15 Tips for Throwing a Bridal Shower on a Budget
Planning bridal showers is such a rewarding responsibility, but it takes a lot if you’re going to do it right. That said, not everyone has the budget to spend even if it’s on something as special as celebrating your friend’s engagement. Hosting and planning a bridal shower on a budget can result in something just as good if not better than more expensive, traditional party because it means you’re going to have to get creative. It’s not the price that matters, it’s the thoughtfulness and effort that you’re putting in to show your bridal bestie just how much you care!
Here are our best sixteen tips to throw a fun, memorable, and meaningful wedding shower for your bestie—without breaking the bank. So let’s start planning!
1. Know your budget
Setting your budget early will help keep your expectations in check and give you the space to prioritize what’s worth a cash investment and what you may need to forgo. Maybe it’s worth it to shell out a couple of hundred bucks on the fancy cupcake platter, but you may need to chill on the charcuterie to balance out that purchase.
The average bridal shower can cost $15 to $40 per person and more elaborate showers can cost upwards of $100 per. Depending on how many guests your friend prefers to invite this could add up to $225 for a smaller, cheaper shower (15 people at $15 per) or all the way up into the thousands for a larger shower with a higher per-person cost.
When it comes to deciding on a budget you’re comfortable with, take a look at your own finances (including your income and savings) and see where you can draw from for this bridal shower. You definitely don’t need to clean yourself out for this but consider what “fun funds” you usually spend on yourself in a given period and put that towards the wedding shower instead.
2. Cut down the guest list
If you don’t want to compromise on food, decor, and games then the easiest way to save money is simply to invite fewer guests. Catering a dinner, ordering enough bridal shower games, and drinks for the whole wedding invite list would be crazy expensive. So trimming down the guest list to the bride’s nearest and dearest only is a super-easy way to keep costs more manageable. Consider only inviting the wedding party and close family members—keeping things intimate makes the experience more personal than a giant bash would be.
Keep this wedding shower the most exclusive event of the season, and you’ll be sure to save some money on your bottom line.
3. Keep the food simple or just cook it yourself
Wedding showers can run the gambit between elaborate catered affairs to relaxed at-home finger foods. For the purposes of this piece, we’re definitely leaning towards the latter as the better option. There’s tons of fun and easy snacks you can buy on the cheap or cook yourself that are sure to satisfy some hungry party-goers.
A barbecue, a spread of finger foods, or even just a selection of desserts (at a late-afternoon shower) are all great menu options for budget bridal showers. Skipping the caterer will save you big bucks, so don’t feel obligated to go that traditional route.
We recommend doing a mix of store-bought goodies and homemade treats. You can put together a great charcuterie board fairly cheaply with the right ingredients, and setting it up is as easy as putting some crackers on a plate… Okay maybe it’s a bit more than that but either way, the cost is the same whether it’s an elegantly designed spread or just crackers on a plate. You could supplement with some dips, veggies, and chips, and then round it all out with some homebaked cookies. (And if you use the box mix, we promise not to tell!)
4. Go with a potluck!
If making or displaying food isn’t your forte, it’s time to call in the cavalry! Making a wedding shower a potluck is a fun and easy way to keep this bridal shower budget-friendly. With each attendee bringing their own dish, all you have to worry about is a table to put them on!
To make it more special, ask each guest to bring a family dish along with the recipe on a recipe card for the new couple. After the shower, you can add all the recipes to a booklet for a lovely keepsake for the bride!
5. Skip the store-bought prizes, or DIY 'em.
No one really wants the little soaps or those shoe-shaped paperweights often given out as prizes for bridal shower games. Instead, just play the games for the fun and glory of knowing you won, or bake a few batches of chocolate chip cookies and wrap them up nicely to give away as prizes. The bride has more stuff to worry about than what tiny trinkets her friends might take home from the wedding shower.
6. Borrow a venue.
This is definitely one of our biggest and simplest tips. Instead of renting out a restaurant—which can become quite costly once you factor in the room rental, food, and waitstaff fees—borrow a friend or family member’s home for the afternoon. Ask around to see if an aunt, cousin or co-worker of the bride has a big living room that can house your group. Or, depending on the season, host it outside whether it’s at a park or in someone’s backyard! You could even tie in your overall theme to play into whatever your venue might be. Someone is bound to have something that will work for this, so don’t be afraid to reach out! Everyone loves wedding showers.
7. Get ready to thrift (or dollar store)
If you’re looking for some fun and creative ways to save on decorations or other shower ideas, plan to make thrift and dollar stores your new best friend—other than the bride, of course. Thrift stores are a great way to find some cute decorations that you can use to stage your food and gift tables without breaking the bank. You may end up finding something you want to keep even after the decorations come down!
8. Four words: spray paint and glitter
Our secret to making anything look celebratory? Cover it with gold spray paint, mist it with spray adhesive, toss on some gold glitter, and seal it with an acrylic top-coat. It’s our favorite way to makeover basic decorations and mismatched thrifted vases for some awesome party decor the bride is sure to love. Who needs money when you have DIY crafts, anyway?
9. Forgo the fancy bakery cake.
There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a dressed-to-the-nines bridal shower cake! A simple confection from the bride’s favorite bakery—or a dressed-up grocery store cake—is absolutely delicious and totally appropriate.
We all know the bride cares a lot more about the wedding cake down the line, so anything that tastes good will work here. You can also bake something yourself or enlist a friend or family member of the bride to help out. Don’t be afraid to reach out, just because you’re the host doesn’t mean you have to go it alone!
