Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Part 3- April (Bridal) Showers

Basics and games have already been covered, so let's wrap this up with a little invitation and theme talk. 

You should start inviting guests at least a month in advance.  This should give everyone plenty of time to clear up their schedules and be able to attend.  For one shower that I hosted, I ran into the problem that we didn't have a location set in stone  but it was time to send the invites out.  I listed the date, time, and town that it was to be held in on the invite and promised the last minute details to those that RSVP'd.  (see pic below)  

The manner in which you decide to invite people depends on the best way to communicate with your particular group of friends.  A simple Facebook event might be the way to reach everyone that you are inviting.  This doesn't personally work the best for me because I have found that most of my friends don't notice their event invites.  Sometimes I still post the event so that guests can openly discuss the party and ask questions, but I always request that they RSVP to me personally. is a great way to contact everyone both by email and actual (snail) mail.  I played around with some designs before writing this, and it was so very quick and simple to use.  You pick a theme and fill in the details, then you can email them to your computer savvy friends or have Evite send out actual paper invitations with a link to the RSVP site. (I would suggest telling guests that they can also RSVP by calling or texting your phone number in the "message from host" section.)  Evite will notify you when people respond and help you to keep track of it all.  It can even give directions to your event and list the bride and groom's gift registries.  I am sure lots of other sites also do this today, but this is the one I remember to go to first.

EventsDEE-signed Bridal Shower Invitation weddings party planning event planning

You can always run out and buy invitations, too, but my very favorite thing to do is to make my own.  I can never quite find exactly what I am looking for, and if I have the time, I LOVE doing anything crafty!!  This option makes it very easy to coordinate the design of everything at the shower, including printed out games and decorations.  The invitation above was made in multiple color combinations to match the bright, rainbow colors used in the shower decor.  I found the 3-D heart stickers on clearance at a hobby store and their bubbly appearance made me think of raindrops.   

Plenty of different things can point you in the direction of a "theme" for your shower.  I use the quotation marks because the idea of a theme doesn't have to be big.  It can be as simple as the colors you decide to use for decorating or as elaborate as the bride's favorite movie, book, city, etc...  She loves Alice in Wonderland?  A tea party!!  The couple is honeymooning in Mexico?  Margarita's & a taco bar!!  

Sometimes your theme can emerge from the type of gifts that you are requesting for the bride.  A "Round-the-clock Shower" is where each guest is given an hour of the day to purchase a gift for.  Noon could be cooking equipment (lunch), an early hour could be something coffee-related, midnight- some type of bedding.  Are  your bride and groom foodies?  Have a "Recipe Shower" and ask all of the guests to bring the instructions for their favorite dish to prepare along with something to help make it.  (Cookware, ingredients, novelty apron...)    

Hate the thought of having to choose a theme?  My suggestion is to find an interesting idea, a cool decoration, or even the look of an invitation that you like and build around it.  A "theme" will emerge on it's own before you know it.  These colorful flowers inspired all of the other decorations for this shower.  
EventsDEE-signed Bridal Shower wedding planning, event planning, party planning, multi-colored

Co-ed Showers:
Unless the groom (or bride) is totally and completely against it, how about throwing a shower for the both of them?  They are both getting married, and more than likely they both registered for the gifts.  Throw away that old idea of a girly afternoon and use this for another excuse to have a party with all of your friends!!  In my experience, just about every game can be twisted so that the guys can enjoy it too.  Also, a bar close by always seems to intrigue the guys just enough for them to give it a chance.  Another option is to have the bulk of the shower for a while and let the fellas join you for the last hour.   

I hope that this "April Showers" series gave you at least a little inspiration.  Next month I will try to cover "May Flowers" in one of the blogs.  Please comment below or reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter with ideas about what you would like for me to blog about next.         



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Part 2- April (Bridal) Showers

Alright, now for some fun stuff!!  Last week I covered a little bit of basic bridal shower knowledge, kind of a FAQ version.  Today we can get into a more interesting part... games & activities!!

