Wedding 101

How to Plan a Beautiful Bridal Shower from Start to Finish

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After offering to host a bridal shower, you may be hit with the realization that you have no idea where to start...but don't panic! Read on as we walk you through the basics of planning a wedding shower, from the guest list to the gift opening. 

4 to 5 months before the wedding...

Talk to the bride
Not everyone wants an afternoon of toilet-paper wedding dresses and mini sandwiches. Look at wedding shower ideas with the bride to find out the type of shower she has in mind before you start making plans. 
Maybe she wants pizza and beer or a vintage tea party, or perhaps your most offbeat friend will surprise you by wanting a traditional shower. Maybe her partner wants to be there, in which case you could throw a couple's shower.
 Be open-minded and work to make sure the bride-to-be is happy! 
Get the guest list
Talk to the bride about who she wants at the shower — maybe it's just her close girlfriends, maybe it's all of her female friends and relatives or perhaps she wants a co-ed event. Get her guest list and nail down mailing addresses early so you know how many people you'll need to accommodate and what the shower might cost.
Everyone invited to the shower should also be invited to the wedding.
Nail down the financials
Once you've chosen a theme and plotted out a basic shower blueprint, set a budget and figure out who's going to pay for what. You can ask bridesmaids to pitch in if you're planning the shower with friends, or perhaps the bride's parents or future in-laws have offered to pay for a portion. 
Let people know what they can pay for and whether they can pick party items out themselves, go shopping with you, or give you the money. Set a date. The shower is typically held one to three months before the wedding, but talk to the bride about her preferences. Having the shower and bachelorette party back to back can make things easier for out-of-towners who need to travel for both events, but some brides prefer to keep the events separate.

2 months before the wedding shower...

Choose a venue
 A restaurant can be a great choice because it usually eliminates the need for a caterer, rentals, and other outside vendors, but you may want to consider other venues, like a winery or a historic site. Many maids also choose to host the shower in their own home or at the home of another bridesmaid or family member. 
Decide on the decor
 Are you hitting the flea market or a local florist? Are you going DIY? Figure out what you need and who's responsible for what. 
Book your vendors
 Determine if you'll need to hire any additional vendors, research your options, and start booking. 
Order invitations 
Choose bridal shower invitations that fit your theme or vibe and get a head start on addressing the envelopes so you have enough time to mail them and collect RSVPs. 
Plan out the order of events
Will you start with a meal then move on to games and gifts? Will some guests give toasts over lunch, followed by the bride opening gifts while everyone else gets their nails done by an on-site manicurist? The options are endless and there's no "right" way to do it.

4-6 weeks before the wedding shower...

Mail the invitations
 You don't need to have the whole shower planned out before you send invites, but you will need to know the date, time, and location. The shower invitations typically include registry details -- either on the invite itself or on a separate card -- and you may also want to include something special for guests to fill out (like a blank recipe card) that will be given to the bride or used during the shower somehow. 
Obtain any necessary items for the shower
 Whether you are purchasing, borrowing, DIY-ing, or renting things like bunting, serving trays, signs, cake stands, and printed games, start collecting these items now.

The week before the wedding shower...

Track down MIA guests
Call them, text them, email them -- just make sure you know how many guests to expect. 
Confirm with vendors
 Call all of your vendors to confirm their services, arrival time, and final payment. Check in with the bride. Ask if she has any last-minute requests or questions.
 Put together favors and prizes for the party
Not sure what sort of favors to offer? Tasty treats or bottles of nail polish are always a safe bet!

On the day-of the wedding shower...

Arrive at the shower location early
 Invite a couple of close friends or relatives to come help you set up the space for the party. Welcome guests warmly. Say hello and help direct them to refreshments and their seats. Keep the party moving. 
Make sure to read the room
 If a particular activity seems to be stalling or falling flat, find a smooth way to move on. 
Help with the gifts
If the bride plans to open gifts, sit next to her and note exactly who gave what or assign the task to someone else. She'll need the list in order to send out thank-you notes after the event. 
Enjoy yourself
One of your best friends is getting married and you just planned an awesome party in her honor! 
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