I had so much fun planning this bridal shower recently. It's been a good several years since I've worked on an event like that for someone else. When I was approached to do this shower, it was made very clear to me that everything had to be done on a very modest budget. Once I knew that, I was up for the challenge and was thrilled to have the opportunity to prove my philosophy that beautiful style doesn't have to be expensive. The bride wanted a garden themed wedding, so my mind immediately kicked into high gear, flooding over with ideas that actually kept me awake at night, which I mentioned here. My love for putting things together coupled with my keen desire for flawless presentation imbued me with the drive to create an atmosphere that would be unforgettably beautiful. As I was working on the this big event, which was being hosted by a friend of the Bride, she kept asking me how was I able to stay calm and collected while there was so much pressure to plan for it on short notice? It made me think of so many other women that might be planning for such occasions during this high wedding season and how they might be feeling stressed preparing for these events. Trust me, I have no secrets that you probably don't already know, but I wanted to share several pointers that help me stay focus and calm whether planning for large scale events or small intimate dinners.
This is the one key ingredient in maintaining calm. Write down everything that's going to be needed to make the party a success. From composing the guest list, the menu and music to the type of decor details you will use. Determine where, when and from whom you're going to acquire the items needed for the event. To save money, friends can be asked and assigned specific tasks, but make sure they are reliable and hold them accountable to follow through. For instance, for this particular event knowing we were on a budget, I had the hostess take out every platter, cake stand, serving utensil, beverage dispenser, table cloth, candle holder and flower vase that she had so I could take an inventory of what would need to be rented or borrowed from other friends to keep the cost down. The more things that can be borrowed, the better. I even loaned some of my serving cake stands and platters which were used on the guests table.
FOODWhen you're working on a small budget, you must be realistic of the type of food that should be served without compromising taste, quality and presentation. So stick with food that can go a long way in abundance. Also arranging food on large silver platters that's pleasing to the eye is one of the tricks to making simple finger food look expensive. I helped the hostess decide on very simple, yet rich and filling appetizers for the party that not only helped keep the budget down, but was as visually appetizing as it was delicious. You could hear the guests 'yum-ing' at every bite. (Will share the menu in a different post).
DECORKISS: keep it simple Sally. Think in three's. I decided on three balloons for the corner of each table using the bride's wedding color scheme. It was a true surprise to her, and gave her a foregleam of what her colors would look like on her wedding day. In this case, we had white, black and yellow pearlized balloons in between the food and beverage tables, which I arranged in an L-Shape under a tent with different color citronella candle lanterns hanging strategically to keep the pesky bugs away. They served a dual purpose as they filled the air with a soft lemony scent adding to the lovely garden setting. I wanted to give the illusion of one long elegant table, so we butted three tables together and then disguised this by covering them with table linens. For the table linens, I went for crisp white and bought one of those yellow paper table cloths, folded it in half and cut it into runners for the center of the tables to add a color punch and warmth.
SETTING THE TABLESAlways remember that dramatic statements are always in the details. You can elevate even paper plates by placing plastic utensils wrapped in napkins and tying them with color scheme ribbons which makes a phenomenal presentation. Talking about presentation, setting your plates at varied heights by using books (at this event, I even used the crate that the cupcakes arrived in under the tablecloth) turn the simplest foods into an elegant display. Finally, I staged the table using rented champagne flutes and drinking goblets along with a mix of serving stands filled with a variety of sweets and bottles of champagne that I decorated with ribbons as the final details for the guests table. And not to be overlooked is the 'set of three' philosophy with the plates and wrapped utensils on the table which added depth and elegance. I mean, you can go all out by adding gold or silver chargers under real fine china. It's all up to the depth of your budget. I kept things real simple and cost effective for this shower.
FLOWERSFancy floral arrangements can be beaucoup money. Why not opt for flowers that can go a long way in filling your vases? I'm more of a full, lush and low kind of flower gal. To cut on cost, I simply used Hydrangeas which are like big fluffy snow balls - since peonies were not available and probably would have cost even more for the amount I needed. The Hostess had lemon trees so we gathered some of those lemons (again going with part of our color scheme) in the yard and filled our glass vases with them for visual depth and interest. Then I cut the stem of the white Hydrangeas just enough so they'd sit atop the vases' lip mixed with a few branches of baby's breath flowers for a full effect. For the beverage table, I bought a bunch of yellow roses and placed them in varied small vases. I also used some of the petals and spread them all around the food table. Last, but not least, one final vase with two white Hydrangeas along with some green leaves was placed at the bride-to-be gift table along with three of the balloons tied to the chair she'd sit in when it was time to open the gifts.
GAMESMaybe enlist a game savvy friend to help in that area. Since it was a surprise bridal shower, I skipped this because I knew the bride would rather spend time chatting with the guests instead of playing games, but it's good to play a fun game to keep your guests engaged depending on the crowd.
BRIDAL SHOWER FAVORSI'm not big on tchotchkes and neither was the host or the bride-to-be. So we opted out of having them. It's a personal choice. One idea I had though since it's summer was to wrap pretty summer nail polish bottles along with pretty nail files in Thule/or small organza bags tied with the party color schemes' ribbons with the bride's name and date of the shower on tags to give away. Cute, right? Again, the host wasn't keen on favors and didn't want to spend money on them. But, it is in my back pocket for my next Bridal shower event.
Remember To Keep Calm And Enjoy The Process.
Happy Event Planning!