Thursday, October 17, 2013

Throwback Thursday, Special Edition: Meagan's Bridal Shower and How to Co-Host A Shower

Whether you're a bridesmaid, loving friend, or family to the bride/mommy-to-be, throwing a bridal or baby shower can be a daunting task.  Here, I will outline how it doesn't have to be by featuring one of the least stressful and most fun showers to co-host, which was in honor of a dear friend of mine, Meagan, becoming a Mrs.!

In the beginning, you'll want to figure out who is interested in hosting.  Most of the time, this will be bridesmaids, sisters and mothers of the bride, and family of the groom for a bridal shower; and aunts and grandmothers of the bun in the oven, and best friends of the mommy-to-be for baby showers.  There may be a sprinkling of people who are not in the wedding party or family who want to help.  Depending on how many hostesses you have and how much needs to be done, you can gauge priority of who will be a hostess and who may be able to help in another way, like bringing a dish or something else they want to contribute.  For instance, for Meagan's [east coast] shower (she had another shower given by her family who lives on the west coast), we had the 4 [local] bridesmaids and the mother of the groom, which, for the small size of the east coast shower was plenty.  So when other people offered to help, we told them thanks and we would let them know if we needed anything (which we would!).  On the other hand, there might not be a lot of willing and able hostesses or the party may be overwhelming, in which case, the more, the merrier!  The last couple showers I've hosted, I've been lucky in that the mothers and mothers-in-law of the guest of honor have wanted to foot the bill for a large portion of the shower (the clubhouse rental fee, the catering, the bill at a restaurant, etc.), so the bridesmaids/other hostesses took charge of everything else.  That might not always be the situation, in which case it's great to have a number of hostesses to divvy everything up.

In any circumstance, the most important thing is to keep lines of communication between hostesses open!  What we did to plan Meagan's shower was a group email where I initially put a few invitation ideas out, we collectively decided which we liked best, and from there, our theme was decided (to match the invitation).  From there, as we did, you may have one or two hostesses take charge with details (design/decor, menu, etc.), or everyone may be full of ideas.  In any of these situations, be sure to acknowledge other people's input/ideas/opinions.  If there's something you may not necesarily love, you can suggest something to make it work (or something else altogether), explain why you're not a big fan, or put it out to the group for debate- just be nice and tactful- you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or overstep any boundaries.

Also, trying to keep it fair and stay within people's budgets (which may vary) can be tricky, especially since sometimes this isn't even discussed.  Compiling a list of all the ideas/everything that needs to be done and allowing people to pick what they'll take care of is a great way to start, and allows people to pick what they're willing to contribute.  Breaking it up into details/decorations, food, and drinks is also a great way to keep you organized.

Spreadsheet from my sister-in-law's baby shower, compiled by one of my co-hostesses

