Inspiring Celebrations Since 2006

fabulous, yes – but really "not a fortune"?

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blumeboxLike many others around the world, myself included – Oprah is a fan of the very talented celebrity event planner, Colin Cowie. On one of her shows, themed “Fabulous Without a Fortune“, Oprah featured a bridal shower designed by Cowie, as seen in the images here. While I’ll agree that this shower is fabulous – I’m not so sure about the “not a fortune” part. I recently helped my friend design her wedding, and, (at least at the place we were at) – the chairs seen in these images alone were $11 each to rent and another $4 each for the cushions. When you take into account the average # of guests at a shower – usually at least 20 or more, that can really add up for just chairs alone. Then factor in the “real” (sans paper) dishes (including chargers and salad plates), gold flatware, coordinating wine goblets, designer fabric, custom menus with easels, gorgeous green orchids, bunches and bunches of tulips….you get the picture.

So what I’m wondering is – what’s your take on the issue of bridal and baby shower budgets? As we’re putting together themes for the site, it’s been a struggle to find the line between what looks good and will be most inspiring for you – and what is truly practical for the budget of most people. Of course “real” dishes and flatware, huge bouquets of designer flowers, custom-printed menus and tags – all of this looks amazing and is ideal in general – but is it practical? Would you like to see these kinds of items used in the party theme images anyways because they look so great and it’s just a source for inspiration? Or would you like to see some more inexpensive items that you’re more likely to actually use mixed in – such as paper partyware, place settings that don’t always include all the extras like chargers and real flatware, etc? Your opinion on this issue would be much appreciated! Thank you!


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POSTED BY:jenn s.JENNIFER SBRANTI is the Founder and Creative Director of Hostess with the Mostess®, a hip and modern party planning resource.

18 responses to “fabulous, yes – but really "not a fortune"?”

  1. katie says:

    there’s absolutely no way I could afford to do this for a shower – it looks great but also looks more like a wedding to me!

  2. Leesa L says:

    Looks fantastic and, occasionally, I think a feature of this kind would be nice for inspiration. It might be interesting thereafter to feature some “substitute” products to truly give others the look for less, as “fortue” to me and “fortune” to Ms Winfrey are two very different definitions!! BTW the BLUMEbox looks very similiar to the centerpieces in the Cowie creation!! JMHO

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow, apparently Oprah’s definition of a fortune really is different from mine. $50 per person just for the decor. That’s without food and drink!!

    I do like to see these images as they provide inspiration and ideas. But it would be nice to see some more inexpensive items and sources too.

    And just a plug for one of my favorite resources for party planning stuff – (besides ebay) They have great things at great prices.

  4. hiphostess says:

    Anon –

    Thanks for the tip on! Just checked it out and it looks like a great resource – definitely bookmark-able :)

  5. Laura says:

    I LOVE to see this sort of thing just for the ideas and inspiration, not the price. I think there are ways to achieve similar looks on a smaller budget anyway – i.e. swap out the green glassware for standard clear glasses and save a bundle, and nobody would notice the difference. Use a white table cloth (which venues tend to have on hand) with green runner instead of green tablecloth with patterned runner and save. Reduce the number of candles in each cluster and still get the same effect.

    So I still love to see it all and tweak the design as I see fit!

  6. mama k says:

    I agree that this looks like a wedding and not a shower. While I like looking at images like this for inspiration, I am more interested in practical (more affordable) ideas that I could actually recreate myself. (I like Martha Stewart’s site for that reason.) Honestly, I’d rather spend more on a fabulous shower gift than renting fancy chairs and purchasing pre-made flower arrangements.

  7. kstyle says:

    I am dealing with this very issue as we speak. we are planning a shower for my friends daugter and while the wedding will be gorgeous even a good budget is not an OTT budget. I would love to see creative ways to spend less money but still keep the look clean and elegant. for example I love the blume boxes you featured below and I would love to see more ideas on how to use them in an elegant and creative way. k

  8. Meg says:

    I am in the midst of hosting my first ever bridal shower – I have done them in the past with a group of friends, but this is the first on my own, and for my very dear friend, so I want it to be classy and elegant but, I also can’t spend a fortune or anything close to a fortune- I think that features like this are nice from time to time for inspiration, but I would also like to see creative ways of doing things like this on a non-Oprah budget. I want to host a shower that’s memorable and where I use creative new ideas – but that also doesn’t leave me in the poorhouse!

