10 steps to planning the perfect bridal shower

By on November 24, 2015

Ashley's Bridal Shower 2012

Image Credits: ceng design, via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Weddings are a big celebration, as it is one of the most important events in a couple’s life. However, it is not a one-day event, where everything starts and ends on the day of the wedding. There are many other occasions that build up the thrill and make the days leading up to the wedding, exciting for the couple and everyone else involved in their lives.

Just as the couple put in a lot of time and effort in planning their wedding, the bridesmaids are expected to do their part in hosting an interesting bridal shower. Nevertheless, it is not an easy task. Although it isn’t as complicated as planning the wedding itself, there is a certain amount of planning, organizing and managing that goes into it. If you haven’t hosted many parties before, or are trying your hand at a bridal shower for the first time, do not worry. This article will guide you through all that you need to know, to plan it like a pro. Let’s begin!

1.Surprise party or planned one

The first step in planning the bridal shower is to decide whether you want it to be a surprise or not. While some brides may be all for the surprise, and will enjoy what you plan, other brides are more conservative with their likes. These brides would appreciate advance notice about what to expect. You know your friend best, so go with what she would prefer. If she has plenty of ideas and has hinted at a theme that she would like, try to plan your party around her likes. After all, it is to celebrate the bride. Ask her who she would like at her party, whether there is a theme she would love and any other inputs. Then plan the bridal shower around these ideas. Nevertheless, don’t tell her everything about what you will be arranging. Instead, just tell her the date, time and venue, and leave her guessing about the rest.

2.When to start planning

The bridal shower is on your priority list of to-do’s as a bridesmaid. So, start preparing for it soon after your friend has asked you to be on her bridesmaids list. Start gathering ideas and making plans at least 3 months before the scheduled date, and set up a bridal shower calendar. Remember that your list of tasks should include the following, in more or less the same order:

  • fixing the budget for the party
  • compiling the guest list and collecting addresses
  • drafting, printing and sending out invitations
  • booking the venue or making reservations at the chosen location if the crowd is small
  • Collecting and compiling RSVPs and adjusting the guest list
  • choosing the menu and arranging food
  • arranging for decorations
  • planning bridal shower games, collecting necessary items to play them and buying prizes
  • pick up all that is needed to entertain the guests on the day
  • deciding and buying bridal shower favors for the guests
  • Decorating or overseeing the decorations and setup at the venue

Mark your calendar for when each of these activities are to be held. Since it is likely that you will be sharing these duties with the rest of the bridesmaids, you can split the responsibilities with them. Create a list of errands to be completed by each girl, and make sure you monitor everything is progressing as per plan, once you begin the process.

3.When to hold the bridal shower

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The bridal shower should ideally be held at least two weeks before the wedding date, so it doesn’t clash with any other appointments the bride may have. However, you shouldn’t plan it way ahead of the wedding. Anytime in the two months before the wedding is ideal, as the thrill of the wedding will be building up and this is the best time to host it. Nevertheless, consider other factors such as if the guests have to travel from far to attend the bridal shower. In this case, it may be a good idea to hold the shower closer to the wedding date, so it will be convenient for those who come from far. Just make sure you confirm with the bride, and fix the date accordingly.

4.Set the budget and create the guest list

First up, work with the rest of the bridesmaids and fix the budget for the party. You should have a rough idea of how big the party will be, to set a reasonable budget. So, consider this factor first. Now, move on to deciding the venue, planning the theme and budgeting for other party expenses within this amount. It is a good idea to hire the services of a professional photographer for the bridal shower. Figure this into the budget as well. Make sure you miss nobody, by asking the bride if you’ve missed anyone in your list. You cannot however ask the bride, if you have planned a surprise party. In this case, work with the rest of the bridesmaids, or ask her family to make sure you have all the important people on the list. Collect the contact information of all those who are to be invited, and make a separate list of those who have to travel from far or have to be informed early, so they can plan for it.

5.Book the venue and send out invitations

Next, finalize the venue and make the rest of the plans. This is also the time to decide if you will have to make reservations for the venue where the event is to be hosted. If so, finalize the date immediately and make sure to do the bookings on time. Simultaneously draft the bridal shower invitations. It should include all relevant details like the time, date, venue, an RSVP request and theme, if any. Apart from this, you may also like to include the registry information on the bridal shower invite, as it will help the bride get this information out to all the guests easily. You can even DIY the invites if you have the time and the skills to handle it. Send the cards out at least six weeks prior to the shower date.

