As I mentioned in the title, I FedExed my sister's bridal shower invitations. I'll let you know why in a moment, but before I get to that, let me start from the beginning. . .
This is my sister Gina with her fiance Paul. He is the bubble boy... Okay, he's not really the bubble boy, but he is fun (as you can tell from the photo) and we are happy they are getting married. After they got engaged, my sister asked me to throw her a bridal shower for family members. It is not normal for her to ask me this. Why you ask? Well...
because I am a boy not a girl, and most guys don't throw bridal showers... for ANYONE. So why did she ask me? Because I've thrown a lot of parties over the years and have learned a thing or two about creating a memorable event.
Okay, now back to the FedEx boxes. Why did I send my sister's invitations this way? It's simple. First, I wanted my sister to be the only bride who could say her bridal shower invitations were sent next day air- it sets hers apart from any other shower. Second, I wanted her to have a higher turnout than any other bridal shower. This also sets hers apart. Who sends out invitations via FedEx, anyway? Nobody. Just crazy people like me. BUT, sending the invitation via express mail alone sets a precedent that will automatically increase attendance. According to my research, the average bridal shower has a 40% attendance rate (unless you hire a Master Bridal Consultant. Then it is 50%.) We had an 87.5% attendance rate. WAY above the average - more than double. The first step in making that happen was sending our invitation via express courier (of course you don't have to do that to stand out. You could send it in a box via US Mail and still make a big impact.)
STEP ONE: PLANNING
The first thing to do when planing a party is to create a theme and a logo that will be carried throughout the whole process - tie everything together. I created the theme "Paul and Gina sitting in a tree..." with a water color of a tree as the logo. You will see this every step of the way.
For example, we had the logo on the tent cards that sat next to each dish of food in the kitchen.
STEP TWO: THE INVITATIONS
This is an example of a normal invitation - a simple card in an envelope.
Another method, that has become poplular, is using an online service like Evite.com. I actually combined both ideas and went above and beyond. Let me show you.
I started with my scrumptious brownies. Now that's different already, isn't it?
I wrapped them in waxed paper to make them neat and fancy.
Then I placed that into a nice box...
then put the invitation on top.
(Here is a close up of the invitation.)
Then I topped the box off with green ribbon (to match the logo) and a sticker of the logo. Looks nice doesn't it? And it's unique - uniqueness is very important.
Then I FedExed them. (Again, you could send them via US Mail in a box and be just as effective and cut back on cost.)
The website had a time and date page, a place/location page (with a link to Google maps), a menu page, a page about Gina and Paul and an R.s.v.p page. This picture shows the menu page. For the meal we had homemade chicken noodle soup, Pugliese Bread, and Oriental Salad. For dessert we had cheese cake, carrot cake, chocolate cake with Ganache, lemon silk, and banana cream pie.
SIDE NOTE: I created the website for free on wordpress.com
ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: I got the domain name for only $4.95 from GoDaddy.com. To do that you need to...
1. Go to Google. 2. Type in the keywords "domain names". 3. Find the GoDaddy link in the first few search results (the one that says, "sale for $4.95 domain name".) 5. Click on that link and follow their directions.
STEP THREE: THE ARRIVAL (YOU ONLY HAVE ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION)
My brownie-in-a-box invitation set the precedence for the party, but I needed to continue that once the guests arrive. That is why I decorated the outside of our house...so they would have the same feeling of over-the-topness even before they walk inside the door. I lined the path to my house and my drive way with these mason jars that had tea lights in them (we used 70 of them, but next time I will triple that). It created an ambiance that is fitting for a bridal shower and continued my goal of keeping expectations high. The mason jars led right up to my house where I ...
had white lights around my front door. (NOTE: This is not my door. I forgot to take a picture, so I stole this one off the internet.)
Also, as they walked in, I had this poster framed and on an easel on my porch.
STEP FOUR: THE ENTRANCE
As soon as they walked in the door, we checked their coat. I had these cards made and we cut slits in the top and slipped them onto hangers. When they came in, we wrote their name on the card and took their coat to the back to be hung. I figured this was another way to set this party apart, but it also added an element of organization.
When we hung their coat, we slipped this cloth bag of Jelly Bellies into their pocket. The card in the bag has the logo on it and says, "Thanks for checking your coat."
Once in the door, they saw two things. First, this calendar guest book. I made a calendar with photos of the bride and groom. Each guest signed their name on their birthday.
We also had these cards on which they could write their advice or well wishes to the bride. We collected them in a bowl, then put them in a leather case for the bride to keep. (The case was green of course, to match the logo.)
STEP FIVE: PARTY FAVORS
I had two party favors. First, I went to a thrift store and bought a bunch of nice frames for very cheap.
Then I had a photo shoot with the bride and groom (Yes, I was the photographer, and no you don't have to be a photo genius to do this. Find a friend or family member that is a decent photographer or use extra shots from their engagement shoot. Another option is to Photoshop the heck out of photos you take yourself.) We framed the best photos and placed them all over our living room. Each guest took one home. Here are some of the photos from our shoot. (Click on them to enlarge.)
The second party favor was a custom-made monogrammed mug (I got this idea from DesignMom.com.)
The white mugs also came from a thrift store. I cleaned them up and drew the monogram on them with a porcelain pen. They are not hard to make. Go to the link below to see how.
I filled the mug with chocolate covered strawberries that I dipped myself (much cheaper that way, and they are simple to make).
Here is the finished product.
The girls seemed to have a grand time. Unfortunately, this is the only photo we have of the actual shower. The lighting was bad, and I was busy most of the night in the kitchen anyway.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
The first pointer I have is to plan in advance. If possible, spend a month gathering ideas (at least a week or two). I spend a lot of time browsing Pinterest.com. It's a great idea generator.
Do as much work in advance as possible. If I can cook something ahead of time, I do it. If I can only cook part of a dish ahead of time, I do that and put on the finishing touches the day of the party. I make a list of what I needs to be done each day. (These are my lists hanging on my magnetic chalk board.) I also hang the recipes I need on the chalk board.
I plan in as much detail as possible. For example, this is a layout of the tea lights I had lining my sidewalks and drive way. This is how I knew I needed 70 mason jars. If I didn't do this early on, I would have been scrambling last minute to get the jars i needed. (Write a note to yourself that says, "Scrambling is bad!" )
You don't have to spend a load of money to do a bridal shower like this. Browse Pinterst to get cheap ideas, be creative and go in with another family member or friend to cover costs. For example, my mom covered all the non-food expenses and I covered all the food expenses and did all the work. Well, there you have it - the how-tos of a great party. Now go and plan one.