How to Plan The Perfect Bridal Shower

My mom and I recently hosted a kitchen- themed bridal shower for my best childhood friend and maid of honor, Jillian. Kitchen showers represent a wonderful opportunity to present the future Mrs. with the everyday essentials she’ll need to be a gourmand – think a glass pitcher, Cuisinart, and hand towels. We held the shower at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, and 17 ladies attended. A true affair to remember, my favorite details included: custom kitchen-themed invitations and menus with the bride’s monogram; a delicious signature salad featuring grilled stone fruit and butter lettuce; lush hydrangea centerpieces; and Herb de Provence favors. If you’re planning a shower for one of your close friends or relatives, grab your pen and paper and follow my bridal shower planning guide.
  • First things first, once you’ve offered to give the bride a shower, kindly ask for her guest list and shower date.
  • Determine your shower theme (discuss this with the bride to ensure she doesn’t have duplicate showers, and to also select a theme that will be meaningful to her) as this will set the tone for the event. Themes include: traditional bridal shower, kitchen shower, linens shower, monogram shower, or couples stock the bar shower. Once you decide, weave the theme into all elements of the day, including the invitations, décor, and favors.
  • Next, select your venue – i.e., your home, a restaurant, a tearoom, or a country club. Make certain the space has ample room for the meal as well as the gift-opening portion of the shower. If you plan on hosting the shower outside of your home, phone the venue well in advance to secure it.
  • Since it’s a formal occasion, formal invites sent in the mail (yes, people still use the mail!) are a must. Order gorgeous bridal shower invitations online from such outlets as WeddingPaperDivas.com (my go-to online stationary store for bridal shower and bridesmaids luncheon invites) or visit your local stationary store – I adore Needle In A Haystack in Dallas – to pick out invitations and have them printed. Strive to select invitations that incorporate the shower theme and wedding colors (or bride’s favorite colors).
  • Send the invitations six weeks before the event, and request that your guests RSVP two weeks before the shower, as the final headcount will impact the seating, meal, and favors. If your guests decline to RSVP on time – tsk-tsk! – ring them to confirm their attendance.
    • Don’t forget to include the Who, What, When, Where, RSVP, and registry details on the invitation
  • Regarding décor, base it on the venue and aim to incorporate the wedding colors. For instance, if you’re hosting the shower at your home, you’ll need to choose your own linens and table settings whereas if you host it at a country club or restaurant, they will take care of the linens and table settings for you. No matter the venue, channel your inner green thumb and create special floral arrangements for the day – think elegant hydrangeas, roses, peonies, and tulips. A couple tips for table settings:
    • Fine china, lovely linens, and crystal for a sit-down or more formal bridal luncheon (*This same set up works beautifully for buffets too – I encourage any excuse to use gorgeous porcelain and crystal!)
    • Monogrammed paper cocktail napkins and matching serve-ware (Swoozies.com has fabulous paper plates, cups, coasters, and napkins that can all be customized) for more casual showers, such as a couples shower that you’re hosting with your girlfriends
  • Shape your menu around the type of shower and if you’re doing the cooking (step aside, Julia Child!), or having it catered (Ok, step back in Julia!). Putting on your chef’s hat? Consider the guests you’re cooking for – a ladies lunch or couples shower? A ladies lunch calls for a savory quiche, mesclun salad, and meringues Chantilly with roasted berries (delish!), whereas a couples shower demands heavy appetizers like caprese skewers and rosemary pork tenderloin sliders. Also, take a peek at the “Menus” section of my blog for inspiration if you’re cooking, and it you’re having it catered, chat with the caterer about food preferences and they will surely develop a lovely menu for you.
    • When opting for a seated meal, I recommend using place cards
  • If your funds allow and it suits the shower, consider having a bar tender or wait staff to lend a helping hand serving the guests – this can be a lifesaver.
  • Show the guests your gratitude for attending by giving them a small favor. Wrap the favor in tissue and tie it with a beautiful bow, or skip the tissue and tie the gift with raffia or tulle ribbon for a more organic feel. Some favor ideas include:
    • Macaroons, trio of nail polishes, (best for traditional bridal shower)
    • Jars of fine herbs, jam, or fleur de sal; recipe cards (best for kitchen shower)
    • Monogrammed handkerchief (best for monogram or linens shower)
  • As the hostess, keep a watchful eye on the shower to guarantee everything runs smoothly and address any problems that arise. Also, after the meal has been served, be on standby during the gift-opening portion of the shower (it’s customary to open the gifts in front of the guests) to help organize presents and document who gave which gift so the bride can write her thank you notes. A darling tradition to consider: create a bouquet from all of the shower gift’s ribbons, and then bestow it upon the bride to use it at the rehearsal.
  • Amidst the chaos of planning, don’t forget to purchase your gift for the bride! Tailor your gift with the theme of the shower – for instance, if it’s a kitchen shower, give her table linens, baking pans, or a piece of her everyday or formal china.
  • If you’re the bride receiving the shower, provide the host(s) with a small gift to show your appreciation for generously giving you a shower, as well as a thoughtful thank you note following the event. Gift ideas include:
    • Bud vase
    • Guest soap and dish set
    • Jewelry tray
Happy planning, and email me at mustbringbuns@gmail.com if you have additional bridal shower questions!

What Does It Mean To Have Good Manners?

Original photo from Vogue.com

Welcome to Must Bring Buns! I’m thrilled that you have taken the time to visit my blog. I thought a great deal about my first post, and since my love for etiquette inspired this blog, it seemed only fitting that the inaugural post be about the meaning of manners. Enjoy! 
              
I want to start by telling you a story. This past summer my husband and I spent the 4th of July with my family in California (I hail from the surf and sand of Newport Beach). We celebrated this special holiday with our usual tradition of dinner and fireworks at my parent’s country club, and since we had a small group, my brother invited his dear friends and their two children to join us. When I say these children had good manners, that’s an understatement. Cheerful, polite, respectful, and absolutely adorable, these precious kids epitomized every parent’s dream. From their gorgeous table manners, to their sparkling stories about school, to their thoughtful hand written thank you notes, they left quite an impression on me. It made me wonder – why did their “good manners” seem like an exception and not the rule? 

So, what does having “good manners” really mean? Does this mean following stuffy, passé rules or does this mean always saying please and thank you? And who decides what constitutes as good manners? Simply stated, good manners equates to knowing how to conduct oneself in a way that is mindful of others. Good manners refers to understanding social skills, communicating with people, and demonstrating behavior that you can be proud of. So yes, having good manners means saying the magic words of “please” and “thank you,” knowing how to comport yourself at a dinner party (a la my tiny aforementioned friends), how to engage with others in social settings, and the list continues. However, it’s important to understand that these “manners” allow us to succeed personally and professionally and be our best self; and when we’re our best self, we truly shine! If this post leaves you feeling as though you need to brush up on your manners or your mind fills with a flashback of less than proper behavior from a recent event (don’t fret my pet, no one is perfect!), not to worry, just follow my blog for colorful stories and helpful tips. Have an etiquette-related question? Email me at mustbringbuns@gmail.com and I’ll respond to you within 24 hours. 

 
Cheers to a 2013 filled with beautiful manners and our most fabulous selves!