Ask the bride to make a guest list of people she wants at her shower. Having the guest list is really important because it determines the mood of the party. If the bride wants mostly single/young girlfriends there, the party will be very different from a guest list that includes the bride’s mom and grandma and aunts.
If the bridal shower is a surprise you will have to rely on the brides close friends to come up with a guest list that they think she would want.
Once you have the guest list, you know how many people to expect, so you need to pick an appropriate location to accommodate for the size of the party. Ideally, it should be someone’s home. If you are planning the party, pick a location where you will feel comfortable coordinating all the preparation.
Get invites out ASAP. You want to give people a notice way in advance so that they can plan on coming. Make you invites clear, making the date, time and location easy to find.
Make sure you indicate which store the bride has a registry.
Pick a theme for the party. Keep the guest list in mind. If it includes grandmothers and aunts perhaps an 80’s dress up party theme isn’t the best idea. On the other hand, if its a fun group of people who would all enjoy dressing up, a dress up theme can be great!
Focus on picking a theme that can be easily achieved in decorations and food. Avoid choosing a color theme. It is old and tacky. Picking a color palette that goes along with your theme is fine, but don’t make the theme “pink and purple”.
Examples: Garden Tea Party, Glitter Party, Country Style, Summer Picnic, White Dress, Little Black Dress, Woodsy, Princess, Floral, etc.
You will have family and friends wanting to help. So assign them tasks. Don’t try to do everything yourself. It can be very expensive and time consuming. If people want to help, let them.
Personally I find it easiest to take care of the decorations, especially if I am hosting the party. It is convenient and I can even decorate the day before without bothering anyone else. I usually involve one other person to help with the set up. I also try to ask around if people have props or cute vases/jars/lights that I could use to decorate with. It saves you a lot of money and time to use what people already have instead of buying all the decorations.
Food is what is best to delegate. Call around asking people if they are willing to bring appetizers or dessert.Explain the theme and ask that they try, if possible, to make the food in the style of the theme. For example if the theme is Garden Tea Party, ask them to bring little sandwiches or desserts in pretty white platters.
Once you have you theme, look through your closets and dress up boxes to see what you can incorporate into the decoration. Old table clothes, candle sticks, ribbon. Start with what you have. Explain the theme to the bride’s closer friends and have them pool together what they have. You would be surprised how much stuff everyone has that you can use.
I usually end up buying flowers, if it matches the theme, and disposable plates, cups and silverware. Play around with what you have, use Pinterest and get creative. Only go shopping once you know exactly what you need, or else you will spend too much money, trust me.
The dessert table should be central. Make it pretty. Make sure all the dessert is on pretty platters and arrange it to look nice. Add a table cloth and flowers. Make a banner. Light some candles, get creative.
Also the gift table/area should look pretty too. Assign someone to organize the gifts so that they are nicely stacked instead of in a big pile.
Cooking a whole meal is not necessary for a bridal shower. I always stick to appetizers and dessert. Its simple and looks pretty. I delegate the food to as many guests as are willing to bring something, and as much food as is appropriate. You don’t want to have too much people bring food, because its difficult to make it look pretty. But you also don’t want to have people be hungry. Do what makes sense.
I usually either bake a cake or ask someone to. A cake is central to a party and it needs to be decorated by the theme. Ordering a cake can be very pricey, so get creative and bake one yourself, or ask someone you know who is good at it.
Depending on the crowd, games can be a great thing or a bad thing. They can lighten the mood, or make it awkward. I stick to a general rule of one game, and have a second one ready if there is extra time. Keep your guests in mind when picking games. Pick something that everyone would enjoy playing. Don’t plan too many games because they get tiring.
Make sure you include time where people close to the bride give toasts or just share some advice. Have closer friends share memories and good times they’ve had with he bride. This should be a focused sit down time of the guests wishing the bride well and celebrating her exciting new season in life. Having this time adds depth to the party and really brings the focus on the bride and showers her with love and encouragement.
A great time to do this is when the bride is opening gifts. The guest whose gift she is opening should give a few words of blessing, or share a memory.
10. Other details
Make sure you don’t let the party drag on too long. Make a schedule and stick to it. Don’t wait to open the gifts at the very end when people have to leave. Make it a special time, where everyone is focused and present.
Don’t forget to take pictures!
Also, don’t sweat it if something goes wrong, just remember whats most important- the bride and showering her with love.
Here are some pictures from my little sisters bridal shower last May.