BRIDAL SHOWERS

WHAT IS A BRIDAL SHOWER?
Generally, it's a daytime party where the bride receives gifts that will help her in married life.

THE BRIDAL SHOWER
The notion of a bridal shower may seem antiquated and sexist: after all, if the average woman marries at age 26, she's probably already accumulated sufficient dishes and towels. (Are we really to assume that single women use paper plates and dry off in front of a giant fan?) However, the tradition persists. A bridal shower gives women a chance to indulge their inner-Mrs. Cleavers and pretend, if only for an afternoon, that once married the bride-to-be will use her slew of newly acquired kitchen accessories to make a tasty (yet nutritious) homemade meal for her hard-working husband.

FOOD
Food is expected at the shower. What is served will probably depend on the number of people attending, the venue, and the shower budget. It is acceptable to serve anything from a complete hot meal to hors d'oeuvres to desserts.

GIFTS
Everyone brings a gift for the bride to open at the party. Most likely, the bride will have registered before the shower. Know where the bride is registered so you can tell any of the guests who ask.

WHO'S IN CHARGE OF THIS THING ANYWAY?
The maid of honor generally takes the lead in organizing a shower and as a bridesmaid your job is to help plan, coordinate, and pay for it. Contact her if the wedding's less than six months away and you haven't gotten word of a shower. Every bridesmaid should be included in the shower-planning process and should have the option of being a hostess.

YOUR DUTIES AT THE SHOWER
You should act as hostesses, greet all guests and assist with taking coats and gifts. Be sure that someone keeps a list of who gave what as the bride opens gifts. (The bride will be grateful for this when she writes her thank you notes.) Have someone sit next to the bride to throw wrapping paper into a garbage bag. Someone else should re-pack the gifts after opening so the bride can take them home easily. Once opened, gifts are frequently passed around the room, but at a large shower this becomes time consuming and a little tedious. (Yes, we know the crock-pot that Aunt Mildred brought will be much appreciated, but does everyone really need to see it up close and personal?) Fun, huh?

SHOWER DAY CHECK-LIST
It'll help to have these items handy on the day of the shower:

-Pad of paper and pens.
-Scissors.
-Trash bags.
-Shopping bags to carry gifts home.
-Twine to tie gift boxes together.
-Aspirin.
-Guest list with phone numbers. (Is that missing guest running late, lost or not coming at all?)
-Directions to the shower location for those who may get lost en route.
-Phone in the room where the shower's taking place.

GETTING STARTED
Pick a shower date as soon as possible, making sure that it works for all members of the bridal party including the maid-of-honor, bridesmaids, all mothers of the bride and groom, and any other crucial relatives. Next, ask the bride for a list of the names and addresses of the people that she'd like to invite. If you're inviting people who may have been invited to another shower for the same bride, make it clear that another gift is not required.

TO THEME OR NOT TO THEME
So you've got the date and the guest list . . . now you must decide if you want to have a themed shower. This may help give the event some structure, define the decorations, and give the guests some gift-giving direction. You don't need to have a theme to have a good shower, but here are some of the traditional options.

AROUND THE HOUSE SHOWER
Each guest brings a gift for a certain room of the house. You might bring towels for the bathroom, a vase for the living room, a teapot for the kitchen, lingerie for the bedroom. It's not rocket science, folks.

AROUND THE CLOCK SHOWER
Each guest brings something for a certain time of day. For 8 a.m., a coffee maker; for 7 p.m., cookware; for 9 p.m., a popcorn maker.

FOUR SEASONS SHOWER
Each guest brings a gift for a certain season. For summer, a lemonade pitcher and glasses; for fall, a pie pan and rolling pin; for winter a big pot and cider spices; for spring, a variety of cleaning supplies (Spring cleaning, get it?).

SEASONAL SHOWER
Like the above, but for one specific season. For example, if the couple is moving to Saskatchewan, a winter shower could provide gifts such as blankets, books, a soup pot, or fireplace tools.

HOLIDAY SHOWER
Like the above, but for one specific holiday. A Christmas shower might garner gifts such as a tree stand, stockings, candles, or cookie-making supplies. A Hanukkah shower could feature a menorah, candles, decorations, or a beautiful dreidel.

LINGERIE SHOWER
This is usually done at a smaller shower and depending on how racy it gets, may only include close friends. Each guest brings some kind of lingerie. Get your mind out of the gutter! Gifts can include bathrobes, cotton nighties, flannel p.j.'s, as well as crotchless panties and bustiers.  Or, take the theme a little further with this great suggestion from a BridesmaidAid reader:  “We made an appointment at a store that specializes in bra-fittings.  The store closed early for us and served champagne and we brought in food. They had great specials just for us and we had a blast! All of the bridesmaids were able to get bras that fit PERFECT under their dresses.”

