How to Throw a Bridal Shower That’s Low on Stress and Big on Impact

With help from Crate and Barrel


Last month I helped plan my sister’s bridal shower from across the country. And you know what I learned in the process? The less thinking you have to do when planning a shower, the better. Because if you’re planning a shower, chances are you do not have A) unlimited time or B) unlimited budget. And you might even have a few extra people (aka someone’s mom, or their sister, or a very enthusiastic wedding party member) whose thoughts and opinions you have to take into consideration along with your own (brilliant, obvs) ideas. So anything you can do to simplify the process and still end up with something you love is 👍.

Two women toasting champagne, one on an inflatable pink flamingo, the other on a holographic pouf

So planning a fun, stylish bridal shower is often a little of, “I have an idea!” followed by, “Okay, now how do I pull that off?” Which is why at APW, we consider it our job to test out all kinds of bonkers ideas so you don’t have to. So when Crate and Barrel invited us to partner with them on bridal brunch ideas, we decided to put all of our current favorite ideas to the test (and I do mean allll of them) and then share our best tips for bringing a badass bridal shower to life. (And spoiler alert: having access to some of the prettiest serveware and glassware around definitely made our jobs easier.)

Woman in white holding champagne flute with pink flamingo swizzle stick

1. A (VAGUE) theme.

Showers are sort of the opposite of weddings, in that a theme can minimize your stress. (Trust me when I say it will make execution a thousand times easier. Especially if you have a lot of cooks in the kitchen.) But I don’t mean theme like… You’re invited to a Wizard of Oz wedding shower, though if you’re having that, please invite me. In this case, I mean coming up with a more general theme or idea (often stolen from Pinterest, because that’s literally what it’s there for).

So for this party, since it’s mid-August and we already own a giant flamingo floaty, we went with “Summer fun indoors.” This made it extra easy, not just because we could drag Ms. Flamingo from her not-so-happy home in the closet, but because tropical decor is exactly what’s on sale everywhere right now. (Side note: 10/10 you should have a pool floaty at your next bridal shower.)

Woman in white jumpsuit holding champagne glass with pink flamingo swizzle stick in front of brunch buffet party spread, with a coral backdrop with holographic triangles

2. Shop It Real Good.

The Internet has convinced us that the way to plan a really good party is to devote about a thousand hours to crafting. And sure, you can make a million cute crafts for your friend’s bridal shower, but you might not want to. Which is why we promote the “smart shopping” form of party planning. In our case that boiled down to this: We picked a theme that fit with all of the party decor currently on sale everywhere. (Flamingos are hot right now, what can we say?) We got flowers that were in season at our local flower market (palm fronds, protea, red ginger, and Bird of Paradise). Then we bought food that involved literally zero cooking and looked good sitting on a table. In particular we got delicious mini pies from Pietisserie, and tarts and pastries from La Parisienne.

mini pancake stacks with raspberries and toothpicks with tassels on white pedestal platterTwo women wearings shoespastries on 2-tiered serving marble board

3. It’s time for the unusual materials challenge.

Our guiding rule for decorating is that you don’t have to make it perfect/beautiful/insert-impossible-standard-here if you can make it interesting. For example, for our backdrop, we cut triangles out of holographic vinyl and adhered them to a coral taffeta with spray adhesive (a project that was basically a zero on the “How hard is this to do?” scale). We also printed out giant landscapes on color engineer prints from Parabo Press. While those of us who spend a lot of time on the Internet know about color engineer prints, they’re still one of those things that make most of the world go, “OMG, what is that? How did you even make it?” So pick a photo that fits your theme (or even some words in a cool font), order a print, and consider your crafting done.

brunch party spread in front of coral backdrop with holographic triangles, with tropical plants and a pineapple

4. Bring sexy back(drop).

Remember our number one rule for wedding decor? It’s go big or go really big. Aka you don’t need a lot of tiny decor elements (that will inevitably take a thousand hours to execute). Instead, plan on one big statement piece that will be the focal element of your party, and put it in a high traffic zone (we put ours behind the food table, because duh.) Related: If you know the person of honor will want pictures after the fact, make a second backdrop for people to take photos in front of. (Also related: instant photos are always a hit, always.)

brunch buffet spread from above on copper and marble serving plattersBottle of Sofia Coppola Blanc de Blancs in confetti ice mould, in champagne bucket

Beyond backdrops, we did two other (very) simple DIY projects. We took plain old cocktail picks and affixed mini-tassels to the tops for a DIY pancake topper. (Which guys? Looked SO good for SUCH a tiny amount of work.) And then possibly my favorite project we’ve ever done is this ice mold we got from Crate and Barrel and then filled it A LOT of confetti. (To make it, you just coat the inside of your ice mold with hairspray, then slowly add confetti, rotating the mold like a cement mixer. Slowly add water, and freeze for twenty-four hours.) I mean, you could basically have just that at your party and call it a win.

