Always a Bridesmaid: What I’ve Learned: Planning a Bridal Shower

My favorite magazine, Esquire, has a feature every month called What I’ve Learned. The article has one-liners and paragraph-long tips about life as told by a range of celebrities and other accomplished people. I’m stealing the format to share my tips about how to plan a bridal shower. I just finished planning Ducky’s, so I have a few tips:

• Plan early. So many things that go into a bridal shower are last-minute preparations. You wouldn’t want to bake a cake or buy a vegetable tray a week ahead of time. But don’t underestimate how long it can take to put together bridal-shower games, decorate the space, or order favors for the guests’ gift bags.

• Serve food at the shower that you like to eat. If you’re like me and would prefer to have too much food than not enough, you’ll probably end up with some leftovers. Try to prepare a spread that will last a day or two and that you can enjoy after the festivities.

• Don’t forget about disposable utensils and cups—especially if the shower is a large group and you aren’t going to be around to help clean up.

• Know the answers to your bridal-shower games. That way, if you forget to bring the answer sheet (not that I can imagine anyone doing that), you’ll still be able to play the game.

• Anticipate space. If you have 20 people seated in one large room, as we did for Ducky’s shower, don’t plan games that require everyone to shift their belongings, get up, and move around a bunch. This isn’t duck-duck-goose. These are adult women, some in skirts, who are just there to share in their loved one’s special day. Games that can be played while staying seated are perfectly fine.

• Don’t take crap from vendors. The company I ordered gifts from tried to tell me that it would take 12 days to complete my order and 7 days to ship it even though its Web site made no mention of that. The products I ordered from the Knot turned out great and arrived on time, so I was happy. Talk to your friends and check out the Better Business Bureau before spending a lot to order gifts online. And complain when it’s called for. You’ll be amazed what these companies will do for you if you put up enough of a fight.

• Make young guests feel special. If you know that a child will be attending the shower, try to plan a special goody bag. For kids who are old enough to participate in the festivities but not so old that they understand why all the gifts in the room are for someone else, it’s a nice gesture.

• Tap into that savings account. If you’re like me and you set aside a separate stash to pay for weddings throughout the year (see “Budgeting Bridesmaid” post from a few months ago), you may be tempted to leave the savings untouched until the actual wedding day. I think this can be a common misstep. Shower expenses will often cost more than a wedding gift and a plane ticket. So go ahead and take out what you saved—that’s what it’s there for!

• Allow for some recovery time. You’ll probably be pretty exhausted after the shower is over, especially if you have a bachelorette party that night.

Katie, a local bridesmaid-to-be, writes occasionally about planning for and being part of three (and counting) friends' weddings in one year. To follow her adventures from the beginning, click here.

To read the latest Bridal Party blog posts, click here.