Category Archives: Bridesmaids

“Sprinkle on the Love” Bridal Shower Favors

Tea party shower in Greensboro, North Carolina at the O. Henry Hotel I recently spent the weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina, for my wonderful friend Jae’s wedding. We had a packed schedule of activities, including a bachelorette spa day and slumber party, a bridal shower tea party and, of course, the wedding! It was wonderful to spend so much quality time with some of my favorite ladies. I even got to spend the night before the wedding with Jae, which was super special. One unexpected consequence of getting married: it can bring you closer to the women in your life!

I wanted to share one quick DIY with you: the favor tags I made for the bridal shower. My fellow bridesmaids and I had talked about the idea of giving sprinkles as bridal shower favors for awhile, since Jae is maybe kinda a little obsessed with them. So when I saw these adorable sprinkles were 50% off at Paper Source, I jumped on that shizz!

Once we had the sprinkles, fellow bridesmaid Lexy came up with the cute tagline “Sprinkle on the Love for Jae’s Shower” and I set to work making tags to personalize the favors.

Free printable bridal shower party favor tags: Sprinkle on the Love for the Bridal Shower. The best part? I made a version that you can use! Simply click on the PDF link below for the best resolution. You can download a printable PDF of the tags here.

Free printable bridal shower party favor tags: Sprinkle on the Love for the Bridal Shower.

You can download a printable PDF of the tags here.

Want to get super-crazy sprinkle ridiculous? Paper Source actually has even more sprinkle goodies—including this wrapping paper I’m obsessed with.

Bridesmaid Separates from BHLDN

When you see mismatched bridesmaid dresses on Pinterest and your favorite wedding blogs, they always look cute. But trying to make the look work in real life (outside of perfect social media world) can be tricky. Will the shades work together? Will the silhouettes clash? Will one bridesmaid stand out too much? BHLDN’s new bridesmaid separates collection takes the guesswork out of creating unique bridesmaids looks. All the colors and styles are designed to go together, so you can let your bridesmaids go wild with lace, sequins and tulle. Here are some of our favorite combinations.

Bridesmaid Separates Collection from BHLDN

Embellished Tulley Top + Louise Tulle Skirt in BlushBridesmaid Separates Collection from BHLDN

Kaity Sequin Top + Flowy Jane SkirtBridesmaid Separates Collection from BHLDN

Simple Liv CamiBeaded Breanna SkirtBridesmaid Separates Collection from BHLDN

Cleo Lace TopLydia Lace Skirt

Bridesmaid Separates Collection from BHLDN

Cleo Lace Top + Tulle Petal Skirt in Sea Blue

Bridesmaid Separates Collection from BHLDN

And OK, it’s not separates, but I have to give a shoutout to the Jackie Jumpsuit in emerald (also available in midnight navy and palest pink). Drapey wide leg + flattering halter neckline + a peekaboo slit of skin at the neck = modern bridesmaid perfection.

Just Who Exactly Is Invited: Bridal Shower & Bachelorette Guest List Questions Answered

Oh, the tricky web that wedding invitations weave. I can tell you from personal experience that choosing who to invite to your wedding can feel like participating in Hunger-Games-like elimination rounds. And sending out invites to your bridal shower and bachelorette party can be just as filled with hair pulling and grief. Here, we try to simplify things for you a bit with answers to the most common questions we get on guest lists for pre-wedding parties.

Who should I invite to my bridal shower and bachelorette? Guest list questions answered.

Who should be invited to my bridal shower?
The bride should provide the host with a guest list. 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. The guest list will usually include the bridesmaids, the bride’s close friends, her mother, grandmother and aunts (and even female cousins, if she is close with them) and the mother of the groom. Important to note: Only ladies who are invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower.

But we are having a small wedding and I wanted to celebrate with some of the friends I didn’t invite to the wedding. Can’t I invite them to my bridal shower?
No, you really can’t. This is considered very rude. Only guests who are invited to the wedding can be invited to pre-wedding parties like the bridal shower. Though you may be tempted to invite the friends who didn’t make the wedding list cut to your shower, you’d basically be saying “please get me a present, but sorry, you can’t come to the wedding.”

