Best Bridesmaids

Keeping up with our new Seven on Saturday move, I want to share 7 tips for successfully planning  a bridal shower. Remember, these tips are not about how to be a good bridesmaid – although I’ll share those soon. These are specifically focused on how to plan a memorable shower for the bride-to-be – or groom-to-be depending on the wedding!

Being a Bridesmaid is certainly a unique experience and can vary significantly from one wedding to another. And in some cases can be really fun and in others a giant ball of stress. 

Depending on the dynamic, you might need to really pull your weight in planning a shower, but you also may need to only offer to help and just show up smiling if the MOH and maybe family member takes charge. If you’re being asked to help shape the day here are some quick tips for how to plan the perfect shower.

  1. Talk to the bride – this should absolutely be the first step. Now, the bride may not be a bride and it could be a happy couple or it could be brides. Whoever you’re throwing the shower for, have a quick conversation. Ask if they have a vision, any special requests. Do they have a theme in mind? Do they have a venue they’d love? Do they have a special date? Do they like games? Hate games? How do they see their shower making them feel? Showers really vary these days – a shower can go a more traditional route of a brunch/lunch/tea for ladies, or it can be a Thursday night for cocktails and presents with everyone! Find out what your bride wants – and then figure out who else might have an opinion that matters (read: the parents of the bride or groom). 
  2. Resolve who wants to – and can – contribute – financially and in support. Family dynamics can be hard to balance, especially when money is involved. It’s up to whoever is in charge to figure out who is willing and able to financially contribute. This research might fall to the bride’s parents, the Maid of Honor, or a helpful bridesmaid. Depending on your personal position and your income, I’ve seen bridesmaids contribute anywhere from maybe a plate, some decorations, coordinate games and prizes, or up to $200. It could definitely be a lot higher, depending on your lifestyle/the bride’s life, but make sure you’re comfortable and make sure you have a budget before you start planning.
  3. Do your research – unless the bride has their heart set on a specific place, shop around. Price out venues and play with the idea of hosting the event in a home if you need to keep costs down. Having a shower – or any event – outside can be risky since it’s hard to anticipate what the weather will be. If you’re pricing out a venue, make sure you ask all of your questions – we’ll get in to this later.
  4. Pick a clear theme – even if your bride isn’t really a “theme” kind of girl. It’s important to have consistency across decorations. Themes can even help influence the food, games, and invitation. You might consider leaning in to any themes that will be at the wedding, or something unique about the couple. This is also key to helping keep everyone on the same page. You might end up planning a shower that involves the bridesmaids, bride’s mom, groom’s mom, and eager aunts. Having one theme you can tie everything back to will help make look the event consistent and thoughtful. 
  5. Delegate – everything. If you’re the Maid of Honor, it’s important that you not take this on all on your own. Worse still, if you’re a bridesmaid who is just stepping up because the MOH has no experience in doing this, you’ll have support. Family members and other friends can help with things as well. If you’re having a shower in a home and an aunt offers to bring a plate – let them! Think through jobs – games, decorations, playlists, packing the essentials – and let people sign up for them. It becomes managing the tasks rather than completing the tasks.
  6. Send invitations early – it’s better to give guests notice than to send around information last minute. Whether you’re ordering formal invitations or sharing an evite, make sure you give your guests anywhere between six and ten weeks notice. Include a RSVP by date on your invitation to be sure you have a clear guest count. If you’ve never extended formal invitations before, make sure you spell check and double-check key details. You’ll also want to keep a clear list of who you invited, and track all responses in an organized way! I’ll share tips in upcoming posts on how to stay organized through a wedding. 
  7. Keep tabs on everyone’s emotions – as we all know, weddings are a very emotional process. Your bride might feel anxious about the shower, or there might be other dynamics going on. A common issue is the role of the groom’s mom. It’s easy for her to feel excluded from the shower planning process. See if the bride’s mom would be comfortable including the groom’s mom in some special way. On the other side of this, you might find that the groom’s mom has a long guest list, but no interest in helping! Just be sure you’re keeping everything even for your bride. I’ll share tips on how to do this in the coming weeks!

Seven On Saturdays – Be the Best Wedding Guest

While I’m still trying my adventure a week, I also want to share some tips to get through practical life events! Each Saturday you can look out for me sharing seven tips to help you think through anything from planning a backyard BBQ to prepping for a European adventure!

If you have something you wish you had some tips to help you on, let me know and I’ll see if I can help!

Today I’m sharing some quick tips to get you through wedding season.

I talk a lot about wedding season on the blog.

People refer to wedding season as May-October, but believe me, it’s more like a season of your life.