side portrait of woman wearing circular gold earrings with black pomswoman in white jumpsuit holding pineapple vase with tropical foliagemini pies on marble board with copper utensils

And beyond that, we were lucky enough to work with Crate and Barrel and test out all the items you should register for, if you want to throw parties that look good with minimal effort. Because as it turns out, a cute marble tray, copper barware, and a silver woven table runner will take you pretty damn far.

woman in bright floral dress holding plate with mini pies and copper fork on her lap

5. Food for the mood.

If you want to keep your guests happy at any party, the rule is that you have to feed them, and you have to feed them on time. But beyond that? You do not have to reinvent the wheel with your menu. In fact, one of our favorite cheat rules is to buy food that’s already cute, and make it part of the decor.

Three carafes of juice with three ceramic berry baskets with fruit, and a pineapple

We added a tiny strip of silver holographic sticker paper to our Crate and Barrel carafes—and with the help of these ceramic berry boxes that Meg loved—made a tropical mimosa bar. Then we bought the fanciest tarts and mini-pies we could find, and prettied them up even more with added fruit. And if you’re looking to keep things low key, but still lovely looking? Brunch has the prettiest food, and it’s usually cheaper than lunch or dinner.

Bar cart detail of St. Germain, Lillet, a copper drinks shaker, and a copper bar spoon on purple and striped napkins Feet of woman in brightly colored floral dress, wearing shiny gold open-toed sandles pink cocktails from above with raspberries on swizzle sticks with tassels, with gold leaf

And you can never go wrong with a menu comprised of booze and sugar, right? (Plus, edible gold leaf makes everything fancy.)

Two women holding balloons, laugingFruit tarts on marble serving tray

6. The f-u-n-damentals.

Bridal showers have a reputation for being stiff. But they don’t have to be! The thing is to remember that a shower is a party. If most of your guests already know each other, feel free to skip games and just let everyone mingle and reconnect. But if they’re mostly strangers, it doesn’t hurt to give people something to do when they first come in the door. At my sister’s shower, we had guests write down date night ideas for when she and her partner need a little inspiration. That way the shy folks could keep their heads down, and not feel pressured to make new friends. But you don’t have to go all out on activities. Making a mimosa can be an activity. Taking a photo in front of your backdrop can be an activity. Eating a mini pie can be an activity. (Eating a mini pie is ALWAYS an activity, no?)

Woman on blush velvet love seat next to flower arrangement, holding and surrounded by crate and barrel git boxes and presents

And of course, it’s a bridal shower, so we have to talk about the (sometimes dreaded, sometimes loved) gift opening activity. Since the name of the actual game is to shower you with presents, it’s very hard to skip the part where you, you know, open them. And for some people (Meg), that’s fun because it’s like a stage show. And for other people (me), it can feel like a drag, because “ugh-really-why-do-I-have-to-do-this-super-traditional-thing.”

But here is the real deal. You have to do it, because for a lot of people (particularly members of your parents’ generation), giving you gifts and helping you set up a more permanent home is a very real part of how they show you love at this important moment in your life. And that means the more you can sit back and realize that this is less about opening presents and more about accepting love… well, the more you’ll enjoy it. Because being showered with love is such a rare and delightful thing.

crate and barrel gift boxes and other wrapped gifts on pink velvet love seat

Putting together this shoot, we spent a whole lot of time both scouring the Crate and Barrel website and looking around their stores. And besides from realizing the obvious (Crate and Barrel is a really great place to register), we came up with some favorite items that you should for sure add to your registry right now.

favorite serving items from crate and barrel1. 2-Tier Marble Server | 2. Copper Bar Spoon | 3. Wood Marble Pedestal | 4. Rati Vase | 5. Harper Rose Gold Flatware | 6. Maison Platinum Rim Salad Plate | 7. Marble Pastry Slab | 8. Wood Marble Covered Server | 9. Pryce Champagne Coupe | 10. Keaton Oval Copper Serving Bowl | 11. Bennett Small Platter | 12. Ana Champagne Glass | 13. Fete Violet Cloth Napkin | 14. Marble Rectangle Tray | 15. Liam Grey Striped Linen Napkin | 16. Orb Copper Shaker | 17. Hyacinth Metallic Table Runner | 18. Newbury Silver Centerpiece Bowl | 19. 2-Tone Large Marble Board

What are your best tips for throwing a fun, stylish bridal shower without making it a full-time job?

This post was sponsored by Crate and Barrel Wedding Registry. With Crate and Barrel, it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out, or if you’ve already built a home together, they’ve got something for every stage of your relationship. Plus, get like-price guarantee, free shipping, and exclusive pieces from Crate and Barrel’s artists and designers, when you sign up for a Crate and Barrel Wedding Registry today. Click here to learn more or sign up for a live Crate and Barrel registry event near you.

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