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Changing it Up: A New Kind of Shower

Before you read on, be warned: etiquette shifts and changes depending on your social circle, and you don’t want to offend the bride or any of your guests when you’re trying something new. Test the waters thoroughly before asking anyone to fork over cash for something they aren’t 100% on board with. Otherwise, go nuts!   Some brides don’t like parties dedicated to gifts, and some don’t even sport gift registries at all. Bridal showers are fun, and they have potential as a great bonding opportunity for a bride and her closest girl friends, but here are a couple of alternatives that aren’t as traditional as a tea party and bridal bingo and look at gifting in a new way:  
Chocolate Discoveries
Most of us are familiar with retail parties, where a hostess gives a presentation on the benefits of a product and the guests are given a later opportunity to purchase from a catalogue (think Tupperware). While that might not seem like a spectacular bridal shower option, there are specific services that make for an unforgettable evening and a good opportunity for a new kind of gifting, especially if the bride in your life isn’t so hot on just being handed a stack of gifts. Bridal showers that utilize the services of retail parties like Dove “Chocolate Discoveries” will find that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on registry items to have a really good time together. A chocolate discoveries party offers opportunities for tasting, trying recipes, and eating an astounding amount of chocolate. If you and your guests are comfortable with a different type of gift giving, consider taking note of the bride’s preferences throughout the affair and purchasing some of her favorite products at the end of the evening. The bride has an armload of gifts she actually wants, and everyone eats chocolate. Win-win.   Color me Mine
Color me Mine is a business that specializes in a unique hands-on ceramic crafting experience, where guests paint items of their choice to be retrieved later as glazed and completely usable home décor. It’s hard to totally mess up, too – as long as you follow the directions and layer on paint like nobody’s business. While they might be known more for cute dates and birthday parties, this soirée is a totally viable bridal shower alternative, and is a guaranteed load of fun for all involved.   Instead of giving individual traditional gifts to the bride-to-be, the hostess or guests cover the charge for the bride (and the guests as well) and a household item(s) of her choice – hopefully something bridal and commemorative (his and her items like mugs and salt and pepper shakers are a must), and the girls bond over a couple hours of painting together. You’re able to make something completely unique, get a nice gift for the bride, and leave feeling accomplished. Color me Mine offers party packages where guests can come later to retrieve their glazed item in individual little marked bags.   Color me Mine also offers traveling parties, where the service comes to you at the venue of your choosing! This is a particularly stylish option if you’re more interested in a private and intimate party where you control the décor and the catering.
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The Versatility and Class of Candle Party Favors

Stock up on these Candle Party Favors

Candle Party Favors

  Favors aren’t just for weddings; they’re a lovely addition to any elegant party, and they’re a wonderful way to thank your guests for their attendance. If you’re hosting any sort of get-together where favors would be a welcome and appropriate table addition (think showers, both bridal and baby, dinner parties, and engagement brunches), consider finding just the right candle party favors. Unlike many other favors, candle party favors have a hint of both practicality and style. More practical than other trinkets and a bit more elegant than most practical gifts, candle party favors will find a welcome home from almost any guest. Candle party favors are wonderful also because they don’t provide for a weighty burden if some guests leave them behind. Unlike some other small gifts, a stockpile of candle party favors are always useful! Candle party favors work for any age or gender makeup, which is especially helpful if you’re hosting a diverse group of friends any family. Unlike alcohol or other gifts that fit specific niches, candle party favors work for everyone! Candle party favors aren’t restricted to just wax and wick, either. Everyone loves a decorative holder or snuff in their candle party favors.
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High-Class Style with Decorative Cupcake Wrappers

Fabulous and Homemade: Decorative Cupcake Wrappers

Decorative Cupcake Wrappers

Cupcakes are a great wedding dessert alternative to classic wedding cake, and if you fancy yourself a baker, they aren't too hard to make yourself. An issue arises, however, when it's time to figure out how to present them at your reception. A regular pack of cupcake wrappers won't do - you need something that's professional grade without breaking the bank. Decorative cupcake wrappers come in a variety of styles and colors, and add a little touch of professionalism to homemade cupcakes. Even if you're looking to get some professionally-baked cupcakes, decorative cupcake wrappers help you skip the expensive fancying-up of an already delicious dessert. Decorative cupcake wrappers are also wonderful as they blend in equally well at a high-class loft and a backyard barn wedding. Decorative cupcake wrappers know no exclusive social setting. There are decorative cupcake wrappers styles in lace, with stylized cherry blossom branches, and even fun designs for birthdays and bridal showers. It isn't difficult to find decorative cupcake wrappers that fit both your style and your budget
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The Many Uses for Silk Rose Petals

