23 May

Wedding Wednesday: When Do I Send Out Save The Dates, Invitations, Etc…?

Last week, commenter Cynthia wrote:

Are “save the dates”, the actual invitation for the wedding? Or is it the first heads up that someone got engaged and is getting married soon? Do people need separate invitations for engagement showers and bridal showers?! So many invitations! How did you do it?


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These are SUCH good questions!  I did a ton of research when I was getting married, trying to figure out how all these different invitations worked and when to send them out.  Here’s the breakdown of everything you need to know:

Save The Dates

Save The Dates are by no means necessary, but they have become more and more common in recent years.  When you start planning your wedding, one of the first things to usually be decided is the date of the wedding and the general location.  Couples send out Save The Dates to people they know will be invited to the wedding, so guests will have a heads-up and won’t schedule anything else for the same day.  If you’re planning to send out Save The Dates, do so about 6 months before the wedding.  Take a look at ours here for a general idea of info you should include.  REMEMBER: if you send someone a Save The Date you MUST invite them to the wedding.  So don’t send these out to people unless you are positive that you’ll have the space and budget to include them.

Bridal Shower Invitations

The bridal shower is generally thrown by the bridesmaids, so brides don’t have to worry about invites for this.  (You will have to provide the Maid of Honor with a guest list and addresses, though.)  These invites should be like any other party invite and sent out 1 to 2 months before the event.

Engagement Shower & Bachelor(ette) Invites

Once again, these events aren’t hosted by the bride and groom, so it’s up to the bridal party or family of the couple to decide how they want to do this.  The type of invitation will depend on how formal the events are and how many people are invited.  Trav and I didn’t have an official engagement party, but the day after we got engaged, we invited a group of friends to our house for a pool party and it turned into a “yay, we’re engaged!” party.  (Thus, no invitations were necessary.)  Our bachelor and bachelorette parties were small and not very formal, so we set everything up via email and skipped the invites altogether.

Wedding Invitations

THIS is where guests can find all the details about your big day.  Send out your wedding invites 6-8 weeks before the wedding and make sure to include information about both the ceremony and reception, the dress code, and a full address for the venue (we even included a little map!)  Also, make sure to include an RSVP card and a deadline for guests to get back to you.  (We chose to have guests RSVP on our wedding website.)  DO NOT put any information about your registry on your invites.  Guests know to track down family members for that info, and if you have a wedding website, you can put links to your registry info there.  Check out our invitations to get a better idea.

Hope this helps, Cynthia!

Married gals: were you confused by all of the different invitations for wedding activities?  Did you send out save the dates?  Unmarried gals: do you think it’s important to have formal invitations for the bridal shower, engagement party, and bachelorette?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

21 May

DIY Heart Garland

Travis and I spend a lot of time fantasizing about throwing parties, even though our tiny San Francisco apartment is only suited for small groups.  One of the things I love about parties is the excuse to transform the look of your house with fun decorations.  This project is easy, quick, and adds a sweet touch to any gathering.  (Bonus: if you have kids that like to do arts and crafts, this project is totally kid friendly!)

For this project, you’ll need kraft paper.  I used kraft wrapping paper ($2.99 at Target), but you could also use a paper bag.  You’ll also need scissors, thread, and a sewing machine.

Step 1: Cut out 2″-3″ squares of paper.  (Each square represents a heart; you’ll need 12-15 hearts per garland.)

Step 2: Remember how you cut out hearts as a kid?  Fold each square in half and cut out half a heart.  Then open it up and voila!  Finish cutting out all of your hearts.

Step 3: Crinkle up each heart into a ball, then un-crinkle it to reveal hearts with some added dimension.

Step 4: Sew your hearts together!  Pull your thread out from your needle so you start with a 3″ tail.  (You’ll use this to hang the garland later.)  Sew each heart right down the middle.  When you make it to the bottom of the heart, release the foot of the sewing machine and pull the heart about 3″ backwards.  This motion releases more thread, so you’ll have space between your hearts.  (Tip: keep firm tension on the “extra” thread between the hearts as you sew.  This will ensure a clean stitch down the middle of each heart.)

Step 5: Keep going until you’ve achieved your desired length, then hang up your decorations and enjoy!

Each of these garlands took less than ten minutes to make and they totally transform a room.  (We left them up all weekend and it made our house feel positively magical.)  The fun thing about this project is that you can use your imagination to cut out different shapes— stars for the 4th of July, cupcakes for a birthday party— the possibilities are endless!

What do you think of these DIY garlands?  Think it’s a project you could tackle?  Got any parties coming up?  Start crafting!

17 Apr

Throwing a Theme Party

All parties are theme parties if you really think about it. What’s the typical theme for a party? Birthdays. Holidays. Promotions. Each is a theme, but it’s really what you do with that theme that elevates your party.

Whether your theme is an inside joke for your friends or just something you enjoy—a book, a time in history, celebrity trainwrecks— you still have to focus on a few key elements: costumes, decoration, refreshments, and entertainment.

For the purpose of this post, let’s say I’m hosting a Hunger Games party.  (Get the free printables above here.)

Costume or no costume?

That’s up to you, but remember, some people will forget to dress up and some people don’t want to. That’s a good reason to keep something small at the front table that guests can use to get into the spirit. It’s easier to dance in a superhero mask or a pair of fake glasses than it is to in a cape or a professor’s outfit. For a Hunger Games party I would buy or make Mockingjay pins. You can also put out name tags for any type of affair and let people declare their character, or in this case, district.

Decorations

The way that you decorate will effect whether your guests get into the theme. You could put up a “Welcome to the 74th Hunger Games” banner or you could turn your living room into a crepe-paper forest. The level of effort should probably relate to the size of your party, although it can always be fun to transform your living space for your closest friends!

