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Shower of Love: All The Party Planning Tricks You'll Need to Throw a Bridal Shower

Bridal showers are the quintessential way to celebrate the bride’s new life. It may seem like a tall order, but it’s easier than you think to throw a classy, modern-day soirée. Follow these party-planning basics to shower any bride in style.

Host with the Most
The role of shower hostess typically falls to the maid of honor. However, it’s common for bridesmaids to help by splitting costs and duties. While some still consider it a faux pas for the mother of the bride to host, rules have relaxed over the years. “Bridal showers have changed in the same way that weddings have changed,” says Sarah Trotter, owner of Lasting Impressions Weddings in Minnetonka, who’s seen everyone from bridesmaids to close friends, sisters and coworkers host the shower. In fact, many of them may get their chance, as the bride will likely have multiple showers.

Making the Cut
Bridal shower invitees should include the bride’s and groom’s mother, grandmothers, sisters, bridal party and the bride’s closest friends. Have the bride give you a list of whom she wants invited. If the bride has a large family or social circle, Trotter encourages splitting them up among different showers. “You don’t need to overlap invitees, but all close women friends and family should be invited to at least one shower,” she says. Anyone invited to a shower should also be on the wedding guest list. 

Lately, grooms are getting in on the action via the couples shower. “These days, couples are approaching wedding planning as a team effort, so it only makes sense that showers would start to reflect that,” says Stephanie Johnson, owner of Park Place Planning & Events in Edina. Note, showering the bride and groom doesn’t mean it’s a “couples-only” shower; make sure single friends get the invite, too. Couples showers also tend to be more casual, focusing on food and drink over traditional games and gift opening.

Come on Over
“Homes [of family or friends] are still the go-to venue for showers,” says Rachelle Mazumdar, director of weddings and events at Style-Architects in Minneapolis. Country clubs and restaurants with private event spaces are also great options. “If the weather is nice, outdoors in a friend’s backyard or on a patio is always fun.” Keep in mind who is on the guest list and where they’re coming from—if you can, try to pick a central location.

It’s a Date
Showers can take place any time before the wedding, but one to three months ahead is ideal. The last few weeks leading up to the big day can be busy; having a shower this far ahead gives the couple enough time to refocus their attention on final wedding tasks.

You’re Invited
Once you’ve decided on a theme or color scheme, look for (or make) invitations that echo that style. They should be fairly simple, as you don’t want to rival the wedding invitations. In addition to listing the date, time and address, also include the couple’s registry information and whether there are any special theme-related gift-giving or attire instructions.
 
Bon Appétit
When it comes to nosh and refreshments, think easy handling. “Finger foods are the way to go,” says Mazumdar. “They’re easy, creative and you can have an assortment.” As you plan your spread, keep in mind the bride’s favorite foods, incorporate some healthy options and consider diet restrictions of guests, such as gluten-free or vegan.

You can also get creative, depending on the time of day. “For a brunch, consider mini cinnamon rolls on a stick with dipping glaze,” says Mazumdar. Punch up the drink menu by serving mimosas, sangria or champagne with different mixers and garnishes. For a late lunch, try a taco menu with unique toppings paired with flavored margaritas. Whatever you choose, presentation is key. Tie everything together with coordinating serving pieces, framed menus or garnishments. “Little touches like this go a long way,” says Mazumdar.

Set the Scene
Décor sets the vibe for any soirée. Whether or not you opt for a theme, Johnson says, “simple is best.” A popular trend is picking one signature color—“gold is extremely hot at the moment,” says Johnson.

Executed tastefully, themes can be fun, but they should be relevant. Trotter’s ideas include theming a shower around the honeymoon destination or the bride’s favorite designer—“Kate Spade-style shower, anyone?” Before you decide on a décor scheme, however, consult with the bride. If she’s having multiple showers, you won’t want to inadvertently repeat a theme from another shower.

Game Changer
When it comes to games, less is more. “Don’t feel the need to play cheesy bridal shower games,” says Trotter. “Pick one game that’s fun and gets everyone involved.” After that, she advises letting guests mingle or adding a casual activity such as having guests write words of advice for the bride in a journal, or having everyone sign a piece of fabric that will later be sewn into a quilt.
 
Surprise! It’s a Gravy Bowl
The vast majority of couples register for gifts, and many couples put a lot of time and thought into their registry, so giving a gift on the registry is encouraged. It’s fine to deviate, though, especially if the gift is personal. “Receiving a gift from the heart, like a quilt Grandma made, is priceless,” says Jenn Rosen, owner of Rosetree Weddings & Events in Minneapolis. “I’m sure any girl would love that.”

How much to spend varies greatly and is a personal decision. If budget is a concern or the registry is limited, just make sure it’s a thoughtful gift. “If you and the bride have spent hours bonding over sushi dinners, give a nice sushi plate and chopstick set,” says Johnson. “If you’re known for your standing coffee dates, pick out a darling set of specialty demitasse cups and saucers.” These are gifts a bride will cherish for a lifetime. 

Room for Rent
From popular eateries to stylish showrooms and unexpected excursions, find the perfect place to shower any bride.
 Al and Alma’s Luxury charter boats fit 10 to 149 people for a two- to three-hour cruise over lunch or dinner.
 American Swedish Institute A vibrant arts and cultural center and museum.
 The Bachelor Farmer Nordic-inspired restaurant offering private rooms with modern flair.
 Blast Salon with hair blowouts and make-up services; offers a chic VIP party room.
 Cafe Lurcat Restaurant with French-chic décor and views of Loring Park.
 Casa Verde Gorgeous kitchen and bathroom showroom with a full operating kitchen.
 Forepaugh’s Restaurant with Victorian-era ambience; nine dining rooms.
 L’atelier Couture Luxury bridal boutique with posh loft-style digs.
 Nicollet Island Inn Cozy, historic hotel with scenic views of the Mississippi River.

Bridal Party Checklist (for the host)
2–3 Months Before
→ Talk to the bride about what she wants and available dates.
→ Compile guest list and addresses.
→ Set a date and time.
→ Find and book a venue, if needed.
→ Send save-the-date email to guests.
→ Establish a budget.
→ Choose a theme and/or décor.
→ Divide duties among the bridal party.
→Order shower invitations.

1 Month Before
→ Send invitations.
→ Shop for decorations and favors.
→ Book any activities/entertainment.
→ Plan the menu.
→ Order food or confirm with those who are bringing food.

1-2 Weeks Before
→ Confirm RSVPs.
→ Confirm reservations and orders.
→ Place flower order (if a large order, do so one month before).
→ Buy your gift.
→ Choose an outfit.
→ Make a shopping list for food/drinks.
→ Pick up borrowed items from friends/family.
→ Prepare shower games/activities.
→ Shop for groceries.

Day Before
→ Prepare food that can be made in advance.
→ Set up tables and décor.
→ Touch base with bridal party/co-hosts.
→ Run last-minute errands.
→ Charge camera.

Day of
→ Prepare fresh food.
→ Keep a list of gifts and givers.
→ Have on hand scissors, notebook, pens and waste bag for torn gift wrap.
→ Keep ribbons and bows for the rehearsal bouquet.
→ Have fun!