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A few simple steps to do it up right (expert advice)
photo by Purple Peony Couture
By Lisa Butterworth for our sponsor, Etsy Weddings
What do you do when one of your best friends gets engaged? If you’re like me, beyond the excited squeals and enthusiastic hugging — you have no idea.
I met my friend Jeanette when we were five years old. Five! And when one of your best friends gets engaged — as Jeanette recently did — it's time to celebrate her. Here’s a helpful breakdown of the party-planning process — so when it comes time to throw your best girl a bridal shower, you can honor her in style.
Photo & Invite Design by Erin Mowry
1. Pick Invites
We’re going the simple, eco-friendly route and sending email invites through PaperlessPost.com, but there are a ton of adorable, tangible shower invite designs on Etsy, as well as download-and-print options.
Clockwise from top left: Light shower invitation by Youngwanderlust; Hydrangea invitation by Digibuddhapaperie; Whimsy invitation by Yellowbrickgraphics; Love is sweet invitation by Pinkcreativeinvites; Coed shower invitations by Cadencepaige; I Do couples shower invitations by Minkcards. See more shower invites...
This is where a theme comes in handy. If you have a specific vibe, you can decorate accordingly. If your party doesn’t have a theme, pick a color scheme to bring it all together. A few areas you’ll want to decorate: serving buffet, bar area, gift table, activities area, table for favors. Don't forget about centerpieces, string lights, hanging decorations, banners, and food markers for added flair.
Clockwise from top left: Poppy hanging flowers by Whimsypie; Engagement ring cookies by Peapodsnyc; Bride-to-be banner by Fancyflamingo; Mossy pot place cards by Fairyfolk; Corset cookies by Pastrytartbakery; Mr. and Mrs. chair banner by Purplepeonycouture; Candy heart tree by Astylishdesign; Something blue wedding cake cookies by Lindasedibleart. Browse more décor...
3. Plan a Menu
Plan your menu according to the theme of your party or the time of day. If you’re intimidated by all that kitchen prep, make the shower a potluck and have everyone bring copies of their dish’s recipe (here are a couple of adorable, (1) free downloadable (2) recipe cards for such an occasion).
Photo by Erin Mowry
4. Snag Fun Favors
It’s the hostess’s job to send all the party-goers home with a little favor. To go with our beachy, West Coast theme, we’re making friendship bracelets for all of the ladies. Make sure your favor is small but meaningful and tie it in with the theme of your party as best you can.
Clockwise from top left: Personalized seed bomb favors by Visualingual; Pinwheels by Pickledparlor; Personalized honey jar labels by Elsiej; Succulent favors by Tobieanne; Personalized photo sleeve by Myonesweetdaydotcom; Unicorn farts lip balm by Longwintersoapco; Gin and tonic soap by Aromaholic. Shop for favors on etsy...
5. Shower Her with Gifts
The bride-to-be is almost certainly registered with at least one department store, but often it’s more fun to shop off-list, especially for a shower present. Kitchenware and home décor are excellent go-to gift genres, but a sassy piece of lingerie will always be welcome, too.
Clockwise from top left: Bride panties from Bridalbooties; Chill pill soap by Kcsoapsnmore; Vintage clock from Ethanollie; A Guineafowl Gathering painting by Unitedthread; Ceramic salad bowls by Blueskypotteryco; Dry rub spice trio from Craigsmarket; Customized rubber stamp by Housethatlarsbuilt; Personalized wood initials ring by Braggingbags; Vintage ceramic teapot from Hindsvik; Wood ampersand by Hindsvik. See more gift ideas for the bride-to-be...
Whew! That’s a lot of steps. The most important thing to keep in mind is to create an environment that will allow your guests to have fun, even if the cupcake frosting isn’t perfect or the décor doesn’t totally come together. As long as it’s memorable, and the guest of honor feels loved, you’ve done an amazing job.
Lisa Butterworth is a writer and editor soaking up the eternal sunshine in Los Angeles. When she's not on the hunt for the latest and greatest in girl culture as the West Coast editor of BUST magazine, she's flea marketing, taco trucking, and generally raising a ruckus.
1. A Pair of Mums
A cute pair of flowers is simply perfect for celebrating the pair of you! Oh, and mums the word on how cheap these invites are.
