As our theme this month is April Showers, I thought it’d be fun to take myself out of ‘photographer’ mode and jump into ‘Maid of Honor’ mode to write a bit about my experiences planning my sister’s wedding shower. Oh, and I kid you not, my sister’s name is April. So we are, indeed, still talking about April’s Shower…

I’d never planned a shower before and have been to very few so naturally I started with an internet search! Sadly, I found information online to be pretty outdated, as the first ‘rule’ I kept reading over and over again was that the mother of the bride/groom or sister of the bride/groom should not host a shower. Apparently, it’s impolite. With that discovery, I realized we were already breaking one ‘rule,’ so I decided to ignore what I read online and turn to my mother, April’s soon-to-be mother-in-law and the other bridesmaids. They had a bit more experience in this role than I did.

Here is what I learned along the way. I am hopeful that it may be helpful to you!

Of course you have the option of having the shower be girls only or a couple’s shower (‘Jack and Jill’). If it is girls only, typically the bridesmaids, the bride’s close girlfriends and any female relatives closest to the bride and/or groom are invited. Obviously if it’s a couple’s shower men are added to the list. While we had a ladies only shower, we broke a rule (oops!) by inviting one guy, Kevin, a very very close friend whom we didn’t feel right leaving out. Michael, the groom, joined the shower towards the end, to open gifts with April.

Invitations should go out at least four weeks before the shower and include: bride’s full name (and groom’s if it’s a couple’s shower), date, time, location, registry information, host/hostess name (optional), RSVP information and whether or not it is a surprise. If you feel it necessary, invitations can indicate whether or not children are welcome.

It is more than okay to ask the couple to provide help with the guest list – indicating who should and should not be invited.

As it’s common for there to be multiple hosts these days, matters such as budget and expenses should be discussed openly, agreed upon and then stuck to.

A shower typically takes place between six and one month before the wedding (most commonly around the two month mark).

Designate someone to record each gift, either creating a list or writing it on the back of the card.

Games are not lame! Ok, maybe I’m the only one who thought that, but they were actually really fun; they lent themselves to the theme, got people who didn’t know one another interacting and occupied some downtime. As prizes, each bridesmaid assembled a themed basket of their choice. Guests won tickets as they answered questions and tickets were then placed in the baskets they liked to be raffled off.

Themes can also be fun and make choosing invitations, decorating, favors, prizes, etc. easier!  Knowing how family-focused April and Michael are, we went with a ‘memories…’ theme, asking guests to contribute a memory of April and/or Michael with their RSVP.  People hand-wrote stories, sent in photographs or drawings (which the wedding party then assembled over several really fun nights) into a scrapbook which was given as our gift to April and Michael at the shower.

Having spent a lot of time talking with April about her wedding decor and helping out with invitations, etc. I knew that I could match the aesthetic of her wedding for her shower, keeping within a reasonable budget with a few DIY projects. We had a close family friend cut some wood for centerpieces and each bridesmaid took on the responsibility of filling several mason jars with whatever we chose for centerpieces that guests could take home at the end.

I made streamers out of cupcake wrappers and decorated the cake (photograph above) that was provided by the restaurant with some vintage game tiles, a handmade banner and bird’s nest found at my favorite store ever (I mean it!), Parcel.

As we say pretty often, do what feels right and it will all turn out okay! Rules and traditions can most certainly be broken. If you are planning a shower, it’s because you know the couple best. As long as you keep the couple in mind as you plan, there is really no ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’