Planning a bridal shower? It’s one of the most exciting times to celebrate a bride-to-be! This pre-wedding celebration is often hosted by the bride's mother, the bridal part, or friends of the bride, and other close friends and family members are invited to join in the celebration.
And while planning a bridal shower is undeniably exciting, it can also be expensive, especially when you take key components such as a venue, food and drinks, and entertainment into consideration. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to pull off a lovely bridal shower on a budget, while still celebrating the bride and her upcoming nuptials in a beautiful way.
Create an Intimate Guest List
First things first: Consider the guest list. “A big consideration in planning a bridal shower on a budget is maintaining intimacy and having a smaller guest count,” says GiGi McDowell, founder of Fêtefully, a digital wedding planning platform. “If you make it more intimate and have a lower guest count, that allows you to review your needs and see where you can cut costs.” Trim the guest list down so it only includes the bride's VIPs. Not everybody who is invited to the wedding needs an invitation to the bridal shower.
Meet the Expert
- GiGi McDowell is the founder of Fêtefully, a digital wedding planning platform connecting couples to event planners around the world.
- Lara Mahler is the founder and chief planner of The Privilege is Mine, a wedding planning collective based in New York.
Ask Around for a Venue
Of course, you’ll need a place to host the bridal shower. This can be one of the biggest expenses, especially if you’re considering event venues that come with hefty rental fees. McDowell suggests having the shower at someone’s house. “It could be your maid of honor, one of your bridesmaids, your mother, or your mother-in-law,” she says. “Think about your close friends and family members and don’t be afraid to ask ‘Hey, can we use your backyard to host a bridal shower?’ Not only is it inexpensive, but then you also get the added decor of having natural scenery.”
If hosting in someone’s home or backyard is not possible, there are other less expensive options to consider rather than a big venue. Check with local community centers, parks, or botanical gardens. You may also find that a local restaurant has a small event space perfect for the occasion.
Print Invitations on Your Own
There’s no need for extravagant invitations here! And choosing a simpler route can help to save hundreds. There are plenty of gorgeous templates on Etsy for DIY bridal shower invitations. Find your favorite, personalize the details, and print them yourself. Printing them on cardstock is a great way to make them look professionally done. You can also choose pretty envelopes with a patterned interior to enhance the look. Ask a friend with great penmanship to hand address or calligraphy each envelope, or makeup custom address labels before sending them off.
Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. “Everyone has a lot of different hobbies and ways that they want to contribute,” says McDowell. You may be surprised by what other members of the wedding party or family members would like to contribute to help celebrate the bride.
Keep the Food Simple
The timing of the bridal shower will dictate how much food you’ll need. “If you do something right in the middle [of the day], but not quite close to the end of lunchtime, you can always do just small bites here and there,” says McDowell. A brunch shower can also help to cut down the cost of food, especially if you put together a simple breakfast buffet.
Another great option? Do it potluck style! “If you have a wedding party, ask the members of your party to each make their favorite dish and offer that as food options,” says Lara Mahler, the founder and chief planner of The Privilege is Mine. “You can also opt to make your own desserts.”
Another way to personalize the shower while providing food? McDowell suggests having guests bring their favorite dish and the recipe written or typed out along with it. Then, a cookbook can be put together for the bride. “This is a nice keepsake for the bride that she can also print out and give to people as a favor for the bridal shower,” she says.
Consider Batched Drinks or a Signature Cocktail
Depending on the time of day, you may not want to serve alcohol at the bridal shower at all. Eliminating alcohol will immediately cut down on costs. Mahler suggests considering large-batch drinks such as lemonade, or even sangria if you want an alcoholic option with little fuss.
If you do want to have cocktails, McDowell suggests keeping it simple with a signature cocktail. “The signature cocktail can be something simple with just vodka, tequila, or rum as the base alcohol in it. Then, you can just add different juices, punches, and mixers,” she says.
Go Easy on Games and Entertainment
The purpose of the shower is to get together and celebrate the bride. Games and entertainment are totally optional, so don't feel pressured to plan them at all. If you’d like to add a few fun games to the mix, it’s easy to find downloadable printables for simple bridal shower games. You can also share fun childhood memories of the bride and have people guess if they’re real or not.
If you know someone who plays music, ask them to join in the fun. Or, simply create a playlist of favorite songs and let a Bluetooth speaker do the job.
Keep the Focus on the Bride
Ultimately, a bridal shower is a celebration of the bride-to-be, and your perspective will likely dictate the budget. “Remember that perspective is priceless,” says Mahler. “Think about why you are having a shower and what the meaning is for you. If it is to be ‘perfect’ and have Instagrammable moments you will likely spend more money,” she says.
“The best tip when doing anything on a budget is to stick to what's important to you and do it your own way,” adds McDowell. “Don't listen to the rules that anyone else has set for you on how much you're supposed to do, and what you're supposed to spend.”