Wedding

Etiquette

Bridal Shower Etiquette and Expectations

Your best girlfriend is on her way to the alter, and as a part of the bride’s inner circle you’re filled with excitement. Along with that excitement, you now have a handful of roles and responsibilities before the big day. You know there’s no better way to honor your favorite bride-to-be than with a successful celebration. So, now is the time to brush up on your bridal shower etiquette. You can use our bridal shower etiquette guide to stay up to date with bridal shower trends, traditions and etiquette tips.

bridal shower invitation on cocktails

Whether you’re a first time maid of honor, an excited mother of the bride or the bride-to-be herself, our step-by-step etiquette guide for throwing a bridal shower will leave you prepared to celebrate. This event allows the bride to take a break from the lengthy wedding planning process, let off some steam, and enjoy herself. Read our complete bridal shower etiquette 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. It’s important to know that there are no strict rules when it comes to planning the event. A bridal shower theme that embraces the bride-to-be’s unique personality and tastes is perfect. Despite rising trends and styles, many women are erring on the side of tradition and sticking to the classic bridal shower set-up. This 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. However, the event is usually hosted by the maid-of-honor, bridesmaids, or the bride or groom’s mother. It’s also not uncommon for co-workers to host bridal showers. Because of this, brides regularly celebrate with more than one bridal shower. 

Traditionally, it was the maid of honor’s duty to host the bridal shower while the bridesmaids helped out with all of the planning. This is because it was bad etiquette for anyone related to the bride to host the shower. People used to believe it looked like the family was asking for gifts. However, don’t be too worried about this faux pas anymore. Regardless of who’s planning, bridal shower gifts are an expected part of the shower.

Before gifts are opened and the event comes to life, it’s important to keep open communication line between everyone involved in the planning process. This includes the bride-to-be. This way everyone’s on the same page throughout the planning. 

Bridal Shower Planning Tips for The Host:

  • Start your planning early. Consider using an organizational planner to keep track of details like your favorite bridal shower party game.
  • If the shower isn’t a surprise, make sure that you consult with the bride-to-be. This allows everyone to align on what the event will be all about.
  • Try to keep open communication between everyone involved with the planning so you don’t step on anyone’s toes.
  • Set a budget for the shower ahead of time so you don’t overspend.
  • Get everyone who wants to be involved in the planning process together and discuss expectations for the celebration. You can also assign roles and duties.

black and pink bridal shower invitation on counter next to wine glasses

Who Pays for The Bridal Shower?

Typically, whoever is hosting the bridal shower will pay for the celebration. It’s poor etiquette to ask shower guests to contribute to the costs of the shower, so avoid doing so. 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. Create a 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 general 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 that works for the bride and her loved ones.
  3. Compile a guest list of her closest family and friends.
  4. Establish a budget and check with the bridal party on contributions.
  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.
  9. Send out invitations.
  10. Find decorations, special menu items, shower games and activities and other important shower supplies.
  11. Shop, prepare, confirm arrangements and run any last minute errands.
  12. Set up for the shower with your bridal party.
  13. Buy a gift, write a bridal shower card, and pick out what to wear.
  14. Enjoy yourself!

You can also check out 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 should 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. However, if the wedding is an especially small affair, you can invite guests who are not attending the wedding but that the bride would still like to celebrate with.

Instead of creating the guest list from scratch, the best place to start is to ask the bride. Before sending out those gorgeous foil stamped invitations, make sure to cross reference with the bride to assure that you aren’t overlooking anyone. If some of the guests live out of town and most likely won’t be able to make it to the shower, you should still send an invitation. This lets them know they weren’t forgotten. As you are creating the guest list, keep in mind that men usually aren’t invited to the bridal shower. However, it’s ok to include male guests if you’re hosting a co-ed wedding shower for the couple.  

When to Have a Bridal Shower?

