Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bridal Shower #2: The Church Ladies

As the title implies, the second bridal shower for my daughter was hosted by some of my church friends. We are not really that old -- actually we are middle aged (40s to 50s); but we figure that to my daughter and her friends, we were those "little old ladies".

Around the Christmas holidays last year, two friends in my Bible Study class approached me saying they were so excited about having an upcoming wedding in the works. Many of the women in our class  have kids in their teens or early twenties, and have been through other family milestones together through the past 8 or so years, like getting driver's licenses, graduating from high school, selecting a college, etc. So, it only came naturally that this is the next step for us.. and my daughter is the first of the crop to get married!

My daughter was so honored that they wanted to do this, but first we had to overcome a little point of wedding etiquette. (See my earlier blog entry, "Will the Wedding Police Come After Me?") We knew that we would not be able to invite all the people in my class to the wedding, and Modern Wedding Etiquette says this is a big no-no. But after consulting with some bridal etiquette people and the hostesses to get their opinion on the matter, we decided that for several reasons this was "An Exception" that everyone was OK with, so the plans proceeded. As it turned out, not only the two original ladies, but several ladies in the class had a hand in helping with planning and organizing the shower.

The late March day came with brilliant sun, but a stiff breeze. This proved to be a bit of a challenge since the shower was planned poolside in the awesome, yet comfortable outdoor living space of one of the class members. The huge covered patio area is complete with a huge stone fireplace, and even a chandelier. This friend is a gardener, and her yard was spectacular with blooming flowers and tastefully arranged shrubs. She had also created a giant grapevine wreath in the wedding colors, with all sorts of kitchen gadgets tied to it, which was a focal point of the decorations on the fireplace. Two of my daughters' bridesmaids were there to lend her support, but mostly it was just us "church ladies!". (That's the maids and me with the bride in the picture below!)

This was planned as a kitchen/recipe shower, and each guess had a recipe card included with their invitation, with the instructions to share a favorite recipe with the bride by bringing it to the shower. Then at the shower the hostesses had a cool recipe book for the bride -- a binder with pages with plastic inserts for inserting the recipe cards into.

The munchies were beautifully presented and colored in the blue and ivory color theme of my daughter's wedding, and tasted just as awesome as they looked! (My friend Janet should go into business selling her cupcakes - they are to die for!)

We played only a few games, (not near as many as we did as the bridesmaid's shower) and the ladies kept apologizing for putting my daughter through them. ..Although in reality she and her maids really like them! One by one, the winners of the games found an excuse to give their prize (which was a kitchen themed gadget or accesory) to the bride, as is the old custom for Southern Bridal Showers, I believe.

Well, the church ladies shower was well done and very enjoyable, and my daughter was so impressed with the ladies' handiwork, both in the decorating and the food. She genuinely seemed to enjoy herself. And the ladies seemed to appreciate that she was a really good sport about it!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bridal Shower #1 - Bridesmaids Rule!

Last month we started "Shower Season". There were two bridal showers for my daughter in our town - one the traditional Bridesmaid-hosted one, and the other was thrown by some of my church friends (or, as it became known as, "The Old Lady Shower.")

The Bridesmaid shower came first, and I did not know what to expect since few of these girls had ever even been to a bridal shower before, so they were clueless what to do. My younger daughter, being the MOH learned from her web searches that she was supposed to spear-head the project. She cornered me one day about 6 weeks before the planned day with a panic-stricken look and begged me to help her plan it.

At first I really thought I was going to have to pull a major MWE (Modern Wedding Etiquette) No-No and basically plan and execute my own daughter's bridal shower. But as it turned out, I basically just gave my younger daughter a nudge in the right direction. I let her know it was time to send the invitations out, and time to plan the shower, and I just sort of gave her the highlights of most of the showers I had been to: Send out the invitations, then at the shower you visit, eat, maybe play some games, and open gifts!

I encouraged her to contact the other bridesmaids for a planning session. This was a bit out of her comfort zone, since the other bridesmaids were her sister's friends and a few years older than her. But she dutifully made the first contact and mostly through texts and Facebook messages they decided how to divide and conquer. My younger daughter was put in charge of the invitations.

Since she is a Freshman in college and in the Performing Arts (with auditions, voice and dance lessons solidly booking her schedule) she asked if I would scout some invitations out for her, then she would send them out. The issue was, we were cutting it close to the shower date...we had to get those things in the mail FAST!

No problem, I thought. Back in my day, invitations came in little cellophane wrapped packages that you purchased in any grocery store or Walmart. They had fill-in-the blank lines where you put in the details of when, where, and who to RSVP to. I soon found out, once again with the changing times came a new breed of invitations. Those little fill in the blank notes are becoming very scarce--few stores carry them anymore. Custom-printed invitations are what's expected now, evidently.

Complicating this was that the MOH didn't want to give just a generic bridal shower -- she wanted a Theme to work with. Again, Mom did some web surfing, and we came up with an "Around the House" shower theme. Basically, you assign each guest a room, and the gift that guest brings should be used in that room. I found some adorable Around the House themed invitations online - but again, other than a verse explaining what type of shower it was, they were all blank and ready to be custom printed. Unfortunately we had run out of time to order any.

