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Article: Help with your Bridal or Wedding Shower

Help with your bridal or wedding shower; advice, solutions and etiquette

We all love going to a bridal shower but if you're the one planning it, you might be stuck for ideas as to how to organize it and what you'll need to buy. So, we've put together a list of Q&A's to help you out.

Don't forget though that every shower is as individual as the bride and groom so not all of these points will apply to you; the most important thing is that you all have fun planning then attending the shower!

Who plans the shower?

Usually the shower is attended by the bride - of course - and her girlfriends so it's up to one or two of those friends to plan the shower. If that's you, you can of course ask for help and ideas from the bride or the groom's Mom, or both, but it's not ordinarily left to the Moms to throw the shower.

When should you have the shower?

This is entirely dependent on when it's most likely to be convenient for all those attending. Remember that people have to get time off work and may have to travel quite some distance, so try to give everyone as much notice as possible.

How much should it cost?

Most often it's down to the bridesmaids to pay for the shower so you need to all get together and work out what you want to spend. Then, put the money in a safe place with just one person in charge of it. That way nobody's going to duplicate purchases and one person knows how much is left to spend.

Where will the shower be held?

The one factor most likely to determine the venue is your budget. The other factor to consider is the availability of your preferred venue. Showers can be held almost anywhere such as a restaurant or someone's home. Where you'll be holding the shower will also determine how many decorations or party sundries you'll need. You can of course buy everything from a party goods supplier or you can make your own, which can be great fun!

Who should be invited?

You would usually invite the bride's closest girlfriends - unless it's a joint bride-groom shower - as well as her female relatives. There may be some people who aren't able to make it to the wedding who would really appreciate getting to celebrate in some way with the bride so this would be an ideal opportunity for them. In the main, smaller groups make the shower more intimate so try to limit the numbers.

What should invitations to the shower say and when should they go out?

The invites should in some way reflect the general theme of the shower and therefore can be as formal or informal as the shower itself will be. Be sure to include details of how the invited guests can RSVP. If some of the guests are going to have to come quite a distance, try to give them at least eight weeks notice so that they can make the necessary arrangements. Guests who are based locally only need to be asked maybe a month to six weeks in advance of the date.

Try to include this information on the invitations:

What sort of shower is it, i.e., formal or informal?
Is the shower themed?
Is the shower for only the bride or for the bride and groom?
Don't forget to tell guest who the shower's for!
Include the date and time of the shower
State the full address of the venue
Who is hosting the shower
Who guests should send their RSVP to including the person's name, phone number or an email address
Include a date that the RSVP must be received by so that you'll have definite numbers
Include where the couple are registered for gifts

Remember that there will be some guests who don't RSVP so it's worth calling any who don't to check that they received their invitation and to establish if they'll be attending or not.

What food is suitable for a bridal shower?

This probably depends on where it's being held; if it's in a restaurant for example, you'll probably have agreed on a menu when you booked. Bear in mind that it isn't expected that the guests will pay for their meal so take that into account when you book as it could use up a lot of your budget. If however it's being hosted in someone's home, the main rule of thumb is to keep it all as simple as possible. Cold buffets are the easiest to provide and can be prepared in advance. You can offer any sort of beverage you like but usually a choice of wines, soft drinks and tea or coffee should be available.

Do we need to have shower favors?

This is entirely up to those hosting it but generally, most guests will expect to take home some memento of the event and for this reason favors are very popular. If your budget is really under pressure then they aren't necessary by any means but if you can provide favors, it's sure to be greatly appreciated by the bride and guests.

Should we have games at the shower?

It would be somewhat unusual not to have games and they don't have to be very elaborate or expensive. The simplest of games can be great fun and make great ice breakers!

How long will the shower last?

Most often a shower lasts around two hours. Of course, some guests may not be able to stay that long whereas others might stay longer to chat and catch up with everyone.

What's the running order for showers?

First, you would serve appetizers - such as canapés - and drinks as guests arrive then once everyone's there, you might play the games you've planned. Soon after, the main part of the meal would be served or made available in the case of a finger buffet. When everyone has finished eating, the bride can open her gifts. Try to have someone keep the gift tags and write on each one what the gift was so that the bride may write a thank you note later. At this time, you might want to take some pictures too. Next, you could all just chat while some music plays quietly then once guests are ready to leave, don't forget to hand out the shower favors. As host, it's your responsibility to alert the bride when a guest leaves so that she may thank them for attending.

Couple or 'Jack & Jill' showers

Joint showers are becoming very popular but older female relatives of the couple may not approve! Couple showers give a greater scope for using a theme so here are a few ideas for what the theme could be:

Amusement/entertainment showers - for these, guests would bring gifts in the form of CDs, DVDs or tickets for the theater or movies.Book showers - fairly obviously gifts would be books or gift vouchers for books. Romance showers - gifts would be perhaps luxury bath products, candles, lingerie etc.Bath showers - here the gifts would be any bathroom related items such as towels or bath accessories. Food/kitchen showers - guests would bring gifts related to cooking such as pans, cook books or any other item you would find in a kitchen.

Many couple showers are based around barbecues because men aren't very interested in the gift part - they like to have a good time and a few beers - so a BBQ allows both indoor and outdoor participation in the shower.

Timescale checklists:

Three months before

Discuss your plans with the bride to make sure that you've taken her wishes into account. Ask her what kind of shower she'd like and if she wants a themed shower or not. Ask if she'd prefer to have a non-alcoholic shower or alternately if she'd like any special alcohol such as cocktails. Check too that she's happy with the choice of venue. Even though you're the planner, it's always good to get the bride's input!

Set your budget and make sure that you confirm any reservations you've made. Now is the time to start building the guest list.

Two months before

Make an initial call to guests who aren't local to make sure that they have as much notice of the date of the shower as possible.

Buy or make your invitations.

Meet up with everyone who's going to be involved in the planning or hosting of the shower to talk about your budget and what you'll be buying for the shower such as decorations, favors and the food and drink.

If you need to order anything, for example, a cake or table linens, do so now.

Put together an address list for the invitations.

Make a list of who's doing what at the shower.

One month before

Send out the invitations.

Buy any decorations, disposable tableware and other party items.

If any of the guests intend to bring food, call to check what it is they intend to bring.

Two weeks before

If you need to order flowers, do so now.

Don't forget to buy your own gift for the bride!

Make a list of what else you have to buy including the food and beverages.

Gather special items such as punch bowls or large coffee pots now too.

One week before

Call to confirm everything's ok with your booking if you're holding the shower at a restaurant or other public venue.

Call any other suppliers you're using to double-check details.

Check for guests who haven't RSVP'd and follow them up with a call or email.

Buy any grocery items you need.

Plan the games you'll be having and buy whatever's needed for those.

One day before

Prepare as much of the food as you can.

Prepare the decorations, tableware and favors.

Check with everyone else who's had a hand in organizing that everything's ok with their end of it.

The day of the shower

Prepare any food and beverages that you had to leave until today.

Organize the tables and put out the decorations or favors.

Relax! This is going to be fun and you shouldn't be stressed if everything goes as planned. If anything goes wrong, try to be philosophical about it; you've done your best and the chances are, nothing major is going to go wrong.

Have a great time!