Over the past two decades, I have been fortunate enough to plan and host many special occasions, including bridal showers and parties honoring couples to be. 

Over the years, I’ve learned many valuable things about preparing and presenting such festive occasions. In that spirit, I have put together a mini guide that includes East Texas resources, party favors you can make, new trends, and life lessons I’ve learned from planning such parties.

Style and Design

Think about what you want the pre-wedding event you're hosting to feel like and look like. Daydream about what the event could be; imagine the possibilities before selecting your theme and the colors. Take the time to do some research. 

One of my favorite design themes to carry out, is the popular Art Deco style that emerged in the 1920s. And it is trending now 100 years later. A loosely-based Deco theme allows me to include the elements of glitz, glam and gold.

Once you have a theme, decide on a color scheme. For Lifestyles Magazine, I chose party decorations in a color palette of wedding white, gold, and pale pink.

My goal of creating a fantasy-like feeling, was accomplished with the use of decorations that included bouquets of antique blush roses, luxurious white feathers, plenty of gold accents and lots of twinkling lights.

Select a meaningful symbol to incorporate into the theme. I love to include sea shells because they represent infinity and sacredness, which make them perfect for wedding-related events, especially in venues near water.

Feathers symbolize messages from heaven, a lightness of heart,  appreciation and fertility. The classic rose represents beauty and eternal love.

Invitations, place cards

For small showers and parties, I like to use an invitation kit purchased from a specialty store. Such kits include everything you need. 

I love to embellish invitations and envelopes with hand-written calligraphy. If you are uncomfortable with doing beautiful handwriting, you can buy stickers with elaborate calligraphy.

The traditional invitation has been updated. In today’s digital age, some couples are including instructions that specify a "no drone zone" or that the event is "unplugged," meaning that posts on social media are not permitted.

Place cards and escort cards can double as lovely party favors. Classic place cards mark the specific seat at the table of each guest. Escort cards assign an individual or couple to a table, and then the guests are free to choose their own seats at the table.

You can customize place cards and thank you notes with flourishes, gemstones or hearts.

Culinary Creations

Fanciful culinary creations make any pre-wedding party more magical.

The princess pink strawberries encrusted with edible pearls seen in the photos with this article were created by Gina Sundeen, owner of Azalea Catering in Tyler.

"Being a part of special family events, especially weddings, is such a wonderful experience," Sundeen says. "Having the opportunity to elevate those once in a lifetime events to something wonderful is the most amazing feeling!"

Sundeen's expertise includes delectable delights and outstanding presentations and catering for special-needs diets.

"When we get the chance to customize menus, I feel like we really have the chance to shine," says Sundeen. "Catering is hard work. It’s definitely not for everyone. My team is amazing and I feel blessed and lucky!”

Gifts of Gratitude

Many couples show their appreciation to the party hosts by giving them a gift they have made themselves. Homemade salsas, jellies, soaps, cookies, flavored liqueurs, and tiny works of art are special gifts indeed that show gratitude.

The decorative jewel-encrusted gold sea shells shown with this article are easy to make as a gift for hosts. All you need are a bag of shells, glossy spray paint and adhesive backed gemstones, all which can be bought at a craft store.

To support my Art Deco theme, I chose an antique gold color and added retro accents. First, I spray painted the shells, and then I gently added  crystal embellishments. Embellish as you like to make it truly one of a kind.

House Prep

For these special occasions, you will want your house to sparkle. For the highest level of clean, invest in a cleaning service. 

Meg Strout Luman, owner of The Cheerful Cleaning Company in Tyler, said her company can both prepare a home for a house full of guests or come in and clean up after the big event. She said they make the dreaded chore "simple, clean and easy."

"Our cleaning products are kid and pet safe, smell amazing and get the job done,” says Luman.

Life Lessons

When you are planning the  pre-wedding party, don't forget to include the pursuit of happiness and harmony. There is no such thing as perfection. There is no right or wrong way to make a party. Blunders only make your story richer. 

Make decisions from your heart. Have backup plans and extras of everything. Ask for more help than you think you need. The planning and doing is the journey. Having fun along the way is the whole point!

Patricia Wilson is a freelance writer based in East Texas.

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