Can someone from the groom’s side of the family throw the bride a shower?
Traditionally, the shower is thrown by someone on the bride’s side of the family: her maid of honor, her bridesmaids, an aunt, her godmother, her sister, or even occasionally her mother. That being said, we can do what we want. If the bride is close with her fiancé’s mother or sister and they want to throw her a shower, there’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t! Just make sure you don’t have competing showers from the bride’s and groom’s side. It’s best to combine into one event if most of the same guests would be invited.

Can men be invited to a bridal shower?
While showers have traditionally been female-only affairs, there are several cases in which inviting men is totally cool. If you want to have a co-ed affair, it’s called a couple’s shower. In this case, both the bride and groom attend the party and invite their friends and family. But what if the bride doesn’t want a couple’s shower, she just wants to invite some of her male friends? Just as wedding parties may now have “Men of Honor” or the “Best Maid,” if you have close friends of the opposite sex who your shower would be incomplete without, you should by all means invite them. As long as your fiancé’s feelings won’t be hurt that he isn’t invited, press on!

Who should be invited to my bachelorette party?
The bachelorette party usually consists of the bride’s closest girlfriends. This includes all her bridesmaids, plus other close friends. Sisters are usually invited, but other relatives usually don’t make the cut. The bachelorette is usually for women in the same generation as the bride—aka aunts and grandmas skip this one.

Should my mother be invited to my bachelorette party?
I have a follow-up question for you: Do you want to invite her or is she pressuring you to invite her? If you and your mom like to party together and you want her to be there, then yes, go ahead and invite her. But usually mothers and other older female relatives are not invited to bachelorette parties. Generally the parties are confined to the bride’s close friends. If your bachelorette party is going to be more laid-back—say, a wine and painting class or a nice dinner out—it may make sense to invite your mom. I’ve also seen brides go on trips with their mother and sister as their bachelorette getaway. Your bachelorette should be what you want it to be. If you want a weekend away with just your close girlfriends, do that! If you want your mom to be there, invite her! But if your mom is just pressuring you to include her, feel free to say “sorry, mom, this one’s just for my girlfriends—Ultimate Bridesmaid says so.”

Before I set the date of a bridal shower or bachelorette party, who do I have to clear it with?
This is so tricky. I feel your pain. It can be nearly impossible to pick a date that works for all guests and feelings can sometimes get hurt. But honestly, one of the roles of host is not to find a date that works for every single person. For the bridal shower, make sure the date works for the bride (duh) and the mother of the bride. Ask the bride to pick a few other priority guests—this may include her bridesmaids, her mother-in-law-to-be, or an aunt or cousin she is close with. For the bachelorette, try to pick a date that works for all her bridesmaids. Setting the date well in advance will help make this easier. The earlier you can pick a date, the less likely your guests are to have a conflict. At the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up if every single person can’t attend. You did your best.

Who should I invite to my bridal shower and bachelorette? Guest list questions answered.

Photo by Alixann Loosle Photography.

My Charleston Bachelorette Weekend | Ultimate Bridesmaid

My Charleston Bachelorette Weekend

I recently celebrated my bachelorette weekend in Charleston with my best girls and I am still buzzing with excitement. It was absolutely the perfect bachelorette for me, full of relaxing beach walks, classy specialty cocktails, delicious Southern cuisine, a little bit of dancing and hours talking and laughing with the ladies I love most. You can find my complete list of recommendations for a Charleston bachelorette at the bottom of this post.

The Details
I met up with my MOH Meryl and bridesmaid Michele at the Charleston airport Thursday evening and we headed straight to dinner at Leon’s Oyster Shop, a cool, eclectic space downtown that specializes in oysters and fried chicken. After a delicious meal, we made a pit stop at the grocery store to stock up on the essentials—aka copious amounts of wine, an entire watermelon, and breakfast foods—while we waited for the rest of the ladies to arrive. (Side note: We ran into what was clearly a bachelor party on the boy version of our grocery trip, filling one cart with beer and a second with canned chili.) Our home for the weekend was the Wild Dunes resort on the Isle of Palms. Meryl’s aunt and uncle own a three-bedroom beach cottage there and were so, so generous to offer to let us use it. It was absolutely perfect—gorgeously decorated in beach-chic blues and whites and the perfect size for our group. They even had party cups and a stuffed shark to act as our weekend mascot!

