Throw a Bridal Shower Without Going Broke

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Since I wrote my expensive-to-be-a-bridesmaid post, I volunteered to help plan a shower for one of my dearest friends, who also happens to be unfortunately classy -- and I say "unfortunately" because it means I totally can't have a backyard barbeque for this shower. It has to look nice. And I have to do it on a budget.

My friends (she's only having one bridesmaid, and that person is across the country) and I put our heads together and brainstormed how best to throw a gorgeous shower without killing ourselves financially. Here are our tips.

bridal bouquet

Credit Image: koadmunkee on Flickr


10 Tips for Throwing an Affordable Wedding Shower

  • Share and Share Alike -- get as many maids/friends/family members in on the planning as you can. If the bride is young and all the maids or hostesses are just starting out, a family matriarch will often step in. No matter how much pride you may have, take her up on it. Smile widely, accept her offer and ask her upfront what she plans to donate to the cause -- that way there are no surprises later.

  • Track Your Expenses -- It is so easy to just pick up postage for the invites without keeping the receipt and later find yourself steaming over the extra $25 or whatever you spent for which you're not getting reimbursed. No one likes to hear something cost "around something." Have a receipt, try not to buy anything else when you buy the item you are purchasing (do you really want everyone looking at your tampon bargains?) and make one person (usually the main hostess) the accountant. I have gone so far as to make a spreadsheet. Everyone buys their part, turns in the receipts, I put them in a spreadsheet and divide the total by six. Excel doesn't lie, darlings.

  • Talk About Budget Before You Buy -- I sort of fell down on this one. I knew we wanted to keep it affordable, but I didn't ask for a per-person share to set expectations. I now worry I will come in over what some people want to spend, but since not everything has been purchased yet, we're probably fine. Um, I hope.

  • Beg and Borrow -- As I'm writing this, I just realized I forgot to pick up the vases we used at my own wedding ten years ago for use in this shower from my parents. Now I'm faced with figuring out if it's more expensive to ship them or buy new ones from Michael's, Hobby Lobby or the dollar store. If you've got empty vases, pretty tableclothes, serving dishes, etc., use them. Especially if they are white or clear!

  • Try to Avoid Mealtimes -- I messed this one up, too, but only because the venue we chose was only open on the bride's chosen day over lunchtime. Sometimes you can't control these things, but if I'd had my choice, I would've made the shower mid-afternoon between lunch and dinner so I could offer only cupcakes and champagne. Beautiful but economical, too!

  • Buy in Bulk -- We'll be purchasing flowers, food, and beverages from Costco. Many grocery stores also do bang-up catering. As long as you put the goods on your own gorgeous plates, who's to know or care? If you're an amazing cook, go for it -- but I, um, am not.

  • Go In on the Gift -- We're all six throwing in to get one amazing shower gift instead of spending a bunch of money each. This wouldn't work as well with a young bride, but our bride already has a fully stocked kitchen and is not starting out, so she'll appreciate a thoughtful gift from all of us as much as she would a hand-mixer. Actually, probably more.

  • Buy Invitations Online or Make Them -- Lots of invitation sites have promo codes -- always do an Internet search for the name of your chosen site and "promo code" before you check out. You'd be surprised what's floating around the Internet. If you're crafty, printing them yourself and adding a 3-D touch, such as a ribbon or button, might be the way to go.

  • Choose a Memorable Venue -- More than food or cheesy games, the bride and her guests will remember the venue. Some -- like the one we chose -- have a room rental fee. If you choose a restaurant, they may offer you a party room, but then you have to buy their food. Think about the bride and what she loves and look for the most interesting venue you can that doesn't cost a ton to rent.

  • Don't Go Overboard -- It's a wedding shower, not the wedding.

  • Have you thrown wedding showers? What did you do? How much did it end up costing?

    Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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