Bridal Shower: The Beginners’ How-to Guide

My bridesmaids were not only beautiful, they were the most wonderful and eager to help.  Of the famous five, only one lived in Auckland with me (literally, living with me!), the others in New York, Berlin, and two in Christchurch.  I’m not someone who likes to ask for help, or do I ever relinquish control, so the distance just meant I did it all myself and that suited me fine.  That is, until my bridal shower, when the two South Island sweethearts insisted that the task of organising the shower was theirs alone.

The entire shower was a surprise: Impeccably beautiful, classy, and chic (so beautiful I should have engaged them to plan the wedding itself)!  The photos speak for themselves, you wouldn’t believe it was their first stint as bridesmaids.  In addition to everything else, they even offered to write me an article for She Said Yes:   How to Organise the Bridal Shower – by and for beginners.  My comments are in italics.

Bridal Shower High Tea Inspiration Organise

Once you’ve read the how-to, see all the photos of my bridal shower.

The Bridal Shower

Date, time, venue, theme, guests, music, food and (importantly) drinks.  These were a few of the million and one things we discovered were crucial in planning anything wedding related!

Having little (slash no) experience with bridesmaids’ duties, the two of us were going in blind.

For those of you currently in the same position as we were, this is for you…

Given the privilege to be asked to stand beside your beautiful friend on her big day, get your thinking caps on – it’s bridal-shower time and the planning must begin!

First things first… What does the bride want?

Theme (if you wish)

The bride may let you know if she has a preference on theme for her bridal shower. Our bride-to-be had very few requests or requirements for what she was after (we told her we were in charge), so we thought hard about her likes and dislikes…

Likes – Cupcakes, class and champagne
Dislikes – Anything without cream.

A high Tea it was!

Megan: My girls sum me up pretty well, and it’s hard to go wrong with something as beautiful as a high tea for a bridal shower.  If your bride is a food connoisseur – perhaps a degustation; a wine lover – tastings on Waiheke or a nearby vineyard; lover of art (and nude men) – a life-drawing afternoon; the creative – a floristry or pottery afternoon; the sporty one – an all-white day at the local bowls or vintage dress-ups tennis party; cocktail flair class with a cute waiter; perhaps followed by an afternoon at a local spa for pedicures or facials.

Depending on the theme, consider a dress-code, e.g. vintage theme; tea-party dresses; all-white.

So where and when?

A bridal shower is a pre-wedding celebration, so we organised the party as close as we could to the wedding for as many of the wedding guests to attend and get to know each other.  Anywhere from 2-8 weeks is ideal, depending on bride and guests’ availability.

A bridal shower is generally a little more civilised (until the mothers leave) so we opted for an afternoon shower and continued the celebration late into the night with the bride.

Depending on what you choose, you can have it at someone’s house or at a hired space or venue.  Both have their pros and cons, costs and trade-offs.

No limits on guest numbers (subject to constraints of the home)
Flexibility for decorations and other personal touches
Organise in-home catering or try your hand at canapés
Complete discretion

Much less cleanup

Ease for catering
Possibly rental fees
Guests able to purchase own drinks/food

Invites: Who and How-to

Ask the bride to let you know who she wants at the shower.  As a shower is a classier, usually more grown-up affair than the bachelorette (hens’) party, the guest list normally includes mothers, aunts and grandparents.  Usually, a bridal shower, like a bachelorette, will be girls only.  Go through the bride’s wedding guest-list and narrow it down from there according to numbers’ constraints.

Figure out whether you’ll post physical invites, or a more casual Facebook one.  For Meg’s, we felt that sending out a physical invitation was more personal and better for getting in touch with older guests.  There are lots of great websites where you can design invitations using  templates, have them printed and sent right to your door.  We used vistaprint and opted for a simple template, which we customised to suit.

Invites should be sent a month in advance, include time and date, costs if applicable, anything to bring (desserts or gifts), dress-code and theme if applicable, and possibly dietary requirements.

Food & Beverages

With regards to food, we suggest to keep it simple.  If guests are drinking, it’s very important that there’s enough food.  A high tea calls for club sandwiches, asparagus rolls, quiches and sweet treats.  These are all easily homemade foods that can be prepared the day before.   To cater for all guests we kept dietary requirements in mind with options like gluten-free quiche.

A dessert buffet or sweet table doubles as both decor and food.

Our bride-to-be loves a good glass of champagne, but not everyone drinks alcohol so provide a range of non-alcoholic beverages as well such as tea, coffee and/or a non-alcoholic punch.

Pictures courtesy of Robin Stubbert, Squire Fox and Kana Okada via Country Living.


A good place to start is raiding Pinterest for DIY ideas.  Decorating the venue with garden-gathered flowers (your mum’s friend’s great aunt’s garden) is a cheap, quick, easy and effective means of decorating.  To make this go even further we saved some wine bottles (not much of a challenge), removed the stickers and spray painted them in colours to match the theme. Wine bottles make great vases for floral arrangements.  Flowers will double as favours if you want to send guests home with something, or enjoy them in your home after.

A Bridal Shower High Tea of course also demands beautiful china.  We visited our friend Maureen at The China Cabinet in Christchurch who has an amazing selection of tea cups, saucers, vintage champagne glasses and more.  We handpicked each piece of china in beautiful pastel colours, which doubled as decoration to set the high tea scene.

Other decorative suggestions: fill champagne glasses with jelly beans in complementary flavours and colours; spread tables with native greenery; create a balloon arch or flower wall for stunning photos; make a flower chandelier (pictures courtesy of Honestly WTF and The House that Lars Built).

Bridal Shower Games/Activities

Depending on the bride, her tastes, and guests, organise a couple of activities for the day.  As we knew that there was to be a (wild) hens’ do with the usual suggestive straws, pink feathered sashes and the (potentially novelty) stripper still to come, we made the bridal shower a more civilised and classy affair (like Meg).  We had guests leave notes for Meg on paper-spoons “Recipe for a Happy Marriage”.

Other ideas for games/activities: Bridal bingo; Match the guest with their parents’ wedding photo; Guess the groom’s answers to questions about himself and the bride; create a cookbook of guests’ favourite family recipes; make flower crowns; create a wedding dress with newspaper/toilet paper, etc.

There you have it: As easy as theme, venue, food and drink and activities.  You might also like to have a timeline in mind for the day so that guests know how long to stay and what the day entails.  There’s no need to go overboard, a bridal shower is just a lovely excuse to have guests together to mix and mingle prior to the wedding.  My girls planned something simple and tasteful and made me feel really special.

P.S. from the bridesmaids: When the time comes to plan your first bridal shower… just remember if this is your first official bridesmaid’s duty so don’t fuck it up!

Link: All the photos of Meg’s Bridal Shower

Head to the wedding planning index to see further wedding planning content and if you haven’t already, check out the little white book wedding organiser and diary.

1 Comment

Comments are closed