Of all the post-engagement, pre-wedding activities, the bridal shower is one of the best. Sure, the bachelorette party is fun, but during the bridal shower, you are surrounded by the women closest to you, celebrating your upcoming nuptials and receiving practical gifts and advice. It’s a relaxing time to bond with the most important women in your life before you get married and give everyone the chance to mix and mingle before the big day. Typically, the maid of honor and bridesmaids are in charge of planning and hosting the bridal shower, but recently it’s become more commonplace for family members to be involved as well. Regardless of who is doing the bulk of the planning, there’s a few simple steps to ensure you have the best bridal shower ever.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Sure, the bride might have asked you personally to be in charge of planning the shower, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself! Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, such as the bridesmaids, the bride’s mother, siblings or other close friends. Usually there will be a few people who will want to share their input and opinions on the shower, so one great way to get everyone who is interested involved is to have a get together to ask each person what they want to be in charge of. You’ll be able to gauge everyone’s interests, skills and expertise and find a way to have everyone help out. Don’t forget to include their names on the invitations if they are co-hosting with you!
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2. Get started early
Although the bridal shower doesn’t need to happen any earlier than 2 months before the wedding itself, it’s still a good idea to get started early on so that you can keep things organized and coordinated in addition to all the other wedding planning events. A weekend date usually works best, and depending on where guests live, you’ll get a better turnout if you give notice way in advance. Choosing a date early on is the easiest way to block off that date on everyone’s calendars, but if any of the VIPs (maid of honor, family members, best friends) can’t make it, you might consider choosing a different date. Once the date is set in stone, you can send out invitations up to two months in advance for out of town guests and at least a month in advance for local guests.
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3. Choose a great theme
Bridal showers are one of the key pre-wedding events that deserves its own theme or activity. Traditionally, bridal showers involve finger foods, beverages, gifts and overall doting on the bride and congratulating her on her upcoming marriage. Today, bridal showers have evolved into fun group activities and themed costume affairs. You know your bride’s personality – what would she like best? A relaxing spa weekend, or a group cooking class? A classy mimosa brunch, or a grownup slumber party? Perhaps a bridal boudoir shoot paired with a lingerie-themed shower would fit her tastes. Or maybe she enjoys dressing up, so an Alice in Wonderland theme or country western theme would fit. As soon as you’ve checked with the bride and settled on a theme, you can select invitations and decorations to match.
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4. Double check the guest list
The number one rule is to not invite anyone to the bridal shower who was not invited to the actual wedding. This will involve cross checking the shower guest list with the wedding guest list, but it’s necessary to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Make sure you ask the bride who the most important guests are as well so that you can ensure they receive invites. If you notice that a lot of your guests are from out of town, it might be a good idea to create a website with RSVPs or a Facebook group to get a sense of what date works best for everyone.
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5. Set expectations for gifts
Most guests know that a gift is expected if attending a bridal shower, but it’s important to denote what the expectations and limitations are for presents. If you’ve chosen a specific theme, such as a kitchen theme or travel theme, be sure to mention on the invitation that gifts should fit that theme. For example, kitchen appliances and cookware would fit well with a kitchen or cooking-themed shower. Your bride-to-be may have started a bridal registry, but you can always let guests know that it’s okay to go off-registry for the bridal shower. It’s important to remind the guests to keep things PG-rated and classy for gifts; you wouldn’t want to open up a box of sex toys in front of your grandmother, would you? Save the raunchy gifts for the bachelorette party instead!
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Planning and hosting a bridal shower is a big responsibility, but all you need is a little bit of organization and good theme to make it a great time. Your bride-to-be will be thrilled that you spent the time and effort to bring the most important women in her life together for a fun celebration. Get started planning the shower early, choose a fun and appropriate theme, manage expectations and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help!