After my good friend and tennis partner-in-crime just tied the knot this weekend, I thought what a perfect time to share the plan and menu that went into her bridal shower. In this post, I’m sharing my tips for planning the shower and menu. In the next post, I’ll share all the yummy recipes and the food game plan.
Early Planning Stage
Knowing the wedding was in July and the bride wanted a June bachelorette party, we figured a shower in April or May would be best. I offered to host because we have a great space for parties and half of the bridesmaids lived out of town. I think it’s important to get the date unofficially on the calendars of all bridesmaids and the bride’s immediate family as early as possible so there are no surprises for anyone who needs or really wants to be there.
We chose a Saturday afternoon so the bride’s family from out of town could drive in on Saturday morning and still enjoy a Sunday brunch before heading home. It also gave the bride most of the day to show her mom all the wedding venues they had chosen while the bridesmaids were busy setting up. Plus, one of the bride’s very few requests is that we have a signature cocktail, which only seemed fitting in the late afternoon 🙂
Choosing Colors and the Invite
While we didn’t necessarily have a theme, we chose the color palette of a deep, bright pink to match her overall wedding color and picked orange / peach and yellow to complement it. Her love of hydrangeas inspired our choice of invitations found on Wedding Paper Divas; and one expert bridesmaid led us in making tissue paper flowers to hang from the ceiling.
The Budget and Number of Guests
We invited approximately 50 ladies, about half of who were out-of-town. Our estimate for actual guests was 25-30 people, and we got pretty close with 25 ladies. We estimated we would spend $50-$75 per bridesmaid, but we ended up spending $100 each. The total cost was $600 for a 25-person shower. We had some left over wine, but overall, the food was gone! Split evenly amongst six bridesmaids, $600 isn’t too bad, relatively speaking! Keep in mind how many guests you think will attend based on their location. And always have a contingency budget because there will always be extra expenses.
Making A List and Checking it Twice
My number one tip for planning any party is MAKE LISTS. Make 500 lists if you have to from the very beginning. You’ll think of so many things throughout the process, but if you don’t keep track of them on paper, you’ll never remember them all. Here’s my FINAL list that I lived from the week before the shower. I always write the total menu down because yes, I have experienced completely forgetting to make a dish all together. With so much to do and think about on the day of a party, you could forget ice or even worse, to chill the white wine!
Deciding on a Menu
This is my favorite part of party planning. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe it’s because I love food. I started with the idea of doing orange and pink food to match our colors. Well, quite a few items were pink and orange, but as you can imagine, those are not the easiest colors to bring to life in all spectrums of food. We got pretty close though! Here’s the final menu and below are my tips on how to develop a menu.
Greek meatballs with yogurt dip
Mini croissants with chicken salad and pimento cheese
Salmon and cream cheese wheels
Watermelon and feta salad with white balsamic dressing
Warm spinach cups
Raspberry-Lemonade Champagne Smash
Water with lemons and limes
White and red wine
Dessert: petit-fours from Henri’s Bakery
My Menu Planning Tips
1. Choose Your Approach: You’re going to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. You can either choose to make A LOT of a few items or a little bit of A LOT of items. For a shower, I think it’s a safe bet to do a little of a lot. It’s fair to say you won’t be serving a full course meal and not everything needs to be hot, so lots of appetizers and side items can be made in advance with a little planning.
2. Choose a Wide Variety of Protein: Notice I have three “main items” touching each of these food types: beef, chicken, vegetarian, and seafood. This was not on accident. I started with pimento cheese sandwiches (for orange) and let’s face it, we’re in the south and what is a shower without chicken salad? Then I chose the salmon wheels (again for orange). The Greek Meatballs came into play because they’re beef and a warm main item.
3. Always Have a Non-Dairy and Vegetarian Item: Notice the bean salad. I didn’t have this on the menu until about a week beforehand. It’s so hard for me to find non-dairy appetizers. I just love cheese, sour cream and cream cheese too much. So it may not fit the theme, but it’s an AWESOME dip/salad or whatever you want to call it for any party that suits healthy and diet-sensitive eaters.
4. Have a Balance of Cold vs. Hot Items: The reason behind this is not at all for the benefit of your guests. It’s because you will be straight up overwhelmed if you try to cook too many warm items because too much will have to be finished at the very end when your guests are arriving. And of course, it’s nice for your guests to have a balance of food from which to choose, too 😉
5. Don’t Try to Make EVERYTHING Yourself: I don’t have a passion for desserts like some people do, so it’s always my lowest priority. Knowing what else I had to cook, I happily delegated baking to a delicious bakery in Atlanta. Also, I bought premade chicken salad and croissants from the same bakery. I picked all of those items up early on the shower day so everything was super fresh.
6. Know Your Guests When Choosing the Wine & Spirits: We knew that most of the women would prefer white wine on a hot summer afternoon, so the majority of wine we bought was chardonnay and pinot grigio. We also had three bottles of red wine on hand just in case. We would have had more wine if we didn’t have the signature drink which included champagne.
My next post will cover the food game plan and recipes!