Ideally hosted by the bride, the bridesmaids' luncheon (sometimes referred to as the bridal luncheon) is a celebratory event often held in the days leading up to the wedding. Although it doesn't have to be an actual lunch—some brides plan brunches, dinners, or even pool parties and spa days instead—brides traditionally gather their bridesmaids as a way to thank them for all that they have done. If you're too swamped to organize another event, know that it's not uncommon for the mother of the bride (or another family member) to host this party. Are you thinking about planning your own bridesmaids' luncheon, but have no idea where to start? Never fear. We asked two wedding planning experts to offer their favorite ideas for an unforgettable celebration in honor of your crew.
Keep it casual.
Since the bridesmaids' luncheon is typically held the day before the wedding, most brides choose to keep this party very casual. If your schedule is already jam-packed, you can also make it part of the wedding morning festivities. "All the bridesmaids, the bride, and the bride's mother are usually already gathered early on the day of wedding, and everyone needs to eat, so a bridesmaids' luncheon can often just involve ordering in a nice lunch while everyone is getting their hair done," says Caitlin Kenney, editor of Ultimate Bridesmaid. She advises against turning your bridesmaids' luncheon into a last-minute crafting session, no matter how strong the urge may be. "Remember, this luncheon is meant to thank and honor your bridesmaids, so don't put them to work at this event."
When it comes to what to serve, you can't go wrong with mimosas. The bridesmaids' luncheon often becomes a bridesmaids' brunch, according to Kenney. "I love the idea of all the bridesmaids showing up in their pajamas to enjoy waffles or eggs benedict together on the morning of the wedding," she says. If you want to spice up your bridesmaids' luncheon, you can also add an activity, like treating all your bridesmaids to a manicure or facial. Want to go in a different direction? Consider afternoon tea, a pre-wedding pool party, or dinner at your favorite restaurant.
Give gifts to your girls.
The bridesmaids' luncheon is the ideal time to present your bridesmaids with a gift. "We often see the most personalization in the gifts the bride chooses to give to her bridesmaids," says Tara Guérard of Tara Guérard Soirée. Pick something thoughtful that your girls will also be able to use after the wedding. "My favorite bridesmaid gifts are things the girls will actually want to use in their real lives—resist the urge to brand gifts with your wedding details," adds Kenney. "Choose something thoughtful, like a cozy plaid scarf for a winter wedding, a pretty necklace they can wear to work, or your favorite bath or beauty products. If you want to tie the gift in with your wedding theme, do it with the packaging rather than the gift itself."
As with most wedding activities, the bridesmaids' luncheon has its own special tradition. The charm cake, according to Guérard, involves each guest pulling one ribbon from the center of a Bundt cake to find a good-luck charm and message dangling from the other end. "It is such a sweet and personal note at the end of the bridal luncheon," says Guérard.
No matter what direction you choose to go in, don't forget to relax and appreciate this special moment with your closest female friends. You'll soon be swept up in wedding celebrations and have to split the occasion between relatives, family friends, and many other guests—not to mention your partner! "Never forget the importance of your bridal luncheon," says Guérard. "It is a nice moment, without any distractions to spend time with your mother, grandmother, close family, and your girlfriends. It will mean a lot to carve out that special time for you and the ones that mean the most on that busy weekend."