Planning my cousin's bridal shower
This past weekend, I had the honor of throwing a bridal shower for my little cousin. I love planning events and I really think I was a party planner in a previous life. So for this post, I wanted to not only share the details of her bridal shower but also share some tips I've learned from planning parties over the years. I hope these tips can help you for your next event or give you the courage to throw a party in the future.
If you have any questions about the items I mention or questions about planning events, please reach out! I love talking about parties and helping others when they're planning a special day.
All my love,
Tip #1: start with a theme
One of the questions I got most during the shower was how I came up with all the different ideas and decor? How did I fit all of the details and decor in with the theme? It all relates back to my very first step when planning any event - start with a theme. Once you have a theme, it's easy to build off of that for the rest of the details. It can be anything: a piece of decor you love, an invite you love, a color scheme. For me personally, I always build off of the invite. Once I find the invite, everything else comes into focus - color scheme, decor, etc.
This is the invite I chose for my cousin's shower:
From this invite I was able to build off the color scheme and a "fall in love" theme since the shower was in October.
Tip #2: stay organized - checklists are your friends
As someone who uses checklists in their everyday life, it's really easy for my to come up with checklists for a party. However, if you're someone who never uses checklists, I cannot stress how important they are when planning an event. You may think, "oh, I don't need a checklist, I can remember everything I need" but there are so many little details that are difficult for even a professional party planner to remember.
For the bridal shower I had several different checklists:
-Invites (get guest list from bride, address and send invites, track RSVPs)
-Setup/schedule of events
Also as the event gets closer, your checklists should evolve from lists to action items.
For example in July and August my food checklist looked like this:
-French toast dippers
-Chicken salad sandwiches
-Pimento chess sandwiches
-Donut hole screwers
In September, I revisited this list and it became this:
-French toast dippers
Syrup (grocery store week of party)
Sourdough bread (grocery store week of party)
Egg (grocery store week of party)
Powdered sugar (grocery store week of party)
Angled shot glasses (order from Amazon by 9/15)
Box of frozen mini quiches (Costco week of party)
Serving platter (check inventory)
And so on. That way, I knew exactly what I would need for each food item and could purchase any non food items in advance (i.e. angled shot glasses for the French toast dippers, skewers for the donut holes). By listing a time table by each item, it allowed me to stay on track with what needed to be ordered and when I would need to buy things. I did this with each list so that I could stay on track and allow plenty of time for things to come in.
And if you aren't used to creating checklists there are several online checklist templates you can use to get you started.
Tip #3: start early, buy in increments
I started planning for this shower back in July. Now that may seem way too far in advance but there are so many details that go into planning an event. The other reason I plan so far in advance is so I can buy things in increments. It not only allows me to spread out the financial aspect, but it also allows me to better track all the details.
If you wait until the last minute to purchase things, you end up buying so many things at once it gets hard to track. When you do this, it's easy to 1. buy unnecessary items and 2. overlook little details.
As I mentioned above, I started by deciding on the invitations and that decided my color scheme for me: garnet, green, and gold. I also decided I'd want to throw rose gold accents in there as well since I love the mix of gold and rose gold. Since I had that decided, once fall things started to hit store shelves I was able to purchase things here and there. The first piece of decor I bought were velvet pumpkins from Michael's. Once I saw them, I knew I wanted them as my table centerpiece. I also bought faux florals at the same time because I was able to match the pumpkins with the florals. Here is a breakdown of when I purchased things so you can see how spread out it was:
-Table centerpieces (pumpkins, florals)
-Cutlery, plates, napkins, cups
-Signage (welcome sign, games, station signage)
-Backdrop for photo area
-Food accessories (shot glasses, serving tongs, etc.)
-Created playlist to have background music
-Large balloons from party city
**Side note: always try to get things on sale or bring coupons! Seasonal items are usually always on sale at Michael's and Hobby Lobby so I usually buy most party decor there. For example, I got the pumpkins and florals 40% off and used a coupon.
Tip #4: prep as early as possible
For my cousin's shower, I prepped almost all the food the night before. It was a brunch shower so I knew I would not have that much time to prep the day of. The only things I made the morning of the shower were the finger sandwiches and donut hole skewers. Everything else I prepped the night before and warmed up the morning of.
