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Bridal Shower Etiquette: Frequently Asked Questions

It started with a kiss and now it’s come to this — your best girlfriend is on her way to the alter. As a part of the bride’s inner circle, you’ll be filled with excitement as well as a handful of roles and responsibilities before the big day. Wedding etiquette is always changing and the same notion goes for bridal shower etiquette. There’s no better way to honor your favorite bride-to-be than with a successful celebration and you can use our FAQ guide to stay up to date with bridal shower trends, traditions and etiquette tips.

Whether you are a first time maid of honor, an excited mother of the bride or the bride-to-be herself, our step-by-step guide for throwing a bridal shower will leave you rest assured and prepared to celebrate. This event is one of the most anticipated for the bride-to-be and will allow her to take a break from wedding planning, let off some steam with quirky bridal shower games and most importantly, enjoy herself. Scroll through our complete guide from start to finish or quickly find the answer to any of your bridal shower questions below:

What is a Bridal Shower?

A bridal shower is a celebration in honor of the bride-to-be that takes place before the wedding. Traditionally, the bridal shower celebration serves as an opportunity for guests to “shower” the bride with gifts. With new trends like couples showers and weekend getaway showers on the rise, it’s important that the modern bride and her party planners recognize that there are no strict rules to follow when it comes to planning the  event. Something that embraces the bride-to-be’s unique personality and tastes will be the perfect toast to the bride-to-be. Despite rising trends and styles, many women are erring on the side of tradition and sticking to the classic bridal shower format which consists of a ladies-only daytime event that honors the bride-to-be.

Who Throws the Bridal Shower?

These days, just about anyone can throw the bridal shower although, the event is usually hosted by the maid-of-honor and bridesmaids or the bride or groom’s mother. In fact, co-workers are hosting bridal showers nowadays too and it’s not uncommon for the bride-to-be or the couple to have multiple events celebrating the occasion.

Traditionally, it was the maid of honor’s duty to host the bridal shower while the bridesmaids helped out with all of the planning. It was also seen as bad etiquette for anyone related to the bride to host the shower because that made it seem as if the family was asking for gifts. Don’t be too worried about this hosting faux pas, regardless of who is planning, bridal shower gifts are an expected part of the shower. Before the gifts can be opened and the event comes to life, it’s important to keep open communication between everyone involved in the planning process, including the bride-to-be. This way, you won’t end up planning two different showers and everyone’s on the same page. It’s also important that, as the host, you consult with the bride on certain shower to-do’s and keep her in the loop throughout. Planning a bridal shower doesn’t need to be nerve racking. With input from the guest of honor and the tips below you can alleviate some of the shower planning stress you may be feeling and make things easier on yourself.

Bridal Shower Planning Tips for The Host:

Who Pays for The Bridal Shower?

Typically, whoever is hosting the bridal shower will pay for the celebration. It is poor etiquette to ask shower guests to contribute to the costs of the shower, so avoid doing so (at all costs!) If you are taking on the task of hosting the bridal shower, but are worried about financial obligations you can ask to share the responsibilities and costs with other members of the bridal party. If that’s not an option, there is no need to worry. There are plenty of budget-friendly ways to host a shower. Opt for a more low-key celebration that focuses on the bride-to-be rather than an extravagant bridal tea party soiree. Rest assured that you can host a successful shower that the bride will love without breaking the bank and sacrificing this special milestone.

How to Plan a Bridal Shower?

The best way to plan a bridal shower is to stay organized. Use our detailed checklist below to help you with all of your party planning to-do’s:

  1. Discuss event ideas with the bride-to-be and other shower planners.  
  2. Select a date.
  3. Compile a guest list.
  4. Establish a budget.
  5. Pick a bridal shower theme.
  6. Assign tasks for everyone involved in the planning.
  7. Determine the bridal shower venue.
  8. Pick out your bridal shower invitations, decorations, special menu items, shower games and activities and other important shower supplies.
  9. Send invitations.
  10. Shop, prepare, confirm arrangements and run any last minute errands.
  11. Set up for the shower.
  12. Buy a gift, write a bridal shower card, pick out what to wear and enjoy yourself!

