Tips For Throwing A Bridal Shower At Home

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Like any great party, a bridal shower takes good planning. Unless circumstances like distance or work dictate otherwise, the maid of honor is usually in charge of bridal shower planning, and the attendants are her official helpers. The more the bridesmaids help out, the easier the process will become for everyone involved. This is the ideal, of course. In practice, planning a bridal shower is usually a combined effort among friends and possibly family members of the bride. This is particularly true if the event is being held at home. These tips will help with bridal shower planning:

  • Timing - It's appropriate to hold a bridal shower anytime within two months of the wedding date. To avoid conflicts, it's probably preferable to hold it three to six weeks before the wedding. It's a good window of opportunity: Excitement for the wedding will be building, but the stress level should still be manageable.
  • Hosting - Typically, the host picks up the expense for the party. If the planned activities are more than a single host can afford, it isn't impolite to ask the bridesmaids to pitch in financially.
  • Duration - The number of people attending will have a direct bearing on the duration of the shower. Plan for a maximum timeframe of about three hours: More than that and people will start getting antsy. Having said that, expect any activities to take a little longer than you plan, so add in a fudge factor of a few minutes.
  • Gifts - Guests are expected to bring gifts, of course, but even the maid of honor and the bridesmaids are expected to proffer gifts -- even if they're picking up the tab for the party.
  • Who's invited - The bride's mother, future mother-in-law, siblings from both families, bridesmaids, grandmothers, co-workers and friends should all be invited as long as they're also invited to the wedding. There's an exception to this rule, though. Although it's polite to invite family, if there are relationship issues that would make a family member's participation unpleasant for the bride, skip that person. A good rule of thumb is that the occasion is the bride's party, so her wishes always come first.
throwing a bridal shower at home throwing a bridal shower at home

Bridal Shower Invitations

It's easy to think an email or word-of-mouth invitation is adequate for a bridal shower, but it's always a good idea to send a written invitation. The small touch of formality will help to insure a full house:

  • Send bridal shower invitations out one month in advance.
  • Include an RSVP request.
  • Handle the guest list responses yourself or choose one person to keep an accurate count.
  • Select invitations that are in keeping with the style of the party itself.
  • Make sure the invitations include:
    • Date
    • Time
    • Any theme suggestions
    • A deadline to RSVP
    • The dress code (if applicable)
    • Whether or not the party is a surprise
    • Directions to the house where the party is being held (This can include a map.)

Where To Throw A Bridal Shower

When the bridal shower is being held in the home of a friend or family member, there may be some limitations relative to the location. Whenever possible though, keep these things in mind:

  • Choose a location that is easily accessible and offers plenty of parking.
  • If you're expecting a large crowd, consider contacting your local police department to ask for a dispensation to block off the street to through traffic for a few hours. This will make it easier for guests to arrive and leave more easily.
  • If there will be more than a dozen guests, it's nice to host the party in a home with more than one bathroom.
  • Arrange for adequate seating. If you plan on having more than eight to 10 guests, you may need to rent chairs or consider holding the event outdoors.
  • If there are pets in the home, make sure they will be secure on the day of the party. As a courtesy, you should also let guests with allergies know that they will be visiting a pet friendly home.
  • Designate a spot for gifts. If you'll be using the dining room table for refreshments, you may need to arrange for a portable table or tables for gift placement.
  • Take an inventory of the equipment and supplies you anticipate using like beverage dispensers, plates and glasses. If you don't have everything you need, start borrowing items early. You don't want to be scrambling for a coffee urn at the last minute.

Bridal Shower Decoration Ideas

It's true that a huge pile of presents goes a long way toward making a bridal shower look inviting. To make things even more festive, though, a few more decorator touches may be in order. If you're into party planning, you probably already have lots of ideas. If not, these tips will get you started:

  • For quick decorating solutions, be sure to check out your local party store. If you shop well enough in advance of the summer wedding season, you can find bargains on tablecloths, paper plates, streamers and lots of other decorative items.
  • If you don't know where to start, consider having a themed bridal shower. Gifting themes and even just decorative themes are a natural if the bride has a favorite passion like, traveling or sailing, which lends itself well to lots of decorating inspiration. Even if she doesn't, you can still get great decoration ideas from themes like:
    • Lingerie showers
    • Culinary showers
    • Entertainment showers
    • Spa showers

Bridal Shower Menu Ideas

When it comes to bridal shower food, the time, space and the budget you have to work with are big considerations. It's nice to throw a large luncheon, but the truth is that the gifts are the stars of the show. Even if you limit the offerings to beverages and cake, your shower is going to be a success. There will be less clean up afterwards, too. Even if you keep the kitchen work to a minimum, there are still some important questions you should ask yourself:

  • Will you serve appetizers or refreshments buffet-style? If so, where will you set up if the dining table is designated for gifts?
  • Have you made arrangements to have enough ice on hand?
  • Do you have an easy way to dispose of trash and finished food?
  • Do you have enough extension cords (or electrical service) for food equipment like the coffee urn?
  • Have you arranged for a table centerpiece?
  • Will there be room in the refrigerator for the refreshments and food?

There are workaround solutions if you answered no to any of the questions above, but they require planning. The more you anticipate now, the less stress and worry there will be on party day.

The Entertainment

Whether you employ a live band or rely on the radio for entertainment, you should plan your strategy ahead of time. If the idea of preplanning is a recurring theme here, it's because being prepared is important, especially if you're holding a large bridal shower in your home and you haven't tackled anything this big before:

  • Have a designated coatroom where guests can place their outerwear.
  • Arrange for party favors.
  • Know where you plan for the bride to sit so she'll be visible to all the guests.
  • Have a designated person (or people) taking candid photos during the party.
  • Appoint a designated secretary to keep track of the gifts. The bride will want a reminder of who gave what gift so she can send out thank you notes later.
  • If guests will be playing shower games, have everything set up beforehand. If there are lots of guests, this may not be feasible within a three hour time frame. Games like having guests make wedding dresses out of bathroom tissue are fun and diverting, but they can be time consuming.
  • Have a vehicle on hand to help transport gifts to the bride's home later in the day.
  • Ask someone to take responsibility for making the ribbon bouquet.
Last Updated: February 15, 2012
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About Sara Elliot Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter and dedicated blogger. Her popular gardening, cooking and crafting blog, The Herb Gardener, was cited by The Wall Street Journal for its fun and frugal tips. Sara has a degree in English, and you can find her health, crafting, and lifestyle pieces on sites like DiscoveryHealth.com, HowStuffWorks.com, Savvi.com and TLC.com.

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