Thursday, July 9, 2009

Congratulations, it's your big day!

This is the event you have been waiting to plan for years: the guest list, the venue, the food, the colour scheme, the flowers...or maybe it isn't. Your sister/best friend/cousin/co-worker has asked you to be her Maid Of Honour and you are in charge of the WEDDING SHOWER.


Your already hectic schedule has been enhanced with the the glorious roles of cheerleader, advisor, sympathizer, mediator, and now you are an event planner.

The best thing you can do is talk to the bride. Ask her what she wants. After all, your turn will come, and you would appreciate the same consideration. If she really doesn't want to sit on a stage in front of 300 guests while 10 bridesmaids open gifts for her; honour her. If she prefers a family gathering at her favourite aunt's house; honour her. If her estranged in-law-to-be insists on hosting the party; check with the bride (after all, you job title includes a little buffering.)

Most importantly, ask yourself: would I like this surprise, venue, colour scheme or would SHE?

Maid of Honour is a crucial role. She is counting on you to help make her dream come true.

ome key things to remember when planning a bridal shower:
Who are you inviting? Will there be relatives? New relatives? Old friends? Co-workers?
The venue you choose should reflect the personal taste of the bride and be accessible to the guests. Is there enough seating? Parking? Are the washroom facilities easy to access?
If you are planning the shower in an outdoor setting have you considered what to do if it rains or is really hot out?

Often the cost of hosting a shower in your home ends up being equal to finding a venue appropriate to the the size of the party, and leaving the planning up to professionals. You take a day off work to clean, have some one look after your children, pets, or send other family members out for the day (the men), buy the serviettes, cutlery, plates, decorations and then stay up all night learning to make "petit fours" and tiny sandwiches before running over to the grocery store to buy ready made platters, and you may realize that "honouring" your bride was very expensive and exhausting.

Many restaurants, cafes and hotels have special menus for group parties. Ask your bride's favourite cafe if they cater special events. You may be delighted to find out that they are eager to help you, and willing to look after many of the logistical details. On average you should expect to pay between $20 and $60 per person for a luncheon type shower at a venue. Want to keep your costs to a minimum? Consider a Tea Party instead of a full Luncheon, or fancy lemonades instead of cocktails. If you are organizing a group of friends, they may be willing to pay for their own lunch; choose a fixed price menu, and include taxes and gratuities and send the information in the invitation. (Be sure to understand the venue's policy on cancelled reservations, so you are not left with the bill for guests who do not show up.)

A good rule of thumb for successful planning is to invite the guests for a set time with a clear start and finish time. They will appreciate the clarity, and are more likely to show up on time. (I recommend this even if you are hosting the shower at a family home: no one likes the guest who shows up 3 hours after the party starts, and lingers until late in the evening.) Be clear about what is expected of the guests (gift theme, attire, etc.) The invitation will dictate the formality of the shower and let guests know who will be present "You are invited to a family shower for ...." vs "Showers are for sissies: you are invited to a bathtub gin party for..."

The best advice is KIS: Keep it simple... do not exhaust yourself with surprise schemes and obsure "once in a lifetime" experiences. The star is the bride, and the theme is: getting married. If you surround her with the people she loves, in a place she is comfortable, and she will thank you for being the best Maid of Honour/event planner.

After that, enjoy the party. Take lots of pictures. This is a memory you will have forever.

Do you have a great memory of a wedding shower? I would love to hear you stories!

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