Category Archives: For the Bride

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).

My Wedding Dress Experience and Shopping Tips

So, I bought my wedding dress. SURREAL, right? I’m not going to show you what it looks like because that would be cheating, but I will tell you a little about my shopping experience. My Mom flew up to New York and we took along my future sister-in-law, Erin, as well, who I am super close with. The two of them were like little kids at Christmas they were so excited. I was kind of nervous about all the attention and the anxiety of finding something I loved, but they were sooooo pumped, which helped shake off some of my nerves and get me excited as well. Erin, who has two adorable small children, was like, “FREEDOM, GIRL’S DAY OUT!” and my Mom was like “Big city shopping, wooooo New York!” so they were definitely providing positive vibes (a must when choosing who to shop with, I might add).

We started the day with a blow-out at Dry Bar and can I just say, BRIDE PRO TIP: Get your hair done before your bridal appointments. Seriously, it makes such a huge difference. My friend Nichole did this before her bridal appointment and I was like, this is a stellar idea, I will do it as well. It helps you visualize how you will actually look on your wedding day and you aren’t distracted by your frizzy and/or flat hair as you are trying on fancy amazing dresses.

We started our shopping at Lovely Bride in Tribeca. This salon is really relaxed and carries some great unique designers that you might not find at other salons. I knew I wanted to try on dresses by Theia and Rue de Seine because I love that style. My stylist also let me browse through the rest of the salon and pick out other dresses that appealed to me, which was nice (not all salons let you do this).

Here’s where we get to some real talk though. The hardest part about bridal gown shopping is not being able to try on your real size. ALSO, and this will just kick you in the gut, bridal gowns run one or two (or even more) sizes smaller than regular dresses. Which is just kind of a mental F you. I honestly had to just not think about the number and remind myself that it’s all about how I look and feel in the dress, not what numerical value has been assigned to this piece of fabric. But since bridal salons only carry sample sizes, it can be really hard to envision how the dress would look if it fit correctly. The stylists are seriously like wizards. They will pull and tuck and pin and straighten and cinch and do all kinds of crazy shit to get that sample to look as good as possible on you—but it’s just no comparison to trying on a dress that fits you correctly.

All this is to say that we ended up with a problem at Lovely Bride: There was a gown I really really loved the look of, but the sample size they had was a bit too small for me, to the point where I could almost but not quite get it over my hips. My stylist said she could reach out to the designer to try to borrow a bigger sample, but they would have to charge me $150…just to borrow a dress to try on that I might not even purchase. I was like, thanks, but no thanks.

Our next stop was Kleinfeld’s and I honestly have to tell you that it was an amazing experience. I thought it would be too fancy or pushy or stuffy: Wrong on all counts. The first thing I did was mention the dress I had wanted to try on at Lovely Bride to my Kleinfeld’s stylist Laura Diaz (who I recommend if you’re going to Kleinfeld’s in New York!). She was like, “hold on one sec,” and whizzed off and found the dress. Their sample size was one size bigger than Lovely Bride’s and it fit! Yay!! An inch can make all the difference here people. I loved it instantly. Laura started pulling other dresses for me and made some really good selects, but she could tell I loved the first one the most. She pulled a dress with a similar silhouette that was actually my bang-on correct “bridal” size so I could see how the dress I loved would look on me when it was my size. She pulled dresses by the same designer in different shades so I could pick the best shade for my skin tone. She was a rock star. And then I said yes to the dress (she made me, I felt a little corny, but everyone clapped, so yay!).

I have to give Kleinfeld’s credit because they had the most variety of sizes and styles and it really made all the difference. I had been shopping at a few other salons before this trip and never put on a dress that made me feel anything but meh. I would think “well, I like the top of this but hate the skirt” or “this is sort of OK” or just “Ugh, no.” But at Kleinfeld’s, not only did I find my dress, I found other dresses that looked good on me. We thought we had found the dress and then my stylist kept finding me other things that looked good too and Erin was like “now I’m getting confused.” In the end, the dress I picked was just the most “me.” It looked like a dress I would wear and a style I would choose. Plus, it’s really unique and gorgeous. And now I just can’t wait to wear it!!

