Traditionally a women-only event where family and close friends give the bride-to-be gifts for her new marital home, the modern bridal shower is a bit more updated. There’s no need to confine the guest list to one gender, to pick a theme that matches your wedding, or to even have the bride be the guest of honor. There is, however, one tradition you’ll want to stick to: keeping guests full and satisfied with a tasty party menu.
“A bridal shower is a time to indulge in all the things the bride loves,” says Alexandria Hammond of Get Plated Catering and Events. “There’s going to be fewer people, and it’s more of a casual setting, so have all of your favorite things.”
Meet the Expert
Together with husband and executive chef Keyon Hammond, Alexandria owns and operates Washington, D.C.-based catering company Get Plated. A classically trained French chef, Keyon’s culinary background includes Platinum country clubs and global hotels.
Beyond serving what you love, what else should you know about bridal shower food and drink? Read on for Hammond’s expert tips.
Keep the time of day in mind.
With a morning or lunchtime shower, opt for buffet-style or cocktail service with lighter passed bites and finger foods. Planning for the early evening? “Do something heavier, because people are going to be expecting more of a full meal,” says Hammond.
Elevate your favorite plates.
Want to serve your favorite comfort foods? Talk with your caterer; they’ll know how to up the ante by adding unexpected ingredients. “If you want to do tacos, make it the best taco bar that you possibly can,” says Hammond. “It doesn’t have to be a traditional ground beef; it can be Korean-style short ribs with salsa or pickled veg. Making it more personalized will make it more delectable.”
Get creative with how you serve and display.
Want to invest in a fun focal point for your bridal shower food? Go with a themed cart, like poke or burrata. Get Plated also incorporates interactive elements such as usherette trays (walking raw bars are popular) as well as interactive service elements, such as a make-your-own ice cream sandwich bar. “It keeps the conversation going when guests might not know each other,” says Hammond.
If you are going to do a stationery display, Hammond recommends not using the same style of vessels for each item. “Be a little more eclectic,” she adds. “Use different textures and bowl sizes to give a more visual aspect to the event.”
Don’t serve a menu that only includes dessert.
“I am not a fan of all sweets for a bridal shower or any type of event,” says Hammond. “People need balance.” If you do have more of a sweet tooth, go for dishes that are sweet and savory at the same time. Hammond’s current favorite? A flatbread with whipped goat cheese, balsamic, and strawberries.
When in doubt, hometown dishes are a great start.
Because a bridal shower is a celebration with family and friends, food and drink options that make you feel like you’re back at home are a great way to thematically tie the menu together. For a recent D.C.-themed celebration, Get Plated served mini half-smokes with local beer flights, mini “Jumbo slice” pizza slices, and, in a nod to the nearby Chesapeake, oysters. Added bonus: These dishes help out-of-town guests experience the best the area has to offer.
Be smart about the bar menu.
Alcohol isn’t necessary for a bridal shower, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. “If you’re keeping it lighter in the day, having one or two signature cocktails along with beer and wine is totally acceptable,” says Hammond. “If you’re going more into the evening, a full bar is also appropriate.” Themed drinks are also a fun option. Love bourbon? Do a tasting. More of a gin & tonic type? Set out a bar with different types of syrups and citrus.
You’ll also want to have booze-free options on hand. “It doesn’t have to be a generic tea,” says Hammond. “Something more elevated, like a basil-infused watermelon lemonade, gives an interesting and refreshing taste.”
In need of some inspiration? Here are 25 delicious dishes, desserts, and drinks to serve.
Grazing boards are always a crowd-pleaser. Blend local cheeses with fresh fruit and grilled veggies and let guests build their own plates.
For a seaside or coastal-themed summer soiree, set out oysters, clams, and lobster claws on a bed of ice and let guests dig in.
Seasonal Veggie Tartlets
Eggplant puree topped with farm-grown tomatoes makes for a delightfully savory bite-sized snack.
Bacon makes pretty much anything better, don’t you think? The juicy shrimp and smoky bacon are the perfect combo bite.
Cured meats work for every kind of bridal shower from a Tuscan theme to a rustic fall celebration. Be sure to include a variety of options.
There’s just something so comforting about warm spinach and feta filling wrapped in layers of flaky dough—the ultimate finger food.
Mini Lobster Rolls
Even if you can’t be on the water, you can instantly transport guests to summer on the coast with hot buttered buns and fresh lobster meat.
Celebrating alfresco? Watermelon will be a refreshing treat in hot weather, and it plays nicely with a variety of flavor profiles. Pair the cubes with whipped cheese and balsamic for a savory bite.
Serve it cured with creme fraiche and roe for an upscale twist on a favorite brunch dish, or raw and drizzled with olive oil and fresh lemon juice for something more Italian-inspired.
Smashed Pea Crostini
No garden party bridal shower is complete without a few dainty crostinis. Fresh spring peas, mint, and ricotta make for a delicious spring twist on the classic passed app.
Crisp veggies wrapped in rice paper make for a healthy snack that won’t leave guests feeling sluggish as the party marches forward. Be sure to serve in smaller portions so attendees don’t have to worry about ingredients falling out in between bites.
The easiest way to serve your favorite flavors together is to pile them onto a stick! Combine fresh veggies, fruits, cheeses, and meat for a festive appetizer option that’s also easy to eat.
Steak with Bearnaise Sauce
Want to set out something a little more filling at your bridal shower? Steak strips with bearnaise sauce are a crowd-pleasing protein option that also feels a touch indulgent. Just be sure guests have tables and chairs to dine at so they can properly cut their bites.
If your bridal shower will be a sit-down meal, start things off with a pretty plate of leafy greens. Dress with seasonal veg, creamy dressing, and toasted nuts for extra crunch.
Mini Shrimp Po' Boy
Dressed with green onion remoulade, these savory one-biters are sure to disappear in seconds.
There's chips and salsa, and then there's the next level: poppable smoked chicken quesadillas topped with fresh pico de gallo.
Wedged limes are the perfect way to display and serve smaller-scale tacos, which can be filled with everything from fresh seafood to braised short ribs.
Available in almost every shade, this favorite French dessert is easy to match to any color palette or bridal shower theme. The fact that they are bize-sized makes them the ideal party treat.
Dress up your favorite flavors with icing and toppings to match your shower theme, then serve them as a sugary treat towards the end of the soiree. Better yet, let your guests take them home as favors!
Chocolate Pot De Crème
Not interested in brownies and mini cheesecakes? Pot de crème and drinking chocolate are two luxurious ways to do dessert at a bridal shower.
Mini Ice Cream Cones
The best way to serve a dessert that melts quickly is in small portions. Miniature ice cream scoops are a bite-sized treat that guests can eat without worrying about a mess.
Bloody Mary Bar
A Bloody Mary bar is a no-brainer for a brunch bridal shower. Let guests personalize theirs with gourmet garnishes like pickled okra, hearts of palm, smoked mussels, and kimchi, or go the classic route with celery, bacon, and an assortment of stuffed olives.
Sparkling Wine Cocktails
Nothing says ‘celebration’ quite like a glass of bubbles! A sparkling wine or champagne cocktail won’t taste too boozy for an afternoon soiree, but will still help get guests in the party mood.
Rosé Slushie Pops
These boozy frozen treats double as dessert and will feel right at home at any shower with a pink color palette.
It’s important to have booze-free options on hand at any type of get-together, and you don’t want them to feel like an after-thought. Set out iced tea, lemonade, or fruit-infused water in a pretty glass or acrylic dispensers so guests can help themselves whenever they get parched.