bridal showers 101: tips & ideas

this year, my entire group of childhood friends got engaged, got married, or are getting ready to tie the knot. it’s such an exciting time of life, and i couldn’t be more thrilled for my gal pals. with that, of course, comes lots of celebrating! i’ve had the privilege to help plan several bridal showers and bachelorettes this summer. i’m no expert, but i thought it’d be nice to share some fun tips, tricks, and ideas i’ve picked up along the way.

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planning

planning with a group of bridesmaids can be tricky, especially when everyone lives in different states or are on different work schedules.

google docs are magical. everyone can access and make edits to the spreadsheet at the same time, or any time for that matter. this helped us keep track of logistics, RSVPs, things to buy, and tasks to be completed. you can take the extra step and color code by person responsible, like my super organized friend, hannah, did!

create secret pinterest boards. this is a central place to organize and save inspiration. why reinvent the wheel when there are tons of great ideas out there? pinterest recently developed a feature to create boards that are private to only the people you’ve invited. we didn’t want our brides seeing what we were up to!

set a date to meet-up. planning over email/facebook/texts can be challenging. people are busy with their everyday lives and may not always respond. it’s always a good idea to meet up with the majority of the group, if not everyone. plus, it’s a great excuse to hang out. :) we also met up the night before the bridal shower to prep some food and decorations, which made the day-of less stressful.

food & drinks

get boozy with a mimosa bar & sangria. this is super easy to set-up and allows people to have a few boozy drinks without getting too crazy. we used leftover NYE plastic champagne flutes and bought glass milk bottles from target (only $5 each!). the rest is easy. all you need for ingredients is sparkling white wine (tastes better than champagne, in my opinion), fruit juices, and an assortment of fruit to top it off.

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sangrias are also tasty and simple to make. we found several recipe options off pinterest, but finally decided on the sparkling fruit sangria.

try donuts instead of cake. cakes are usually hard to finish and difficult to pack home if there are leftovers. donuts are more shareable, come in a variety of flavors, and are easy to take home! duck donuts in rockville offers catering for large groups and same-day pick-up for smaller groups. their donuts are tasty, fluffy, and come in number of flavor combinations. my favorite is their peanut butter frosting with a topping of nuts!

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in the case that you do want a cake, my talented friend, sarah, found a recipe for a “naked cake” from ashlee marie. it looked amazing and tasted even better!

get moms involved! the moms of the brides helped set-up and cook several dishes for the shower, which was a huge help to the bridesmaids! i don’t know about you, but mom’s cooking will always trump mine. i’ll forever be thankful for a mom’s love and care.

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decor

balloons make for easy decor. these cute gold lettered balloons are all the rage on instagram. we looked into several options, but the cheapest option was off etsy. we got these adorable MRS. balloons from a shop called MariaExpress. they were 40 inches (which by the way, is a lot bigger than you’d think. we had trouble getting them into a car afterwards) and were $3.99 each + shipping. they came in the mail super quickly and were easy to set up. grab a helium tank from target and you’re good to go! just make sure there is enough helium to blow up all the balloons you have. 

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visit your local homegoods and target for great decor options. homegoods and target are my weaknesses. i walk in to find a card, and come out with $80 worth of stuff. both stores offer awesome paper goods and cute knick knacks that make for great, budget-friendly bridal shower decor. at homegoods, we found these reusable paper fans that we used for sandy’s photobooth backdrop (inspired by this pinterest idea) and a customizable paper banner that can be arranged to say whatever you want. both of these options were under $15! check out target’s $1 section for some cute items as well! (peep the “love” banner that we stuck in the donuts above).

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look for opportunities to DIY. you could scroll on pinterest for hours to find very affordable and doable ideas. we found a tutorial for tissue paper pom poms, which we used as photobooth decor. these S & E letters sitting on top of the fireplace were also an idea from pinterest and were easy to make. all you need are wooden letters, paper, and mod podge!

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chalkboard signs are easy to make. i grabbed a few chalkboard frames on sale at michael’s and bought a pack of chalk for $1.50. you can also use the raymay flourescent board markers if you want a cleaner look. they’re easy to make, customizable, and reusable!

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games

  • video questionnaire. brainstorm a list of questions about the bride or the relationship and have the groom video tape himself answering them. play the video at the bridal shower and see whether the bride has the same answers as the groom. if their answers don’t match up, the bride will need to do a punishment. for sandy, we had her chew a piece of gum for every wrong answer. of course, it was the biggest pieces of gum we could find. :)

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  • gift bingo. before the bride opens the gifts, the guests will write down which gifts they think she’ll open on a bingo sheet. whoever gets 5 in a row first wins a prize!
  • guess-how-many-in-the-jar. stock up candies in some glass jars and have the guests guess how many they think there are. we used gummy bears, jolly ranchers, and starbursts. the winner gets to take the jar and candy home.
  • underwear guessing game. each guest will bring in a pair of underwear they think best describes their relationship with the bride. the bride will then guess who brought which pair (and have a lifetime supply of underwear while she’s at it.)
  • photo guessing game. have the mom of the bride find pictures from various points in the bride’s childhood. label the pictures and string them up on a clothesline. as the guests mingle and arrive, have them write down what they think is the chronological order of the photos. the bride will reveal the order at the end of the shower.
  • how well do you know the bride- and groom-to be? give your guests a pop quiz with various questions about the bride and groom (how did they meet? what was their first date?). put together a small gift bag for the person who gets the most questions correct.
  • don’t say that. give every guest 3 hair ties when they arrive. pick 3 words that can’t be said during the bridal shower. good examples include: groom, the name of the groom, wedding, etc. if you catch someone saying any of the 3 designated words, you will gain a hair tie. whoever has the most hair ties at the end of the shower wins. we purchased a 100-pack of the no crease ties on amazon here.

this doesn’t quite count as a game, but at ashley’s bridal shower, we did a community service project instead of the usual bridal activities. she’s always had a big heart to serve the community, so we decided to purchase a few succulents to give away to nursing homes and hospitals. we had people paint the pots and plant their succulents. it was a lot of fun and everyone’s work of art turned out beautifully.

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i’m so excited for these dear friends and can’t wait to see what married life has in store for them! looking forward to more celebrating to come. cheers!

 

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