When planning a bridal shower it’s best to have a theme which speaks to the bride’s personality and reflects what she enjoys. Use your imagination to add special touches to the invites, gifts, food and entertainment. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Wine Tasting Shower
What it is: A wine pro will teach the group how to taste. It’s especially fun if you tie in the wedding or honeymoon destination. Say the couple is going to Spain; get all Spanish wines from different regions.
Best for: The bride who likes to sip; it’s also best with smaller parties.
Planning tip: Assume every bottle holds eight tasting servings. So, if you have eight guests and you want to taste four different types of wine, you’ll need one bottle of each. After the tasting, figure about half a bottle per person.
Potential pitfall: It requires lots of glasses, so it’s best to do it at a restaurant or wine bar rather than in someone’s home (unless you don’t mind washing a lot of glasses). And make sure transport home is available for the more festive guests, if needed.
What it is: Instead of bringing gifts to the bridal shower, guests are asked to bring a donation (food, old clothing, or even cash) to benefit the couple’s favourite charity.
Best for: The bride who has lived on her own (or with her fiancé) for a while and already has traditional shower gifts (cookware and bath linens), but still deserves a fantastic party. Or any bride who would rather not be the centre of attention at a gift-giving extravaganza.
Planning tip: Rather than spending cash on gifts, continue the theme by making donations to a charity of the bride and groom’s choosing.
Potential pitfall: There will always be those who feel obligated to buy a gift for the shower. Don’t discourage them, but point out that the bride may not use the item if it’s something she already owns.
What it is: A travel-themed shower where guests bring gifts that the couple can enjoy on their honeymoon—for day and night. Consider going in on a group gift like certificates for massages or gourmet dinners at their honeymoon destination.
Best for: The bride who loves to travel. Or the couple who is paying for the honeymoon themselves (and could use some extra perks).
Planning tip: Play up the couple’s chosen honeymoon locale: Use maps of the destination for place mats, serve food indigenous to that region, give passport holders as gifts.
Potential pitfall: When guests hear “honeymoon shower,” some may immediately think of sex toys. Consider calling it a travel shower if that seems more appropriate for your crowd.
What it is: A shower that’s good for the environment. Consider hosting your soiree in a garden courtyard, and let nature be the main décor.
Best for: The eco-conscious bride who wants to give back with her shower. Or for the bride and groom who want to revamp their lifestyle to be more green. Hot registry items: stainless-steel pots and pans, organic cotton bed and bath linens, bamboo cooking utensils.
Planning tip: Send email invitations (done by a graphic designer) to save on waste, or use recycled paper and have your invitations printed with soy ink. Give tree saplings, lavender sachets or soy candles as favors. Hire a caterer that specialises in organic cuisine or cooks with locally grown ingredients.
Potential pitfall: Just because you’re going green doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. Think eco-chic (not crunchy). Ditch the burlap and go with crisp white organic cotton tablecloths teamed with matching napkins tied with twine. Ask your baker to make vegan cupcakes—your guests will never know the difference!
Image: Mark and Kara Photography
Bartending School Shower
What it is: A more glitzy, nontraditional shower in the evening that’s set up more like a classy cocktail party. Hire a local bartender–whether from your favourite bar or from a bartending school–to come and show you how to make some fun cocktails. You can even try out some signature concoctions to serve at the wedding.
Best for: A nontraditional bride-to-be who loves a good party! A gift-opening session can definitely occur during the course of the evening, but consider asking guests to bring gifts focused around a theme (like the honeymoon, lingerie or kitchen gear).
Planning tip: Have an emergency plan B, just in case you’re inviting a diverse crowd and the socialising doesn’t pick up right away. Try this simple icebreaker: Place boxes of Trivial Pursuit cards around the room and encourage guests to ask each other questions.
Potential pitfall: An old-fashioned mother of the bride may not feel comfortable in this swanky setting. Figure out a way to involve her—perhaps she could choose the menu.
Pot Luck Shower
What it is: Even if they already own the basics, modern brides and grooms can always use a little help in the kitchen. The twist? Everyone gets involved–guests bring favourite dishes (along with the recipe for what they bring) from an assigned cuisine, such as Mexican, Chinese, Thai or French.
Best for: The bride who loves to cook—and eat! And a smaller group of guests who are eager to pitch in.
Planning tip: Be sure to have a cute recipe box to collect the recipes and give to the bride to get her cookin’. Continue the theme with favors. Think wooden spoons or colourful spatulas tied with matching ribbon.
Potential pitfall: Not having enough food. Be super-organised and allow for more food than necessary. If Bridesmaid Betty’s baked pasta came out a little too baked (aka burnt), you want to have a backup main course on hand.
Image: Momentous Catering
What it is: First, showers moved out of the home and into restaurants and bars. Now, they’re traveling even farther–a weekend away at the beach or in the country.
Planning tip: Planning tip: If you’re worried about spending a full weekend with all the ladies, plan it around an event like a private vineyard tour and wine tasting or a spa weekend.
Potential pitfall: The logistics could be a nightmare. For one thing, it’s not going to be easy to pinpoint a weekend or overnight when everyone can get away. Plus, this kind of destination party will probably be more expensive than a regular shower.
Cooking School Shower
What it is: A shower can still be a girly gab-fest, but it’s even more fun when you learn something. Call in a chef to give a lesson on making quick, delicious dishes.
Best for: The bride who considers herself a real foodie.
Planning tip: Look around for restaurants that have cooking classes or call stores that sell major cooking ranges—some weeknights they open up the showroom for demonstrations and special events.
Potential pitfall: Oftentimes only evenings are available. There’s a lot of standing for the demos, so if the bride has a lot of older relatives, you’ll need to keep that in mind and consider setting up a few tables and chairs for those who don’t watch the whole demonstration.
Image: My Ultimate Hens
What it is: A couple shower is closer to a cocktail or dinner party than it is to a bridal shower. The groom is there and female and male relatives, as well as close friends, are all invited. The shower can range from an afternoon barbecue to a cocktail party at your favourite restaurant or bar.
Best for: Couples who like to do everything together.
Planning tip: You should still make time for gift opening–hopefully some guests will bring gadgets the guys are into too.
Potential pitfall: The guest list will be longer, so costs will go up. Some of the single bridesmaids might feel a little funny if they don’t have a date to bring.
What it is: This is a little unconventional. Basically, you kick off with a small party, say brunch at someone’s house, open gifts, and then do some outdoorsy activity, like a bush walk or bike ride.
Best for: Non-athletes need not apply. This is for the bride who always has her gym bag with her.
Planning tip: Make the activity optional for guests. Her grandmother probably doesn’t need to hit the trails for a couple of hours.
Potential pitfall: As with any outdoor activity, you have to watch the weather and be prepared with a rain plan.
Tell us Knotties, what are you doing for your bridal shower?
by The Knot