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10 Tips for Throwing a Bridal Shower that Looks Expensive

Throw a stylish bash on a budget.

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Start with a classic invitation

While many experts agree that e-vites are perfectly acceptable for showers, a printed card is timeless. Choose one with a heavy card stock base in a rich solid, subtle pattern, or chic metallic. And don’t forget the content: include the bride’s full name, the date, time, and location of the event, and an RSVP name, phone number, and date. You might also include where the bride is registered, the party’s theme, if any, and whether or not the shower is a surprise. Cue guests in on appropriate attire as well as what to expect in terms of food (for example, a full brunch or just hors d’oeuvres and drinks). For simple designs try websites like Shutterfly, Minted, or PaperCulture.

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Develop a chic color scheme

Take cues from the bride’s personal taste and the theme of your shower. If it’s an afternoon tea, choose a pastel palette based around the bride’s favorite color. If the theme is a tropical honeymoon, try muted yellows and oranges with pops of bold turquoise. Pull it all together with invitations, accessories, and thank-you notes that fall in line with the color scheme. This is how to choose a stunning color scheme for your home.

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Start decorating with low-cost linens

If you’ve got a set of crisp white linen tablecloths, now’s the time to break them out. If not, faux linens are available for less than $10 at most party stores. Fabric will look infinitely more luxe than plastic. Choose one that fits your color palette.

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Add tulle and twinkle lights

Create a romantic atmosphere by pairing tulle and white twinkle lights (stock up while they’re on sale after the winter holidays). Both are relatively low cost but will offer an elegant glow. For an indoor party, drape the combo in front of your buffet table or drinks bar, or even from wall to wall. For an outdoor affair, hang them around the perimeter of your deck or from tree to tree (this is how to throw a flawless backyard party). When purchasing twinkle lights, choose ones with a white wire as opposed to green.

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Bring in fresh flowers

Keep flowers inexpensive by choosing blooms that are in season: calla lilies and camellias in winter, peonies and stock in spring, tuberose and zinnia in summer, and chrysanthemum and dahlias in fall. Place them around your party space in quirky vases or glasses. For an even cheaper (but still gorgeous!) option, head to your supermarket for low-cost blooms. Here’s how to make grocery store bouquets look gorgeous. For flowers you won’t have to throw out at end of the day, look into potted plants; they’ll look just as vibrant and you can give them away as prizes or party favors. This is how to make flowers last longer.

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Decorate with fun frames

Pick up inexpensive frames at the dollar store and spray paint them to match your theme. Display photos of the bride and groom, as well as the party’s food and drink menu.

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Keep your menu simple

Unless you’ve specified a sit-down meal, most guests will be happy with hors d’oeuvres and dessert. Find a few recipes that match your theme and the bride’s preferences and split the cooking between yourself and the other bridesmaids. Try these easy appetizer recipes.

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Make a statement

Make your shower memorable by choosing one statement item to splurge on. This could be something like a stunning invitation (the bride-to-be will likely keep these in a scrapbook, and guests will be sure to notice), a gorgeous cake or dessert display, or even live entertainment, a unique game, or a fun photo booth.

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Try a drinks table

Alcoholic beverages can easily make party costs soar. Limit your supply by mixing drinks ahead of time (you’ll go through less alcohol than if you pour out glasses of wine) and displaying them in a beverage dispenser. A mimosa bar is also a great idea: set up a table with champagne, juices, and fruit garnishes. Guests can make their own colorful drinks. Try these festive summer cocktails.

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Keep the bride (and guests) comfortable

If the guest of honor isn’t one for party games, don’t force them on her. Similarly, if she doesn’t enjoy opening presents in public, ask guests to wrap them up in cellophane. That way, she can thank guests for their gifts without making a fuss about opening them. Ultimately, it’s the bride’s day, and she (and her friends, family, and the groom’s family) should feel comfortable.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest