You’ve taken on the (oh so important!) task of celebrating the bride with a shower. Honoring the bride is an exciting responsibility to have, but of course, planning the perfect party is no easy feat. Between the food, decorations and activities, there is a slew of factors to consider. To boot, you have to pick a date, time and a place, and of course, give those guests plenty of notice by sending out the invitations.
While putting together a memorable shower may come with some challenges, a little preparation can go a long way in making sure all goes smoothly. Keep in mind these do’s and don’ts and you’re sure to throw a bash that makes the bride feel super special.
- Do get a feel for the bride’s preferences.
Before you do any planning whatsoever, the most important thing you can do is get a sense of what the bride is hoping for. Some brides have a really specific vision, and others might be a tad more carefree. Either way, it’s her big day, so you’ll want to find out what’s most important to her. Does she have a particular theme in mind? Is she imagining a more intimate get-together, or would she like to include all the women invited to the wedding from both sides of the family? Is she more comfortable with a casual affair, or is she dreaming about a more glamorous gathering? Has she been toying with the idea of a Jack and Jill shower that includes the men? Once you have a feel for her preferences, you can start working out the details.
- Do plan a separate lingerie shower.
These days, it’s become more and more common to have multiple showers. Why? Well, hardly any bride wants to open sexy underpinnings in front of grandma or the mother-in-law. Keep it PG with a traditional bridal shower, and if you get the feeling the bride would appreciate some luxurious loungewear or lacy underthings to kick off this new phase of newlywed life, then plan a separate lingerie shower with just the bridesmaids and other close girlfriends. If the bridesmaids have to come from out of town for the shower, you might even plan the lingerie shower to be part of the bachelorette weekend in order to minimize travel. That way, she can unwrap her gorgeous bridal lingerie in the company of just her besties.
- Do give guests some gift guidance.
It’s a good idea to give attendees some tips on what to buy the bride. The easiest way to go about this is to offer the couple’s registry info. But rather than include that directly in the invitation, add an insert with a link to the wedding website or registry. You can also come up with a cute theme for the gifts. For example, a foodie bride will no doubt appreciate a fête where guests give culinary-themed presents.
If you’re planning a separate lingerie shower, you’ll want to include the bride’s sizes to ensure that her gifts fit flawlessly. If you don’t know her sizes — or aren’t 100 percent sure — just ask! Or if the lingerie shower is a surprise, you can ask her fiancée, who can also sneak a peek at some size tags in her collection if he’s not certain. The bride can certainly put together a lingerie wish list for guests to shop from, but even providing guests with the names of a few of her favorite stores will be immensely helpful.
- Don’t delay on choosing a date.
Typically, the bridal shower will happen about two or three months before the wedding. And it’s crucial to give guests plenty of notice so they can make travel plans, request to take time off work if need be and purchase a gift. So, the first order of business should be to send out those invites as early as possible — at least two months before the shower is taking place if lots of people will be coming from out of town, and at least four to six weeks if most attendees are local. Choosing the date as early as possible means you’ll have more options if you plan to book a venue rather than hosting it at someone’s house. Also, you’ll have far more time to plan the perfect menu, get creative with the decor and add those special touches that will make it a standout shower.
- Don’t try to do it alone.
Just because you’re the one in charge of planning the shower, that doesn’t mean you have to take responsibility for every single aspect of the event. It’s a lot to take on for one person — and odds are, if you ask the other bridesmaids or family members to help, they’ll be happy to contribute. Better yet, delegate specific tasks rather than just vaguely asking for assistance. For example, you might enlist the bridesmaids to take on the duty of assembling gift bags or hunting down some fun games to play and ask the mother of the bride or future mother-in-law to call some venues for pricing information.
- Don’t be too loose (or too strict) in your itinerary
Most showers follow the same general outline: Guests mingle with some snacks and beverages, they play a game or three and watch the bride open her gifts. That doesn’t mean you have to follow this itinerary, but you do need to have one in place to avoid having people feel aimless or uncomfortable. After all, there might be guests at the shower who don’t know anyone, so expecting them to socialize and make conversation for an entire afternoon or evening may be unrealistic. Have a general idea of how you’d like to kick off the shower, what will happen in the middle and how you’d like it to end. Drawing up a plan will help to maintain momentum and keep guests entertained. Keep in mind, however, that your schedule should be flexible. If guests are having a ball at the DIY mimosa station, let them linger and enjoy without forcing them to participate in a particular activity. Conversely, if there’s a lull in the celebration at any point, it’s good to have a backup plan to bust out, like some classic bridal bingo.
It’s next to impossible to over plan or prepare for a bridal shower, but it is possible to overthink it. Remember: The bride chose you to put together this special day for a reason — because she trusts you.