Tinsley Mortimer’s Secrets For Throwing A Surprise Bridal Shower Your Friends Will Love

The socialite, former reality star and debut novelist also answers reader questions about how to rock a high school reunion and mitigate awkwardness when meeting the boyfriend’s folks.

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Tinsley Mortimer is a handbag designer, socialite, television personality (she starred on the CW’s High Society and made a cameo in Gossip Girl) and now author of her first novel, Southern Charm. She answers reader questions about bridal shower-planning, meeting the boyfriend’s parents, and more.

I’m from the South and my boyfriend is from New England. I’m going to stay with his parents next month for the long weekend, and I’m introverted and shy so these things always put me on edge — but I also get the sense that they’re one of those preppy, formal New England families. I’m a jeans and tee-shirts girl from a not-formal, not-preppy family. How do I get through this with the least amount of awkwardness?

First of all, don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you were raised in the South, you already have Southern charm! That said, meeting your boyfriend’s parents can be stressful for anyone. First and foremost, don’t forget your manners! When meeting his parents for the first time, extend your hand first and look them in the eye when you speak to them and always stand up when they come into the room. Southern women always bring a small present when they’re guests in someone’s home (my favorite are candles from Jo Malone).

I understand that you’re a bit more casual, but why not step up your style a bit by pairing your jeans with a cute top or tweed jacket? Either way, make sure you have a little dress on hand in case you are taken out to a proper restaurant or club. But most of all, have fun and don’t focus on yourself and your fears. You will lose some of your nervousness if you just focus on making everyone as comfortable as possible. After all, they are probably nervous about meeting you!!!

I’m going to my 10-year high school reunion this summer. I was never part of the “popular” crowd and while I currently have a decent job, I’m not wildly successful, 10 pounds thinner or married to Brad Pitt. I expect the whole thing to be pretty well-attended and don’t want to seem like a loser. How do I get through this?

Be confident! The way to do that is to make yourself the best self you can be. Go to the salon and get a new hairstyle or get your nails done. Buy a new dress and some killer shoes (or borrow some from a friend) and there is no way you won’t walk into that reunion with a smile on your face. A phrase I always come back to is from an old infomercial: “Set it and forget it,” meaning once you have done everything you can to look and be your best, then forget about yourself! It’s gotten me through some pretty high-pressure situations. Also, keep in mind, I’ll bet all your classmates have also worked hard to look their best for the reunion. Compliment them, and it will not matter how popular you were in high school. You will reinvent yourself that night as a warm, smiling, nice girl.

Romy and Michelle’s high school reunion. (This doesn’t have to be YOU!)

I have to throw a “surprise” bridal shower for a close friend of mine who is getting married this summer. It’s one of those things where the “surprise” isn’t really a surprise — she gave me a list of people to invite with their addresses and all that nonsense, so she knows this is going down. Party-planning is really NOT my thing. Not to mention girliness and pastel pink. Also not my thing. How do I put together something she’ll love?

Well, girliness and pink ARE my thing, so I can help you! The first and most important thing is to select a fabulous invitation, and send them by snail mail — not email! Your guests will feel special. When your guests first arrive at your home, club, or restaurant, hand them a pretty pink drink, either with alcohol or without. Pass a few cucumber petite open-faced sandwiches and other finger foods. I don’t know your budget, but fresh flowers are a must, so either get some flowers from the grocery store or get a florist to bring in some beautiful peonies, roses, and ranunculus.

If you are planning a luncheon or dinner, small round tables with white under tablecloths and frothy pink organza on top would be fabulous! Beautiful calligraphed place cards are also a nice touch. Don’t feel pressure to plan any games. You’ve already worked so hard on making the event special. There’s no need for added silliness. Keep the food simple — a lovely salad with seafood or chicken and a pretty pink dessert, and you will have a great party!

What are your tips for doing a day to night makeup look that won’t require me to carry two pounds of products around in my purse all day?

This is a lot more simple than you may think! Take a dark shimmery eyeshadow and apply it over your existing day eye makeup for a smokey look. If you want to take it one step further, add some false eyelashes (they’re not as complicated as they sound and a little practice goes a long way!), a little dusting of blush and some lip gloss and you will be good to go!

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