Photo: Annie McElwain Photography
Forget forcing your guests to don cheesy toilet paper gowns at your bridal shower. These days, most brides-to-be are looking to throw a more sophisticated pre-wedding affair. We chatted with luxury lifestyle expert Jung Lee of Fête to get her tips on what makes for a chic bridal shower.
Should bridal shower themes be avoided altogether?
"Not necessarily. I firmly believe that brides should do whatever gives them joy — and if that's a theme, then great! However, don't do a random theme. Choose one that makes sense for you."
What are some chic themes?
"I had this super stylish client who loved lingerie. She had that whole '50s pin-up thing going on, and a lingerie theme was so her. We hosted her shower in a lingerie boutique on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I'm pretty sure we drank martinis at noon. It was fabulous. For another client who was a bit of an anglophile, we decided to do a Brit-inspired party where everyone came dressed to the nines and wearing hats and fascinators. We did small tea sandwiches and biscuits. People loved it!"
Any food and beverage recommendations?
"When in doubt, serve seasonal and local fare. A bridal shower is ideally two-and-a-half hours, which means you could do tea or cocktails and get away with a roving party and lots of terrific finger foods. I will say booze is very, very important at the shower — unless, of course, you can't have it. It should feel like a party! Hard seltzer is all of a sudden everywhere, and it's the perfect bridal shower drink — refreshing, fruity, boozy, easy. I recently tried SpikedSeltzer and it's really good — and surprisingly strong."
Your thoughts on games, entertainment, or keeping the social vibes strong?
"Definitely do a game if it makes sense for the bride and the crowd, but please personalize it. Who wants to play a generic game of Bridal Bingo? No one! If the game is meaningful and makes people laugh, then it's a fantastic idea.
"If you're doing assigned seating, break up the cliques. Mix it up! And step up your game. Go around making the right intros, connecting people, giving those who traveled far some special QT. Despite the fact that you, the bride, are not hosting your own shower, you are still in many ways one of the hosts and should rise to the occasion. Being honored in this way is an important rite of passage!"
Any major bridal shower 'don'ts'?
"Holding your guests captive for an hour while you sit and painstakingly open each gift is the most boring thing in the world. I actually think it's selfish. There, I said it! A modern alternative is to have a 'naked shower,' where presents are placed on a gift table, unwrapped. People can still see who got what."
Speaking of gifts, what are some party favors to give out?
"Some kind of edible is always nice, and rarely wasteful. I also love a customized favor to which everyone can contribute. Say the bride is amazing in the kitchen and people know her for this. The maid of honor can ask all the guests for their favorite recipes, organize them into apps, mains, etc., and then print them all in a beautiful little book. I love Pinhole Press and Artifact Uprising for this kind of thing."