I’ve been a part of hosting a number of wedding showers this year. And, while I know it is no longer June, I thought I would share a bit of my experience while it is fresh in my mind. Not to mention all those December weddings still to come . . . and if, like me, you plan to host a shower for a winter wedding, then you need these tips now.
So, with thanks to the brides I learned on and a tip of the punch cup to the upcoming shower, here is a quick list that may help with your planning.
- Solicit friends, but remember ultimately someone is in charge. Your friends may all be responsible, but someone has to call the meeting, coordinate who is doing what, and track the expenses for an easy split. Be sure to consult with the bride’s mother to find out anyone else who has offered to host a shower, so you can consolidate, compare calendars, or allow yourself to be talked out of the insanity.
- Set a date. This also requires coordination and is dominated by the bride’s calendar. Just hope she’s not an inflexible bridezilla. If so, reconsider said insanity.
- Determine a location. This may be budget-driven, since the location sets the size of your potential guest list. If any of the co-hosts have a suitable home that they are willing to clean for the occasion, grab it and go (and don’t call them the day before the shower unless it’s to offer to pay for maid service). Think carefully before you decide to hold the event outdoors. If you do, and if you are lucky enough to avoid rain, set the time for early enough to avoid total darkness before the gifts are all opened.
- Select the guest list. Give the bride and her mother a number, and estimate how many of those may actually show. Adding 10 percent is usually safe. We gave carte blanche to a bride this summer and sent out 50 invitations (for couples) and only had four “no” RSVP’s; a total of 85 people actually showed up, meaning we were pretty close.
- Mail the invitations about 2 weeks before the event. Be sure to include directions to the shower location, specific time, where the couple is registered, and a number for questions and RSVP. More and more people are opting out of RSVPs these days, since people don’t always respond, so the closer you are to the event the less likely they are to forget. If they are busy, they are busy regardless – and showers generally get opted out of for last minute work or family obligations. Don’t take it personally.
- Divide the responsibilities. I’m fortunate to be part of a large group of friends who support each other through gain, loss, continuing education, children’s marriages, and commemorative events. So, one usually takes the invitations – the one with an artistic bent and a daughter who will help. One handles the beverages, ice and clean up. One or more organize the set up, music, tableware and centerpieces. I generally take the fun part and coordinate the food (although we all bring our special recipes).
- When deciding the food, it’s usually easier if you set a theme. For example, for a couple’s shower we decided on bright yellows that lent themselves to pina coladas and Mexican food – enchiladas, carne asada tacos, rice and beans, plenty of chips and salsa, and flavorful sherbet and wedding cookies for dessert. For a girls-only event we went with finger foods such as fruit skewers, rumake, spinach dip, blue cheese dip, chicken salad sandwiches and dipped strawberries.
- Don’t forget supplies – the details count, so be sure you have cups, plates, salad bowls, utensils, napkins, tablecloths – and do everything you can ahead of time. For November’s shower we’re going Italian, with checked tablecloths, dripped candle centerpieces, and everything in red and white. Think about how to individualize the event, too – like with these embossed candies, a laminated bookmark reminding people of the wedding date, a recipe exchange, or kitchen tools suggested in place of package bows.
- Plan to get there early enough for easy set up – in fact, do it the day before if possible. Set up means finding tables and chairs if you are doing a sit-down meal. Otherwise, it means arranging your fresh flowers, or ensuring a basket for cards and a place for gifts. Separate your drink, main course or finger foods, and desserts so you end up with three conversation areas instead of competition for one.
- When choosing dessert, be sure to choose something compatible with your main course. If you have done all appetizers, stick with finger-style desserts such as cookies and bars. Consider your crowd – a couple’s shower is fun with homemade ice cream, for example.
- Co-hosts often go together on a joint gift in order to get one of the bigger items off the list – but just as often the shower is the gift. You know your own budget so don’t feel obligated to do both.
Those are just a few ideas to get you started. Hosting a wedding shower is a great way to honor special friends, whether it’s your BFF or your BFF’s son or daughter. Put your own style and imagination into it, grab a friend or two, and go for it!