to 2 hours, no more. If guests want to linger and visit with one another after your planned activities have finished, that’s wonderful – let them. But it’s nice to have them stay on their own terms, not because they feel they can’t leave yet.
6. Order or Make your Bridal Shower Invitations
Find the bridal shower invitations that best suit your theme, design, event tone, etc. If you’ve found a place to buy them within your budget, great. If you found a template and you are planning on making them with some pretty paper and your home computer, great. Whatever you want to do, just make sure it fits into your budget and you have the time to devote to the task.EVENT PLANNERS TIP: For a bridal shower, make sure your invitations are sent out no later than 6 weeks prior to the event. This will give your guests time to receive the invitations and the RSVP their attendance. This will also give you time to follow-up with any guests who haven’t RSVP’d and still have time to give a timely final count to your venue or caterer.
7. Order your Bridal Shower Cake or Special Dessert.
Often times the bakery or baker who is creating the wedding cake will also be available to create the bridal shower cake or special dessert. If you want to surprise your bride with a special dessert instead of cake (unless cake is also her favorite), order her favorite cheesecake from her favorite restaurant and have that served as dessert instead of cake. She will love it!EVENT PLANNERS TIP: Most restaurants charge $1.00 or more per slice to cut and serve a dessert that was not purchased at their venue. So beware when bringing in your own desserts. Ask your venue manager when reviewing your contract at the beginning about this extra charge.
8. Select your menu.
If you are having the restaurant or a caterer make and serve the meal, meet with them and finalize your menu choices. Often times they will include iced tea, hot tea and coffee with the meal, which is nice. Ask about sodas or alcoholic beverages and the cost of those. Decide if the guest should pay for those themselves or if you will be responsible for that additional cost as well.EVENT PLANNERS TIP: As long as you are offering your guests a nice variety of hot and cold beverages, there is no reason to feel obligated to be responsible for this additional bill as well. If a guest wants a merlot and it’s not on the provided drink list, she should be fine to pay for it herself.
Make sure the meal you chose is clearly outlined in your contract and your contract includes any side dishes, courses or service provided with the meal. Try to choose something light and refreshing as this is usually meant to be a ladies luncheon. A cup of soup, and a grilled chicken or grilled steak salad are always welcome and great for guests to enjoy. Try to avoid very rich foods with heavy sauces that will surely put your guests to sleep while your bride is opening her gifts.
9. Make a Floor Plan of the Room Set-up for the event.
Try to have the room and table sizes for the space you will be occupying. With some paper, pencil and ruler, make a diagram of the room, where the guest tables will be placed, making sure you have enough spaces for each of your guests. If there will be a bridal head table at the shower where the bridal party will sit, make a place for that on your floor plan as well. Your floor plan should also include a cake/dessert table, gift table (depending on the number of guests invited you may want to have 2-4 of these tables), a table for the prize gifts if you will be playing some type of games at the bridal shower, and if needed, a table for the guest place cards if you will be having assigned seating for your guests. Also include where the reserved tables will be.
Usually there is one table reserved for the mother of the bride and whom she chooses to sit with her as well as one table for the mother of the groom and whom she chooses to sit with her.
10. Decorations & Décor.
If your budget permits, you may wish to add the following decorations and décor to your bridal shower.
• Cake Table Banner. These custom table banners are available through www.eventbelladesigns.com
and are custom designed for your event.
• Head Table Banner. These banners are also available at www.eventbelladesigns.com
• Chair Covers and Sashes. These are available online for usually less than the cost of renting them locally and can be shipped to you for your event from www.nettieslinens.com
• Unique Wedding Favors. These are available online and can be shipped to you from www.ebweddingfavors.com
• Unique Place Card Holders. These are available online and can be shipped to you from www.ebweddingfavors.com
• Fabric for Decorating and Draping Tables. A variety of elegant fabrics in many colors is available online and at your local fabric stores. If looking online, check out the crystal organza at www.syfabrics.com
. They have gorgeous decorator fabrics at fraction of what you would pay retail. Also, check out the clearance bins at your local fabric store for colors of fabric in your event color palette. More than likely you’ll be able to find a bolt of gorgeous fabric for $2 per yard or less that will do lovely to drape and decorate the front of any cake, gift or bridal head table. For instructions on how to drape the front of a table with fabric, see below.
• Votive or Pillar candles to complete your floral or other type of centerpiece. You can purchase bulk clear glass votives and long-burning votive candles in white or ivory from www.cudge.net
for a fraction of what you will pay at any retail or dollar store.
• Centerpieces. Whether they are elegant flowers in colors to match your theme or a hand-crafted silk floral that also match, your centerpieces should be a beautiful complement to your theme and décor. Understated and tasteful and not so huge that your guests won’t be able to have a conversation because the centerpiece is preventing them from seeing one another.
11. Make a Timeline for the Bridal Shower.
Compile a list of all the tasks that need completed prior to the bridal shower in no order. Then compile a list of every task that needs completed the morning of the bridal shower, just prior to the bridal shower, during the bridal shower and after the bridal shower. This is your master to-do list.
