Planning a Wedding Shower – Think Outside of the Gift Box

Wedding ShowerA few years ago I was asked to plan my sister’s bridal shower.  She’s an offbeat gal who lives on the other side of the country and whose hobbies include canyoneering, learning Native American rain dances, and making her own taffy.  We don’t have a whole lot in common and I didn’t know much about the other girls who would attend or the city where she lives, so I had my work cut out for me.

I knew I couldn’t throw the kind of bridal shower I received.  It just wasn’t her style.  I had to do something different.  Something offbeat.   My first step was to get to know the area.  This may have been a challenge years ago, but now, thanks to Yelp,, OpenTable or any other travel planning website, you can get honest, real reviews of just about every establishment.  Once I knew the lay of the land, I tried to think of what my sister’s wedding would look like.  If you are involved in planning a bridal shower, you are likely close enough to the bride to know something about her wedding plans.  Use this information to craft your vision for the party.  I knew my sister was having a country wedding with a few funky vintage touches.  So, I started looking at an establishment that would blend with her theme.

Venue:  Once I had a few places in mind I called and asked to speak to the manager, owner, or sales lead.  I shared my vision for the shower and gauged their reactions.  You do not want to work with an establishment that isn’t receptive to your ideas.  I was lucky enough to speak to one owner who seemed more excited about my offbeat bridal shower than I was.  He suggested creating a themed menu and having the event in the backyard garden portion of the restaurant.  Maybe these elements aren’t right for your event, maybe you are looking for something else.  Everyone has different tastes, but your venue should be willing to embrace yours…at least for a few hours.

Menu:  Good food and good company.  Is there anything better?  Food isn’t going to make your event…but it sure can break it.  Pick items with broad appeal and remember to check reviews of the establishment so that you can request the best dishes.  Printing menu cards with the date and bride’s name is a nice touch that will make a lovely keepsake.

Decorations:  Be creative and don’t let convention limit you!   I wanted something whimsical.  Something fun.  Something…inexpensive.  Wedding magazines are often full of fantastic and expensive ideas.  Don’t let them make you think that beautiful has to be expensive.  To capture whimsy at my sister’s shower, I ordered dozens of multicolored balloons and tied them to chairs, tables, etc.  I also bought a few bundles of baby’s breath (inexpensive and lovely) and put it in glass jars on the tables.  All told, decorations cost me $40.  If you are seeking inspiration for your decorations, check out Pinterest.

Activities:  There are all sorts of fun ideas for bridal shower games.  A few favorites are wedding dress making contests using paper towels and toilette paper, wedding trivia, bridal bingo, etc.  Since we were outside, we also brought some bean bags to toss and horseshoes.  Games are great, but sometimes you need something a little extra.  At the last minute, I thought I needed something just a little special to add to the festive atmosphere I was trying to create.  Something that would make the environment truly memorable.  I thought of my sister and our childhood…and I hired a face painter.  This was surprisingly easy and inexpensive.  No one there had ever been to a bridal shower that featured a face painter and everyone, young and old, was excited to participate.  Maybe your bride would hate a face painter…but would love something else like a manicurist, caricature artist, henna artist, or yoga instructor.  These specialists don’t necessarily have to be expensive.  Google the area and check local colleges for students who could provide these services.

Delegate:  You don’t need to do everything.  As the bride’s family is growing, this is an opportunity to get to know new family members and friends.  Everyone has their own skills and can contribute to the event.  My sister’s new sister in law is an awesome amateur photographer and offered her talents to the event.  Weddings are joyous occasions and people want to help.  Make new friends while lightening your load through delegation.

Whatever you decide to do for the shower, keep the bride in mind – her likes, her dislikes, what she is planning for her wedding. If you let that inspire you, you will defiantly throw a successful party!


Last Updated: October 29th, 2012

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