magazine | Weddings | bridal showers

How to Host a Bridal Shower in 9 Easy Steps

photo: Jose Villa
If your friend or loved one is a bride-to-be, it’s customary to shower her with love (and gifts) at a bridal shower before the big day. Whether you are the maid-of-honor, mom or friend, planning the bridal shower should't evoke visions of Bridesmaids but rather be a fun and stress-free day for everyone. Puppy party favors not required.

If you’ve been tasked with the honor, follow this guide and she’ll be blushing with bridal joy on her shower day!

Reporter: Harmony Walton
Photo: rawpixel
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Determine Your Budget

First things first, determine your budget. If cost is a concern and you’ve volunteered to host the party, ask the bride-to-be if she has any other loved ones who have offered to throw a shower or want to get involved. Adding two or three co-hosts will cut the responsibilities tremendously (and not just the financial ones). The bride will provide the guest list, which will affect the cost to some extent. 
Photo: Jose Villa
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Set-Up Time to Talk

Then interview your bride to find out if she has any expectations or hopes for her shower. This can help you when creating a theme and giving her a day she’ll cherish forever. You can even send your bride a fun questionnaire to complete with her favorite foods, colors, styles, and preferences for fun. 
Photo: Jose Villa
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Find the Venue

Once you have the specifics, discuss the venue options with your co-hosts. Is there a home that’s perfect for entertaining? If not, expand your search to private rooms or tables at local restaurants and small event venues. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box for locations. A museum, teahouse, or even an evening dinner party at a cocktail bar can all set the scene for a memorable occasion.
Photo: Braedon Flynn
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Choose a Theme

When the venue is in place, you’ll have an idea of what theme or style to plan for. Perhaps it’s just a feminine color palette or a cute play on words based on her future last name. The theme can even be focused around a room in their house or honeymoon, depending on what kind of gifts she wants to receive at this party. Creativity, personality and details count when designing a theme for a bridal shower, so really focus on who she is, who they are as a couple and set a stage she’ll love and appreciate that’s personal to her. 
Photo: Annie Spratt
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Send Out Invites

Next, the invitations. You’ve selected a space within the budget that accommodates your guest count and a workable date. The invitations should go out at least a month before the shower date, even six weeks prior. The shower itself can be held a few months to a few weeks prior to the wedding date. The invitations can be digital or printed (or a digital save the date and a printed invitation). On the invitation, include where the couple is registered (make sure she’s done this in advance!) and any themed gift-giving instructions for the day. If the theme is an “around the clock” shower, then alert guests to bring a gift that reflects a certain hour of the day. If the theme is a honeymoon shower, be sure the invitations express that guests should bring a gift themed around a honeymoon (the interpretations of this can certainly be entertaining!). Or if this shower has less of a theme and more of a style, select an invitation that sets that tone and simply include the list of registry locations. As the host, the RSVP should come to you, not the bride. This can be done via phone or email – no need for a printed RSVP to be sent back in the mail.
Photo:Adam Szafranski for The Venue Report
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Perfect Designs & Plans

If you’re working with a florist, now is a good time to start to finalize any décor or design details. If you’re doing this DIY-style, get your orders on Etsy in and supplies purchased. This includes any games you intend to play on the day of. Speak to the bride and determine if she wants games played or not and if so, consider interviewing her or her fiancé for some fun facts to incorporate into the design or activities you’re planning. Now is a good time to find out if she’s comfortable opening her gifts at the shower as well. It’s customary to do so, but not everyone wants to.
Photo:The Venue Report
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Finalize the Guest Count

As RSVPs come in, you’ll have an understanding of size. Finalize any headcount with the restaurant or caterer and ensure you’ve ordered enough party favors and hard goods (such as place settings, if needed). It’s not required that the host give the bride a shower gift (the party is the gift!), but more often than not in recent years hosts are opting to give a gift too. Going in on a larger group present is a great idea if you’ve decided you want her to unwrap something.
Photo: Anna Yenina
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Have Fun!

When the day arrives, put the champagne on ice and shower the bride-to-be with love! During the shower, your duties are to play the happy hostess – welcome guests, keep an eye on any refreshments that need refilling, run any games that are planned, and of course check on the bride to make sure she’s got everything she needs.
Photo: Leone Venter
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Keep Track of Gifts

If she’s decided to open gifts at the bridal shower, bring a notepad and pen to keep track of which guest gave which gift and send the list home with her at the end of the day. Take the ribbon from each opened present and make a bridal bouquet with all the pieces so the bride has something to walk down the aisle with during her rehearsal. Taking a paper plate with you to the party and a pair of scissors will make this task a little easier when the time comes.
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