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To have a budget bridal shower and hen party for my best friend?

(70 Posts)
Lifechanging2017 Mon 10-Apr-17 09:27:17

My best friend is getting married this summer and I am the maid of honour. She is a having a very traditional wedding and really wants to have both a bridal shower and hen do (which the bridal party is responsible for hosting). I want to give her everything she wants to make the time leading up to her wedding extra special, but her wedding is already costing a lot of money for the wedding party. I have to fly across the world for her wedding (it's in the US) and the bridesmaid dresses she wanted are way over our budget. I really can't afford to spend a lot of money hosting the bridal shower and hen do and so I am trying to come up with a way to do both of these things without spending too much money. We have to have both events the weekend before the wedding, otherwise it would involve me having to fly to America twice over the summer. So far, for the hen party, I am thinking of just doing cocktails at the brides favourite cocktail bar where the bridal party would be responsible for buying the brides drinks and food but everyone else would responsible for their own food and drinks. The bride isn't big into drinking a lot or partying and her mum and the grooms mum will be attending so we want to keep it respectable and not embarrass her.

For the bridal shower, I am hoping that her mum will offer the use of her house for the shower as a free venue and if not seeing if we can rent out space in the local park (that has a lovely white gazebo) and doing just a two hour late afternoon gathering with her friends and female relatives. I was hoping we could get away with the event being alcohol free to keep cost down and then just baking lots of lovely desserts and doing sandwiches and salads. AIBU for doing this?

I am worried that we will come off as cheap for not spending loads, but to be honest I am feeling a lot of pressure already because the cost of this wedding keep going up.

I am also trying to come up with fun games for everyone to play at the shower (I hate shower games so I am struggling to come up with any) and I am worrying that the hen do will be boring.

Do you think we have to provide little party favours for the guest at the bridal shower?

What does everyone think?

sonyaya Mon 10-Apr-17 09:35:33

I know it's different in the US and BMs buy their own dresses and bridal showers are acceptable there, but the principle of not bankrupting your friends because of your wedding is international. Your plans sounds very thoughtful and fun, and she would be very ungrateful to complain.

MidniteScribbler Mon 10-Apr-17 09:44:01

People really need to start being honest about how much these things are costing them. "Sorry, I can't shout you a five day spa trip to the Caribbean, I've already spent x amount on airfares and dress, and I've reached the limit of my budget. I cannot afford anymore." If they guilt trip you, they aren't a friend, and you can save all of your money by not attending.

flibflob Mon 10-Apr-17 09:48:10

YANBU. If the bride's not into partying the hen night sounds great - maybe ask the bar staff to make her a special cocktail? When I worked in a bar we would happily do that. I would advise pooling money and setting a budget with the party before the evening begins though. Bridal shower also sounds great, but people will probably want alcohol (even just something to toast with), Aldi do a good prosecco for £5.49 a box, or supermarket brand Pimms? No one will know when it's mixed up with the fruit etc. Jugs etc borrowed or from the pound shop.

If she's planning an international wedding, she should be aware of the cost and would be U to expect a huge do IMO. Your plans sound lovely!

flibflob Mon 10-Apr-17 09:48:56

A bottle not a box! Otherwise I would have bought it a grin

Lifechanging2017 Mon 10-Apr-17 09:54:53

We have been honest about how much we can spend. I made sure to set a budget with the bride and the bridal party at the start of this process and I made it clear that because we had gone over budget on the dresses we had to limit the money being spent on the shower and hen party. I am just worried that when it comes down to it the events will be boring and the bride will be disappointed. I do feel very torn between wanting to give her everything she wants and also feeling stressed about what is expected and how much it is costing me. I am not also not keen on spending money in general on things that I don't find completely necessary, so spending a few hundred dollars on a dress that I will wear for a few hours was a big stress for me; but she has dreamed of this since she was a little girl so I just want her to be happy, without bankrupting myself.

I am also trying to be as involved as possible because there has been some disappointment on her end that I haven't been able to spend more time in America helping her plan the wedding and sort everything.

Lifechanging2017 Mon 10-Apr-17 09:56:12

flibflob: Great idea about doing one signature drink like Pimms for the shower. That would be great and cost effective.

kissmethere Mon 10-Apr-17 10:59:58

Do you have to do 2 events? The park sounds like the most cost effective with a buffet and drinks. Considering how much you've spent already I'd be really grateful for that. It's not being cheap it's being real.

Lifechanging2017 Mon 10-Apr-17 11:08:13

I was thinking today that doing only one event might be a better option. I can run this past the rest of the bridal party. I am just a bit worried about breaking this news to the bride. I have been stressed about this today, if we can't find a cost effective way to have the shower and we have to cancel the shower--I am dreading having to tell her we can't do it.

UrethaFranklin Mon 10-Apr-17 11:14:19

What the heck is a bridal shower anyway, is it an American thing? I've never heard of one, surely it would be just like an additional hen party? Its certainly not part of a 'traditional wedding' in the UK.

