Of all the pre-wedding events thrown in honor of a couple's upcoming wedding, the bridal shower is the one that can be most difficult to plan. Unlike the engagement party, rehearsal dinner, and even the wedding itself, the couple doesn't offer input on the bridal shower—the bride typically helps with just the guest list, then leaves all the planning to family members and friends. Because it can be hard to know exactly what the bride might want this day to look like, planning a bridal shower can be quite nerve-wracking for the hostess. Should there be a theme? Should it be held at someone's house, or a restaurant, or even an event venue? Who needs an invitation? And, perhaps most importantly, should a full meal be served or are appetizers and cocktails or even just dessert and punch appropriate?
Simply put, some form of food should always be served at a bridal shower, but that doesn't necessarily mean a full meal has to be on the menu. The most important thing is to think about your event and budget, then go from there.
What's the budget?
You can't decide on food options until you know how much you can afford spend. If you have an unlimited budget, that's great—but that's rarely the case for a bridal shower. Whether you have a large food and drink budget or are looking to keep things practical, you have a lot of delicious options that guests will love. On the budget-friendly side, consider serving a spread of finger foods that guests can pick and choose from instead of a plated meal that's served by waitstaff, which will also save you money. Tiny sandwiches, fruits and veggies, a selection of cheeses, and even sliced meats can be delicious and affordable—and it's easy to DIY should you choose to go that route. A full meal or a buffet spread are nice options when you have a bit more to spend.
Is there a theme?
The type of food you serve depends entirely on the theme. If the bride is a big lover of brunch, your theme is decided. Mini pancakes, bacon and sausage, biscuits or muffins, and fruit are ideal for the meal. Don't forget the mimosa and Bloody Mary bar! If you think your bride will prefer an afternoon tea-style shower, it's entirely fine to skip a larger meal and serve tea sandwiches, fruit, petit fours, and scones along with an array of different teas. If your bride is close to her family and friends, there's always the option of a recipe potluck. Each guest brings her favorite homemade dish, and writes the recipe and accompanying story onto a recipe card for the bride to take to her marriage. While appetizers and cocktails or dessert and coffee would both be fine, make sure to time your shower appropriately. These food options work better for a late-afternoon event; guests invited to a bridal shower that takes place 11 a.m. or noon will assume some form of meal will be served.
Small Plates or Full Meal?
Whether you should serve small appetizers or a full meal fully depends on the bride and your budget. Some brides would be perfectly happy with Champagne and cheese and crackers, while some personalities lean more towards family BBQs and lots of socializing. If you're really not sure, consult with the bride, and start planning from there!