So you’ve been assigned the task of throwing your bestie a bridal shower to remember. First things first: don’t freak out. With the assistance of this list—plus her mom, sister, maid of honor and bridesmaids—you’ll be able to pull together a Pinterest-worthy bridal event that everyone will remember for a lifetime. Here are all the most important components to pulling together a shower that’ll have the bride-to-be beaming from ear to ear.
Covering the Basics
If you’re the designated shower hostess, then you’re going to want to start with the following list of details. Have them ironed out between four and six months in advance, and even earlier if you’re aiming for a particularly popular venue.
- Pick the Date—The first thing on your list should be to figure out the best possible date for the bride and bridal party, given the wedding date. Typically, the shower takes place between one and three months before the wedding in order to keep the events properly spaced out. Make sure you have a couple of backup dates in mind in case the venue is booked, or something doesn’t work out.
- Hone the Guestlist—As tempting as it is to keep the bride entirely in the dark about her shower, going 100 percent surprise isn’t a good idea, primarily because you need to be completely sure that all the right guests are invited. Traditionally, shower attendees include the bridal party, the bride’s family and close personal friends of the bride and groom. Whether you keep it all-women or make it co-ed is totally up to you.
- Book the Venue—Once you’ve selected the ideal date and figured out who to invite, make a shortlist of venues that would work and start emailing. Make sure you ask all the important questions: guest capacity, food and décor rules, hidden fees, what’s included in the price, etc. If your date is available, book it ASAP.
- Handle the Food—Since bridal showers tend to be midday events, it’s common to serve lunch, brunch or heavy appetizers during the event. Make sure you cover the main food as well as dessert and drinks (mimosas are basically a requirement, but don’t be afraid to tap a keg or serve more complex cocktails, if that’s her thing).
- Pick the Theme—A Parisian affair, a spring garden party, a backyard barbecue to match her laid-back personality—it doesn’t matter what feel you’re going for, as long as it honors the bride’s vibe. Consider a few fun shower themes, like glitzy, nautical, bohemian, retro, country or romantic, before settling on one. Setting a theme will make certain decisions easier later on, including choosing the invites, party favors, decorations, and dress code.
- Decide on Favors—Bridal shower favors don’t have to be anything elaborate. They could be as subtle as a small box of chocolates or as elaborate as a gift bag of CBD-infused perfumes and toiletries á la Kim Kardashian. Baked goods, bath products, candles and candy are popular and affordable options.
Adding Personal Touches
Now that you’ve laid the foundation for the event, it’s time to make it personal. The following tips will help ensure that the event feels totally tailored to the bride and her unique journey to the altar.
- Add Small, Sentimental Touches—Work in a few items inspired by the couple’s unique love story to make the event feel extra personalized to them. For example, you might consider using place-themed candles as table centerpieces to pay tribute to the place where the couple met or lives. There are candles that smell like states and cities around the United States, helping to transport the bride back to the day that changed her life forever.
- Serve the Bride’s Favorite Foods—Let the guest of honor dictate, if only indirectly, which foods and drinks you serve. It should go without saying, but make sure that all items served are things she can eat (for example, order a gluten-free cake if she avoids gluten). Use the couple’s love story, the bride’s personal tastes and their geography to get ideas for how to make the menu completely personalized and non-generic.
- Hang a Couple of Bespoke Decorations—Speaking of non-generic…the last thing you want is for the venue be dressed like it could be a party for just anyone. From special, handmade flower arrangements featuring the bride’s favorite blooms to custom-made banners and signage that could only be for your bride-to-be, it’s fairly easy to integrate a bespoke flair so that it doesn’t feel impersonal or ready-made.
- Let Her Make (or Inspire) the Playlist—Don’t get us wrong, you definitely don’t want to bog the bride down with a bunch of extra tasks, but if she insists on having a few, assign her the most fun one: making the bridal shower playlist. If she’s overwhelmed with other things (totally understandable, by the way), poll the crew to pick songs that you know she loves or that are inspired by her. Keep the playlist chill and get inspo from pre-established playlists on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music or wherever you stream by searching “bridal shower” in the search bar.
- Ask Her Spouse-to-Be for a Special Surprise—A few small surprises just for the bride will give the event an especially personal feel. One great way to make her smile from ear to ear is to have her spouse-to-be surprise her in some form or another, such as with a sweet note, a gift or a video message to play for her when she’s opening presents.
Helping Her Remember it for a Lifetime
The bridal shower is one of the best parts about the year or more leading up to the couple’s big debut down the aisle. Not only does it help get everyone ready for the upcoming festivities, but it also provides the bride with a bit of a break from planning so that her closest friends and family members can shower her with love. Ensure that she remembers it for a lifetime by getting lots of pics (and hiring a professional photographer, if it’s in the budget) and creating memories that will last forever.