CHRISTINA DEHAN JALOWAY
Bridal showers are a wonderful opportunity for your friends and family to celebrate your upcoming nuptials in a more intimate, laid back environment. Unfortunately, bridal showers have the reputation for being stuffy, boring, and awkward. Chances are, you’ve been to a bridal shower (or two) where the conversation was stilted, the gift-opening took hours (or at least seemed like it), and neither the bride nor the guests had a fun time. I know I have.
What is a bride-to-be to do? You’re not in charge of planning your showers, but you will typically have some input in the process. If your bridesmaids, siblings, family friends, or extended family approach you and ask to throw you a shower, you have the opportunity to steer the party planners in a direction that both you and your guests will enjoy. If they ask, feel free to suggest themes, games, and even a location; chances are, your hostesses will appreciate the help!
What should you and your hostesses consider when planning a bridal shower?
The Bride’s Personality
If you’re an extrovert, chances are you’re totally up for being the center of attention at your shower, won’t mind opening up your gifts in front of everyone, and/or playing games that involve lots of mingling. These same scenarios may be a nightmare for the introverted bride (or introverted guests). While it’s impossible to accommodate everyone’s personality at any party, the bride’s should certainly be taken into consideration during the planning process.
Note: if you want to avoid the gift-opening spotlight, consider asking guests to bring their gifts unwrapped. That way, everyone can see the presents and you can thank your guests for them without having to spend the majority of the party unwrapping gifts.
Will all or most of the guests know each other? Will it be women only or co-ed? Are most of the guests the bride’s age or will there be guests of all ages in attendance? How many guests will be invited? The answers to these questions will directly impact the theme, so it's important to nail the guest list down before moving forward.
This is the fun part, and thankfully, these days there are more options than just sitting around with cake, punch, and a pile of presents. Since I’ve only been able to give input for my bridal showers (one was a wine-tasting shower and one was household themed), I asked Facebook friends to share their favorite themes and shower games, some of which are quoted below.
Tasting Theme: Are you a coffee or tea lover? Chocolate connoisseur? Is wine or beer tasting a favorite pastime of yours? A tasting party gives everyone at the shower something to enjoy--and takes the focus off of the bride if she’s introverted. Plus, it gives guests an opportunity to help the soon-to-be-married couple stock their bar or build their fancy tea/coffee collection.
“We set out cheeses, crackers, fruit etc...and paired the cheeses with wines. People could move around from table to table, tasting the pairings. We also did a little game, where people could guess what variety of wine was paired with each cheese (we covered the labels on the bottles so people couldn't cheat).” -Laurie
Honeymoon/travel theme: If you and your fiancé care more about having an exotic honeymoon than getting everything on your kitchen registry, consider a honeymoon or travel themed bridal shower. Honeymoon registries abound these days, and it’s simple to request on the invitation that guests contribute to the honeymoon fund instead of bringing a gift. Also: the decor, food, and even games can be centered around the honeymoon destination, which makes planning a breeze.
Game/activity idea: The Newlywed Game! My sister and I both played this at our bridal showers, and it was one of the best parts by far. The hostesses emailed the grooms-to-be questions about us, which they filmed themselves answering on their phones, and then sent back to the hostesses. We all watched the guys’ answers (which ranged from hilarious to heartwarming) on a big screen and compared them to the brides’ answers.
Adventure theme: If you’re the sporty type (and your guests are too), consider going on a hike or kayaking trip instead of having a traditional shower. Guests can be encouraged to purchase you and your fiancé outdoor and sporting goods off of your registry, and the hostesses can pack snacks and a bottle of bubbly for the end of the outing.
Game/activity idea: Since this type of shower is ideal for a smaller group, each guest could share a favorite memory with the bride, give an affirmation, or pray a blessing over her.
Literature or film theme: Are you a Janeite? Obsessed with Harry Potter? Have you always dreamed of having an Anne of Green Gables style tea party, complete with raspberry cordial (or currant wine)? Your bridal shower is a wonderful opportunity to make that dream come true.
“My bridesmaids had my shower at a tea house. We had a tea party and played a literary guessing game based on my favorite books. Tea, catching up with friends, and not being up on display was a dream for this socially anxious introvert!” -LeAnna
“I'm an insane fan of everything Nancy Drew. She was my favorite book character growing up, and I love how classy, smart, vintage, and strong she is about everything! My maid of honor is planning a vintage, Nancy Drew themed bridal shower where you have to come dressed up in classic Nancy Drew attire and all the guests are part of a mystery. Bless her for being willing to put so much time and effort into it.”-Mariah
Cooking/Baking Theme: If you love to cook or bake, why not share that passion with your guests? If you have a small enough guest list, the possibilities are endless: a group cooking class, gathering at a hostess' house and baking your own desserts, or even a potluck shower where each guest brings her favorite dish (along with a recipe card) are all great ideas.
Game/activity: Have each guest bring a recipe card and compile them all in a cute box for the newlyweds to use. One bride had a “spice shower” where each guest brought a spice or baking item and she had to try to bake a cake with the new items without looking at a recipe.
Open House Shower: This is ideal if you are planning a hometown wedding while living out of state and have limited time to spend with family and friends from home:
“For my sister we had an open house! She was out of state and everyone wanted to talk to her and catch up, which is really hard at a formal shower. It was in a home and each room had something different: food in one place, a "game" (a collaborative gift for my sister) was in another room, and my sister was in an large open space where she sat with people and opened their gifts as they came in. People stayed and sat and talked, but could come and go.” -Katie
Games and Activities: Have guests write down a piece of advice for the couple on a notecard as they walk in, and collect them all at the end for the bride to take with her.
”My matron of honor bought a Bible and asked everyone to underline a verse that had significance for them and then sign their name so I would keep them in my prayers as I was reading Scripture.” -Maggie
If you're in the bridal shower planning stages currently, I hope this list is helpful for you and the hostesses. If you've already had your showers and enjoyed them, or have planned bridal showers in the past, please share any advice you have regarding themes or games in the comments!