Spring and summer are traditionally the height of the “wedding season.” I think weddings and all the pre-wedding traditions are so much fun! Our youngest child, our sweet Brown-eyed Girl, was married last spring. I recently revisited photos of the wedding and wedding-related events. As I was looking at the photos from her bridal shower, I was inspired to write this post. Her bridesmaids gave her such a lovely shower. There were so many special details and personal touches that made it a truly special event for the bride. I thought that I’d like to share what they did and I also thought about other bridal and baby showers that I have attended or helped host, focusing on what made each of those events stand out.
My contemplation yielded this list of 7 tips for hosting an unforgettable bridal or baby shower.
Tip #1: Share the labor. If you are hosting a shower, try to recruit a few other individuals who are willing to help. Make sure each person is committed to customizing the event.
When Brown-eyed Girl’s bridesmaids (shown above with the bride on the day of the shower) were planning her shower, they divided responsibilities for invitations, decorations, games, prizes, and shower favors. In this case all but two of the ladies didn’t know each other before the wedding and all of them lived in different cities and states, so it wasn’t possible for them to meet face to face until the actual day of the shower.. Planning was accomplished via several conference calls and email. Dividing the responsibilities allowed each one to focus on making her appointed feature of shower special and no one was overwhelmed with having to deal with everything.
Tip # 2: Focus on the Honoree. Use what you know about the likes and interests of the bride or mom to be. Try to incorporate those likes and interests into the plans for the shower. Such personal touches will ensure that your honoree feels truly special and loved. This may include a color scheme, favorite flowers, foods, drinks, music, and her special interests or hobbies. Incorporating her favorites conveys how much you care and will make the event memorable, unique, and very special for your Guest of Honor.
Brown-eyed Girl LOVES waffles. The bridal shower favors put together by bridesmaids Sara and Natalia, reflected this fondness. A small jar of waffle mix and a tiny bottle of maple syrup were wrapped up in a cellophane bag with a pretty tag commemorating the event.
Brown-eyed Girl has always loved the movie, The Princess Bride. Her bridesmaids incorporated The Princess Bride as the theme for the décor and the games at her shower. The games planned by bridesmaids Brooke and Andrea incorporated personal touches as well. They composed a personalized “mad libs” retelling the bridal couple’s love story. Guests worked in teams of two to list words and phrases that were then used to fill in the blanks for portions of the story which Andrea read aloud to the group. Brooke put together a bulletin board with photos of the bride at various ages and the guests tried to guess the bride’s age in each of the cute photos.
Tip # 3: Plan games and activities with your guests in mind. Who are the guests? Will they already know each other well or should you plan some kind of icebreaker/team builder? How can you engage them? When you are planning games, remember that varying the type of activities is more interesting for your guests than just one pencil and paper game after another. Getting guests out of their seats for some of the games and/or giving them something to do will keep them interested.
At one baby shower that I attended, one of the hostesses read us a story supposedly about the future mom and dad that included repeated use of the words “right” and “left.” Guests were standing in a circle, each holding a small piece of wrapped candy. Each time we heard either of those words we had to pass what we were holding in the corresponding direction. When the story was over, whatever you were holding was your “prize” and the person holding the ring pop won an actual prize. That game was absolutely hysterical and a great change of pace from the other shower games and activities. At another shower I attended we participated in a unique take on a scavenger hunt. We were handed a list of items that we had to find in our purses. The winner was the person who was able to find the greatest number of items.
Guests at Brown-eyed Girl’s bridal shower were invited to guess how many peanuts were in an apothecary jar, a nod to one of the iconic movie lines in The Princess Bride movie, “Anyone want a peanut?”
It’s also fun to include some games where the winner is determined simply by random luck. At Sunshine’s bridal shower, Brown-eyed Girl handed a long-stemmed red rose in a water tube to each guest. Each rose had a sealed tag attached. Inside each tag was a photo of a hunky guy. The winner of the game was the person holding the rose with the picture of the groom. Even though that person was the winner of the game, each guest received a lovely long-stemmed rose, so there were no losers. In a similar activity, at Brown-eyed Girl’s shower, guests were instructed to check underneath their chairs where they found a picture of The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride movie. The one “winning” guest found a picture of the groom, dressed as “The Dread Pirate Eric” rather than the movie actor’s picture.
Another great idea is to include a craft activity. At a baby shower for one of Brown-eyed Girl’s friends, guests engaged in a craft activity, making those adorable frilly headbands for the baby girl. All the materials were made available by the hostess.
The Guest of Honor went home with a collection of headbands for her little one that extra special because they were made by her friends and relatives. Kits are available from Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, etc. Other baby shower craft ideas are abundant on Pinterest and in the blogosphere.
Tip # 4: Be sure to include great food and beverages. Will there be a meal, or just some delicious nibbles? What beverage options will be provided? Food doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. You can enlist catering services or DIY the food. But again, to make the day special, incorporate some favorites of your Guest of Honor.
At Brown-eyed Girl’s shower, since all the hostesses lived out-of-town, it was decided that the shower should be held at a restaurant. During one of my visits, I scoped out several possible shower venues and took photos which I provided to Sunshine. She chose the venue and followed up by phone to plan for the luncheon menu options. The food was scrumptious!
If your event is to be held in a restaurant, visit the venue and discuss exactly where your group will be seated. If possible, you want a private space or room so the shower activities can take place and be enjoyed by all the guests without interference or excessive noise from other restaurant guests. Also, if your event is to take place outdoors, determine what the options are for inclement weather. Sunshine selected a restaurant for Brown-eyed Girl’s shower that has a lovely brick courtyard with a beautiful garden and a fountain where the shower was to take place.
Unfortunately, on the day of the shower, it rained heavily all day, so the restaurant moved the party inside to their private room. It wasn’t the courtyard backdrop that was imagined, but it worked out well because we had a nice private space away from other restaurant guests and the elements. The ladies decorated the space beautifully.
Of course, if your venue is a private home, there are different concerns, but the space plqn still needs to be determined. Where will the food and drinks be located? Where the gifts will be collected? Where will guests sit? Eat? Play games? Determining these answers well in advance will aid in determining what activities and games are appropriate and what decorations and other party accessories are needed.
Tip #6: Will you have a theme? Having a theme for a bridal or baby shower isn’t absolutely necessary, but it can help you personalize the shower for your guest of honor. A theme can also help unify the different aspects of the party.
When Brown-eyed Girl planned a bridal shower for Sunshine, she used a wedding cake theme. The invitations had a wedding cake on them. Guests were encouraged to wrap their gifts to look like wedding cakes. They were so creative! She also placed the favors in boxes that looked like a slice of cake.
A baby shower I attended used a Dr. Seuss theme. The decorations and cake carried out the theme and were so cute. Guests were asked to bring a children’s book (not necessarily by Dr. Seuss) to start the baby’s library.
Tip # 7: Capture the memory. If you aren’t hiring a professional photographer, then be sure to assign one or more designated photographers to capture the event. Also, be sure that you arrange for someone to write down the gifts and who gave each one as the Gest of Honor is opening them. Consider having a guest book of some type. Guests can be asked to give advice or wishes for the happy couple or new mom/parents or even new baby.
Brown-eyed Girl’s bridesmaid, Andrea, created a guest book using the Princess Bride theme that incorporated photos of the happy couple through the years. All the guests were asked to recount memories and give advice on its pages.
I hope these tips are helpful and that they give you some creative ideas about the next shower you host or co-host. My final advice is to remember that it’s attention to personal details that make the event special.
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