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surviving the bridal shower  
by Karri Peifer
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"Less is more" can serve as a good mantra for the menu as well. A fruit tray and baby quiche are perfect for any time of day. These can both be bought in bulk at any grocery store and prep time is minimal. I’m a big fan of any pre-packaged / frozen appetizer, so feel free to browse the aisles of your local grocer. A good cheat-trick that I learned from a caterer friend: buy some fresh parsley and sprinkle a sprig or two over any heated food -- this gives the appearance of home-cookin’ and no one will be any wiser.

Unfortunately, however, some shower dilemmas simply have to be battled out. And when it comes to the theme predicament especially, every bridesmaid seems to have something to say. Once upon a time I found myself knee deep in battles over themes. Experience, though, has taught me that all themes are variations of the same idea: spinster to bride. Which is why in my opinion, the theme doesn't really matter at all. Still, I understand that for a novice bridesmaid, the theme is the glue that brings the day together. It's a bridesmaid's one shot to say that this day isn't just about gifts, it's about preparing the bride for her new life (with gifts as vague perk).

With that in mind, themes are often focused on the specifics of this transition. If the bride is moving to a new city with her groom, the theme could be could be "city to city" (New York to Los Angles), or if she's a Bridget Jones's Diary fan, "Singleton to Smug Married". It's also popular to set a theme based around the gifts, like kitchenware, or specific areas of the house, such as the bathroom. You could help the bride stock her kitchen by throwing "the kitchen shower", or "a chef's shower". Perhaps shower the bride with bathroom and lingerie by going with a "luxury shower," or "pamper the bride" theme. One of my favorite themes is a "stock the bar party", where the guests are invited to bring wine, liquor, cocktail glasses, etc. Regardless of the theme, however, be aware that attendees will come bearing a gift from the registry, giving little notice that a theme ever existed. Trickery and themes aside, they know why they're really there.

you are cordially invited …
Which brings us to the guest list and invitations. Usually the bride will provide the guest list, including close friends, family, and random coworkers. These are the people to whom you'll send out the invitations that announce the theme. Invitations should be sent out about three weeks in advance with only one bridesmaid's contact information for RSVPs. (If you can get out of this one, try. Attendees may want to chat with someone about the bride's likes and dislikes, registry information, or the joy of weddings in general. This may seem harmless at the time, but when shower day rolls around you do not want to be trapped in a corner with this Chatty Cathy rehashing the painful phone call).

that's right ... still MORE this way!

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