6.Make food and drink arrangements

salmon

Unless you have booked an all-inclusive package at the venue, you will have to decide on the menu for the party. Plan it according to the time, venue and weather. You do not have to offer a complete meal. Light snacks, soups and deserts are the norm for afternoon and evening parties. You may like to add some signature style dishes or innovative arrangements like a s’more bar or hot chocolate station, to make it more interesting. Keep the spread uncluttered, varied and interesting. If there are theme colors, plan food choices in matching colors. Create a schedule for the food stuff that you will be making, and place orders for those that you will be buying. If you will be serving cocktails or drinks, plan when you will go shopping for mixers, garnishes, ice cubes and all that will be necessary if you are hosting it at your home or doing the arrangements yourself.

7.Plan games and activities

Bridal shower games are not just entertainment. They are a must to help the guests break the ice. Check out our posts on fun bridal shower games here and here. Assuming that the guests at the party will belong to different age groups, it is a good idea to have a mix of both traditional games and recently trending ones, so everyone can participate. Also include games that will require the guests to be seated, and those for which the guests will have to be up and active, to keep it varied. Once you have a list of the games and activities that will be held, create another list of all that you need to buy or arrange. Then get down to collecting or creating it. If required, you can even hire an entertainer or an event planner to host the day’s activities, if you don’t want to do so yourself. You should also consider the music you will be playing on the day and have the play list ready in advance.

8.Get the party favors ready

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It is customary to send the guests home with a party favor from the event. It is up to you to decide what you would like to gift. It can either be edible favors like cookies, cakes or chocolates or non-edible keepsakes like compact mirrors, purses, key chains or coasters. You can even DIY or arrange for customized party favors that match the theme of the event you hosted. Use your imagination and get creative to make these party favors stand out. Green party favors are a trend that is not only environment-friendly, but practical as well. If you have to shop for the favors or place an order for it online, make sure you do it in time. Delivery of bulk orders can take anywhere from a week to a month or more. Some favors may require further assembly after you receive them, or some of them may have to be gift-wrapped. Figure out all these factors, so you have them ready in time for the party.

8.Get the arrangements in place, and buy the remaining items closer to the date

As the date of the shower approaches, make sure you have all the decorations ready, all the DIY tasks completed and your calendar set for when you will complete the last minute shopping. If you are holding the party at your house or at a location where you have access to before the day of the shower, you can start setting up in advance. The last-minute things to buy or collect will include flowers, food and drinks. The décor items should already be arranged for and collected in advance.

9.Create a special seat for the bride

Make sure that the bride’s seat is specially decorated or customized. You will also have to arrange for extra space to stash all the gifts she receives on the day. It is a good idea to also include a notepad or register to keep track of the gifts each person brought. Since there is a tradition of opening the gifts received at the shower on the day itself, keep a pair of scissors ready, to cut through the wrappers and a large trash can to contain all the gift wrap, once the gifts are opened. Also, don’t forget to buy your gift for the bride. You can collect funds from the entire bridesmaid group and get her a combined gift.

10.Prepare for the day

shopping

Depending on how much time you will have on the day, plan your activities so that the area is set up on time. Create a checklist of everything that has to be done on the day, where everything has to be arranged and who is in charge of what. Pick up flowers, grocery and all that is to be collected on the day and set them in place. Dress yourself up for the event, and choose a dress that you will feel comfortable in, but look great in. Check all the equipment at the site before the function starts. Co-ordinate with the guests and make sure everyone remembers the time and where they should be.

With all these steps in place, you are now all set to host the perfect bridal shower, and enjoy it too. Organizing everything on time will help you ensure that everything progresses without any hassles, and you aren’t stressed out over it.

For more tips and wedding planning advice, continue visiting us at Best for Bride. Also, visit our online store to choose the perfect evening dress to wear on the big event you are in-charge of.

About Olga Pomeransky

Olga is manager at Best for Bride since 2005. Currently Best for Bride operates 4 bridal stores in Canada (Toronto, Etobicoke, Hamilton and Barrie). Best for Bride sells wedding, bridesmaids, mob dresses and more. http://www.BestForBride.com

2 Comments

  1. sobby14@yahoo.com'

    Mary May

    January 10, 2016 at 8:14 AM

    Surprise ones are pretty neat. I like that idea. It might not be easier to plan, but it would make my day.

  2. sobby14@yahoo.com'

    Linda Rice

    January 10, 2016 at 8:43 AM

    I can see adding a game or two the mix for sure. Some people do not mind being there, but would rather have a little more fun.

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