Diverse Options and Many Styles of Silk Rose Petals

Silk Rose Petals

Never was there a more diverse decor option than silk rose petals. Silk rose petals work for weddings, receptions, engagements, anniversaries, quinceaneras, showers, and so much more. Unlike more specific decor options like centerpieces and linens, silk rose petals scale up or down pretty easily depending on the formality of your event. They're also a great way to dress up a venue that allows for only minimal decor interference, such as a swanky hotel bar or a conservative church. Silk rose petals come in all sorts of colors (though style experts will warn against anything too drastic), and look best against a stark white or cream background. The most beautiful setting for a bunch of silk rose petals has got to be the aisle during a wedding ceremony. As some venues don't allow fresh flowers (or you're getting married during a season when fresh rose petals may be a hassle), silk rose petals make for a great alternative that won't die. Guests love scooping up a few as a fun souvenir, and more thrifty brides will find a way to recycle them at a later date. Don't be surprised when you see the same silk rose petals at a classy baby shower a few months after an equally-classy wedding!
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Setting Up Bridal Shower Decorations

Designing Cohesive and Cost-Effective Bridal Shower Decorations

Bridal Shower Decorations

Hosting a bridal shower can sometimes become as stressful and difficult as planning a wedding. There’s guest lists, catering, planning, and – of course – decorating. Bridal shower decorations don’t get nearly as much spotlight as wedding decorations, but the aesthetics and ambiance of a bridal shower can’t be overlooked or ignored. The trick to beautiful bridal shower decorations is simplicity and consistency. It doesn’t matter how much you spend or how much you saturate your venue in tissue paper – your bridal shower decorations should be cohesive and minimal. Paper bridal shower decorations are my personal favorite; they’re easy and they always look great. Think about paper bunting, confetti, and classy table numbers to tie your bridal shower decorations together. There’s no need to go crazy buying any and all bridal shower decorations you can. Find a theme and stick to it, but don’t go overboard. For bridal shower decorations, it’s all about beauty in simplicity.   The bride will love her bridal shower as long as she’s surrounded by the women who love her, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the bridal shower decorations! Photos from this event will be stacked next to the ones from the wedding itself – let your bridal shower decorations speak to the quality of the event!
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Bridal Shower Bingo: A Rowdy Afternoon of Frolic

Fun Times with Bridal Shower Bingo

Bridal Shower Bingo

Bridal shower games are probably my favorite part of the wedding marathon that brides subject themselves to in the months leading up to their big day. They’re inexpensive, fun, and provide a great bonding opportunity for the women closest to you. You don’t really know your Great Aunt Sally until you’ve seen her viciously plotting against your Maid of Honor in a lively round of bridal shower bingo. Bridal shower bingo really brings out the competitive side in many women you wouldn’t expect it from – even a poised afternoon tea can get a little rowdy with the addition of a few cutesy prizes. The competition inspired by bridal shower bingo isn’t negative, however: quite the contrary. Bridal shower bingo is fun, and it breathes life into an ordinary celebratory bridal get-together. The multiple winners and excitable participants keep any hard feelings at bay (unlike strategic and cutthroat gaming scenarios like family “Risk” or “Monopoly” night). Finding great bridal shower bingo games isn’t too difficult, but you might want to skip trying to make them yourself. A few hours struggling with clip art and Microsoft word functions will leave you frustrated (and sporting an inferior product). Bridal shower bingo is just what your shower needs for an unforgettable afternoon.
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The Purpose of Just Married Honeymoon Gear

Just Married Honeymoon Gear: Flaunt It!

Just Married Honeymoon Gear

Flaunting your new marital status is one of the little things that makes a honeymoon so fun. You'll only be newlyweds once, so why not relish in it? Just Married Honeymoon Gear - from license plate inserts (for the rental car) to tote bags to luggage tags - are a fun and simple way to celebrate in your marriage after you've walked down the aisle. From the beach to first class - there are a number of fun bits of just married honeymoon gear to keep you at the center of attention. It's amazing how many strangers will go out of their way to congratulate you (and how many glasses of wine and desserts will appear on-the-house) when you make just married honeymoon gear a travel necessity.   If you're thinking about getting the new couple in your life some just married honeymoon gear as a wedding or shower gift, think about their lifestyle and what they have already. They'll likely always appreciate a set of luggage tags or passport sleeves, but some more common or personal staples should probably be left to the couple themselves. Never ask a bride for her bikini size in the weeks leading up to the wedding - leave that bit of just married honeymoon gear to her!
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Practice Style and Substance with Bridal Shower Thank You Notes

Bridal Shower Thank You Notes: Start Early!