Shower games don't have to be old-fashioned, cheesy, and cliche.  Have fun with it.  There is no set rule on what you have to do, but a couple of games to break the ice and loosen everyone up can really set the tone for the whole party.  I like to plan a game or activity to keep everyone busy while the other guests arrive, at least one main game, and then have a few old stand-bys ready in case there is extra time to fill.  

Some people arrive early, others on time, and quite a few straggle in a little late.  (Yep, that's usually me unless I'm throwing it.  In that case, I'm just rushing around thinking that I am running late!!)  Hopefully your guests will mingle and talk to each other, but just in case that doesn't happen, it's good to have an activity to occupy them while they wait for everything to start. 

Bridal Bingo is a great, easy one for people to play.  You provide the blank bingo cards (I use B-R-I-D-E  at the top of mine) and each guest writes the name of one item that they believe the bride will open as a gift.  You can decide how strict you need to be on the rules.  My only rule is that you cannot list multiple items from the gift that you brought in a winning line.  That takes all of the sport out of it!!  I personalize the free space with a picture of the bride-to-be, then make copies on colored paper to match the other decor.  A bowl of small candies at each table is my favorite way to mark off spots, but a pencil works too.

EventsDEE-signed Bridal Bingo Card bridal shower wedding planning games

How well do you know the bride?   is also a good game at the beginning of the party.  Come up with a few questions about the engaged couple.  Some should be simple enough for everyone to know (like where is the wedding taking place), but be sure to throw in a few hard ones too (like what is the bride's middle name).  It is a game after all!!  Definitely add some silly questions in there (like what is the bride's favorite body part on the groom!!)  A mix of written answers and multiple choice questions works well.  
The most important thing when picking questions is that you okay them all with the bride ahead of time.  A good giggle isn't worth it if her feelings are hurt.   
EventsDEE-signed bridal shower game wedding planning
Special Memories  Have each guest write down a special memory they have with the bride, or maybe even the story of how they met.  The bride reads them all out loud and has to guess who wrote each.  If she cannot guess, then that person wins a prize.  (Just in case the bride is having a mental block, make sure you have plenty of small prizes on hand!!)  Everyone gets to relive some fond memories, and these can all be added to a scrapbook of the shower later on.  

Can/Jar of Dates is a game that I have seen many variations of.  Actually this is more of an activity than a game.  The end result is a container full of date-night ideas for the bride and groom.  Each guest writes down a few suggestions, in detail, about a fun evening for the couple to share.  I have seen these written on sheets of paper, and I have seen them written on popsicle sticks (FYI:  It's tough to get a lot of detail on a small stick).  You can choose whatever looks prettiest with your container, but the important part is that you can color-code whatever you write on.  Designate a different color for each level of date:  stay-at-home, inexpensive, costly, spontaneous, needs planning, etc...  That way when the couple needs an idea for a fun evening, they can pick a color that matches their current circumstances.  (I think I need to make one of these for me and my guy!!)
EventsDEE-signed Box of Dates Bridal Shower Activity, game wedding planning

There are plenty of templates online that you can print directly from your computer for games to start the party with. (I simply googled "free bridal shower game templates" and bunches popped up.)  If you have the time, it's a really nice touch to make your own and match it to your theme or color scheme.  

Here are a few games that can take place sometime during the party.   

Bangle Shakedown is a variation on the baby shower clothespin game.  Upon arrival, each person is given a bangle bracelet.  (You should be able to find a stack of these at your local dollar store.)  Choose a few "taboo" words for the day, such as wedding, reception, groom, etc...  that are not to be uttered for the length of the party.  If someone catches you saying a forbidden word, they get to steal your bangle!!  At the end of the shower the most decorated arm is the winner.  This will start out happening a lot, die down a bit, and probably start back up again when people let their guard down and forget to watch their "language."  

