In the past few weeks, I have been approached a couple of times by friends who are wanting help planning a bridal shower. Although it's been a while since I have planned a bridal shower (or attended one for that matter, since most of my friends are on to the baby shower phase of life), I have compiled a list of questions for you to use when brainstorming ideas for the setting, time and theme of your bridal shower. If you would like my help in coming up with ideas and gathering things for them from sites for you (creating "inspiration boards"), you can type out your answers to these questions and email me. I will do my best to get back with you to some extent or another within 24-48 hours.
Q: What is the bride's personality?
For a shy or contemplative person, a small gathering of close friends and family members may be best. If she is a lively and outgoing person, perhaps you would like to try a drinks and appetizers during cocktail hour type of gathering and invite all female members of her friends and family. If she is more of a homemaker type, perhaps a kitchen and/or home goods shower is right for her. If she's already gotten a lot of those things, perhaps a "personal" shower would be best which would include but not be limited to lingerie, lotions & perfumes.
Q: What are the bride's hobbies?
This information can be very helpful in steering towards the perfect unique theme. Recently, I had a friend planning a shower for someone who loved having coffee with friends, journaling and traveling (particularly to Europe). So we came up with an Old World Cafe coffee talk theme that would have a dessert buffet that had an assortment of desserts from various cultures, vintage feeling decor in rich jewel toned colors, framed photographs from various places where bride and/or groom had traveled, coffees with various creamers, and little travel journals as favors.
Q: Where will the couple be going on their honeymoon?
This can also help you build a theme.
Q: How involved is the groom in the wedding process?
If the groom is really involved with the wedding plans and the couple has several "couple" friends, it may be fun to include him as well and through a co-ed shower. These are often similar to an engagement party and can be as casual as a BBQ or as formal as a sit-down dinner.
Q: Do you have help hosting the shower?
I have learned that the greatest parties are the ones for which you have help: co-hosts keep you sane. You can still be the planner and send your friends ideas or links or whatever, but dividing up the responsibilities is key. It can be as simple as having one friend be in charge of the shower games (if you choose to have them) or having one friend provide the food or beverages.
Q: How can you get your guests involved before or during the shower in order to make the experience more meaningful and sentimental to the bride?
One example would be to create a book of marriage/relationship advice in which all of the guests wrote a page sometime during the shower festivities. When they arrive at the party, snap a digital picture of that person and later glue it to the page that faces her advice page. If you want something more lighthearted, at a lingerie shower, have each guest bring a pair of new panties in the bride's size that best reflect that guest's personality. Upon arrival, put the panties on a clothesline and then make the bride (and guests) guess who gave which pair.
I hope this helps get you started!