Bridal Shower Thank You Notes

You’re going to get really sick of writing thank-you cards for gifts during the weeks of wedding activities leading up to the big show, but you still have to do them. Bridal shower thank you notes will likely be the first set of hand-penned words you commit to cute little cards, but they certainly won’t be the last. Let your bridal shower thank you notes act as a practice for the notes to come. Try to get started on your bridal shower thank you notes as soon as you can – right after the shower, while the events of the day are still fresh in your brain. Have your hostess pen a list of givers and gifts during the shower, and always keep the card with the gift. Detailed records will make your bridal shower thank you notes so much easier.   When selecting the right bridal shower thank you notes for your bash, take your own personal style (and the style of the party) into consideration. You don’t need fancy bridal shower thank you notes for a backyard barbeque, and ripped sheets of legal pad paper won’t cut it for a swanky catered affair. Just like with your wedding paper goods, your bridal shower thank you notes are all about context and consistency.
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Manage and Delight with a Bridal Shower Guestbook

A Bridal Shower Guestbook for the Busy Bride

Bridal Shower Guestbook

If you’re planning a bridal shower for the special bride in your life, you might want to start poking around for the right bridal shower guestbook. Just like the wedding itself, a bridal shower needs a fun way to record attendance for the couple. The wedding isn’t the only party the couple will want to look back fondly on for the rest of their lives – showers, parties, and get-togethers all have a special place in our hearts. By providing a bridal shower guestbook, you’re giving your bride that opportunity – and she’ll be thankful! Find a bridal shower guestbook that fits the bride’s personality for a formal and fun way to greet guests as they appear.   A bridal shower guestbook is also a handy tool for the bride who wants to hop on “thank you” cards as quickly as she can. With a list of guests that attended (not just the ones invited!) a bridal shower guestbook is a handy hint that helps the bride decide what she’s going to write in her cards. If you’re planning a bigger bridal shower, a bridal shower guestbook is a must. It can be pretty embarrassing to write “I loved seeing you at my shower!” when a guest only sent a gift. Gifts are not a requirement at wedding events, but a bridal shower guestbook can help a bride manage the ones she will probably receive.
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A “Something Borrowed” Bachelorette Party Veil!

Gifting and Giving a Bachelorette Party Veil

Bachelorette Party Veil

Nothing is more fun than the rain “congratulations!” you’ll receive during your bachelorette party, but you won’t have a chance to hear them if no one knows you’re the bride! A bachelorette party veil (often accompanied by a sash or tiara) is a fun way to designate the lady of honor during your bachelorette bash, and it can even be re-used at your bridal shower or at a future bride’s own pre-wedding parties. Make your “something borrowed” a little more fun and original by handing down a bachelorette party veil! It isn’t as sentimental or expensive as jewelry or actual bridal accessories, but a bachelorette party veil is just as bridal!
If you’re trying to find the right gift for the soon-to-be bride in your life, think about gifting a bachelorette party veil. The bachelorette party veil is an early wedding gift that the bride can cherish in the months leading up to the wedding as well afterwards. Good for work bridal showers, engagement parties, and (of course) the bachelorette bash itself, nothing bridal-themed will get more use before the wedding like a bachelorette party veil!
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Pre-Wedding Desserts No One will Expect

