Bridal Shower Etiquette: Everything you need to know
The wedding season is here and this means that bridal showers, one of the favorite pre-wedding events, are popping up on our calendars right, left, and center. And because it's an important pre-wedding event that gives those nearest and dearest to the bride the chance to meet, bond, and celebrate the bride through gifts, it's of great importance to know proper bridal shower etiquette.
Traditionally, bridal showers are meant to prepare the bride-to-be for her new life in marriage. It generally revolves around showering her with wedding gifts. Although not as strict as the wedding itself, a bridal shower is more structured than your average party, so you should be aware of the proper etiquette for hosting and attending a bridal shower.
Given that bridal showers are not everyone's cup of tea, you are probably wondering; who should plan the bridal shower? Who pays for it? Who gets invited? When and where should the bridal shower be held? When and how should the invitations be sent out? What are the etiquettes to be followed? These and many more questions are probably going through your head right now.
In this definitive guide, we'll walk you through the process of planning and holding a bridal shower. Whether you're a bride, a hostess, or a guest, we'll answer all the basics of a bridal shower while highlighting all that you should know before attending one.
What is a Bridal Shower?
A bridal shower is a pre-wedding event that is held in honor of the bride-to-be. Traditionally a women-only event, a bridal shower is a celebration that mainly gives guests the opportunity to "shower" the bride-to-be with gifts and also of the nearest and dearest to the bride to meet and bond before the big day.
Bridal Shower Etiquette
It's of great importance to note that there are no strict rules when it comes to bridal showers. Whether you're keen to follow the traditions of a bridal shower or feel more modern, there's no right or wrong way of throwing a bridal shower. However, here are commonly established bridal shower etiquette that you should follow if you want to avoid bridal shower gaffers.
What Should Happen at a Bridal Shower
Traditionally, a bridal shower is usually about eating, drinking, and showering the bride with gifts, which she should open when surrounded by guests. But it's not a must to open the gifts in front of everyone if you do not like the idea. All you have to do is speak up and this part of the bridal shower can be skipped.
Again, playing fun games was an important tradition of bridal showers but this was because women back then weren't allowed to drink, so they kept themselves busy by playing various games during the party. But because things have changed, you can choose to play various games or skip them altogether.
As we noted earlier, a bridal shower is traditionally a women-only event, so the list of guests should be female (those nearest and dearest to the bride) but things can change a little bit if it's same-sex marriage.
More importantly, the groom or your partner for that matter should only arrive towards the end of the party, perhaps with flowers. This is a sweet way of including them in your celebration so that they do not feel left out. This is also a good chance for guests who have never met the groom before to meet the lucky guy. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why most guests often look forward to attending a bridal shower.
When Should It Be?
A bridal shower should be held two to six months before the big day; the wedding day. It's important that the date that is chosen is convenient for both the bride and the guests. There are also instances when a bride can have several bridal showers. In such circumstances, it's vital for the hosts to consult with one another about guest lists.
Who Hosts the Shower?
Generally, a bridal shower should be planned and hosted by the maid of honor or the mother of the bride but it's not limited just to the two. It can also be hosted by close friends, bridesmaids, bridal attendants, or close relatives. Regardless of who hosts the bridal shower, the host should be hands-on and should work in tandem with the bride unless the bridal shower is a surprise to the bride.
Who Pays for It?
In most cases, the bride should take a hands-off when it comes to planning and organizing a bridal shower. That being said, the cost of covering the bridal shower should be shared among the maid of honor, the bridesmaids, close friends, and relatives as they all deem necessary.
As far as the involvement of the bride in organizing the bridal shower is concerned, it's essential that the bride provides some basics in terms of what they would like in their bridal shower. Whether it's about the theme of the bridal shower, date, time, details, location, activities, as well as other ideas, it's important to ensure that everything is planned according to the bride's preferences.
Where Should It be Held?
A bridal shower can be held almost anywhere. Whether you want to book a restaurant, another venue, or hold it at someone's house (most likely the host's house), or at the office, a bridal shower can be held anywhere. It all depends on the theme of the shower and the budget. For example, a bridal shower can range from a low-key event to a destination bridal shower.
Who Gets Invited?
You're probably wondering, who should I invite to the bridal shower? Well, the idea is to invite the bride's nearest and dearest. This means that those who get invited to the bridal shower must already be on the wedding guest list.
The idea here is that guests should bring presents to the bride, so it would be inappropriate and totally awkward to invite individuals who have not been invited to the wedding. An exception would be if you decide to hold the bridal shower at the office because it may not be possible to invite all your colleagues but they may still be happy to help you celebrate.
It's important to keep the guest list small and manageable. If it's a surprise shower, then you have to work closely with those who are really close to the bride to come up with the guest list.
When Should the Invitations be Sent to the Guests?
The best time to send invitations is four to six weeks before the bridal shower. Whichever means you use to send out these invitations, make sure that the bride's name, date, time, location, name of the host, registry information, and RSVP are included in the invitation.
What Should be the Theme of the Bridal Shower and Dress Code?
The theme of the bridal shower will depend on the preferences of the bride. The idea here is that the shower is all about the bride, so everything including the design and theme should be tailored to the bride's liking though a theme isn't a must.
In terms of dress code, it can be either formal or casual as you expect. If there's a dress code, it would be wise to at least include it in the invitation. As a guest, it wouldn't be any good to dress down. In fact, it's better to overdress for the bridal shower than to under-dress but that's if there's no stipulated dress code. If the bride wants some sort of cohesion in bridal shower photos, then having a dress code included in the invitation is essential.
How Should the Gifts be Handled?
It only makes sense that the bride should have registered for gifts by the time the invitations to the bridal shower are sent to the guests. Although it's not a must to have a registry for gifts, it's often welcomed by the guests. This is because guests might not know what gifts to purchase for the bridal shower and a gift registry comes in handy in giving them tips and ideas.
As far as the gifts for the hostess are concerned, it's important to show kindness on your part as a guest to acknowledge the efforts put in place by the hostess in hosting such an event. So whether it's a lovely-written thank you note or a ticket to a show, you should also appreciate the hostess' efforts.
Tips on Planning and Organizing a Bridal Shower
The following tips will come in handy in organizing a memorable bridal shower.
Create a Budget
First and foremost, create a budget for the shower. From drinks, food, and decor to venue, videography, and photography, make sure that everything is budgeted for and the cost can be shared among the organizers.
Select a Theme
Selecting a theme for the shower is optional but if you want it to be part of the bridal shower, then make sure that the theme is in line with the preferences of the bride.
Choose a Date
When it comes to choosing a date, it's important to consult with the bride to come up with a date that works for her and fits within the wedding timeline.
Choose a Location
In most cases, the hostess will host the bridal shower in her home. But if you want something different, you can start planning for the location as early as possible and choose the right location based on the theme of the shower.
Create a Guest List
Work closely with the bride in coming up with a must-invite guest list. The bride should approve the list before the invitations are sent.
Send the Invitations
Make sure that the invitations are sent four to six weeks before the date of the bridal shower and all the important details are included in the invitation.
Hold the Bridal Shower and Honor the Guest
From food and drinks to decor, games, and activities, most things will depend on the theme of the bridal shower. When it's all said and done, keep in mind that the bridal shower is held in honor of the bride, so you should honor her and shower her with gifts before she walks down the aisle. As such, you have to make sure that the bridal shower is a special celebration that she'll be etched in her memory for a very long time.