In many parts of the country, the tradition of a ladies-only bridal shower is a distant memory. Both the bride and groom appreciate being celebrated and -- most of all -- having a party that includes close friends and family members who want to wish them well.
These co-ed bridal showers are sometimes called Jack and Jill showers -- which seems to be as good a name as any!
If you are the maid of honor or the best man, it's your job to throw the party. Congratulations, this is an exciting time for you and your friends -- but get your wallet out!
The Guest List and Invitations
Sit down with the bride and groom and make up a guest list (unless this is a surprise shower). Decide on the number of guests and where you will host the party. While you don't need to invite the entire wedding guest list, you cannot invite anyone who is not on that list.
Send invitations several weeks in advance of the party. These can be printed or handmade or sent via the Internet. The invitation should reflect the style of the party: casual, intimate, formal, huge.
Online companies make choosing appropriate invitations easy and very often these are less costly than invitations you buy from a bricks and mortar store. Make sure the invitations explain who the party is for and what it is. Include the time, place, attire, gift registry URL, and RSVP information.
For a large party, you might want to say "regrets only." It's a good idea to list both a phone number and an email address for any and all RSVPs.
The couple may already share a home, or independently may have established well-stocked households. This can be a challenge for gift buyers, although the couple's registry will help a lot. This should be clearly listed on the invitation. Check to make sure it works well.
Consider a themed shower. Your friends may enjoy a wine shower (good bottles of wine, wine glasses, wine racks, wine books), a garden shower (outdoor tools, shrubbery, lawn-mowing service), or a patio-deck shower (grilling tools, festive outdoor plates and cutlery, grilling cookbooks).
Menus and Decorations
You can save money by asking friends to help with the food. Even if you hire a caterer or local gourmet shop to supply the food, it does not need to be fussy. On the other hand, the event can be very fancy and lavish.
Whatever your plan, it's usually a good idea to have room-temperature food that is easy to serve buffet-style. You might want one or two hot passed hors d'oeuvre or one hot main dish.
If you're throwing a theme shower, go with it for decorating ideas. If not, fresh flowers, helium-filled balloons, and colorful plates and napkins make any room fun and inviting. If the bride has already selected the colors for the wedding, consider those off bound unless she feels differently.
Party favors are traditional, but not necessary. If you want to give them, keep them small and inexpensive. Think about pretty wrapped cookies or chocolates, scented candles, or corkscrews with the bride's and groom's names on the handle.
Keep this event light-hearted and fun. As people get to know each other or renew old friendships during the shower, anticipation for the wedding will grow. Best of all, the couple will appreciate your efforts for a lifetime to come!