Toilet Paper Wedding Gown  Okay, I will admit, this is one of those old games that can sound a bit cheesy, but if you have the right group it's a lot of laughs.  If you have a super competitive group, well, you can actually see some amazing dresses, considering what they are made of!!  Divide up into teams of 3 or 4 people and give each team a couple of rolls of toilet paper.  Set a timer, then each team decorates one of their members in a couture gown of their own making.  Follow it up with a fashion show.  You can either have the bride judge, or go for a group vote.  If no one is allowed to vote for their own dress, it should be a fair win.  

A "stand-by game" is one that is simple, everyone usually already knows, and requires little or no preparation.  Generally the only props you will need are things that you already have lying around the house, so you aren't out any money if you end up not playing them.    
Charades is an easy one (as long as your crowd isn't too shy).  All you need is scraps of paper and word ideas.
Pictionary needs the same things, plus a big chalkboard or some big pieces of paper and something to write with. 
Purse Raid is another one that really needs nothing but imagination.  Call out different items that a woman might have in her purse and give points for each.  The one with the most points gets a small prize.  All you have to do is come up with a list.

Prizes:  You don't need to break the bank on game prizes.  Hit the dollar store and get a few girly knick-knacks that are useful or cute.  A bag of 3 Ring Pops is only $1= 3 prizes!!  Yummy and "engagement ring" themed.  An old ritual is that all prizes won get returned to the bride for her to use.  I find few people have heard of that one nowadays, and the bride will be getting plenty of stuff already.  Whether you do this or not is totally up to you.  

Present Time!!
Don't forget that the bride opening gifts will take up a large chunk of the shower.  If there is a very large guest list, you might even want to take a break or two during to play a quick 5-10 minute game or have another course of appetizers or drinks.  

A ritual that I personally enjoy is saving a ribbon or bow from each gift to form a practice bouquet for the wedding rehearsal.  What do you do if there is no ribbon on the package?  Use some of the wrapping paper to make a paper flower.  What if they use a gift bag?  The tissue paper from inside the bag makes a great flower too.  Make sure if you do this that you remember to finish the bouquet and get it to the bride after the shower.  

While we are on the subject of gift-opening, you as the host are responsible for keeping track of which guest gives which gift so that the bride can correctly complete her thank you notes.  You can keep track on a sheet of paper while she opens presents, but a couple of even simpler ideas are:
- Write every guest's name on a sticker and simply stick it to the gift after it is opened.  I don't suggest using post-it notes.  They tend to fall off in transit.
- If a card is included, put it inside the package after it is opened to keep the two together.
- Designate a bag or basket to keep lone cards/ gift cards in one spot.      

Here is a link to my own Bridal Showers & Bachelorette Parties Pinterest Board.  Pinterest is my favorite place to look for creative inspiration for, well, just about everything!!  Loverly is another good site for for getting wedding ideas flowing.  

Check back next Wedding Wednesday for another installment in this series.  Follow me on Facebook for ideas and info throughout the week.  Please feel free to ask questions there or give me some ideas on what you would like to read about.  Talk at you soon!!      

All of the games listed above I have either done on my own at a shower or have seen on multiple web pages, so there is no way for me to know where the game actually originated.  All pictures used in this post are my own.      

Friday, April 11, 2014

Baby Shower Basics

So you have a friend who is expecting a bouncing baby bundle of joy?  Well here is some basic information to help get you started planning a fun celebration in their honor.

Who should host the baby shower?
Anyone that would like to can host a baby shower for the new baby, although it is generally not the mother or father throwing it for themselves.  Multiple showers are great, but please stress to anyone that is invited to more than one shower that their presence is welcome but a second gift is NOT expected.  Sometimes different groups of people in your life want to celebrate with you, and if they aren't all close to each other, only one shower just won't do.  