Now, take your to-do list and assign each task a person responsible for seeing this task through to completion and a time when this task should be started and completed by. Please don’t make yourself crazy and assign any tasks to someone whom you are not sure will complete the task for whatever reason. This is not the time to leave things to chance and get yourself all upset over someone who didn’t do what they were supposed to do. If someone is, for sake of a better word, untrustworthy with responsibilities, don’t give them any or give them something that is not that crucial to the success of the day that you will still be able to oversee.
Type this information into a readable and usable timetable chart and make sure that you and your event co-captain/right-hand bridesmaid each have a copy. Have your co-captain/right-hand bridesmaid even review it prior to event day to make sure you haven’t forgotten to list anything important.
This will be your new event bible.EVENT PLANNER TIP: This timeline should also include giving final head counts and final payment to your venue and caterer and confirming all the details of the event with each contact person as well. This will make your bridal shower day go that much smoother knowing everyone is as they say, “on the same page”.
12. Bridal Shower Day is here! Event Implementation.
Now is the time to put your timeline into action and follow the carefully laid plans you’ve already taken the time to prepare back when you had a much clearer head. The vehicles are packed with decorations and décor, the vendors are confirmed, the guests are confirmed and every detail is checked off your list as completed.
Head off to the venue in plenty of time to set-up and double check the set-up. Prepare yourself for the bridal shower by changing clothes, preparing your make—up and hair so you look lovely and no one will believe how you planned something so organized and chaotic free while looking so fabulous.
At the start of the event, have your greeters greeting each guest and taking their gifts to the gift table for them (and coats, if applicable, to the coat room). This will free your guest to greet the bride and find your guest place card with seat assignment.
When all the guests have arrived, now is your time to thank them from taking the time from their busy schedules to attend this special bridal shower for “insert bride’s name here” and that you are so excited they were all able to be here. Introduce your bride. If possible, have her thank them as well for coming and introduce her bridal party, if applicable.
Then, you should speak again and explain the order of the events for the bridal shower. Such as, “first we will be enjoying lunch, then we will have dessert while “bride” opens her gifts.” Then introduce who will be offering the prayer prior to the meal. If there is no one special delegated, then you might do it yourself. If your bride and the families are not religious, you may just begin the meal service.
Once everyone has been served, make sure the gift area is prepared for gift opening prior to the start of the bride opening gifts. Make sure there is a tablet and pens or pencils that actually write for whomever will be keeping track of the gift and gift giver for the bride’s thank you notes. Make sure there is a table, preferably a draped one, to be used for the bride to open her gifts upon.EVENT PLANNERS TIP: Many times, at bridal showers we haven’t planned, I’ve seen a bride struggle to hold a gift on her lap while seated and try to open it, hoist it in the air for everyone to see and try to find a place to put it so she can open another gift. Often times the gifts are large, heavy and awkward. This makes for a truly unsightly experience for the guests and the bride. Also, keep scissors nearby for those tightly tied ribbons and large garbage bags behind the table to keep the wrapping paper neatly bagged so it’s not lying on the floor everywhere looking messy.
Be easy on everyone and provide the bride with a table to set the gifts upon while she unwraps them and holds up the contents. She will be much more comfortable even though she will need to stand. Also, make sure there is a volunteer to pass her the gifts to unopen and one to take the opened gift from her and repackage it back up for the trip to her new home/storage or whatever.
After the bride has opened all of her gifts, make sure she stands and thanks everyone for their generosity and for coming to her bridal shower.
After the bride speaks, it is time for you to also thank them and announce that the bridal shower for “bride’s name” is now over and make any last announcements, such as any coats we received are available in the coat check area on your way out, etc.
If your guests are staying around to mingle after the shower is over, congratulations to you for throwing a great party. Just remember your agreement with the venue and make sure you are out of the space at the time you said you would be.EVENT PLANNERS TIP: Sometimes, if the Groom is available nearby, it is wonderful to have him stop by the shower about three-quarters of the way through the shower to surprise the bride. It makes it all the better is he is clean-shaven, well-dressed in clean pants and shirt (as though he’s made an effort) and bringing a bouquet of flowers for his bride to be. This is a great surprise for the Bride and also a wonderful opportunity for her to introduce him to the guests. Guests who haven’t met him yet will be happy for the opportunity to meet him prior to the wedding and guests who know him already will be thrilled to see him.
He may even want to assist in opening the last few packages. Also, if the mother’s know he is coming, they may request that their gifts are held back until the end so they can open any important gifts for their new home together. Mother’s will like that one.
To push the limit on this one, have the groom bring two smaller bouquets also, one for his mother and one for his future mother-in-law.
If the groom can’t show up unexpectedly because he is out of town or away for any reason, it’s also nice to have him call at the end of the shower and talk with his bride, mother and future-mother-in-law.
13. After the Bridal Shower is over.
So, you’ve completed your task, your vendors are paid in full, your bride has a trunk full or truck load of gifts to haul home and your guest are happy and impressed. Time to take down the decorations you put up, abide by your venues rules for tear down and head home while knowing you did a great job planning a fabulous bridal shower for the bride and her guests!Great job!