Use the above steps as a guideline and find the details below. You can also take a peek at our more detailed guide for how to plan a bridal shower if you’re in need of some more inspiration.

Who to Invite to a Bridal Shower?

You’ll invite all of the important women in the bride’s life to celebrate with her at her bridal shower. This includes but is not limited to, bridesmaids, relatives, close friends of the bride and of course, the bride and groom’s mothers. Don’t feel as though you need to invite every woman who is attending the wedding. The shower serves as a more intimate gathering for the bride and her close friends and family. Another bridal shower etiquette tip to keep in mind when considering who to invite is that anyone who is not invited to the wedding should not be invited to the shower.

Instead of creating the guest list from scratch, the best place to start can be with asking the bride for guidance going from there. Before sending out the invitations, make sure to cross reference with the bride to assure that you aren’t overlooking any guest that she would love to celebrate this special moment with. If some of the guests live out of town and most likely won’t be able to make it to the shower, it’s a nice gesture to send an invitation regardless and let them know they weren’t forgotten. As you are creating the guest list, keep in mind that men are usually not invited to the bridal shower unless you are hosting a coed shower for the couple. In that case, men may in fact make the list.


When to Have a Bridal Shower?

The best time to have a bridal shower is somewhere between the time frame of three months to two weeks before the wedding day. Keep in mind that the most important factor in selecting a date is to consider what works best for the bride and all the very important women in her life. Selecting the perfect date is all about finding the sweet spot between the engagement bash and the big day. Planning the event right after he pops the question can seem premature and on the other hand, planning the shower too close to the wedding day can oftentimes be too hectic. Everyone will be busy making last minute wedding arrangements, especially the bride-to-be.

You’ll also want to consider how far some of the guests may have to travel for the shower, if a handful of the attendees are making a trip out for the occasion, that can oftentimes influence the date you select. You wouldn’t want to select a date for the bridal shower that none of your guests are able to attend. These pre-wedding events are meant to establish rapport between the guests, and celebrate the start of together. A bridal shower is all about honoring the bride-to-be, anticipating the big day and doing so without stressing anyone out. Use the general time frame to pick a date that works well for everyone involved. This way, you’ll avoid mishaps and guarantee that everything goes smoothly.

Where to Host a Bridal Shower?

Bridal showers can be hosted just about anywhere, but usually take place at the host’s home, a restaurant, banquet hall or outdoor location. Other locations for bridal showers usually revolve around some sort of activity that the bride enjoys like a pottery class, wine tasting party, a cooking class and the list goes on. No matter which bridal shower venue location you pick, you’ll want to consider a few important factors before making your final decision.

First on the list and most importantly, is making sure that the bridal shower venue you select will be able to accommodate the guest list. Whether you’re hosting an intimate gathering or a formal cocktail party, there should be room to fit everyone comfortably. If that’s at the host’s home or another location is all up to you. Second, you should make sure that the venue has space for all of the fun games and activities that you have planned. Finally, don’t forget that the host is usually the one who is in charge of picking up the bill. So, if you do decide to host the shower at a restaurant, spa or other location you’ll want to take into consideration the added costs.

What do You do at a Bridal Shower?

As a guest at a bridal shower, no matter what the theme may be, you’ll spend most of your time mingling, eating and honoring the bride-to-be. Bridal shower games are usually a big part of the shower, but aside from guessing what’s in the purse, the main portion of your time at the party will be spent watching the guest of honor open gifts for her and her new spouse. Traditionally, the guests will sit around the bride-to-be as she opens each of her gifts one by one. While she is opening the gifts, the maid of honor or a member of the bridal party will keep a list of each of the gifts opened and whom they were from so that the bride-to-be can easily send out her bridal shower thank you cards after the event. As a guest, you’ll want to remember that this celebration is all about the bride and her special day ahead.

