The personalized bridal shower honors the bride-to-be and allows guests to "shower" her with gifts, encouragement and love before starting her new life as a married woman. Amy Eisinger, associate editor for WeddingChannel.com, says guests enjoy watching the bride's reactions as she opens her gifts. Guests also will be served refreshments and participate in other activities to help celebrate the upcoming wedding day.
The maid of honor and bridesmaids are usually in charge of planning the event. Anyone can choose to host the party, but it is usually done by a close friend, a family member, a bridal party member or even a co-worker. Karen Bussen, wedding expert and author of "Simple Stunning Weddings," says the shower usually is held between two months and six months before the wedding. When it comes to deciding the guest list, keep the location and budget in mind. How many people would fit comfortably? How much are the hosts willing to spend on all the shower items? The invitations should include the shower's date and location, the couple's gift registries, the RSVP date and whether there's a theme or dress code, according to Eisinger.
Choose a theme to make the event more fun and festive. A theme also can help guests decide what type of gift to bring. Bussen suggests a white shower (white linens, bathware and other home-related items) or an around the house shower (guests are assigned different rooms). Eisinger recommends an alphabet shower, for which each guest selects a gift from the letter she is given. For example, if assigned the letter C, a guest could bring cookie sheets or ceramic bowls. Other themed ideas include a kitchen shower, a garden shower and a wine shower. If you decide not to purchase a themed gift or an item off the couple's registry, lingerie is always an option.
Games are an excellent way to keep everyone entertained. They can help start conversations and create a more relaxed environment for guests, according to Bridal-Shower-Ideas-For-You.com. Try to keep games appropriate and simple. Bussen suggests the tradition of creating a bouquet out of gift bows and ribbons. Put a hole in a paper plate, and string the bows that the bride takes off the gifts. The bride then can use this bouquet at the wedding rehearsal. During gift opening, another fun activity is wedding night preview. While the bride opens her gifts, a bridesmaid secretly writes down the bride's responses. Afterward, the bridesmaid reads the bride's comments as the "sexy" things she will say on her wedding night.
Another traditional game is bridal bingo. Write "BRIDE" across the top of the bingo cards. Then list items that are associated with the wedding. For example, one column could be possible honeymoon locations. The hosts create a list of items to call from, and the guests follow typical bingo rules.
Purse raid is a fun and interactive game. Bridesmaids develop a list of objects that are commonly found in purses. Eisinger says items should start out ordinary (car keys, lipstick, mints) and become more obscure (hand sanitizer, brush, candy wrapper).
In order to provide wisdom and encouragement to the bride-to-be, guests can fill out blank notecards with poems, stories or even recipes.
Test each guest's knowledge of the bride with a trivia game. Each game needs a prize. Bussen suggests small items such as soaps, candles or wedding-themed DVDs.
The food served at showers usually consists of light and easy-to-eat options. For appetizers, Eisinger recommends a vegetable platter along with cheeses, chips and salsa, bruschetta and fresh fruit. If you are serving a cold lunch buffet, some great choices include cold salads, cold cuts, rolls and tossed salads. For a hot lunch, go for chicken, pasta, mashed potatoes, lasagna, rolls, etc. Iced tea, strawberry lemonade, Arnold Palmers and punch are good drink options. If you want alcoholic beverages, margaritas, mojitos and martinis are fun to drink. Now on to the best part: dessert. A cupcake or cookie tray is great to give guests a few choices. Find out the bride's favorite type of dessert, whether it be cheesecake, chocolate-covered strawberries or tiramisu.
The cost for planning the meal can add up quickly. Teri Gault, CEO of The Grocery Game, recommends starting to plan the menu at least 12 weeks ahead of time. That way, you can watch for coupons and store discounts in order to buy the items on sale. Gault suggests taking advantage of the season. If the shower is near Easter, get the discounts for eggs and ham and make quiche. Purchase all the produce on sale or in season. You can buy meats on sale and then freeze them. Create your own platters by buying cheese and salami and rolling them with a toothpick. Make your own dips to go with the veggie tray.
No matter how you decide to honor the bride, it will be a special time for family and friends to come together and celebrate.
"The point is to shower her with gifts and good wishes prior to her big day," Eisinger says. "It can also serve as a sign of support (from the bride's family) or a welcoming (from the groom's family)."