Prep decor in advance as well. I had the tassel garland already made and I put pictures and signage in their frames a week before the event. I assembled the balloon garland (with the help of my mom, aunt and uncle) the day before because we didn't want the balloons to get too deflated. Doing prep ahead of time really saves you time when you're trying to set up the day of the event.
Also one thing you might not think about is tags. If you bought new items for your party, make sure you take off all tags in advance. Nothing's worse than trying to set up your event and you have to stop to pull tags off things (especially if you're in a time crunch). Little things like cutting florals (I had to cut part of the stem on the faux florals) is something you can do well in advance of the event so you don't have to worry with it the day of.
Tip #5: enjoy your hard work
Throwing a party or an event can be stressful. It can easily get overwhelming with all of the small details you have to consider. Hopefully some of my tips will help you, and if you stay organized it will all come together on the day of your party. Don't sweat the small things and if something goes wrong I promise no one will even notice.
There was a serious monsoon the morning of my cousin's bridal shower so carrying all the decor and food. into the clubhouse was awful. I was soaking wet, decor got wet, etc. but you can't control the uncontrollable. I let it roll off my back and got to work setting up once everything was inside.
Once the party starts, you will get busy playing hostess but try to step back and enjoy your party and all the hard work you put into it.
Miscellaneous tip #1: check out venue in advance
This is a miscellaneous tip because you might not have the ability to view the venue ahead of time, but if you can I highly suggest it. We walked through the venue in August and it helped in several ways:
-It allowed me to get an idea of the room and how I want to set up
-I was able to see what amenities they had on site: stove, refrigerator, tablecloths, tables
Miscellaneous tip #2: support small businesses on Etsy
As a small business owner myself, I love supporting other small businesses. Etsy is full of the coolest small businesses with some really amazing products. Whenever I'm planning a party, I try to buy as many things as I can off of Etsy.
For my cousins shower, I purchased several things off of Etsy:
-Party favors: I chose wildflower seed packets that said let love grow on them
-Welcome sign: from the same shop as the invites and countdown sign
-Countdown sign: from the same shop that did the welcome sign and invites
-Games: editable PDF that I customized and then printed
Miscellaneous tip #3: don't be afraid to use items from home
This is a miscellaneous tip because you might not have items from home for the event. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box though. For me, I reused candles that I used at my wedding. I also used pumpkins from around my house to add to table centerpieces and scatter throughout the room as decor. I used frames from my house as well. I also didn't have to buy any platters because I used platters and serving trays from my house. So before you go crazy buying things for your party, stop and think about anything you can use that you already have to save yourself some money.
Other things purchased/made for the shower I didn't mention:
-Marble mimosa bar background: Willow Ridge Market
-Tassel garland for balloon tail
Bridal Shower Specifics:
-I created a playlist on my phone to have playing softly in the background. I feel as though it's a really small detail but guests seemed to enjoy it and it was nice to have while my cousin was opening gifts and while people were participating in games.
-We played two games (which are linked above) that everyone seemed to enjoy. I didn't want too many games and I wanted games that were unique to the bride and groom. We played a he said, she said game as well as a How Well Do You Know the Bride game. They were interactive for both my cousin and the guests.
-We had two different stations that people could do while they were mingling. One was having everyone address an envelope for their thank you card. This will save my cousin so much time when it comes to sending thank you cards for the shower (she's pretty busy planning a wedding). The other was advice and well wishes for the soon-to-be mr. and mrs. This gives people the chance to write down advice and wishes for the couple and allows them to put their own personal spin on something.
-Pictures of the bride and groom throughout the room. I had pictures of my cousin and her fiancé throughout the room. It not only personalizes the event, but it also gives folks something to talk about while they're chatting and maybe meeting family members for the first time.
-A place to take pictures. My cousin really wanted a place to take pictures that wasn't "photo booth" like. Don't get me wrong, photo booths are fun and you can have props but the shower theme was a little more fancy so instead we did a balloon arch with a white backdrop where my cousin was able to get nice pictures with all the guests.