KITCHEN SHOWER
Each guest brings something for bride-to-be to use in the kitchen. Such as a cordless telephone to aid in making dinner reservations. (Just kidding.)

HOBBY SHOWER
Each guest brings something for the couple's hobbies. Examples might include binoculars and compact discs if they like the opera; camping equipment if they're into the great outdoors; travel books, film, and a scrapbook if they're globe-trotters; or a telescope, sunscreen, and motion-sickness pills if they're into sailing. You get the idea.

BOOK SHOWER
Each guest brings a book that's useful for the new couple--either in terms of their interests and hobbies or as good advice for marriage. Other gifts could include book ends, a reading light, or a blank journal so that the couple can write their own. A variation on this idea is a "Book and Bar" shower where each guest brings a favorite book (and explains why) along with something for the bar, such as wine openers, wine bottles, wine glasses, or martini shakers.

HONEYMOON SHOWER
Each guest brings something for the couple to use on their honeymoon such as travel guides, books, sunscreen, sunglasses, beach towels, backpacks, or whatever else applies to their destination.

ENTERTAINMENT SHOWER
Each guest brings a gift that entertains such as compact discs, movies on tape, magazine subscription, theatre tickets, movie passes, books, or video games. Several guests may want to pool their resources to buy bigger ticket items like a VCR or a PlayStation.

LAWN AND GARDEN SHOWER
Each guest brings something for the yard. Obviously this is better suited towards those who actually have a yard--apartment dwellers are less likely to be thrilled with a new garden hose. But if there have already been several showers for the couple and they have a house, this can be a unique way to acquire that lawn jockey and those pink flamingos that every couple dreams of.

AROUND THE WORLD SHOWER
For the more worldly couple, each guest brings something interesting from another country or region. From Spain; a sangria pitcher and a great recipe; from Japan, a sushi set; or from France, a fondue set.

THE PAMPERED WIFE SHOWER
If you're sure the bride doesn't need (or want) more housewares, but could really use some R & R, shower her gifts that will help her relax and relieve those newlywed jitters. Shower her with gifts like massage gift certificates, candles, bubble bath, and wine. . . you get the idea. She'll thank you for it...trust us. (And thanks to a BridesmaidAid.com fan for sending this idea in!)

NEW! THE ANTI-BRIDAL SHOWER
Despite the obvious appeal of a traditional bridal shower (registry items and toilet paper games are such fun), some women may enjoy this suggestion from a BridesmaidAid.com reader: "My friend is not into wedding stuff so we're having an anti-bride bridal shower. I made the invitations myself with stamps--a cool funny face with 'girls rule' at the bottom and inspirational quotes from women on the inside. We're having take out Chinese food with custom made fortune cookies that have messages for the bride on them or stunts the reader has to do. After dinner we're going to see the Vagina Monologues. I thought it was a really fun and different idea."

 

OTHER LITTLE TOUCHES

HOW OLD IS SHE?
For this "Guess the bride's age" game, take about 10 pictures of the bride at various ages and pin them to a board. The guests have to guess her age in each picture, and write it down. You provide pens and paper, and number the pictures. Have a 1st and 2nd place prize for the most right answers. This is a great game because it can be played through out the shower as the guests are mingling. (Thanks to another great BridesmaidAid.com reader for this suggestion!
)

THE TIMER GAME
Want to keep guests interested while the bride opens the gifts? Set a timer every 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, whoever gave the gift being opened gets a little prize, such as a candle or shower gel. (Thanks to a BridesmaidAid.com reader for this great suggestion!)

WISHING WELL
In addition to a the main gift, each guest brings a small household ($5-$10) present, such as a pizza cutter, measuring spoons, batteries, clothespins--things that are useful but may be over-looked in the registering process. These are usually placed in a big basket and opened after the big gifts.

SCRAPBOOK SHOWER
Each guest mails a momento-a picture, play bill, ticket stub, matchbook-to a bridesmaid who compiles them into a scrapbook that is presented to the bride at the shower. Another way to do this is to send each guest a blank photo album page and let them decorate it themselves, bring it to the shower, and voila--a unique and personal gift for the bride!

RECIPES AND COOKBOOK
Have each guest mail in one of their favorite recipes before the shower. Assemble them into a book, have copies made (you can do it on the office copier or for a little more money, have it bound and printed at Kinko's) for everyone who attends the shower.

