Plan A Bridal Shower to Remember

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According to a 16th-century Dutch story, a young woman fell in love with a poor miller’s son; despite her family’s disapproval, she insisted on marrying him.

As the tale goes, her father refused to pay her dowry, the traditional transfer of property, gifts or money at the marriage of a daughter. When her friends learned of this, they “showered” her with gifts to substitute for a dowry. Today, the traditional bridal shower has evolved from a contractual tradition to a special celebratory event that every bride looks forward to enjoying with friends and family.

Hosting a bridal shower can seem intimidating, since Pinterest photos and bridal websites inundate us with images of perfect events. However, if you follow a timeline and make a checklist or two, you can plan a shower that will have your bride-to-be feeling loved!

Focus on a few elements to make hosting a shower less stressful and allow the bride and her guests to feel special. First and foremost, enjoy being creative. Pick a theme that’s a reflection of the bride and allow it to guide floral décor, food and even party favors.

When to Shower
The traditional time frame to give a shower is up to two months before the wedding. If the bride lives out of town, begin planning early to make sure her schedule isn’t too crowded in the months prior to the wedding. If it’s a destination wedding or many guests will be arriving from out of town, hosting a shower a few days before the wedding can ensure everyone can attend.

Guest List
The guest list needs to be created by the bride. It is crucial that everyone who is invited to the shower is also invited to the wedding. If this is a surprise shower, use your resources, such as the bride’s mother and fiancé. Include close female relatives and friends of the bride and groom and the bride’s closest friends.

Party Festivities
The guest list will likely span generations, and the thoughtful hostess will plan accordingly. Many may know each other well, while some guests may be more distant relatives and acquaintances. As hostess, you have the responsibility of making guests feel at home and introducing people who have similar interests to stimulate conversation. Details of food, drink and activities that make your job a pleasure will flow as you develop your timeline for the event.

Four Months Prior to Shower
Pick a date. Sit down with the bride-to-be to discuss her wishes and wants for the shower. Would she like for it to be women only, or would she prefer to invite couples? Does she want a theme and games? Does she want a quiet, small party or a larger, inclusive affair? What is a general head count?

Three Months Prior
Compile addresses for the guest list. Send an informal save-the-date announcement in the mail or via email to ensure family and friends have it on their calendars. Finalize the theme with the co-hosts and decide on décor. Establish a budget with co-hosts and assign responsibilities for the food, invitations, décor, activities and favors. If invitations will be mailed, order them now; include information about the couple’s registry on the invites.

One Month Prior
Mail invitations. Purchase décor and party favors for guests, and order any specialty food items, such as custom cookies or cake. Check in with co-hosts to make sure everyone is on target.

Two Weeks Prior
Order floral arrangements, if you’re not arranging them yourself. Purchase your personal shower gift for the bride-to-be. Pick up cake stands or serving platters that friends and family have offered to provide for the shower. Organize the shopping list for food and beverages, and purchase spirits and champagne.

One Week Prior
Finalize your head count from RSVPs and adjust special orders for food items if necessary. Confirm order pickup and delivery times. Create the party favors for guests and organize the games, if you plan to have them. If not, brush up on conversational openers to break the ice and keep guests comfortable.

Purchase groceries.
If you’re having the party in your home, clean the house and organize the space, making sure your plan allows fluid movement around the room. Set up the food buffet with the serving platters, so you know where everything will be set. If you’re having the shower at another venue, reconfirm arrangements with their planners. Check in one more time with co-hosts on their tasks and when they will be arriving for the event.

Day Of
Make or pick up food items and set up the buffet. Chill the beverages and pour yourself a glass. Relax, put on your best smile and enjoy a day celebrating the bride-to-be! ■

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