So this past weekend, I celebrated my sister’s bridal shower - and I’m sooooooo happy it’s over. It was a wonderful, beyond wonderful day, but it was stressful. Not just for myself, as Matron of Honor, but for my mom (the MOB), and our planning posse - which included my Aunt (the resident creative chief of design), and my younger cousins (the dual Maids of Honor). My sister absolutely loved it, and when I got a text from her last night with all the thanks, it was well worth it!
All that being said, now that I’m on this side of the celebration, i.e. rounding out the crew that makes it all happen, I can say that there are some things allllllll Maids of Honor, bridesmaids, Mothers of the Bride+Groom, and extra planning people should know, about what actually happens at a shower. What they shouldn’t stress about. And what they should make sure they have on hand always to ensure it’s a success.
It’s really cute, if you want to try assigned seating for the day, but we’ll be real honest, it doesn’t work. Guests are going to sit where they feel most comfortable, and if you pour so much time into making escort cards and planning out the bridal shower tables, you’ll inevitably be left to wonder why you did it at all - once you see how people plot themselves on the actual day. I remember going to my sister-in-law’s bridal shower a few years before I got married myself, and my mother-in-law had guests pick pieces of yarn out of a hat to determine where they’d sit. An icebreaker of sorts, to help guests get to know each other, mix and mingle. But it was awkward; although I’m pretty outgoing, I can seriously talk to anyone, I felt weird having to sit with people I knew nothing about. At my sister’s shower, we tried to have all the bridesmaids sit together, but a few ended up sitting with other tables, so it wasn’t totally successful. Long story short, just let people pick where they want to post up for the day.
And truthfully, I kind of hate bridal shower games, but they’re pretty obligatory (don’t have to be, but I haven’t been to a single one without them). At my table this weekend, even, we all joked about how bad shower games were, but how excited we were to try to win a Dunkin gift card. Haha. Try, if you can, to make the games relevant to the bride - indulge her interests. For my best friend’s (who is a teacher and a hugeeeeee fan of literature) shower last month, one of the games we played was a match the literary couples game (i.e. Anastasia Steele-Christian Grey; Katniss Everdeen-Peeta Mellark; Daisy Buchanan-Jay Gatsby). It was simple, but definitely something that made sense for her day. My sister made it clear early on that she HAD to have one of those ‘does my groom know me’ type of games. So, we did it, and the thing everyone cared about the most, was my future brother-in-law’s answer to the last question: “What’s one word you’d use to describe the bride.” He said ‘blessing.’ And it was adorable. My sister’s day = made.
That Instagrammable moment. Yas, it has to happen. So, whether you have Pinterest-worthy selfie frames, my Aunt made SUPER CUTE things out of hula hoops, or a great photo backdrop, just make sure you have something that guests and the bride herself can commandeer for all the captures. Also, don’t worry about having an on-site photographer there, if it’s not in the budget. Inevitably, most guests have smartphones with awesome photo apps/filters/what have you, so you’ll be able to get a collaborative+curated collection of snapshots by the end of it, regardless. I don’t know why I only just learned about Portrait mode with my iPhone last month - but I have become a boss with these kinds of detail shots. Someone will be able to make magic happen with all the detail/decor snaps, promise!
We probably had 10-12 leftover mini bottles of bubbly by the end of party. Guests either forgot about them, thought they were just there to add to the table-pretty, or didn’t need extra alcohol at home, so decided to leave ‘em, but we had a plethora of extra favors to take home post-shower. So, if one or a few of your favors breaks, get lost, or drunk (if it’s drinkable) during, don’t fret, it’s okay. We also had a candy/dessert bar, with tons of extra sweet treats for the taking once the shower was over. And we had worried about whether we’d have enough all of last week. Just know if you plan to have enough favors to match the number of RSVP’ed guests, you will be fine!!
My sister has 11 bridesmaids. 11. And 9 were there on Saturday, and it still probs took at least an hour (of the total 4 hours; which is a standard for most shower lengths) for the bride to open all of her gifts. You’ll want to put someone in charge of writing out who brought which gift - legibly, too, because thank you notes will be a necessary evil to come next, you’ll also want someone on bouquet or hat-making duty with all the ribbons (yes, this is pretty boilerplate, too), someone(s) handling the gift conveyor belt sitch (i.e. passing along presents/cards to be opened) and also a few hands for paper disposal, because there will be a lot of it. Help the bride move things along, because she’s obvi going to notice that guests pay attention for about 15 solid minutes before getting distracted, going to the bathroom, leaving the party altogether, and while she should have all the time in the world to marvel at her gifts and gadgets, you also have to leave time for cake and coffee.
So she needs to eat and drink well. My sister, not unlike lotsss of brides, has been in beast mode with her workout routine and diet for the wedding, but she let us all know that she’d be forgetting alllll about that on her day. Eating whatever she wanted, drinking whatever she wanted, the way the wedding goddesses intended it. If you’re the one(s) on food and bev detail for the day, don’t forget to fill the bride up on all her faves. For my sister, it was red berry sangria and rainbow cookies that gave her all the feels. Beyond all that made up her Italian villa-inspired menu, that is. Of course, we’re going on her bach cruise in T-minus 4 days, and we were all talking about how we’d fit into cheeky one-pieces in less than a week, but that didn’t matter because calories don’t count on bridal shower day 😉. Whatever the bride wants, she’ll have.
Unless the bride expressly asks for it (and we can totally get down with an all-white bridal shower, if REQUESTED by the bride), no one should be wearing any iterations of white to any of her pre-wedding and wedding events. Just consider it one of those things all good guests do. The bride doesn’t have to wear white, either, she can wear whatever she damn well wishes, but the color is really only reserved for her. No one cares if white is YOUR best color; it’s a palette only apropos for the bride in this season of her life, so it’s not an occasion to steal her thunder.
Lastly, just wanted to throw this one out there. One of the biggest things to expect from a bridal shower is the proposition of a group gift, especially for all the bridesmaids to go in on together. I’m total team group present, but if you don’t want to be stuck with the majority of the expense - if you do the buying - then make sure you remind the other girls of their contributions (if they agreed on it from the beginning) and what they owe. Clearly and deliberately. Yes, presence at the bridal shower is the biggest present to a bride, but signing up for a group gift means you’ll actually pay and not bail on it after the party. if Also note that if you DO decide to get a shared gift, you shouldn’t feel obligated to bring another single gift for the bride. Any/all gifts are generous will be so appreciated, but you’re already probably spending a lot of money to be bridesmaid, so don’t stress over the superfluous.
And lastly, next to the engagement party, the bridal shower is the best place to huddle up about the rest of the events - bachelorette, rehearsal dinner, etc. before the wedding. If you’re in the bridal party, it’s best that you stick around to the end of the bridal shower, at least, to hear out the bride or her HBIC on anything you need to know about moving forward. My sister waited until the end of her shower to give all of her bridesmaids their cruise kits - shirts and tattoos, plus a few hangover items - to travel with later this week. We were all instructed to wear the bachelorette custom t-shirts she got us to the airport, so that we could look as basic as possible in the air and on the way to the ship… And we can’t wait.