Author Archives: Caitlin

A Winter in Florida Bridal Shower

As a one-time Floridian, I can tell you that “Florida winter” is an oxymoron—so I’m not surprised that Alaskan bride Katie returned to her family home in the Sunshine State for a winter bridal shower. Photographer Elise Giordano, who became friends with Katie during a summer up north, perfectly captures the fun of the day in snaps of the guests enjoying drinks and sharing memories on the sun-drenched porch. Little nods to Katie’s career as a journalist for The Skagway News can be found in details like the bunting banner made of book pages. I love the personal, thoughtful touches added to every aspect of the party, from the thumbprint balloons stamped on the whimsical bicycle illustration (such a unique guest book!) to the petal blue cake with perfect peach rosettes created by a family friend (I can’t believe cake decorating is just her hobby!).

Photography: Elise Giordano | Bunting banner, bicycle thumbprint guestbook: That’s Sew Liz | Soap party favors: Pizzazz | Cake: Heidie Kohl, a family friend

Bridesmaid Bouquet Frames

When I was a flower girl at the age of three, I was presented with a basket of baby blue fabric petals and instructed to drop them as I processed down the aisle. I innocently inquired what would happen to the petals after I dropped them. “Someone will throw them away, honey,” some unsuspecting bridesmaid replied. Oh heck no!, I thought. Why would anyone take beautiful flower petals and throw them away? My three-year-old mind balked. I would not throw the petals! To this day I still have that basket of soft blue petals, not a one dropped! So I can totally understand my cousin Dawn’s impulse to save her bridesmaid bouquets. Here, a tutorial for preserving those gorgeous petals in a keepsake for yourself and the bride.
Use the petals from your bridesmaid bouquet to create this picture frame

Bouquet Frames
a project by Dawn Jason

Bouquets are one of my favorite aspects of a wedding. From the choice of flowers to the style of ribbon wrapping the stems, every bouquet has its own flare and reflects the bride’s personality. Some beautiful bouquets are even created without real flowers—I have carried artificial flowers and bead bouquets and seen girls toting pinwheels, fans, clutches and brooch bouquets (which I have always admired). 

Being sentimental, I have saved the bouquets from each wedding I have been in, hanging fresh flowers to dry. This means I have a nice, dust-attracting collection of six bouquets (seven counting the bridal bouquet I caught at one wedding).

A dust-colleting collection of bouquets

Wanting to clear up the clutter and give my allergies a break, I decided to find a better way to preserve these memories. This simple project had been on my to-do list for months, but I don’t know why I waited so long—each frame took less than 30 minutes to complete.

Bouquet frames

What you’ll need:
Bouquet, dried
Picture frame with a wide mat (I choose a 5×7 frame with a 4×6 opening)
Double-stick tape
A picture from your friend’s wedding or of the two of you

Drying the flowers:
There are a variety of ways to dry flowers, including placing them in silicone gel, microwaving them in cat litter (I have not tried this one), pressing them or, my method of choice, hanging them upside down out of direct sunlight and just forgetting about them for a few weeks.

The bouquets I used for this project were between 9 months and 3.5 years old. Although I noticed that the petals from the older bouquets were more fragile, I was still able to make the frames regardless of how long it had been since the wedding.

Once the bouquet has dried, remove the petals from the stems. Be careful not to break the petals, since the largest ones are the easiest to work with. Rose petals are especially nice since they are broad and lie flat. Daisies and other flowers with narrow petals require more work, while denser flowers like orchids should be dried flat or pressed for the best effect.

Dried petals for a bouquet frame

Next, apply double-stick tape to the front of the mat and place petals appropriately. Overlap petals throughout and do not worry about going over the edges, as you can always trim the petals. If you’re using a bouquet with a variety of flowers, plan ahead and try alternating colors to add dimension to your project.

The edges of the petals are bound to stick up where the petals overlap, but don’t worry about trying to press them down because a) double-stick tape does not really work petal to petal and b) the glass in the frame will solve all of your problems. It took me approximately three rose blooms to do one frame.

