One of my favorite things to do is throw a shower for someone who is anticipating entering the blessed covenant of marriage or someone who is preparing for a little one to arrive! I love to celebrate! Big or small, silly or serious, it doesn't matter - I will be there!

I have thrown many showers in the last few years with different themes, a wide range of guest list sizes, in various locations, and I have learned so so much. I spent countless hours googling etiquette and advice when I was planning these events.

In addition - My husband and I recently got married in December of 2014 and we were beyond blessed to have 7 showers thrown for us! Everything from traditional midday luncheons to a couple's shower to a winery work happy hour to a football themed co-ed shower to a bridesmaids' luncheon. It was one of the most very special parts of this season of life and I loved every minute of it. I loved it because it was all my favorite people from so many different phases and aspects of life all in the same place hanging out, laughing, and telling stories. That kind of fellowship is rare and it is valuable. 

I wanted to share some of my advice and areas not to miss! It can be overwhelming at first. You may have just been asked to be a bridesmaid or a maid of honor and you have no idea where to start. You want to throw a really special party to celebrate your friend but what does that look like?  

Date, Time of the Day, & Type of Shower: After you inform the bride that you would love to throw a shower in her honor and she accepts - one of the first things you need to set is the date for the event and time of day. It is such a fun yet busy season for the bride and many weekends will be filled with dress shopping, venue visiting, flower picking, and so much more. It is really important that you are patient and accommodating to the bride's schedule. I usually get my iPhone out and look at my calendar then together we usually go down the list of weekends in the time frame of about 6-12 weeks before the big day. Once the day is set - I will ask what type of shower they would like me to throw. I usually suggest the following ideas: a traditional luncheon shower, a couple's shower, and afternoon or evening shower. Each of these showers has a different vibe and I want to throw a celebration for the bride in a way that will bless her. This is a season of life that is dreamed about for so so long and every bride has different ideas and dreams. Sometimes my friend wants a traditional shower that they can invite their grandma and mom's friends to and sometimes my friend just wants a girls afternoon with wine & fun games. Whatever their heart's desire is - I want to help make that happen!

{co}Hostessing: When I offer to host a shower for a bride, I usually discuss who I planned on asking to help co-host and ask the bride for her approval. In addition, I ask if there is anyone else that should be included. I have hosted before and my best friend's mother wanted to co-host, as well as, a few of her long time friends. I am so thankful that I asked in advance about this so that I could include these other women who wanted to shower her during this season. Be mindful of the other relationships that are important to the bride and be flexible with having many or even few hostesses.

Setting the Budget: Once I have the list of other hostesses - I will have a discussion with them about the budget and what everyone would like to spend. This is one of those not so fun but so critical pieces of the puzzle. You don't want to set an expectation for someone to spend more than they are able or willing. In an attempt to avoid a dispute during this process - it is a good idea to set a budgetary amount and have the group agree. This will also be important as you decide the menu, beverages, decorations, venue, invitations, and other aspects of the shower.

Menu: Once you have decided on the type of shower you will throw - you can begin to discuss with the bride about the menu. I usually ask if there is anything specific they would like at their shower. {We all have had a Pinterest board that we have been secretly pinning pins onto for years.} I want to make sure that if there is something really specific they would like to have that I know about that! In addition - I ask about any dietary restrictions just to make sure I am considerate of this. I usually don't tell the bride the whole menu and I don't always get approval for everything that we are going to do - because after all you want there to be some fun surprises! Here are some menu ideas for various types of showers:

  • Traditional Shower - Brunch: egg + sausage frittata, yogurt parfait bar, coffee cake, spinach & mushroom quiche cups, breakfast casserole
  • Traditional Shower - Lunch: finger tea sandwiches (pimento cheese, cucumber, cream cheese), chips + fun dip (artichoke, corn dip, etc.), pinwheels, cheese + fruit platter, fresh veggie platter, pasta salad
  • Couple's Shower: pulled bbq sandwiches, cheese + meat tray, chips + queso, potato salad, sliders

Beverages: I usually serve a sherbet punch at all bridal showers. Sometimes this gets missed but it I try to always make it because it is always a hit! I will share this recipe soon. I always ask the bride about alcohol vs. no alcohol. This is very important to be respectful of the bride's wishes. Family is so important and alcohol should not be a source of contention. If you do decide to serve alcohol - I always go with something light. 

  • Traditional Shower - Brunch or Lunch: mimosa bar, sangria, white wine
  • Couple's Shower: white wine and/or sangria and beer {for the boys}
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Dessert: There are so many options with desserts. Again - I usually start with the bride and try to see if they specifically prefer a cake or cupcakes or if we have creative freedom. I think the most important part of the dessert decision is making sure it goes with the theme, time of day, and is displayed in a cute way. Below are some of the various desserts I have made, been served at my showers, or served at a shower that I helped co-host. My suggestion is to hope on over to Pinterest and pick something fun to make!

 
 

Decorations: Decorations - where to start with this one. There are so many different options you can go with.