2. Pastel Patterns
A trend you can’t resist — mixed patterns! This distinctly patterned invite will also reflect your savvy style for a price that fits your budget. Find them here.
3. Flair for Style
Show your flair for style and your knack for scoring a good deal with these flourish wedding invitations featuring a bold element of design.
4. Flowers and Flourishes
A colorful floral sketch accented by faint flourishes creates a touch of whimsical charm on these inexpensive wedding invites.
5. Love Springs
You won’t have to spring much for these! An array of colorful flowers below two lovebirds becomes a trendy display of modern day romance. Find them here.
6. Sultry Blooms
Sultry blooms in rich colors bring an artistic quality of romance to these watercolor wedding invitations
7. Typography on White
Trendy typography looks amazing on this bright white wedding invitation- they’ll never know you paid so little for something so stylish!
8. Simply Modern
A unique look and vibrant colors all for an affordable price.
Shop for more invitations under $100 here
Find out what's hot in wedding cakes this year; we've asked a few of our favorite cake designers to weigh in! Geometric Patterns Cake by Erica OBrien "Feminine geometrics, such as chevron, are still very popular," says Connecticut-based Erica OBrien. "I'm expecting to see a lot of arrows and hexagons this season." Photo by Brooke Allison Photography Metallics Cake by City Sweets & Confections The gilded look is a favorite for both Deborah Lauren of City Sweets & Confections and Erica OBrien this year. "Gold is back, and stronger then ever," says OBrien. Photo by CLY Creation Hand-Painted Cake by Sweet & Saucy Shop "Hand-painting is definitely a new trend right now," says Sweet & Saucy Shop's head pastry chef Melody Brandon. "It's a personal and a one-of-a-kind style that brides are falling in love with." Photo by Melody Brandon Staying True to Your Style Cake by Maggie Austin Cakes Virginia baker Maggie Austin recently created this lovely confection for a friend's casual backyard wedding, and she loves that it perfectly reflects the couple's "understated and sophisticated style." Matching a cake to the personalities and priorities of her clients will be a big focus this year. Photo by Maggie Austin Multiple Cakes Cake by Layered Bake Shop Brides booking cakes with Layered Bake Shop's Shannon Star have been moving away from the traditional single large wedding cake. Instead, they're opting for multiple smaller confections in a similar decor suite. "It allows for more creativity and personality," says Star. Photo by N. Barrett Photography Showpiece Cakes Cake by The Pastry Studio According to owner Sherri Meyers, cakes have become a core component of reception decor. They are increasingly created to be equal parts delicious dessert and visual show-stopper. Designs are getting bigger and grander, and sometimes even include a fake tier or two to accommodate for ceiling height! Photo by Sherri Meyers Going Natural Cake by Enjoy Cupcakes Honor a cake that's free of artificial dyes by allowing the natural state of its flavor to become the main decorative element. This year, Amber of Enjoy Cupcakes is all about making fluffy chocolate cakes look fluffy, drenching caramel desserts in drips of caramel, and providing texture to peanut butter cakes with chopped up peanuts. Photo by Alex Creswell Ombré Cake by Erica OBrien Almost every baker we asked agreed— ombré is still at the forefront for 2013. "The shading lends itself so naturally to romantic designs," says OBrien of the style. Photo by Devon Jarvis Embossed Cake by City Sweets & Confections City Sweets & Confections owner Deborah Lauren recently etched an intricate floral pattern on a wedding cake for a friend. "It was modern, and different from any cake I've ever done or seen." Photo by Turnquist Photography Classic White Elegance Cake by Mark Joseph Cakes A white wedding cake never goes out of style, says Mark of Mark Joseph cakes. Couples turn to him for a modern, sophisticated take on the timeless aesthetic. Photo by Mark Joseph Textured Icing Cake by Betty Bakery Cheryl Kleinman agrees with Mark Joseph—white will always be popular, especially for formal weddings. At her Betty Bakery, she and partner Ellen of Bijoux Deux Specialty Cakes keep the look from becoming boring by texturizing the outer layer of icing. Pleats (seen here) and confetti are two favorite styles.
In this project, Mary Swenson extended the life of a pre-packaged paper flower centerpiece kit by turning the blooms into favors and centerpieces as well. Love it!
