How to throw a fun and retro school cafeteria wedding shower

March 26 | Guest post by Julia

Julia, of View Master wedding invitation fame, threw the rare and elusive AWESOME wedding shower with a retro school cafeteria theme. Here is Julia's step-by-step instructions on how she and her mom pulled this off.

The inspiration for this shower started from one simple principle: a desire for a centerpiece that was consumable.

In traditional Indiana wedding showers, the centerpieces are a BIG DEAL. When you're a little kid, you FREAK OUT if you "win" the centerpiece. When you're older, you hope and pray you don't have to make a spot in your house for some kind of fake plant/teacup/basket/candle combination. (Well, at least I did.) From that instant reaction of "let's spare our guests from having to bring home some contraption," my mom and I decided the centerpiece should be edible. Not the edible arrangements kind of edible, but something to get people excited.

Like a school lunchroom tray of fruit, twinkies, hostess cupcakes, juicy juice and fruit snacks. And to take it home, let's make them reusable lunch bags…

My mom cut and sewed 70+ of these lovelies, all from oilcloth and complete with velcro tabs. I still use mine, and it is super durable.

A theme quickly emerged from this brainstorm, School Cafeteria!

The invite nodded to what we had in store, without giving it away…

Once our invitees opened the card, they found a high school style folded note. I used a Gocco and a handwriting font for the note and printed it on notebook paper I found throughout our house. Being a pack rat came in handy, as I raided my old college notebooks for paper.

The note had all kinds of weird (and sometimes made up) slang like "off the heezy" which confused some of our older relatives, but my favorite was the end part of "do you think you can come? check yes or no."

As the shower approached, we finalized a menu of awesome foods like meatloaf, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, red jello with floating fruit, single-serving chocolate milk cartons and green beans all served onto lunch trays by fabulous lunchladies (Bobby and my dad and uncle Tod in hairnets and aprons.)

For games, something like a toilet paper bridal gown was (thankfully) not going to fit with our event. I made custom cootie catchers with fortunes like "your best friend is a werewolf" or "your favorite jeans will last forever" or my favorite, "you have a secret twin."

Another game we provided was a sheet to collect autographs, filled with questions about school days.

Our guestbook (a composition notebook) came with an assignment…

The yearbook pages placed throughout the tables, deserts and guestbook table were pages from actual yearbooks I bought at thrift stores and auctions.

Our shower was unlike anything our family had ever attended. Showers in Indiana are usually fairly predictable, and while there's comfort in knowing what you're showing up for, (a catered meal, watching the bride and groom open presents, etc.) it was so cool to see everyone having SO MUCH FUN and feeling like a kid again, eating on lunch trays, munching on twinkies, playing with cootie catchers and drinking milk out of tiny cartons.

  1. Um, coolest shower ever. Seriously. Hands down. Where was my folded invitation, that I could've played paper-note-football with, I mean, OMG?! ;P

    1 agrees
  2. Oh. My. God. This is intensely cute. I read one detail and was like "oh cute." Then another "that's cute too." Then another "now this cuteness is getting out of hand." Then another which resulted in brain exploding from how friggin cute and clever this was.

  3. Wow – very few things make me stop, read and then re-read and then send to friends. I. LOVE. THIS! It's so creative and so cute and so… just awesome. Thanks for sharing!!!

  4. Love the folded note invite, wow that brings back memories. And the guys in hairnets – hilarious!

  5. Delightful!
    Really gave me a lot of inspiration!
    I think the centerpieces are a big thing in the Mid-West over all. I remember wanting to win the centerpieces at every bridle shower.

  6. I'm a first grade teacher. I would love a shower like this. How fricking cute. However, the sherbert punch that I have been dying for at my future shower wouldn't quite fit in.

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  7. I've never heard of any of these Indiana normalcies… and I spent 22 years of my life there. I wouldn't really know WHAT to expect at a typical Indiana shower!

    (Obvs, I didn't have a wedding shower for my Indiana wedding…)

  8. i think i want to be her best friend. for real.

  9. We were planning this very theme!!! You did such a great job!

  10. This rocks my life. The options for shower games are limitless! MASH? Connect-the-dots? Macaroni pictures? Hand-clap games? Hangman?

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  11. Man, regional difference in showers are CRAZY! 70 people!?!? The bride AND GROOM open presents there? I think that's awesome!

    This shower was awesome and I love the idea of giving people favors they will actually enjoy/use.

  12. this is coolest/cutest thing I have ever seen! So original, love it.

  13. That is definately original. I'm a guy and I love it. My girlfriend will need something as cool as that, when we decide to set a date.

  14. Wow I had no idea wedding showers were such serious business in Indiana. I love learning cultural things like that :)

  15. I am soooo copying this!!! My dad and brothers HAVE to wear the hairnets and aprons!!

  16. AWW! I love this theme idea. How perfect if the couple met in school?!?! Thanks so much for sharing, I'll be linking to this.

  17. This wedding shower is awesome.

    So were the invites.

    And I just figured out that I'm marrying the groom's cousin. lol

  18. Wow thats incredible…would love to do something like that!

  19. Too cute! I am throwing a retirement party for my MIL who was a high school teacher for 39 years and we are planning a 'school' themeed party. We were planning on doing cafeteria food to so this is great inspiration! :)

  20. Love the cootie cathers! We've made some for our wedding dinner tables, they have predictions like "You will have 17 grandchildren" and "Tonight you will meet a cake you like".

  21. These are such great ideas! We're trying to work out having our wedding in the school I teach in (which is an old factory turned charter high school… very steampunk) so our food will literally be served from a cafeteria line and we will be sitting at lunch tables. I'm totally using the assignment chalkboard/composition notebook as our guestbook now! Sweet deal.

  22. Oh gee this is so cute! I love the idea. What a unique one it is :) People will be talking about it for a long time I am sure!

  23. so incredibly creative. great ideas. especially liked the invitation on the lined notebook paper and the wording of it.

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