The best time to have a bridal shower is on average between three months to two weeks before the bride’s wedding day. Keep in mind that the most important factor in selecting a date is what works best for the bride and all her VIP guests. 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. On the other hand, planning the shower too close to the wedding day becomes hectic. Since the bride likely spend a lot of time selecting her wedding date, you too should take care selecting her bridal shower date.

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, keep that in mind. After all, you wouldn’t want to pick a date for the bridal shower that none of your guests are able to attend. 

grey and pink bridal shower invitation with white wedding dress on it

Where to Host a Bridal Shower?

Bridal showers can be hosted almost anywhere, but they normally take place at the host’s home, a restaurant, banquet hall, or outdoor location. Other locations for bridal showers usually revolve around a planned activity. Typical activities include a pottery class, wine tasting party, a cooking class, and more. No matter which bridal shower venue location you pick, you’ll want to consider a few important factors before making your final decision.

Make sure 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. Second, you should make sure that the venue has space for any planned games and activities. 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 added costs into consideration.

What do You do at a Bridal Shower?

Most bridal shower guests spend time mingling, eating, playing games, and honoring the bride-to-be. As a guest, you’ll want to remember the celebration is all about the bride and her special day ahead, so most activities during the day will reflect this. Specific activities for a bridal shower include:

  • Bridal Shower Games: These games include things like Two truths and a Lie, Wedding Jeopardy, and more.
  • Gifts: A big part of the party is spent watching the guest of honor open gifts for her and her fiancé. 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. This is so the bride can easily send out her bridal shower thank-you cards after the event.
  • Food and Drinks: There always food and drinks at a bridal shower. For some inspiration, check out our list of cocktail themes and must-haves.
  • Cake: Let them have cake! And check out these bridal shower cake ideas to spark your creativity.
  • Other Activities: A bridal shower can have as many unique activities as the host can think of. As long as the bride and her guests are having fun, don’t be afraid to use your imagination.

How Long Do Bridal Showers Usually Last?

Bridal showers typically last 2-4 hours and are not considered 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. 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 to the end.

How to Word a Bridal Shower Invitation?

Bridal shower invitations include some very essential details and 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’s plenty of planning decisions to make before you’re 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 makes selecting your invitations easier.

For more information check out our extensive bridal shower invitation wording guide.

When to Send Out Bridal Shower Invitations?

Bridal shower invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks before the event. This time frame gives 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. It also gives everyone else plenty of time to plan. You’ll also want to make sure the bridal shower invitations go out after the wedding invitations are sent.

briday party in pink bridal dresses and bouquets

Knowing What to Wear to a Bridal Shower?

When it comes to what to wear to a bridal shower you should choose an outfit based on the host’s suggested dress code. Most bridal shower dress codes allow for many different options. However, there are a few factors you should consider before making your bridal bash outfit selection.

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. If the host or shower invitation doesn’t indicate a certain dress code, your best bet is to add a little color to your ensemble. Pastel hues and floral patterned dresses are very popular options. But don’t forget to dress for the weather. 

Take the following into consideration when trying to decide what to wear to a bridal shower:

  • Consider the time of day the bridal shower will be taking place.
  • Think about the bridal shower venue.
  • Consider the bride’s personality and taste. Her shower will be a reflection of all the things she enjoys and this can be a great source of inspiration.
  • Does the shower invitation allude to a certain theme for the shower? This is a great place to find some outfit inspiration.
  • Inquire with the other bridal shower attendees. Asking other guests of the bridal shower for outfit ideas is the perfect way to avoid a wardrobe faux pas.

What to Write in a Bridal Shower Card?

A message from the heart is the perfect way to congratulate the bride and make her feel special before her big day. Use your bridal shower card as an opportunity to share your love for the bride and usher her into a new and exciting life chapter. Whether your greeting includes well-wishes, a funny story, or quotes, a well crafted message means the world to a bride. If you are looking for inspiration, take a peek at our more detailed guide on what to write in a bridal shower card.

With all your planning in place, make sure that you take the time to enjoy yourself and celebrate with the guest of honor. Take this moment to pause from picking out the wedding programs and have some fun.