Meryl put together adorable Charleston-themed gift bags for all the guests and Michele was almost instantly dubbed art director for the weekend when I found her artfully arranging the items for a photo. And she did an amazing job styling our photos for the rest of the weekend! Personalized cup in the sand? Her idea. Constantly shifting us around to get good light? She was on it. Though assistant art director Lexy is responsible for the sand writing 🙂

Friday morning, after sleeping off way too much wine, the girls made an amazing breakfast at home and we headed out to the beach for a stroll, followed by pool drinks and snacks at the Wild Dunes Grand Pavilion. It was just a little bit too chilly for sunbathing or swimming, but it was still lovely and the perfect time to catch up, which is just one of the best parts of a bachelorette weekend. Fellow bride Jae and I got to compare notes on our upcoming weddings. I’m pretty in awe of her—she planned her wedding in four months whereas I will be coming up on a year of planning! Definitely more to come from her summer wedding soon!

After a very important power nap (what, we’re old!), we started the evening at Poogan’s Porch, which serves modern twists on Southern classics (I had the crab and shrimp linguini because, hi, learned my lesson from wine on night one: carbs needed!). All of Meryl’s restaurant choices and the schedule she planned for the weekend were amazing and spot-on me. This is probably the only vacation I’ve ever taken in my life where I haven’t planned one thing, Yelped one restaurant or pulled up Google Maps once in a fit of “where the heck do we go next.” It was heaven! Next, we had drinks on the roof of the Vendue and then headed to Trio for some dancing, where the DJ was spinning 90s jams as if he knew we’d be there (plus, JT’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” because I’m obsessed right now).

Saturday was my bridal shower brunch, and beforehand my friends planned a scavenger hunt for me in our beach house. Each clue was written by my bridesmaid Amanda, who is the queen of cute poetry and emoji usage—she created the poems for our popular wine basket shower gift. The clues led me to the shower gifts, which were all travel-themed, referencing places Andrew and I have visited together. The last clue led to my shower, hosted by my amazingly generous friend Nichole, in the back garden of Eli’s Table in Charleston, where we enjoyed a hearty brunch and some much-needed mimosas in the Charleston sunshine. I was so touched by the thought that everyone put into the shower—it was so personalized to Andrew and I and resulted in me making many silly faces while opening my gifts!

After our outdoor brunch, we were in need of a little AC time. Luckily, Nichole had wisely made a midday reservation at The Gin Joint. Because what’s the best thing to do after you finish two pitchers of mimosas? Have a specialty cocktail, duh! The Gin Joint makes cocktails for you based on a selection of words on the menu, so I asked for a “fizzy and refreshing” drink and received an awesome combo of gin, muddled strawberries, lime and ginger beer. Maybe one of my favorite spots we stopped in Charleston!

Next, we took a stroll along the waterfront of downtown Charleston and through the historic quarter to get a look at Charleston’s rainbow-colored homes. The city really has so much charm and there’s a gorgeous garden or wrought-iron gate around every corner. To end our weekend, we headed over to nearby Sullivan Island for a dinner of wood-fired pizzas and on-tap cocktails at the Obstinate Daughter. I cannot believe how fast the weekend flew by, and I already miss my girls. But I’m even more excited for my wedding this October!

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My Bachelorette Guide to Charleston

Wild Dunes
: We were lucky enough to have access to a house, but Wild Dunes has tons of vacation rental properties as well. The beachfront community has tons of pools, a golf course, tennis, dining—it’s a really wonderful home base with a lot of Charleston charm.

Eat & Drink
There are so many amazing restaurants in Charleston—you can hardly go wrong. We loved:

  • Modern twists on Southern classics in a historic Charleston home at Poogan’s Porch. Try the shrimp and grits and the fried green tomatoes.
  • Brunch in the back garden of Eli’s Table. Their hearty meals and pitchers of mimosas are perfect the day after a night out. 
  • Fresh oysters and fried chicken at Leon’s Oyster Shop. We loved the eclectic vibe of this joint.
  • Wood-fired pizzas at Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island. Try the Old Danger pizza topped with pancetta, mozzarella, a white sauce and a farm egg and one of their cocktails on tap.
  • With creative cocktails like The Studmuffin and The Debutante, The Gin Joint makes for a perfect happy hour stop. We especially loved the “bartender’s choice” option.