ADDRESS ENVELOPES
Have each guest address an envelope to themselves as they enter the shower. Present these to the bride along with some stationery at the end of the shower so she has her thank you notes all ready to go!

WHERE IT'S AT
Where you have the shower depends on how many people will be there, how much money the bridesmaids want to spend, and how much available time you have to put into preparation.

Possible venues include a park, a private home, the rooftop of an apartment building, a room in a neighborhood community center or in an apartment complex, a party space or an empty loft, a room at a country or social club, a boat, or a restaurant.

Click here to check out great shower locales in our City of the Month!

PAYING FOR IT
Make your financial expectations and limitations clear from the very beginning and be sensitive to the financial situation of everyone hosting the shower. Be willing to compromise. A nice shower does not have to cost a lot of money, especially if all the bridesmaids work together. Team is not spelled with an "I", ladies.

Obviously it's cheapest to have the shower at someone's house and have everyone bring food (think potluck). Remember that the time of day can influence costs. For instance, instead of providing brunch for the guests that arrive at 11:30, why not invite people to have dessert at 3:00?

FUN & GAMES
You don't have to play games at a shower, but sometimes they do help to break the ice, especially if many of the guests don't know each other. Remember that the key to these games is to keep them short and sweet. What's funny at first can quickly grow boooring. You can only laugh at Great Aunt Edna's groom on the wedding night impression for so long. Look below for some games that are actually kind of fun to play, in that geeky summer camp kind of way.

THE CLOTHESPIN GAME
Each guest gets three clothespins when they enter the shower. Everyone is told that there are three words that they cannot say such as wedding, the groom's name, or the honeymoon destination. If you catch someone saying one of the words, you get their clothespin. Whoever has the most clothespins at the end of the shower gets a prize.

QUIZ THE GROOM
This is sort of the Newlywed Game once removed. Before the shower, send the groom a list of questions about the bride and their relationship. At the shower, ask the bride the same questions and see how many answers they have in common. (*Note: This also makes a great bachelorette party activity.) Sample questions include; how the couple met, when and where they shared their first kiss, first impressions of each other, favorite food, what they fight about, weirdest habits, biggest pet peeve, and so on. While it is pretty funny to see what kind of dirt you can find out about someone, remember that this is supposed to be fun for the bride--you really don't want to embarrass her here.

MAKE A WEDDING DRESS OUT OF TOILET PAPER
This is a little strange, but you'd be surprised what a little creativity and a couple roles of TP can do. Break up into small groups and then use the paper to dress one member of the group in a biodegradable safe-for-septic-systems wedding gown. Have a mini fashion show and give prize to the best dress.

WEDDING CHARADES OR PICTIONARY
Create cards with wedding related words before the shower. Have everyone take a card and try to act out or draw the word. If there are a lot of guests, divide the group into teams. Have prizes for the winners.

WRITE DOWN WHAT THE BRIDE SAYS
One person jots down what the bride says as she opens her gifts and reads the remarks out loud afterwards. People usually try to make these innocent exclamations sound naughty by prefacing them with a title like "things the bride will say on her honeymoon."

MAKE A BOUQUET OUT OF RIBBONS
As the bride opens the gifts, make a fake bridal bouquet out of the ribbons and bows from the presents. Traditionally, the bride is supposed to use this at the rehearsal before the wedding.

MORE PRESENTS
You've fed them, you've entertained them, and yes, you need to give them a lovely parting gift: it is common to provide little favors for shower guests. Some suggestions are a candle; a small picture frame; drawer sachets; chocolates or candy; a book; gourmet coffee or tea; homemade baked goods; dried flowers; a small vase; shower or bath gel, fancy soaps, lotion, incense or stationery. You can tie the favor into the theme if you want. For example, if you threw a lawn & garden shower, flowers might make a good favor. Baked goods might go well with a kitchen shower.

THE AFTERMATH
The last chocolate truffle has been eaten and the final mixing bowl has been opened. Now try to encourage people to leave. A shower should be as short as possible since, let's face it, it's not a barrel of laughs to watch someone else open millions of presents! So, thank everyone for coming and hand them their coats. After the last guest is gone, help the bride pack and load all the gifts into her car or a cab. Clean up as appropriate for the venue (No, you can't just leave that pile of wrapping paper in her mother-in-law's living room, but you don't have to bus the tables if it's at a restaurant.) Thank everyone and get on out of there. You've got a bachelorette party to plan!

Know of a great shower activity? Got a great theme? Share with the group by sending an email to Penelope@BridesmaidAid.com.

 

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