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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.
Photos (clockwise from top left): Shaun & Skyla Walton, Taylor Lord Photography, Danyelle Matthews, Katelyn James Photography, Sweet & Saucy Shop, Katelyn James Photography, and Alixann Loosle
Need inspiration for a spring wedding? A few of our editors share their favorites below:
From the Stationery Editor – Ask each guest to leave their fingerprint on a framed drawing of a family tree. Check out more guestbooks here.
From the Fashion Editor – Accessorize your lace wedding gown with a statement necklace and pair of romantic, petal peep-toe platform sandals. Ask each bridesmaid to wear a different shade of pastel: blush, sage, lavender, or creamsicle.
From the Flowers Editor – Bouquets of peonies, ranunculuses, sweat peas, delphiniums, orchids, and tulips are a must-have. Check out these spring centerpieces we love.
From the Cakes Editor – Place a garden-inspired cake topper on top of your wedding cake. Examples: birds, bird’s nest, robin’s eggs, birdcage, etc. Check out more cake toppers here.
From the Favors Editor – Send each guest home with a bag of seeds to plant and watch love grow or follow these DIY steps to make your own seed bomb favors.
Photo: White Loft Studio
1. Place the cake in a central location. Make sure guests have a front row. They don't want to miss the action in case your significant other decides to smush it in your face.
2. Have your DJ announce it. If you're having a buffet or plated dinner, cutting the cake follows shortly after. Don't forget to pick a song! Then, the toasting begins.
3. Cut the cake together. The groom's right hand gently holds the bride's right hand as you cut into the bottom layer.
4. Designate someone on the catering staff to serve slices to guests. This should be covered in your catering costs.
5. But your parents come first. Traditionally, the bride serves the groom's parents, and the groom serves the bride's parents.
6. Personalize cake utensils. The slice you cut together should be eaten in style with "I do" and "Me too" or "Bride" and "Groom" forks.
They brought you into the world, now show them you care with these creative ways to say thank you! (expert advice)
photo by: Gifts for the Good Life
Your parents have played a very big role in making your wedding spectacular. Not only did they raise you into the beautiful bride-to-be that you are, they've stood beside you through all your planning stress, offered their suggestions, and they may be funding the affair. Your parents, and your fiancé's, definitely deserve a huge thank you. Set a Budget I don't have to tell you that weddings are expensive - I'm sure you're learning that! It's important to include gift giving in your original wedding budget. There are no rules specifying an amount you should spend on gifts for your parents, but it's best to spend the same amount on both sets and to choose gifts that are somewhat similar. Some couples decide to give their parents a gift for the two of them while others select 2 separate gifts for mom and dad. Thank You Gifts for Two Giving your parents a thank you gift to enjoy together can be very meaningful and can also allow you to spend a little more on each gift. Depending on your budget, consider: Travel. Cruise tickets, hotel reservations for the weekend, or a romantic retreat to a local resort are all possible gift ideas. An evening out. Whether it's a gift card for a favorite restaurant, tickets to a show or a complete night of pampering including the limo, your parents deserve a night out to unwind after the wedding. Gift baskets. Wine baskets, gourmet food collections, or personalized his and her gift sets are terrific ways to say thank you and can fit into most any budget. Something personal. Creative gifts often hold the most meaning. Consider making a personalized video or slideshow for each set of parents, presenting them with a family photo calendar, or framing your favorite wedding pictures for a sentimental touch. Digital photo frames with a personal message are big hits with parents. For Him, For Her You may decide to honor your mom and dad with individual gifts rather than a joint thank you. If you've set a large budget, you could even do both! Ideas for dads: Personalized cufflinks to wear on the wedding day. Gift certificate to a favorite store. Wine and cheese assortment. Personalized golf accessories. Pens, intriguing paperweights, monogrammed money clips or key chains. Mothers may enjoy: Spa certificates. Earrings or a necklace for the wedding day. Bath soaps, candles, and fragrances in an elegant gift basket. Personalized photo albums, frames, or a jewelry box. Charm bracelet or necklace with a family theme. Consider your parents' interests and you'll be sure to choose thank you gifts that your parents appreciate and remember for years to come - whatever your budget.
Not sure which wedding style you want? If you’re searching for a venue with opulence — ballroom , castle, or museum — our Style Editor’s ultimate glamorous wedding guide is just for you:
From the Stationery Editor – A formal black and gold letterpress invitation suite for New Year’s Eve, perhaps?
Photo: Jupiter and Juno
From the Fashion Editor - Bejeweled shoes — the perfect compliment to body-hugging bombshell wedding dresses. See more glittery gold and silver pairs here.
Photos (from left to right): Cage & Aquarium Photography and Kurt Boomer Photo
From the Beauty Editor - Long, lush lashes are a crucial component of glam wedding makeup. Learn how to apply falsies yourself with this must-read tutorial.
Photo: Woodland Fields Photography
From the Jewelry Editor - One big rock paired with a simple diamond band–does it get more quintessentially glam than this? See more real engagement rings here.
Photo: Joy Marie Photography
From the Favors Editor - A dance-all-evening affair should end in not one, but two indulgences: decadent dessert and a nightcap. See more edible wedding favors here.