View the Full Tutorial
Available at The Green Vase
10 DIY and ready-made ways to bring paper flowers in to your wedding.
Want your wedding bouquet to last longer than a season? Consider investing in a beautiful paper alternative from The Green Vase ($325). This multi-talented NY-based floral design shop also offers single paper blooms, cake toppers, and cake decorating kits.
Available at Frances & Francis
We love the idea of topping a reception table with a single romantic stem in a vintage glass bottle—and then repurposing the centerpiece as bookshelf decor in your new home! These romantic blooms from Frances & Francis ($14 to $60) are perfect for that.
West Elm Paper Flower Shop
Several national chains are hopping on the paper flower trend. For example: Furniture store West Elm, which offers several pretty pre-made sets ($7.99 to $36).
Available at House That Lars Built
Handcrafted in Copenhagen, these gold-stemmed paper roses ($14 each) will look beautiful gathered in a vase or laid upon individual place settings. Designer Brittany Watson Jespen also creates jumbo-sized versions of these blooms, as well as paper flower hats—email her for custom projects!
Crepe Paper Flower Bouquet DIY
You won't believe how easy (and inexpensive!) it is to whip up these colorful crepe flowers—it takes just three simple steps.
Available at Paper Source
Looking for a little guidance while you construct your paper blooms? Consider a pre-packaged kits from The Paper Source your new best friend ($10.95 - $19.95).
The Crafting Book
Paper to Petal, Available at Barnes & Noble
Husband and wife duo Rebecca Thuss and Patrick Farrell are very good at what they do (which includes photography, design, and, yes, plenty of paper crafts). Releasing late this August, their new book ($16.29) will show you how to make 75 paper blooms yourself. With a forward authored by Martha Stewart herself, it's clear the couple knows what they're doing.
The Perfect Prop
Large Paper Rose, Available at BHLDN
This extra-large paper rose ($68) is almost five feet tall! At that size, it's the perfect addition to any wedding photo booth. It's also, as the website suggests, a whimsical alternative to a basket of petals for the flower girl.
Paper Posy Escort Cards
Easy-to-make crepe flowers will add a joyful touch of color to any spring wedding! This tutorial offers step-by-step instructions for making these cheerful escort cards out of streamer ribbon. It's a great way to save money on a fun but lower priority item on your decor list.
See the Full Wedding
If you're still on the fence about paper flower decor, you have to check out Liz and Josh's color-infused Minnesota wedding. They created some of the most unique centerpieces we've ever seen!
Idea By: Sarah Zlotnick
This inexpensive material is more versatile than you think.
By: Sarah Zlotnick
1. Ring Pillow
A simple, rustic way for the ring bearer to present the rings. View this rustic country wedding.
2. Centerpiece Cover
Save on renting vases and other flower vessels by using old tins and covering them in burlap instead. View this yellow garden wedding.
3. Silverware Holder
A simple burlap packet holds the silverware for Heather and David's charming Annapolis nuptials.
4. Bouquet Wrap
A strip of sturdy burlap will hold all your flowers in place—and look sweet while doing it! View this rustic whimsical California wedding.
5. Favor Bags
You could hide any kind of sweet treat in one of these adorable burlap sacks. View this fun fall wedding.
We love this simple wedding sign. View this Texas ranch wedding.
7. Candle Accent
A mossy green candle collection gets a little texture from a simple burlap wrap. View this country chic wedding.
8. Table Number
Such a sweetly country table marker. Burlap wine bag table numbers, $150 for 10 at Lil Missi Etsy Shop.
9. Table Runner
Thinking about using a burlap table runner? Be sure to strech and distress the fabric a bit before you lay it down. This creates dimension by allowing some of your tablecloth color to peek through. It also gives the fabric a little more grip.
You Might Also Like: 9 Wine Wedding Decor Ideas
One of the trends we love about rustic weddings is the do-it-yourself projects even the least crafty brides create with wood. Here's what to display for every part of your big day:
Photo by JK Photography
Photo by Stacey Kokes Photography
Photo by Twin Hearts Photography
Photo by Athena Pelton Photography
Photo by Sandals
When you have guests flying in from coast to coast for your destination wedding weekend, it's important to keep them occupied during their stay. Get the most out of your location by gathering guests together for some of these fun -- but optimal -- activities:Zip lining Parasailing Snorkeling/scuba diving Boating Visiting a museum, historic site, botanical garden or local tourist attraction Golfing Spa treatments Safari ride Surfing Biking
Photo: Rachel Thurston Photography
Need inspiration for a fall wedding? A few of our editors share their favorites below:
Photo: Rachel Thurston Photography
From the Fashion Editor – Choose a bridesmaid dress color that complements the season’s changing colors: red, orange, yellow, purple, or brown. (Just like Jessica and Michael, Cami and Erik, and Bonnie and Drew did.)