10. Opt for an evite
A bridal shower is not a formal event, so it’s more than OK to send invitations via email. Choose a stylish option from Evite or Paperless Post to give the feel of a chic party without the cost of physical invitations and postage. You can also keep it lowkey and do a Facebook event—hey, it’s free, right? Whether you use a fancy website for invitations or not, all that really matters is that people know when and where to go.
11. Mix a signature cocktail pitcher
Instead of hiring bartenders or buying a large selection of bottles, make one signature cocktail and put a pitcher for everyone to share from. Mimosas are great for a brunch bridal shower or if you’re hosting during cooler seasons a big steamy pot of mulled wine is sure to be a people pleaser!
Guests are sure to enjoy whatever is there, so don’t worry about having some fancy hundred-year-old wine—just worry about everyone having a good time. You may also consider a BYOB style shower. It’s free for you and it means all the guests are guaranteed to like at least one drink available at the party.
12. Combine the entertainment and favors.
Host a craft-ernoon shower and teach a flower-arranging lesson; guests can take their bouquets home as favors. Mention this to your local florist to see if they’d give you a discount on simple stems and florals since you’d be buying them without the additional arrangements. If real florals aren’t your speed then you can get extra crafty and make felt flower bouquets to take home. Now, that’s our idea of a party.
13. Find free online games or play your own
There are tons of free online bridal shower games you can easily download and print yourself or some that don’t require printing anything! You could also just open up the game closet to see what you already have to work with. They’re basically free if you already own them! Who would know that the Game of Life actually still slaps? That’s basically a bridal shower game already, honestly.
You could even make it a board game party theme, depending on what the bride would like! There’s someone that’s right for every shower, so maybe that’s the best bet for your bride. Just ask—she’ll let you know.
14. Keep it thoughtful
When it comes to planning a bridal shower on a budget, what you save in money you’re going to have to spend in thought, time, and effort. And that’s a very good thing! Hosting the bridal shower is a great way to show how much you care, no matter the cost, so think about what your friend would really want and go from there. Maybe they care more about the decor and theme. Or maybe they’re really into shower games...
Just go with what’s right for the bride, you may be hosting, but it’s still her party. Being thoughtful is free, but it means a lot more than anything money could get you.
15. Get some help or co-host the event
When it comes to planning a bridal shower on a budget, the easiest way to keep things cheap is simply to ask for help! Yes, you love the bride and you want to make her happy, but if you aren’t in the spot to bear the brunt of the financial burden of event planning then reach out for help. Let the wedding party kick in some cash for a dessert or co-host the shower with a few other friends and family members of the bride to divide costs and maybe the planning, too! Some people have more money to give, some people may be down to cook, and maybe you can just run the show!
No matter how much money you can spend, with these tips in mind, this bridal shower is sure to be a hit!
1Keep the food simple and make it yourself.
A barbecue, a spread of finger foods, or even just a selection of desserts (at a late-afternoon shower) are all great menu options for budget bridal showers. Skipping the caterer will save you big bucks, so if there’s a great cook in your circle or the bride’s family, enlist their help! You could also make it a potluck; ask each guest to bring a family dish along with the recipe on a recipe card for the new couple.
2Skip the prizes, or DIY 'em.
No one really needs the little soaps or shoe-shaped paper weights often given out as prizes at bridal showers. Instead, just play the games for the fun and glory of knowing you won, or bake a few batches of chocolate chip cookies and wrap them up nicely to give away as prizes.
3Borrow a venue.
Instead of renting out a restaurant — which can get quite costly once you factor in the room rental, food, and waitstaff fees — borrow a friend or family member’s home for the afternoon. Ask around to see if an aunt, cousin or co-worker of the bride has a big living room that can house your group.
4Skip the fancy bakery cake.
There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a dressed-to-the-nines bridal shower cake! A simple confection from the bride’s favorite bakery — or even a dressed-up grocery store cake! — is absolutely delicious and totally appropriate.
5Send an evite.
A bridal shower is not a formal event, so it’s more than OK to send an invitation via email. Choose a stylish option from Evite or Paperless Post to give the feel of a chic party without the cost of real stationery and postage.
6Make a signature cocktail.
Instead of hiring bartenders or buying a large selection of bottles, make one signature cocktail and put a pitcher on every table.
7Use household items as decorations.
House plants make great centerpieces, as do candelabras and vases full of Trader Joe’s flowers. Use what you have on hand and borrow any additional items you need from friends or family members. White Christmas lights are beautiful when strung up in a backyard, and cheap items such as balloons and streamers are great for filling up space and adding color to your shower venue.
8Combine the entertainment and favors.
Host a craft-ernoon shower and teach a flower-arranging lesson; guests can take their bouquets home as favors.
9Make gold spray paint and glitter your BFF.
Our secret to making anything look celebratory? Cover it with gold spray paint, mist it with spray adhesive, toss on some gold glitter, and seal it with an acrylic top coat. It’s our favorite way to make over a party store banner and mismatched thrift store vases.
10Ask for help.
Thinking of hiring help for your bridal shower? Put down the phone and stop writing that email. Think of a bridal shower as a birthday party with a few more games; it’s a party you can absolutely plan and execute on your own with a little help from friends and family members. Ask for help sourcing decorations, making and plating food, and setting up the shower space.