A Display Bridal Shower for the Non-Traditional Bride

1525298_10151906908251105_619378182_n1979678_10151906908971105_595006431_n1962762_10151906907201105_1750805319_nOver the years, I’ve had the privilege of attending or being apart of close to two dozen bridal showers for friends and family. I am a hopeless romantic who loves all things wedding. With that being said, as delighted as I am to be apart of any and all pre-wedding day celebrations in honor of the bride and groom, bridal showers are mundane and tend to be, well, boring. You show up, make small talk, eat lunch, watch the couple open their gifts, and go home. And while the bridesmaids help the bride and groom sort through and open gifts, the other guests are left to chit-chat amongst each other, entirely disengaged during the gift-opening process until their name is called and their gift is presented. Now, this might come as a surprise to some, but I have to be candid. Nobody cares about the gifts you receive or who bought what.

When we started planning for our bridal shower two years ago, my main objective was to make it an enjoyable affair for everyone involved. Taking into account my personal thoughts on traditional bridal showers, I had considered a couple alternatives such as an evening or a couples’ shower. We were planning to invite over a 100 guests and wanted to keep expenses down, so hosting an evening affair or extending invites to significant others would have been costly. While brainstorming different ideas, I had remembered my mother-in-law mentioning to me that she had once attended a bridal shower where the gifts were brought unwrapped and put on display for all to see. Hmm..a bridal shower that doesn’t incorporate those awkward couple of hours ripping through gifts while our guests pretend to look interested in that new appliance or kitchenware I asked for?! Now that’s an idea! And so, a Saturday afternoon Display Bridal Shower is what it was going to be.index 21970690_10151906907846105_1978519022_n150488_10151906906286105_1068958839_n998497_10151906906481105_1763960077_n1960066_10151906907931105_1381187303_n1922330_10151906905616105_1737945811_nI am fortunate to have a thoughtful and generous mother-in-law who also happens to be an extraordinary planner and hostess when it comes to the parties and events she throws. With the help of my parents, her friends and my bridesmaids, she went above and beyond to make the day special, from beginning to end. From adhering to the lavender and white color scheme of our destination wedding and executing all of my ideas while keeping as much of it as a surprise until the day of, she made sure it was the shower I envisioned and one that was fitting to me.

Some of our ideas, including decor, games and favors came from Pinterest. We wanted to keep expenses down as best we could so we had to incorporate a lot of DIY projects and this was something I was able to be a part of.  My mother-in-law purchased everything we needed at local stores such as Hobby Lobby or Michaels and through e-Commerce websites such as Oriental Trading and Tulle Shop.index 3bouquetindex1969386_10151906905741105_190052918_nI wanted our centerpieces to be mixed floral arrangements of hydrangeas and roses set in jeweled vases. The jeweled vases were hard to come by and so this is where our DIY skills came in handy and a hot glue gun became our best friend. We purchased a couple rolls of rhinestone ribbon that measured wide enough to cover square glass vases that were purchased from the local florist. I put together a ‘Meet the Maids’ board with photos of all of my bridesmaids introducing each of them and a blurb of how we met. Our favors were individual sized bottles of champagne that were purchased at Binny’s that we later customized with our photo by gluing over the original labels. We then attached a small organza bag filled with purple and silver wrapped Hershey’s Kisses to each bottle. Along with the centerpieces and favors, each table had a clear frame displaying our photo with the table number next to it since we opted for a seating arrangement. My mother-in-law and her go-to gal pal for crafts and DIY projects, decorated a white bird cage with lavender and silver mesh ribbon which was later used to hold any envelopes we received and they created a board that displayed a printed photo of each gift we received through our Honeyfund registry. We had a large dessert table covered in a silver rosette tablecloth with a variety of desserts, ranging from brownies, cake pops, candies, Hershey’s chocolate bars with customized labels and trays of home made Serbian baked goods.1794747_10151906906966105_1072486841_n1922439_10151906904276105_2140604832_n10152548_10151906903516105_1169846253_n1960118_10151906906376105_2139573289_nBecause we hosted a Display Bridal Shower and our invitations specified that any gifts brought be unwrapped, we had to come up with games to entertain our guests after lunch. I glued a handful of photos of various ages onto a poster board for everyone to guess my age and whoever came closest and had the most correct, took home a prize. We wanted to incorporate our destination wedding theme as best we could, so each winner took home a prize that included a beach towel, a travel magazine, a luggage tag and beach towel clips wrapped in a plastic beach basket.index 41975093_10151906909631105_461946538_n1978852_10151906905851105_2000025049_n 10014665_10151906906891105_1193145600_n10154014_10151906908661105_1893591711_n1970567_10151906908371105_1378813331_nThe list of games my Matron of Honor came up with included:

  • A 10 question Bridal Trivia that asked anything from wedding traditions in other countries, to celebrity marriages and which city is nicknamed the ‘Honeymoon Capital of the World’
  • A 20 question trivia of How Well Do You Know the Bride & Groom?
  • A Purse Scavenger Hunt that asked you to match 44 items on the list to whatever was in your bag

We wrapped up the day with a variation of the Newlywed Game known as the Shoe Game, which happened to be everyone’s favorite part of the day.  John and I took each other’s shoe and sat back to back while the MOH asked a series of questions and we would then hold up the shoe of the respective partner who we believed each question best described. The suspense and excitement that came with trying to guess who the questions best pertained to, undeniably made the Shoe Game a hit.10153239_10151906909181105_1688726218_n 1959519_10151906907711105_856636850_n1475944_10151906906926105_530050463_n 6978_10151906909751105_1446296258_nThe venue we chose for our bridal shower was Volare in Oakbrook Terrace which has since closed down, but the downtown Chicago location remains open. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves to accommodate our 90+ guests for an afternoon affair and the cost of food and wine was reasonable. If you plan to host a bridal shower for more than 15 guests, want more time to mingle and not spend time opening gifts, then a Display Bridal Shower is an ideal alternative for you.1975131_10151906907786105_620223118_n10152029_10151906904021105_1779125956_ninvite 2

[Photography Credit]: Catherine Dodgson


  1. Had a wonderful display shower for my daughter last year and lost a very opinionated friend over it. She continues to insult me almost a year after we hosted it. I think it is a wonderful idea!!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that. Luckily no one had anything negative to say about mine; I actually had several friends host display showers after me. In the end, it’s all about the person whose shower it is. You can’t appease everyone. 🙂

  2. We’re giving my daughter-in-law and son a display baby shower. We expect around 75-80 guests. How is it handled so we know what gift came from which guest if for example a tag falls off, etc. also how about the people who don’t attach a tag. What type of tag would you suggest we make and how to attach it. We’re hoping that it will go smoothly especially when guests arrive. We take their gift and place it or have them place it on the tables?

    1. Hi Ruthie! We had our bridesmaids help sort the gifts so whenever someone brought a gift to the display table or at the entrance, they would take it and write their name down if there wasn’t a card attached. We had also received some monetary gifts, cards or contributions towards our honeyfund prior to our shower so we had a board with everyone’s names that we displayed at the shower.

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