Photo: Studio Carmen Photography
From the Flowers Editor - Blanket your aisle with pretty petals, elevate your ceremony flowers with pillars, and display densely-packed arrangements in towering vases for a dramatic effect.
Photos (from left to right): Birds of a Feather and Caroline Tran
From the Decor Editor - Create the ultimate glam decor scheme with sequins, bold patterns, lavish draping, and statement lighting.
Photos (from left to right): Franciscan Gardens and Lisa Lefkowitz
From the Cakes Editor – Go for the gold and silver! Choose these metallic tones for your three-tiered sweet confection. See more gold wedding cakes here.
Photos (from left to right): Katelyn James Photography and Sweet & Saucy Shop
The engagement party is just the first of many more celebrations to come. Here are some unique ideas for your engagement party. (expert advice)
You've said 'yes' to that special man in your life and now it's time to celebrate your upcoming wedding with family and friends. This means you better start planning some sort of get-together or engagement party in order to spread the joyful news. Where do you start? First, you should come up with a suitable and available engagement party location, and possibly toss around a few ideas for an engagement party theme, which is perfect for couples who don’t want to trade traditional nuptials for a theme wedding.
Before You Get Started
Before you start brainstorming for the perfect location for your engagement party, you first need to iron out a few details, including:
• Budget: Your available budget will certainly dictate the location and other aspects of planning your engagement party. Remember – this is a party meant to announce your engagement and should in no way exceed the amount of money spent on your wedding ceremony or reception. Pinch pennies now so that you have more money to spend later.
• Guest List: The number of guests will also affect your engagement party plans, as you must find a space large enough to accommodate the people you invite.
• Party Theme: If you are centering this celebration on a particular theme, it's best to come to a final decision before browsing potential locations.
Unique Engagement Party Locations
When planning an engagement party, keep in mind that you don’t have to fall victim to the space restrictions and rules that apply to wedding locations. This means you can select sites that you'd love to have your wedding at, but just can't pull off in time or with your budget. So, this is the time to explore partying at a sports park, old movie theater, amusement park, or historic garden. Those who wish to splurge on their engagement party location may select sites that are typically reserved for weddings, which include country clubs, reception halls, and wineries. Other engagement party locations to consider, includes:
• Your favorite restaurant
• Parent's home
Unique Engagement Party Themes
Looking to celebrate your engagement in style, with a touch of humor, or absolutely off-the-wall? Consider planning an engagement party centered on a particular theme. Food, decorations, and fun activities usually mimic the theme of the evening, which may include:
• A hula bash with grass skirts and Pina Coladas by the beach
• A romantic affair with dreams of the Eiffel Tower
• Recreating important milestones in your life with your fiancé
• Ball and chain humor
• Costume ball focused on famous lovers
Photos by Perez Photography
Photos (clockwise from top left): Squaresville Studios, KT Merry, This Modern Romance, Jodi Miller Photography, and Union Photography
Need inspiration for a summer wedding? A few of our editors share their favorites below:
From the Stationery Editor – Get creative with your invitation wording! Instead of “Mr. and Mrs. (parent’s names) request the honor of your presence,” use “the pleasure of your company” or “together with our families.” Check out more colorful wedding invitations here.
From the Fashion Editor – Choose a bridesmaid dress color that’s bright — coral, hot pink, aqua blue or royal blue. Check out Rachel and Craig’s, Amira and Mike’s, or Marbella and Frank’s bridesmaid dresses for more inspiration.
From the Flowers Editor – Bouquets of hydrangeas, baby’s breath, sunflowers, craspedia balls, poppies, and lavender are a must-have. Check out more summer bouquets here.
From the Decor Editor – Add a whimsical touch to your ceremony arch or arbor with crepe paper honeycombs or streamers and patterned linens on your reception tables. Check out more tablescapesand place settings here.
From the Favors Editor – Customize buttons for your guests to take home as keepsakes. Check out Kaylie and Noah’s and Allison and Mark’s. (Can you guess which couple had lips and mustaches on theirs?)
A Short Wedding Dress
Show off those legs! Bonnie stayed cool in a custom knee-length frock by Nina Dinh of Susan European Dressmaker for her Los Angeles wedding.
Related: 16 Short Wedding Dresses
Bright Bridesmaid Dresses
Sun-kissed skin looks best against bold colors, so let your girls stand out in saccharine shades. We love the bright orange and coral looks from Katie and Jacob's Menlo Park wedding.
Katie & Jacob's Colorful Summer Wedding
Mint Honey Favors
Place a vial of mint-infused honey at each place setting—the easy-to-make favor tastes yummy when drizzled on all sorts of desserts.
Mint Honey Favor DIY
Nothing brings us back to childhood summers quite like freezy pops. This nostalgia-inducing treat will be a big hit at any hot weather reception, guaranteed.
Tara & Harris's Crafty Summer Wedding
One of our favorite summer wedding hacks is also one of the easiest to create. Amy and Kenn attached popsicle sticks to their card stock ceremony programs, and voila! Instant fan for each guest, which was absolutely necessary for their hot Virgin Islands nuptials.
