As a bridesmaid or Maid of Honour, there’s a lot to do in the run-up to your friend or relative’s wedding. As well as helping to organise the hen party, and potentially an engagement party, bridal showers are a popular way to throw a family-friendly celebration ahead of the big day.
If you’re not sure where to start with the party planning, there are a few crucial details to think about before you dive in. From guest lists to drinks provisions, budgeting to any potential themes, here are some important things to remember when you’re planning a bridal shower.
Triple-check the invite list
While bridal showers are sometimes a surprise event, it’s pretty common for the bride to be involved in the planning nowadays. And when it comes to the invite list, chances are it’s safer to consult with the bride than not. Once you’ve put together a list of people you think would be the ideal bridal shower guests, run it past another member of the bridal party for their opinion. Remember that unlike a hen party, which is most often a gathering of friends, bridal showers should involve any much-loved family members too. It’s also wise to make sure you don’t invite anyone who isn’t being invited to the wedding. Whether you’re in doubt or not, consult the bride for her opinion – if you aren’t keeping things a total surprise. That way you can ensure that nobody she’d like to celebrate with will be missed. As a fallback for surprise events, check-in with the groom to compare your guestlist with that of the wedding itself.
…And send the invites early
Whether you’re sending casual invites via WhatsApp or a Facebook event, or splashing out on beautiful handmade invites from a professional stationer, make sure you get them out to all attendees well ahead of schedule. At least a month’s notice is typically suggested, as it gives people time to request the day off where necessary and will hopefully be early enough to avoid people having other plans in place. If you are opting for e-invites, you should also consider whether any less tech-savvy attendees might still need to be notified by post.
Pick family-friendly activities
A lot of the games you might play or activities you might book for a hen party aren’t necessarily suited to a bridal shower. Think more along the lines of afternoon tea and guessing games, than cocktail-laden bar crawls and suggestive rounds of truth or dare. Organising a couple of games or activities for guests is a great way to help people get to know each other ahead of the wedding, so that when the big day comes, attendees have already socialised and bonded. Great icebreakers that everyone can take part in include games focusing on the happy couple, as well as simple scavenger hunts or ‘memory lane’ type activities. If you’re drawing a blank on what to organise, check out lists of bridal shower games online that can keep everyone entertained.
Be reasonable with themes and/or dress codes
Let’s start by saying that you don’t have to have a theme or a dress code. That’s entirely optional, and whether you decide to implement one will depend on the kind of event you plan on having. A bridal shower thrown at someone’s home is likely to be a more casual affair than one which involves hiring a venue, or creating a whole day out. If you are encouraging guests to follow a particular theme, make sure that it’s easy and inexpensive. Suggesting that people arrive dressed in colours that match the planned wedding theme, for example, is a straightforward suggestion in comparison to a full ‘fancy dress’ concept.
Pre-order any food and drinks
You may opt for a bridal shower somewhere that food and drinks are taken care of, like a restaurant that serves afternoon tea, or at a cookery course where you can eat your creations at the end. But to ensure the celebration is budget-friendly for all attendees, a lot of bridal shower organisers choose to host the event themselves, or to hire a venue where finger food and other refreshments can be DIY-ed.To save on stress, pre-order any food and drinks that you’ll need so you don’t spend the morning before people arrive toiling away in the kitchen. Many supermarkets now offer a made-to-order party food delivery service, and you can bulk-buy drinks online to avoid carrying heavy bags back from the shops. Consider whether you want to offer cocktails and mocktails, teas and coffees, or a few glasses of prosecco to celebrate with. Bridal shower food typically features a lot of sweet treats like cupcakes and macarons, but whatever you’re going for, try and pair food and drinks like a pro.
Don’t blow the budget ahead of the hen party – and the wedding
Getting married is expensive business, and that’s true for the guests as well as the couple. There are often multiple smaller celebrations in the run up to the wedding itself, each one incurring costs for food, drinks, travel, gifts, and potentially new outfits. As well as keeping an eye on your own budget, keep thinking about what other attendees will have to spend on the plans you’re making. What really matters at a bridal shower is not the theme, the setting, or the particular choice of food: it’s the people who attend and the memories that are made and shared together. Though it’s important to plan just enough to make sure that everyone has a good time, everything else is secondary. Don’t feel like the event has to be extravagant, when the purse strings might thank you for keeping it a little more low-key.
About the author: Tabby Farrar runs the lifestyle blog JustCantSettle.com and is currently planning her own DIY festival wedding