Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DIY Bridal Shower

My oldest friend is getting married soon to her perfect match. I have lots of acquaintances but very few real friends, and Sarah is one of the best a girl could ask for. She was in my wedding and has been part of so many huge milestones aside from our marriage that it's hard to list them all. We met when we went to Germany together for the very first time in our young teens and have been friends ever since. Recently we moved into the same city (and actually- she just bought the house next door!) and I wanted to do something to really show her how much I have appreciated her 15 years of friendship. A shower seemed appropriate, right?
At my family shower 6 years ago, Sarah made the 2 hour trek to all of my showers! 
But the truth is- parties aren't my thing.
Like at all.
I know a lot of people in my life who are wonderful event planners, but I struggle. I've thrown a bridal shower once before and it didn't go very well, so this time I tried to pay attention. And DIY it. And here we are!
running our first 5k!
As always, things didn't go 100% the way I wanted them too. I had lots of beautiful hanging decorations to go above the main food table (pictured above), but the morning of we couldn't hang them! My co-host and I were too short and we don't own a ladder. I hadn't taken into account how tall our ceilings are.
My cousin (who is an interior designer and AMAZING event planner) had already warned me that not everything would be perfect, but this was a very annoying blow. I had visions of that table being a show stopping focal point since it would be the first thing guests saw as they entered. BUT, it is what it is. So if you have something that you feel is non-negotiable, make sure it's ready the night before, that way you have time to trouble shoot.
Two other things I want to mention...
1. Games
Right out of the gate, let me make something clear. We didn't play games. I realize they are a huge staple of every shower, but in our case we just felt it wasn't necessary. My co-host and I couldn't find anything new that we loved, and when we asked the bride she confessed that she doesn't even *like* shower games. I announced at the beginning that there wouldn't be any games and the entire group erupted in clapping and shouts of joy.
Maybe it's time to end the games.
I will say that the majority of the group knew each other. I was the odd man out, but the rest were friends. Far from being boring without games- our scheduled 11a- 1p party went til after 3!
In lieu of games I made a prize table. If a guest found a gold star on one of her items (plates, cups, etc.) then she could go pick something off the table. Also, I didn't wrap anything because it's more fun to choose your prize, right? Instead everything got a coordinated bow.
2. Scent
The other thing I'd like to mention before diving in is that we don't use candles. What? Crazy, right? But we have a little bird and apparently candles (except 100% pure beeswax) are deadly to her. Instead I fill a little pot with water and add some drops of cinnamon essential oil, then boil it on the stove for a few hours. I swear, it smells amazing. Most of the guests commented on it upon entering and I heard one say to another that she was obsessed with it! I had more questions about the scent of our house than anything else, so if you'd like to save some cash on expensive candles, that's my recommendation!
Now some DIY's!
I saw these little "love is brewing" cups on Pinterest  and snapped them up for our party. They were exceptionally easy to make, and since there was only a picture and no tutorial, allow me to provide a short one.
I just whipped up these little circles on my computer (practically any program will do, including powerpoint!), first creating one, grouping the elements, and then copy/pasting until we had enough. They're printed on standard paper, and standard hot beverage party cups were used. You can make any shape you want, obviously, and completely customize these for any special event. I think they're fun all around.
Cut your tags out and attach them with 3M spray. I used this craft bond because I was out of 3M and really regretted it. They came out translucent and the pink cup showed through, which is something that never happens with 3M. The spray is more even and it applies better. Allow them to dry for at least 24 hours before stacking. Sorry for the photo quality. I made these at like midnight the weekend before.
We decided to make full use of our coffee bar rather than tear it down for the event, since so many of Sarah's friends love coffee.
I added a little runner in the color theme and a few extras. The white pieces (2 small creamers and large gravy boat) were from World Market. I think they were $2-4 each and easily marked with a gold sharpie (which washes off in the dishwasher). Our milk frother would take forever and hold up the line, so I just kept hot milk going on the stove and refilled the gravy boat for lattes. Whipped cream, syrups, a selection of teas and a carafe of hot water rounded it out. We also used both of our french presses (filled ahead of time) for coffee and put our pour over out. It was enough to service about 15, but any more than that and we would have needed a standard coffee maker.
 As I said- parties aren't my thing, so even though food prep is something I enjoy, we decided to eschew it and only use pre-made items in order to make the morning of go more smoothly. IKEA's princess cakes are perfect for a shower (vanilla cake, marzipan, raspberry and almond paste) and can be frozen until the event. They're relatively inexpensive per serving and look lovely. We also picked up a Costco cheesecake and embellished it with chocolate chips and caramel syrup to differentiate it even more from the fruity dessert option.
 I didn't have time to pick up cheese markers- something I love, but don't own due to a dairy allergy and lack of cheese in our lives. Impromptu markers were made using thick scrapbook paper and toothpicks! Cheese varieties were written out in gold sharpie and coordinating duct tape (not silver!) was used to attach the toothpicks. If I had more time, I would have sandwiched the tooth picks in between two hearts cut in identical sizes with glue.
Table tents were printed off the computer on cardstock, cut and folded. The more ornate tents were made from the same thick cardstock as the cheese markers. I used 3M to bond on coordinating scrapbook paper and the menu item name. Again, any program will do.
For the salad, I used a Costco base salad and added more lettuce, bacon, and hard boiled eggs to beef it up for 15 servings.
This kale and quinoa salad was AMAZING and also came from Costco. I have no words- just go buy it. Sarah requested lighter fare at the shower and this perfectly fit the bill. It's delicious and light, but very filling.
Sarah's friend, Kaity, was deemed the official photographer for the shower and took some lovely photos. Originally, we made a piece of art from our lipstick kisses for Sarah as a keepsake from the shower.
It was horrible.
Definitely a pinterest fail.
Instead,  I think it's perfectly wonderful to create a photo album for the bride. I used SHUTTERFLY to create two wedding albums for ourselves as well as one for each set of parents and thought it was easy to use, affordable and brilliant quality. If I could do it again, I'd forget the lipstick art and make Sarah a sweet album of either just this shower or a collaboration of all three.
Here some of the remaining guests at the very end. Definitely cropped myself out- but to be fair, the angle was so bizarre that my own husband didn't recognize me in it! When it was posted to facebook, John couldn't find me in the picture. So don't judge. Sorry Sarah :)
It was so fun to celebrate Sarah and for the first time ever, throwing a party (though still daunting) was super fun! If you have any great bridal shower tips, feel free to share them in the comments below!
All the best, and as always, thanks for reading.


  1. Auna, you always say things about how you're not organized or good at planning, but your events always look so well thought-out and lovely. The food looks delicious, I'm borderline in love with the coffee bar, and it looks like a fabulous time was had by all.

    1. Katie, thank you!! I'll have to post the coffee bar in its entirety soon. I actually like it better in regular mode :) you are awesome!

  2. I'm about to graduate and move into a real apartment (not student housing) and I will definitely be taking notes on any mode of coffee bars! That will be a must.


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