I pulled together my takeaways from wedding dress shopping for you into the handy below tips.

wedding dress shopping tips

My Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

  • Get your hair done before your appointment. It will make a huge difference.
  • Eat before your appointment! Do not be tempted to skip breakfast—it is not worth it. Trying on dresses is actually really exhausting and you will need energy.
  • Drink water before and during your appointment. Again, these dresses are heavy and putting them on and taking them off really can wear you out. Stay hydrated.
  • When choosing who to take with you, pick people who will be positive and supportive (I have been shocked by some of the things I’ve heard bridesmaids/mothers/sisters say to brides).
  • Limit the number of people you bring with you to your appointment. I find three at most to be the best number. And some of the shopping experiences I enjoyed the most were with just one other person (my MOH and I had a great time trying on gowns at The Bridal Garden and she helped me realize I should broaden the silhouettes I was looking at). Big groups create confusion.
  • Wear nice undergarments. Because lots of people are going to see you in them today.
  • Bring along any accessories you might want to wear and shoes with your preferred heel height. I’m planning on wearing a vintage fur that was my grandmother’s for at least part of the wedding day, so I brought it along and it definitely made an impact.
  • Don’t let the sizes bother you. My stylists said this happens to every bride, no matter their size. Whether you’re a size 0 or a size 10, finding out that your bridal gown size is not your normal dress size can be shocking. Don’t let it bother you. Concentrate on how you look and feel in the dress, not on the number stitched in the back.
  • Order the size you are now, not the size you plan to be. This is the most common advice that was given to me by other women and bridal professionals. Brides are notoriously going to lose ten pounds/drop a size by their wedding day. But making a dress smaller is not that hard. Making it bigger really, really is. Trust your tailor and order the size you measure at now, then let them make it perfect.
  • Be open-minded when you are first trying on dresses. My biggest mistake was thinking I knew which style would look good on me. I thought I needed an empire waist with an A-line skirt, but I ended up with a sheath dress that makes my booty look fab. Having an open mind and trying on different silhouettes will quickly show you what you hate (tulle skirts and anything in ivory, in my case) and what you love (unique lace patterns and dresses that make my butt look good, apparently).

I hope those tips help you!

Photo via Unsplash, by Brandon Morgan

Where to Shop for a Lingerie Shower (Other Than Victoria’s Secret)

So, the title of this post might make you think I have something against Victoria’s Secret, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I buy their underwear and love it! I’m wearing a pair now (TMI?). But that’s just the point—Victoria’s Secret is so ubiquitous and is the go-to for so many women that when it comes time to buy something for a lingerie shower, it just doesn’t feel that special. The bride could easily buy these pieces for herself. She might already have one or two! She’s certainly seen it in the store before. And, especially if you are purchasing from VS’s bridal line, there’s a good chance you’ll end up buying something that another guest has purchased too.

In that spirit, I wanted to introduce you to a few brands outside the norm, beyond the pink stripes. This will give you a chance to shop around and to gift her with something completely unique and unexpected. Who knows, you might even decide to mix up your own lingerie routine!

Journelle

Where to Shop for a Lingerie Shower: Journelle

Want a one-stop shop to rival Victoria’s Secret? Journelle is it. This retailer carries many of the brands mentioned here—like Eberjey, Princesse Tam Tam, Myla and more—as well as their own line of intimates and sleepwear. Founder Claire Chambers found lingerie options to be lacking in the United States after living a few years abroad and founded the company to make designer brands accessible to all. You can visit one of their four locations in NYC or cyber shop to your heart’s content on the website. Not sure of the bride’s intimate style and want to send her a gift card instead? This is a great option.

Available at journelle.com

Eberjey

Where to Shop for a Lingerie Shower: Eberjey

Eberjey has a relaxed, sexy vibe that makes these the perfect romantic yet comfy undies to lounge in all day—hopefully in some exotic locale. The color palette is soft and feminine and the styles incorporate intricate yet modern cuts. Their bridal collection includes fluttery chemises for only $49 or gorgeous statement bras for up to $65. Want something with a little more edge? The black scalloped Carmen underwire bra ($65) does sexy-chic right.

Available at eberjey.com, Anthropologie, Journelle, and other retailers

CLO Intimo

Where to Shop for a Lingerie Shower: CLO Intimo

Inspired by her South American roots, CLO Intimo founder and Colombia native Claudia Ochoa creates striking modern lingerie in earthy colors that accentuate the natural curves of the female body. Choose from the lacy Fortuna collection (bras $52, thong $24) or the more sporty colorblocked Kali collection (bra $49, thong $22).

Available at clostudio.com, shopbop.com, and Journelle

Myla

Where to Shop for a Lingerie Shower: Myla

This high-end British brand makes statement lingerie incorporating Leaver’s lace and hand-done details. The quality and construction of the pieces make them practically keepsakes—and they do have a price tag to match. The Eustacia bridal line is crafted from Swiss tulle and French eyelash lace and the bra alone is $280. But one of my personal favorite collections, the more modern Arietta line, has a slightly lower price point at $150 for the lacy black and royal blue contoured bra and $100 for the matching thong. This is a gorgeous and timelessly sexy option, perhaps to go in together with another guest at the shower for a joint gift.

