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

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Ski Weekend in Park City

WestgatelobbyJohn and I traveled to Park City, Utah with a couple friends on a five day skiing and snowboarding trip the last week in February. We flew into Salt Lake City International Airport on Wednesday which is about a 3.5 hour flight from Chicago and a 35 minute drive to Park City. Renting a car is definitely your best bet if you want to venture off the resort since there is quite a bit to do and see in or around Park City.

We lodged at the Westgate Park City Resort & Spa, a fairly large ski resort sitting at the base of the Canyons ski area and about 5 miles from Downtown Park City.  Upon arriving, we were greeted by a friendly and accommodating staff with homemade cookies and bottles of water. We reserved a luxury suite through Expedia averaging around $400 a night, but we were pleasantly surprised to walk into what looked more like a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo with a kitchenette, dining area, balcony, living room, fireplace, whirl pool, 2 flat screen TVs and a steam sauna shower. It was spacious and comfortable for two adults. Being that it was just the two of us and we didn’t spend a lot of time at the resort, I would have preferred to stay in a smaller boutique hotel, but this is a great resort for families and large groups. We ate a late lunch at Drafts Sports Bar & Grill, one of the resort’s two dining options with a variety of pub food and appetizers to choose from ranging from hand-crafted burgers, pizzas, tacos, chili and desserts. It was a favorable choice on an empty stomach.

wgpc-drafts-1wgpc-drafts-4On our first night, we went into town and walked up and down Park City’s historic Main street until we decided to go into No Name Saloon & Grill. It’s a two-story bar and restaurant with an outdoor patio on the second floor, perfect for those warm, summer nights. The interior gives you a laid back, biker-type feel to it with a mixed crowd of people, men and women between the ages of 30 and 60. If you’re looking for a lively atmosphere with high energy, upbeat music and don’t mind a crowd, you should definitely check it out if you’re ever in the area.

no name saloonJ&SThursday was our first day out on the mountain. We had beautiful weather all weekend with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 50’s, low 60’s which is unusual for this time of year.  We spent all morning and early afternoon on Park City Mountain with over 7,300 skiable acres ranging from beginner,intermediate and advanced terrain.  I am not a strong skier and I don’t own skis so if you need to rent your gear, we rented my skis and boots from Cole Sport for $32 for the day. The staff was helpful and there were only a couple people in front of me so I was in and out within 45 minutes. They don’t rent helmets so we walked a few doors down to Breeze Ski Rental where I was able to rent one for $11. Ski lift tickets through Park City Mountain were roughly $100 a dayIMG_3965-1 copy616257_455376004494622_1820597950_oThursday evening we had dinner reservations at Apex at Montage Deer Valley Resort. Apex is an upscale restaurant in a high-end, luxury resort located atop Empire Pass, 4 miles from Park City. The trees leading up the driveway to the resort were strung with clear lights giving you a warm and welcoming entrance with a Christmas time feel to it. We had 7:00pm reservations, but surprisingly the restaurant was uncrowded and we appeared to be the youngest diners. The menu included steak and seafood options, handcrafted cocktails and an extensive wine list to choose from (we were introduced to our own private sommelier to give us her recommendations.)  If you want a cool and refreshing cocktail, I would suggest their Park City Mule, but if you are a wine drinker, we ordered a couple bottles of Machete by Orin Swift and Saldo by The Prisoner Wine Company. Superb options to quench your palette. After a few appetizers, three entrees, wine and dessert, our dinner totaled $400 a couple.

P.S. What do you think of the distinct label on the Machete?

machete 2macheteThe next day, we went on a 4 hour guided snowmobile tour through Thousand Peaks which cost $300 a person. It was one of the most memorable and exhilarating activities I’ve done and is a must if you ever get out west. They offer 2, 3 and 4 hour tours to choose from and our tour guide, Doug, made you feel relaxed, comfortable and at ease, making our tour that much more enjoyable. The skies were the bluest blue without a cloud in sight and the views from the summit overlooking Utah were spectacular.IMG_3986me in helmet mountains 2 sky mountainFor dinner that evening, we stumbled upon Blind Dog Restaurant & Sushi. We didn’t have reservations booked, but we were able to get right in. The food was appetizing and superior over our dinner from the evening before and the menu options ranged from sushi, seafood, premium steaks and burgers, a wine, sake and cocktail list.

When we decided to book our trip, I had reached out to our wedding photographer/videographer, Bethany Petersen from BP Film and Photo since she happens to live an hour away from Park City. She was awesome to work with and captured our wedding day in such a fun and creative manner that I just had to see her during our trip and hire her for a lifestyle shoot.  John and I never booked an engagement session before we were married so this was the perfect opportunity to make up for it with a couples shoot and we were able to do so on Saturday. You can view the photos on the Lifestyle page.

One of my greatest faults is procrastinating. I didn’t consider finding a makeup artist for the day of the shoot before our trip, so of course, I scrambled a few hours before and made a couple calls until I was referred to Splendor Beauty Emporium. It was one of three convenient options from our hotel and the only one that was able to get me in on such late notice.  I feel fortunate to have been able to discover such a pretty, feminine and charming little shop decorated with pink colored walls, a ceiling strung with crystal and white chandeliers and be enchanted upon entering by sweet smelling candles, fragrances, skin-care and cosmetic products galore. Some of the fabulous brands they carry include Nars, Smashbox, Laura Mercier, St. Tropez, L’Occitane and Dermalogica, to name a few.  The staff was exceedingly knowledgeable, welcoming, and I was paired with the talented Jude Mallory Marsh who did a beautiful job applying my makeup, exactly the way I wanted. A makeup application at Splendor Beauty Emporium costs $40 worth of product purchase. You can’t beat that! They are located in Park City’s Redstone Center, only 10 minutes from our resort and is a go-to for all beauty seekers.

On our last night in Park City, we dined at Oishi Sushi and Grill, an unpretentious ma and pa restaurant. It was noisy, crowded and the service was subpar, but the food was tasty with a variety of Maki rolls to choose from. We concluded our evening indulging in s’mores and sipping on wine at our friends’ hotel, Waldorf Astoria, an ideal ending to our adventurous and action packed getaway.

Please feel free to leave a comment or email me. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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