Make a to-do list that includes invitations, menu, setup, cleanup, photos, decorations, ice-runs, etc. Organize list items in a three-ring binder with dividers. Add details as needed, but hang on to your sanity by keeping things simple.
- The maid or matron of honor usually leads the charge, with work shared by the rest of the bridesmaids. This means the party-givers pay the bills, so it's essential you make and stick to a budget.
- Schedule the shower six to eight weeks before the wedding. Try for a two-hour block on a weekend afternoon.
- The bride and groom compile the guest list. When you've gathered addresses, phone numbers, and email, send out invitations six weeks before the shower or several months ahead if there will be out-of-towners. Include the date, start and end times--two hours should do it--event address, contact information, and gift registry.
- Let guests know if the party has a theme: kitchen, new home, pamper-the-bride, or other special interests.
- A big guest list might mean you rent a space; a more intimate gathering could be held at a private home. Either way, plan for enough seating, eating, and mingling. Decorations can be simple or elaborate; classic or themed.
- If there's room in your budget, hire someone to help set up, serve, and clean up afterwards.