Category Archives: Bridesmaids

ModCloth’s Tips for Styling a Bridesmaid Dress After the Wedding

“Oh, you’ll totally be able to wear that again.” You’ve heard this a million times, right? And sure, you may have had the best of intentions. You may have really thought you’d be throwing on that pastel green chiffon dress every summer. You were totally going to get that floor-length number shortened. But despite your intentions, that bridesmaid dress hasn’t seen any action since wedding day. ModCloth can help you change that with this amazing styling session that transforms three bridesmaid looks into everyday outfits. The key is that the new looks aren’t formal at all—they take dresses that looked fancy on wedding day and style them for your real life…not just the other weddings you have to attend. To really get wear out of your bridesmaid dresses, they need to be able to go out to dinner, a bar or a concert. Check out the styling video below for three perfect examples.

And if you’re smitten, check out ModCloth’s entire collection of bridesmaid-worthy styles (did we mention how affordable they are??).

This post contains affiliate links. Ultimate Bridesmaid carefully selects affiliate partners that we believe in. All recommendations are our own—and you help support us when you fall in love with their products too. 

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.

Weddington Way’s First Bridesmaid Collection

Weddington Way bridesmaid dressesHooray! Weddington Way has introduced its first-ever collection of bridesmaid dresses. The best part? The designers were inspired to address three of the biggest gripes about bridesmaid dress shopping: a) the dresses are often less than cute b) they’re expensive and c) there’s no possibility to return or exchange a style that doesn’t look the way you hoped. Working with a palette of classic neutrals like navy and slate grey, and modern pastels like mint green and soft orange, Weddington Way created six styles in classic faille, a versatile fabric that can work for both casual and formal affairs. And at $150, the price is slightly lower than many other returnable options—that’s right ladies, you can order without fear and return or exchange if the style doesn’t impress.

If you’re unfamiliar with Weddington Way, it’s first and foremost designed to help coordinate bridesmaid looks across state lines. With so many bridal parties spread out across the country (I for one have never been in a wedding where the bride lived in the same city as me—and I’ve been in a lot of weddings!), this website allows you to select dresses you like from a huge variety of retailers, create a gallery and then comment on or vote for your favorite (or least favorite) dresses. It can also be used to help coordinate the popular mismatched bridesmaid look by lining up dresses and colors side by side to see the effect they would have on wedding day.

Here’s a closer look at how to mix and match the colors and styles available in the Weddington Way collection.

Weddington Way bridesmaid dresses Weddington Way bridesmaid dressesPhotography: Nadia D. Photography

Tropical Beach Bachelorette Inspiration

So I don’t know how things are where you live, but I’m about done with this freezing, snow-filled insanity. Winter, please stop. Naturally, I’ve has been longing for warm-weather things—sunshine on the sand, citrusy cocktails and a refreshing dip in a crystal clear pool. For a little escape therapy, I’m bringing you a tropical beach bachelorette party inspiration board. I’m digging the retro bikinis from this poolside party and had to share my favorite new summer decor idea: faux presents floating in a pool! A pair of neon shades, a travel-size bottle of sunscreen and a mini-bottle of booze in a kraft box with neon trim is the perfect start to creating your own party welcome boxes. For refreshing treats, try these raspberry and lime sangria popsicles (yep, they have alcohol, folks!) or a classic paloma—a grapefruit, lime and tequila cup of sunshine. For more tropical beach party ideas, check out our Pinterest board.

Tropical Beach Bachelorette Inspiration BoardImage credits: Poolside bachelorette, paloma cocktail, presents in the pool, bachelorette welcome box, beach umbrella pose, raspberry lime popsicles, heart sunnies, palm tree love.

