How to Host a Last-Minute Bridal Shower
While hosting a bridal shower is a daunting task, it becomes even more of a challenge when you have to plan it on the fly. But sometimes, you don't have control over a bride's wedding timeline—especially if she wants to tie the knot sooner rather than later. To help ease the stress of planning a last-minute bridal shower, we've compiled a list of tips to make it look like you have been organizing the big bash for months, as opposed to weeks.
The trick? Don't get bogged down by the minutiae—there simply isn't time for that. Instead, use the ahead guide, which will help you navigate your search for quick bridal shower decorations that still feel elevated and last-minute bridal shower games that don't require much preparation. With these tips in your corner, your somewhat-spontaneous shower planning will be that much easier. While you may have a limited time to execute this celebration, it can certainly be done in a polished, sophisticated way.
Ultimately, remember that the most important goal is to honor the guest of the hour—part of this means impressing her in the process. To start, we urge you to think of where you want your event to take place (if you're considering a restaurant or hotel, make sure you can book it on such short notice!) and let the planning unfold from there. After that? Follow the ahead advice: create a guest list, send out invites, and choose the menu, cocktails included. So, if you're nervous about pulling off an enjoyable party with only two or three weeks, don't be—these quick bridal shower tips will help.
Make a Reservation
Since you're working with a limited timeline, booking a more exclusive venue, like an art gallery or hotel ballroom, is probably out of the question. Instead, make a reservation at the bride's favorite restaurant or another local spot. Whatever you do, take throwing the celebration at someone's home (yours, or another host's) off the table. At a restaurant, the cost of food, staff, décor, and general overhead is all accounted for in the final tab—plan a shower at home and you'll have to build a party space from the ground up (a pricey enterprise!).
When searching for a restaurant, weigh the bride's preferences against the spot's style; the more defined the atmosphere (whether that's kitschy, chic, or retro) the more intentional hosting a shower there will seem (after all, you may be planning a last-minute bridal shower, but her guests don't have to know that!).
Limit the Guest List
Etiquette dictates that the hosts are only required to invite the bride's mother, the groom's mother, bridesmaids, and immediate female family members. In shaping up the remainder of the guest list, proceed with caution. The larger the guest list, the more there is to manage—and with two weeks' notice, there's too much to manage as is.
We all love snail mail, but sending invitations via the post for a last-minute bridal shower isn’t an option—you need guests to know about the upcoming event now. A practical solution is to email polished invites to guests, then follow-up with a call or text to wrangle any remaining RSVPs two to three days before the shower. This serves as yet another reason to plan the celebration at a restaurant—it's simple enough to change the size of your reservation without accruing fees (or sighs from the staff), so plan for 100 percent attendance and adjust the head count as needed.
Suggest a Dress Code
Although you might not have the time to devise an elaborate bridal shower theme, advising guests to wear cohesive ensembles ups the thoughtfulness factor without burdening you. Plus, the guests thinking, "But what will I wear?!" can rest assured knowing that their trusty black dress—plus an accessory like a straw hat, headpiece, scarf, or whatever other add-on you encourage—is perfectly acceptable. If you need ideas, look no further than the wedding theme, honeymoon destination, or the restaurant's décor, or time of year (summer might call for shades, while winter is prime time for a fuzzy hat or winter boots).
Shop the Local Sale Selections
Scope out the nearest mall or home goods stores for clearance décor to add color and personality to your table or private room. Here's what to keep an eye out for: table cloths, linen napkins, napkin rings, placemats, vases, a pillow to mark the bride's seat, and anything else that's simple, affordable, in season, and won't disrupt the restaurant's service or décor (you'll be the best gauge of the personnel). At minimum, restaurants will likely let you decorate the table with flowers, so snag a few eclectic vases to fill with stems.
Serve a Prix Fixe Menu
Not only is a set menu more cost effective, but it's also a way to make the shower much more personal. Ask the bride to select two appetizers, three main courses, and two desserts from the restaurant menu, then submit the condensed listing to the restaurant to price out the cost per person (most eateries delight in serving a limited menu for large parties anyhow; you're doing them a solid). Plus, a prix fixe menu helps with conversation; guests won't be hunched over the menu trying to fine-tune their orders. The service will also be faster and better.
To up the meal's thoughtfulness, re-name the dishes with inside jokes and nicknames in mind. The restaurant likely won't care if chicken Milanese becomes "Date-Night Chicken" (if that's the bride's go-to dish for nights in with her future spouse), so long as you fill them in on the euphemisms so that they can serve with ease.
Pour a Custom Cocktail
Just like the restaurant's dishes, scale back the cocktail list to a curated selection of boozy offerings—we like one with Champagne or prosecco and one with a palatable hard liquor, like vodka. You can serve this alongside one virgin, water-based spritz. And yes, you should dub them something festive on a custom cocktail list, to match the personalized food menu. If you're offering wine or beer, defer to the bride on what she'd like to serve. She'll basically walk into a party that's serving only her favorite drinks.
Bring a Ready-to-Play Game
In need of last-minute bridal shower games that will keep the fun going? Opt for one that you can pack up, set up, and explain in no time at all, like Catchphrase or a card-based game that involves everyone. At minimum, try "20 Questions" or even "Telephone," which are both fun, simple options that can still double as ice breakers.
Send an UberBLACK car to pick up the bride for the shower, rather than having her ride along with mom or a friend. She'll feel like one glamorous guest of honor. At the end of the party, surprise the bride by enlisting the groom to pick her up. When he arrives, he can pop inside, charm the guests, and then whisk her away. For bonus points, order the groom something to-go and have it boxed up for when he arrives.
Ask Guests to Drop a Line
Delegating tasks is key to throwing a last-minute bridal shower. Exhibit A: Ask each guest to pen a congratulatory hand-written note that reminisces on a memory or escapade from years' past. Your job is to bring a folder, notebook, binder, or box to store the prized notes. You'll give the compilation to the bride as a souvenir. Exhibit B: Tap a handful of hosts (three max) to stand and toast the bride at the shower. While spontaneity is always preferable, you don't want to plan on a round of toasts, and then have no one raise a hand to raise a glass. Giving toasters a heads' up will certainly be appreciated, and that's one more free, heartfelt way that you'll look more prepared.
Gift Store-Bought Favors
Yes, you read that correctly: It's okay to give takeaways that aren't homemade, so long as you hit them with a little personality. Add a simple flourish, like ribbon, string, or tags, and you're good to go. Another easy alternative is to look to the restaurant for ideas. If the shower is hosted at an Italian restaurant, then send guests off with gourmet spaghetti sauce, for example.