This past weekend, I threw a bridal shower for my very best friend, Sara. Sara is the type of friend who is there for you through thick and thin. She and I have known each other since kindergarten and became bosom buddies in the fourth grade. We have gone through major transitions — from my decision in sixth grade to transition out of public school and into homeschooling, to moving several states away from Illinois to Virginia for college, to serving as my maid of honor at my own wedding — ours is the stuff that solid friendships are made of. I could not be more grateful for her calls, her patience with me given my terrible tendency to never respond to texts, and her overall encouragement and prayer throughout our more than fifteen years of friendship.
Planning her bridal shower was a complete joy and one that I had been waiting (hoping!) to do for many years. She threw a bridal shower for me when I got married five years ago and I could not wait to return the favor.
Here are a few lessons I learned from planning the shower:
1. Showers can’t be planned alone. Originally, I had planned to be the jack-of-all trades. Book the venue, select the catering, get the cake, and purchase all of the decorations myself. Before I could even begin planning, Sara’s future sister-in-law kindly offered up her home for the shower. I could not be more grateful. Having the hosting space secured (especially since I was planning a bridal shower in Illinois from my own home in D.C.) made the process so much less stressful. I could not have anticipated how helpful it was that she opened up her beautiful home — it made for a much more intimate occasion. I also was blessed to have the help of Sara’s Mom who selected the cake, designed and purchased the centerpieces, and had a beautiful collage made for the decorations. Coordinating with Sara’s future sister-in-law and Mom had unexpected joys. I would recommend having more than one set of eyes as you plan for the shower. There are things you would not think of that come up as your planning that those who are removed from the nitty-gritty details of the days plans will see.
2. Plan the shower with your specific bride in mind. I think the tendency of any party planner is to think about what their ideal shower or party would be rather than what the bride herself desires. The shower is not about you. My prayer throughout the entire planning process was that I would plan things with the bride in mind. What does she love the most? What has she told you about decorations for her wedding? How can you really tailor this party to her dreams and desires? This is the brides day to shine, so make sure she is the focus and feature of all of your planning and day-of activities.
3. Include the fiance if he is amenable. Sara’s fiance Uriel was completely on board to join the shower. This made the occasion more natural since members of his family and hers were present. If the fiance is going to attend, make sure that games include both him and her. The shower is often a pivotal moment where the reality that marriage is right around the corner becomes vivid to both the bride and groom. Make this is a celebration — not just of the wedding, but of the marriage itself. Opening presents together is pretty fun, and incorporating games that highlight the individuals and their journey as a couple is a great way to familiarize guests with their love story and help them to see the individuals as the couple they will be after the wedding in a few months.
- Order the invitations early. I made the mistake of waiting until I had all of the guests names and addresses, when in reality I should have just ordered the invites so that I could get them out early and address them later.
- In the modern age of social media, the temptation to send a shower invite via email is really high. But this is one of the most special times for any bride. It’s her time to shine. Make the invitation something that reflects the importance of the occasion.
- If you sent out the invite via snail mail, you may need to call, text, or email guests who are tardy to RSVP. My bride was fantastic and sent me a spreadsheet with the addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers of all the attendees in advance. This made it easy to contact those who may have forgotten to RSVP.
- Specify a dress code. People are often unsure of what to wear to showers. If the bride wants it to be a fancier occasion, be sure to highlight that in the invite.
- If you have the flexibility to decorate for the shower the day before, absolutely 100% do it. Entertaining is an art form and everyone knows that beautiful art takes time. I owe a million thank-you’s to the groom’s sister-in-law for opening up her house to me the day before and encouraging me to decorate in advance. This left ample time the next day to pick-up the last minute things I had forgotten.Cheers loves,
A friend loves at all times… Proverbs 17:17