The Cake Pull Tradition

The cake pull is a Southern tradition, most popular in Louisiana, that could be an excellent alternative to the bouquet toss (which I personally loathe) or a way to share a special moment with your bridesmaids at the wedding. Since I’ve never personally participated in a cake pull, I went to my cousin Dawn, a Louisianan and veteran cake puller (she’s been in 9) for information on this Southern tradition. ”What I love about the cake pull is that it is a way to include more female friends without having 20 girls in your wedding party,” she says. “As I get older, participating in one more ‘single girls’ activity at weddings can be slightly awkward, but this is much less humiliating than the bouquet toss. I plan to include one at my wedding!” Here’s a breakdown on what a cake pull is and how to incorporate one at your wedding or bridal shower.

The Cake Pull Tradition
There seem to be a few variations on the tradition. In one, unmarried female friends are invited to participate and in the other only the bridesmaids partake. In either version, a set of charms is placed under a layer of the cake and each girl pulls one, though in the bridesmaid version the “next to be married” charm must be removed if one or more of your maids is already hitched. While the cake pull most often takes place at the wedding reception, some will argue it should actually be done at the bridesmaid luncheon or even at the shower.

How To Do It Yourself
Ok, let’s talk logistics. The cake pulls are typically given to the baker the week of the wedding and then placed when assembling the cake at the reception site. Dawn has placed them herself when organizing a pull for a friend, and advises you to have extra icing on hand to pipe around the base of the cake once the pulls are placed. A ribbon is tied to each charm (or if you want to get creative, you can attach them to charm bracelets). You can find a vendors on Etsy selling cake pulls, but you can also make your own by picking up charms and ribbon at a local craft store.

Common Charms and Their Meanings
Each charm has a different meaning and tells you something about what’s to come in your life. Common charms might include a camera or the Eiffel tower (a life of travel), a flip-flop (a life full of relaxing fun), a cross (a life full of faith), a heart (a life full of love), a ring (the next to be married) and a pacifier or baby carriage (the next to have a baby). There are even Louisiana-themed cake pulls, like a crawfish for a life of good fortune or a Mardi Gras mask for the life of the party. The bride can select which charms she wants to incorporate, or even assign special meaning to personal charms. You could attach a folded card to the end of the pull with a quote to reveal the meaning of the charm—just make sure no one peeks before the pull!

Image courtesy of Katie H Photography.

Preview BHLDN Spring 2014 Bridesmaid Collection

Today I’m excited to bring you a sneak peek at some of my favorite styles from BHLDN’s spring bridesmaid collection—select styles are available now and the entire collection debuts online Tuesday, Jan. 21. I want to start off with a few dresses that are listed as bride styles for the reception or pre-wedding events. However, the trend of bridesmaids wearing white or neutrals is so popular that I see no reason why these gorgeous frocks wouldn’t work for the maids as well! Plus, they are some of my favorites of the bunch, with lots of special details and unexpected touches. 

I think my two favorite little white dresses may have been named in my honor: Willa, after my boyfriend’s adorable baby niece, and Brooklyn, after my home borough! I love the Brooklyn’s flattering deep V-neckline, floaty pleated tulle and sweet little bow at the waist. The Willa has a similar pattern to one of my current favorites (which I almost bought at the New York pop-up shop for no other reason than that it’s gorgeous—sure, I need white lacy dresses in my day to day!). The new version has more of a sheath silhouette and a scoop neck, with an interesting zigzag hemline. 

The Ariel continues the illusion neckline trend, but with an interesting one-shoulder take and a flattering empire waist. I also adore the colors available for this dress—in addition to the dusty mauve shown here, it will also be available in a light rose, a powder blue (see right), a deep sapphire (see below), a vibrant merlot and my all-time favorite color—ivy green! The Sydney just feels so classic to me and perfect for a breezy spring wedding. The flutter sleeves and drapey wrap skirt will give this dress movement as well as flatter a wide range of figures.The Ainsley bridges the styles above, with an illusion V-neck, a flowy chiffon skirt and a pretty little sash at the waist. I also had to share my favorite new accessory: these monogram-inspired hangers would make a gorgeous photo op on wedding day.