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Delight the bride-to-be by taking extra time to create a fresh and festive table for your bridal shower or other wedding celebration.   SHNS photo by Bryan E. McCay / Nell Hillís Entertaining in Style

Bridal Celebrations

Q: My dear friendís daughter is getting married soon, and Iím throwing her a bridal shower. How can I make it extra special?

A: I promise you no matter what you do at your shower, the event will be infinitely special to your friend and her daughter simply because you cared enough to host it. Thereís no greater gift we can give our friends than to lavish their children with love. I know thatís how I felt when my dear friends hosted an amazing bridal shower for my daughter, Kelly.

The first thing Janet, Mary and Denise did when they hosted the shower was to team up with each other to share the time, effort and expense of the event. They had a blast working together planning the party, decorating and fixing the food. Is there anyone you can co-host with?

The second step our hostesses took to make the shower perfect was to consult with Kelly before they started planning the event to see what type of shower Kelly wanted. Itís absolutely essential to tailor your celebration to match the brideís personality and desires. Kelly knew she wanted a girly-girl shower that was elegant and romantic

Next, our hostesses set the tone for the entire event by carefully selecting the right invitations. Since the shower would be a formal affair, they decided on custom, engraved invitations featuring Kellyís bridal colors of pink and apple green.

Another must for a great shower is serving yummy food. Janet, Mary and Denise are all fabulous cooks, so they decided to serve a light luncheon. Mary used the familyís chicken salad recipe that her grandmother-in-law had served at the bridal shower she hosted for her.

Next comes creating killer decorations. Since Kelly didnít want a theme shower, the hostesses took their cue for the decorations from Maryís fabulous garden. With pruning shears in hand, they went to town in the flowerbeds, snipping mounds of hydrangea blossoms and hosta leaves to decorate with.

Finally, they set each table with infinite care, spoiling us all with a visual feast that rivaled the delicious food.

The place settings featured white china dishes topped with iridescent pink dessert plates. Perched atop the dessert plates were small hydrangeas with place cards gently tucked into the blossoms.

The napkins, one side sporting hot pink fabric and the other apple green fabric, were tied up with a ribbon, folded to look like flowers, then inserted into the empty water glasses. But my favorite part of the tabletop scene was the party favors. The gals decided to treat guests to a cute and practical take-home gift: pink and green potholders and matching dishtowels.

The final treat that our hostesses had in store for us was an amazing custom-made cake that looked like a stack of gifts wrapped in pink and green paper. They served the cake atop a crystal cake plate, lightly garnished with hosta leaves and hydrangeas.

Have fun as you plan your friendís daughterís wedding. Remember to do things you know will surprise and delight your guest of honor.

Mary Carol Garrity is the proprietor of three successful home furnishings stores in Atchison, Kan., and the author of several best-selling books on home decorating. Write to Mary Carol at nellhills@

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