BOSTON ELEGANT WEDDING
Go ahead and break tradition. These parties are sure
many brides-to-be, the traditional shower can be anything but fun.
If hers follows the standard
format, your bride will spending a very long afternoon sitting in someone’s
living room, opening gifts one by one and trying to show the appropriate
response to each. No wonder so many women beg friends and family to skip
the whole thing.
“Many brides just don’t feel comfortable being the center of attention,” says
Kristen Weiss, owner of I Thee Wed, a wedding planning company in South Natick. “It
can be very awkward to be in the spotlight, especially when you’re receiving
presents and trying to talk to people at the same time.” In that situation,
she says, the real purpose of a shower — to “shower” the bride
with love and affection as well as loot — often gets lost. “Most
brides feel compelled to entertain the guests, even though the party is supposed
to be for them. So things can get pretty stressful.”
A better idea, says Weiss, is for the bride — or the friends and family
planning the bridal shower — to think long and hard about what type of
event she’d like: “What would make her feel most relaxed and able
to enjoy herself?” asks Weiss. And while it might take some imagination,
in the long run, planning a shower around the bride’s unique tastes and
personality is a lot easier than trying to modify a traditional shower, she
As with any other event, you’ll have to take a few things into account
before you start sending out invitations. Price, of course, will be one of
the first considerations, says Tina McIsaac, owner of Minghetti Events, a wedding
planning service in Boston. You’ve also got to consider logistics — how
near (or far) the event can be, and how long it will last. Beyond that, she
says, are the personality, taste and physical abilities of both the bride and
the guests. “You can’t expect to throw a shower that includes an
all-day bike ride if the guest list includes the bride’s grandmother,” she
says. By the same token, a shower that revolves around an afternoon tea will
probably appeal much more to the older guests than to the bride and her peers.
If you’ve got a mixed group of attendees, as most shower-planners do,
you might consider throwing two separate events, suggests Weiss. “I’ve
had clients plan a big shower that’s more traditional and will include
the ‘older crowd,’ then have a smaller party for the bride and
her closest friends.” Weiss stresses that neither event has to break
the bank. “You’re trying to make an occasion that feels personal
and intimate,” she says. “Plan your party — the location,
theme, food, and decorations — to reflect the bride’s unique personality,
and you’ll find it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.”
Here are a few ideas to consider:
The Spa Shower
If the bride loves pampering, consider a day of indulgence at a spa, says Weiss.
Plenty of Boston-area spas offer reasonably priced packages suitable for bridal
parties who aren’t named “Rockefeller.” At most spas, the
bride and her buddies can enjoy individual pedicures, massages, facials and
other indulgences, then meet for tea (or drinks) afterward. To throw a spa
shower, shop around to find a spa that offers the services you want, and be
sure to make your reservations early — especially if you’ve got
a big group.
The Soiree Shower
of people — including brides and the people who shower them — love
parties, says Weiss. “I’ve arranged several showers that
are more like an intimate cocktail party than a prim and proper luncheon.” Weiss
recommends setting up a room — either in a private home or a restaurant
or club — like a French bistro or small Italian trattoria, complete
with cocktail tables, hors d’oeuvres and music that set the scene. “This
event is perfect for the bride who really doesn’t want to be the
center of attention — and who wants to include both men and women
at the party,” she says.
Choosing to make
the shower into a party also allows you more flexibility with scheduling,
says Kelly Scriven,
president of The Bride’s Maid, a wedding planning service in Boston. “Where
is it written that all bridal showers have to be on a Sunday afternoon?” she
says. “Some of the best showers I’ve attended and planned
were held on a weekday evening.”
The trick here is to choose a location that conveys the mood you’re seeking — high-fashion
and hip, perhaps, or old-world and informal — and then create your setting,
Weiss says. If the bride loves dancing, for example, be sure you’ve got
room to groove. If she’s typically more interested in fine food and conversation,
make sure that the seating is intimate and the menu interesting.
The Sporty Shower
Is the bride-to-be the
rough-and-tumble type? And do her close friends and family share
that spirit? If so, consider throwing the ultimate in non-traditional
“When I was getting married, my friends took me on a canoeing trip,” says
Jeannie Choi, an outdoor enthusiast who lives with her husband in East Falmouth. “My
friends arranged for six of us to rent a big battle canoe and paddle down the
Wells River in Vermont. It was the perfect idea — and I was really touched.”
If you’d like to throw an active shower, consider a day (or a weekend)
of biking, cross-country skiing or hiking, suggests Weiss. Or, for the truly
adventurous, there’s fly-fishing, windsurfing, snowboarding or rock climbing. “What
you do isn’t as important as why you’re doing it,” says Weiss. “To
have fun and be together.” Thus, the key is to make sure that the activities
you’re planning are appealing — and do-able — for everyone.
