How to Throw a Backyard Bridal Shower

Hey, bridesmaids: This one's for you.

Photo: Lindsey Grace of Wild Native Co.

Throwing a bridal shower in someone's backyard is a fun, affordable way to celebrate, but these at-home events still require careful planning. If you're thinking about showering the bride-to-be with a backyard party this spring or summer, here's what you need to know first.

Avoid the hottest time of day.

Your vision of an awesome bridal shower probably doesn't include the guests sweating and fanning themselves. If temperatures usually soar at 3:00 p.m. in the area, start the party at noon and end by 3:00 p.m. or have an early evening cocktail party instead.

Use the most level part of the yard.

Tables on a wobbly surface are annoying and uncomfortable, so choose the flattest parts of the yard when setting up.

Be aware of bugs and noise.

Research when mosquitos are most active in your area, then plan to be indoors before that time comes. Same goes for noise. Give your neighbors a heads up about the shower and kindly ask if they could avoid using lawn mowers and other ear-splitting equipment during those hours.

Make a welcome sign.

Since the party is outdoors, you'll want to direct guests to the bridal shower with proper signage. You could construct a sign from wood, burlap, or another natural material, or else order a pretty calligraphed version from a pro. Offer guests a drink as soon as they arrive-nothing says, "Glad you're here" like a warm greeting and a beverage, whether it's a lemonade or margarita.

Add some decorations.

It'll demonstrate that something special is going to happen here. Choose a theme close to the bride's heart or go with something classic, like a garden party vibe. Don't feel limited to the wedding colors-this is a totally different party with a totally different personality.

Designate an area for gifts.

Since presents are the whole point of a shower, make the gift area stand out. Put a pretty tablecloth on a large table (or two smaller tables) and make a "Gifts" sign. Use ribbons, flowers, or other décor to give the table some style.

Set up a buffet.

A backyard shower most likely has a casual vibe, so serving food buffet style will feel right. To avoid one long line, set up each side of the table with identical dishes to speed things up.

Have an indoor backup space, just in case.

Rain happens and so do unusually chilly temperatures, so making a backup plan is crucial. You could put up a tent but if your budget screams "no" or you can't borrow one, plan to bring the outdoors inside; obviously you'll need to get the okay from the homeowners ahead of time. Ask if you can move some furniture out of the way to make room for guest table and chairs. Use the same decorations and serve the same menu, including summery cocktails.

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