My younger daughter said friends had told her of a nice wedding supply store near her college campus in Oklahoma City, so she ran out on a Saturday morning to check them out -- again I told her to buy "fill in the blank" ones if she could find any that would work. We must have texted back and forth 20 times that morning -- with her sending me photo texts of what she was finding. Well, she found some cute Around the House invitations all right - but you guessed it, they were totally blank. Well, she of her friends loves to hand-print things, and she had volunteered to help with the invitations. I was skeptical, but she went ahead and bought the cards. Believe it or not, her friend hand-printed 20 invitations that day. They actually came out really cute!

The other bridesmaids are all local here in town and all know eachother so they met a few times for planning sessions. I kept in touch with them through Facebook, asking if they needed any help, but they took care of everything! The only thing they asked me to supply was a floral centerpiece, which I was happy to take care of.

Everything looked so pretty when we arrived at the shower, which was held in the family home of one of the bridesmaids. One of them had made a white apron for my daughter to wear which had "Bride" on it in bejeweled studs. The munchies were so good, and everything was so pretty and color-coordinated!

In spite of my reading that shower games were basically passe' now and nobody liked them but old ladies, one of the bridesmaids had planned quite a few little games for us. Well, the guests (other than me and the bridesmaid's mom who owned the home) were all 20-somethings and they really got a hoot out of the games! There were prizes plenty for the winners of the games, and all sorts of favors as well. Nobody went home empty-handed! For being bridal shower Newbies, these young ladies really outdid themselves! I will write soon about the second "Old Ladies" shower!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

All the Little Details

So now the big stuff is out of the way, and we are down to all the little details! For the bridal showers, which started last month, it suddenly became urgent that some sort of Guest Book would be needed, either individual ones for each shower or a large combined one. I located a nice spiral-bound guest book (which our wedding coordinator recommended) at Hallmark. It has plenty of pages for each shower as well as documenting the wedding attendees as well. Since it is a ring-bound binder, the guest signature pages can be removed from this book, so if needs be, some pages can be at the ceremony site and the rest of the book can be at the reception venue, or vice versa. Someone will just have to remember (eventually) to gather the pages from one site and combine with the others in the main book. (If someone forgot to bring a hard-bound guest book from the church to the reception ballroom, that would be bad...!)

With a fancy guest book comes the need for a fancy pen, so I bought 2 gold pen sets (with bases) from Party City. Except I may exchange them for silver ones, since the trim on the guest book cover photo is actually silver, and the cocktail napkins may have silver imprinting too!

Our attention has also turned to wedding favors. My daughter is not big on spending big bucks here! (And a M.O.B. friend of mine who has married off 2 daughters told me that in her experience, these were not taken home by the guests, anyway!)

My daughter decided she would like to have the guests blow bubbles for the couple's sendoff, and she opted for the slender 'bubble tubes' rather than the little bottles. She ordered white and light blue tubes in keeping with her colors from the on-line store of The Knot...(Her go-to website for everything, it seems!) They arrived promptly, but we found that the light blue color they touted was actually more of an aqua green. So, I am focused now on "disguising" that somehow. I have ordered some pretty "Copenhagen blue" satin ribbon to tie on them, and I am considering making customized labels with the bride and groom's names, the date, and the saying "Love is In the Air." We feel we may have some leftover cupcakes and cake balls after the dessert time at the reception, so we decided it would be a nice touch to send home the leftovers with the guests who would like some, as an added favor. I then began researching suitable boxes to contain these treats. I found that although the little individual cupcake boxes which are made for this purpose are abosolutely adorable, they are also pricey. Since we are not offering these favors to all guests, only those who are still present at the reception near its finish and would like to have "take home treats", I figured these boxes would not be on display, and may even be stashed under a table until needed. The guests may get icing and cake residue on them, so they will probably just throw them away after they enjoy the treats. So they needed to be functional, rather than fancy. After many web comparison searches of favor box pricing among vendors, I decided upon 1 pint white Chinese takeout boxes with wire handles, and I ordered them from Papermart. They can be partially assembled ahead of time, I figured, and stored within eachother in a stack. Because Papermart offers them at such a reasonable price, I ordered 150 of them to be on the safe side, figuring we would use them for both leftover cupcakes and cake balls.

Now, I am still considering "prettying" the takeout boxes up a bit with a label or something -- but again, I don't want to spend too much on this fluff because they will not be on display and the guests will likely not keep them. It is unbelievable how expensive the pretty colored custom labels with the couples' names and the date can be! I refuse to pay 50 cents to a dollar a piece per sticker! So, I haven't committed yet, but am considering ordering inexpensive generic wedding stickers from Oriental Trading Company. They may not be the best quality, but they will make the takeout boxes a bit more special.

I also bought a "card box" for the reception. This is an item I was unfamiliar with until I started watching some of the wedding shows on TV. My hubby thinks this is a silly splurge, but it just seems like a nice idea to me - to gather all the wedding cards (and perhaps enclosed checks, cash, or gift cards) into one pretty enclosed container. And my daughter can use it later for wedding keepsakes, I figured. Here's a photo of the one I purchased from Party City, with my daughter's approval: