Wedding Shower Essentials: Planning, Ideas, and Etiquette (2024)

In this article, you’ll learn about planning a wedding shower, including themes, activities, and etiquette.

Key takeaways:

  • Wedding showers are traditionally for both members of the couple
  • Bridal showers are focused on the bride and typically involve women
  • Choose a theme, venue, and menu that align with the bride’s preferences
  • Follow etiquette guidelines for hosting, invitations, gifts, and attire
  • Plan activities and games that engage guests and celebrate the bride

What Is a Wedding Shower, Anyway?

Wedding Shower Essentials: Planning, Ideas, and Etiquette (1)

A wedding shower is a celebratory gathering aimed at ‘showering’ the couple with gifts to help them establish their new home. Traditionally, this event focuses on gifting items that the couple would need after the wedding, from kitchenware to linens.

Unlike bridal showers, which are typically just for the bride, wedding showers involve both members of the couple, regardless of gender. It’s a chance for friends and family from both sides to socialize and celebrate the upcoming nuptials.

Often, this pre-wedding event is organized by close friends, family members, or members of the wedding party. It’s a less formal affair than the wedding itself, usually consisting of games, finger foods, and sometimes a theme that reflects the couple’s interests or the style of the wedding.

The shower also provides an intimate setting for the couple to spend quality time with their guests, who have come together to express their support and happiness for their future together.

Bridal Shower Vs. Wedding Shower: Key Differences

Understanding the distinction between bridal showers and wedding showers can inform your planning process. Traditionally, a bridal shower is an event solely focused on the bride, often involving the women who are closest to her. Activities usually include gift-giving, games, and bonding with the bride over shared stories and advice for married life.

In contrast, a wedding shower is a more modern take on the concept, and is inclusive of both members of the couple regardless of gender. This type of celebration often features mixed company with friends and family from all sides, reflecting a joint celebration of the couple’s upcoming union.

Decor and themes for bridal showers tend to be more feminine and might involve a tea party or a garden party vibe. For wedding showers, themes might lean towards more neutral or couple-focused activities and settings, like a backyard barbecue or a co*cktail party.

The choice between a bridal or wedding shower ultimately depends on the couple’s preferences and the type of celebration they envision with their loved ones.

The Essential Bridal Shower Checklist to Plan the Perfect Party

Begin by setting a date well in advance, typically a few months before the wedding, to ensure that most invitees can attend. Select a venue that aligns with the bride’s style and the event’s size, whether it’s a cozy home gathering or a larger celebration at a public venue.

Create a guest list in collaboration with the bride to avoid leaving out important individuals. Remember that everyone invited to the shower should be on the wedding guest list too.

Choose a theme that reflects the bride’s interests, be it a garden party, a high tea, or a beach bash. This theme will guide your decisions for decorations, food, and activities.

When planning the menu, consider the time of day and the theme. Options range from light appetizers to a full meal or a themed dessert bar. Accommodate any dietary restrictions among guests.

Entertainment and activities should be engaging but not overly embarrassing for the bride. Think of games like bridal bingo or a DIY flower arrangement station that can serve as both an activity and a party favor.

Send out invitations, whether paper or digital, that match the party’s theme. Include essential information like the date, time, venue, and registry details, and ask for RSVPs to manage your headcount.

Prepare a budget early on, factoring in venue, food, decorations, and any entertainment or favors to avoid overspending. If other bridesmaids or family members are helping to cover costs, communicate openly to manage expectations.

Don’t forget about music to set the mood, whether a curated playlist or soft background music, and plan for a sound system if needed.

Lastly, consider a gift for the bride as a memento of the day, such as a photo book with messages from all the guests, that she can treasure beyond the wedding day.

Bridal Shower Etiquette

Navigating bridal shower etiquette ensures a comfortable, enjoyable experience for the bride and guests. Here are some key pointers to remember:

Host Responsibilities: Typically a close friend or family member, excluding the bride’s immediate family, hosts the bridal shower to avoid the appearance of soliciting gifts.

Invitations: Send out invitations 4 to 6 weeks in advance, and ensure it aligns with the bride’s wedding guest list to avoid any social faux pas.

Gifts: It’s customary for each guest to bring a gift to contribute to the start of the couple’s new life together. Include registry information on the invitation.

Themes and Games: Consider a theme that the bride loves, and plan a few games to keep the attendees engaged. However, respect the bride’s wishes if she prefers a simpler gathering.

Etiquette for the Bride: The bride should graciously accept all gifts and later send thank-you notes. She should also greet all guests personally, recognizing their effort to attend.

Dress Code: Clarify if there is a dress code, but typically, the atmosphere is semi-formal or casual, depending on the venue and time of day.

Timing: Schedule the bridal shower two months to two weeks before the wedding, allowing the bride some breathing room before the big day.

Food and Drink: Offer a range of refreshments that cater to various dietary preferences to ensure all guests have an enjoyable time.

By keeping these etiquette tips in mind, the bridal shower will be a cherished prelude to the wedding.

How to Plan a Bridal Shower

Selecting a date should be your first step. Aim for a date that is convenient for the bride, typically a few months before the wedding. Once you have a date, begin compiling a guest list in collaboration with the bride to ensure no one is missed.

