10 Budget Bridal Shower Ideas

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BRIDAL SHOWER SAVINGS

It's no secret that weddings are expensive. The website WeddingStats reports that the average cost of a wedding in 2014 was just several hundred dollars shy of $29,000. As of last spring, the average wedding guest spent roughly $592 for each wedding attended. So heads up, bridal party members: You may be expected to dole out cash for the bridal shower in addition to your outfit, gifts, and the bachelorette party.

SPLIT THE BRIDAL SHOWER EXPENSE

Just because you're the bride's maid of honor, or sister, or mother in-law, or whatever title makes you feel obligated to host the bridal shower solo -- don't. It's completely acceptable to ask all the bridesmaids to pitch in. If you do go this route, it's important to be clear upfront about what everyone owes, and money should change hands well before the bash. We've also learned through experience that if you ask people to chip in financially, you should ask them to help with the planning.

FIND A FREE VENUE

Hosting the bridal shower at the newest, chicest restaurant in town sounds enticing, but do your bank account a favor. Search instead for a free venue and spend a little extra on supplies to make the site look cheerful and modern. A bridesmaid's or relative's backyard, a park, the beach, or the maid of honor's living room can be turned into a festive venue for a bridal shower.

USE DIY INVITATIONS

Today's technology makes it cheap and easy to send bridal shower invitations via email. If you prefer to send invitations the old-fashioned way, pick up decorative paper on sale and then design and print the invites at home.

AVOID SERVING A FULL MEAL

There's no obligation to serve a soup-to-nuts repast, and if your budget doesn't allow for it, extend the prohibition to alcohol, as well. Both are easily accomplished if you choose the right time of day to host the party. For example, hold a tea shower mid-morning and guests won't expect breakfast or lunch, never mind wine or beer. Serve finger foods along with coffee and tea, iced or hot.

BAKE THE CAKE AND COOKIES

Reduce refreshment costs further by forgoing bakery goodies. Don your apron and whip up a cake, cupcakes, and/or cookies. Pick up an inexpensive icing kit at the supermarket and keep the detail simple. The bride's and groom's initials on the cupcakes and cookies are a nice touch.

BUY CHEAP SUPPLIES AND DECORATIONS

The dollar store can be a goldmine of goodies for a bridal shower. You can get streamers, balloons, invitations, bridal shower game awards, and plastic serving ware for very budget-friendly prices. You will also find centerpiece ideas, such as glass vases, baskets, and candles.

MAKE DECORATIONS

Decorations liven up the party space, and making your own is both penny-wise and easy. Create a colorful banner with ribbon and card stock found at craft stores. Hit up the thrift shop for super-cheap vases and fill with fresh-cut flowers; pick up a few bowls and fill with colorful candies. A quick search on Pinterest will turn up scores of ideas. Enlist fellow bridesmaids and the decorations will be finished in no time.

PLAY FREE GAMES

You don't need much entertainment at a bridal shower. People are coming to see the bride and wish her well, so it's perfectly acceptable to let the bride socialize with her guests and nibble on the food, then open her gifts. If you want to throw in a bridal shower game or two, The Knot offers some good ideas, such as Words of Wisdom and Bridal Bingo. Click around the web and you'll find numerous other bridal sites offering free bridal shower games.

FORGET THE FAVORS

Favors up the cost factor for any shower, but there are workarounds. Play a few games and give a prize to each winner, which means only two or three favors instead of a dozen. Offer the centerpieces -- the vases filled with flowers, for example -- for guests to take home. Provide colorful paper bags for guests to fill with candy left in the bowls you set out.

COORDINATE ONE LARGE GIFT

On top of hosting, planning and paying for the shower, members of the bridal party are also expected to give the bride a shower gift. Soften the impact on everyone's wallet by going in as a group. Chipping in on one significant gift may mean spending less than $20 a person compared with the $30-plus you'd probably spend on your own.