Last month I helped plan my sister’s bridal shower from across the country. And you know what I learned in the process? The less thinking you have to do when planning a shower, the better. Because if you’re planning a shower, chances are you do not have A) unlimited time or B) unlimited budget. And you might even have a few extra people (aka someone’s mom, or their sister, or a very enthusiastic wedding party member) whose thoughts and opinions you have to take into consideration along with your own (brilliant, obvs) ideas. So anything you can do to simplify the process and still end up with something you love is .
So planning a fun, stylish bridal shower is often a little of, “I have an idea!” followed by, “Okay, now how do I pull that off?” Which is why at APW, we consider it our job to test out all kinds of bonkers ideas so you don’t have to. So when Crate and Barrel invited us to partner with them on bridal brunch ideas, we decided to put all of our current favorite ideas to the test (and I do mean allll of them) and then share our best tips for bringing a badass bridal shower to life. (And spoiler alert: having access to some of the prettiest serveware and glassware around definitely made our jobs easier.)
1. A (VAGUE) theme.
Showers are sort of the opposite of weddings, in that a theme can minimize your stress. (Trust me when I say it will make execution a thousand times easier. Especially if you have a lot of cooks in the kitchen.) But I don’t mean theme like… You’re invited to a Wizard of Oz wedding shower, though if you’re having that, please invite me. In this case, I mean coming up with a more general theme or idea (often stolen from Pinterest, because that’s literally what it’s there for).
So for this party, since it’s mid-August and we already own a giant flamingo floaty, we went with “Summer fun indoors.” This made it extra easy, not just because we could drag Ms. Flamingo from her not-so-happy home in the closet, but because tropical decor is exactly what’s on sale everywhere right now. (Side note: 10/10 you should have a pool floaty at your next bridal shower.)
2. Shop It Real Good.
The Internet has convinced us that the way to plan a really good party is to devote about a thousand hours to crafting. And sure, you can make a million cute crafts for your friend’s bridal shower, but you might not want to. Which is why we promote the “smart shopping” form of party planning. In our case that boiled down to this: We picked a theme that fit with all of the party decor currently on sale everywhere. (Flamingos are hot right now, what can we say?) We got flowers that were in season at our local flower market (palm fronds, protea, red ginger, and Bird of Paradise). Then we bought food that involved literally zero cooking and looked good sitting on a table. In particular we got delicious mini pies from Pietisserie, and tarts and pastries from La Parisienne.
3. It’s time for the unusual materials challenge.
Our guiding rule for decorating is that you don’t have to make it perfect/beautiful/insert-impossible-standard-here if you can make it interesting. For example, for our backdrop, we cut triangles out of holographic vinyl and adhered them to a coral taffeta with spray adhesive (a project that was basically a zero on the “How hard is this to do?” scale). We also printed out giant landscapes on color engineer prints from Parabo Press. While those of us who spend a lot of time on the Internet know about color engineer prints, they’re still one of those things that make most of the world go, “OMG, what is that? How did you even make it?” So pick a photo that fits your theme (or even some words in a cool font), order a print, and consider your crafting done.
4. Bring sexy back(drop).
Remember our number one rule for wedding decor? It’s go big or go really big. Aka you don’t need a lot of tiny decor elements (that will inevitably take a thousand hours to execute). Instead, plan on one big statement piece that will be the focal element of your party, and put it in a high traffic zone (we put ours behind the food table, because duh.) Related: If you know the person of honor will want pictures after the fact, make a second backdrop for people to take photos in front of. (Also related: instant photos are always a hit, always.)
Beyond backdrops, we did two other (very) simple DIY projects. We took plain old cocktail picks and affixed mini-tassels to the tops for a DIY pancake topper. (Which guys? Looked SO good for SUCH a tiny amount of work.) And then possibly my favorite project we’ve ever done is this ice mold we got from Crate and Barrel and then filled it A LOT of confetti. (To make it, you just coat the inside of your ice mold with hairspray, then slowly add confetti, rotating the mold like a cement mixer. Slowly add water, and freeze for twenty-four hours.) I mean, you could basically have just that at your party and call it a win.
And beyond that, we were lucky enough to work with Crate and Barrel and test out all the items you should register for, if you want to throw parties that look good with minimal effort. Because as it turns out, a cute marble tray, copper barware, and a silver woven table runner will take you pretty damn far.
5. Food for the mood.
If you want to keep your guests happy at any party, the rule is that you have to feed them, and you have to feed them on time. But beyond that? You do not have to reinvent the wheel with your menu. In fact, one of our favorite cheat rules is to buy food that’s already cute, and make it part of the decor.