Planning a Bridal Shower

Wow the bride -- and your guests -- by planning a fabulously memorable wedding shower.


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Once upon a time there was a beautiful bride. And, as the bride's best friend, you're charged with throwing her the bridal shower of her dreams.

Your first task is to gather the troops. No one expects you to go it alone. Spreading the responsibility helps lighten the load and the costs. Plus, it gives you the chance to spend some preshower social time with the other women in the bride's life. Even if you think you can pull off this gathering on your own, it's a nice gesture to give others the opportunity to help.

Keep your sights on the leading lady. Let the bride be involved as much -- or as little -- as she'd like. Some brides want to be part of every decision. Others put their confidence in a close relative or bridesmaid and remain hands-off. Either way, respect her wishes. At the very least, though, choose an available date and location and let her supply or approve the guest list.

If you're planning a surprise party, you'll want to enlist the help of a trusted friend, sister, or mother of the bride, since they can assist with the date, guest list, and ploy for getting the bride to the surprise shower on time.

Shower day will be all about pampering the guest of honor. Make her laugh, make her blush -- and capture it all on film. Assign a close friend to stay by her side when opening gifts -- to jot down each gift and who it is from.

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  • The Wow: Start off an invitation with something clever to grab invitees' attention. Use a catchy phrase, image, or special paper that sets the tone or reveals the theme of the event and makes them want to RSVP right away. If the party is a surprise, be sure to note this prominently on the invitation and follow up right away with a phone call to explain the details.
  • The Who: State who is hosting the event and the name of the guest of honor. Be clear about the RSVP date, and include a phone number and e-mail address so invitees can easily let you know whether or not they can attend.
  • The What: Give the purpose of the event (in this case, a bridal shower).
  • The Where: Supply details about the event location, including specific directions and a map if possible. Give instructions for parking, too.
  • The When: Be specific about the date and time of the gathering. It's a good idea to include the day of the week (Saturday, October 1st) and a start and end time if applicable.
  • The Theme: Planning a kitchen, lingerie, or other themed shower? Let guests know so their gifts and gift wraps add to the party ambience.
  • The Wear: Put invitees at ease by cluing them in to the expected attire. If this is a casual event held outdoors in a park, you don't want anyone showing up in a little black dress and stilettos. If the party is more formal, the guests should know not to show up wearing shorts.
  • The Wrap: It is often appropriate to include a note about gifts and bridal registry information with shower invitations. While some guests may disapprove, others will welcome the help in selecting an appropriate (and desired) gift.
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Themed decorations are wonderful conversation starters and can make for a memorable occasion. Go with a creative theme for the shower, or borrow a theme or color scheme from the wedding plans -- a nice preview for the big day.

Browse these party themes to see if they spark your imagination.

Theme Ideas

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  • A travel shower could feature maps laminated into place mats, a globe centerpiece, and "tickets" for invitations. Wrap travel-related gifts in maps and create a menu of international tastes.
  • Caribbean and tropical fish motifs might be the inspiration for a bride who is going scuba diving on her honeymoon.
  • For a lingerie party you might drape the table with a cloth of silky chiffon, caught at the corners with bows of satin ribbon.
  • A food-related theme can be a crowd-pleaser. Look for interesting clear containers to fill with candy almonds, jelly beans, or chocolates. Exotic coffee beans, teas, and shaped pastas are possibilities. Or create a menu that evokes a special theme that's meaningful to the bride.
  • A bride who adores collecting may love a shower based on her particular interests. She might collect antique teapots, vintage linens, or silver -- all items that can be incorporated into your table settings and gift choices.
  • A personalized shower theme can also be fun. The table could feature monogrammed mats and napkins which can then be given to the bride as a memento and gift. Monogrammed flatware, vases, picture frames, and linens are appropriate gift ideas.
  • Recipe showers can be a lovely idea for a bride with an extended family of good cooks. Guests bring a prized recipe along with the utensils and equipment required to make it. Another idea would be to collect the recipes ahead of time and use the computer to assemble them into a one-of-a-kind cookbook.
  • A hardware-themed shower might be perfect for a couple about to embark on a home remodeling project. It can also be a way to include a groom and his friends in the shower festivities.
  • A paper shower is based on all things paper -- from engraved note cards to scrapbooks. Photo albums, archival memory boxes, personalized cocktail napkins, books, magazines, and event tickets can be ways to stretch the paper theme.

More: Pink Themed Shower

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