How Long do They Usually Last?

Bridal showers typically last 2-4 hours and are not an all day event. Although, depending on the type of shower you are hosting the time can vary. Most showers will either take place in the morning and serve as a brunch or in the afternoon served with lunch or finger foods. The length of the event will also depend on how many bridal shower games and activities you have planned. Taking into consideration the typical shower games and activities, the celebration usually lasts about 2-4 hours. It may end earlier depending on how quickly the bride opens her gifts or it may linger on with conversation among guests. As the host, you will be able to designate the times on the bridal shower invitations and set the tone for the beginning of the event and the end.

How to Word a Bridal Shower Invitation?

Bridal shower invitations will include some very essential details and will even set the tone for the shower. When you’re creating the invites you’ll want to use clear language and include only essential information to avoid confusing guests. There will be plenty of planning decisions to make before you are able to create your unique invites. You’ll need to know the who, what, when, where, and how of the event. Plus, having a bridal shower theme picked out with a certain style, color and theme can make selecting your invitations just that much easier. You can also have some fun with your bridal shower invitation wording by choosing a cute pun or play on words including sayings like: here comes the bridal brunch, just (about) married, and the list goes on. Just remember that the bridal shower is an all ages event and you won’t want to offend any of the guests. You can opt to be as creative or as minimal as you’d like. What’s most important is to fill your guests in on the details and do so with the bride’s personality in mind. With that being said, regardless of which color, theme or design you select the following information should be included on your bridal shower invitations:

Optional Information to Include:

When to Send Out Bridal Shower Invitations?

Bridal shower invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks before the event. This time frame will give guests plenty of time to mark their calendars, plan for the shower, and make arrangements if need be. This timeline is especially good for those guests that may be traveling to attend the shower and will give everyone else plenty of time to plan. You’ll also want to make sure that the bridal shower invitations go out after your wedding invitations do.

What to Wear to a Bridal Shower?

When it comes to what to wear to a bridal shower your options are endless although, there are a few factors you should consider before making your bridal bash outfit selection. A bridal shower is a very sweet, ladylike and more formal gathering. You’ll want to make sure your outfit embraces that.

If there is one rule you should follow when dressing for a bridal shower, it is to avoid the color white. Just as the bride is the only one in white on her wedding day, she may want to celebrate this tradition at the events leading up to her big day as well. Unless the bride or the shower invitation indicates a certain dress code, your best bet is to add a little color to your ensemble. Pastel hues and floral patterns are very popular options and you can never go wrong with a dress. Well, that is unless the shower is taking place during winter. Like any event, the time of day will help determine what your attire should be and there are other elements that may influence your chic shower style.

Before opening your closet or deciding that a shopping trip is in your near future, take into consideration the following particulars when trying to decide what to wear to a bridal shower:

What to Write in a Bridal Shower Card?

A well written message from the heart is the perfect way to congratulate the bride and make the bride feel special before her big day. A bridal shower is a time for celebration, reflection and showering the bride-to-be with love.  Use your bridal shower card as an opportunity to share your emotions with her and cheers to this new and exciting chapter in her life. Whether your greeting includes wishes or quotes, one thing that’s certain is that a well crafted message from the heart, will certainly touch the heart of others. Use your bridal shower card to make the bride-to-be feel special. If you are looking for more example messages, love quotes or wishes, take a peek at our more detailed guide on what to write in a bridal shower card.

A bridal shower is all about making the bride-to-be feel as special as possible before her big day. With all your planning in place, make sure that you take the time to enjoy yourself and celebrate with the guest of honor on her shower day. Take this moment to pause from all of the wedding planning ahead and enjoy yourselves. After the shower, you’ll have plenty of time to worry about the bridal shower thank you cards and wedding day to-do’s.