Tag Archives: bridal showers

The Best of Ultimate Bridesmaid’s Year 2

— year two milestones —

This year, Ultimate Bridesmaid hit 1,000,000 views…on my birthday. That’s right, folks. While I was snowed in at a Poconos resort (true story), blissfully avoiding contact with my email and the Internet, the blog dial quietly rolled over 1 million visitors. And in the four short months since, we’re already edging up on 1,500,000—which means over 100,000 people are visiting each month! Thank you so much! I can’t even explain how grateful I am to those of you who check in and have followed along on my adventure in blogging.

— all-time top posts —

These two posts bring in over half of the traffic to Ultimate Bridesmaid, through both Pinterest and organic searches. The Ultimate Maid of Honor Speech held the title of #1 last year as well, but 5 Bridal Shower Games That Don’t Suck made a serge this year (and seems poised to pass). I said this last year and I’ll say it again: Seeing that the top posts on the blog are articles I’ve written and put a lot of my honest opinion and heartfelt advice into means a lot to me. Putting together party features and inspiration boards is incredibly fun and, I’ll admit it, kind of easy. But the stats don’t lie. The posts you come to the most often are the advice and tutorial posts—meaning the ones I spend weeks on, the ones with few to no pictures (but still something pinnable—always something pinnable!), the ones that get to the heart of real issues and offer actionable advice. The parties make the blog look pretty, but these posts are its heart.

A great example of this is a post that did surprisingly well this year: an article on how to tell a friend she’s not one of your bridesmaids. While it wasn’t in the top 10, it did extremely well for what I thought would be kind of a niche topic. I wrote it based on a reader question, because I thought it seemed like a legitimate issue and something that would require delicacy and might cause brides a lot of stress and strain friendships. And it’s obviously true, because that post didn’t get buried in the archive—far from it! Ultimate Bridesmaid has always been about the positive aspects of being a bridesmaid: celebrating friendship, creating memorable occasions, enjoying special moments with your best friends (and yeah, cute dresses too). But there’s way more to being a bridesmaid than the fun stuff and I always try to help you through the tough moments so you can get to the champagne and glitter with your friendship and sanity intact.

your new favorites this year

Many of the articles in the top 10 posts from our first year made the list again, but rather than repeat, I wanted to highlight a few new posts that were top performers this year. In fact, one of these even shot up to the fourth most-viewed post on the site!

21 Spectacular Bridal Shower Themes

Everyone needs a little inspiration to get the creative juices flowing. Instead of letting you default to bridal tea party (though if that’s your cup of tea, cheers!), I pulled together a list of 21 spectacular bridal shower themes to help you personalize this pre-wedding bash. (Apologies for tea puns.)

The Bridesmaid Packing List for the Wedding Day

The bridesmaid packing list for the wedding day

Detailing everything you need for her big day, this packing list is meant to help you get organized and arrive at her wedding with everything you need, plus a few helpful tips to make the day go smoothly. As the number four all-time favorite post on the site, it’s no surprise that a few readers chimed in with amazing suggestions to expand the list. Thank you all!

Wine Basket Bridal Shower Gift

This post was a treat to write because I got to partner with my creative friend Amanda, who wrote eight original poems for this classic bridal shower gift. A bottle of wine celebrates eight milestones in their marriage, from the honeymoon to their first house to a random night of romance. Free printables included!

A Guide to Bridesmaid Dress Fabrics and Finishes

A guide to bridesmaid dress fabrics and finishes

This post technically went up in our first year, but it really took off this year, with lots of you weighing in on your favorite fabrics and asking questions about avoiding sweat marks and pulling off mixing fabrics. I also updated the article this year with a few new fabrications (well, not newly created, just new to the list), like mikado and faille.

— your favorite showers and parties —

I love, love sharing real bridal showers and bachelorette parties. I feel excited about every single party I’ve shared because each one is just so personal and unique. That’s the number one factor that goes into selecting the parties featured here. Is the bride’s personality and style reflected in this party? Is a little bit of happiness rubbing off on me just from looking at the pictures? Here are a few of your favorites, plus the details I personally love.

A Rustic Vintage Bridal Shower in Utah
A Rustic Vintage Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Alixann Loosle PhotographyHighlights:
The classiest lace panty display I’ve ever seen
The creative photo display made using a glass jug and tree branches
Potted succulent party favors displayed on vintage luggage—need I say more?

A Glitter Bachelorette Shoot in South Carolina

A Glitter Bachelorette Party in South Carolina | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Paige Winn PhotographyHighlights:
Biodegradable glitter
Some seriously stylish metallic dresses
A stunning diamond ring buried in all that confetti

A Kitschy-Cute 50s Housewife Bridal Shower

A Kitchsy-Cute 50s Housewife Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Lovely Bee PhotographyHighlights:
Four words: grilled cheese food truck
Dress-form cakes sporting vintage blue and red frocks
Patterned aprons and wooden spoon party favors

A Sunshine and Wine Bridal Party Luncheon

A Sunshine and Wine Bridal Luncheon | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Sorella Muse Photography

The bride’s stylish white knit dress
The thoughtful bridesmaid gift bags complete with Toms, Stella and Dot earrings and more
Wine, cheese and that epic submarine sandwich

A Chic Chevron and Stripe Handmade Bridal Shower

Highlights: Chevron, floral, polka dots, stripes—so many stunning patterns!
The cookbook guest book

Thank you all for an amazing second year. I’m grateful to all the amazing photographers who have shared their work with me; the bridesmaids and brides who have submitted stories and images from their showers and parties; and the artists and vendors who have worked with me and been so generous with their time and advice. I can’t wait to see what year three brings!

