Expert Advice from wedding guru, Sharon Naylor
I'm a bridesmaid, helping to plan a co-ed bridal shower that's gotten MUCH bigger than I expected. I originally wanted to have the shower at a restaurant, but it's looking like I'll have to do something less formal and at home. I don't want the bride and groom to be disappointed, since all of their friends had fancy bridal showers. What can I do to make it seem nicer?
First of all, at-home showers are not always less expensive than the deals you can find at restaurants. After all, you might have to rent extra chairs and tables for the guests, and even if you self-cater the event you might not be as good at building an inexpensive but impressive menu as a restaurant might offer. So don't count out the restaurant option yet. Here are a few tips for your restaurant search:
1. Ask some brides on WeddingMapper if they can suggest the restaurants and hotels where they had their weddings and rehearsal dinners. They've shopped for great deals and can point out their great finds.
2. Pick out some great restaurants or hotels that have pretty party rooms and great scenery, maybe a terrace overlooking the ocean or great gardens, and call the catering manager to explain your budget and party size. Right now, a lot of establishments are offering excellent budget packages.
3. Talk with caterers about 'gourmeting up' traditional inexpensive dishes such as pastas and chicken. Chefs can work magic with these half-priced entrees, just with a great sauce and creative presentation.
If you'd still like to host an at-home party, ask other members of the bridal party if the party can be at THEIR home, in their gorgeous yard, to get great scenery and perhaps eliminate the need to rent seating. And use the menu advice above to 'gourmet up' inexpensive dishes. Right now, the trend is for more informal parties, relaxed gatherings with family-style dishes such as pastas and chili, and lots of salads OR a dessert-only evening party with a range of pastries, mousses, cakes and champagne.
The key to a successful shower is providing an enjoyable atmosphere and great food for all to enjoy. And in this recession, everyone understands that a big, expensive party just isn't possible for most bridesmaids to plan. The more you add some creativity and personalize the party (such as with a playlist of songs that are important to the couple), the better it will turn out.