The Spotlight Shower
While there are plenty of brides who’d rather not be the center of attention
at their shower, there are lots of others who love taking center stage. McIsaac
was one of them. “My shower was all about me — my childhood, my
favorite games and music — and I loved it,” she says. “It
was like being the birthday girl all over again. So much of wedding planning
is about other people — making sure that the relatives are taken care
of and nobody is being excluded or neglected — and it’s all very
serious and important. But for that day, the focus was all on me.”
To give your bride the star treatment, McIsaac says, look to her for inspiration — for
everything. Does she dream of the yachting life? Charter a boat or take a dinner
cruise, suggests Scriven. If she loves the beach, have a seaside picnic (and
arrive late in the day to avoid the crowds). Has she always wanted to live
on a country estate? Pick an outdoor setting, as McIsaac’s friends did,
complete with a tent and lush green lawn. Are there specific foods, music,
flowers or colors that she loves — but perhaps couldn’t incorporate
into the wedding itself? Use them all. Take her childhood photos to create
the invitations as well as the table decorations. And ask guests to write personal
notes that draw on their shared experiences or inside jokes. “Adding
all the personal touches you can makes all the difference,” McIsaac says.
SPORTS & FITNESS
Ski Towns in Summer
Head for the hills: These towns rock with
hiking, biking, and golf,
One reason that Vail is beloved in the summer: the fur is worn
by the local fauna, not by the tourists. When it warms up,
the whole Vail Valley becomes
a low-key, outdoorsy playground. For rock jocks, there
are several must-climb peaks, including Mount of the Holy Cross
(one of Colorado's famous 14ers).
Missing the fur? Try a luxury llama expedition and
spend the night in hut-to-hut comfort. White-water junkies
will find plenty of rapids to shoot, or you
can mix it up on hybrid rock climbing/rafting trips
developed by Vail's own 1998 Eco-Challenge champions.
Best beds: The Sonnenalp, a classic Euroglitz hotel with its own spa and
golf course (970-476-5656).
Outstanding outfitter: Paragon Guides organizes llama treks, plus biking
and climbing trips (877-926-5299).
Good grub: Try the burgers at
Bart & Yeti's, a funky
cafe named after two local dogs (970-476-2754).
Festivals: Vail Summer Sports Fest, July 29-30; Eagle County Fair and Rodeo,
July 29-August 3.
Big Mountain, Whitefish, Montana
Just about as close to the Great White
North as you can get without a passport, this tiny
town is 25 miles from Glacier National
Park and is
home to some
of the best back-country hiking and camping around.
(Note to self: pack pepper spray for the bears.) Whitefish
Hikers' Heaven. Trek up the 5.6-mile Danny On Memorial
Trail, slurping huckleberries along the way. The town's waters
famous for whitefish (duh), but its lakes and streams are teeming
salmon and the
Holy Grail of anglers, the rare westslope cutthroat
trout. To ride
the waters instead of just dropping a line, schedule
a white-water rafting
or kayaking expedition; for calmer conditions, try
canoeing and sailing
on Flathead Lake, the biggest freshwater body west
of the Mississippi—yee-haw!
Best beds: The Kanadahar Lodge on Big Mountain and Grouse Mountain Lodge
in Whitefish, both midsize hotels affiliated with the Montana Adventure
Company. A concierge service sets you up on park tours, chartered sails
and other excursions (800-321-8822).
Outstanding outfitter: Glacier Wilderness Guides and Montana Raft Company,
for fly fishing, backpacking, rafting and horseback-riding trips (800-521-R
A F T).
Good grub: Hellroaring Saloon,
a 1940's ski chalet and now home of the enormous overstuffed
Festivals: Gear Grinder Mountain Bike Race, August 19-20; Glacier Nordic
Run, August 26.
The unofficial home of maple syrup becomes less sappy
in the summer, when flatlanders visit to get farther
into Mother Nature
than cutting a ski
trail. These are some of the most rugged peaks in the
country, with top-notch on- and off-road biking routes to wheel you
and leave you in a sweaty state of fatigue when you
arrive back at your B & B.
Stowe's biggest warm-weather draw is its golf, headlined
by the Stowe Country Club (the female head pro has a class-A
both the PGA and
LPGA) and its golf school. For the ultimate Vermont
experience, let your divining rod lead you to one of the secluded
suits not required) for an icy dip in just-off-the-mountain
Best beds: The Inn at Turner Mill dates to 1936, though its homemade granola
is a little fresher; it offers direct access to hiking and biking trails.
Outstanding outfitter: Umiac
Outfitters sets you up for canoeing, kayaking, climbing
and camping; it also conducts
tours — that's
nature, not nudists (802-253-2317).
Best beer: For home brew, head to the Shed and Brewery, a Stowe institution
Festivals: 43rd Annual Stowe Antique & Classic Car Meet, August 11-13; Mutt-Strutt Festival for Animals, August 1.