Photos (from left to right): Cluney Photo and Meg Ruth Photo
From the Flowers Editor – Bouquets of black-eyed susans, dahlias, chrysanthemums, calla lilies, roses, orchids and gerberas are a must-have. Maybe add some texture with feathers, fern curls, curly willows, scabiosa pods, or wheat too? Check out more fall bouquets here.
Photo: Meg Ruth Photo
From the Decor Editor – Spice up your decor with pumpkins, pine cones, leaves, figs, acorns, and more.
Photos (from left to right): Keepsake Memories Photography and jHenderson Studios
From the Favors & Cakes Editor – Place your three-tiered buttercream wedding cake on top of tree bark for an added rustic touch. Check out more fall wedding cakes here. Nothing tastes better than a caramel apple, pumpkin pie, and hot cocoa on a crisp evening. Let guests unwrap cozy blankets to keep warm.
Photo: Troy Grover Photographers
Of course, you want your wedding cake to not only taste delicious but also look delicious without breaking the bank. Am I right? Before you order, consider these myths to make your experience just as sweet:
1. Buttercream is less expensive than fondant. This statement may be true, but most cake bakers prefer to decorate with fondant instead of buttercream. Therefore, there might be an extra fee for that rich, buttery flavor.
2. Order fake tiers in order to serve sheet cakes. A fake tier would be a decorated piece of styrofoam or rice krispies treats. Sheet cakes would then supplement the fake tiers. In reality, the cake baker is actually doing the same (or more) amount of work it would take to make a real tier.
3. Decorate with fresh florals not sugar flowers. Fresh florals can make your guests sick. Why? Because, unless organically grown, florals are often times sprayed with pesticides and not properly sanitized.
4. Make your own wedding cake. They're expensive to buy and make. Consider all the ingredients, tools, equipment, and time! It's too labor-extensive.
5. Choose a flavor that your guests will like. Choose a flavor that YOU want for one tier (like lemon) and then choose a mainstream flavor (like vanilla, chocolate, or red velvet) for the remaining two tiers.
6. Save the top of your wedding cake for your first anniversary. Tradition is out, so you think. You can still save the cake, but often times cake bakers also give a free mini cake.
Photo: This Modern Romance
Photo booths are all the rage at weddings, and why not? They keep your guests entertained! Here's our step-by-step guide to make your own.
Materials Needed:Digital point-and-shoot camera Camera tripod Remote shutter release Backdrop Props
The Camera - Place a digital point-and-shoot camera on top of an extended tripod at eye level, tunr on the flash (unless you're having a spotlight) and connect a remote shutter release so guests can take their own photos. As backup, have polaroid cameras on standby.
Photos (from left to right): This Modern Romance and Anjuli
The Backdrop - Pick a colored or patterned piece of fabric that you can hang. If you're having an indoor wedding, pin it to a wall, or if you're having an outdoor wedding hang from curtain rods, secure with rope, and nail into the ground.
Photos (from left to right): Shelly Kroeger Photography and Birds of a Feather
The Props - Go on a scavenger hunt! Look for props in your own home (like scarves, hats, glasses, frames). or make your own from paper (lips, mustaches, ties). Even provide chalkboards or dry erase boards for guests to write messages on.
Photo: This Modern Romance
The Location - Choose an area that doesn't obstruct the flow of the reception, but is still easily accessible. If you're having an indoor reception, consider a hallway or corner of the ballroom, or if you're having an outdoor wedding, consider next to the DJ that way guests can pose to the beat.
Photo: This Modern Romance
The Extras - After the wedding is all said and done, you're back from your honeymoon, and all the gifts are unwrapped and put away, go through the camera's SD card and save the ones you'd like to put into a scrapbook. Those memories will last a lifetime!