Ultimate Bridesmaid Census 2013: Maid Stats and Bridal Showers (Part 1)

I am so excited to share the results from our first-ever Ultimate Bridesmaid Census! Thank you to all those who helped spread the world and who took the survey. First up, who you are and what you think about bridal showers. I’ll be sharing info on bachelorette parties, bridesmaid duties and the traditions you love and hate in the coming week. 

What I learned and/or found surprising: I suppose I shouldn’t have been, but I was a little bit surprised that tea party shower pulled so far ahead of the other shower theme categories, with 53% listing it as one of their top three themes. Some found the idea of having a theme at all totally unnecessary and a few left comments suggesting that cheesy shower party games be nixed. I also loved some of your suggested themes, like wine tastings or a charitable shower with donations instead of gifts.

I also found out (as we’ll see again in later infographics) that cost is a big factor. You want to dream big in terms of planning a shower for a friend, but budget rarely allows you to splurge on a photographer or event planner. 45% did say they would take care of most of the details themselves, but might bring in help the day of, like hiring a caterer. I was surprised that as high as 16% would host a shower for 40+ guests—that’s a huge party! Not surprising: We’re all addicted to Pinterest (well, at least 52% of us).

I was a little sad to see that the bridal shower doesn’t seem to be something you look forward to. While it only showed up a few times in the free answer section on what you most dislike about being a bridesmaid, 21% did say that planning it was one of the hardest parts of being a bridesmaid. I should have listed “attending the shower” as a choice to see if it wasn’t just the planning that gets to you. And only 7% listed it as one of their favorite parts of being a bridesmaid.

To me, this is a little bit sad. Why are we spending time, energy and money on a party that we’re really not looking forward to? I’m seeing this as a call to reimagine what a bridal shower can be. I’ve always felt that the true potential of a shower is wasted in its rigid structure. A bridal shower reminds me too much of a kid’s birthday party—now it’s time for games, now it’s time for presents, now it’s time for cake. Grown-ups rarely throw parties like this. We like talking, mingling, laughing, eating—we even like games if they are funny and, most importantly, seem natural and unforced. I’ve always tried to bring you real parties that are unique and fun, but going forward I’m going to try even harder to help you create bridal showers that you’ll actually enjoy.

Also, for those who are interested, I made this awesome infographic using a free site called Piktochart. It is amazing!

New Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party Page (or Conquering My Fear of HTML)

So guys, I have a confession. I’m afraid of HTML. All those <‘s and aref=WHAT? Scary. Terrifying. Thank God that WordPress makes blogging so easy. But, for awhile I have been really dissatisfied with my Real Parties page. The continuous scroll just wasn’t user friendly and it really wasn’t showcasing the parties. It was burying them. I especially felt bad for the parties I published a long time ago as they were basically lost in the void. And there are some gems back there! Like this gorgeous Linens and Lace party. Or this super creative bachelorette at LA’s Renegade Craft Fair. So I made you this page.

New Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party PageI worked super hard on it. If you know anything about coding you will probably be like…you are overreacting. But it was tough for me. And I did it. So go me, OK!

I really wanted readers to be able to quickly scan all the parties we’ve featured and then dig into ones that fit their aesthetic. For awhile I thought about doing categories, like Tea Party, Lingerie, etc., but I realized that the parties are all so varied and unique that they really reject being simply categorized. This tea party has a totally different vibe from this one! The design I decided on highlights one image that captures the spirit of the party and brings you to the full post with a click.

Yours truly,
Caitlin, coding novice

My Favorite Things Bridal Shower

No, I’m not talking about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. I’m talking about channeling Oprah for a “My Favorite Things” bridal shower, a versatile theme that allows you to present the bride with a huge range of gifts and also get all the guests participating without much fuss. (I love Julie Andrews as much as the next woman, but when it comes to gift-giving, go to the master.) This is also a great low-budget theme. It’s best done at home and the cost is split between guests, but still quite low per person. Dinner or lunch is pot luck–style and the gifts can be small and personal in nature.

For your meal, ask each guest to make her favorite dish. To do this well will require a little bit of planning and coordinating on the part of the host, but it will be worth it in the end. After sharing the theme with the guests, create a Google doc or email list with different slots for the courses: appetizers, mains, sides, desserts or drinks. This way you can be sure you’ll have a balanced meal. You can also ask guests to call you with their preference if you have older guests who don’t email. As the host, you should take on the main dish, but can defer if one guest is really eager or agrees to step in if cooking isn’t your forte. In this case, make sure to invite this guest to cook in your kitchen if they’d like. Everyone else should prepare their dishes at home and be ready to serve or just reheat at your place. But since main dishes can be hard to transfer and require more prep, offer up your kitchen if someone volunteers to shoulder this task.

Have each guest email you a week or so before the shower with the name of their dish so you can make up a menu (great for scrapbooks later!). Also ask each guest to bring an index card with their recipe. You can send out custom cards with the invite or let guests make their own. You can buy a recipe box (check Micheal’s or The Container Store for a start) or make one yourself by purchasing a box at your local craft store. Add all the recipes at the shower and present it to the bride as one of her gifts. You can also ask the guests to send you a Word doc with their recipe and put together a book for the bride. Use a binder and sheet protectors or get fancy and have a book printed using a service like lulu.com. I’ve made cookbooks for my family using their service and the finished product is very nice.

For the gifts, each guest should bring one or a few of her favorite things. It can be a beauty product, kitchen gadget, gift card for a clothing brand, food product, decorative item, piece of jewelry—anything! Along with a recipe card, send each guest a card for their gift as well and ask them to jot down a quick line explaining why this thing is so great! Then ask the bride to read each card and guess which guest chose each thing.

Send the guests home with a few of the bride’s favorite things as their party favor. Or a brand-new car. Whichever you can manage.