You’ve sent out the invitations and the RSVPs are in. Now what? I have attended many bridal showers over the years, including my own, but I have never planned one, until now. I recently hosted a shower for my beautiful future daughter in law and I turned to the internet (doesn’t everyone?) to make sure I did it right. Bridal showers are fraught with tradition and ‘rules’ that go beyond coffee, cake and presents. There is even lore in opening gifts. While everyone keeps count, for every ribbon the bride breaks while opening presents, the happy couple can expect a baby. And the bride cannot be expected to break tradition by showing up at the wedding rehearsal without a ribbon bouquet! I figure I am not alone in being a first time bridal shower planner and thought I would share my new found expertise.
I have broken down the event into the following categories: Decorations/Table Settings, Party Favors, MENU, Party Games, and Making a Ribbon Bouquet, so either click on the name of the category you are interested in which should take you right to that section or just scroll down. I hope this helps you plan a fabulous event for your special person! I know this is a departure from my regular food posts but I plan to start a Dinner Parties/Events Page so stay tuned!
The easiest way to make an event more festive is to set a pretty table, even if you are planning to serve buffet style. This gives you the opportunity to decorate with pretty linens, flowers and favors. Of course, if you are having more guests than can fit at your dining table and you don’t want to rent, you can still set a beautiful buffet table and include a basket of silverware rolled up in cloth napkins and tied with a ribbon. If you are having more people than you care to buy cloth napkins for, just use a pretty paper dinner napkin tied with raffia or curling ribbon. If you have picked a theme, go with it!
- In lieu of purchasing a quantity of napkin rings, roll cloth napkins into tubes and tie with white tulle (bridal veil fabric). At $1.49 per yard, tulle is a very inexpensive way to decorate and fits the wedding theme perfectly.
- Flowers are always a perfect centerpiece (Thank you Susan!) but the party stores are full of fun themed decorations.
- To hide (enhance) folding chairs, cut tulle into 12-14″ strips and tie to the backs of each chair.
- Instead of buying bottled water, fill glass milk jars with chilled tap water, sliced lemons and a sprig of mint. Of course, tulle is an option.
- To add a bit of flair to your table, print place cards onto plain white cardstock, cut and embellish with jewels, heart stickers or whatever strikes your fancy or matches the bride’s personality. You can download a template for creating the place cards HERE.
- Use small canning jars for individual desert servings and decorate them to match the theme. I made little garter belts from ribbon and miniature bows that I found at Michael’s. A little help from my glue gun and the jelly jar is transformed! Of course, plain ribbon is pretty too.
- Party favors are not necessary but they are an opportunity to further decorate your table and to thank your guests for coming. I like to make candybars, or rather I buy candybars and make personalized wrappers. I put a candybar in each water glass along with a couple of curly ribbons to make it festive. Another idea is to check out The Container Store’s supply of pretty cardboard boxes and bags that you can fill with treats and tie with ribbons. If you are not feeling so crafty, there are many websites that offer favors for sale like My Wedding Favors.
If you will be serving dinner, I would offer several appetizers including a cheese or veggie platter for guests to nibble on while waiting for everyone to arrive. I have listed a few suggestions below that are mostly ‘make ahead’ or ‘fast cooking’ recipes with links to the recipes, however, dinner and lunch parties are not the only way to go, especially for large groups. Wine and appetizers or coffee and cake are also very appropriate refreshments to serve at bridal showers.
