Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vintage Theme Bridal Shower, on a Budget

A good friend called me recently, to say that she’s hosting a bridal shower for fifteen.  My friend has been the Bride’s surrogate Mother after the Bride’s Mom passed away 15 years ago.  Could I help?  Of course!  The Bride is a stylish but also no-nonsense, a girl on a budget who wants details that count but no extra fluff, so it was not to be a lavish affair.  But that didn’t mean it couldn’t be really nice.  I want to show you a few elements of the party, maybe you can find a few things to steal, to consider, and a few tips. 

The Bride is young, a writer and newspaper columnist, and loves swing dancing.  She decided on a “vintage” theme for the shower, though she didn’t want any of us to spend a mint.  That means, to start, not eating out and borrowing as much as you can from friends instead of buying much beyond the food.  We used my flatware and glasses. If you don’t have all matching, it doesn’t matter, though I have to say I bought these simple all-purpose glasses and flutes 20 years ago and they have paid for themselves a hundred times over. 


The entry and sitting room set the tone for the party, styled using pieces borrowed from an antique dealer friend.  The Bride’s photo was incorporated into the mix in the silver frame on top of her own vintage typewriter. Details count.  And “vintage” is a great theme because anything more then a few years old can qualify, and you can do a lot with just a little.  Look in your cupboards and see what you can find!!


A vintage hat, family portraits and vintage postcards and barware set the scene for a party.  If it’s a men’s party, of course use more masculine photos and objects; for women, its easy with hats and such, and vintage women’s images are easy to find or reproduce.


If you can find them, go for a big piece like a phonograph. Too fun!! 


Guests were encouraged to come in vintage dress, but just in case, we set out several cases of vintage goods from our closets, such as boas and sequin sweaters and hats; from the sedate to the outrageous, it was all there.  I admit to still wearing my vintage clothes, but hey, these were 20-something girls, and this stuff would all be way vintage and hopefully cool for them.  I missed the end of the party, but apparently they took turns changing outfits and taking dozens of selfies in vintage style~


Hats and hat boxes set out on the piano~


Around the corner, inexpensive gift boxes; the hostess bought the goods, I assembled. All Target and Trader Joes.


French sterling and Limoges were stacked on a side table, with desserts for later.  A few rose petals scattered around said Party.  The peach and pink tones said Vintage to me.


For the food, we relied on Pinterest to collect and share food images and ideas that the Bride loved.  We kept it Simple.  Take an inexpensive piece of brie and add fresh rosemary and honey, or apples and honey or liqueur and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Use parchment paper or a Silpat underneath.  Looks great, tastes amazing.  An eye-catching plate even before it makes it to the oven. 


Our Bride arrived, and at first I thought she was channelling Spain.  But no, she is a Suffragette. Major points for Vintage Theme!  She later changed into a sequined 20’s cap.


On a side table, I had set out the glasses, on a silver tray.  Add rose petals from the most tired roses, the ones that won’t make it in the bouquets.  Instant Festive.  Shop hard and know where to get roses: that may be the grocery store, florist or a friend’s garden.  There was also wine and flavored water.  Never forget lots of water.


Peach sangria garnished with rosemary was also on hand; I am not a big fan of sweet drinks as guests will probably get toasted and hungover from the sugar and alcohol, but it sure does add to the fun of the party, as long as no one has to drive!


I used champagne buckets for the roses; they were fragrant and cost $20 for all three dozen local roses. You can’t beat roses for impact for a party.


All the sofas were covered in vintage barkcloth scraps we had on hand.  Still vintage.  The Bride’s chair had an overlay of lace over barkcloth, a piece I have had forever, bought in a flea market garage in NYC long ago.  Bridal and Vintage.  I set a rose on the seat as if to say Reserved for the Bride.


So back to food and table details, I used my linen napkins, ironed flat, and lots of pretty flatware.  Instant party.   Guests could start with smaller plates for their finger food. Dessert was also set up on this side table.


We had homemade blinis with salmon, while the girls filled their own drinks.


Have some kind of food ready for guests the minute they walk in the door, but the rest of the food items can hit the table as they are finished in the kitchen.  Prepared salads, layered on trays, as well as some hot appies…..


Nothing was necessarily fancy, but it was all good…


As for the guests, these girls came ready to party!  Hooray Ashley for your vintage gear, all your own~


Eventually the girls all sat down for more substantial food~


Before bridal party games….


and a surprise, a French Singer belting out the tunes~


Our singer was the largest expense of the day after the food and drink.  But it made for a really fun party, and she also sang a poem the Groom had written for his Bride.  At the end of the evening, we figured we had saved a mint versus going out to eat, and even had a French Jazz singer all to ourselves.  It was a very fun party and the Bride loved it; success!  Such a success that the Bride wants me to ramp up the decor and florals and details of her wedding, which is this next Sunday.  Hope to have one post showing you some DIY and budget prep items and another post of the wedding itself.


  1. Andrea you really know how to pull together the most amazing party ever! I can see how much fun everyone is having and the food looks delish!

    The Arts by Karena

  2. What a fun afternoon and looking forward to the wedding pics! Thank you for the ideas; Cassidy's grad party is in June so I'm starting to pull together thoughts on that!

  3. Bonjour,
    Un très joli billet... En ce 1er mai je vous souhaite plein de bonheur pour vous et tous ceux que vous aimez.
    Je vous fais de gros bisous ♡

  4. Dear French Basketeer,
    I thought you should know I miss you when you are quiet. Sometimes you just need to hear, even from a stranger that what you post is lovely, inspiring and MISSED!
    All the best.

  5. Awesome party!!!
    We are planning a vintage SF couples shower in June…sort of with the theme of our 1920's building. Great idea about the costume attire…and French singer. How FUN. And the food looks divine.