Prepping for your Big Day is equal parts butterflies and excitement, meets anxiety and stress. You want all of the moving pieces to come together seamlessly, for everyone to carry away beautiful memories and for this once in a lifetime event to go above and beyond your wildest dreams. The expectations alone could give you a panic attack. The saving grace of wedding planning is that you get to share some of the responsibilities with your nearest and dearest. Obviously, you want the experience of celebrating spending your life with someone to be an enjoyable one, so the events leading up to it should reflect that. Starting with your engagement party, leading up to your bridal shower and onto the bachelorette party, there are plenty of events before the big day that require an extra hand. If you tend to want to take control of the details to ensure your events go the way you’ve imagined them, having a checklist to hand off to your Maid of Honor, or planners/hosts can certainly come in handy.
The bridal shower is the pre-wedding celebration, where you get to gather with your loved ones, show off the ring, and open all of the shiny new gifts that will be staples in your new home going forward. It’s also the time for the Maid of Honor to show the bride-to-be that they have nothing to worry about on their big day, time to rise to the occasion. No pun intended. Having a bridal shower checklist to use as reference from the beginning of the planning process will be incredibly helpful if you’re the one responsible for throwing the perfect party. You’ll want to start planning three months in advance to make sure that all of your loved ones will be able to make the party, or make arrangements to do so. Here’s a checklist that will help relieve some of the forthcoming pressure and anxiety tangled up in your festivities.
3 Months Out:
- What does the bride want? These days it isn’t uncommon to have a co-ed bridal shower or even a bridal shower at a restaurant, hotel, or country club. If the bride would prefer that he husband-to-be and the males in the family are present at the bridal shower, you can extend the invite and tweak the party according to a male/female audience.
- Set a budget
- Does the bride have a theme in mind? The creative theming aspect of a shower is where the fun begins, it’s also where lines of communication can get crossed if you aren’t completely clear on the vision. A few options to consider and expand on; daytime tea, brunch party, cocktails, evening tapas and wine, hotel/spa. After you decide the “type,” of shower you can refine the details.
- Details- once you clarify the type of party you want to have check off specific questions like; will there be cocktails? What’s the color scheme? Attire for guests?
- Create the guest list. Etiquette note: Whomever you invite must also be invited to the wedding.
- Set the Date. Ideally that date is a month or two before the wedding. Trying to pack in bridal shower too close to the wedding could be cumbersome for guests and for you.
- If the venue is outside of a house, now you’ll need to make reservations.
- Order the Invitations. Two things to remember, 1. Include where the couple is registered. 2. Keep the style of the invitations inline with your overall theme in terms of color, idea, etc. So that your guests can plan their attire and gifts accordingly.
2 Months Out:
- Choose the decorations; china, glassware, linens, centerpieces, etc.
- Plan Flower arrangements, look at variations within the budget and meet with florists.
- Plan the menu if necessary; arrange caterers, gather recipes, and so forth.
- Update your guest list addresses and emails
- Send a “Save the Date,” email or card. To save on costs and “Go Green,” you can send the reminder in email form. You may want to make a phone call to people that have to travel some distance.
- Plan Your Activities; getting all of the guests involved and connecting is a great way for the bride and grooms loved ones to bond with lighthearted activities in place. A few ideas to start with; save the bows/ribbons for the rehearsal dinner, Mr. & Mrs. Quizzes, gather photos or relationship advice from guests and create a scrapbook or a toilet paper wedding dress challenge.
- Brainstorm your party favors. Ideas; something edible is always a hit i.e. gourmet chocolate truffles, personalized baked goods, mini-champagne bottles, tea, or spices or oils.
1 Month Out:
- Mail out the Invitations
- Organize your RSVPS
- Plan your wardrobe
- Confirm the menu
- Place the Flower Order
- Buy all of the necessary items for the planned activities
- Order/Make party favors
- Purchase alcohol or hire bartender
A Week Before the Shower:
- Make a schedule for picking up, making or having food delivered.
- Order balloons
- Buy your gift for the bride
- Pick up kitchenware needed; punch bowl, cake stands, serving bowls.
- Follow-up with people who may not have RSVP’D
- Determine a designated photographer for the day. You don’t want to miss any fun moments!
- Touch base with the bridesmaids, make sure they’re ready to help on the day of the party
- Confirm all deliveries and reservations
Day of Shower:
- Make sure the house or venue is clean and tidy
- Create a table or area for people to place their gifts
- Determine a location for purses/jackets
- Set up food and drink stations
- Assign someone in the bridal party to record who brought what gift
- Assign someone to package gifts so they’re easy to bring home at the end of the day
- Assemble the decor
- Create a hashtag for the Bride if guests are posting photos to social media, that way the bride can save any photos she may not have known were taken.
- Display the balloons outside
- Relax and enjoy yourself!!!
Bridal Shower Etiquette Tips to Consider:
- The Host: The maid of honor or good friend usually host. Bridesmaids can also take the shared responsibility
- Brides should bring a gift for the hostess
- The budget is paid for and determined by the host, or the bridesmaids. Never the bride.
- Bringing a date is discouraged unless noted otherwise
- Good rule to follow on buying the gift, no less that $30 no more that $60
- You aren’t obligated to invite coworkers of the couple. That’s up the bride.
- Unless noted otherwise bringing children is discouraged
- The Maid of Honor is the Bride’s biggest support, helping with little odds and ends, emotional, spiritual, tactile and otherwise.
- Never ask guests to pay for the party
- The Mother is never the host
- Cash is not an acceptable bridal shower gift
- Thank you cards should be sent promptly after the shower
As you can see, there are quite a few responsibilities in planning a bridal shower. It goes without saying that celebrating and sharing in someone’s big milestone is worth the responsibility and time commitment that’s required to take on hosting any bridal event. Most importantly communicating with the bride pre-shower and considering expectations on both ends with reduce the stress, cost and expectations. Remember to utilize the bridesmaids as they’re there to help you and support the bride-to-be. Most importantly, even if there are mishaps or things don’t go perfectly according to plan (as they often don’t), know that you’ve followed the basic guidelines and that the day should be fun, celebratory and joyful. Regardless of having a “perfect” party or not, you’re bringing together new groups of people, to honor and celebrate someone you love who has found a person to spend the rest of their lives with and that in and of itself is a magical thing. Have an amazing bridal shower!!