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I have been derelict in my duty to provide you a comprehensive view of a bridesmaid’s responsibilities by nearly completely ignoring the bridal shower (i.e. the one event where it is not only appropriate but encouraged to include the couple’s registry information in the invitation). There are lots of reasons for this, of course, but mainly, it’s because I don’t typically think of them as much fun. The classic games are not my style, and they are usually squeaky-clean, day-time events (read: no alcohol).

(Granted, the showers I have attended have been fantastic. It’s really more about how I imagine showers would be.)

Recently, I came across these three examples of bridal shower themes, which just might overwhelm my hesitation of showers by appealing to my primary love: good food. I want to share these with you, and I will keep my eyes peeled for other fabulous ideas on how to liven up the often-stale shower.

Donut-themed shower

Tea party shower

Pancake shower (brilliant!!)

What shower ideas do you have? What’s the best shower you’ve attended? Is there any way to make the classic games more fun and engaging?

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My friend Danielle drew my attention to this fantastic article on brides.com in which five women share their bridesmaid budget. These ladies represent quite a range, from spending (in total) less than $400 to more than  $1,500. I thought it might be interesting to tally my own experiences, which illustrate quite the range as well! (Note: I’m not including the expenses incurred as a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. I was 16. All costs were covered by my fantastic parents.)

Bachelorette party ($100 – $2,000)

This probably represents the most significant range of costs. Not including bachelorette parties that I was unable to attend, the least expensive was a low-key event in the bride’s hometown, where I was also living. Pedis for myself and the bride, followed by a home-cooked meal with the whole gang, followed by a bar crawl. The most expensive was a glamorous get-away to Miami: flight + hotel (Mondrian) + margaritas by the pool during the day + dinners at high-end restaurants + drinks and dancing over 3 days.

Bridal shower ($50 – $400)

Not including the showers I didn’t attend, the least expensive was when the bride’s mother and sister planned the whole thing, so all I had to do was show up with a gift. The most expensive was my sister’s, which I planned (although a family friend agreed to host it at her home, which seriously cut back on costs). The theme was “happy hour,” which meant fun hors devours, tasty petit fours, and one signature cocktail. (All the guests were asked to bring a bottle of wine to start the happy couple’s wine collection.) Besides the cost of flying back, I covered the food and drinks, and also bought a gift.

Bridesmaid dress + extras ($11 – $230)

Two of my six dresses were from Target: $11 (on sale) green halter and $40 purple shift, respectively. For each of those weddings, I wore shoes I already owned and jewelry gifted by the brides.  The most expensive dress was still quite a steal, $150 peacock-colored strapless dress from Jessica McClintock. The bride asked us to wear silver heels, which I didn’t own, so I spent roughly $80 on those. (I probably could have found a pair for less, but they were so cute!)

Wedding weekend costs ($50 – $500)

Costs for the wedding weekend vary significantly depending on the wedding location. Not only does that dictate the price of hotels but also (1) whether or not I need to purchase a flight, and (2) whether or not I also need to rent a car once arriving. The price range for this starts with a wedding held in the town where I was living (i.e. no hotel, no flight, no rental car, only costs were incidentals) and runs to a wedding held in a different city (i.e. hotel for two nights, flight, rental car, and all meals/incidentals).

Although being a bridesmaid can be an expensive endeavor, it is also a highly rewarding one. I consider it money well spent!

** Caveats: (1) These suggestions really only apply to the standard bouquet. If you’re carrying something less traditional (like, say, this or this), I’m afraid I’m not going to be terribly helpful. (2) Always follow instructions given by the photographer. Their vision trumps these basic guidelines.

For many bridesmaids, yours truly included, marching down the aisle is an intimidating experience. Everyone’s looking at you. Your photo is being snapped from every angle. You may be wearing a dress or shoes that aren’t especially comfortable. And you’re often carrying a hyper-feminine accessory, a floral bouquet, with which you haven’t the slightest idea what to do.

Here is a compilation of tips I’ve received from the pros over the years. (Blue Orchid Designs also has a great reference post on this topic.)

In my experience, the most common mistake bridesmaids make is carrying the bouquet too high. As beautiful as Jessica and Kate are (and they are knock-outs), it would be nice if they lowered their bouquets just a bit so we could see their dresses better.

 

Here is how it’s been explained to me:

1. With your dominant arm, wrap your hand around the bouquet, with your thumb and forefinger just below the blooms at the top of the stems. (Dominant arm because these suckers can get heavy after holding them for awhile, and this will be the arm that holds the bulk of the weight.)