EventsDEE-signed  co-ed baby shower  mom dad & host

When should a shower take place?
The best time frame to throw a celebration like this is 1-2 months before the actual due date.  You don't want to wait too long because sometimes those little ones are anxious to come out before they are expected to!!  Another option is to have a "Welcome Baby" shower a few weeks after the child has been born.  This is a wonderful way to introduce your friends and family to the baby all at once.  

Do you only throw a shower for the firstborn?
 OF COURSE NOT!!  Every child is special, so it's perfectly acceptable (and should be encouraged) to celebrate each one.

EventsDEE-signed  second child baby shower invitation sibling

If the siblings are close in age, the parents probably still have most of the older child's baby stuff.  If they really need nothing at all, let guests know to not bring gifts, or ask for donations for a charity to be donated in the baby's or family's name.  Or, how about a diaper shower?  Those are something that don't get handed down.  (Unless you are into cloth diapers.  I applaud that, but I wasn't quite that ambitious myself.)  You get to celebrate the new arrival with the people you care about, plus get to skip a lot of those late night diaper runs to the 24-hour store. 

What is expected of the host?
Mom (and maybe Dad) are to be treated as guests at this shower.  Do your best to make them just sit back and enjoy it.  You will be in charge of invitations (make sure to have the parents approve the list), planning the decorations, food, & activities, keeping track of who gives which gift for thank you note purposes, and cleaning up afterwards.  Make sure you greet each guest as they arrive and have a timeline planned out beforehand to keep the party flowing smoothly.  

If these things are not your strong suit, there are event planners out there (like, say, ME!!) that LOVE doing these type of events and have plenty of experience to make everything seem simple.     
EventsDEE-signed  baby shower  event planning  party planning

Basic baby shower info covered.  I hope it was helpful.  Someday soon I will try to squeeze in a blog full of the fun stuff like games, decor, food...    

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: April (Bridal) Showers

"April Showers bring May Flowers," so...  what better subject to explore this month than bridal showers?  (Can you guess what I just might talk about next month?)

 courtesy of Lemsipmatt thru Flickr
Who should host the bridal shower?  
Nowadays, anyone that wants to.  Close friends, co-workers, family members...  It doesn't have to be the bridesmaids, and for that matter, it doesn't have to be just the girls.  Co-ed showers can be all kinds of fun.  After all, two people are getting married, not just one.  The only rule to follow is that anyone invited to a shower needs to also be invited to the wedding.  An exception to this is if you are having a small ceremony with only a few guests, or a destination wedding far away, and you have friends or co-workers that wish to honor you with a shower.  

If a co-ed shower isn't your thing, a cute ritual that I came across in my research is to have the groom show up with a bouquet of flowers just before the gifts are opened.  This is especially nice to do if a lot of your guests have not yet met your fiance.  Here's an even better idea- have your guy show up with a bouquet of individual stems and let him present one to each of your shower guests.  He'll look extra-dreamy to all of the other girls!!

When should a shower take place?
Generally showers are thrown 2 weeks - 2 months before the wedding.  By then the bride and groom have their guest list and gift registries finished.  You need both of those things to get your own invitations out.  

The first thing to do when picking a date is to make sure that the bride is available.  (Very important!!)  If you are having difficulty finding one date that works best for all of your friends, maybe a couple of different people can host showers.  Between the 2 (or more) dates everyone should be able to make it to at least one.  Multiple showers are the best way to go if you are wanting to include different groups of people at each, such as one for only family, or college buddies, or co-workers,...  This way you have the chance to try some wilder ideas without offending someone's grandmother.    

If anyone is invited to more than one shower for the same bride, please stress that they are not expected to bring a gift to each of them.  They weren't invited to increase the present pile, but because the bride wanted to include them.  There is a very good chance that the bridesmaids especially may fit into multiple categories in the bride's life.  