  • Banner: I make my banners with canvas or fun paper but I recently noticed that Hobby Lobby has banner kits that are already pre-cut and really cute! I am going to be using those going forward. I sketch out my bubble letters on my stock of fun and cute neutral paper. I just keep a bunch of this in my craft box. This is a really cute thing to hang up that is really inexpensive. I usually write 'From Ms to Mrs' for 'The Future Mrs. {Last Name}'.
  • Pictures of the Couple: Email the bride and ask for a few of her favorite engagement pictures or pictures of the two of them to be printed and displayed at the shower. If you buy frames - you can also gift these pictures to the bride & groom. I usually go to TJ Maxx and pick one of the cute white, grey, blue-ish grey, etc. frames that are about $5.99 to $9.99. Love me some TJ Maxx.
  • Guest Book {creative}: It is always a good idea to have something fun for the guests to sign or write a little note to the bride and groom. Get creative (aka use Pinterest)! I have done so many different things. We threw one set of friends a game night engagement party (kind of like a shower) and we got a Jenga and had people write all over it so that when they play games in the future they can see all the sweet notes from family & friends! We also used this at their shower and they had it out at their wedding.
  • Fresh flowers: Fresh flowers are a must for me at all showers. I think they are an inexpensive way to spruce up the party! I usually go to the $3.99 section at Trader Joes or grab a bundle from Costco. They both have a great selection.
  • Party Straws, napkins, & plates: I keep a stock of fun straws (I know I sound like a hoarder - I promise I am not!) so I usually display some in the color that matches the party. 
  • Carafes, pitchers, etc: I received all of these for my wedding, so I just pull what we need out for the shower. This is an easy way to cutesy up your shower and be more elegant in your presentation!
  • Serving Ware: Again - I use whatever I already have in my kitchen. If it is cute, then just go for it.
  • Cake plates, cupcake holders, etc.: This is a really easy way to make the presentation of your dessert even more appealing. I have a few of these and just pull out what we need. These are things you can collect over time. It is not a necessity.

I usually lean towards something simple and leveraging what I already have. No reason to spend a ton of money. Luckily most of my friends like rustic decorations and thankfully that is all I have! Again - start with Pinterest. Pick a few (2-3) things that you want to have as decorations. Stick with those. Don't go too overboard. Sometimes I even assign one of these out to a co-host to make. Remember - its all in the details. Anything sweet and customized for the bride and groom is going to be very special. Just think about the bride and what she loves.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Guest List: This is always a touchy etiquette subject! Most books (with all their authority - by the way who gave them this authority?!) state that you should only invite those who are invited to the wedding. I have a few different views on this subject. My biggest piece of advice is talk to the bride! When in doubt - talk to the bride. Make sure you are keeping the bride's wishes and desires in mind during the entire planning stage.

  • Traditional Shower: This is when I usually talk to the bride and confirm that it will in fact be traditional and the only individuals that will be invited will be those who are invited to the wedding itself.
  • Work Shower: Most likely you are not inviting everyone you work with to your wedding but your co-workers may still want to throw you a shower. This is one of those times it is completely acceptable to invite everyone you work with to this work function. It is understood that it is just a time to celebrate your co-worker and there is not an expectation you are invited to the wedding.
  • Destination Wedding: I usually discuss with the bride and also advise that it is okay to invite special people in their life that they are not inviting to the actual event. In this situation - I encourage that we state a gift is not mandatory or expected but you would just like them to come and celebrate with you. Most people love to celebrate special times with people even if they are not invited to the big event!
  • Nontraditional Showers: Nowadays you can really set whatever etiquette you want for a nontraditional shower. For example - my parents live in Georgia and there was no way I could invite all of their friends to the big day in Texas. So they threw my husband and I a co-ed shower that was more along the lines of a party and invited all their friends to come over and hang out. No expectation - just bring themselves and celebrate with us. This was really fun and so many people came. Not everyone brought gifts and that was more than okay with us! We just wanted to spend time with them.

Invitations: Depending on the type of shower, the characteristics of the group attending, and your bride's prefrences - you will have to decide on the type of invitation to send. Evite vs. conventional paper invitation. My best friend, is like me, and we love cutesy and fancy things to pretend like we are much more formal than we really are! We like paper invitations. However - most of my friends do not. Our generation is essentially paperless and prefers everything online. For these friends - I make an evite using evite.com. My only opinion is do not use Facebook as a way to invite people to a party. It feels less special and less important. Take the extra time to get guest's emails or addresses and do it right. Remember if you are going to send invitations via the mail that you need to send the invites at least 4-6 weeks in advance. 

Tip: I design all my invitations myself using PowerPoint. I have purchased several packages of cutesy clip art from Etsy through the years and have downloaded tons of free fonts via here or here. Save yourself some money right here! Pick some cool Pinterest ideas and mimic them yourself. It is not that hard, I promise. I purchase all of my paper and envelopes through Paper Source. They are amazing! I will do a full post soon on my tips and tricks for designing your own party and wedding invitations. This is a serious money saver and just requires some extra time. I don't know about you but I have more time than money.

Favors: To do favors or not to do favors. This has been an area of discussion in the last few years. I currently air on the side of no favors. Unless there is just a really great idea that coordinates with the theme, the brides preferences, etc. then I say just skip favors and use the money for something else! 

I pray that you will have a fun and joyous time planning a bridal shower for a special friend. If you have been through this season before - be slow to speak and quick to listen. Remember this is her season. You have had yours and it was amazing. Don't pressure her to have a shower just like yours. Don't force your plans or ideas for this event. If you are in a season of singleness or unmarried - remind yourself that you will one day have a season just like this! Yours will be special. Remind your heart to be joyful for your friend even when your heart hurts because you desire marriage. Be patient - the Lord know's your heart's desires. 

Showerin' you with love -

Chelsea
 

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