The truth is, in your late twenties and into your early thirties, it’s safe to believe that half of the people in your social network will get married. You’ll spend more than half of your weekends those years attending engagement parties, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and weddings. Double this if you’re in a relationship yourself. It gets exhausting, fattening, and expensive – but it’s also incredibly fun, even if you’re riding solo.

Here are a few tips to get you through wedding season:

  1. Get comfortable shoes. This is, and always has been, my number one rule. You don’t want to be in pain, and the happy couple definitely don’t want you sitting on the sidelines rather than tearing up the dance floor. Get a few basic pairs that can be worn with different tones of dresses, and break them in before the first wedding appearance. Unless you’re used to it, don’t force yourself into stilettos – you can wear a tasteful wedge or a stacked heel – or even adorable flats. While we’re at it, get a few basic clutches. With social media being what it is today, it’s very easy to cave to the expectation to always have a different dress for every event – I try to live up to this and all it does is make my credit card bill very daunting. Here’s a little secret: you can rewear a dress and the world will not fall apart. Check out stores like TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack to find deals on quality dresses – and, of course, nothing in white for a wedding event, unless you’re the bride!
  2. Be prompt. Keep track of deadlines and dates. If you are asked to RSVP by a certain date, do so. Most wedding invitations are expected, so you’ll likely have a sense of whether you’re able to attend or not by the time you receive the formal invitation. This means it’s probably just a simple matter of selecting a meal – unless it’s buffet or nontraditional. Make this decision as quickly as possible and pop the RSVP back into the mail or log on to their wedding website to submit yours. You should also be prompt to all wedding related events. Many times at engagement parties or shower the couple of the hour arrive at a slight delay so the room is full – but that’s not what you’re supposed to do! You don’t want to walk in 30 minutes late and either miss the surprise or potentially ruin it. You also don’t want to miss the ceremony or interrupt it. Although it certainly didn’t ruin any part of my wedding ceremony, both my husband and I noticed who came in late, closed the door loudly, and had to ask other guests to move for seats.
  3. Stay hydrated. If you’re 21 or older and drink alcohol, the chances are you’ll be living at a light buzz at all wedding-related events. Don’t be that guest that causes a scene or gets embarrassingly drunk. A really fun part of adulting – okay, one of the only fun parts of it – is getting to drink at things like this. Remember though, that means you are an adult. This isn’t a wild college party – this is someone’s favorite day, and that someone’s potentially judgmental family members are there watching.
  4. Be thoughtful in your gifts. If a close friend or a family member gets engaged, definitely send a card and consider an engagement gift. If you think the newly engaged couple will have a formal celebration, there’s no need to rush over with expensive presents right away. Consider a bottle of champagne or a personalized gift from Etsy. You can also make planning baskets – a calendar, a wedding planner, some post-its. Also as a warm reminder, it’s about quality, and not quantity. It’s really the thought that counts! 
  5. Don’t burden the couple. There’s absolutely no need to complain to the couple about how expensive their room block is or how you’ll have to take a half-day off of work to make their Friday night ceremony. Unless they’re monsters, they’re doing their best to host a wedding that fits them, or, at the very least, pleases demanding family members. If they care about you enough to invite you to celebrate with them, you owe it to them to at least not take away from that happiness.
  6. Prioritize your physical and mental health. Weddings have become full weekend events. More than once in your life you might find that you have two weddings in one weekend or at least back-to-back weekends. Make sure you grab some vegetables in between and try to get a workout in if that’s part of your normal routine. My first year through a serious wedding season led to significant weight gain. I wasn’t balancing out these indulgent weekends with strict healthy weekday diets, and I regretted it. It was actually sort of alarming to see the photos of me from the first wedding that year to the last!
  7. Think before you post! Be a conscientious member of your online world, both in your live posts and your captions after the fact. I agree that you should always take too many photos, and always take photos with your significant other when you’re dressed up. Don’t get me wrong. But, if a couple asks for a cell phone free ceremony, or makes a cute little sign about how they hired a photographer so you don’t need to snap pictures of everything, respect that. Put your phone away. You can get a couple picture later. If you’re snapping photos of the couple, think about who can see them – you don’t want to ruin a first look or ruin the surprise for a grand entrance. Also, remember that you’re at a wedding to celebrate someone else, not to start your insta-model career. Remember to share a photo with the happy couple, if you got one. I woke up the morning after my wedding secretly excited to see so many posts from our big day on Instagram – the first one I saw was from one of my bridesmaids with just her fiance, captioned, “We’re next!” Just think about what you would want to see in that moment – or if the happy couple is very different from you – what would add to their happiness, not dull their sparkle.

Check back next week for another Seven on Saturdays!