Tips for Hosting a Bridal Shower

Rene Mashburn, Fairhope local and owner of Green Gates Market, shares her top tips for entertaining and crucial steps for making any event run seamlessly.

The bride-to-be, Kate Matchett Allen, center, with aunt Rene Mashburn, left, and mother, Anita Matchett, right. Photos by Wendy Wilson

When it comes to party planning of any sort, Fairhope business owner Rene Mashburn is always one to go above and beyond, never backing down from a challenge. “I love to dream big — complex, extra-ordinary, multilayered thinking. So, given that kind of self-inflicted modus operandi, it takes time, resources and manpower to achieve what I can dream.” 

Almost 20 years ago, Mashburn designed and opened the Green Gates Market, a prominent home decor store located in the heart of Fairhope. Her eye for sophistication and taste combined with a unique style have served her well in business as well as in the pleasure of planning events for family and friends. Having hosted all sorts of festivities from birthdays and family gatherings to her own daughters’ weddings, Mashburn was more than equipped when it came time to throw a bridal shower for her niece, Kate Matchett Allen, this past April. While the circumstances of Covid-19 and an unexpected weather forecast dared to make things a bit tricky, the celebration went smoothly under the guidance of seasoned pro Mashburn, who directed party vendors and extra volunteers who came to the aid. 

Mashburn is known for applying her creative talents to put her own spin on things and produce the unexpected. “I like to do as much of the artistic part as possible myself ahead of time,” she explains. “Although I may order flowers from a florist, it is very likely I will pull the arrangements apart and rework them. To me, simple is more!” Warm, sentimental touches that Mashburn incorporated into the big day included fun, childhood photos of the couple, a questionnaire game about the bride, and even a final serenade to Kate performed by her mother and all five of her aunts.  

The day before the garden-themed soiree was to take place, tents were brought in at the last minute to shield the outside area extending from the porch, allowing for covered outside seating. “It helps to be flexible and accustomed to working under pressure like this,” says Mashburn, who has a piece of art in her home that reads, “Were it not for the last minute, nothing would ever get done.” 

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She explains, “Those who know me can understand why that piece of art lives prominently in our house. And although I have that daily reminder, it won’t stop me from trying to shoot for the moon, even at the last minute.” 

Bridal Shower Hosting Tips

• Be prepared to expect the unexpected and just roll with it. Remember, no one ever saw those original plans / ideas.

• Make sure you have plenty of help for setting up everything. And when it comes to the food, have someone you can depend on in charge as it takes a very experienced kind of talent.

• Figure out how long it will take to get everything done as there is never enough time. So, plan on it to take longer — a lot longer.

• Create a list to outline everything in three separate columns: TO DO, TO GET and TO CALL. “Every aspect of an event falls under one of those categories. I’ve kept the same system of managing events and occasions for lots of years, and it’s what keeps me on task.”

No-bake Key Lime Cheesecake

Recipe by Patty and Malcolm Young

1 cup finely ground graham crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooked
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup fresh Key lime juice, 2 teaspoons grated zest (from 16 limes), and thinly sliced lime rounds for serving
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup cold heavy cream

1. Whisk together cracker crumbs, sugar and salt. Stir in butter until mixture resembles wet sand and holds together when squeezed. Press evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Freeze until firm, 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and condensed milk on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add lime juice, zest and vanilla. Beat about 1 minute more. 

3. In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold into cream-cheese mixture. Pour over chilled crust; smooth top with an offset spatula. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.

4. Run a knife along cake’s edge before releasing sides of pan, then under bottom to loosen. Serve, garnished with lime rounds. Makes 1 9-inch cake

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