My bridal shower look: Dress | Shoes

Our Charleston bachelorette gift bags: Polka-Dot Totes | Custom Party Cups | Bride Tribe Sunglasses | Koozies: Best Day Ever & I Wanna Party | Mini Champagne Bottles | Charleston Chews

Thank you a thousand times…
Meryl Dann: COO/Team Captain | Michele Fogel: Art Director | Amanda Leith: Creative Director | Jae Haley: Stylist | Lexy Harrison: Medical Advisor/Asst. Art Director | Nichole “If You Won’t Do It, I Will” Burnap: Chief Instigator

What It’s Like to be a Bridesmaid Today: Survey Results

A few months ago, we asked you to share some thoughts on being a bridesmaid today with a quick survey. The goal of the survey was to find out what it’s really like to be a bridesmaid today. We all have a traditional idea of the job, but what’s the reality? For example, we think of a bridesmaid as being able to attend dress fittings or meet up with the bride on weekends to do DIY projects. But since 64% of bridesmaids don’t live in the same city as the bride, that’s just not the reality. Likewise, the classic bachelorette stereotype is a police man showing up at the hotel room with a boom box. (P.S. He’s not really a cop.) But only 3% of readers said they’d want a stripper at their bachelorette party! Here’s what we discovered through our survey. What It's Like to be a Bridesmaid Today: Ultimate Bridesmaid Survey Says

I was very interested in the responses to how bridesmaid dresses were chosen, since I think sometimes the images we see online don’t reflect the reality. Mismatched dresses are incredibly popular on Pinterest and wedding blogs, but our survey found that 47% of brides were still selecting one dress for their bridesmaids and 22% were picking a few dresses for the maids to choose from. Only 27% of brides are giving their bridesmaids varying degrees of freedom to find their own dress, from giving them a color palette to work with (15%) to providing just a few guidelines, like length or level of formality (8%). Of that 27%, only 4% of brides gave the bridesmaids total freedom to choose any dress.

I’m also always interested to see what you think the best and worst parts of being a bridesmaid are. As in our last bridesmaid survey, the cost came in as the #1 complaint about being a bridesmaid, with 66% of respondees saying it was the worst. Our most common write-in complaints were about bridesmaid dresses, from the cost (“the cost of bridesmaid dresses is totally out of control these days”) to your inability to wear them again (“no matter what people say, I’m not going to be able to wear my dress on many other occasions”) to the unintentional horrors of trying to color match with the other bridesmaids when the bride gives you dress-selecting freedom (“I know it’s all Pinterest-chic to have everyone in different hues, but it’s just a pain in the rear end for the bridesmaids”).

On the plus side, there are things you totally love about being a bridesmaid. Namely, being there for your friend on her special day! A lot of you wrote in about your experiencing getting ready with the bride before the wedding, saying “Those were some of my favorite memories from my wedding and from when I was a bridesmaid. It’s so special,” and “I love the idea of being there with friends past and present for the bride. It’s the core of the bridesmaid idea, but it’s what is most beautiful to me!”

Chic Bachelorette Favor Finds Under $5

Real talk: Throwing a party can get expensive. I’m totally guilty of drooling over bachelorette party favor packs I see on Instagram or around the blogosphere. But then I add up the price tag and cringe a little. Chances are you do not have the funds to drop $100 on a gift basket for each guest. At the same time, you want your favors to be cute. You don’t want to just hand out Advil and Band-aids (little known fact: your guests can supply their own Advil!). So what you want is the Holy Grail of party favors: incredibly stylish but inexpensive items. I get you. I’m here. You’re welcome. Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Free swag alert! That’s right, these cute wine labels are absolutely free and you can snag mini Sutter Home wine bottles for only $1.75 each. There’s also a tutorial for creating the little bows to accent each bottle of wine. The perfect thing to greet your friends when they arrive.

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Hi, I’m obsessed with these OMG koozies. They are just so clever and cute (and only $5 each!). Plus, I maybe have a weakness for koozies? Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Emma Flhair’s Etsy shop is one of my favorites—she’s got tons of cute hair accessories from “Will You Be My Bridesmaid” to “Last Fling Before the Ring.” These Bride Tribe hair ties favors are a complete steal at only $1.75 a pop.

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Oh,, you make me laugh. Add some flair to your outfit for $2 each—the Girls, Girls, Girls pin for your night out and the I’m Super Hungover pin for the next morning.

