In the weeks before the wedding, it may seem as if the bride’s life consists of one party after another – bridal shower, bachelorette party, etc. However, the idea of the bridesmaid luncheon is not to celebrate the bride but to give her a chance to acknowledge the members of the bridal party before they all start heading down the aisle.
Bridesmaid Luncheon Basics
The bridesmaid luncheon either takes place the day of or the day before the wedding depending on the time your ceremony is scheduled. It can be as formal or as casual as you want (and, of course, your budget will be a consideration at this time, too). For an informal luncheon, you might take the bridal party to lunch at your favorite restaurant. For something more formal, you might serve tea and finger sandwiches or have a small catered meal served with wine.
The location of the luncheon depends, in part, on how formal the affair is going to be. If you choose a restaurant, make sure to pick one that is close to where the wedding preparations are going to be made (if it’s held on the day of the wedding). If you’re on a tight schedule, you’ll need to also choose a restaurant that provides fast service and that accepts reservations. For non-restaurant locations, you could choose to have the luncheon in your backyard, in a hotel room (possibly with room service providing the meal), in your home, etc.
The invitation list for the bridesmaid luncheon is more specific. Every member of the bridal party should be invited, including flower girls and junior bridesmaids. The bride’s mother and future mother-in-law should also be invited. Generally, the luncheon is only for women, but some couples opt for a wedding party luncheon where both the bride and the groom, plus the male and female members of their wedding party, all attend. However, traditionally, this is just a time for the bride and her bridal party.
Events During the Luncheon
A few events are expected to occur during the luncheon. Obviously, everyone is going to eat together and many brides choose to have this done before the rest of the events, but the line-up of events is entirely up to you.
One event during the luncheon is usually the bride giving the members of her party their gifts. These gifts don’t have to be expensive or fancy – they could be a bracelet, a monogrammed keychain, a wine glass, a picture frame, etc. For the younger members of the bridal party, you should purchase age-appropriate gifts. Obviously, a wine glass would not be a good choice, but a bracelet, necklace, doll, or other type of keepsake might be a nice choice.
During the luncheon, the bride should also acknowledge the contributions her bridal party has made through the months preparing for this wedding. That means she’ll usually need to give a speech thanking them and telling them what their efforts have meant to her. The bride may also want to thank her mother and her future mother-in-law for their assistance as well.
The luncheon is also a good time for the bridal party to present the bride with a collective gift. Now not all bridal parties chip in to buy the bride a gift. In some cases, the costs of throwing the showers and parties, plus buying the dress, is just too much. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, if the bridal party does get a gift this is when it should be presented.
Finally, the luncheon should be about relaxing and talking together before the big moment. Because after you start getting ready to walk down the aisle, your thoughts won’t be on anything else but getting married and going on your honeymoon. In this respect, the luncheon resembles a low-key bachelorette party.
The invitations for the luncheon should match the tone of the luncheon itself. If you’re doing something casual, then the invitations can be informal. You could even make your own invitations, if you have the time. You might also be to invite your guests verbally or by email if the luncheon is going to be very casual.
However, if your luncheon is going to be a little more formal, then you should choose something a little more upscale. One idea is to order the invitations through the printer who is handling your wedding invitations. These invitations don’t need to be as fancy, but you might want a high quality paper and elegant script, plus a separate response card and maybe even a printed map. Another possibility is to purchase pre-printed bridesmaid luncheon invitations from an online vendor. There are a number of styles available if you shop around.
Remember to include all of the basic information – date, time, location, etc. – and set a date for the response to be received so you don’t get an RSVP on the day of the luncheon.