My parents married three daughters within the span of 18 months. This, by most universal standards, puts them in the "champion" category. It also qualifies them for retirement, a lifelong vacation, and an endless supply of "Yes, I'll stop at the grocery to pick up extra buns" on the way to every future family gathering.
Weddings also mean bridal showers. So much generosity flows! I experienced these showers as the bride, as a planner, and as an attendee. I don't know that all of this qualifies me as an expert by any means, but in the midst of all the months of shower throwing, I was able to pick up a couple pointers that I think help prevent pre-wedding breakdown. I'll share them with you:
1. Send paper and digital invites. This means send out e-vites and paper invites. It's the perfect blend of tradition and convenience. The paper invitations honor the bride and help the more conventional guests get info, while the email invites help people like me, who don't write anything down and look up directions while I'm buckling my seat belt, squeeze by as functioning adults. (It's no secret, but I use Evite for digital and Tiny Prints or the like for paper.)
2. Write down the gifts. Elementary, I know, but it must be said. I've seen people pass out envelopes so people can write their addresses on them. I've seen simple lists jotted down on smartphones. Whatever it is, make sure to make it easy for the bride to write thank-you's so she can express the gratitude she'll inevitably be overwhelmed by after it's all over.
3. Have dark chocolate. No brainer. It's a buffer. Dark chocolate is to a shower what "like" and "um" are to conversations. Plant dark chocolate in little bowls. Everywhere.
4. Plan to haul gifts. Remember, the gifts may come in separate cars, but will go home in just one. Plan to bring muscle (queue the groom and willing dads/brothers) and trunk space for a whole lotta kitchen ware.
5. Plan for food allergies. It's a reality. Modern gastronomy and hipsters have labeled gluten, dairy and all the best-tasting things in life as evil. Don't get me wrong, I drink the Kool-Aid (self-diagnosed "gf", sans birthday cake and micro brews). Whatever your thoughts on the subject, thanks to Wheat Belly and amazing gluten free bakeries, a growing number of people are gluten and dairy free. Plan alternatives, lest you face hungry guests with sad plates of naked chicken and mixed nuts.
6. People don't really want to play games. This could be different in your experience of course, but what I've found is that people like to sit and eat cake, then fight off the pending Sunday-afternoon nap by being entertained, rather than actually putting forth an effort. You may be from one of those intense sorts of families, but if you're more of the sit-back-and-pass-the-pie type, I'd plan a game that does two things: (1) helps the guests learn about the honored lady and (2) instigates a good belly laugh.
7. Make it beautiful. People, especially women, like beautiful things. What's more, though, is that the bride or person you're honoring can feel every moment of preparation you put into planning the party. Every bow tied, chalkboard painted, dessert baked (or burnt), and sign hung translates into a silent and gracefully whispered, "I love you." And that's what it's really all about.
Love met with gratitude is at the heart of shower throwing. It's a beautifully feminine facet of our culture that enables the experienced ones to dote on the inexperienced, and gives an opportunity for need and ignorance to meet with abundance and wisdom.
These photos are from my beautiful sister, Anna's, shower we threw in April. Enjoy!