A Plan of Action – The Wedding Shower

A Plan of Action - The Wedding Shower

Throwing a shower for a modern bride takes planning as changing tastes mean some traditions and staples shouldn’t be resuscitated.

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The key thing to fight for, says Ann David, who co-founded the New York City-based David Reinhard Events with Nicky Reinhard 16 years ago, “is understated elegance. Tradition with a modern twist.” The pair plans 10 to 12 weddings a year, which typically include a few bridal showers.

While planning a shower, Ms. Reinhard says, there is no need to make it ​a ​women-only​ affair.​ It is significant to think the couple’s ages, likes and dislikes. “Is it just a girls’ event or is a couple’s celebration and are children invited?” she says, noting that it’s usually best to hold a shower six to eight weeks before the wedding. Nevertheless, if many guests are coming from out of town for the wedding and shower, holding the latter three months before the wedding is more polite. “If there’s travel involved, to ask someone to buy two plane tickets within six weeks” could be taxing, Ms. David says.

A Plan of Action - The Wedding Shower

Normally, if many guests have young children, a late afternoon tea on a Saturday works best, Ms. Reinhard says. “If it’s a couple’s shower, perhaps do something more fun and social in the evening,” she adds.

It’s essential to personalize the shower as much as possible, “so guests have a sense of who they’re celebrating, from personalized cocktail napkins to favorite drinks that are served,” Ms. David says, noting that for the shower for candy entrepreneur Dylan Lauren a few years ago, they created an event that was “all about candy.”

A Plan of Action - The Wedding ShowerWhen it comes to food, convenience is key. “Nothing that needs a knife,” Ms. David says. “We love anything that is one bite.” From their experience, fail-safe crowd-pleasers include pigs in blankets, tacos, postage stamp-size truffled grilled cheese sandwiches and nothing that involves a skewer. “You want to take whatever it is, pop it into your mouth and just carry on with conversation.”

When champagne is always festive for such occasions, it’s crucial to offer other options, including nonalcoholic cocktails or the favorite drinks of the bride and groom. “A Bloody Mary bar can be a fun thing to keep everyone interacting and engaged,” Ms. Reinhard says. Or, if it’s a couple’s shower, it could work well to have signature drinks that reflect the bride and groom’s tastes.

With such events typically featuring guests from all generations and different parts of the couple’s life, it’s essential that the host know a little bit about each guest and consider what they may have in common “so you can introduce them to each other and just make people feel comfortable and welcome,” Ms. Reinhard says.

When there should be some entertainment, games aren’t the best idea. “You want something more clever than making a wedding dress out of toilet paper. If everyone is on Instagram, ask people to come up with names for a hashtag for the event and the wedding and you can use that for the shower all the way up to the wedding,” Ms. David says. Or, split the guests into two teams and have each side decorate a cake.​

If men are involved, “they don’t want a girlie bridal shower,” Ms. David adds, noting that for a recent co-ed shower they hired an artist to do quick caricatures of guests at the event.

A Plan of Action - The Wedding Shower

As the host, it’s important to keep the bride in the loop on all shower planning decisions. “Brides don’t like surprises, so don’t be like, ‘I’m going to surprise the bride with her favorite song,’ ” Ms. David says.

Actually, timing is key. Most showers should only be about two hours, Ms. David says. Also, if there are more than 20 to 25 guests, don’t make gift-opening part of the shower. “If it takes three to four minutes for each gift and you have 40 guests—do you want to spend all that time opening gifts?” she says.

A Plan of Action - The Wedding Shower

In the end, some logistical matters—having a notebook to record gifts received and making sure there a few large shopping bags on hand to put all the presents in. “If they have 20 little bags to carry at the end,” Ms. Reinhard says, “that’s unwieldy.”