Just roll the two things into one and have both together.

sonyaya Mon 10-Apr-17 11:30:58


Basically a party for people to show up and give the bride a gift. Yeah, I know.

Lifechanging2017 Mon 10-Apr-17 11:32:44

A bridal shower is rather old fashioned but very American. The bride is American and very traditional so I assume that is why she wants one. I didn't know what one was either or that it was the norm for the bridal party to give her one until just recently. It is essentially a party where there are games and where the bride gets a bunch of presents for starting her new life as a wife (things like cook wear, etc) and she sits down in front of her guest and opens her presents. I assume that there is a lot of pressure on guest to buy expensive gifts because of this.

It seems pretty horrific and I have been trying to think of ways to make it fun and not boring expensive event for the guest to attend.

WorraLiberty Mon 10-Apr-17 11:34:50

Basically a party for people to show up and give the bride a gift. Yeah, I know.

I wasn't sure what a Bridal shower was either but I guessed it would be very much that ^^

I suppose no-one brings a gift to a hen party and we can't have anyone missing out on a freebie can we? confused

Are they still expected to buy a wedding too, for the actual couple?

Lifechanging2017 Mon 10-Apr-17 11:39:17

Yes, they are still expected to buy a wedding gift for the couple. I also just found out that even the bridal party (the ones throwing the shower) are expected to bring the bride a gift to the shower.

I am almost thinking that if we can't get a venue for free or for very very little then I just tell the rest of the bridal party that this isn't feasible and hope the brides mum steps up and gives her the shower?

I hate when I feel like nonsensical tradition is dictating what I have to do and how I spend my money. I also feel like a bad friend for not caring more about this.

BigGreenOlives Mon 10-Apr-17 11:42:33

I went to a few showers where each guest was given a time e.g. 8-9am & you gave an appropriate gift in the £10-20 range. No one needs lots of expensive random gifts.

sonyaya Mon 10-Apr-17 11:46:10

OP, I'm wedding planning at the monent and have come across American wedding etiquette. I'm pretty certain she isn't entitled to expect a bridal shower, it's up to the bridal party if they want to host one or not. As you're there just one weekend you could just do the hen.

SellFridges Mon 10-Apr-17 12:08:52

What I don't get is why, if the bride is your best friend, that you can't just discuss this with her?

"Hey BFF, you know I don't really get all this hen do AND shower stuff. Can you talk me through exactly what's supposed to happen because I'm really worried I can't afford to put it on for you with the flight costs and everything"

MackerelOfFact Mon 10-Apr-17 12:12:51

Could you do an evening hen/bachelorette do and hold the shower the following day, maybe a picnic in the park so everyone can bring a food contribution?

It sounds bonkers though. Why does the lead-up to someone's wedding needs to be 'as nice as possible'?! I'm all for weddings being special occasions, but nobody needs to be fawned over for months purely because they're planning a fancy party. Aside from the couple and their immediate family, nobody really cares THAT much about weddings.

Lifechanging2017 Mon 10-Apr-17 12:14:19

Sell: I have already attempted that and I also let her know that I couldn't afford the dress but the conversation turned Into a flight which almost ended our friendship. There doesn't seem to be an understanding that expensive weddings are a luxury for those who can afford it and it a right. When I tell her that I can't afford something wedding related the response I get is that she is going into debt paying for her wedding and that's just how it's going to be. Its difficult because I've never seen this side of her before and I am hoping it's something that will subside once the wedding is over.

Lifechanging2017 Mon 10-Apr-17 12:14:45

Not a right*

jay55 Mon 10-Apr-17 12:19:24

Could you ask her mum to handle the bridal shower? As it's not a tradition you know/understand etc etc ;)

Sleepysally Mon 10-Apr-17 12:21:15

You sound like a very thoughtful friend..

For the shower could you do an 'afternoon tea' with finger sandwiches, cake and tea. All pretty cheap but can be laid out and made to look fancy, and because it's an afternoon tea there won't need to be any alcohol which will also keep costs down!

For a present I would try and do something thoughtful and sentimental rather than pricey, in years to come it will be your gift that she remembers.

Spiralblanket Mon 10-Apr-17 12:23:36

Life changing- but surely if it's all going to cost s lot it's going to put people off. I've been to an expensive hen party and people end up being resentful and not going for all of it as it costs too much.
Could you say you've done what you can to keep all the guests happy?

Spiralblanket Mon 10-Apr-17 12:24:51

You sound very nice and thoughtful by the way, your friend sounds Like a bit of a brat if she's almost fallen out with you over this

frieda909 Mon 10-Apr-17 12:30:20

I don't have anything helpful to add but just wanted to say you sound like a good friend and I'm sorry you've been treated like this.

I don't know why weddings often seem to turn sensible, decent people into selfish, inconsiderate ones. Expecting your friends to get into debt for your wedding is completely unfair and I can't believe she'd say that to you. If a friend ever told me that my wedding was causing her financial distress then I'd be absolutely mortified! I wouldn't tell her that's 'just how it is' and I most certainly would NOT get into a fight over it.

She sounds like a nightmare sad

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