You may be thinking of a classy lunch at a country club, the bride may be thinking tequila shots at a bar. Get together with your bride and find out what she has in mind. Ask her if anyone else is throwing a party for her. It may be that a friend of her mother's might want to take the traditional bridal shower while you take care of the girls gone wild night out. It's also important to ask the bride how involved she does or doesn't want to be in planning the event. Most brides have enough on their plate and will be happy to let you take the planning reins, but others have trouble giving up control.
Although the maid or matron of honor generally takes the lead in planning the shower, the other bridesmaids usually serve as co-hosts. Planning a party with a group can be more difficult then doing it single-handedly, especially if you don't know the other girls all that well. After you've talked to the bride and know what type of event she has in mind, you should talk to the other bridesmaids. If you're all in the same location the meeting should be face-to-face, if not, use IM or a conference call to get everyone together. Don't forget you can also use WeddingPreParty.com to plan the shower, and invite the guests, all while keeping the details a secret from the bride.
As co-hosts, you and the other bridesmaids are responsible for paying for the party. It's likely that you and the other bridesmaids will all have different financial situations. Find out approximately what each host can contribute, and make a budget. Knowing your budget will help you decide if the party should be held in someone's home or at a venue, and what food should be served.
If you're having a night on the town where each girl will be expected to pay for her own dinner and drinks, your hosting budget should go to the transportation and tip. Hiring a limo or other transportation is a great idea for a fun night out but it can put girls who can't afford to contribute, or who need to be home earlier, in a difficult situation. Group transportation should be optional and should be paid for by the party hosts, not the guests. Don't forget to think about the driver's tip when making your budget.
If you're having a traditional bridal shower, having a theme can help you organize the event and make decisions about food and decorations easier. It can also help guests decide what gifts to buy.
Unless the party is a surprise, the guest list is set by the bride. For a bridal shower, the guest list should include her mother and future mother in law as well as any in-town female relatives. Sisters of the groom or other close female relatives should also be invited. Only people who are invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower.
Mandatory costs should always be kept reasonable. If you know that the guests have different financial situations, you may want to make a two-tiered event. Start off with drinks and appetizers or dinner in someone's house, then move on to optional dinner and/or bar hopping.
If you're having a more traditional bridal shower, consider creating some icebreaker games to get everyone more comfortable.
All the hard work of planning the bridal shower or bachelorette party boils down to one thing: fun. It's the whole point, so don't hold back.
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