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Tradition states that the first bridal shower was given to a poor couple in Holland who was denied the bridal dowry because of the groom’s lowly miller status. The miller’s friends gathered to “shower” the bride with items she’d need to make a new home and enter into marriage.

All About Bridal Showers

As the bride, you won’t be planning your own bridal shower, but it helps to have an idea of what to expect (especially if your maid of honor is slow on the draw).

Read on for everything you need to know about bridal showers…

What Is It

Traditionally, a bridal shower is an opportunity for your close female friends and relatives to “shower” you with items you’ll need to make a new home and enter into marriage. In fact, bridal showers are really the only wedding-related event explicitly centered on gift giving. Like many events and customs surrounding weddings, the rules for bridal showers have bended a bit; guest lists often include male attendants, and gifts don’t necessarily have to consist of hand towels and kitchen appliances.

When Is It

Showers typically take place a few weeks or months before the wedding but can really occur any time that’s convenient for the group to gather. If you have a lot of long-distance bridesmaids, they may choose to plan the shower and bachelorette party over the same day or weekend. 

Who Hosts

Your maid or matron of honor traditionally plans and hosts the bridal shower, enlisting the help and input of the other bridesmaids. It’s typically viewed as impolite and self-serving for your close family members (mom and sis) to host the bridal shower, since it’s a gift-giving event. The etiquette around this has relaxed somewhat, however, especially if your maid of honor and other bridesmaids live far away and are unable to host. 

Who’s Invited

The guest list includes all your bridesmaids, your mom, sister(s), and other family members, as well as your fiancé’s close female relatives. Other friends and even coworkers may attend. As couples showers are becoming more popular, spouses and the groom’s attendants are also joining in the fun. Really, the only rule pertaining to the shower guest list is that everyone invited to the shower must also receive a wedding invitation. (Etiquette says: If they’re important enough to attend the shower – and bring a gift – then they’re important enough to attend the main event.) Make sure to consult with your shower hostess before she sends the invites to make sure your guest lists match. 

Where Is It

The style of the party will usually dictate the location, so feel free to have your ‘maids get creative with the shower venue. Here are some ideas: a tea room, a garden, a park, a backyard, a friend’s house, any restaurant or function space. 

What Happens – Bridal Shower Games

Since bridal showers center on gift giving, you’ll usually open your gifts surrounded by your guests. One bridesmaid will keep track of who gave what to help you with thank-yous after the event. Another shower custom is the mock “bouquet,” which the bridesmaids will create out of the package ribbons and bows for you to carry down the aisle at the wedding rehearsal. Planned activities and games are a traditional shower staple, but don’t feel restricted to the typical “pin the tail on the groom” or “toilet paper wedding dress.”  You can find a list of bridal shower games here. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, consult our ideas for meaningful bridal showers.  Other requisite shower activities include eating, laughing, and a little female bonding. 

Ideas & Trends

Incorporating a theme can make planning a bridal shower easier and more fun, so if you have something in mind, feel free to consult with your maid of honor or bridesmaids. Remember: The bridal shower doesn’t necessarily have to be a girly tea party. If you’re not that type of girl, there are tons of options for themes based on your interests, whatever they may be – reading, gardening, outdoor activities, volunteerism, you name it.

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