Create a framed picture using your bridesmaid bouquet

Add your decorated mat and chosen picture to the frame and adjust appropriately, cutting off any excess petals. Since the petals are fragile, the less you have to take the mat in and out of the frame the better, so be sure to clean the glass and affix your photo in the right location before placing the back on the frame.

I was able to make two frames from each bouquet with petals to spare. Making two allowed me to give one to the bride as a gift to memorialize their special day.

Use the petals from your bridesmaid bouquet to create this picture frame

Oh, and it seems my sentimental bouquet streak is genetic; my mother still has petals from her bridal bouquet in a dish on her dresser.

The 2nd New York City NotWedding

Thursday night, I went to a fake wedding…the 2nd NYC NotWedding that is. These alternative bridal shows can be found in major cities around the country and are the perfect way for brides to meet vendors and sample their services, while having a pretty great time out. The evening starts with a brief vow renewal ceremony between a happily married couple, and is followed by a legitimately fun reception with drinks, dinner and dancing. All the vendors behind the event are present and the guests consist of local engaged couples looking to scout out photographers, party planners and all the rest for their big days. For their second trip to NYC, The NotWedding chose the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn. I invited my engaged friend Nichole to attend and we were greeted at the door by a welcome glass of Ferrari sparkling wine. Then we got down to business (aka, drinking that wine…and talking to all the vendors, of course!).

Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn, The 2nd NYC NotWedding

I hate to play favorites, but meeting The Haiku Guys was certainly a highlight of my night. This gentleman and lady sat perched behind two typewriters and were on call to compose haikus for you on a topic of your choice. After a panicked moment of thought, I asked for a poem about moving to Brooklyn this year with my boyfriend, Andrew. The result seriously made my heart happy—I’m definitely framing this.

Haiku from the Haiku Guys at The 2nd NotWedding NYCI also got to catch up with the ladies from Little Borrowed Dress, the genius company that lets you rent bridesmaid dresses for a whole lot less. We took a peek at their expanded color palette and new styles for spring and summer—they now have 18 shades and 10 silhouettes that rent for between $50 and $75. They also shared a few really interesting behind-the-scenes details with me…but more to come on that soon! (Bonus: Tote bags galore, plus three of my favorite colors from the LBD spring line.)

Little Borrowed Dress tote from The 2nd NYC NotWedding

Another “this is genius” discovery: Makr, an app that makes designing invitations incredibly simple and seamless. Modern, colorful templates can be customized in a second with the easy swiping and dragging functionality of a tablet. I seriously wanted to hug these ladies their app was so intuitive and easy. Plus, it’s not just for invitations: You can create labels, stickers, and even temporary tattoos! Much of the printing can be done at home, or you can order prints through Makr. I made a desperate plea for them to design some chic, classy bachelorette invitations (no pink and black, please!). In the meantime, check out their newly released bridal shower invite—and these diamond tattoos.

Makr Bridal Shower Customizable InvitationsOne last lovely I just have to share is the sanity-saving travel coordination from Bliss by LTC. Founder Lauren hates the word “travel agency,” so she describes what she does as “designing vacations.” The service is often used for honeymoons, but my ears perked up when she said the words “bachelorette weekend.” Lauren consults with you on the general vibe of the weekend (Are you more of a clubbing and dancing or wine tasting and fine dining group?) and then turn over the names of the invitees—and she’ll coordinate from there! Just imagine, no badgering girls for RSVPs…sounds like heaven to me. She also hosted a giveaway for a trip anywhere in the world—I pinned New Zealand on the map to enter to win!

destination map | photo via Page Photography

Photo via Page Photography.

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and derived from meeting really passionate and cool people.

A Vintage Cocktail Hour Bridal Shower

Channeling a time when cocktails and fancy dress went hand in hand, this happy hour shower is both glamorous and intimate all at once. The inspiration for this shower’s blush and metallic color palette and midcentury vibe came from bride Lauren’s collection of gilded vintage glassware, as well as her striking vintage V-back dress. Lauren’s business partner and friend, Rachel of Sweet Root Village, lined the fireplace with tall mirrored vases overstuffed with soft coral, pale pink and fuchsia roses. Guests at this “little black dress gathering” were greeted with a hand-lettered name tag for their glass of honey green tea fizz or raspberry wine zinger. Rachel explains how the shower’s showstopper—Lauren’s stunning oversized corsage—came to be.

