New to bridal showers? If you’ve just been invited to your first shower, or you’re a bridesmaid for the first time, worry not! We’ll break down the basics of proper bridal shower etiquette so that you can show up to the shower fully prepared.
What is the Bridal Shower?
If you’re unclear on proper etiquette for throwing or attending a bridal shower, you may need a refresher on what the shower actually is. The traditional bridal shower is an event to celebrate the bride and “shower” her with gifts before the wedding.
The history of this event dates back to when the bride’s family had to provide a dowry of gifts for the groom, but the modern shower is a fun way to celebrate the bride with close friends and family members before the big day.
Shower Etiquette for the Bride
The bride plays a relatively hands-off role in her bridal shower. The bride does not help plan the shower, as the shower is a sort of gift to the bride. Whoever plans the shower can choose to make it as much of a surprise as they wish.
If the bride enjoys surprises, the whole shower can be a surprise, so long as the bride is free on the day of! Other brides may want to know more information like the date, theme, guests, and other details of the itinerary.
The bride’s most important job for her shower is simply to show up! It is also expected that she opens gifts at the shower. Following the shower, be sure to send thank you notes in a timely manner.
It’s best to get thank you notes out of the way before the wedding, otherwise you’ll have to worry about writing notes for both the shower and the big day itself.
Bridal Shower Tips for the Host
If you are hosting a bridal shower, you are most likely a bridesmaid or close friend of the bride. Planning a shower takes a bit of work, so don’t procrastinate! Work with the bridal party, the bride’s mother, and anyone else who volunteers to help out to get the party going.
Once it’s decided that you are planning the bridal shower, figure out what the bride is looking for. Find out if she wants it to be a surprise, and from there you’ll know how much to include the bride in your planning efforts. You can ask questions about what she’s looking for so that you make sure it lives up to her expectations!
You may also consider choosing a theme for the shower, although it isn’t necessary. Consider a theme close to the bride’s heart, or something that aligns with theme of the wedding if it’s already been determined!
We’ll answer a few common planning and etiquette questions that the host needs to know to plan the shower.
When Should the Bridal Shower Take Place?
This event is typically scheduled a few months before the big day. Anywhere from six months out to six weeks before the wedding is suitable, but keep in mind that the bride may be more busy and stressed as the wedding day approaches.
Be sure to check with the bride’s schedule as well as other members of the wedding party before choosing a date.
When Should We Send Out Invitations?
Bridal shower invitations can be sent out four to six weeks before the bridal shower. Make sure to include necessary information for shower guests, like the date, location, registry information for gifts, and how they can RSVP.
You should also include a point of contact for the guest list, so they don’t bother the bride herself with questions about her own shower.
Where Should the Bridal Shower Take Place?
You can host a bridal shower anywhere, from the hosts’ home to a nice restaurant or another event space. Consider what the bride would most enjoy, your budget, food ideas, and accessibility for the guests when choosing a venue.
Who Gets Invited to the Bridal Shower?
You’ll need to know who the bride wants invited, so don’t be afraid to ask for a guest list of friends and family that must be invited!
In general, showers tend to include the bridal party, the mother of the bride, her future mother-in-law, and close friends and family members of the bride. Some showers are girls only events, while wedding showers tend to include loved ones from both sides of the aisle.
Some brides today opt for multiple showers instead of one shower, splitting up into small groups. This is a good option during the pandemic, or for someone with different groups they want to celebrate with. Discuss this option with the bride if you think she wants more than one shower.
Keep in mind that anyone invited to the shower should also be invited to the wedding.
Should the Bridal Shower Have a Theme?
Often, members of the wedding party pick a theme for the bridal shower, but it’s perfectly acceptable to skip the theme. The bride’s friends who are planning the shower should know whether the bride-to-be would prefer a strong theme or a more casual event.
The bridal shower brunch is a popular trend right now, so a brunch theme may be in order! There are plenty of themes out there, and if you’re throwing two separate showers or more than one shower for any reason, you can even do different themes for different groups!
Bridal Shower Etiquette for Guests
If you’ve been invited to your first shower, you may not know what to expect. Some may even ask themselves, “What IS a bridal shower?”
If you receive a bridal shower invitation, the first – and most important – step is to RSVP. If you can’t attend due to a prior commitment, respectfully decline your invitation. Otherwise, it is generally expected that you attend.
Shower guest lists are smaller than a wedding guest list, so if you’re invited then you’re likely a close friend or relative of the bride or groom.
What is the Dress Code at a Bridal Shower?
The dress code will depend on the venue, theme, and formality of the event you’re attending. If there isn’t dress code information on the shower invitations, feel free to reach out to the host and ask what you should wear!
Many bridal showers are daytime events or brunches, so consider wearing a nice sundress (weather permitting) or other classy but cute day wear.
Bridal Shower Gift Etiquette
You may already know a bit about wedding gift etiquette, but what about gift etiquette for the bridal shower?
Do You Bring a Gift to a Bridal Shower?
Yes, you should bring a gift to a bridal shower. One of the main purposes of a bridal shower, traditionally, is to shower the bride in gifts. Unless your invitation says that the bride is not asking for gifts, you should plan to bring a present.
How Much to Spend on a Bridal Shower Gift
You don’t have to spend as much on a gift for the shower, but don’t show up empty-handed. For the wedding shower, spend around $50 on a gift. A good range for wedding shower gifts is anywhere between $25 to $100. If you’re close with the bride or couple, you should spend more on bridal shower and wedding gifts.
Bridal Shower Gift vs. Wedding Gift
At bridal showers, you typically give smaller gifts, or less expensive items, than a wedding gift. The wedding is the main event, so expect to spend a bit more on the official wedding gift for the couple.
It is expected, of course, that you buy both a bridal shower gift and a wedding gift. The two can follow a similar theme, or they can be completely unrelated. The wedding gift is typically easier, as you can refer to the registry for wedding gift ideas.
Gift etiquette also applies to the bride when it comes to bridal showers. After the party, the bride or couple should send out thank-you cards to all of the guests.
While opening presents, the maid of honor or bridesmaid should help the bride keep track of what each guest gave. Adding a little personalization to each thank-you card makes them more sincere and genuine.
It’s important to thank your guests for their support during this important time in your life! The bride or couple can also give a small gift to the host of the wedding shower as a thank-you.
Bridal Shower Gift Ideas
If you aren’t sure what to buy as a gift for the wedding shower, start by going through the couple’s wedding registry. Including a link to the wedding registry on your invitations can be helpful, but save this for the end of the invite.
Some items on the registry might be more expensive. You can either for a cheaper gift for the shower or split a higher-end item with another guest.
If you know the couple or bride well, you can go off-registry. Homemade gifts are also an excellent, thoughtful option. If the happy couple doesn’t have a wedding registry, you can be more creative with your presents, like gifting them a set of cooking classes.
Planning a wedding shower is a team effort. Consult with the bride-to-be, and don’t be afraid to break tradition by hosting a couple’s shower. Use our etiquette tips to avoid a faux pas and ensure the bride has her dream shower!
There are endless options for venues, themes, and activities, so plan according to the bride or couple’s preferences and wedding style. Above all, remember to enjoy yourself and focus on celebrating the big day!
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