Amy & Kenn's Tropical Wedding
Picnic Rehearsal Dinner
Daisies and gingham are always appropriate additions to a picnic bench meal. See more tips for decorating a rehearsal dinner in the park in our full tutorial.
Summertime Picnic Decor Tutorial
Infused Water Table Numbers
Indoors or out, warm-weather weddings call for plenty of liquids for your guests. Keep everyone hydrated by placing bottles of flavor-infused water (we like mint, strawberry, and cucumber) at each table. They can also double as your table numbers!
View the Complete DIY
Floating floral arrangements are a great way to extend a decor theme into the parts of your reception venue that may be otherwise untouchable. We love the arrangements Petal Flower Design created for Lindsay and Luke's private residence wedding in Massachusetts.
Lindsay & Luke's Backyard Wedding
Miniature versions of this griller's favorite make the perfect passed appetizer for a summertime cocktail reception.
Zoe & John's Preppy Summer Wedding
A Drink Stand
Who doesn't love lemonade and sweet tea on a hot summer day? Set up a table exclusively dedicated to cold drinks, and designate someone to make sure the containers are always full. Everyone working up a sweat on the dance floor will be grateful!
More Drink Photos
Idea By: Sarah Zlotnick
Not sure which wedding style you want? If you’re searching for venue near the water — country club, yacht club, resort, or restaurant — our Style Editor’s ultimate preppy wedding guide is just for you:
From the Stationery Editor – Add a feminine touch to your preppy navy blue and pink invitation suite with a floral pattern or bow.
Photo: Annabella Charles Photography Invitation: Mrs. Post Stationery
From the Fashion Editor - Amsale’s Fall 2013 collection is full of simple, beautiful ball gowns with bateau or scoop necklines. See the entire collection here.
Photos: Dan Lecca
From the Beauty Editor - Elegant and timeless, a ballerina bun is the perfect compliment to a preppy wedding dress. See more updos here.
Photos: Emily Steffen Photography
From the Jewelry Editor - For the preppy bride with a bit of quirk, we love the idea of pairing a bold statement necklace with a t-shirt style wedding dress. See more jewelry and neckline pairings here.
Photos (from left to right): J.Crew and Elva Fields
From the Favors Editor - Does it get any more preppy than a monogram? See our top 8 monogram bridesmaid gifts right here–many of which ring in under $50!
Photos (from left to right): Design Darling and Olive Yew
From the Flowers Editor – Choose a bouquet filled with pastel peonies and a succulent boutonniere wrapped in striped ribbon.
Photos (from left to right): Ulmer Studios and Annabella Charles Photography
From the Decor Editor – Anchors aweigh! Adorn your chair with “Mr.” and “Mrs.” life rings and lay lace doilies on your tables along with mason jar centerpieces.
Photos (from left to right): Abby Jiu and Ulmer Studios
From the Cakes Editor – Since you’ll be “tying the knot” on your wedding day, wrap one around your wedding cake too. See more nautical wedding cakes here.
Photos (from left to right): Jenna Rae Cakes and Shannon Lee Images Cake (right): Cake Goodness
Start saving those bottles!
By: Sarah Zlotnick
1. As a table number
This DIY table marker from Tara and Harris's Virginia Winery wedding is super easy to make—simply print out colorful numbers and glue them on! Photo by Aaron Watson Photography.
2. As a table number holder
We'd recreate this sweet idea from Christie and David's winery wedding by cutting table numbers out of foam board and painting them. From there you could use chicken wire or glue to attach them to the wine bottle. Photo by Michelle Warren.
3. Use corks as escort card holders
Stole this idea from Paige and Zach's Austin wedding—Cut a slit down the long side of a cork, slice a section off the bottom, and voila! The perfect escort card holder for a vineyard wedding costs almsot nothing to make. Photo by Q Weddings.
4. Let it be the backdrop
Who needs to build a fancy photo backdrop when your reception is at a winery? We love the way Jen and Loreal threaded a string light through wine barrels—the effect is simple yet stunning. Photo by Andrew Pielage Photography.
5. As whimsical centerpieces
All it takes is some paint and a sponge to create these whimsical flower vases. Photos by Danyelle Matthews.
6. Create a cork monogram!
In her DIY winery wedding, Tara's uncle used hudreds of corks gathered from friends, family, local wine bars, and even Whole Foods to create a commemorative "M", which stands for the couple's shared last name and now sits in their new home. Talk about wedding decor that will last a lifetime—we love it! Photo by Aaron Watson Photography.
7. As unique window decor
We love the way Rachel and Craig covered each of these empty wine bottles in a special design. The collection looks especially charming with the hot Texas sun streaming through. Photo by Taylor Lord Photography.
8. As the wedding favor
Print custom wine labels that match your wedding decor and hand out the bottles as favors at the end of the night. Guests will remember the good times they had when they're drinking from them later on!
9. As Lighting
Fill empty wine bottles with bunched up string lights for a romantic effect. This Wit + Whistle DIY project teaches you how to do it safely. Photos by Amanda Wright.