Just like Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson’s characters in the film ‘The Wedding Crashers’, I get excited when spring blossoms into weddings! Of course, time has change my perspective. Decades ago as a child, I looked forward to the rare invitation that included children at the wedding. Oooohh the opportunity to see the bride coming down the aisle in a marshmallow poof of tulle and big hair. Then came the opportunities to be a bridesmaid myself… then the bride… followed by a few more years of my friends getting married. As I aged out of that group, my older friends’ children started coming of age. Now my children’s age group is having wedding after wedding and it is so much fun!
Of course it is not just the wedding itself that heralds the wedding season. It is the plethora of teas, showers, luncheons, cocktail parties and dinners that lead up to the big day that are the fanfare prelude to the ‘I do’ that seals the deal! Here in the south, we tend to go overboard… why have a couple of parties, when a dozen would be more fun?
Join the fun! If you are getting married, Yea! If you know someone who is getting married, help them celebrate by hosting a party in their honor! Below are some suggestions for party and shower themes. Please remember, that brides should only be treated to one or two showers and the guest lists should never overlap. How tacky is it to ‘request’ gifts over and over from the same people?
Showers (other than the tried and true ‘Kitchen Shower’ or ‘Miscellaneous Shower’ -
Recipe Shower – Guests are sent a recipe card to be filled out with a family favorite and brought to the shower. It can also be fun to ask the guests to bring a spice that is included in the recipe! Hostess gift: A recipe box or book.
Christmas Ornament Shower – Guests bring one ornament for the newlyweds Christmas tree. This party can be tweaked to accommodate other religions and/or holidays! Hostess gift: Tree Skirt, personalized Christmas Stockings or the tree topper!
Bar Shower – This is a great couples shower for those wishing to stock their home bar with libations and ‘tools of the trade’… shakers, bottle openers, etc. Hostess gift: electric corkscrew or set of wine glasses
Tool Shower – Another wonderful guy or couples shower… everyone needs a hammer, tape measure and some picture hooks! How far you take it, is up to the hostess! Hostess gift: Tool Box or electric screw driver.
Garden Shower – Wonderful for the couple who love the outdoors and own their own home with yard space. Rakes, bulbs, gardening gloves, bird feeders are all welcomed presents! Hostess Gift: Yard Cart or tool organizer.
Movie Night Shower – Guests shower the couple with DVDs of films for great low-cost entertainment during the early, lean years of marriage. Suggestions of preferences or a play list can be sent with the invitations. A variation of this party can be gift cards to video stores or to an Internet rental service such as Netflix. Hostess gift: Popcorn machine, basket or box to organize DVDs or framed vintage movie poster (if you are certain that it will ‘go’ with the newlyweds decor).
Fragrances Shower – With so many candle choices now, this is a great way to help the couple keep the sweet fragrance of young love hanging around for for quite awhile. Simply send a list of fragrances that the couple is partial to such as ‘vanilla’ or ‘almond’. There are candle brands and sizes for every budget. Hostess gift: candle snuffer or candle lighter! Another great hostess gift would be a ‘candle tray’ on which to gather and display candles!
Non-Shower Parties -
Ladies-Only Night on the Town: This does not have to be a bar crawl, but can be fun and/or elegant! This is a great ‘dutch treat’ party in which all participants pay their own way! Start with drinks and appetizers at a special place with plenty of atmosphere… a great view of the skyline, a lake, park or ocean… move on to a special dinner, then enjoy a late concert, play or movie. Wrap the evening up with dessert and coffee!
Ladies-Only Night In: Starting with fun cocktails and appetizers, ask your guests to bring a favorite munchie or dessert. Skip the entree and concentrate on fun food only! Enjoy an evening of old classic movies such as “Father of the Bride” (the original Spencer Tracey – Elizabeth Taylor version or the Steve Martin – Diane Keaton remake), Robert Altman’s “A Wedding”, the 1978 satire where everything that could go wrong, does go wrong or any of the romantic comedies of the last 15 years or so! Allow some wind down time to chat and visit… the idea of this party is to allow the bride to slow down and enjoy her bridesmaids and/or other friends in the midst of the hectic pace of the wedding planning.
Spa Day: This is a great party for the female family members of the bride to host for the ladies of the wedding party the morning of the wedding. Contact a local day spa about package rates on Manis-Pedis. The girls can come in their PJs, breakfast can be brought in and served while the girls are getting pampered. If there is a hair salon attached, this will be a great time for them to have their hair done for the wedding, as well. Depending on the size of the wedding party, some day spas will open early for the party only! Almost like having a private spa of your very own!!
Cooking lesson: This party works well for small groups as they are invited to gather around the cooking island (if in a private home) or the demonstration table (at a cooking school) while the chef demonstrates easy to fix yummy food that will also serve as the party food for the event. The chef will usually ask the bride to act as sous chef and assist him during the prep! The price of the event can be creatively handled by hiring a senior culinary school student to be the ‘guest chef’!
Crafting for the wedding: Almost entirely gone are the days of ‘rice bags’ to toss at the departing couple after the ceremony, mostly due to fear of liability… rice can cause slip and fall accidents and for that reason has been replaced by birdseed, which crunches flat when stepped on. Still some venues disallow any sort of toss be it rice, birdseed or flower petals as an issue of cleanup. However, there are many options to chose from that are just as wonderful to wish the happy couple a great life! Bells, bubbles or sparklers are fine choices… dress them up with a bow and a card thanking your guests for joining you on this special day! Invite a group of friends to help with any sort of ‘crafting’ job for the wedding, from stuffing programs, tying bows, & packaging favors to grander projects like flower arrangements and welcome bags for out of town guests!
Never feel that you alone must host a party. Most parties today are hosted by as few as two or as many as two dozen hostesses depending on the type of event, the number of invitees and the projected cost of the party. More hostesses help keep the cost of the party manageable. Always prepare a budget upfront that everyone is comfortable with. If the actual costs will be higher than the initial budget, add more hostesses if you cannot reasonably trim costs. NEVER overspend your budget without consulting all hosts and/or hostesses prior to spending more than agreed upon. Keep in mind that asking about money while all together in a group can be uncomfortable for some people. If someone is reserved and quiet during initial discussions about budget, it is kinder to ask confidentially what their expectations of expenses are for the party. It is unfair to allow peer pressure to cause someone to overextend their circumstances and go into debt. Be kind.
I learned just this week of a shower in which all the details had been agreed upon by the hostesses. Quite out of the blue and right AFTER the invitations were in the mail, the rest of the ladies received an email from the hostess in who’s home the party was held explaining that the party was going to cost 5 times the agreed upon amount, asking them to cook the food (rather than having it catered as planned), and adding an additional segment to the party that the other hostesses had voted down. In other words, she paid no attention to what the majority wanted and went off on a tangent of her own choice. At the end of the email was a somewhat snarky comment (thought by some to aim at instilling guilt) that she alone would pay the difference and to not worry about the additional expense. I know that at least some of the other ladies decided to indeed let the ‘overboard’ hostess pick up her overages! This has ruined the party for the ladies and has caused a riff that may never be cured! Totally unnecessary.
Wedding season parties are suppose to be fun, creative and never should they ‘break the bank!’
Send me ideas of your best parties and showers to share!