An Event Designer's Tips for Planning an Elegant, Luxe Bridal Shower—Based on Her Own New York City Party!
If you're the bride-to-be, you've likely realized that the bridal shower is traditionally planned and executed by someone that is not you. For some fiancées, this is no big deal. For others? Relinquishing control of a celebration that comes with so many decisions—from flowers, to food, to décor, to games—can feel impossible. It probably feels even more impossible if your career revolves around party planning. So, when we discovered that Allison Aronne, event planner and partner at the planning firm Fête NY, had recently celebrated her own pre-wedding party, we naturally assumed that she'd curated each and every detail on her own.
We couldn't have been more wrong. For Aronne, feeling like the bride-to-be meant taking a middle seat—not a back seat!—to bridal shower planning. Instead of entering work mode, she selected two specific items that she wanted to personally handle (her menu and the seating chart!) and left the rest to her family, friends, and the experts at Fête.
If you're putting together your own pre-wedding party, let Aronne's experience inform your own. Trusting both your loved ones and vendors will get you a lot further than attempting to single-handedly orchestrate the shower, she says. And if the event designer's approach to party planning is your first takeaway, let her bridal shower advice be the second. From serving up food that takes you back to your childhood to playing bridal shower games that feel anything but juvenile, there's just so much to learn from her pre-nuptials New York City celebration, which took place at Palma, an Italian restaurant in the West Village.
Here, the event designer shares her tips and tricks for an elegant and luxe bridal shower that feels exactly like you—even if you didn't handle the minutiae.
You'll want to choose a venue and guest list four months ahead, send out invitations six-to-eight weeks prior, confirm the menu and all décor one month out, and finalize your seating chart (if you have one!) with two weeks to go, says Aronne. Pro tip: Be sure to set the RSVP date three weeks ahead of the party date, so you don't have to adjust said seating plan after you've toiled over it for hours.
Don't Take Control of Every Detail
She may plan major events for a living, but Aronne wanted to feel like a bride at her pre-wedding party. She chose the West Village restaurant venue ("I wanted an intimate setting near our home, with great Italian food!"), the menu, and the floor plan, but her mother and her "shower committee" handled the rest. "I was the guest of honor and was really able to enjoy myself," she explains.
Dress with Comfort in Mind
Aronne's advice to brides-to-be shopping for their shower? "Get something that makes you feel beautiful and comfortable," she says. "Nothing that makes you feel self-conscious!" The event designer's mother chose her tea-length dress, complete with dainty laser cut-outs and the chicest overlay. She accessorized her look with a pair of earrings—a gift from Jung Lee, her partner at Fête NY.
Serve Food Casually
Like you would at home, says Aronne: "Make it personal and reflective of what you love." The party's menu included a few of the bride-to-be's favorite things—including fried artichokes and burrata to start, a pasta course of cacio e pepe ravioli, followed by a main of grilled branzino, steak, and vegetables—and was served family style.
Craft a Signature Cocktail
You'll want to work with your venue's mixologist to come up with something that hits all of your favorite notes and speaks to your party's vibe. Aronne and her guests sipped on her custom La Vie En Rose cocktail, a blush pink drink that referenced the event's color and floral palette. The bartender finished off the refreshing concoction of Citroen vodka, prosecco, St.-Germain, and fresh lemon juice with a fresh petal and rose mist.
Don't Rule Out a Few Games
Aronne isn't "generally a fan of games," but she enjoyed the ones she and her guests played at the shower, from the "Allison Fun Facts" sheet to the hilarious round of relationship trivia with her fiancé, Ryan. The couple sat back-to-back with two paddles (each featured a baby photo of Aronne and her future husband) and were then asked a series of funny and provocative him-or-her questions. "It was fun for us and all our guests," she says. "I think the best parties are ones where guests leave feeling like they got to know someone else a bit better. I love that type of experience—that's what stays."
Cake Isn't Mandatory
Not a cake fan? Skip it! Aronne opted instead for assorted Italian cookies—a testament to her Italian-American heritage—which, like the meal, were served family style.
Leave Time for Toasts
"Toasts really add to the celebration if they give guests a better insight into the honoree," says the event designer, who advises budgeting time for them. At her own celebration, her mother, aunt, longest friend, and her two maids of honor all offered a few words. Aronne hadn't planned on speaking, but "was so overwhelmed by joy" that she stood up towards the end of the party. "I felt that I needed to express my gratitude toward all of the most important ladies in my life right then and there," she reflects.
Feel Free to Skip Opening Gifts
You will, however, still want to acknowledge your loved ones' generosity in some way. Make like Aronne and present pictures of gifts alongside childhood and family wedding photos. "It felt warm and homey," she says, of her display. "Everyone really enjoyed seeing their gifts displayed in such a beautiful way!"
Invite Your Groom
And your closest male family members, while you're at it, says Aronne. "After a few hours with the ladies, it was nice to inject some new faces and energy into the party," she explains. "I loved having him there, because he was able to spend time with this intimate group of people and experience the specialness of the day with me."
Keep the Important Things in Mind
The best part of your bridal shower is also the takeaway, says Aronne—you're surrounded by the women that have defined so many parts and times of your life. The rest—the details, the food, the décor, the flowers—is secondary. "It's a great opportunity to have all the women from all parts of your life gathered in one place, where they can get to know each other a bit better before the wedding," she explains.