On that note, what you'll need to nail down (decide on and divvy up) for a simple/fancy/fun shower:
  • Venue (someone's home, a rental facility like a neighborhood clubhouse, a private room at a restaurant, etc.)
  • Invitations 
    • *S/F/F note: Always always always do paper invitations (no e-invitation) for these milestone celebrations, and always have them printed or print them yourself.  No handwritten, fill-in-the-blank dollar store-esque invitations, people! We aren't turning 4 and this isn't 1987.  There are TONS of options to fit any budget.  You can get a custom design from Etsy and then print at home for well under a dollar per invitation.  Many websites (like this) offer varieties for under a dollar per invitation (price goes down with quantity), as well.  If there's one thing that's non-negotiable to me, it's this.  
    • A common question I'm asked is how far in advance invitations should go out.  My rule of thumb is at least 4, preferably 6 weeks before the shower.
    • Someone will have to be in charge of sending these out, as well.  Whoever this is will have to account for postage in their budget.
  • Menu 
    • Food and drinks
      • If you are supplying the food (rather than having it catered or hosting at a restaurant restaurant), decide who will bring what
      • What meal will you be serving
      • For drinks, I always suggest having at least one alcoholic option and one non-alcoholic option.  Usually, I'll do wine and a signature cocktail or mimosa bar, a beverage dispenser with lemonade (or other beverage), and still and sparkling water.
    • Dessert
  • [It's all about the...] Details, details, details!
    • Decor- centerpieces, banners, special touches, balloons, flowers, etc.
      • Often, things like serve ware can be incorporated into this, like we did at Meagan's shower (as you'll see below) and the flatware roll ups at Mike's 30th bday
        • Plates, cups, flatware/utensils, napkins, wine coolers, beverage dispensers, beverage tubs, tablecloths....
    • Favors and game prizes
    • Shower games
  • Put it all together!  The day of, show up early to set everything up, and have a plan for a tentative schedule/flow of events ready beforehand (approximate time guests will be arriving, allot time foe games, eating time, and opening presents).  
If you're hosting alone and/or want to keep costs down, I always suggest a brunch.  For food, you could do bagels with cream cheese on the side as well as a homemade egg salad and tuna salad, lettuce and tomato for bagel sandwiches, and a couple easy, versatile sides like fruit salad and a simple green salad.  Another great option is a tea party or spa themed party (or a cocktail party for a bridal shower), between meals (at like 2 or 3:00) where you can keep food light and to a minimum.

Here's some snapshots from Meagan's "Bubble Trouble" Bridal Shower:

Doc Milo "Bubbles and Pearls" Invitation- the decor inspiration

 framed invitation displayed on dessert and drink bar,  Cupcakes by Georgetown Cupcake (with to-go boxes for guests to take home if they want)

more desserts! chocolate eclairs, brownie bites made by co-hostess Melissa, and beautiful chocolate covered strawberries made by co-hostess Lauren served on tiered serving platter

mini "bubbly" champagne favors with Doc Milo flag straws- these were a labor of love! We removed the original label and scrubbed the adhesive residue off, replaced them with personalized labels, spray painted the foil tops silver to match, and tied the strays (which we stuck the flags on) to the bottles with ribbon.  All in all, took 3 girls about an hour- and hour and a half.

Framed favor sign (made in Word): "Bubble and Kisses... Here's to the Soon-to-be Misses! xoxox Please take one!" displayed with personalized hershey kisses next to the mini champagne favors

Herhey's Kisses with printed labels

coordinating flower arrangements

Signature Cocktail: "Bubble Trouble Champagne Punch": sparkling wine, lemonade, vodka, St. Germaine elderflower liquor, vodka, sprite, lemon twists; tag made by the very talented co-hostess Melissa (one day I'll convince her to open an Etsy shop!)

the bar!

Cupcake cake by Lilly Magilly's

We set the food out (appetizers first for when guests arrived, then [an organic!] dinner catered by Zoe's Kitchen) in the dining room decorated with a balloon/bubble "chandelier" with pictures of the groom growing up on one side, the bride growing up on the other, and pictures of the two of them together in the middle).  

"bubbly" ballon chandelier

Note- the pictures do weigh down the balloons, so you have to trim them to be light enough to stay afloat!

coordinating silverware roll ups with faux engagement rings (found at Michael's) tied on

Gazpacho shooters made by moi!

Shower Mad Libs- we punched holes in the top and tied them together to compile a keepsake booklet for the bride

Game prizes: Philosophy Shampoo, Bubble Bath, & Shower Gel in Bubbly (of course!), and coordinating washcloths from Target, tied with matching ribbon

The Newlywed Game with the happy couple (when the groom made his cameo appearance)!

The butler saying goodbye and offering another parting gift- bubbles, duh!

Framed sign for embellished bubble wand favors made in Word: "Bubble Bubble, There Goes Trouble!  Thanks for being here!"

A lot of collaboration by "the dream team" of hostesses made for a fabulous celebration for our sweet Meaggie!  You can do the same with a little love and coordination skills for your guest of honor!  Remember, we're always here for suggestions- just leave a comment if ya need help!

Cheers (wish I had some bubbly!),

The hostesses with the then bride-to-be and flower girl!

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