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.
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.