“Lauren bought this beautiful vintage dress that for a time she planned to use as her wedding gown. She had it altered to have more of a cap sleeve, with a low back and a pencil-skirt bottom. The style was very old-fashioned and classy and corsages were all the rage back in the day. Corsages were definitely a bit larger in the past, so we tried to go in that direction but even more so, creating a cross between a typical corsage and a flower crown. Lauren built it herself and we attached it carefully to her dress.”
–Rachel, Sweet Root Village

Venue: Sweet Root Village Studio | Flowers, Photography, Styling, Invitation and Paper Products: Sweet Root Village | Photography Assistance: Rebekah Murray | Dress: Vintage Mirage | Hair: Sugar House | Makeup: Sarah Patch | Vintage Glassware: The bride’s personal collection

Bridal Shower 101: Hosting, Etiquette, Party Planning, Gifts and More

Bridal Shower 101: Questions answered on hosting, etiquette, party planning, gifts and moreSo who hosts the bridal shower and who is responsible for the cost? Who should be invited and how many bridal showers is too many? How much should you spend on a shower gift—and do you have to send one if you aren’t attending? Should we surprise the bride? Can the groom attend? You’ve got questions about etiquette, themes, games, food, hosting and attending a bridal shower—we’ve got answers.

The Basics

Who hosts the bridal shower?
The bridal shower is traditionally hosted by the maid of honor, the bridesmaids or a family friend or relative of the bride. A lot of factors come into play: where is the ideal location for the shower, when will most people be able to attend, who is financially able to host the party? A good rule to remember: Hosting a shower is a choice, not an obligation. If the maid of honor has offered to host the shower, she may ask the rest of the bridesmaids to cohost—but they do not have to say yes. Other relatives or friends may also offer to throw a bridal shower and the bride may accept or decline. In the past, it was considered a faux pas for a direct member of the bride’s family to host as this was seen as “present grabbing.” But even the maven of manners herself, Ms. Emily Post, now says that it’s perfectly fine for your mother or future mother-in-law to throw the shower.

Who should be invited?
The bride should provide the host with a guest list. Important to note: Only ladies who are invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower. Though you may be tempted to invite the friends who didn’t make the wedding list cut to your shower, this is considered rude and puts friends in an awkward position. You’d basically be saying “please get me a present, but sorry, you can’t come to the wedding.” Showers are generally attended by a select group of close friends and relatives, so you should not invite every woman who is attending the wedding.

Who pays for the bridal shower?
The host is responsible for paying for the shower. This goes back to our rule on hosting being a choice, not an obligation. If the bridesmaids have agreed to cohost, they should split the costs of the shower…but they are not hosts by default. This differs from how bachelorette parties are handled—typically each attendee pays her own way at a bachelorette party, chipping in for food, drinks and whatever activities are going down. At a bridal shower, whoever is throwing the party is expected to pick up the bill.

What is my role as a bridesmaid in terms of the shower?
You may choose to cohost a shower…or not. If the bride has multiple showers, you will probably be invited to all and if it is possible for you to attend them, you should. (See below on gifting for multiple showers.) If you don’t live geographically near the bride, you should only attend one shower…if that. I personally make it a rule to only buy two plane tickets per wedding—one for the wedding itself and one for a bachelorette and/or bridal shower. Air travel is expensive and friends get that. If the bachelorette is not being held the same weekend as the bridal shower and you are financially unable to or uncomfortable with attending both, talk to the bride and pick one. All of my friends have 100 percent understood this and have wanted me there for their bachelorette weekends—and we usually choose to throw a small shower during the bachelorette weekend anyway, even if the bride has had other showers with family or local friends.

