Proper planning is the most important aspect of throwing any party — particularly when you’re on a budget. As with weddings, bridal shower costs can sometimes get out of control, but there are a few ways to make sure that doesn’t happen. Here are a few financial shortcuts that maids-of-honor and friends can take to keep the event on a budget.
Has the bride hinted that she’d enjoy a tea party? Throw one at home. Unless she has requested a specific venue, consider asking a friend or family member to host the event. This will save on rental costs and the high-priced catering services venues often require. In most circles, at least one friend or family member lives in a space fit for a party. If not, consider making a reservation at a restaurant instead of renting a room. This can be a nice way to cut the costs of renting a venue while still getting ample space. Of course, it’s important the restaurant is amenable to the party taking over a portion of its dining room.
Decorations and party favors
Remember, most decorations are thrown away after an event, so it’s wise not to spend too much money on them. At a bridal shower last year, I saw that candles served as both centerpieces and party favors. You can also get double use with flowers, candy or other little goodies.
Another great decorating idea: Make paper flowers of various sizes and place them around the room. Remember the ones you made in elementary school with tissue paper? Done in the colors of the wedding, these can be fun to make, cheap and easy to toss when done.
At one shower I attended, the host put bath salts into tiny containers (bought at the dollar store or in bulk online). These favors also doubled as decorations and were relatively cheap and classy.
Another way to decorate is with words of wisdom. Hang a piece of string across the room, put some clothespins on it and set out some slips of paper and pens. As an activity, guests can write out words of marital wisdom, then post them on the line. This will create a nice backdrop for the event without costing much.
Food and beverage
This is where a many shower budgets go astray. The best way to cut costs is to schedule the event when people aren’t planning to eat a lot. Shoot for a mid-afternoon social, so most people will have had lunch and won’t be planning on making a meal of the event. Make sure to state that light refreshments will be served. Crackers and dips can appear refined without costing a lot. If you’re going the route of a tea-party, pre-making small sandwiches is easy and affordable. Make champagne cocktails with inexpensive champagne, juice and frozen fruit. Having pre-made drinks means that the most expensive part of the cocktail — the booze — is rationed instead of guzzled by a thirsty guest. For non-drinkers, throw some fresh-cut fruit into a free pitcher of water and you’ve got a fancy, spa-inspired drink.
So many online services make reasonably priced invitations that it’s easy to make something professional without spending a ton. (VistaPrint, Zazzle and Shutterfly are some good places to check out.) At some of my friends’ bridal showers, index cards were included with the invitations so that guests could share a favorite recipe with the bride. These can be purchased separately or with the invitation. Either way, it’s a nice addition that says a lot, but doesn’t cost much.
Share the costs
These days, the host, whether a member of the bridal party or friend, shouldn’t be shy about asking bridesmaids to bring a few items so that the entire cost doesn’t fall to one person. One bridesmaid can bring the fruit for the water, while another brings paper, string and clothespins for the advice line. Dividing the responsibilities keeps it affordable for everyone, and most bridesmaids expect to chip in for the festivities.
Photo by Detanan, freedigitalphotos.net.