Hosting a Bridal Shower When You Live Out of Town

How to Host a Bridal Shower

…When you have nowhere to host it.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post but does contain affiliate links.

 

Last month I went back home to host my best friend’s bridal shower. As I mentioned in my post Wedding Day Emergency Kit, Karen and I have been friends for a very long time, so I wanted to throw her a shower she’d never forget.

But what happens if you live far away or what happens if you have to throw the shower and you have no place to throw it?  I was lost, unless all of her guests would be willing to drive three and a half hours to do it at your house (don’t even get me started on that parking situation that would create) I had to plan the shower long distance style.  

 

Guest list

A lot of people would say that the most important thing is location…. and while it is pretty high up there on the list of importance, the first thing you need to establish is the amount of people.

After all if the bride to be has a guest list of 50 a table for 8 won’t do.

Bridal Shower Tip: It may not be necessary to get the addresses and the names yet but it is best. Having the list ready to go early will give you and the bride time to make sure everyone who should be is on it, which lets your count is accurate.

In my case, my bride is probably busier than me, balancing 2 jobs, school and a 4-year-old, so it took us awhile to get to get a number. Once I got the number I went ahead and started to Google (Oh Google, what would we do without you? Library? Phonebook?)

 

Location

Since I didn’t have the time to drive back home to Waco in order to look at venues I had to search for party rooms in it in the area online. I called and emailed about 10 different places which all required a down payment of $500 and more. I don’t know about you but I don’t have that kind of money just drop for a deposit alone right now. I love my bestie but I couldn’t do it. If you live out of town or if you don’t have a big enough place and no one else is offering a place to co-host the shower, your best bet is going to be a restaurant if you’re trying to keep it affordable. I would much rather have paid for appetizers,  party favors and prizes than a deposit. I ended up landing at Ninfa’s Mexican Cafe and downtown Waco Texas. They had a party room I could reserve for free.

 

Once I had the location, time and date picked I could take the next step….

 

Invitations

Bridal Shower Invitations

Okay so here is my deep dark secret that I have no shame in as someone who has, rent, insurance, car payments, student loans and so much more to pay for. I found beautiful bridal shower invitations at the dollar tree. When I looked at others online it was like $10 for 8 invitations. I was able to purchase packages of 8 (envelope included) for $1 each. That’s like an $70 savings!

Now that I found adorable invitations I had to deal with my next crisis…. my handwriting.

Now I have horrible handwriting, some might even call it ass like, but none the less invitations had to go out. I love technology but sending out an email didn’t seem appropriate.  

I had a little under 40 addresses to label which including the return address was about 80…that was not happening.

I decided to print formal labels using Avery labels. They make them for LaserJet and InkJet printers (and probably even more types of printers). Then I also decided to make printed strips using the same labels to share the couple’s registry information.

“Karen and Eric are registered at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Sears.”

 

Decorations and Set Up

Bridal Shower Tip: It’s better to have too much than not enough. No one will RSVP… okay some people will but I sent out nearly 40 invitations and got about 5 RSVP’S over 30 people showed up. As someone who has planned events professionally, I was smart enough to expect this and not trade my reservation of 35 for a small table of 5.

I got lucky because the shower was in February there was no shortage of heart shape candies. I found cute red suckers shaped like hearts to spread all over the tables.

I also constantly bugged Karen for digital copies of her engagement photos. I framed them and put one on each table, including the gift table set up in the corner. Since it was a restaurant there wasn’t a lot of decorating to do.

But those little touches were a hit!

P.S. Let the bride take the framed photos home with all of her gifts to decorate her new love nest!

 

I also made a Fight Jar. I found a glass jar and gave each guest a sheet of paper and a heart sticker. I asked everyone to write an original date idea (not just dinner and a movie) and whenever they got into a fight they would open one of the ideas up and plan a date based on the suggestion.
Food

I’ve been to some wonderful bridal showers but all at people’s homes. So I wasn’t sure how to handle the food situation.

I didn’t want to have an awkward, “Is it all one check” moment.  I figured it’d be better to just be honest and set an expectation.

Along with my labels I printed a nice little note to let guests know this wasn’t a luncheon.

“Appetizers and dessert will be provided for guests. Any other purchases will be at the expense of the guest.”

I put this label on the back side of the invitations as to not take away from the main cause of the invitation, a celebration for the bride.

 

I had looked over the menu online and had decided on about 1 appetizer  per 4 people.

Because it was a Mexican restaurant I went with guacamole, beef, cheese and chicken quesadillas and nachos.

Remember you aren’t there to feed people lunch, you are there to celebrate your friend. We ended up having leftovers. A few people ordered drinks and a meal but it wasn’t awkward at all.

I ended up ordering a cake from Sam’s (you have to have a membership) but most grocery stores will do a custom cake for you just be sure to call at least 5 days in advance.

 

Bridal Shower Tip: Most grocery store bakeries only require 24 hours but better safe than sorry.

Games

The shower was scheduled for 1-3 so I  only picked 2 games for the shower. The clothespin game and bridal bingo.

 

I figured the first half an hour would be people showing up and mingling then maybe half an hour of games, gifts then chit chat and goodbyes.

This was not the case. The party “room” we had was basically the total second floor of a very busy restaurant so about 5 minutes in I knew it was too loud for bridal bingo.

 

So what is the clothes pin game? Give each guest a clothespin as they walk in, inform them that everyone is given one and if they use the words “Bride” or “Wedding” the first person to catch them using either of those words gets to take their clothespin and the person with the most clothespins at the end of the shower wins.