APPETIZERS (One or Two plus a cheese or vegetable platter)
Antipasti Platter – Roasted Eggplant, Peppers and Tomatoes with Burrata
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart
Crostini with Fava Beans and Lemon Ricotta
DINNER/LUNCH (I recommend one main and two sides plus bread)
Maple Bourbon Glazed Salmon OR Sesame Crusted Salmon
Roasted Halibut with Lemon, Tomatoes and Capers
Scallop Ceviche with Avocado and Tomatillo
Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Garlic and Chile
Chili Lime Grilled Tofu with Avocado Mango Salsa
Pasta with Fried Lemons, Kale and Chili Flakes
Pasta Primavera with Summer Squash, Peas and Arugula
Roasted Eggplant with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts
Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Baby Spinach and Morel Mushrooms
Fennel Citrus Salad with Avocado and Olives
Roasted Beet Salad with Ripe Peaches and Goat Cheese
DESSERT (You can go for a very traditional cake or make mini desserts like the following)
Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse Party Sized
No Bake Mini Cheesecakes with Raspberry Sauce
BEVERAGES (Stick with wine or choose a specialty drink and infused water)Citrus Strawberry Infused Water Lemon Cucumber Mint Water Mango Margaritas Watermelon Breeze
Games are not required but they are fun and act as an icebreaker for those who don’t know each other very well. There are many games out there but I chose two, ‘The Nearlywed Game” and “Mystery Gift Game or Yankee Swap” which are outlined below. For more games click HERE for a list of games from The Knot. Just keep in mind that the purpose of the games is to have fun and not to embarrass the bride to be who is most likely a little bit uncomfortable being the focus of so much attention and largess. That is why the Mystery Gift Game is a good choice, since it diverts the attention away from the blushing bride and everyone goes home with a little something.
- THE NEARLYWED GAME – We played this game during the cocktail hour, just as the last guests were arriving. I wrote out questions in a HE SAID/SHE SAID format. I asked the bride and groom to answer the questions separately before the event. Then at the shower we got to see how they matched up. This was definitely a crowdpleaser and I would recommend it again. For printable versions of The Nearlywed Game click the links HE SAID and SHESAID. Then you just have to get your best Bob Eubanks going…
- THE GIFT GAME/YANKEE EXCHANGE – The host usually asks people to bring small gifts for this game, but since my guests were already bringing presents for the bride, I started collecting small things, like candles, bookmarks, notepads, etc., one for each guest except for the host(me) and the bride. Wrap each gift and keep them separately from the gifts for the bride. Write out a number for each of your guests on a small square of paper and put the numbers in a container. If you have 16 guests, you will write out all the numbers from 1 to 16. I used a top hat from my costume box for extra flair! Have each guest pick a number. The guest who picked number 1 goes first and chooses a gift from the pile to open which she shows to everyone. Guest #2 has the choice to steal #1’s gift or open a new one. Guest #3 and all subsequent guests can steal from anyone who has opened a gift or choose to open a new gift. If a guest’s gift is stolen, she gets to choose a new gift to open. Only a few rules here; 1) no hiding gifts and 2)the same gift can only be stolen three times 3) stealing is encouraged and makes it more fun.
Supplies: Heavy duty paper plate, 2-3 ribbons, hole punch or sharp knife/scissors Note: If you know the bride’s wedding colors, use those for the ribbon. If have have many guests coming, you made need to make more than one (for the bridesmaids or flower girl).
- Punch holes every couple of inches around the perimeter( just inside the rim) of a heavy duty white paper plate with a hole puncher or sharp knife.
- Using a sharp knife (xacto-knife) cut a 2 inch hole in the center of the plate (It doesn’t have to be pretty. No one will see it.)
- Knot one end of the ribbon and thread through every other hole and tie off the end.
- Repeat with second ribbon making sure all sides of plate are covered. If you want to add a third ribbon, thread it in and out of the other two ribbons into a nice pattern.
- Pull all ribbon ends through the middle. Either side can be the ‘top’ of the bouquet. Just choose the side that looks prettiest.
- At the shower, choose your most creative friend (or the most recent bride) and have her apply the ribbons to the top as the gifts are unwrapped.
- Don’t forget to ask someone to make a list of the gifts that are opened to organize the bride for her thank you notes.
Above all, enjoy yourself and make sure the bride has a memorable time! If you are reading this because you are throwing a bridal shower for someone you love, Congratulations!
Don’t forget to take lots of pictures for the bride’s memory book…