When and where should the shower be held?
The bridal shower is usually held three months or less before the wedding. Consult with the bride and bridal party to pick a convenient date. I recommend that the bridal shower be no less than one month before the wedding. The bride is going to have a lot of details to attend to in the last month before the wedding and will appreciate having her weekends free. As to location, showers are most often held at the home of the host, but can also be held at a restaurant or winery, in a park, at a hotel, or really anywhere you like. Just keep in mind that no matter where you hold the shower, the host still must pick up the bill. You can’t ask guests to pay for an activity at the shower.

What should you do at a bridal shower?
Many people choose to host a shower at home, serve food and drinks and play a game or two. You can also plan an activity, such as a cooking class or crafting session, or have the shower at a special location, like a winery or day spa. Plan a party that appeals to the bride’s tastes and interests. Don’t just go through the motions of “bridal shower traditions”—make it special and personal to her. Throw the kind of party you want to attend!

Can you have more than one shower?
Yes, you can—on one condition. With the exceptions of your bridesmaids and direct relatives (mother, mother-in-law, sisters, grandma), the guest lists should not overlap. If multiple people offer to host showers, you are welcome to accept, but they should be from different spheres of your life and plan to invite different groups. Perhaps your aunt wants to throw a shower for your extended family and invite your mother’s close friends, but your bridesmaids want to throw a shower for your college girlfriends to attend. If two people who would invite the same guests offer to host the shower, politely decline one offer (“Oh, that’s so wonderful of you to offer, but my MOH has started to plan already. I can’t wait to see you there!”) or see if the two would like to host together.

What about a work shower?
Work showers are the exception to the “must be invited to the wedding” rule. Generous coworkers may offer to throw a shower for you, either during work or after hours. In this case, it is understood that you won’t be inviting all the shower guests to the wedding. Work showers are often much more casual than a regular shower—gifts may be much smaller or everyone may go in on a gift card for the bride.

Should the shower be a surprise?
My feeling on this is no, the bridal shower should not be a surprise. Brides want to look beautiful at their showers. They want to pick out a pretty dress and maybe even get their hair done. They do not want to be coming home from the grocery store in their sweats to find 30 people in their house. If you really want to surprise the bride, tell her the date and time of the shower and keep the details a secret. That way she can relax knowing she’ll look good. Even if you go this route, I think you should consult her on guest list. She may be disappointed that you didn’t include certain friends or you may inadvertently offend someone by overlooking a touchy relative. Keeping the theme, location and events a secret will be enough of a surprise.

Can I throw a co-ed shower?
Of course! Choosing to throw a co-ed shower is a personal decision for the bride and groom. One of my favorite co-ed shower ideas is a field day competition—heck, I’d do this with just girls too! But pitting the bridesmaids against the groomsmen in sack races and capture the flag? Yes, please!

Can the groom come to the shower if it’s not co-ed?
It’s my feeling that the groom should not come to the shower if it’s not co-ed. I think people look forward to getting to spend time with just the bride—and part of the fun of getting her away from her fiance is being able to dish about him when he’s not around. That said, it has become a bit of a modern tradition for the groom to make an appearance at the end of the shower and bring the bride flowers. If you do this, be sure to say hello to all the guests—don’t just show up, wave and then bolt. This can be a good opportunity for guests who have never met the groom to get to know him a bit before the wedding day.

Can I have a “no kids” rule at my shower?
Of course you can! It’s your shower. If you think kids will be a distraction, know that certain guests do not have well-behaved children or just want some adult fun time, reach out to those with children to let them know the party will be adults only. If you go this route, make sure there are no exceptions—if your friend can’t bring her holy terror of a son, your sister can’t bring your adorable niece.

Themes and Party Planning

Should the bridal shower have a theme?
Themes are an easy way to give you direction when you are planning the shower, but you can also choose a color or pattern as the inspiration for your decor. Just concentrate on creating a party that fits the bride’s personality, whether that means a casual backyard fiesta or a modern sparkly soiree.

