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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Expert Party Planning Tips

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of White Lilac Events

Expert party planning and event design company White Lilac Events has weighed-in with savvy tips on throwing the bridal shower or destination wedding related event of your dreams. Whether you're the guest of honor, or one of the lucky ones planning the party, this advice on all the details will ensure you have a flawless, well-executed event! Visit whitelilacinc.com for more information on the company or to view their portfolio.

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The Place

Bridal showers, depending on their size, can be hosted at a variety of locations. In addition to homes and traditional hotel venues, many restaurants offer private dining spaces or are willing to create a custom menu for private parties. Start by checking out the bride's favorite restaurant, you may be surprised by what you find!

The People

There may be quite a few people in the bride's life that would like to contribute in some way, so be sure to check in with the bride and groom's moms, the rest of the bridesmaids and any other VIPs in her life to see how they can help. Once you have a location and budget determined, let the bride know the number of guests that you can accommodate so she can create a guest list.

The Invitation

When you’re creating invitations for the guests, don’t forget to send one to the bride. The invitation should create a hint of the décor and theme at the shower and she will be very excited to get a sneak peek of her party!

The Formalities

Generally, bridal showers are a more casual affair, but toasts are still completely appropriate for the occasion. Ask a couple of guests (See: Her Favorite People) to prepare a short toast in advance of the shower. You can also create a guest book for guests to jot notes and marriage advice for the bride as a wonderful memento for the guest of honor. 

The Colors

You can never go wrong with a soft color palette for a shower, but pastels are not your only option. Take the bride’s favorite color and pair it with another to create an inspired color palette for the whole event. Luxurious jewel tones like aubergine and emerald are great for a fall or winter shower, while vibrant peaches and yellows are beautiful for the spring and summer months.

The Décor

Flowers are always a favorite décor element for any party and it is surprisingly easy to do it yourself! Just a few impactful pieces around the space should be sufficient, so visit your local farmer’s market, floral shop or flower market to gather your supplies. There’s nothing we love more than a fresh bouquet put into a simple glass vase, but if you’re looking to take your flower game up a notch, check out a YouTube tutorial to hone your skill.

Other alternatives to flowers for décor are paper and sweets. You can get in touch with your creative self and create paper garland, pinwheels, flowers – the possibilities are endless! Desserts also make for fabulous table décor and bonus: you can eat them!

The Food

Besides taking into account all of the bride’s favorite foods and food preferences, the time of the shower will determine what type of food should be served. If you intend on serving a full lunch, plan to start the party right before lunch hour. If it’s a menu of lighter finger foods, a late afternoon start time is appropriate. 

There are many options when it comes to food service. You can choose to have the entire party catered or perhaps you want to do some of the cooking and cater the rest. A potluck is also a great option for a casual affair, but be sure to assign specific dishes or courses so that you can ensure a variety of food. If the guests are bringing the food, have platters and serving utensils ready for their use.

The Seating

The size of your space and number of guests will determine how you arrange guest seating. If you are able to have tables and seats for every guest, use place cards to help guests find their seats. Even for a small party of 10, it helps guests to feel more comfortable if they’re not wondering where they should sit. This is especially helpful for mixed crowds who may not know one another well.

If you will be having cocktail style seating arrangement, plan on having enough actual seats for half of the expected guest count. Be sure to keep areas in front of food tables or any activity stations clear for traffic.

The Gifts

Traditionally, bridal shower gifts have revolved around preparing the bride for the big wedding night. Tasteful lingerie is still in vogue but anything that will pamper and treat the bride is always welcomed. (Spa treatment, anyone?) Abiding with traditional wedding etiquette, the gift registry may not have been listed on the wedding invitation, but would be appropriate for the bridal shower invitation.

If the size of the party allows, take time to have the bride open her gifts at the party. All of the guests will get to indulge in the bride’s reaction and you can keep a list of gifts from each guest so that the Bride will have an easy reference for her “thank you” notes. Don’t forget to task someone with creating the rehearsal bouquet composed of the ribbons and bows from the gifts!

The Favors

Favors are another great way to add another personal touch to the party. Edible favors are still a favorite and anything from candy or cupcakes, to cake pops or popcorn is a wonderful treat to send home with guests. Just be sure to package the items for easy transport and add a “Thank You” tag onto each one so guests know it’s for them to take home.

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