Being a bridesmaid these days is expensive. After paying for the dress, the shoes, hair and makeup, the bachelorette party and a wedding gift, it's not surprising if you don't have a wealth of money left in the budget to throw the bride a shower. However, this traditional before-the-wedding event meant to shower the bride with gifts to start her new life doesn't have to be lavish to be special.
Setting the Scene
Sometimes altering the setting or the time of the event makes a difference in your budget. Rather than throwing a traditional lunchtime event that requires a full spread of food, choose a shower around the cocktail hour, a brunch or high tea. Each requires less food -- though a cocktail party, for obvious reasons, requires more alcohol -- which can have a positive impact on your wallet. When you decide when to host the event, ask for the guest list from the bride. If you are truly strapped for cash, ask her to keep that in mind when making the list, as every person who attends drives up the price. Once the guest list is set, send a free evite rather than a traditional paper invitation, which will end up the trash anyway.
Save on food costs by making the shower a potluck affair. However, you can spin this into something special by asking each guest to bring a dish or dessert that’s meaningful to their marriage, relationship or family. Include a recipe card with the invitation, with a special spot for the guest to include why she’s sharing this particular recipe. Collect the recipes in a book and present it to the bride at the end of the shower. If a potluck isn’t your style, serve inexpensive finger foods such as crudites and dip, tomato-basil bruschetta, seasoned popcorn and deviled eggs. Instead of purchasing a cake from a bona fide bakery -- as delicious as it might be -- either bake a cake or cupcakes yourself or purchase them from the grocery store, both of which are often a little cheaper than bakeries.
You can save a lot of money by creating decor yourself rather than purchasing it. Rather than buying centerpieces from a florist, visit the grocery store’s floral department or a local farmers market to find in-season, inexpensive blooms that you can bunch together and arrange in a dollar store vase or Mason jar. You can also turn decor items into a fun activity -- hang a colorful ribbon across the room and clip brightly colored clothespins on it. Set out card stock and pens and ask each guest to share her words of wisdom for a good marriage and clip the card on the ribbon.
Gifts and Games
Instead of purchasing premade games from a party store, use a word processing program on the computer to make your own games, or ask a friend who’s adept with graphic design to create a crossword puzzle for guests to do while waiting for others to arrive. Or, get rid of the paper entirely and host a verbal game in which you ask questions about the bride and groom; the first person to yell out the answer wins. It’s also traditional to give guests small favors at the end of the party to thank them for coming; however, these are optional, so skip them if you’re on a very tight budget. If you want to give a little something, purchase candy in bulk in the wedding colors and wrap it up in tulle and tie it with a colorful ribbon.