Shower Ideas for the Non-Girly Bride

The lovely E. wrote to me with the following question:

Might you have any suggestions for bridal shower ideas/activities for a pair of non-girly brides? I’m co-throwing a shower and having a planning session soon! Thanks! :)

Questions like this are always a little tough for me, because I don’t actually know these particular non-girly brides. Maybe my idea of a great non-girly bridal shower might not be how bride-to-be 1 and bride-to-be 2 would like to celebrate their upcoming nuptials. So my first piece of advice for you, E., is to go with your gut. You know these brides and how they like to party, you understand how they think and you care about them, and most importantly, you probably know what they don’t like. In other words, just because every ‘how to host a bridal shower‘ guide out there is telling you to do X, Y, and Z doesn’t mean you actually should.

Personally, I am a fan of the non-shower shower – the kind of bridal shower that doesn’t try too hard to be pink and frilly and nightmarishly silly with hats and games that make the whole thing feel more like a kid’s party than an event for grownup people. And planning a bridal shower like this means veering away from the generic bridal shower and instead, choosing a location, activities, food, and themes that will actually appeal to the guest of honor. That, of course, is where these non-girly brides’ personalities come in. I am definitely going to offer you some suggestions, but if none of them sound like they would appeal to your friends, then use them as a jumping off point. Think of my suggestions as templates and do with them what you will.


Party On Location
The default setting for a bridal shower tends to be either the host’s home or a rented banquet space, if the affair will be big and grand. But depending on the size of your bridal shower, there’s no rule stating guests have to gather in your tulle-draped living room. My own bridal shower was a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant (that happened to have a fully-stocked bar and lengthy cocktail menu). If the bride loves to bowl, why not plan a bowling shower? Or set up a private yoga class complete with organic refreshments afterward for the centered bride.
I’ve seen showers at skating rinks and spas, karaoke bars and cooking schools, arcades and amusement parks. The only thing to keep in mind when hosting a bridal shower on location is that some guests may not want to participate in the activity du jour, so have chairs and plenty of nibbles on hand for the spectators. Or have a post-party dinner that everyone can attend.

Skip the Games… Maybe
Some brides-to-be love love love bridal shower games, from the making of the toilet paper wedding dress to the round of questions designed to show off just how little the she knows about her intended. But we’re talking about non-girly brides here, which makes me think that if you’re going to play bridal shower games, you ought to skip the ones that are all about embarrassing the guest of honor – you know it’s secretly true – and go for board games instead. If you’re planning on serving adult beverages, maybe bust out some Apples to Apples once everyone has loosened up a bit. Or grab some quick games that shower guests can rotate through and have little prizes on hand for the winners at each table. Just remember that, like the on-location activities, there will be people who don’t want to play games, so make sure everyone present understands there is no pressure to participate.

Is the Bride-to-Be a Crafty Chick?
Some people get really jazzed about sharing their passions with others, and you can incorporate that into a bridal shower by giving guests a lesson in whatever the guest of honor is into. Does she knit like a master or make jewelry like a boss? Maybe pottery is her thing? Or it could be that the bride-to-be wants to start learning how to do something new. Either way, you have the inspiration for a super fun shower where everyone involved gets to learn something and possibly even make something to take home. An easy idea might be an afternoon of painting pottery – slightly more difficult to arrange (but not impossible) would be an afternoon with a pottery instructor who demonstrates the basics of hand-forming and then helps shower attendees create… something.

Taste That Wine
I don’t think I’m the only one out there who feels like the standard bridal shower can get a little juvenile – there’s not much to differentiate it from a baby shower in some cases. It’s like someone, somewhere decided that if a bunch of women were going to get together and party, why, there must be games and bows and things. Or maybe it’s just that once upon a time, people were getting married quite early, and they were basically still kids? I don’t really know. What I do know is that one easy way to adult up a bridal shower without much trouble is to turn it into a wine tasting event. Tying it into the whole marriage theme can be as easy as finding wines with names that relate to marriage or whatever the wedding theme with be. Or you can just say screw that, and get some totally rad wines for all the guests to try. Alternatives include scotch or vodka or whatever. Just don’t forget the fun non-alcoholic drinks for the non-drinkers.

Thinking Themey?
Keep in mind that a bridal shower doesn’t have to have a theme other than ‘party for a bride-to-be”. That said, bridal shower themes are a hot topic on wedding planning web sites so you may be contemplating a possible theme. Let’s stay away from shoes and purses, and stick to the bride-to-be’s hobbies or favorite things. If she loves to cook, try a cooking theme – but not rolling pins and aprons, rather top chef-y sorts of things. An Asian theme without the glittery glyphs spelling out who knows what can be nice and makes choosing suitable cuisine easy. A mod theme could be fun, especially if the guest of honor has a thing for vintage fashion (or vintage cocktails).

Inviting the Guys: Yes or No?
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I did not have enough close girlfriends to have a big bridal shower. So I would have adored a co-ed bridal shower. Me, I think that close guy friends should get invites to pre-wedding parties, even if those parties are traditionally for the ladies, but obviously that’s something that will depend on the brides in question. I just wanted to bring it up as a final consideration – some gals have best buds that are of the dude variety and it seems like a shame to leave them out of the fun.

Image: http://cheap-wedding-planning.blogspot.com/2009/10/bridal-shower-for-erica.html OMG BAGELS!

2 Responses to “Shower Ideas for the Non-Girly Bride”

  1. Brynn January 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    We went to a winery for my best friends wedding shower. It was amazing! They winery owners were super sweet and even printed some wine with my friend and her fiancee’s name on the label. We definitely had a great time, and got to drink some good wine, too!

  2. Kate January 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    My bridal shower involved brunch (at the home of my aunt, who was hosting), opening presents, and no other organized activities. We spent a lot of time admiring the cookbook that my MIL had compiled with recipes and anecdotes and pictures submitted by the guests and other friends and relatives who couldn’t make it. It was delightful.

    On a similar vein, for my ‘bachelorette party’ I went out for Indian food with my sister and a handful of girlfriends, which ended up involving a lot of wine and a tiara. The waitstaff at the restaurant got really into it, offering to take pictures and finding free cake somewhere for us. It was also a lot of fun, again in a low-key, not-super-girly way.