2. Take your other hand and wrap it around the stems just below your first hand.

3. Lower the bouquet so that your thumb on hand (1) is roughly at your belly button.

4. Although it feels a little awkward, move your elbows slightly away from your body. Your arms will look more slender and toned (even if gym time has been scarce).

A few pics of the pros: perfect height, perfect hold, and perfect space between body and elbows. Oh, to be a princess.

 

“If you’re tired of New York, you take a nap-a, you don’t move to Napa!”* And if you’re tired of Napa, try the Finger Lakes in New York State. May not be as well-known as Northern California’s wine region, but a trip to this less-traveled domestic wine region will leave you singing the praises of New York wines. Be sure to plan a tasting at Dr. Frank’s–the dry riesling is fantastic!


The scenery in the area is absolutely breath-taking, so if the bride is the outdoorsy type, be sure to schedule some time to take a hike. Literally.

(Pictures taken at Robert H. Treman State Park.)

* Carrie Bradshaw to Mr. Big when he tells her that he’s tired of New York and moving to Napa Valley, in the classic show “Sex and the City.”

Have you been to the Finger Lakes region? Would you recommend it for a laid-back bachelorette party?

Being prepared is a key skill for any good bridesmaid. Rounding the “emergency” kit (and here), here are items I keep on hand for hair-related, make-up-related, and other miscellany that’s bound to come up.

  • Bobby pins
  • Deodorant
  • Earring backs
  • Gum, or better yet, listerine strips (no unpleasant mouth smacking noises or motions)
  • Hairspray (reviews tend to recommend this or this on the cheap)
  • Lipstick (and/or chapstick), of the bride’s color
  • Lotion–which serves as the be-all, smoothing hair frizzies, preventing static cling (apply to legs), moisturizing chapped hands, etc.
  • Mints (see above in re: gum)
  • Nail file
  • Q-tips (or “cotton swabs” to those who prefer the generic term)
  • Razor
  • Scissors
  • Shoe grips–if the bride is wearing her shoes for the first time, the bottoms are probably not scuffed up, so you could consider bringing something that will adhere to the bottoms preventing slips (like this)
  • Snacks–preferably something that 1) will not stick to your teeth (no taffy), 2) will not stain (no strawberries), 3) provides some nutritional value, although hard candy is also a good addition for the sugar-craving bride
  • Straws–so the ladies can take a sip without disturbing their make-up
  • Tweezers
  • Water bottles--because hydration is key (no passing out at the altar!)

Have I forgotten anything? What tips and tricks do you have for the day-of?

A bachelorette party can be held anywhere the bride wants, and should be in a location consistent with the bride’s vision for the event. (Beach party in Oklahoma City? I think not.) Although b-ettes are often held in the bride’s city of residence, many a betrothed are choosing to think of their ode to singledom as an opportunity to take a vacation with her besties. (I, myself, have been to South Beach twice in the name of bachelorettehood.)

When thinking of a destination for a bachelorette party, many bachelorettes fall back on the U.S. trifecta of party places: New York City, Miami, and, of course, Las Vegas. (For a spirited discussion on the topic, skip to 1:30 of this video clip.) Nothing against any of those locations–I’m especially fond of my adopted home, New York–but sometimes, a girl needs options.

Do you like to stay local or venture to a vacation spot for a b-ette? I will be making suggestions over time, and even reporting back on an upcoming b-ette trip to the Hamptons!

This dress may be beyond repair. But for smaller dress-related snafus, it’s helpful to be prepared with a day-of “emergency” kit.

First and foremost: Ask the bride what is and is not safe to use on her dress; many wedding dress fabrics are persnickety about this.

Here is a list of items I keep with me should tragedy strike the dress.

  • Baby powder–which I have been told is brilliant at masking any last minute dirt on white dresses
  • Clear nail polish–will stop a pantyhose runner in its steps (although the foolproof solution? no pantyhose)
  • Double-sided tape
  • Dryer sheets–as these can greatly improve any static cling issues you might face
  • Lint brush–which is useful for bridesmaids as well as groomsmen (because let’s face it, the men won’t have such a well-stocked day-of kit)
  • Safety pins
  • Scotch tape
  • Sewing kit
  • Tide pen or Shout wipes

Do you have any wedding dress horror stories? What would you bring to fix something small?

* “Emergency” is in quotes because I recognize that neither a blister nor a tear-smudged face constitutes a real emergency. But sometimes, even to the most down-to-earth, practical, no-nonsense man or woman, the smallest upset on a day already wrought with emotion can be magnified.