  9. greengelato says:

    what a great resource this is! i’m a matron of honor for an upcoming wedding and i’ll be sure to reference this site when party planning comes. :)

    btw, my bridesmaids put on an incredible shower for me…i have pictures in the “my wedding pictures” section of my blog.

  10. Darla says:

    I agree with some of the other commenters about seeing the images for inspiration, then maybe investigating how to achieve a similar look at a low price…

  11. At Home with kim vallee says:

    In all fairness to the bridal shower segment by Colin Cowie, he gave good tips on how to save money like buying a bulk fabric and cutting it in half to create the central runner. I have used in the past premium gift wrapping paper that I found on sale.

    The vases were all low-priced. In the past, I found stuff at the Dollar store or at Walmart that I dressed up.

    He uses pricey flowers like orange callas and orchids mixed with less expensive species but he suggests buying flowers in bulk to save money. This is true. Since the flower needs to look good for the event, you can go the day to the event on an average flower shop instead of going to a top florist and save more.

    The dinnerware was not expensive (20 dollars for a 5 pc setting + 7.50 for the glasses) if you go and buy it. In reality it can be a collective gift to the brides and groom. Usually, in an event like this, I suggest you rent if you do it at home.

    When you are planning an event, I organize event in Montreal, the cost of rent the tables, chairs, linens, dinnerware, flatware and glassware for 30 people is at least 550-600 dollars CAD. At that price you have to give up the charger plate that costs at least 3 to 4 dollars to rent. A 450-dollar decoration budget is the bare minimum. Set aside enough time to assembly your look; it is often more lengthy than you expect. I hope it give you a better idea of the pricing of a similar event done on a budget. I base my cost on a low-budget event I did recently.

  12. At Home with kim vallee says:

    I forgot to mention something in my comment. My renting cost of 550-600 dollars is possible if you rent basic chairs at 4 dollars each (I do not like their look but they are comfortable chairs). The chair used in the Bridal shower segment costs 13 dollars to rent with the cushion in Montreal; 2 dollars less than in large USA cities. Montreal is a relatively cheap city to live in. If you use the chairs shown on the pictures, your renting budget must be at least 810-860 dollars.

  13. Lea says:

    This is a gorgeous display from Colin but I agree, it might break the bank a little. I personally like a challenge, and I love the fact that I can look at this as inspiration and say to myself “oh, I want that look and I’m going to pick this feature, and that feature,” and copy and tweak it at an offordable price for my budget.

  14. Rebecca says:

    I would love to see affordable alternatives to the inspiration pictures. It would have been nice if you mentioned the cost saving details that the comments above mentioned….
    This is something I run into every time I look at this site, great ideas waaaay out of my price range. Now that I write that I realize why I don’t visit this site very often.

  15. hiphostess says:

    Hi Rebecca –

    That’s actually exactly what I plan to do on the website – show cost-saving tips for each of the parties – but more often than not, these cost-saving tips will actually be incorporated into the pictures already, rather than the other way around. We’re trying to do a mix of both – but the reality is that we can’t always afford to buy everything we need to show the “expensive” versions ourselves – especially because we want to show a variety of different occasions and several different themes – so just securing everything for the “how-to” pictures is really adding up!

    It does make me sad to hear that you feel like the things showcased here are out of your price range though. I honestly make an effort to keep that from being the case and have kept myself from posting on certain things in the past just because they seemed way too impractical – but I’ll still try to be mindful of this in the future and make sure I’m including a good mix of things for a variety of budgets.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I personally love to see inspirational pics, even if I can’t afford everything featured. But it would be great to see themes at different price ranges…like a bridal shower at $1000, one at $500, one at $200, with the same general colours/look, but using different products/sources. It would help to give ideas on how to achieve the same look at a fraction of the cost.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hello! My sister is getting married this October in San Diego and since she lives on the East Coast I am helping her out alot. I love this site and would like to see some more things on planning weddings on a budget. Also, if anyone has any good ideas or websites that they find useful for hip/trendy weddings please let me know!!!! Thanks so much!:)Keep up the good work!

  18. hiphostess says:

    hi anon –

    congrats to your sister! there are lots of cool wedding sites/blogs out there. I’ll do a special “wedding blogroll” post for you next week!

    Jenn :)