How to Plan a Bridal Shower on a Small Budget
Someone special is getting married, and you want to celebrate this and help the happy couple by throwing a bridal shower. Bridal showers are a great time for many friends to get together, and shower the bride with many essentials for the new home. Sometimes though, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin when planning a gathering like this, especially if your budget is limited. Here are some tips to get you started.
Ask the Bride
The first thing you will want to know is exactly what the bride wants in her shower. If this is a surprise shower, you might have to be sneaky. Think for yourself what the bride would like, and ask others who are also close to her. If it is not a surprise, ask the bride directly. She will likely want to have input on many elements of the gathering such as colors, format, menu, guest list, venue, etc.
Choose a Budget
This is often the first step in planning a gathering, and really, it could be here also. You will want to know how much you can spend before you start planning too much and buying anything. Find out who is responsible for paying for the shower, and go from there. Having a budget, no matter how big or small, will help greatly in making decisions later in every area.
As you are planning, remember that you will have to balance a few variables to not exceed your budget. The more guests you have, the more you will spend on food and other supplies and a larger venue. This can be compensated by finding ways to spend less on food or decorations. Just keep these things in mind, so you don’t quickly go over your budget.
Choose a Format
The next step on the list is to choose a format for the shower. Occasionally, bridal showers are done in an open-house format. Guests may come and go during certain hours and chat with the bride and other guests, eat finger foods, and bring gifts. For some situations, this might be the best format.
More traditionally, however, the shower will have a set order of events. Ask the bride if she wants to play any bridal shower games (check the internet for tons of ideas), or do anything else to spice it up a little. There will usually be times for guests to eat, play games, and watch the bride open gifts. Decide on the order of these events ahead of time, and decide if you would like to make any changes from tradition. For example, the guests could write sweet notes and marital advice for the couple on notecards to be read later. These changes can make it even more special and memorable!
Write the Guest List
Find out from the bride (or people close to her if it is a surprise) who she would like on the guest list. Try to decide on an approximate number of guests before making the list. If the bride is having trouble with limiting her guest list, encourage her to choose the people who are closest to her first, then choose other friends who are most likely to be able to attend. Also, keep in mind that there are ways to cut costs other than limiting the guest list such as rearranging seating so a larger venue does not need to be rented, or finding more cost-effective menu options.
Choose a Location
For a small bridal shower, hosting the gathering in someone’s home may work well, but in most cases, the shower will need to be held somewhere else. The most obvious location is a venue designed for occasions like this. Find a few venues that fit your budget and visit them if possible to see which one fits your needs best. If you are just doing finger foods or cake and punch, you might not even need tables, and just be able to set up chairs. This will save space meaning you will not need as much room for more guests. If you are planning a full meal, you will need tables, which means you will need more room for the number of guests you are hosting.
For decorations, again, ask the bride what she wants. She may want to use the wedding colors, or she may want to incorporate the time of year (such as springy flowers if it is springtime or fall leaves if it is autumn), or she may want a fun theme that she enjoys (such as the beach, antiques, or even a sport). The possibilities are endless!
Remember, the decorations will set the tone for the shower. If you want a calm, quiet atmosphere, you may want simple table decorations and neutral or calming colors. If you want a more lively atmosphere, choose bright colors and fun decorations.
Decorations can get expensive, but with a little thought and shopping around, the price can drop dramatically. The biggest ideas to keep in mind are to shop early and shop everywhere. Start off by looking in multiple stores and online for the best prices on the products you would like to incorporate. Also, starting early will give you time to watch for sales and coupons. Another thought to keep in mind is that not everything needs to be the best quality. For example, unless the table setting is important to you, don’t buy the most expensive disposable plates and flatware you can find. Find something cheap and durable that matches your design, and buy it. Don’t stress over every detail needing to be high-quality.
Plan the Menu
Planning the menu has been touched on several times already, but, in short, there are three typical menu types that can be done for a bridal shower. There can either be a full meal, finger foods, or cake and drinks. Your guests will enjoy any of these options if they are done well. Do what works best for you, the bride, and your budget.
There are a couple of ways to cut costs on the menu. Of course, you could just opt for cake and punch, and that would cost a lot less than providing other food, but if this doesn’t work for you, there are definitely other options. The first (similar to decorating) is to shop around. Call different stores and find out who does the most cost-effective sheet cake. Check with multiple caterers to find who can provide the food you like at the most affordable cost. An even more effective way to save money is to ask your friends or friends of the bride to cook. If several people agree to bring simple hors d’oeuvres, that could cut the cost of the menu entirely, and many people will be happy to help celebrate this joyful occasion!
A bridal shower is a great way for the new couple to get the things they need for their new home and celebrate their upcoming special day. These tips can help you throw a fun gathering for all involved without breaking the bank. Don’t forget to laugh, take lots of pictures, and enjoy the shower yourself!
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