How to Host a Brunch Wedding Shower
Get the girls together for a bridal shower brunch inspired by summer camp, including s'mores, milk and cookies, and craft-making.
By: Brian Patrick Flynn
Inspired by sleep-away camp, this bridal brunch was decorated with nods to summertime and the great outdoors. To avoid an over-the-top look, the aesthetic was kept elegant and soft, focusing mostly on the mossy-green, dark brown and soft pink color scheme as well as textures, shapes and objects reminiscent of a camp cabin environment.
Getting the Right Flow
A successful bridal brunch includes a well-thought-out space plan focused on four main elements: a sign-in station, gift station, buffet line and formal seating area. To create proper flow in this generously sized dining room, the sign-in station and gift station were placed along each side of the entrance. The formal seating sits dead center, and the buffet is six feet from the dining table, placed up against the longest wall of the room.
While presentation and the menu are key elements of a brunch buffet, it’s also smart to pay close attention to where the buffet will be located. If a buffet is set up too far from the table, guests may begin to stray and carry on conversations standing up and around the table, rather than at it. When a buffet is positioned too close to the table, guests filling their plates are likely to bump into those seated comfortably. Place the buffet approximately six to eight feet away from the brunch table in a well-lit area, preferably near windows where natural light will cast an ambient glow on your menu items.
Topiaries don’t have to be made of greenery. Get playful and creative with buffet or table centerpieces with candlestick-and-lollipop topiaries. To make these, pick up candlesticks in similar shapes of various sizes (large, medium and small). Spray-paint them with one of the colors in the party’s aesthetic. Next, edit lollipops down to a cohesive group of colors, and insert them into a floral foam sphere, evenly spaced apart. Place the sphere atop the candlesticks, then add them to the center of a table or buffet.
To encourage conversation among guests, be sure to place items along the dining table that also serve as natural conversation-starters. To make the event more personal, supply the hostess with framed black-and-white photos featuring the bride-to-be and invitees. Grouped together, they create an instant focal point and help guests break the ice discussing everything from old hairstyles to college memories.
Framed Photo Wall
To achieve a balanced, cohesive photo wall, use multiple frames in the same style. The repetitive look is modern and clean in application and adds symmetry to the wall.
Pink Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are a big hit at brunches, particularly in the South. They provide great midmorning protein and pack the added benefit of being an easy-to-hold finger food. To make them, you’ll need hard-boiled eggs, 1 teaspoon of food coloring and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. Slice each egg white in half, and scoop out the egg yolk. Once boiled, remove yolks from egg whites, then mash yolk with mayonnaise inside of a cup using a fork. To dye the eggs, fill a coffee cup two-thirds with cold water, then add three drops of food coloring and one teaspoon of vinegar. Once the egg white changes color, remove it, then fill center with yolk and mayonnaise mix.
When designing brunches with strong themes or motifs, use thematically relevant objects as table dressing, vessels and risers. To elevate skewers, a stack of vintage schoolbooks was used, which not only helped food presentation, but also brought the brown and green color scheme into the space.
Biscuits for brunch? Yes! While croissants and bagels are often the breads of choice for breakfast and brunch, biscuits work just as well for mini sandwiches. Bake biscuits until lightly brown, then add ham, pork or bacon topped with cheese.
Since finger foods are a key element to a successful brunch, bruschetta makes for an excellent appetizer. Toast slices of Italian or French bread, then add spreads such as cream cheese, goat cheese or tapenade topped with light fixings such as smoked salmon, capers or prosciutto.
Cake plates are excellent for adding height to a brunch presentation; however, they don’t necessarily need to showcase cakes. Create a clever cheese and cracker presentation with cheeses displayed on a flat plate under a cake plate filled with crackers.
Sweet and Bubbly
Soft drinks and juices offer a chance to work a color scheme into your brunch presentation. Lemonades are a great source since they come in white, yellow and pink. When working seltzer into your buffet, consider the labeling and tint of the glass bottles to keep a consistent color scheme flowing throughout the entire buffet.
Paper rosebud streamers are an excellent girls’ group craft. Since streamers are often used at wedding ceremonies and at receptions and brunches, this offers a chance for wedding parties to get together for drinks prior to the events to create something personal for the bride-to-be. To make them, pick up three to five styles of coordinating paint-chip papers. Cut the end of the chip at a 45-degree angle with scissors. Next, twist around until a conical form takes shape. To keep it from unraveling, add a generous bead of hot glue to the back where the two edges of the paint chips meet. Make several flowers in assorted colors and attach them to long strands of ribbon, evenly spaced out using hot glue.
Brunches with outdoor themes are excellent fits for floral arrangements made with wildflowers. The trick to making wildflower groupings chic is proper editing. Stick with a tight palette that coordinates well with the colors of your brunch, and ensure a good mix of textures and shapes. To keep the end result from looking too busy or fussy, stick with simple vessels that don't detract from the mix of flowers.