The prize- A Starbucks gift card!  Because…coffee duh!

We had some real champs at this game, people who would set others up by casually asking questions that would cue someone to say one of the forbidden words. Others used the stealth approach, keeping to themselves while listening silently and then pouncing if someone let one of the words slip.

bridal shower

Gifts and Cake

After  most of the guests finished eating it was time for gifts.

Bridal Shower Tip: Find 2 volunteers to help make this process go smoothly. Get someone to hand gifts to the bride one at a time and make sure you have someone writing down who gave which gift. Things will get mixed up, cards will get separated from their package and the bride will have no idea who got them what. Then they will be forced to write a super generic ‘Thank You’ note.

After Karen finished opening her gifts we served the cake. It was a mess! But so good.

My best friend Karen aka The Bride
My best friend Karen aka The Bride

 

As the guests and bride enjoyed their cake a few of us helped take the gifts to her mother’s car.

You don’t want your bride hauling her own gifts to the car.  

This was also a good sign that the party was ending. People started to head out. Try to make sure you take a moment to thank everyone for coming and to say something nice about the bride

My final tip: Take lots of pictures to make prints for the bride later. This is way better than just a simple Facebook Album.

 

Have you throw a bridal shower before? What games did you play? Did you host it at home or at  a restaurant? 
Have you been a bride, how did your love ones make your shower a special day? Tell me below.

36 comments

  1. CourtneyLynne

    Omg great list!!!! I swear location really is make or break for anything! If the locations right, everything else kinda falls right into place

  2. Dia

    TThanks Courtney. It ended up working out great. 🙂

  3. Kelly @theinspiredparent

    Great tips! I planned my now sis-in-law’s bridal shower/tea. We did some fun games like bridal pictionary and guess the kisses (I put Hershey’s kisses in a jar & the person who guessed the closest won). The one that got lots of laughs was the almost-newlywed-game….lots of fun!!!

  4. candy

    Finding the perfect location I believe is key for everyone. Love these ideas and will share them. Seems like I am attending tons of baby showers lately.

  5. Valerie

    I’ve hosted one ever and it turned out great. This is a great read.

  6. Mandi

    Thank you for this!! My sisters getting married soon and these are great tips to have!

  7. Roxy

    I definitely have pinned this. A lot of my friends, myself included, are impatiently waiting for proposals and have the strangest feeling everyone will get engaged at basically the same time. It will be a world wind of celebrating and endless bridal showers. It sounds that you were an AMAZING hostess. I’ll be sending this to my girls when the time comes!

  8. Jenny

    How fun! I hope my bridal shower this year goes off as well as this one did.

    xoxo, Jenny

  9. Kaley

    These are great tips! Especially the bit about the photos!

  10. Jessica Bradshaw

    My brother in law is engaged and I am a bridesmaid in the wedding. I absolutely love planning parties, so I can’t wait to help with her shower (its been several years since I have helped).

    Thanks for all of the tips!! It was a good refresher.

  11. Mistle

    Great list of tips!!! I have not thrown a bridal shower before but I know that it is a lot of work to put together. I can’t believe some places would require a $500 deposit. That is insane for a shower. No….I couldn’t do it. Everything looks like it worked out great for the shower!

  12. Dia

    It’s the second time I have and I learned from the first. $500 was on the low end!

  13. Dia

    I hope you have a great time!

  14. Dia

    Yeah I was going to do it as a surprise but she is an awesome friend and reads the blog… So Karen you’re getting a photo album.

  15. Dia

    I’m sure it will be a blast. Congrats again!

  16. Dia

    That’s awesome. I hope it helps.

  17. Dia

    That’s what is happening in my circle it seems like. No lie I only check my mail like twice a week but every time I have in the past month, I’ve gotten something about a wedding or a baby.

  18. Dia

    I totally understand lol

  19. Dia

    Oh I totally forgot the best part. Going back to make edits. That sounds cute.

  20. Kusum

    The invitation looks great, it might be a $ but if you didn’t tell me I wouldn’t have guessed! Looks like such a fun bridal shower party, I get bugged when people don’t RSVP and you are super smart for expecting over 35 people when only 5 RSVP’d. Your soon-robe-bride-friend is lucky to have you as her bridesmaid 🙂
    xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com

  21. Dia

    Thanks for commenting Kusum. Shes like a sister.

  22. Dia

    Leslie are you engaged? I hadn’t realized! Congrats!

  23. Liz Mays

    My shower was at my church. I’m shocked at how few people RSVP but actually do come. Boy, have things changed!

  24. Susannah

    Having the shower at a Mexican restaurant sounds like it was such a good idea! I’m sure your friend felt so loved! <3

  25. Jessica

    That sounds like such a lovely shower! I’d much rather attend a shower at a restaurant than at someone’s house. It’s always so awkward to sit in a circle while the bride opens gifts. At least at a restaurant, you’re at a table and there’s food around. I love the idea of getting invitations at the dollar store!!!

  26. Lezley

    Awesome post! This works for other types of parties as well

  27. Dia

    Thanks Lezley

  28. Dia

    Haha and if they don’t Starbucks has tea lol

  29. Dia

    I see it all the time even at corporate events. I feel like people are always waiting for a better offer.

  30. Dia

    I think she did. It was a good time.

  31. Dia

    Yes it saved me some much needed cash lol

  32. brianna george

    Location makes or breaks a good party I think. Once you have the location set everything else usually falls into place.

  33. Dia

    Yeah its super important but first I needed to know how much space to plan for. The room worked perfectly.

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