All About Bridal Showers

did you know?

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.

So you’re planning your best friend’s shower, and you want it to be the best shower ever. OK, you’ll settle for one that’s fun and goes off without a hitch.

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

What Is It

Traditionally, a bridal shower is an opportunity for the bride’s close female friends and relatives to “shower” her with items she’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; however, 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 there are a lot of long-distance bridesmaids, the shower and bachelorette party may be combined over the same day or weekend. 

Who Hosts

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

Who’s Invited

The guest list includes all the bridesmaids, the bride’s mom, sister(s), and other family members, as well as the groom’s close female relatives. Other friends and even coworkers may also be invited. 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 the bride first before sending out the shower invites. 

Where Is It

The style of the party will usually dictate the location, so feel free to 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. Just like anything else, spaces can get booked early, so be sure to inquire about availability in advance. 

What Happens

Since bridal showers center on gift giving, the bride will open her gifts surrounded by her guests. To help the bride with thank-you notes after the event, one bridesmaid should keep track of which guests gave which gifts. Another shower staple is shower games (you can find a complete list of bridal shower games here). Additionally, as the guests leave, one of the bridesmaids should be in charge of handing out the bridal shower favors. Another shower custom is to create a mock “bouquet” out of the package ribbons and bows for the bride to carry down the aisle at the 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.”  If you’re looking for something a little bit different, consult our ideas for meaningful showers.  Other requisite shower activities include eating, laughing, and a little female bonding. 

Ideas & Trends

Incorporating a theme can make planning easier and more fun. Remember: The bridal shower doesn’t necessarily have to be a girly tea party. If the bride isn’t that type of girl, there are tons of options for themes based on her interests, whatever they may be – reading, gardening, outdoor activities, volunteerism, you name it.