Bridal Shower 101: Everything You Need to Know

From narrowing down the guest list to choosing a theme that the bride will adore, here is a simple guide to bridal shower planning and basic etiquette rules.

1. What is a bridal shower?

The bridal shower is a way to honor the bride-to-be by “showering” her with gifts for the couple’s new home. Usually, bridal showers are composed of three components: refreshments, fun group activities like games and quizzes, and the bride opening her gifts in front of her guests.

The bridal shower usually lasts 3 to 4 hours, with guests arriving around thirty minutes before the bride so everyone is there to welcome her. Then the bride makes her round of greetings before the food is served. Once everyone has finished eating, the bride heads for her seat of honor and begins opening her gifts.

Bridesmaids should stand by to assist with the unwrapping, and maid of honor should record from whom each gift came. After the gift opening, coffee and desserts are served and the party begins to break up.

2. Who should host?

Traditionally, the maid of honor takes the role of planning a bridal shower with the help of her bridesmaids. These days, however, many moms and sisters also tend to act as hostesses, so it’s really a personal decision for the bride. It is perfectly fine to have multiple showers as a relative, co-worker, or friend may offer to throw a bridal shower with different vibes and guests.

3. Who pays for the bridal shower?

The bridal shower is usually planned and paid for by the maid of honor and the bridesmaids, close friends, or relatives. Sometimes, the bride’s parents offer to chip in to alleviate the financial burden for the bridal party. The host should not ask for contributions from guests, since they will bring gifts to the shower.

So, if money is a factor, and your bridal party alone is paying for the shower, then consider having it in someone’s home to keep expenses down (an elegant brunch, relaxed pool party or fun barbecue etc.).

4. When should the shower be held?

An ideal time for a bridal shower to take place is 2 to 6 months prior to the wedding day. You want to space it out from the wedding date so that guests don’t feel overwhelmed with too many wedding events right after another. Also, avoid planning a shower during a holiday weekend, as many guests may not be able to make it. Additionally, choose a time that is convenient and not too hectic for the bride.

5. Where should the shower be held?

Bridal showers are traditionally thrown at the host’s home. Yet, it is perfectly acceptable to choose a different location, such as a restaurant, country club, banquet hall, and so on.

6. Who should be on the guest list?

The bridal party, close girlfriends and relatives usually make up the guest list, and the size of the list depends on the bride and her host. However, don’t invite anyone you won’t invite to the actual wedding.

7. When should invitations be sent out?

Invitations for the bridal shower need to be sent out 4-6 weeks prior to the shower date. The invitations should include the following: name of the bride; date; time and location; name of hostess; contact name and phone number or email for RSVP; gift registry information.

8. Is children-free bridal shower appropriate?

Bridal showers are typically for the grown-ups, but it’s up to the bride to decide whether or not children can attend the bridal shower. The maid of honor and bridesmaids should address the envelopes to only the invited guests, and spread the word that the party is for adults only—if that is the final decision.

9. Good to Know Tips

The bride should absolutely send a thank-you card to each guest, and the written message should be personalized.

Featured Cover Image via ElizabethDooDah on Etsy

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