Maid-of-Honour How to plan a bridal shower on a budget

From choosing a location, to gifts and favours, you can implement a number of money-saving tips and still throw a shower to be remembered.

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A bridal shower play

A bridal shower

(Getty Images)
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Being a bridesmaid or the maid-of-honour at your friend's wedding costs a lot and requires a high level of commitment for everything to go smoothly.

Not only do you have to be beside the bride as she plans her wedding, you also get to play an important role in organizing the bridal shower which can cost an arm and a leg.

From choosing a location, to gifts and favours, you can implement a number of money-saving tips and still throw a shower to be remembered.

Location: First, consider your home. If you host the party yourself, you won't have to pay rental fees. However, there are circumstances where this simply won't work. If you find someone willing to share their home, you might decide to give an inexpensive "thank you" present, such as a bottle of wine. You'll most likely have to shell out some money if no homes are available, but the shower doesn't have to be at a fancy restaurant or hotel ballroom. Think outside of the norm and compare prices. Here are a few typical venues to check out:

  • You, a friend, or a relative of the bride might live in an apartment complex with a community center. Many complexes rent these rooms to residents.

  • A park. Make arrangements in case there's a storm!

  • Townships, villages, and other local governments often have meeting rooms big enough for a bridal shower.

  • A historic home or schoolhouse. These places might be run by a nonprofit and can be available for an affordable price.

  • Many fraternal organizations, like the Rotary and the VFW, maintain meeting spaces with kitchens, tables, and anything else you need for a party.

Transportation: Traveling hundreds of miles is costly no matter which mode of transportation you choose. You can find other ways to save money on travel, depending on where you and the other co-hosts live and where the shower will be held. Schedule the shower so it falls within a few days of the bachelorette party or girls night out to save yourself a trip. Of course, you may want to have the bachelorette party a few days before the wedding to save time and money travelling to the nuptials. A shower within a week or so of the wedding might be too much for the bride, her friends, and family to handle.

  • If you have to fly, find cheap flights to get the lowest fare possible.

  • Carpool with other shower hosts or guests from your area and share the gas expenses.

  • Even if you're a bridesmaid, you don't have to attend the shower if it doesn't make financial or logistical sense. If you simply can't make it to a bridal shower, any reasonable bride will understand. Plus, you can always ship your gift.

Invitations: Shower invitations don't have to cost anything. You can send an e-invite or create a Facebook event and invite everyone to the party for free. However, there is one small problem to this approach: Not everyone uses the Internet regularly, and the bride is likely to have a grandmother or other relative who doesn't use Facebook. An Internet search will display many companies that will make custom-printed invitations. Just don't order from a website if you can't find an active coupon code for it. Alternatively, you can stop into any card store and find affordable blank party invitations. Or you can make them yourself – even if you're not the crafty type, you can buy invitation kits at many office supply and stationery stores. Many are compatible with standard word processors. Use a festive font, add a couple of photos or pieces of clip art, and print them off on the printer in your home office.

Food: To save money, avoid hiring a caterer unless you're hosting a shower in a venue that requires it. It's much more cost-effective to make the food yourself. Check out these quick and easy appetizer recipes for parties, or peruse your cookbooks and the Internet for finger-food recipes that fit into your shower's theme. Also, spread around the costs for food by having each person who's helping with the shower bring a dish. For beverages, have one non-alcoholic beverage on hand and perhaps one alcoholic drink. You'll need dishes, but you or a co-host probably own dishes suitable for serving. If not, borrow them from someone who does. If you want to serve your guests using disposable plates and silverware, you can find them at a low price at a discount grocery store.

Decorations: Party supply stores sell a huge variety of centerpieces, balloons, garlands, streamers, confetti, and other items that you may want to consider, though they aren't necessary decorations for a shower. A more frugal option is to scour your belongings for things that fit into your shower's theme. If everyone helping with the shower contributes a few decorations, you'll have enough to work with.

Games: Silly bridal shower games are a staple of any shower. Here are a few that cost little or nothing:

  • Prepare a list of questions regarding the groom (What’s his shoe size? What was his first car?). Pose them to the bride and see how many she gets right.

  • Use Google Translate to make a list of how “love” is said in different languages. Make worksheets for your guests to match the translation to the right language.

  • Stock up on cheap toilet paper. Divide the guests into teams and assign them to create the best toilet paper "wedding dress."

Favours and Prizes: Along with games come prizes, and it's customary for party guests to receive party favors. Search around and be creative – you might find inexpensive options for favours, like pretty soaps, candles, or candy. For game prizes, there's nothing wrong with re-gifting that bath scrub you got for Christmas but haven't used.

Spending a ton of money on a bridal shower won't guarantee a good time. These parties are fun for the bride because she gets to see friends and family, open a pile of presents, and be the center of attention. Focus on making the event enjoyable instead of extravagant. The guest of honour – and your wallet – will thank you.

What other ideas do you have for saving money on a bridal shower?

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