In the middle of planning her fourth bridal shower for a longtime friend, Karen Palazzini knows from past experience just how important food can be when it comes to keeping the bride-to-be and her guests happy.
“Since showers can go on for hours, having a delicious spread ensures your guests will remain in good spirits,” says Palazzini. “Although I’ve never done the cooking for any of the showers that I hosted, I’ve planned the menu and learned that there are many things to take into consideration—first and foremost being the bride. Her wishes should dictate how casual or formal the shower is, what kind of food should be served, and the general atmosphere.”
Here are some tips on how to plan the food for your friend’s upcoming bridal shower (or for your own!).
Serve lighter dishes.
Bride-to-be Nisa Burns agrees with Palazzini . “I would say think about what the bride likes food-wise and have her favorite dishes incorporated throughout the shower. Also, since most bridal showers are luncheon-type affairs, try having lighter dishes that focus more on appetizers than heavy entrees,” says Burns, who is also a chef and the author of Kitchenability 101.
Personalize and vary your food options.
Palazzini, who is a veterinarian by trade, said most of the showers she’s planned over the years have been fairly casual since the brides wanted it to be informal. When that’s the case, “I like to plan showers at someone’s home so that there’s a more relaxed atmosphere. In one instance, the bride wanted a beach wedding but wasn’t able to have one for multiple reasons. Instead, we planned a beach-themed shower with picnic food, fun fruity drinks, and beach decor,” she says. “Another bride came from a big Italian family, so we focused on family-style Italian favorites when it came to the food. It’s also important to have a variety of options on the menu so that as many people as possible can find something that’s appetizing to them.”
Take a step back and determine your highlighted dish.
Although her maid of honor will decide what food to serve at her shower, Burns has plenty of suggestions for bridal parties that want to make a lasting impression by planning a menu just as a chef like her would. “Take a step back, see how many guests you’ll have, consider your budget, and determine what should be the most highlighted dish,” advises Burns. “Including desserts like cupcakes or a small dessert bar are also great ideas to incorporate.”
Plan a seasonal menu.
Menus should also reflect the time of year. “Having a winter, spring, summer or fall wedding shower will affect your menu by what foods are in season,” says Burns. “For example, in the summertime, serving lighter fare, such as salads, is a great idea. You’ll also want to consider what fruits and vegetables are in season, and try to incorporate those.”
Those who decide to include salad on the menu should remember that certain variations are more appropriate for one season versus another. During the summertime, “ideas that are great for luncheon bridal showers are the Caprese salad, which is made with fresh tomatoes—which are in peak season in summer—mozzarella cheese, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Or if you’d prefer a fruit salad, a watermelon salad with feta cheese and balsamic vinegar may be more up your alley.”
On a budget? Throw a potluck shower!
Bridal parties on a budget may want to stray from planning a set menu altogether. “There are always ways to still have an amazing bridal shower regardless of your budget. One good way to cut costs is to have a potluck shower. Have each one of your guests bring a dish. This will drastically cut down costs on overall food for the shower. It’s also a great way to include everyone,” suggests Burns.
Ultimately it doesn’t really matter what the food turns out like, according to Burns. “Getting married is a huge step in life, so keep that in mind throughout all the planning, the occasional wedding drama, and all that goes along with making a wedding happen. At the end of it all you are marrying your best friend!”
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