I have my first shower this weekend, and like any bride I'm worried about what to wear, what to bring, and how to make all of my guests feel appreciated. Although gifts are a big (and fabulous) part of wedding showers, it's also a great time to meet new family members, catch up with old friends, and let people know you are grateful for the role they've played in your life.
I've been busy getting advice from other brides on some of these topics, and here are a few helpful tips I've come across so far.
What to wear: Dress appropriately for your event, however formal it may be. While some showers can be pretty casual, as the guest of honor it is probably expected that you will be dressed at least slightly formally. A dress is a nice touch. Keep your neckline in mind and remember you might be bending over gifts and helping to clean up wrapping paper. While some brides find it fitting to wear white, my theory is that all of your guests will likely see you in plenty of it, so why not show them something different? I like the idea of a bold but sophisticated dress with classic heels, and if you must give yourself something that says, "I'm the Bride" try showing it through your accessories (such as this year's hot item: statement jewelry). Items below: Dress, Necklace, Earrings, Clutch, Shoes.
What to bring: Before the shower, recap what's new with you and " how wedding planning is going, " because you know it's going to be asked. It can get tiring to give everyone a full recap of the planning process, you also don't want to ruin all of the surprises before the big day, so try to think of a few interesting or fun projects you have recently completed and go prepared with a quick summary. Remember that you will want to ask a bridesmaid or friend to accurately record all of the gifts—so bring pen and paper or a laptop to help her with this task. We made our guest list in Microsoft Excel (complete with addresses) so I simply took that and added columns for shower and wedding gifts, as well as columns to record when a Thank You note has been written and mailed.
Thank Yous: There are two "Thank You" factors involved in a wedding shower. The first and most important aspect is remembering to be gracious and thankful at the shower itself. You don't want to catch yourself saying, "Thank you! This is great!" after every single gift you open, so try to come up with three or four different ways to say "Thank you!" without sounding like a broken record. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Say more than Thank You: Tell them why you like the gift and how you plan to use it.
2. If the item is off your registry it is probably obvious that you like it, tell them which of you put it on the registry and why.
3. Personalized or handmade items can mean a lot to a bride, show your genuine appreciation for the crafty guest by asking how they went about creating it or where they got the inspiration.
The other important aspect of being a gracious bride is, of course, sending out Thank You notes. The key here is to be prompt—although you should always send them even if you do procrastinate (it's a busy time, people generally understand) it's nice to have them in the mail 3-4 days after the shower so that people are receiving them within a week of attending. You can expedite this process by doing the majority of the work beforehand.
Last week I hand made 40 peacock-themed Thank You notes. Having them finished and ready for thanking is a big step, but already having time scheduled in the days following the shower to write in them is the key. Remember that each one doesn't need to be particularly long, but each one should be personal and handwritten. Here are a few other suggestions for composing the notes:
1. Your notes will come across much more personally if they don't start with, " Thank you for. " Instead start with something like, " Dear John and Jane, It was great that you were able to travel to Minnesota for our wedding and that we all got a chance to catch up . . . "
2. Mention how you are using the gift or where it is now located in your home: " Our kitchen looks so much more put together with the coordinating rugs and towels . . . "
3. Try to express your gratitude in two different ways within each note. Thank them for the gift they gave, but also for their time, contributions of food, great conversation, etc.
4. All guests get a Thank You note, whether they gave a gift or not. If a gift was not given thank them for their time and company. If several guests go in on a gift, each should get a separate Thank You.