The who, what, when and how to throwing a memorable bridal bash.
Photography by Angela Howard
It’s the one thing a bride doesn’t have to plan: her bridal shower. If your BFF or Aunt Jane wants to host a shower, send her this link for guidance. Melissa Hagen, a wedding business consultant knows how parties—big and small—are thrown in Utah.
Here, Utah Bride & Groom visits with Hagen to get the scoop on throwing a spectacular soiree for the bride-to-be.
UBG: WHO GETS AN INVITE TO A BRIDE’S SHOWER?
HAGEN: It depends on the group dynamic you want to achieve. Some brides will have a few showers to divide guests appropriately. One party for family and another for girlfriends is a good starting point. You might find some crossover in the guest list, and that’s okay. Just be sure to let those guests invited to both parties off the hook a little; there’s no need to bring a gift twice.
UBG: WHAT’S THE IDEAL TIMING FOR HOSTING A SHOWER?
HAGEN: Host a shower about one to two months prior to the wedding. The time of day will depend on what type of food the hostess wants to provide. A lunchean is great, but you could also do something mid-afternoon and serve hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Either is fun and sweet.
If you’re going to host the midday shower, avoid weekdays. Saturdays and Sundays are good options, just be sure to check local events and sports calendars. The more you are mindful of these things, the better your turnout. I’ve been to both Saturday and Sundays showers and for some reason the Sunday showers seemed better received and more laid back.
UBG: WHERE SHOULD A PARTY HOSTESS HAVE A SHOWER?
HAGEN: Try to keep this reflective of the bride and her personality. Of course the weather may dictate your location, but Salt Lake and Park City have some great venues and restaurants with private function spaces that would be fabulous for hosting a shower.
I love restaurants because it helps take some of the stress off: no food prep, serving or cleaning up. Parks (I’ve seen some pretty posh picnic-inspired parties), country clubs or private residences are other ideas. It really depends on your budget and the bride’s taste, but as always, my best advice: get creative and have the food catered.
UBG: WHAT’S THE PROPER WAY TO GIFT A BRIDE?
HAGEN: As the shower host, your job is to ensure the bride not only has a fabulous time, but has what she needs for her brand new life. My favorite registry option right now is Zola.com. Brides can add gifts from anywhere and strategically curate what they need. Brides, choose local shops too, and register at two or three places to give guests’ varying budgets options and check return policies before you begin.
As for opening gifts at the shower, this can be a topic of contention. Traditionally, a bride opens the gifts at the shower. However, if there’s a great turn out, opening gifts could take an excruciatingly long time. A bride may also feel awkward about it. Some family members will insist on the opening of the gifts for all to see, so I suggest meeting in the middle. Near the end thank the guests for coming to the party and add that the bride will open present now, and those who want to stay are welcome to. This excuses anyone who can’t, or doesn’t want to, stick around and doesn’t just dismiss the tradition.
UBG: WHAT DECOR IDEAS DO YOU SUGGEST FOR SHOWERS?
HAGEN: Decor doesn’t have to be over the top, but again, be creative. Steer away from tired themes and colors. To be unique, rent beautiful table linens, hire a florist to provide centerpieces and order custom cocktail napkins.
UBG: WHAT BEVERAGES SHOULD BE SERVED FOR A SMALL GATHERING?
HAGEN: Water is a necessity, but add something fun to it like cucumber slices and mint, or strawberries and lemons. I love drink stations. Large dispensers full of flavored beverages are practical and pretty. Right now, I’m loving lavender or mint lemonade, and peach iced tea. If you want to have alcohol, have pretty bottles of wine and sparkling wine on hand. Or set interesting decanters filled with vodka or gin near the drink station for guests to help themselves.
UBG: WHAT ELSE ARE MUST-DOS?
HAGEN: Two things: mail invitations and order a custom cake. A paper invite provides an experience that an e-vite doesn’t, plus it sets the tone for the event. Surprise the bride with a multi-tired cake. The pastry on display will be the centerpiece of the party and it doubles as amazing dessert.
UBG: HOW MANY SHOWERS DOES A BRIDE GET?
HAGEN: I recommend at least two to help party dynamics. But if your group is already great together, have just one.