It’s the day of the wedding. You meet the bride at the hair salon, and she confides that [insert embarrassing physical ailment here]. Super-bridesmaid to the rescue! Thanks to your handy dandy day-of kit, you are prepared to tackle the most icky of issues. Here are a few items to consider including from the pharmacy section.

  • Antacids
  • Anti-bacterial hand wipes
  • Anti-diarrheals–gross, I know, but better to have them than to not
  • Bandaids–because blisters are a bitch
  • Cough drops
  • Eye drops
  • Floss
  • Headache medications–ask if there is a particular type that the bride prefers
  • Prescription medications–if there is something in particular the bride might need to take during the day (e.g., epi-pen)
  • Tampons and pads
  • Tissues–and perhaps consider a fancy handkerchief to keep wrapped around a bouquet (or in a pocket) during the ceremony to clear up any tears

I also like to include a very rudimentary first aid kit, including antibacterial ointment and bandages, for any more pesky injuries.

Note: This list is neither all-inclusive nor all-required. Talk to the bride (and/or the groom) about what pharmaceutical aids would be helpful to have on hand.

Did I leave anything out?

Yes, it’s the motto of the Boy Scouts. But it’s also great advice for all wedding attendants. Even the best laid plans sometimes fail, and when the metaphorical shit hits the fan, the maids should be prepared to intervene in whatever way necessary.

Personally, I find that on the day of the wedding, it can be helpful to have a “small” kit of things that can solve those last-minute “doh!”s. In some cases, a wedding planner or day-of coordinator might have these things in tow. (I once saw a wedding planner with a carry-on-luggage-size bag of “day-of” cures.) However, sans professional, this responsibility typically falls to the maid of honor (or any number of bridesmaids/attendants).

There are lots of lists out there (and there), and even ready-made kits if you feel so inclined. Regardless of how you get started, keep in mind that it is important to customize the items to be sure they suit the bride’s (or groom’s) needs.

I’ll provide the lists I’ve used, but I would love to hear from you. Do you have any tips or tricks for the wedding day? Anything you always make sure to have nearby?

Planning and attending the bachelorette party can be one of the more fun parts of the wedding planning process. It can also be stressful. Plan ahead and consult the bride in advance to be sure the event exceeds her expectations.

Talk to the bride

Common sense? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely yes. Before anything else can get done, have a frank conversation with the bride about what she wants out of the b-ette party. Does she want a crazy 3-day blow-out in Vegas with strippers and tequila? Or is she looking for a low-key spa retreat with a small guest list? Or perhaps one night of clubbing in her home town is all she needs. Regardless of what she’s looking for, it will inform all the rest of the planning.

Invite list

Second order of business: set the guest list. The bride will obviously need to weigh in on this, but it may be worth mentioning that traditionally, only guests who are also invited to the wedding should be invited to the bachelorette party. (There are, not surprisingly, all sorts of exceptions to this rule. Just keep it in mind.) If she’s looking for that Vegas blow-out, perhaps leave off from the list mom, mother-in-law-to-be, and great aunt Gertrude. (Or not. What do I know? Maybe Gertrude likes to party.)

Set a date

Some websites recommend scheduling the b-ette in the week or two before the wedding. As someone whose friends have scattered across the country, I’m less keen on that because it requires two flights in a short timeframe. That said, it’s really the bride’s prerogative. Try to find a date that works for at least everyone in the bridal party. This is not always possible, but it’s a lofty goal. (I’ve seen all kinds of cool ways to track everyone’s availability via the interwebs. Google docs is my particular fave.)

Location

Pick a city. Any city. In consideration of what the bride’s plans are. (Crazy tequila-fueled parties may be difficult to host in a sleepy town in upstate New York. A weekend at the beach might be tough to pull off in Oklahoma City. You get the idea.)

Activities

This can pretty much mean anything from fancy dining to beach lounging to strip club going to massage receiving. It also includes games from “get to know you” to the crazy (or even the raunchy). Make sure the plans you make fit with the bride’s vision for the night/weekend/etc., and communicate anything that requires special notice to the guests. (For example, I had the pleasure of attending a b-ette this past spring in Philadelphia, and the host asked each guest to bring a pair of panties for the bride. The bride had to try and match the panties to the guest.)

(And when she was wrong, the host pinned them to her jacket. Ah-mazing.)

Am I missing any key pieces of planning a b-ette party? Are there any locations and/or activities you recommend?

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