I recently had the honor of hosting my best friend’s bridal shower…er…GROOMAL shower. Wedding shower? Whatever it’s called when there are two mister’s getting married, I threw the party.
I was born to plan parties. During my childhood summers, neighborhood friends had to wait until 11:00 am before I came out to play, because I refused to miss my 10:00 am Martha Stewart. I love nothing more than planning a menu, baking all day, then watching my friends and family enjoy each detail. Like Anthony Bourdain once said, “Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways…The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself.”
The first recipe I ever baked sans my mother were these strawberry hand pies I saw on Martha Stewart. This was before Google, so I had to wait until the end of the show, hurry to write ingredients down, then try to remember the instructions by heart. They turned out quite well, and it was a recipe I used many times over for my friends at sleepovers. (Yes, I was the weird kid who baked for their friends at sleepovers)
I get so excited for friend’s engagements…because that means I get to plan their parties!
My parties are pretty famous in my circle, y’all. So I knew I had high standards to meet. The thing is, we needed to stick to a budget. Most of us are finishing college degrees, entering graduate school, starting families, buying first homes, etc. This means I had the challenge of throwing a swanky soiree on a seriously small budget. Try this on for size: invitations, decor, and brunch for 150 people, for UNDER $700.00.
Yep. With a lot of helping hands, and an Amazon Prime membership, we made this bridal shower happen.
1. SET A PRACTICAL THEME
I picked “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” as the theme for this bridal shower, because we were hosting it in the morning, and wedding flair was easily incorporated through silver & diamond accents. However, before solidifying this theme, I checked Amazon and other party supply stores to be sure I could find these specific colors and decorations at a good price.
You might find that certain colors/themes cost more than others. Make sure you pick a theme that has a lot of options. We went with: Tiffany Blue, black, silver, and white colors. These are easy to find anywhere, and won’t be marked up for being trendy–I’m looking at you Ultraviolet! I knew I would use pearl & diamond accents, which are also super easy and inexpensive to get ahold of.
2. DESIGN YOUR OWN INVITATIONS
I designed the invitations on Canva, my favorite graphic design app. It has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s absolutely the most cost-effective way to create custom designs for super cheap, or even free.
I’m pretty experienced with Canva, so I was able to make our design entirely for free. In fact, I rarely use their paid features, because the free ones are just so awesome. Or maybe I’m just cheap 😉
I found an invitation template, deleted the existing background, and instead uploaded clip art I found on Google. Then it was just a matter of font, spacing, and border, etc. I really can’t say enough good things about Canva, they allow us all to live out our wanna-be-graphic-designer dreams!
Next, I ordered the invitations on Vistaprint. I’ve been using Vistaprint for YEARS. They are always running some sort of sale, and better yet, every purchase comes with a coupon that never expires. (Pro tip: Vistaprint is amazing for business cards and personalized gifts too!) When transferring designs, be sure to pay attention to Vistaprint’s warnings on pixelation or size. If they say something is out of the print-zone, don’t chance it.
3. DIY DECORATIONS
In keeping with our budget, I knew I wanted to use balloons. When used properly, they can make stunning decor. I found an awesome how-to for a balloon arch, and it turned out FABULOUS! I followed her instructions exactly, except I DID use chicken wire, twisted and connected to command hooks. Pro tip: Don’t attempt this by yourself if you want it done quickly. 2-3 people are needed to have this done in a timely manner. If you aren’t in a time crunch, you can totally do it by yourself.
I spray painted Goodwill vases Tiffany Blue, and filled them with fresh white roses & pearl sticks. This combination of fresh flowers + pearls added such a beautiful touch (and smell).
By combining expensive elements like fresh roses with less costly options, you can create a chic party space while staying on budget.
Here is my complete Amazon list of decorations & supplies. Items frequently come in and out of stock, so if you’re looking for a certain thing, just search it for something similar.
4. CREATE AN ALL-HANDS-ON-DECK MENU
Like I said previously, pick and choose what to splurge or save on. When it comes to the menu, decide what to make yourself, and what–if anything–to have catered in. Next, get yourself a team of reliable helpers and don’t be afraid to delegate tasks.
I am a very good cake baker, thus there was no need to hire an expensive bakery. Homemade cake is incredibly cost-effective, and combined with a little effort learning how to decorate? You will save a lot of money over time. Eventually I will get around to doing a drip-cake tutorial for y’all!
One of the themed menu-items I was set on, were donuts with diamond picks to look like engagement rings. I decided to splurge on donuts with custom Tiffany Blue icing, to really add a special touch to this bridal shower.
My team of helpers (the groom’s wedding parties!) were awesome. We had a chocolate dipping party at my house the night before the shower where we dipped strawberries & Oreos, topped with teal sanding sugar, silver nonpareils and edible glitter called disco dust. With 5 people prepping, dipping, and cleaning we finished within 4 hours. If you’re going to DIY your own menu, make sure you have the right crew.
I created my own recipes for the sandwiches – turkey topped with havarti and my homemade pesto recipe, and Caprese. Pinterest is great recipe resource, but I like to add my own personal twist. In the essence of time, I also prepared the pesto & balsamic reduction beforehand.
Almost all ingredients were purchased in bulk from Costco, and I assigned an official sandwich maker the day-of. Pro tip: cut each croissant sandwich in half. Always halve an item when you can, as it helps stretch the menu items further, and reduce uneaten leftovers. Not everyone will show up hungry to a bridal shower, or be partial to every type of food you are offering. Some people want to try a little bit of everything, so halves just make sense.
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a successful event. Below I’ve created a breakdown of the exact costs. Please feel free to comment or email me with questions, I’d love to lend a hand for your next big party! If you try anything from my tutorial, I would love to hear how it went!