Lighting in a Jar
Mason jar pendants evoke a feeling of summertime. Often used in rural settings as glassware for lemonade or juice, Mason jars can easily be repurposed as custom lighting once outfitted with pendant kits and canopies. Use a drill and a glass drill bit to create a hole through the metal lid of the Mason jar. Next, attach the pendant kit through the drilled hole, then attach cords from several jars to an appropriately sized canopy.
Similar to streamers, pennants are a great way to add color, texture and shape to your themed brunch. To make them, gather three to five coordinating papers similar in color and style. Cut the pennants to size, backing the paper with thick card stock. Stream the pennants out, side by side, with 3/4” space between them.
Use summer camp games and challenges as inspiration for your curtain tie-backs. Cut burlap to size as a tug-of-war flag, then use twine to attach to the curtain.
Guest books have become a thing of the past. Instead, hosts have started replacing them with thumbprint sign-ins, which are a bit more personal and more fun to create. Pick up a 16x20 textured art board from the art supply store, then sketch sprawling scenery onto it using a marker or pen. Leave a grouping of colored ink pads near the sketch, using hues which coordinate with the color scheme of the bridal brunch. Guests will then sign in using their thumbprints as part of the painted scenery itself, writing their name next to it with an ink pen or marker.
Dessert stations offer a place for guests and hosts to be playful and interactive. Taking inspiration from sleep-away campfires, consider a dessert station packed with s’mores and homemade cookies. Display the ingredients in vessels of various shapes, sizes and heights, and stock the station with ice-cold milk served in classic milk glasses.
Planter Box Centerpiece
Who says centerpieces have to be all about flowers? Bring the outdoors in with a long wooden planter box outfitted with small potted junipers or succulents, pea gravel and pinecones. Lighten the weight of the planter box by filling it two-thirds high with Styrofoam packing peanuts. Next, place the potted junipers into the peanuts, then add a 2” to 3” top layer of pea gravel, covering the peanuts as well as the plastic pots. Add groups of pinecones to the top for an added layer of texture and color. When choosing greenery, it’s important to pick low, bushy succulents or slender junipers no taller than 10 inches to ensure guests can see each other easily through the centerpiece.
S'more Roasting Station
Make your planter box centerpiece interactive as a s’mores roasting station with safely spaced, food-safe ethanol gel cans nestled into a thick top layer of pea gravel. For proper safety precautions, keep the ethanol gel cans positioned at least eight inches away from the edge of the greenery. If using junipers instead of succulents, be sure to water them properly to keep them hydrated and moistened. NOTE: Dried-out branches and needles are a fire hazard, so it’s extra important to make sure greenery near the ethanol gel cans is cool to the touch before utilizing the centerpiece as a s’mores roasting station. Ethanol gel cans are for sale at restaurant supply stores as well as grilling or camping sections of major big-box retailers.
If using junipers for your centerpiece, it’s important to choose well-hydrated styles which are slender and less than 12 inches tall to ensure proper clearance for guests to see through the centerpiece once seated.
S’mores stations can be given a more polished, designer look with the addition of gourmet marshmallows. Becoming increasingly popular nationwide, gourmet marshmallows are available through many specialty bakeries and pastry boutiques. Coordinate the marshmallows with your bridal brunch decor by requesting certain colors which are created with the addition of food coloring.
Add variety to your s’mores station with a platter of different graham crackers and chocolates. While milk chocolate is often a favorite, white chocolate and dark chocolate are becoming increasingly more popular. To cater to different palates, mix classic graham crackers with cinnamon and chocolate flavors. Put an entirely new spin on s’mores by also including a mix of shortbread cookies.
Amp up the style factor with homemade cookies presented in classic glass cookie jars. Often made with airtight lids, these are a great way to keep them contained stylishly while also preserving freshness. Lay cookies out in an odd number of jars, alternating in height and shape. To identify flavor, attach chalkboard paper to the front with double-sided tape, using chalk to identify the cookies inside.
Classic milk bottles are an excellent way to add a classic yet sophisticated and playful look to ice-cold milk. Add a touch of retro pattern with candy-striped paper straws.
To bring elements of summer camp to your tabletop, stick with colors and textures relevant to the outdoors. The rough wooden construction of the tabletop paired with a woven-grass charger creates a neutral backdrop for the olive-green linen napkins which contrast nicely with small accents of light pink, giving the otherwise rustic and masculine colors and textures a feminine spin.
The placement of your bridal brunch gift table is important both for encouraging guests to interact upon their arrival and also to create proper flow throughout the space. For proper flow and immediate interaction upon arrival, keep the gift table near the entrance of the party and at least eight feet away from the formal dining table. Circular tables often work best due to their lack of corners. Add elegance by draping the table with linens in the color scheme of your brunch’s decor.