Next, choose a venue that aligns with the bride’s preferences and the desired atmosphere for the event. Whether it’s a cozy home gathering or a sophisticated party at a local venue, the location should accommodate your guest list size and the activities planned.

Establish a budget early on to guide your decisions regarding decorations, food, and entertainment. Remember to factor in costs for invitations, party favors, and any rental fees for the venue or equipment.

The theme sets the tone for the bridal shower, so pick one that resonates with the bride’s style. Whether it’s a garden party, a high tea, or a beach-themed bash, the theme should reflect her personality and interests.

Invitations are not only a way to notify guests of the event details but also an opportunity to provide a glimpse into the theme and formality of the shower. Ensure they are sent out well in advance, typically six to eight weeks before the party.

Planning activities and games that engage guests and celebrate the bride adds fun and structure to the event. From classic shower games to interactive stations or craft activities, select options that will be enjoyable for everyone.

Lastly, plan a menu that complements the time of day and the theme of the shower. Whether it’s light bites for a mid-afternoon event or a more substantial meal for an evening gathering, ensure there are options for various dietary needs. Consider hiring a caterer if the budget allows or organizing a potluck-style meal for a more intimate and personal touch.

Keep reading:

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Wedding Shower Essentials: Planning, Ideas, and Etiquette (6)


Wedding Shower Essentials: Planning, Ideas, and Etiquette (2024)


What not to do when planning a bridal shower? ›

  1. Don't confuse the bridal shower with the bachelorette party. These are two separate events. ...
  2. Don't post every aspect of the shower on social media. ...
  3. Don't invite anyone who isn't invited to the wedding. ...
  4. Don't give raunchy gifts at the bridal shower. ...
  5. Don't feel like you have to plan the whole shower yourself.
Aug 8, 2023

What is etiquette for a bridal shower? ›

Hosts: Don't Invite Guests That Aren't Also Invited to the Wedding. Perhaps the number one etiquette rule, says etiquette expert, Lisa Mirza Grotts—also known as The Golden Rules Gal—is to only invite people to your shower who are also on your wedding guest list.

What do you need to have at a bridal shower? ›

10 Bridal Shower Essentials For Planning A Pretty Party
  1. Theme + Decor: ...
  2. Invitations: ...
  3. Food: ...
  4. Drinks: ...
  5. Favors: ...
  6. Games: ...
  7. Designated Spot for Gifts: ...
  8. Coat Check + Handbag Hot Spot:
Feb 1, 2016

Should the mother of the bride plan the bridal shower? ›

"Under optimum circ*mstances, the attendants in the bridal party would host the shower," said Gottsman. According to Gottsman, the mother of the bride (MOB) should be a guest, but should not participate.

What is the etiquette for the mother of the groom's bridal shower? ›

Bridal Shower Etiquette

Typically, as per tradition, the mother of the groom will bring a gift for the bride to the bridal shower. It can be something small and thoughtful. However, if she cannot attend the shower the bride's side of the family hosts, maybe because of distance, she can host her own.

Who should not host a bridal shower? ›

Traditional etiquette dictates that the maid of honor—not the mother of the bride—should host the shower. Nancy is a freelance writer for Some etiquette rules were meant to fade away into oblivion, like the one about family members of the bride not hosting her bridal shower.

Should gifts be opened at a bridal shower? ›

The decision ultimately is yours. It could be a very special moment and nostalgic and it's totally fine to do it! But if it makes you uncomfortable and you'd rather spend the time doing another interactive activity with guests or mingling – that's fine too! Looking for an elegant venue to host your bridal shower?

Who is supposed to give the bride a bridal shower? ›

The Traditional Bridal Shower Host

The maid of honor traditionally takes on the role of chief shower planner. But she isn't a one-woman show: She relies on the bridesmaids to help her with planning logistics.

What is the difference between a wedding shower and a bridal shower? ›

The bridal shower is designed for just you and the girls while the wedding shower is a co-ed party where the bride and groom both get showered with gifts and love. If you're a bride who loves to party and celebrate, then have both a wedding shower and bridal shower!

How many hours should a bridal shower be? ›

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.

What food to serve at a bridal shower? ›

Fabulous Bridal Shower Finger Foods
  • Crescent Vegetable Appetizers. Quick & Easy Crab Dip. Veggie Dippers. Open-Faced Turkey Sandwiches.
  • Veggie Crescent Cups. Flower Fruit Kabobs with Luscious Fruit Dip. Watermelon & Blackberry Bites. ...
  • Mini Rainbow Fruit Kabobs. Fruit Jersey Cake. Balsamic Fruit & Cheese Kabobs.
May 19, 2023

How far in advance should you have a bridal shower? ›

Timing Is Everything

Most bridal showers are usually held three weeks to three months before the wedding. The trick is not to plan it too far in advance or too close to the wedding date.

Who not to invite to your bridal shower? ›

Only Invite Those Invited to the Wedding

The last thing you want to do is accidentally offend someone, so double-check that your suggested invitees are all on the wedding guest list. If they're not, inviting them to the bridal shower isn't advised and goes against wedding etiquette.

Who typically throws a bridal shower for the bride? ›

Today, it's common for the maid of honor or matron of honor — sometimes in conjunction with the mother of the bride — to plan the shower. However, the bridesmaids, wedding party, and the bride's family can all pitch in if necessary. Another modern trend is to make bridal showers gender inclusive.

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