If you’re hosting a party in honor of someone’s upcoming wedding, it might be the ideal time to experiment with some cool new sugary goodies. Your guests will always expect a grocery store sheet cake or a paper plate of chocolate chip cookies at any pre-wedding party(engagement parties, bridals showers, bachelorette bashes), so blow them away with something unexpected and homemade! Some of these baking adventures are easier than others, but you’re guaranteed to find at least one frosted recipe that fits your abilities in the following lineup of yummy ideas:   A Croquembouche for the Engagement Party
Pretty Difficult   A croquembouche is an elegant pyramidal French dessert that often substitutes for a fluffy wedding cake during the reception. It features a big beautiful pile of crunchy chocolate-drizzled crème puffs (chocolate optional) held together with delicate strands of caramel, often piled so high that they look like sugary spider webs. This dessert is great for an engagement party because you can eat it on the go without losing any of the elegance you expect from a formal dessert. Engagement parties tend to be smaller than weddings, and this dessert scales up or down with ease. You can mingle, chat, and grab a crème puff on the go.
The croquembouche isn’t a recipe for beginners (unless you want to brave hot caramel over a long period of time), but if you’re in love with the style of this dessert without possessing the cooking credentials you need to pull it off, there’s no shame in finding a bakery to do the delicious dirty work.
How To   Petit Fours for the Bridal Shower
Not So Bad Afternoon teas and casual garden parties are popular bridal shower themes, but you have a chance to set your event apart by taking a crack at baking the bite-size dessert cakes yourself. The recipe is easier than it looks, and the end result always ends impressively. If you’re feeling adventurous and you have the extra time, browse for different recipes to make your dessert plate that much more impressive. Or you could cheat (like me) and decorate each of them a little differently.
How To  

High Heel Cupcakes for the Bachelorette Party
E for Everyone! These cupcakes have been floating around blogs for the last few weeks, and there’s something oddly intimidating about them – but they look more complicated than they are. Anyone can whip up a batch of cupcakes (with or without a box) and buy a pack of graham crackers; the real challenge in this recipe is decoration. Spend an afternoon experimenting and finding what works and what doesn’t – you can eat the evidence of your failures. You could also print out the recipe and provide a decorations and pre-baked cupcakes for the girls at the bachelorette party itself. Spend the evening decorating, chatting, and laughing at inexplicable sprinkle failures.
How To

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Keeping your Wedding Deadlines Straight

When you start your wedding planning, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with all the various deadlines. How long do you have to write a thank you note if someone sends you a gift six weeks before the big day? Is a year too early for a wedding website? Save-the-dates? Here’s a quick run-down on some of the more important wedding deadlines you don’t want to miss:

Your Wedding Website – 8-12 months before
A wedding website is a great way to organize the details of your wedding in a way that your guests can access and enjoy as soon as they get their save-the-dates. The website is where you’ll put details about local hotels, directions to venues, registries, and even your unique proposal story, so feel free to make one as soon as any of those details are nailed out. You can always add information as you progress in your planning and spend the extra time tweaking details.     Your Save-the-Dates – 6-8 months before Save-the-Dates are for letting your guests know to make travel plans ahead of time. If you’re having an entirely local wedding, don’t even worry about sending them. If not, it’s important to balance when you send them out. Your guests need to book hotels, find a way to get time off of work, and maybe even book an extended stay babysitter. If you’re planning a summer wedding (high traffic vacation time) or a Christmas/Thanksgiving date, send them out as early as eight to nine months ahead of time. Just don’t send them out so early that everyone tacks them up on their refrigerators and forgets about them.
It’s also important to note that you should have your guest list (mostly) finalized before you send them out. A save-the-date is as good as an invitation, and guests will be confused and potentially offended if they don’t “make the final cut” and receive an invite. Your Registry – 6 months before
You can bump that registry deadline up if your circle is into engagement parties (as the point of a registry is to let everyone know what you want and need for gift giving occasions), but there really isn’t any reason to put together a registry until someone offers to throw you a shower. You don’t want your favorite items being discontinued way before your wedding date, especially if they’re part of a set and you end up with half a stemware set.
If you do end up setting up your registry early, avoid registering for sets of things and just throw some items on it that can be purchased singularly. You can always go back and add/remove items at your convenience.   Your Invitations – 8-10 weeks before
It’s important not to send your invitations out too soon, as you don’t want them collecting dust on a desk for three months. If you didn’t do save-the-dates, however, it’s equally important that you let your guests make plans well ahead of time. Be careful, though - any more notice than10 weeks and your guests are going to forget about their RSVP date.
Your RSVP cards, by the way, should carry a date of about two weeks or so before the wedding. Ask your caterer when they need the final headcount by, and give your guests a few days of a buffer zone; you want plenty of time to make a few calls to guests who missed the deadline.   Your Thank You Notes – within 2 months… within 2-3 weeks if it comes ahead of time
Get your thank you notes done as soon as you can – trust me! Any time between a month and two months after you return from your honeymoon is fine, but you can only help yourself by doing them as soon as you can. If you wait much longer than a couple of months, a note will just draw attention to the fact that it took this long to send a note.
If you receive a gift before your wedding date, you generally have a few weeks to send a note out, but don’t wait too long; your guests like to know that everything arrived in one piece.

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