Wedding To Remember

Downhome, do-it-yourself bridal shower

Photo By: photo courtesy of Elisabeth de Kleer
Photo Courtesy of Elisabeth de Kleer Individually decorated cupcakes, above, and homemade decorations adorning a rustic barn add ambience to the bridal shower Los Altos Hills native Nicole Mendez threw for best friend Michelle.

Michelle and I have been best friends since the seventh grade. When my family relocated to Buenos Aires during my freshman year of high school, Michelle came to visit me and quickly fell in love with Argentina’s food and culture. Eight years later, as we spent a year back in Argentina working and traveling in search of adventure, she met the love of her life, Pablo.

They celebrated their wedding in Los Altos Hills last fall, but not before I threw Michelle a bridal shower to remember.

A best friend’s gift

Working against physical distance, a short time frame and a tight budget, the idea of a do-it-yourself shower came to mind.

To kick-start the project, I collected creative ideas from blogs and sites like Pinterest and Etsy. I compiled the ideas into an inspiring vision board that provided guidance.

As a project manager by nature and profession, I created a timeline, assigning tasks and deadlines as necessary. Planning tools kept me focused and ensured that everything was accomplished on deadline.


I also took people up on their offers to help. I collaborated with Michelle’s aunt to secure a local caterer that specialized in serving brunch. Her sister-in-law – a graphic design professional – designed, developed and mailed the shower invitations.

As a team, the three of us assembled a special surprise keepsake album for Michelle. We asked each bridal guest to bring a couple of pictures of themselves to add to the album, as well as to complete a personalized information card highlighting their relationship to the bride, the reasons they love the bride and wedding-day advice for the bride-to-be. The end result was a heartwarming

collection of memories and advice that Michelle will cherish over the years.

Choosing a location and decorations

We hosted Michelle’s shower at my family’s barn in Los Altos Hills, which also happened to be the location of their wedding reception. A light and airy space, it proved the ideal venue for hosting a celebration on a warm September afternoon.

While planning decorations, I tried to mirror the bright colors Michelle incorporated in her wedding palette. I didn’t have time to source decorations at antique shops and farmers’ markets, so I rummaged through my house and attic to gather a collection of “vases” – antique glasses, cups and mason jars of varying sizes, materials and colors. I spray painted most of the vases white, antique silver and champagne silver for sparkle. To add an accent color, I painted a few of the vases pink and purple. The vases served as the foundation for elegant table arrangements that complemented the rustic feel of the barn’s interior.

Securing bright, jewel-toned flowers for table arrangements proved a bit challenging in the waning months of summer. Two days before the shower, I stumbled on Mountain View Greenhouse, a flower wholesaler. While the business does not sell directly to the public, the owner must have seen the look of desperation on my face and took me on as a client given the special circumstances.

After helping me select a variety of flowers and fillers, the staff quickly coached me on how to design arrangements like a professional. Flowers in hand, a family friend and I assembled the remaining floral arrangements.

On the day of the shower, we placed the arrangements down the center of the rectangular dining table and coupled them with tea lights. The colorful flowers and flickering candles contrasted beautifully with the rustic wood interior of the barn to create a warm, magical ambience.

Small details, big difference

Michelle has always appreciated the small details in life, so I was determined to create a few signature bridal shower items that I knew she would adore. My mother, sister and I baked and decorated several dozen cupcakes with individualized handmade signs saying “Mr. & Mrs.” and “I do.”

As with any successful bridal shower, great games are essential. I compiled a list of questions to ask her fiance in advance so that we could quiz Michelle on just how well she knew her husband-to-be. For every question Michelle answered correctly, she received a piece of candy. For every incorrect answer, she had to pop a piece of bubblegum in her mouth. The game was a hit with the guests and especially with Michelle, who ended up passing the trivia test with flying colors.

For my gift to the bride, I put together a personalized wine basket that included six poems – one to wrap around each bottle of wine. Each bottle signified a major milestone the new couple might encounter during their marriage – wedding night, first fight, first anniversary, first dinner party, Christmas Eve and first baby. I selected bottles and paired them with a label that personalized each milestone to add sentimental significance for the bride and groom.

Michelle loved the gift and even popped open the bottle of champagne I had selected for their wedding night. The short poems on the bottles provided entertainment for shower guests.

The unveiling

When Michelle entered the barn for her bridal shower, she was overwhelmed with emotion. Surrounded by all the women she loved in her life and an interior filled with homemade decorations, the moment was priceless. Tears streamed down her face as she walked over to me and gave me a hug. Her joy and appreciation made all the time and effort worthwhile.

Nicole Mendez is an independent communications and event consultant who specializes in the event-planning, luxury/hospitality and high-tech industries. For more information, visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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