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

A shiny little reminder that you are absolutely going to have the Best Day Ever. This pack of 12 Metallic Tattoos will run you $26, so that’s only a little over $2 apiece.

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Beau-Coup is like affordable wedding favor central, but these pineapple bottle openers really stand out amongst their collection. They’re stylish, on trend and under $5!

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Did you know H&M has a home section? I know, me neither, mind totally blown. But it’s a freaking gold mine for low-priced cute accessories, like this candle 2-pack for $4.99!

My Will You Be My Bridesmaid Gift Boxes

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

Sending a “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” card or present is a newer tradition, but one I love. I actually asked all my bridesmaids over the phone or in person because I felt like it was important to have that personal connection. But I still wanted to send them a “Will You Be My Bridesmaid” gift, more as a “thank you” for saying yes! First, I looked at some of the Will You Be My Bridesmaid cards I’ve loved over the years, but ultimately I decided to create one myself, partially because I just couldn’t decide between all the cute ones out there and partially just to challenge myself to imagine something new.

Andrew and I are getting married in Northeast Harbor, Maine, and it will be the first time that most of my friends are visiting this part of the country. I wanted to give them a taste of what to expect in Maine with my bridesmaid gift box. For the card, I went back through all my photos from our past vacations on Mt. Desert Island to look for a perfect background image. When choosing a photo, I needed to find one that had some negative space where I could easily place text. I chose a picture of the rocky coastline of Acadia National Park that has a bit of fog rolling in off the coast, the perfect neutral backdrop for the text.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid card. Create this using one of your own photos. So simple!I used Photoshop to create the card. I added the photograph as my first layer, then added my text as my second layer and played with a couple fonts until I found one I liked. To make the text pop, I decided to use a metallic gold foil effect. Here’s how to achieve that effect yourself (it’s actually incredibly easy). First, I found an image of gold foil online and saved it to my computer. I added the foil image as my third Photoshop layer. I resized the foil until it completely covered my text, making sure that the foil layer is right on top of the text layer in my Layers palette. Then, simply hover your cursor between the text and foil layers and hold down ALT. A little icon will appear. Once you click, it will create a clipping mask that fills the text with the metallic foil. Magic! Here’s a video that explains the whole process really well.

For the other items in my box, I wanted to include one or two pretty gifts I thought my bridesmaids would enjoy and use in their everyday lives, as well as a few things with a Maine connection. I approached picking gifts with two things in mind. 1. Quality over quantity. When you’re trying to fill gift boxes for five people, the costs can add up quickly. So in order to keep my boxes on a budget, I decided I’d rather pick a few nice items than stuff the box with little trinkets. 2. Pick things my bridesmaids will like and use, not just wedding “themed” items. Some of the items have a Maine theme, it’s true, but I also just thought they were nice and something my bridesmaid would love.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

I found the jewelry trays on sale at J.Crew Factory and ordered a different pattern for each bridesmaid. The necklaces nestled in each jewelry tray were picked up during one of my visits to Maine. To go along with the coastal Maine theme, I included a bottle of my favorite Bumble and Bumble Surf products (they smell soooo good and leave my hair incredibly soft) and added a jar of yummy Maine blueberry honey. The finishing touch was a personal note that I wrote to each bridesmaid, thanking them for agreeing to be my bridesmaid and sharing why I was so excited to have them stand by my side at my wedding.

I took a trip to Paper Source for my packing supplies. I needed gift boxes large enough to fit the jewelry trays, but not so large that everything would shift around too much during shipping. I found these white gift boxes that fit the bill and filled them with white and gold shredded paper. I also picked up some gold chevron washi tape to decorate the exterior of the plain white boxes, and a ball of blue and white striped twine which I tied around the honey jars.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Gift BoxesWill You Be My Bridesmaid Gift Boxes Will You Be My Bridesmaid Gift Boxes DIY Will You Be My Bridesmaid Gift BoxWill You Be My Bridesmaid Gift BoxesWill You Be My Bridesmaid Gift Boxes

So those are my gift boxes! I really hope my bridesmaids will like them and I can’t wait to see them and all of my friends at my bachelorette party this May in Charleston, SC!

Photographs by my amazing bridesmaid, photographer Marisa Jarae (check out her jaw-dropping Instagram for your daily dose of mountain magic).