I didn’t choose the bridal shower life. The bridal shower life chose me.
…No but REALLY.
Somehow, I found myself at the helm of not one, not two, but three bridal showers in the past month alone. My sister’s getting married in October, and it was a given that I’d host her shower. But I also ended up helping two friends host showers of their own for their besties and cousins, respectively. And the process of conceptualizing, styling, and then executing the ideas for all three parties was a downright enlightening experience, if a teeny bit stressful.
I should clarify that I was delighted to host the parties—if you can’t already tell, I pretty much live for hosting pretty parties!—but I’m not going to lie and say that I went into each event knowing exactly what I was doing. I went in knowing very little, save for what I gleaned from Darcy Miller’s Celebrate Everything (if you don’t have this genius book, order it right now, friends!).
Now, safely out of the swirling, confetti-strewn tornado of these three events, my stress concerning all things shower-related has subsided considerably. In fact, I’d feel confident calling myself a bridal shower almost-expert. I’ve certainly still got room to grow, but I learned a lot, and I’ve decided to document all that below. Hopefully, if you find yourself hosting a shower yourself (or, well, three), the following list of tips will prove helpful.
- Remember that there aren’t any rules. I do see the irony here. But it’s true! I’m actually of the belief that this isn’t just the case with bridal showers, it’s also the case with any party and also with everything ever in life, except, of course, for things with actual official lists of rules, like public swimming pools. Anyway, I digress. The point is, even this list is made up of mere guidelines, which you can choose to follow or not follow or use as a jumping-off point. If you don’t already know, these types of fêtes are old-school as heck and there are A LOT of antiquated traditions involved. But just because there are certain standardized practices in place doesn’t mean you have to adhere to any of them. In fact, you could totally eschew every single one of the traditional aspects and just throw your bride-to-be a fun house party that has nothing to do with her upcoming nuptials at all. It’s really up to you. The best parties are the ones the host/hostess feels most comfortable to be throwing, and doing it “your way” just makes more sense than doing it the “my-Great-Aunt-Sally-once-told-me-to-do-it-this-way” way. So. Just keep all that in mind. Moving on…
- A good place to start is with a general event type! Not a theme, mind you. Just a broad umbrella category. For instance, is the party going to take place in the middle of the day or in the evening? Is it a luncheon or a breakfast or a brunch or none of the above? It’s an easy way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by all the bazillions of Pinterest-y shower ideas out there. You’ll be housing all future party decisions under the umbrella of a general atmosphere (day! Night! Thursday! Saturday!), and that’ll help you stay on track. First and foremost, consult the bride…at the very least, mentally. She’s *basically* going to have to host this thing with you once the party’s actually taking place, or at least shoulder some hosting responsibilities, since all eyes will be on her. So don’t throw her a huge party if she doesn’t, you know, want one. A few other things to think about:
- Time of day (noon? Breakfast time? Happy hour?)
- Event schedule / timeline (how long will it last? When will it end?)
- Number of invites (who’s invited? More importantly, who will actually show up?)
- Budget constraints (can you actually afford to splurge on a full brunch? Or does it make more sense to do a quick tea?)
- Venue / event location (where is this all going down? Is there enough room for all your guests?)
- Pick a theme. As with any type of party, this is a way to further streamline all your future shopping / food / decor ideas. When you think about it that way, themes aren’t just fun and cute; they’re weirdly pragmatic. As to where to find these themes, well…the Internet is your friend, ladies. I truly believe that. Go on Pinterest and Google and search your way to shower theme nirvana. You’ll end up sifting through so many gorgeous parties, and you’ll learn a lot about what you do and don’t love when it comes to event styling. Buuuuut to make up for the fact that I’ve essentially advised you all to “just Google it,” I’ll get you started with a few of my favorite ideas:
- Make it about the couple. Because, see, no matter how wonderful and fun your party is, if it has nothing at all to do with the couple in question, people aren’t going to love it. What people love is love. So give them love. If the bride and groom love to bike, throw a bike motif on everything. Or maybe they love movies—in that case, try making that a central theme. Personalize the napkins, the favors, everything. No, you don’t have to spend a zillion dollars to monogram everything, and there’s no need to pay up to “customize” things. Instead, small touches here and there—like printed photos of the bride-to-be and groom-to-be and a playlist that features their favorite love songs—will remind people what they’re celebrating in the first place. LOVE, SWEET LOVE. Sigh. I, too, love love. Can you tell.
- Play games! But play them sparingly. Personally, I’m not a fan of party games and never have been. Or board games, for that matter. Or card games. Or field games! (Gosh. I promise I’m really a very happy person and actually quite nice to be around.) Just hear me out: 1-2 games is plenty. By the 34th round of charades, everyone’s going to want to go home. Still, if you want a few fun games, I’ve made a separate post all about that, which you can check out here.
- Consider giving guests a very specific idea of what sort of gift to bring. Or give them all a break and ask for “no gifts, please.” Truthfully, they already have enough on their plate/wallet with the wedding coming up. If you do, however, want them to bring something for the guest of honor, consider putting a price cap on it. For instance, “Please bring your favorite kitchen gadget under $25,” or, “Please bring something blue, under $25.”
- Delegate someone—not the host!—to record who gave what and what was it and how. Standard procedure. All I’m saying is, don’t do it yourself. You will be one way-too-busy bee.
- Have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff. The most important thing is that the bride-to-be is happy and relaxed and having a good time. I know that sounds like a stupid thing that anyone would write at the end of a blog post about hosting a bridal shower, but…seriously. It’s true. If you’re running around freaking out about being slightly off-schedule or the fact that you forgot to put out the “something blue” napkins you bought or WHATEVER, she’s probably going to notice and start to get a little stressed, too. And then your guests will notice. And then the whole thing’s no good. So, really, the best thing you can do day-of is to take a deeeeeeep breath and a chill pill (or seven)…and try to let that sparkly shower-y magic work all on its own.
Aaaaaand I think…that’s…it! If you have any questions you’d still like answered, or Etsy shops you’d still like researched, or if there’s anything at all you think I should’ve covered, let me know in a comment below! (Or reach out to me on Instagram!)
And to all the hostesses out there…may the odds be ever in your favor.