Showering the bride with gifts for her new life is a wonderful wedding tradition that dates back well over one hundred years. Legend has it that a young Dutch couple wanted to wed, but the father of the bride disapproved because the young man was too poor. Friends and family disagreed with the father and came up with a creative way to give them her dowry. They ‘showered’ the bride-to-be by filling a trunk with treasured items of their own that they thought the couple would need in their new life together. Touched by the outpouring of support, the girl’s father relented and allowed them to marry.
Today, wedding showers are considered de rigueur. If you’re the maid of honor, this is one of the most important jobs you have. If the bride has not chosen a maid of honor, but people still want to shower the bride, any close friend or relative can take the lead in putting one together. No matter what your official role, if you are in charge of organizing the event, chances are, it is but one of a hundred things on your to-do list. How do you fit it in with everything else on your list without either spending a fortune or making yourself nuts? The secret: allowing for a little imperfection.
An imperfect shower?
That sounds a little scary. No, we don’t mean throwing something together in a slap-dash fashion. We simply mean that by focusing on the relative handful of things that really are important and making sure those are buttoned up, you can relax and let go of the hundred or so other minor details that have the potential to make you nuts and cost you a fortune. We’ve broken down the planning process into five simple and low-cost steps. Focus on these, and your shower is sure to be a success.
Make a List of Attendees & Pick the Optimal Date
The first thing you must do is sit down with the bride (or the bride’s mother/sister) and make a list of who should be invited to the shower and make sure that you have the email address or phone number for each person. Because the vast majority of attendees will be able to be reached digitally, you can take a quick poll via email on the best date and time for the event. Pick three dates/times and ask people to respond by a certain deadline letting you know which dates work for them. If there are important guests, like grandparents and great-grandparents who are not on email, call them to get their input as well. Go with the date that works for most (or the most important) people.
Organize Invites Digitally
In this day and age there is no need to go to the expense of printing invitations. Set aside an hour one evening about a month to two months before the event to create and send e-invitations. Sites like Pingg.com enable you to create and send lovely ones for free and manage RSVPs online too. Be sure to add a short line to the bottom of your e-invitation letting people know how to contact you if they’re interested in helping out. If there are one or two people on the list who are not reachable via email, you can design and print your own invitation using a free invitation design service like www.InvitationLand.com and then send it via snail mail.
Identify Your Team & Assign Roles
Most attendees would love the opportunity to help out; after all it is another opportunity for them to shower the bride with love. But you will never know unless you ask. That is why we recommended putting a line at the bottom of your e-invite letting people know that they should contact you if they’re interested in lending a hand. Start with those who responded positively and enlist their help with one of the following areas: (1) hosting the party at their house – if you can’t accommodate everyone at yours, (2) making a dish, (3) planning a game, (4) helping the bride stay organized on the day. If too few people replied, reach out to others in the wedding party or other family members to see if they can help.
Plan for Potluck
Food is the glue at a shower – and it is so much more meaningful when others can make a little something with love for the event. Make a potluck signup sheet and circulate it. The list should include sign-up space for one or two appetizers, one or two side dishes, one or two main dishes, and at least one cake or set of cupcakes. Put your name down next to one or two dishes to get the ball rolling.
Map Out the Agenda
The best showers have allotted time for chit-chat, food and cake, presents, and games. If you don’t have at least a rough schedule, you’re likely to end up having to rush through something. Decide what shower games you want to play. If more than one is to be played, split up the planning so that it doesn’t all fall on one person’s shoulders. Think about how to keep the gift opening process moving along. This is the part of the shower that takes the longest and guests can start to lose interest if it is poorly organized. Those who signed up to help the bride stay organized on the day of the shower should be at the ready – handing her gifts, taking away wrapping paper in an orderly fashion, keeping a list of who gave what, and making the ribbon bouquet. For a green and speedy twist – have everyone put their gifts in muslin bags tied with a ribbon so that unwrapping is less time consuming.
About Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore
We are the co-founders of Buttoned Up, Inc.(www.getbuttonedup.com), a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed women get themselves organized and co-authors of “Everything (almost) In Its Place.” We welcome your thoughts! Please visit us at www.getbuttonedup.com and follow up on twitter @getbuttonedup.