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© Vadymvdrobot | Dreamstime.com
© Vadymvdrobot | Dreamstime.com
The months leading up to a wedding can be stressful to say the least for both the bride and her loved ones. One of the most important things a family member or friend does for the couple is planning the perfect wedding shower. It’s a time for the bride to hang out with many of the most important people in her life, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be an added stressor. Here are some tips on how to host the perfect wedding shower.
Even if she says "Surprise me!" it's safe to say a bride has thought about what her shower would be like. Is it at an extravagant location surrounded by beautiful blue waters? Or is it smaller and more intimate, like a simple brunch with loved ones? Before you book the horse-drawn buggy your leading lady will arrive in, have a quick chat with her first.
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While it might be fun to imagine unicorns walking around a magical sparkling garden, it’s important to set the budget before you get deep into your planning. Try doing a financial checkup first, and then you can have awkward conversations about who is contributing (Bridesmaids? Grandma?). If you’re stressed about coming up with the cash, here are some easy tips for how to save money.
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The shower theme should be something fun and inspired by the bride. Does she love spring? Garden theme it is. You can have the shower outside surrounded by beautiful cherry blossoms, or even at a botanical garden if the funds are there. Just don’t go overboard, and remember — having a theme will also make it a lot easier to land on the right venue.
While there are many wedding rules and tips for guests, a good rule of thumb is to make sure anyone you invite to the shower is also invited to the wedding. After conversations with the bride, you should have a handy list of who she wants in attendance. Budget will come into play when deciding how many people to invite, especially in the states that spend the most money on weddings. Showers typically see anywhere from 25 to 60 guests.
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Showers are typically held about two months out from the big day. If the couple is planning a destination wedding to an international vacation spot or throwing a particularly large wedding, maybe have the shower a little earlier so that you’re not too pressed for time. But no matter the size of the shower, check in with the VIPs to make sure they can make it before landing on a final day.
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The bridal shower invitations are going to be the first glimpse your guests will get into the soiree. Keeping budget in mind, of course, get fun invites that are on-theme to give invitees a little taste of what’s to come and get them excited to attend. Send out invites about six weeks in advance, maybe even eight if it is a busy time of year like the summer. Make sure to include anything guests would need to know, like dress code and where the couple is registered.
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Taking that extra step to confirm any lingering RSVPs will make sure you have enough cream puffs and gift bags to go around. Maybe even consider giving guests an online RSVP option — a modern-day wedding etiquette tip to keep in mind. An impromptu game of musical chairs might have been fun when you were 10, but not so much when it’s shower day and there aren’t enough seats.
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If you let shower planning get too overwhelming, you could start displaying some physical signs of anxiety. You have to figure out food, decorations, games and who will babysit the loud cousin, so you need to delegate. Check in with the bridesmaids and see who has the capacity to lend a hand, then dish out some tasks. For example, have someone reach out to the best special occasion restaurants and the best dessert shops in America to see if they have catering options.
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Most people won’t remember what day the shower was or what everyone wore, but they might actually remember the cute vintage photos and decorative flowers that you used as centerpieces. Rather than going too crazy with the theme, pinpoint a few select details that you really want to make pop. One way to do that is by choosing flowers that have a meaning behind them.
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Maybe it’s a flower wall, a balloon arch or a chocolate fountain from the best chocolate shop in your state, but having one major detail will still surprise the bride-to-be and get the other guests buzzing. Let’s remember, a lot of these people won’t actually know each other yet — the bride-to-be’s coworkers might be meeting her sister for the first time. Give them something to talk about.
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It is a party after all. Create a playlist that is specific to your bride-to-be. Stack it with songs from all different stages of her life, like the most popular song from the year she was born. This will be playing quietly in the background and will help with any awkward silences between strangers. When it’s all done, the bride can keep the playlist and listen to it over and over again with one added memory — her awesome shower.
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Games are a great way to break the ice and keep guests entertained, just like all of those games you’ve played at dinner parties. But sometimes games at wedding showers can go overboard. A “how well do you know the couple” game, where you give small prizes to the person who answers first, is a great way to get the room laughing.
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This one is controversial. If your traditional bride is set on the assembly line and opening the presents, by all means, please do it. But most showers will be only two to four hours long, and some of these people may live far away from the happy couple. Not opening the gifts at the shower will leave more quality time during the special day. Also, if it’s a second wedding, don’t expect a gift from everyone.
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If you’re going to spend money on party favors for your guests to grab on their way out, it may as well be something they’ll actually like. Gone are the days of paper bags filled with Tootsie Rolls and Hershey’s Kisses. Fun options include succulents, customized matchboxes, a bottle of on-theme perfume, tote bags or desserts in a jar. They will appreciate the gift as a reward for being the best party guests ever.
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Every great shower will have a beautiful signature cocktail with a fun pun tied to the bride. Try mimicking drinks from the best cocktail bar in your state. Or maybe offer a menu flush with tequila drinks. Signature cocktails make for great photos when decorated with festive straws or flags, and a “dry” shower may translate into a “why” shower for guests. Have mocktail options of the same drinks on hand for the expectant moms in your crew, or the guests who will choose not to drink that day.
Nothing encourages strangers to get into pictures with each other quite like a photo booth. But you want to be sure you’re not going over the budget, which is a mistake every mother of the groom makes. Luckily, when it comes to wedding showers, you don’t actually have to put all that much into it. DIY a few fun signs (like “Team Bride” and “He put a ring on it”) and hang a festive sign or drapery on an open wall and the social media mavens of the crew will take it from there.
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Rather than having the guests just sitting at tables making awkward small talk, give them one or two interactive stations that will keep them busy and also give them something to take home (or something to eat — those desserts will taste even better if everyone puts a little work into them). Some options include teaching guests how to decorate cupcakes, repurposing mason jars and other household items, or even making some jewelry.
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The three-hour shower is going to be a whirlwind for your guest of honor. She will need some time to sit down and process everything when she gets home. Somewhere in the room, set up a box with note cards. Guests can then write their well wishes for the couple — or, for guests who are already married, some tried-and-true tips for a long and happy union. Here are some considerate words you can share with the happy couple.
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A bridal shower is no place for a formal sit-down dinner — it’s all about the finger foods. Does the bride have a favorite childhood dessert that you could serve? Nothing like a mozzarella stick to scream “party’s here.” Cups with veggies and dip, sliders, crostini and festive cookies or cake pops are sure to be crowd-pleasers.
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Instead of spending that time on presents, a chunk of time can be set aside to honor the bride and the happy couple. Maybe it’s a series of stories or toasts. Maybe it’s a fun slideshow about the guest of honor. This day will only come around once (OK, maybe twice), so let the bride know how special she is to everyone. But if you decide on offering up some anecdotes, be sure to steer clear of the worst things you can say in a toast.
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