Available at myla.com, in select stores, and at shopbop.com 

Hanky Panky

Where to Shop for a Lingerie Shower: Hanky Panky

This made-in-the-USA brand specializes in underwear that is a little bit cheeky and totally colorful, all at a modest price point. Their signature look is lacy and bright, using a custom stretch fabric that doesn’t sacrifice comfort. They also have a good selection of plus size and maternity styles, celebrating that every body is beautiful. (And for the Lily Pulitzer-obsessed, check out their collaboration that incorporates some of the brand’s bold prints!)

Available at hankypanky.com, shopbop.com, Nordstrom’s and these other national retailers

Princesse Tamtam

Where to Shop for a Lingerie Shower: Princesse Tam Tam

This French label does peekaboo pretty with sophisticated flair. Their lacy underpinnings incorporate sheer patterned panels that can show just a little (like the Maryline lace bra, $72) or a lot (the Amber underwire bra, $83, perhaps).

Available at ASOS.com, Madewell, Journelle, and shopbop.com 

Naja

Where to Shop for a Lingerie Shower: Naja

Naja’s bold patterns and saturated colors make this perfect honeymoon lingerie. I’m like a little bit obsessed with their Talavera Blue collection because it just screams “honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast” to me. If you’re looking for more of a Mexican holiday vibe, try the Andalusia collection’s lacy neon yellow pieces. The price point is great as well, with a high-waisted brief for $32 or a lacy bralette for $42. Special and affordable.

Available at naja.com 

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.

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.

Gifts

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.

Games

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.

Food
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.

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The Cake Pull Tradition

What is a cake pull? 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.

What is a cake pull? Find out how to incorporate this Southern tradition into your wedding.

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.

A Handmade Pastel Farm Wedding in British Columbia

So, this is a bridesmaid blog. I get that. But nonetheless, I often receive wedding submissions. And for a long time I’ve told myself that if I ever stumbled on a wedding with a sweet bridesmaid story, I’d share it with you. Well folks, that day has come. What could be sweeter than a bridal party filled out by the bride and groom’s younger brothers and sisters (plus their BFFs, of course)? Bethany and Joel chose to hold their casual, rustic ceremony on the grounds of Providence Farm, not too far from their hometown of Victoria, British Columbia. The pure fun of the day shines through in the pictures from Christa Nicole Photography, from the cheeky bridal party portraits to the groomsmen’s matching argyle socks to the bouncy castle at the reception (they even rented bloomers so the ladies could bounce worry-free!). Bethany and Joel really put their personal touch on every aspect of the ceremony. Bethany made the bouquets herself, using dahlias listed on Craigslist by a local farm and eucalyptus from her own garden. She also made the groomsmen’s boutonnieres, repurposing coffee sacks that groom Joel brought home from his job as a coffee roaster. The couple even wrote their own wedding ceremony—that’s right, not just the vows, the whole shebang! The cake cutting was performed with a sword, a family tradition in the making: Bethany’s father received the sword as a member of the Governor General’s Horse Guards in 1982 and used it to cut the cake in his wedding to Bethany’s stepmother in 1999. I love how all the handmade details highlight the couple’s sense of humor, spirit of fun and obvious love for their families—and each other. 

From the bride: 
“Our wedding party consisted of our siblings and very bestest friends. By some miracle, both my husband and I have the same number of siblings, but of opposite genders! So, I had my two sisters, Joel’s sister, and my best friend (since we were 15!) stand up for me, while Joel had his two brothers, my brother and his best friend stand up for him.

My bridesmaids were great. When it came to decided what to wear, originally we were going for the mismatched theme. But, the girls were having such a difficult time finding affordable coordinating dresses (that didn’t scream ‘bridesmaid’), that we were giving up hope until we spied this dress from Modcloth. At $60, how could you go wrong? Plus, they had that sweet, sundress-vintage flair that felt so right.

My favourite detail of the day would either have to be the ceremony (we wrote it ourselves, and our bridal party was a big part of it!) or the dancing once everything was dark. Oh, and obviously our bouncy castle…how could that not be a favourite detail?! We rented bloomers so ladies could bounce worry free. Also, as almost 80 people stayed overnight, we hosted a breakfast the next day and it was great to get to hang out with everyone after our night of fun. Oh, and one more—my husband is a coffee roaster, so I made the boutonnieres and bunting from used coffee sacks, and all the guests got to enjoy freshly made lattes and Americanos at breakfast!”

Photography: Christa Nicole Photography | Venue: Providence Farm | Bridesmaid dresses: Modcloth | Bridal gown: Blush Bridal | Bride’s and bridesmaids’ hair: Lab Salons | Reception dress: H&M | Suits: Indochino | Cake: Nicki Reich, a friend of the couple | Rings: Rare Earth| Florals, boutonnieres: the bride