What are some good shower themes?
When it’s time to choose a bridal shower theme, think about your friend’s interests and passions and see if one would translate into a great bridal shower theme. Don’t throw a tea party just because it’s the first idea that pops into your head—go for the tea party theme if your friend can’t get enough of all things British, brews her own loose tea or collects vintage teapots. Need some inspiration? We’ve got 21 spectacular bridal shower themes for you right here or check out some of the real bridal showers featured here.

Should I send out printed invitations?
That’s up to you. Most bridal showers I’ve been to have had a printed invite. It’s a nice keepsake and doesn’t have to be too expensive. You can find beautiful shower invitations on Wedding Paper Divas or through some amazing Etsy vendors. If you don’t choose to use printed invites, I love Paperless Post for chic digital invitations. Whether you go digital or physical, invitations should be sent out about one month before the shower.


What is traditionally given as a bridal shower gift?
Many bridal showers have a present theme, such as lingerie, cooking, home goods, bar supplies or items for the honeymoon. Group gifts are also popular at bridal showers. You can go in with the other bridesmaids to schedule a year of date nights or put together a wine basket with poems attached for notable events in the couple’s first year of marriage. If there’s no shower theme, you can always choose something from the bride’s wedding registry.

How much should I spend on a shower gift?
This is a personal decision, but my recommendation is to shoot for the $30 to $50 range. Another lovely (and inexpensive) shower gift is to create a friendship scrapbook for the bride. Before the shower, each guest decorates a scrapbook page with their favorite pictures and memories of their friendship with the bride. On shower day, the pages can be slid into an album to create a wonderful keepsake for the bride.

As a bridesmaid, I’m attending multiple showers. Do I need to bring a gift to all of them?
No, you do not (and should not). Bring a gift to the first shower you attend. After that, your presence is all that’s required. If you feel weird showing up empty-handed, bring a card to the other showers with a funny or sweet note to the bride.

Does the bride have to open all the gifts at the shower?
I had so much to say about this that I wrote a whole post about it. Short answer: Yes, you need to open the presents while the guests are there so that you can thank them, but you don’t have to make it boring. No one likes watching people open presents for two hours. It is the worst part of bridal showers. So here are some ideas for making the present unwrapping portion of your party less painful for your guests.

If I’m not able to attend the shower, should I still send a gift?
If you can’t attend the shower, you are not obligated to send a gift. If you do want to send something along, I love this idea for a mail-away shower in which guests who couldn’t attend all sent a book they thought would be useful to the bride, with topics ranging from cookbooks to personal finances.

Should there be party favors for the guests?
A small favor is lovely if possible and it doesn’t have to be expensive. My recommendation for choosing a bridal shower favor? Don’t brand it with the bride’s name or wedding date. I know that a lot of people choose to do this, but I never end up using these gifts because I don’t want to advertise your wedding around my house. That would be kinda weird. Make shower favors something I’ll actually enjoy or use. For a cooking shower, a nice wooden spoon is a perfect and useful gift. At a tea party, send me home with a fragrant bag of Earl Grey leaves. You can always add a tag to the gift with “Trisha’s Bridal Shower” to tie in the shower theme. I’ll snap a pic of your cute wrapping and get to enjoy my gift long after the party.


Do we have to play games?
No, you don’t. (Everyone’s like, “WHAT?!?”) It’s true that most showers incorporate games, but there’s no shower goddess who’s going to rain fire down on your party if someone doesn’t get wrapped in toilet paper. Think about incorporating an activity, like wine tasting, a spa treatment or pottery painting, instead of the typical shower games. Or just eat, drink and chat it up—what lady wouldn’t be into that!

What are some fun bridal shower games?
A classic and actually truly enjoyable bridal shower game is the Fiance Quiz. I legitimately always enjoy this game because it’s amusing and you learn a lot about the groom. And I have 5 other bridal shower games (that don’t suck) for you as well. Remember that people want to eat, drink, and chat, not have a regimented schedule of enforced games, so just choose a few to sprinkle in. And have prizes! People are more likely to take interest if there’s chocolate involved.

