No place like home for bridal showers

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Umbrella-and-raindrops wrapping paper, an assortment of tiny sandwiches, petit fours and gushing women — there’s bound to be a future bride in the center of it all.

And for reasons that aim toward a more intimate gathering, curbing costs or just something different, showering the bride-to-be at home is finding its way onto the list of pre-wedding celebrations.

Mirjam Gunz Schwarcz estimates she has hosted 15 to 20 bridal showers in her Oak Park, Mich., home over the last eight years after friends and neighbors discovered her ongoing offer of hospitality. “There is something about the privacy and coziness of a home shower,” Schwarcz says. “Having everything you need — from a nearby lemon for your tea to easy access to the powder room — is a nice convenience.”

Most of the showers Schwarcz has helped plan have been what she terms “hostess showers” — parties where nearly everyone is a hostess — held among her Orthodox neighbors. “Anywhere from 15 to 30 women get together, share the expenses and really set up the husband and wife with as many of the major things they’ll need,” she explains. “A lot of the girls do not register, so we look to get them what is popular in linens, cutlery, cookware, baking items and small appliances.”

The group involved in these showers has charted a system that puts each hostess’ monetary input to its best use. “Saving money for gifts is the reason we plan the showers at home, menu and all,” Schwarcz says.

Another innovative way to allow for more quality gift items is through advance shopping. “There is a woman in our community who, whenever she hears about a sale, jumps into her car and shops for toasters and telephones and other things needed to set up a home,” Schwarcz says. “Then we choose shower items from what has already been purchased at great prices.”

Over the years, Schwarcz has acquired stacks of chairs and table linens to help expedite shower set-up. “The food is set up as a buffet in the kitchen, and everyone eats roaming around the den, dining room, living room, wherever,” she explains. Decorating is also a breeze since Schwarcz has accumulated shower-themed items like candles, candlesticks, pillows and small bride-and-groom figurines. She also shares the collection with other would-be hostesses, asking only for a security deposit and the promise of a donation to the Zichron Foundation, an Oak Park-based organization that helps brides with wedding expenses.

For Barbara Dworin of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., the decision to host a bridal shower in her home came after an unsuccessful search for a kosher location large enough to fit 50 women but small enough to keep things intimate and more personal.

Because all guests could gather in one room on the main level of the house, Dworin’s home was deemed a fit for Tracye Burnstein’s party, after discussion among the hostesses.

According to the bride, the setting for the late-Sunday-morning shower was ideal. “A room with large windows looks out to the lake and woods behind Barbara’s beautiful home — it was perfect,” says Burnstein, who settled in Ferndale, Mich., with her new husband, Jeremy Burnstein, after their November nuptials.

On shower day, the furniture was moved out of Dworin’s family room and round tables and chairs were set up to accommodate guests. “The tables were colorful, with lots of purples and pinks,” Dworin says. “We used linen cloths and napkins and silver serving pieces. And each table had different coordinating flowers that Davida arranged in porcelain vases.” A wait staff served the kosher luncheon, prepared entirely by the hostesses, that included poached salmon, salad and sweets.

“They are all fabulous cooks, and the fact that they each made something made it more special,” Burnstein says.

“It’s a warm and cozy feeling to be in someone’s home,” Burnstein’s mother, Tobye Bello, says. “But they also made it very elegant.”

Adds Burnstein, “Everybody raved about each part of the shower. Many of them commented that they had not been to a shower in a home before, and they thought it was such a unique and creative idea.”