What is expected of the host?
The party is in honor of the bride (and maybe the groom), but the person (or people) throwing it is expected to act as host for the event.  You will be in charge of inviting guests (with a list from the couple), planning the decorations, food, & activities, helping the bride to keep track of who gives which gift for thank you note purposes, and cleaning up afterwards.  Make sure you greet each guest as they arrive and have a timeline planned out beforehand to keep the party flowing smoothly.  

If these things are not your strong suit, there are event planners out there (, ME!!) that have plenty of experience doing all of this.  If you use your bride's coordinator you may even be able to work out a discount on services. 

Today's post lists some of the basics for getting your shower planning under way.  (In other words, all facts and not a lot of fun.)  Throughout the month I will be getting into the good stuff:  games, themes, decor, food...  
EventsDEE-signed bridalshower WeddingWednesday eventplanning weddingplanning

Keep an eye out for more every Wedding Wednesday!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Twitter Chat with David Tutera!!

I have discovered a wonderful group of wedding professionals to chat with via Twitter every Wedding Wednesday from noon to 1:00.  Wedding Market hosts it and has guest speakers from the wedding industry every week to answer questions, then they open it up to questions from the group.  I am learning a LOT (including how to actually use Twitter!!) from this awesome group.  

Last week David Tutera (Yes, THAT David Tutera!!) was the featured guest, and I actually got a response to my own question.  A Bride on a Budget (she is planning her own wedding and has a really helpful blog and a Twitter chat (#BridalBabble) of her own on Wednesdays) blogged about her Tutera answer, giving me the inspiration for this post.  If you are planning a wedding, please take a look at her page!!

Anyway, I wanted some advice from this incredibly successful event planner on how to convince couples that we really are an important part of a wedding.  

I love the way he worded that.  I try to tell prospective clients this, but unfortunately a lot of them do not believe me until the day of the event, and by then it's too late.  Ask a married couple if they wish they could have had someone there to take care of the craziness for them and more than likely their answer will be yes.  This fits right along with my motto, "I'll plan, so you can party!!"

Thank you Wedding Market for the chance to get some advice from an amazing planner.  Thank you Bride on a Budget for the blog post idea.  Thank you David Tutera for all of the wonderful advice from that day.  Please click the links in the blog to see some more of that day's chat.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: A Real Wedding Without a Coordinator

Recently I was asked to be a photographer's assistant at a wedding.  Score!!  Photography has long been a hobby of mine and I have dabbled in it enough to mostly know what I am doing.  At this point I wouldn't expect someone to pay me to take care of the entire wedding, but I felt perfectly comfortable following around a professional and taking the candid shots.  I had so much fun doing this!!

The hard part of the day for me was seeing a lot of the things that I would have done as a coordinator NOT GETTING DONE!!  I had to keep repeating to myself, "You are getting paid to take pictures today, not fix the other stuff.  Focus on the job you were hired to do and stop thinking about how much help you could have been."  Instead, I mentally noted a few things to blog about later.         

Let me first say, the wedding turned out to be a beautiful, touching event.  At the end of the day, the bride and groom were happily married and everyone had a good time.  It was a really fun group and they knew how to enjoy themselves.

Now the wedding planner in me gets to have her say.

No timeline.
We arrived early to look around because the photographer that I was working with had never shot at that venue before and it was located an hour away from us. Other than when the ceremony started, it looked like there was no set schedule for anything else.  They kept asking the photographer when/ who should get dressed to be ready for pics.  She wasn't the designated person in charge (no one was) so the wedding party wasn't  listening to her.  This made the photos go slower than they needed to, which threw everything behind (the imaginary) schedule.  Guests were waiting outside of the doors while we finished up pics when they should have been entering to be seated.

Besides that, we had to keep prompting the couple to do that next thing we needed to take photos of, like cake cutting and the bouquet toss.  These things need to be done in a timely manner, early enough so that any guests that aren't into partying late can enjoy the festivities and be on their way.  If you don't plan them out, there is a really good chance you will forget to do them altogether.  You might regret that after the fact.

