While the bride is confronted with a myriad of important decisions for the big day – dress, flowers, menu, etc., – those planning her bridal shower have other decisions to make. How do you create a warm and comfortable atmosphere when, often, the guests do not know each other and are ages and interests apart? If work friends, school friends and Aunt Mary are to enjoy this get-together equally, then there must be a well-chosen theme and some active involvement to bring the guests together. Party games get everyone involved – but you must choose them with care. Try to find out as much as you can about the likes and dislikes of your guests, and plan around them. Some people love the limelight while others quail when a group focuses upon their answers. Try to choose themes where everyone has something to contribute, like cooking or travel. If you can get people actively working at something in small groups, so much the better. Playing charades is great for getting a small group to interact.
Plan to have some music going in the background to set the mood. This will assure that early lapses in conversation are not pronounced. Make sure the music is low so that it will not drown out the conversation. Try show music if the age group is varied. Another idea would be to choose a CD of wedding music that will set the tone and provide a talking point with regard to the upcoming wedding. When the shower is over, give the CD to the bride. This will be of help to her when deciding upon what music to request for her walk down the aisle or for her first dance with her new husband.
When considering whether to have a sit down luncheon or a buffet, remember that many people are not adept at holding a plate and drink on their lap. If you do decide on a buffet, you may still want to set place settings around a table or tables. There are a number of good reasons for doing this:
1. Your guests will be more comfortable if they can set their plate and cup on a flat surface.
2. A decorative table provides a center for the festivities.
3. You can use place cards and thus choose where everyone will sit.
4. You can place the bride in the center of the activity.
5. You can place the favors on or next to the place settings.
Place cards give an elegant air to your table. They are also an excellent method of assuring that any of your shy guests have friendly table partners to talk to.
Popular bridal shower favors include individual potted plants, decorative candles, place card frames or photo frames. Any of these will add interest and decoration to your table.
At some time during the meal, there should be a toast to the bride. Mimosa (orange juice with champagne) is always a hit at a brunch. If you don’t want to serve liquor, there are many good non-alcoholic champagne choices available now.
Try to select a menu that can be primarily prepared ahead of time. You don’t want to be busy in the kitchen when you could be mingling with your guests. Casseroles are a best bet. A considerate hostess makes sure every guest has enough food choices, so if any of your guests might be vegetarian, make sure there is something for them to choose. They are often left to pick at a roll with some lettuce! A bean dish without meat would provide protein for vegetarians. Also, if your salad will include chicken or shrimp, consider setting some salad aside for your vegetarian guests before adding these ingredients.
Remember to wrap small prizes to award for the games. People love getting wrapped surprises. Some award gift ideas that are easy to wrap are disposable cameras, cosmetic pouches, photo frames and candles.
Be sure to have a camera handy to take plenty of photos. The bride will appreciate photos of her relatives and friends taken on this important occasion. Take some photos while the bride unwraps her gifts – there will be lots of smiles to capture.
Schedule your timing so that the bride unwraps her gifts well before the party is due to end. Guests who have to leave at a fixed time are often disappointed when they don’t get to see the bride open the gift that they have chosen for her.
For the gift unwrapping ceremony, you will need a prominent chair for the bride, a writing pad for the gift list, a sturdy paper plate for the shower bouquet and a plastic bag for quick disposal of the discarded wrapping paper.
Before settling your guests down for this ritual, decide who will be writing down a description of the gift and the name of the giver, as the bride unwraps her gifts. You will want to make sure that this person is seated near the bride. You will need to choose another guest to sit near the bride and create the shower bouquet – by taking the bows and ribbon from the wrappings and threading them through a paper plate. To get more people involved, you might want to request that another guest be responsible for passing around each gift for all to examine. Select yet another volunteer to repackage each gift (with each gift card inserted in the correct gift box, so that thank-you notes are easy to do!)
While a bridal shower is especially for the bride, make it an occasion that all guests will remember fondly – including the hostess!