If you're hosting a bridal shower this summer and are at a loss at where to start, you're in luck. To get the scoop on this important pre-wedding party, we caught up with etiquette expert Suzanne Pollak, the Dean of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits and bridal ambassador for The Beach Club Hotel at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, to find out everything you need to know. Here, Pollak, who hosts cooking, entertaining, and etiquette classes in Charleston, South Carolina, shares her top tips for hosting a summer bridal shower your guests (and the bride!) won't soon forget.
Choose the right menu.
Summer dining is all about fresh, light fare. For a bridal shower, Pollak suggests serving an array of cool meal options. "A trout dip with rice crackers; tomato, peach, and ricotta salads; thinly sliced tenderloin; cold yellow beans; finger foods; and finger desserts are all perfect for a summer party," she says. "For a sit-down meal, you can go a little heavier."
Skip the mess.
It should go without saying, but Pollak reminds all hostesses to avoid serving anything too messy or hard to eat at a shower. "For a female-only shower, I'd never serve anything messy, drippy, or smelly."
Consider a potluck.
Just because you're the hostess doesn't mean you have to do everything on your own. Pollak loves the idea of a potluck bridal shower. "It's always appropriate," she says. "If you're a food control freak like me, make the menu and assign each person a recipe so you won't get three brownie platters and two raw veggies ones."
If you want to have a theme, make sure it's inspired.
Cliché themes are decidedly out, but Pollak says you can still pull off a chic party with one unifying vibe. "The best thing to do is pick a theme that matches her personality. If she loves pink, make pink the theme," she says. "Pink margaritas, pink scallops—brined in beet juice, then poached. If the wedding is in an exotic place, then make cocktails and foods that are from that special place so everyone is anticipating the wedding." And don't be afraid to surprise the bride. "It's a wonderful idea. She already has a lot to think about on her own."
Create the appropriate guest list.
While the bride should weigh in on the guest list, it's your job to ensure how many people you can handle, both in terms of cost and space. "The hostess will decide the number of people they can handle monetarily and number wise," she says. But there are some non-negotiable invitees. "The mother and future mother-in-law, sisters and any sisters-in-law, bridesmaids, and godmothers should all be invited no matter what."