When my sister-in-law got engaged, I knew right away that I’d want to host a bridal shower for her. A few months went by and then I knew I had to start the planning process. But as the Jewish weddings geek who runs The Wedding Yentas, can you imagine the kind of anxiety I suddenly felt about planning a perfect shower? I mean, I sit on the Internet all day and squeal over all kinds of wedding-related eye candy — I know, poor me — and suddenly, it was my turn to create some, myself.
Planning an event — whether it’s a wedding or a shower or a bachelorette party — requires a theme. But it doesn’t have to be so blatant or even necessarily thematic. The event just needs a thread that ties in all the various elements. Since I planned the shower at a restaurant, I was at the mercy of the space, so I knew a specific design style like Parisian vintage or shabby chic or even modern chevron stripes would be out. Instead, I chose a concept that could be implemented in elements like food, favors, and decor. The “theme?” Love Is Sweet.
It helps of course that my sister-in-law is a sweet girl herself! And she also has a special place in her heart for delicious sweets. So it was easy for me to go from there: cutesy cupcakes and other yumminess would be included in the special day.
I knew I wanted to do a little DIY. I tend to be crafty, but I also lack a lot of patience. And work space for said crafts. But after scouring the web, I realized I could totally handle making a banner, so I searched for papers and ended up with purple, red, and pink as the main colors for the shower based on the paper availability for the banner. With a solid Love Is Sweet theme and a color scheme in action, from there, the rest of the shower was born.
The flowers! Oh, the flowers. I will say, if I’d had the budget, I would have hired a florist. Don’t get me wrong: florists should absolutely be hired for your wedding day because a person who throws flowers together in a vase is not a florist. And no, I am not a florist! I wasn’t going for perfection either, so I knew I could handle making a handful and a half of “arrangements.”
I spray painted mason jars, tied ribbons in the colors of the shower around the rim, and divied out blooms I ordered from Trader Joe’s. Los Angeles has a wonderful flower mart downtown, but I don’t live nearby, and I felt too overwhelmed to pick out stems there. Trader Joe’s allows customers to special order flowers, and I picked up the varieties in the colors I needed the afternoon before the shower. I played around with heights and the shapes of the bunches, but I don’t claim to be a professional. They were imperfect and looked farmhouse-glam thanks to the mason jars, which is what I was going for, but let me stress again the importance of a professional florist for bigger and more important events like weddings.
When it came to games, I knew I didn’t want to have too many. There are two types of shower guests: Those who like games. And those who don’t. As a pleaser, I wanted to cater to both types, so I included three “events,” if you will: one game, and two group activities. The game was a “He Said She Said” game with quotes from the bride and groom and the shower guests had to select who said which quote.
I also facilitated a Mad Lib with the group that was a fun ice breaker as everyone shouted out words to create the bride’s wedding vow. Thanks to a random contribution of adjectives, nouns, and verbs from the group, apparently the bride will “vow to jump Michael constantly.” (Hey, the group gave “jump” as a verb! Guess she’s committed to doing so now!).
The other activity was a letter writing session to the couple on their anniversary. The catch? Each guest chose a random envelope from the stack. The number on the envelope indicated the anniversary year for which the letter should be written. So if someone picked #1, the letter will be read next year. And if someone picked #50, the letter will be read in the year 2062. This was a fun and introspective activity for everyone and there were even a few criers who were touched over the sentiment of writing a letter to the couple to be read decades from now.
The Mad Lib and the He Said She Said game had foundations on the Internet and I modified the templates to suit my vision of the party. To tie in the color scheme, I used purple, red, and pink in the paper selections.
Every game needs as winner and every winner needs a prize. For the He Said She Said game, I wanted to keep prizes at a reasonable price, but still provide more than just a tchotchke. Also, in a perfect world, the prize would tie in with the Love Is Sweet theme. The dollar aisle at Michael’s craft store featured really cute and colorful baking whisks! And then, I happened upon yummy dessert themed candles at Bath & Body Works. So, the winners walked away with a whisk and a vanilla frosted cupcake candle to take the sweetness of the day home with them. Hey, no calories in a candle!
What’s a Love Is Sweet theme without actual sweets? I created a sweets table with the help of the sweetest bake shop in town — Sweet E’s Bakeshop in Los Angeles. This oh-so Hollywood bakeshop has outfitted the Academy Awards and other big celebrity events with their delicious delicacies. And Sweet E’s was also showcased on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. With a spread of mini cupcakes, cake pops, home made cookies, and chocolate covered pretezels, the sweets table was a hit! I made my own little ID cards for each treat. The paper and cupcake sticker I used for the labels were consistent with the place cards I made for each guest’s place setting. This goes back to my philosophy of finding a common thread and tying it through the event.
Because it was a special day and each guest was special to the bride, it was imperative I sent everyone home with a special treat. Enter: the iced cookie! To me, the ultimate symbol of a bridal shower is an engagement ring and ladies at a ladies’ event love the bling! Since I couldn’t furnish each guest with their own Tiffany-set diamond (I’m not that nice of a sister-in-law!), I knew a cookie would be the perfect take away as a “thank you” for attending. My friend and fellow wedding-lover decorates delicious sugar cookies and is a brilliant icer! She creates her own icing and blends colors into perfection. The cookies look and taste great. The best part? She is currently decorating cookies for charity, as proceeds go to the Avon 2-day breast cancer walk. I totally love cookies and pretty much hate cancer, so, ya know, win-win!
I really enjoyed hosting this shower and it was a true honor to give my sister-in-law this gift and special memory. But don’t worry — I’m not about to quit my day job as writer and general wedding gusher of The Wedding Yentas to become a professional wedding shower planner. I slept for days after the event, and I think I’ll really enjoy and appreciate the next bridal shower I attend as a guest!