Monday, May 12, 2014

Enchanted Garden Bridal Shower

Since I entered my mid-twenties, friends of mine have been wedding one another in a steady stream of nuptials taking place every weekend from May to October, annually. While I maintain a near-perfect attendance record for the ceremonies,  I often miss out on the wedding-related events because of circumstance or geography. This is tragic, because I do love a good bridal shower. Even more tragic, I've only had the opportunity to host one.

That is until Becca, this blog's sole reader and a very dear friend, did me the favor of living in and planning her wedding in Southern California. In addition to this kindness, she asked me to be a bridesmaid, giving me the chance to get wrapped up in all the pre-wedding hoopla. I helped her find a dress (fun!), weighed in on invitation envelope liners (less fun!), and I'm even managing to sneak away from home for 24 hours to participate in her Vegas bachelorette this weekend (which I also helped plan, sort of).

So with the help of my sister/maid of honor Katie, and Becca's future mother-in-law, Fran, I merrily jumped at the chance to cohost a bridal shower.

The theme, more or less, was Enchanted Garden Party. Since my backyard is not so much "enchanted" as "full of dog poop and plastic trucks," we found Fran's yard to be a more suitable choice. Also, she is the proud owner of a tent, table, and folding chairs.

Putting together the decor was relatively easy.  Firstly, because Fran made all the flowers hanging on hooks for the walkway. So, that was super easy for me.

Then, I made a trip to Trader Joe's because a few inexpensive flower bouquets go a long way with some assorted vases and jars gathered from every cabinet in my kitchen. (Note to self: I really need to consolidate and organize the kitchen cabinets.) 

I added bows made from hemp rope which I've had for, seriously, twenty years. I know this because I bought it whenever making hemp necklaces was a thing. If it ever comes back into fashion, I'll be set. This spool is seemingly endless.

The table runners Katie picked up from the Dollar Store, believe it or not.

Now, I'm not proud to admit it, but I recycled an idea from the last shower I hosted by making strands of paper cranes. (If only I possessed the foresight to save all the paper cranes from last time. I'm sure after several years and two household moves they wouldn't be crushed and ripped.) 

I know, this repetition is shameful, but in my defense they do turn out so lovely. I didn't count how many I made but if you're scared to replicate this for your own hostessing, let me assure you it's not that time consuming. I mean, the first couple of cranes you make while watching YouTube tutorials and crinkling up your face in confusion take like an hour. But then once you get into the groove you can make one in about 30 seconds and just churn them out.

I recommend buying origami paper from a craft store since it's lightweight and pre-cut into perfect squares. That saves all the time in the world. Once you have a bunch done, string 3 to 5 of them on cross-stitching thread using a thick needle to pierce through... like making a popcorn garland.

Once we had the look of the place established, we tried to come up with activities. Trying to steer clear of too many traditional bridal shower games, we decided for something more freestyle: a photo booth. We set up a table with costumes and props Katie and I gathered by rummaging through our closets.

Then, conveniently enough, Fran's backyard has this manger (or something), which makes an ideal set up with a white sheet backdrop. I placed my laptop on a tall table with the Photobooth app open and let guests have at it.

BTW that's Becca in the middle, blocked by ears.

And then there was the food. With 20 guests coming and no one having an excessive amount of free time to cook, we wanted to make something giant and easy. This sounds like a job for baked ziti!

Here's something Katie pointed out that I hadn't realized: Growing up in Syracuse, baked ziti was at every family function. No, we aren't Italian. And I didn't mean just our family. It was at everyone's family everything. Birthdays, graduations, summer cookouts, Christmas... just, everything. I ate so damn much of it and never wanted to see it again. I happily forgot about it for most of my west coast adult life and it hasn't made an appearance at any social gathering. (Now I can't get away from quinoa.)

So when we served it up at the shower, it was met with ooos and ahhhs because it was a rare treat. Who'd a thought? Ziti.

Cute framed food labels (and framed signage throughout the event) were put together by Katie. They added a nice touch. 

The buffet was completed with kale salad, fruit salad, turkey meatballs, and garlic knots from C&O. (If you've never had them, you're missing out. If you've ever had them, you've had 23 in one sitting.)

Over at the bar, we prepared a pitcher of refreshing sangria, along with mimosas, the official fuel of bridal showers. And a shout out to my first official use of the table runner my mom sent me a few months ago.

Guests took home little boxes of cookies as favors. 2 types: black & white (Ryan's favorite) and oatmeal raisin (Becca's favorite).

I am thrilled that this whole event came together so miraculously. With three people planning it over email and in between busy days at work, I was worried we might not assemble something deserving of our beloved bride-to-be, but thankfully this was not the case.  All guests had a great time and were very generous with the compliments.

And now I can retire my paper cranes for good and wait until someone else needs a bridal shower. Or, dare I say it... a baby shower?


  1. It was beautiful and very enchanting!

  2. aw looks like a fun shower, nicely done!