As far as pre-wedding parties go, bridal showers are definitely a big deal. It's a momentous occasion in which family and friends celebrate the bride and help her prepare for life as a newlywed. Because they're so special, bridal shower hosts often feel pressured to spend a good deal of time and money making the event memorable, and although you may be tempted to splurge on festive décor, delicious food, and big gifts, the budget isn't always there. Whether the bridal shower will be planned and paid for the maid of honor, bridesmaids, bride's mother, groom's mother, or some combination of these women, there may not be unlimited funds to devote to the celebration.
Whatever your budget may be, know that it's possible to plan a beautiful, special bridal shower without breaking the bank. If you're a host who's trying to scale back on excessive spending, we have great news: We spoke to two expert wedding planners about the subject, and they shared their very best tips for planning a budget-friendly bridal shower that will wow your bride and her guests.
Have the bridal shower at home.
Hosting the bridal shower at home is probably the most economical option, says Los Angeles-based wedding planner Shannon Leahy. If you've priced out restaurants and other venues and found them to be more costly than you can afford, start considering your own space (or the spaces of other women close to the bride). Not only will you save money, but you'll also be able to plan a more personal event. Plus, Leahy says that an at-home event gives the host a little more freedom in terms of start and end time. She also likes the idea of a mid-morning or mid-afternoon event, as you won't need to provide an entire meal for guests. Tea, coffee, finger sandwiches, fruit, pastries, and Champagne-based cocktails should do it. Like the idea of a larger meal? Brunch is a good choice, as dishes like eggs, pancakes, and waffles are often less expensive than chicken or fish dishes.
Keep the menu simple and elegant.
"Finger foods are great if you're hosting at your home, as it keeps things simple and elegant," suggests Jill LaFleur, owner, planner, and creative director of LaFleur Weddings. If you'll be cooking the food yourself, this is especially important. You could also ask guests to help out with the menu. LaFleur recommends inviting family members to contribute their favorite dish or dessert and ask each woman to bring along the recipe card so that the couple can recreate it once they're married.
Serve statement-making cocktails that are fun and inexpensive.
LaFleur also recommends keeping it simple when it comes to the bar. Limit both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options to make things easier on yourself, and serve just a few statement-making cocktails that will wow guests. For non-alcoholic options, she likes fruit-flavored waters and a few different sparkling juices (she says World Market is great place to look for these). Then, set up a rosé bar with both flat and sparkling varieties, plus a few mixers or toppings, like flower-filled ice cubes, fresh fruit, and juices. A DIY mimosa or Bloody Mar bar work, too. No matter what you serve, don't underestimate the power of pretty glassware—guests love drinking out of decorative cups, coupes, and flutes.
Give the shower a theme.
"We always think a themed shower (and themes are free!) helps make the event a little more special," Leahy says. She recommends informing guests about the theme and asking attendees to bring gifts that fit the bill. For a cooking-themed showed, guests could bring kitchen essentials, dinnerware, and fine china. If you've selected a theme that doesn't lend itself to gifts (say, a French-themed shower), choose a few key decorative elements that work with the aesthetic you're going for.