Bridal showers are a wedding tradition with origins dating back to 16th-century Holland. When a young woman's father refused a dowry to a marriage he disapproved of or the engaged couple came from a poor background - town folk would get together and offer gifts to help the young woman start her home. The tradition has, to a certain extent, held over the years, as we now shower the couple with gifts that pertain to starting a new home.
Etiquette for bridal and wedding showers have changed over time and can be a little confusing—questions about who throws a bridal shower to what you write on a bridal shower invitation. We endeavor to answer these and other popular questions below.
What Is a Bridal Shower?
Bridal showers are a daytime, usually women-only event in celebration of the bride's upcoming marriage. Conventionally, it is an occasion for guests to give the bride gifts to help set up her new home.
Bridal Shower Etiquette
What Happens at a Bridal Shower?
Contingent on the bride's taste, the hostess can arrange entertaining games for the guests to play, or the hostess can skip this tradition. The universal outline is the same: Drinks, food, merriment, and the opportunity for the bride to open shower gifts surrounded by her friends and family. If you choose to include games, popular ones include designing a wedding dress using only rolls of bathroom tissue, gift bingo, or the day activities could include spa day or calligraphy lessons.
When Do You Throw a Bridal Shower?
Typically, bridal showers are held two to six months prior to the wedding. Choose a date that is convenient for both the bride and her guests, whether that means a date closer to the wedding or planning it to coincide on the same day with another event such as the bachelorette party.
Who Throws a Bridal Shower?
Traditionally, the bridal shower is hosted by the maid of honor, bridesmaids or bridal attendants. While anyone can plan the shower, make sure the who is communicated clearly to ensure there are not two separate showers being planned - unless you intend to hold more than one. Etiquette holds that relatives, including mother of the bride and mother in law, should reframe from hosting as it can may that they are openly asking for gifts.
Family members can help plan the event; if none are available to help plan, bridesmaids can step in helping take care of the arrangements.
Bride Involvement in Planning?
Unless the shower is a surprise shower, the bride will generally provide details they would like at their shower. The host should ask about theme selection and additional details such as location, date, time, and activities to get a feel for of where to start. Then it is up to the hostess or hostesses to use to bring the shower to life.
Who Do You Invite to a Bridal Shower?
The guest list should include only those who are also invited to the wedding. If you don't intend to invite a guest to the wedding, you should not invite them to the shower. Do keep the guest list manageable, if you are planning multiple showers don't invite the same people.
Bridal showers are considered intimate. The guest list usually includes the bridal party and close friends and family of the couple. How many you invite depends greatly on how large the wedding will be. If you plan to surprise the bride with the shower, the maid of honor and bride's mother should work together to create a guest list they believe the bride will be happy with. If you are not surprising the bride, have the bride assist with the guest list, but leave her out of the planning.
When Do you Mail Bridal Shower Invitations?
Preferably, invitations should be mailed out a month to six weeks before the shower, either by traditional mail or email. Include the bride's name, date of the shower, time of the shower, the location, registry information, dress code, preferred method of RSVP, and the hostess(s) names.
Dress Code at a Bridal Shower?
Bridal showers can be as casual or formal as you would like. But do indicate your preferred dress code on the invitation. When in doubt, always dress up rather than down. If you would like your bridal shower photos to look cohesion, you will want to advise your guest of a color scheme in the invitation.
Where to Throw a Bridal Shower?
When the bride lives close to home, consider holding it in her hometown. If the bride resides in a different state, it may be more convenient for the guest if the bride to travels to her shower - instead of asking the bulk of the guest list to travel to her. The location depends greatly on the type of shower and the host's budget. Possibly a family member or friends home, a local restaurant, or if you have chosen a theme, it could be held at a spa, wine tasting room or special event center.
To Theme or Not to Theme?
Bridal showers don't have to include a theme, but it's a fun way to add personality to a party. The theme can be as simple as rustic décor and attire, or as defined as a day at the spa day. Favorite themes include a traditional tea party, Great Gatsby, nautical-inspired, or a beach party.
Is a Bridal Registry Necessary?
The wedding registry can also function as the bridal shower registry unless you have designated it a lingerie bridal shower. Clearly, this would require a separate registry. A lingerie registry can help guests with appropriate sizing.
Steps to Planning a Bridal Shower
Create a Shower Budget
The most important step to plan a bridal shower is to create a budget for the event. Your budget should include venue, food, drinks, photography, décor, flowers, rentals, and any other vendors and expenses incurred while planning. Depending on the theme and the bride's taste, a typical bridal shower can cost somewhere between $20 to over $100 per guest.
Consult with your bride to choose a date that works and within the wedding timeline; usually, four to six weeks before the wedding. Remember, many brides plan their bridal shower the same day as their bachelorette party to limit the number of times out of town guests need to travel. So the time frame may only be a week or two out from the wedding.
Creating the Guestlist
Consult with the bride on a must-invite list and continue to work with her as you create the full list. Do have the bride review and approve the list before you send out invitations.
Choose the Location
Often the hostess offers their home for the bridal shower. If this option is unavailable, ask your co-planner if she has available space. Or consider special event venues that correlates with your theme; a spa, micro-brewery, a restaurant, or hotel, or rent an Airbnb or VBRO for a beach-themed weekend.
Send the Invitations
Give your guests as much advanced notice as possible. Giving them time to arrange attendance and to purchase gifts. Invitations should be sent out four to six weeks before the shower date. This means you should start looking for and purchasing invitations at least a month prior to the mail-out date. It is also good form to include an extra line on the RSVPs for guests to note dietary restrictions.
Plan the Menu
The menu depends on the time of day and the shower theme. If you are hosting a brunch, stock up on mimosas ingredients and brunch foods. Make sure the menu includes dishes the bride likes and options for guests with dietary restrictions mentioned on their RSVPs.
Plan Shower Décor
If you have hired an event designer, you are done here. If however, you are the decorator, this can be argued the best part of planning a bridal shower. Whether you have designated a theme or not, think about the personal touches you can provide for the bride. Lovely floral and balloon appointments, but do include a picture-perfect photo backdrop.
Plan Games and Activities
Activities are great icebreakers for the guest, especially if they are not acquainted with one another. Many traditional shower games require just a bit of creativity! Check out Etsy for fun shower games, if budget permits.
Create a Playlist
Music sets a mood at any event, be sure to select fun or theme inspired music. Have the bride send a list of some of her favorite songs, and included love songs and cheerful tunes for background music.
Would you like help planning a bridal shower party? Consider the experience special event planners at Le Pavillon at Parc Lafayette. This private event center in Lafayette Louisiana can arrange all the details allowing friends and family of the bride a stress free day of merriment.
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