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When and How to throw a Wedding Shower: The Do's and Don'ts
When lots of friends start to get engaged it’s only natural to want to help them celebrate their impending nuptials. This is even more true if you live in the south, where weddings run rampant right after graduation from College, and decorum and hospitality are the words of the day.
Such a situation presented itself to me a week or so ago when a wonderful couple my boyfriend and I have known for years got engaged. They’ve decided on a quick engagement, leaving only nine months to plan a wedding, yet the question on my mind is, when would be an appropriate time to throw a wedding shower?
I went to my Mother, as most people would, seeing that she is perfectly adept at running a small country from the comfortable surroundings of her kitchen, and asked if it was appropriate to throw a shower this fall. She replied that you don’t usually throw any showers until after someone has thrown an engagement party, which is usually a bigger to-do and thrown for both friends and family.
In normal situations I would agree with her, however owing to the fact that the couple is getting married in April, and the fact that they are extremely low key and just want to be married and living in the same city, I don’t really want to be monopolizing their time in February for a shower.
When I asked the groom whether he would prefer a fall shower or a Valentines shower, explaining my reasoning and the fact that I would be breaking the sacred rules of wedding propriety, he replied with, “There’s no rules!”
He was of course referencing the Little Caesars Hot and Ready pizza commercial where a man is so excited with the deal presented to him that he rips his shirt off yelling, “There’s no rules!” to which an employee then yells, “Put your shirt back on,” and the customer concedes with, “There’s one rule!”
Undoubtedly funny as that commercial is, as well as the grooms response to how much he really didn’t care when the shower was, I was then left to put the shower together. There are several categories to planning and carrying out a successful wedding shower, lets begin with…
Invitations and Guest List
Typically it is a major faux pas to invite anyone to a shower that will not be on the guest list for the wedding, no matter how you feel about the person or people in question. As host or hostess you may also want to get with the bride and groom and specify whether or not they want just friends in attendance, or family too.
With our group of friends, because there are so many of us, we typically stick to couples and friends from college, also including the bridal party and any siblings of the couple. Usually the bride and grooms parents will be invited, but sometimes only the Mother’s show up.
Invitations can be a really fun part of the shower, incorporating the theme of the wedding by using the bride’s colors, and the theme of the shower as well. For example, if we decide to throw a fall shower we may go with some leaves and foliage on the invitation. However, if we go with a Valentines shower, it will obviously be hearts and flowers but in a wedding style.
Etsy has some great deals on invitations with customizable options and really unique designs. The bride has designated yellow as one of her wedding colors, so bearing that in mind and incorporating the two themes, here are some examples of possible invitations for our shower…
The invitations themselves need to be sent out anywhere between two to four weeks before the party, giving people ample time to find out if they will be attending or not.
RSVP v. Regrets
Ahhh, the age old question, whether to have the option for RSVP or Regrets on the invitation. RSVP means that whomever is expecting to attend will either call, email, or text to inform the host or hostess that they will in fact be there. Regrets is when a response is required only if someone cannot attend.
Regrets can be problematic if you need to decide how much food to buy and how much seating to have available. However, if your friends are anything like mine they will forget to RSVP and drive you insane in the meantime.
In my personal opinion I always like to know as much as I can, and add RSVP to all my invitations. I also set a date by which I would like them to ideally let me know, say a week or two before the actual party.
As the host or hostess you can either set a theme for the gifts that goes along for the theme of the shower, such as a home goods shower, or a kitchenware shower. Another option is simply listing the places the bride and groom are registered on the invitation and guests can bring whatever they please.
One of the most unique wedding showers I experienced was a “Holiday” themed shower. Each couple in attendance was assigned a holiday and it was their job to buy a decoration as a gift for the bride and groom to use for that holiday. For Halloween for example, the gift could be a candy bowl or a ghost for the front door, for Christmas a wreath or some ornaments, etc. etc. It’s not very practical, but still a super fun way to stock up on holiday décor.
For wedding showers since they are typically smaller and low key I like to do them in my own home or a friend’s home if they are helping host. It’s more intimate and a whole lot cheaper than renting out a restaurant or bar.
This does not mean that you can leave your home looking the way it is on a regular basis. The need for extra seating and tables may be apparent and some furniture may be moved around, but all of that is an easy fix.
The decorations of your shower clearly depend on the theme you choose, but some tried and true decorations that work in every instance are fresh flowers. Get several bouquets in complimentary colors and stick them on any surface in your home and it will easily vamp up the style.
A cute homemade banner with the names of the Bride and Groom or simply congratulations could also be appropriate.
Food and Drinks
Again the theme can dictate what type of food is served but it doesn’t necessarily have to. What you really need to decide is if you only want finger food or an actual meal. Sometimes this can depend on what time you have a shower, whether dinnertime or lunchtime.
You can also either make the food or have it catered, or even both. A lot of times I’ll make the snacks and hors d'oeuvres, and get at least one big item catered, or buy a tray at the grocery store, (meat and cheese). Just putting fruits and cheese as well as chips and dips sporadically throughout the space will be just fine.
Things like chicken nugget and chicken finger trays always go over well with accompanying dishes such as salad. If you want to stay a little more formal, honey baked ham can be a great center dish to use.
Sweet treats are always welcome at a shower. Getting some mini cupcakes from a store like Gigi’s or a local bakery will be a big hit, or even a cake with the Bride and Groom's names.
Wine and Beer are always on the must have list for my group of friends, but it is always safe to have some non-alcoholic drinks on hand as well. You can opt for iced tea and water, or add soft drinks into the mix as well.
Sometimes a shower doesn’t need any type of activity or game, but it can also be a really fun way to get all the guests involved for a few minutes.
One fun game that is a real crowd pleaser is the bride and groom questionnaire. They each get a set of questions that they have to write down an answer to, and then they have to guess each other’s answer to each question in front of everyone.
If they get an answer wrong they have to put a piece of gum in their mouth, that way you can tell who is missing the most questions.
Some questions are harder than others, and some are simply for the enjoyment of hearing the answers. There are questions such as, where was your first kiss with the groom/bride, and what did you first like about them, so on and so forth.
In the end...
Whatever you decide for the theme, food, decorations etc. most of all remember that this party is to celebrate your friends, and to help them begin their married life together.