A large shower is a joyous time for the bride but can be a nightmare for the bridesmaids and family who help set up the shower. From preparing the event to actually implementing it, can come with many obstacles that you may not have even thought of. Recently, my daughter and the rest of the bridesmaids were given this challenge by my niece who will be getting married in June. Since my daughter was busy with school, I volunteered to help coordinate and set up the dessert bar. If you have visited my blog, you know I have several party planning tips and tricks posts so this was a natural fit for me to get involved. There are many tips here so you can learn from our experience.
The planning phase of a Fabulous Bridal Shower:
First, have a meeting with all the bridesmaids and family members. It can be in person or over Facetime or Skype whichever works best. Determine the details, how many people, when you want to throw the shower (pick an exact date), and what area the hall should be located.
When finding out how many people will be attending the bridal shower, make sure the bride gives you a really good estimate and add 20 people on top of that number. The worst thing is to have a hall that can't fit all the people that are invited.
Find out where people will be coming from so you can expand your search for the venue to be in the center of where everyone' lives. Then, no one will be traveling extra far to arrive at the event.
Ask around to see if anyone recommends a particular hall. This will give you an "in" with the hall owners and they may give you some flexibility since you were referred to them. Lucky for us, someone used this hall before and we were able to get a deal on it. Only $250.00 and we had access to the hall the night before. Yes!
Now make a list of halls and start making appointments to visit the halls!
When visiting the venues, have several people come with you. The more eyes on the hall the better. Other people may ask different questions to help determine if the hall is right for your bride.
When visiting halls, ask these questions to the hall owner:
- How long will we have the hall for?
- When can we start preparing for the shower?
- Will we have access to the hall the night before to set up?
- Does the hall have a kitchen?
- Does the hall have a freezer/refrigerator?
- How many people does the hall hold? What are the fire requirements?
- Is there a separate place for the food prep or buffet area?
- How many tables do they have? How many chairs do they have? How many buffet tables do they have? Do they have a bar area?
- How many bathrooms are there in the hall?
- Is there a security deposit?
- Look around, is the hall clean? Will it be cleaned prior to our event?
- How much is the hall? Is everything included?
Asking these questions will give you all you need to make a decision on the hall. Pick the hall that allows you the most flexibility to have everything you want.
Determine the Large Bridal Shower Theme.
Start planning at least 3 months earlier. We had a very large party so we started planning 6 months earlier. And boy I'm glad we did. The bride invited 90 people, 75+ showed up. The more time you have the more likely you are able to find items on sale so you can all save money. Check out after holiday sales for items. After Christmas, Gold items are popular and they can go on sale for at least 50% less. WOW. When Valentines day items go on sale, there were a lot of pink items we could use. Awesome.
The theme for our bridal shower was Kate Spade Bridal Shower. We found a lot of inspirational items by searching on Pinterest. Here are some of our bridal shower pictures based on this theme.
Keep an open mind on the colors. Our bride was planning on having a lot of rose gold accents at the wedding so instead of using gold with the pink, white, and black, we choose to use rose gold, gold, pink, black and white. It worked beautifully and the bride was able to use the items for the wedding decorations.
Connect with the bridal party and the family online after the initial meeting.
Since we were located all over the area, we decided it was best to create a way to communicate specifically for this event online.
- Create a FREE Google Sheets spreadsheet on Google Drive to track the budget for all the different stuff for the event. Share this sheet with all the participants and the family members that will be helping. We determined the amount each one of us needed to contribute to making this party a success. We only had the bridesmaids contribute to this not the family members unless they wanted to help. For example, my sister-in-law offered to pay for the venue so our money could go to other things. Cha-ching!
- Create a FREE community online so everyone can ask questions. Show pictures of items they are working on. Show items they can use for the tables or buffet area. Using Facebook groups worked nicely because everyone had a Facebook account. We found that the search feature in the group helped when anyone had questions about what was being done. Also, don't forget to add the people who said they would help. And, include the spouse but not the bride of course. He will have the 'in' on what the bride does, knows and doesn't know. This was very helpful when we needed to determine the plan for the surprise party.
- Make sure everyone has a job. Ask everyone what their talents are and what they want to do. Start early when planning a shower. The Matron of Honor divided up the duties for each person. There were two people on decorations. My daughter and I were responsible for the dessert bar. There was someone responsible for the Mimosa bar. One person and her husband were responsible for the buffet meal. And another person responsible for the invitations. Dividing up these responsibilities gave each person something to do and made it less stressful.
- To save money on decorations, ask the bridal party members if someone has platters, serving utensils and other items they could bring to the party. Since I have thrown parties over the years, I had a lot of the serving platters, beverage holders, serving utensils, smaller folding tables, etc...
Most likely if your bride has a big family they also have lots of friends and family to help out. So, reach out to her family and her fiance's family to see if people have stuff they can donate or purchase for the party. My niece's grandmothers helped when they could. One let her borrow something for her, "something borrowed, something blue..." items. Her other grandmom helped set up the hall the day of the event. People are willing to help out when they know there is a large crowd coming.
Additional tips to save money on a big party.
To help you save even more money, I have listed additional tips that I found was helpful for other tasks for the bridal shower event.
Get affordable invites:
Use online stores like Snapfish, Shutterfly, and VistaPrint for the affordable invitations. Use the theme and colors you decided on to determine what the invites will look like. Share these ideas with at least the Matron of Honor. Be sure to write on the invite if it was a surprise. Use big huge letters. I can say this enough, make sure it's noticeable.
What to do the week before:
Purchase produce from wholesale places (Costco, BJs Wholesale Club) when possible. There is a place in our area called "Produce Junction" that offers bulk veggies, fruit, flowers, and plants at a discount. Great for big bashes.
Pull together all the things you will need for the event. Table dressings, buffet area food, centerpieces, etc... everything needs to be in one place. I used a basement closet we never use. But, it can be stored in an insulated garage or dry basement. Be sure to find out the weather for that week to see if there is any major heatwaves or frost before using the garage to store these items. Some items can break or melt in these extreme conditions.
Follow-up with all the bridesmaids to make sure everyone has what they are responsible for and if anything needs to be purchased, you will have time to get those items.
What to do the day before:
Prep food/cook food. Pack all the non-perishable items and the decorations in the car so the next day you just have to pack up the perishable items. This will also give a minute to double check that you have everything. And, if you need to buy anything last minute, you can do it on this day.
What to do the day of the shower:
This day should just be for setting up the room, food, etc... Make sure all the items and the people are there with their stuff. And, above all else, enjoy the process of doing this for your bride. It's fun and she will really appreciate all the work you did.
Well, there you have it. I hope this has inspired you to have an affordable bridal shower for your bride and I hope she has an awesome time.
Below are some additional experts' posts on creating an amazing large bridal shower.