No pre-decided photographs.
The photographer had to ask more than once for the bride and groom to give her their list of family shots that they wanted taken.  I witnessed the groom stare at the sheet blankly for a minute, then pass it off to his mother who had to quiz him while he dressed.  I can only assume there was a similar situation in the bride's dressing room.  This led to incomplete lists once we started photographing, plus the bride's mother couldn't read the groom's mother's handwriting and missed calling a couple of names in group shots.  Also, since this led so far into ceremony time, people setting up decorations and food kept wandering into the background of the shots.  (It was an extremely windy day, preventing us from doing any photography outside until after the ceremony was over.  Gotta preserve the girls' hairdos!!)

After the ceremony, the bride had one special shot she had found on Pinterest that she wanted, but didn't tell the photographer until that moment.  The bride knew about it ahead of time because it involved a prop, but rather than have a chance to be prepared, the photographer had to figure out how to execute that shot while guests looked on (hungrily) waiting for the dinner to start.  She's a rock star, so she figured it out quickly!!  Still, it would have gone smoother with just a little heads up beforehand.

Unfinished decorations.
The ceremony and reception were to take place in the same room.  Ceremony chairs started in the center of the room with reception tables to the left and right.  During the receiving line, the tables were to be moved to the center. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this in theory, but if you are going to have this setup, everything visible needs to be decorated before anyone arrives.  The ceremony chairs and aisle decorations were ready when guests sat down, but the centerpieces for all of the reception tables were bulked together in a pile on a couple of the tables, in full view of all of the guests.  It looked like craft projects were being done while the event was taking place.  It would have taken very little effort, looked much more put-together, and saved time later to have centerpieces already placed the way that they would be during the reception.  The decor was short and simple, so the tables could have been moved into place with everything already set up. 

The cake table was gigantic and only held a small cake in the center.  The light-up words "I DO" were on the table to begin with, but since no one was overseeing the whole thing, a couple of family members moved them before everything got started.  When the bride and groom went over to cut the cake, the bride had to ask for plates because they had not been set out.  Also, while the marriage certificate was being signed at the head table, the bride stopped in the middle of signing to yell over at a family member that they were putting the wrong decorations on the head table. 

When we left for the evening, I noticed a pile of wooden signs on the front porch.  These signs were adorable and were meant to be directional pointers leading up to the venue.  (It was kind of hard to find.)  Some had the couple's names, my favorites were "Almost there" & "Excited Yet?"  Apparently they ran out of time to put them up, or perhaps they were just forgotten about completely.  They would have been such a sweet addition to the decor, and it's a shame that someone took the time to make them and they didn't get used.     

One last thing that threw a kink in the works was a phone call interrupting a very special moment.  Granted, this could happen even with a coordinator involved, but I try my very best to have anyone with wedding day questions to call me first, then as a very VERY last resort, I go to the bride or groom myself with the question if necessary.  If your family or friends have your number and you are paying attention to your phone, these calls could still sneak by me.  We were right in the middle of taking the pictures of the bride's mother helping her daughter get dressed when Mom answered her phone and walked away to give someone directions that had gotten lost.  Mood-breaker!!  It's wise to give everyone close to you the number of a designated cousin or friend that can field these questions for the day.  They can let you know if it's an emergency. 

So, there are some of the things that were setting off my OCD during the event.  You may think a coordinator is an added expense that really isn't necessary, but these are only the tip of the iceberg of things that need to be managed.  Even if you are a super organized person with lists upon lists, more than likely you haven't done this before.  A coordinator does this a lot, and probably has seen or heard of almost every possible scenario of problems that could pop up.  If it's new to them, they have the expertise to deal with it in a productive way.  Plus, all of the time the coordinator can save you by knowing the answers to questions and keeping the entire process on time and on track can actually save you money in other areas.  We really are worth it!!