Good eats

Just like wedding cake is specific to a certain theme, it is the drinks and the snacks that can make or break your affair. For my Hunger Games party, I could make cheese buns and seaweed bread.  My personal favorite way to bring a theme onto a snack table is with more decorations. Cupcake toppings that represent the elements of your party are easy enough to buy or make, when you only need a pouf of red and orange frosting to symbolize fire or a toy bow and arrow to use as a topper. Last, make sure you create a specialty drink (whether in name or in ingredients) to keep people in the mood.

Entertainment

Party activities don’t have to consist of crazy drinking games. You can also host contests relating to costume, dance moves, or best off-the-cuff dirty joke (on theme, of course!). Make sure your playlist is upbeat and your guests are happy. Scavenger Hunts are always a lot of fun, and a great way to make sure you touch on every aspect of your theme. “Peeta’s favorite place” would lead you into the kitchen, of course, to check the bread box.

Do you have a great theme party idea? Is there another element to a great party you would never leave out? Let us know!

14 Mar

Wedding Wednesday: Throwing A Bridal Shower

We talked baby showers last week, so today let’s focus on another fun event!

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My bridal shower was one of the best days of my life (check out the photos here, if you’d like).  It’s not very often that a woman gets to spend time with all of the important women in her life at once— no matter what, it’s going to be a great day.  But if you’re a bride-to-be or if you’re planning a bridal shower in the coming months, here are some tips for making it extra special…

Before the party…

Determine who is doing what. Etiquette-wise, it’s improper for the bride’s mother to throw her a shower because it’s like the family is asking for gifts.  But these days, moms are often involved.  So, bridesmaids: delegate!  If everyone takes on certain tasks, the party planning will feel less overwhelming and more fun.

Get a guest list from the bride ASAP. The bride should have names and addresses collected already, since wedding invitations often go out around the time of a bridal shower (a couple of months pre-wedding).  Make sure you get this list early on, so you know how many guests to expect.

Involve the groom. My girls surprised me with a newlywed game during my shower— complete with video responses from Travis!  It was sooo fun to see his face pop up on the screen, and I know he loved working on this little secret with my bridesmaids beforehand.

Invite people early.  Just as wedding invites go out well ahead of time, bridal showers should be planned a ways in advance.  Sure, even with lots of notice, not everyone will be able to come.  But you’ll have a better chance the earlier you send out the invitations.

The day of the party…

Dress up. My girls threw me a tea party, and almost everyone used the excuse to wear a fun, summery frock.  The bride will want to get dressed up for this special occasion— it’ll be more fun if the guests do, too!  (And make sure you give the bride-to-be a fun veil to wear for the day… I felt amazing wearing one.  It was the first time I really felt like a bride!)

Decorate! Establishing a theme can make this an easy task (for example, a Parisian bridal shower would have lots of black, white, and pink stripes and yummy macarons for guests to munch on!)  My girls put bouquets of flowers everywhere and had a table of brightly colored tea cups for party favors.

Load up on finger foods. Invite guests to bring a dish to share if preparing appetizers isn’t your forte.  Any good party starts with yummy food, right?

Play games. I believe we had 3 games at my shower… the newlywed game, the toilet paper wedding dress competition, and a fun recipe game (the girls typed up 6 recipes, but left out ingredients… whoever filled in all the correct ingredients got a prize!)  Games keep the mood light and the party moving.

And remember: as long as you keep the mood celebratory and fun, everyone is bound to have a blast!

Have you ever thrown a bridal shower?  Have you attended one?  What makes a shower particularly great to you?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

P.S.- How hilarious are these bridal shower cookies?!

5 Mar

Fun Baby Shower Ideas!

Yesterday, I attended the sweetest baby shower— full of  joy, excitement, and fun games!  For those of you who have a baby shower in the works in your life (or if you just love a good party, like I do), keep these ideas in your memory bank…

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My number one favorite thing about the event was the flow.  Rather than trying to control the large group, the hosts set up mini stations all over the house that guests could visit at their leisure, in between getting a snack and catching up with friends.  And the stations were great!  They had…

1) An alphabet scrapbook table. I think this was everyone’s favorite activity.  Before the party started, the hosts picked out 26 cute pieces of scrapbook paper and glued a letter to each of them.  Then, they filled a super-long table with crafty supplies, pictures, stamps, etc…  Each guest had the opportunity to pick a letter and make a page for the “alphabet book”, so the baby will grow up learning her letters from the people she loves most!  Genius!

2) A diaper raffle corner. As part of the shower invitation, each guest was invited to bring a pack of diapers and drop them off in a cute bassinet as they walked in.  In exchange, we each got a raffle ticket with an opportunity to win some fun prizes!  So simple and easy, and the guest of honor got a TON of diapers!

3) A baby bottle guessing game. How many sour patch fit in a baby bottle?  We all visited this station, took a look, and made our best guess.  The answer: 67!  (I should know, I won this one :)

4) The classic string game. Every baby shower must involve guessing the size of the belly, right?  There was a fourth station with string and scissors for us to guess how big around the guest of honor was, which is always a hoot!

There was great food all afternoon, lots of “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing over all of the sweet little gifts (which they saved until the end of the shower, so people didn’t feel pressure to stay), and plenty of activities to keep the event moving along without being too regimented.  (I’m not gonna lie… I definitely told my mom to take notes when the time comes for me to have a baby shower of my own :)

When was the last time you went to (or hosted!) a baby shower?  Did you play any of the games I mentioned?  Got any other ideas to make a shower lots of fun?  Share them in the comments!