Bridal Shower 101: Everything You Need To Know About Hosting, Etiquette, Party Planning, Gifts and More

What kind of food should be served?
Yum-yum kind! Ok, but serious answer. Bridal showers are usually held in the morning or afternoon, so plan your menu accordingly. Buffet style is common to allow guests to mingle and chat, but a seated meal works for a tea party or showers held at a restaurant. And we are ladies, and ladies like sweets, so please serve us dessert as well.

Is alcohol served at a bridal shower?
It’s perfectly fine to serve alcohol at a bridal shower (but not mandatory…unless it is my bridal shower, in which case break out the champagne!). Mimosas are lovely for brunch and wine or a signature cocktail is delightful for lunch. Serve what feels right for your bride.

A New Orleans Bachelorette Weekend

New Orleans had been at the top of wedding photographer Jordan Quinn‘s lady-trip list for awhile (and it’s near the top of yours too as the number 3 bachelorette destination in our bachelorette survey). So when it came time to plan her own bachelorette, the choice was simple. Of course, she had to take a few snaps of the festivities, from the bead bonanza on Frenchman Street to a rejuvenating round of Bloody Mary’s during brunch at Stanley’s. To Jordan, the trip was about connecting with the most important ladies in her life. As she said, “I got to spend two days with my lifers, the souls who play a daily part in my life. These are the kind of friendships that an episode of Golden Girls is made up of.”

Check out Jordan’s New Orleans itinerary below to help plan your own bachelorette in the Big Easy! 

Start the weekend right with the perfect NOLA bachelorette favors: matching Mardi Gras masks. And beads, of course. Make your own masks or stop in to Maskarade to browse (and pose in) the gorgeous hand-painted creations.

For lunch, split a classic muffaletta sandwich at Central Grocery. This New Orleans creation is served on a full loaf of soft Italian bread (hence the splitting) and piled high with salami, ham, provolone, mozzarella and homemade olive salad.

For a unique daytime activity, take an air boat tour on the bayou.

Stop in at happy hour for a round of hurricanes at Pat O’Briens (you’ll probably only need one—these suckers are deceptively strong) and stay for karaoke and the piano bar.

To give the weekend a bachelorette twist, book a private aphrodisiac tour with Witches Brew Tours. This two-hour stroll through the French Quarter introduces you to the sultry past (and present) of New Orleans, while you sample oyster shooters, chocolate cannoli and even a vial of Love Potion #9 from the famous Voodoo Authentica.

Indulge in an afternoon treat of beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde…but also at Cafe Beignet…heck, just make this a daily tradition. Order your coffee with chicory, which adds an earthy, almost chocolate-like flavor.

New Orleans is a foodie’s fantasy—it’s hard to go ten feet without stumbling on an excellent restaurant. The region is known for cajun and Southern cuisine, with a focus on seafood. Split small plates like wood-fired oysters and alligator bites with chili garlic mayo at Cochan or, to see a different area of the city, head to Dominique’s on Magazine Street for modern seasonal French cuisine in a quirky renovated fire station.

A night on Frenchman Street is a must. Wander in and out of the many jazz clubs and bars, like The Spotted Cat Music Club and Apple Barrel Bar, to catch the live local acts. Plus, you can take your drinks to go (yep, that’s legal here—just make sure it’s in a plastic cup).

Leave your own NOLA recommendations in the comments!

A Kitschy-Cute 50s Housewife Bridal Shower

Some things just make you smile. Like grilled cheese…from a food truck…in your backyard. Which happened at this kitschy-cute 50s housewife bridal shower in sunny Miami, Florida. MOH Jessica chose shades of tiffany blue and rose red to tie the retro chic theme together, from the stunning cake display by Sugar Me Knot to the checkered aprons given out as shower game prizes. Guests enjoyed nostalgic treats at the candy bar before ordering up custom grilled cheese sandwiches from the Ms. Cheezious food truck. Bride Melissa is positively glowing in these snaps captured by bridesmaid Amanda from Lovely Bee Creative.

Photography: Lovely Bee | Event Planning: Jackie Ohh Events | Flowers: Avant Gardens | Props: UnearthedVintage | Food truck: Ms. Cheezious | Cakes: Sugar Me Knot