Complete Guide to Bridal Showers

Planning An Amazing Bridal Shower

Top Tips for Hosting Memorable Bridal Showers

While the bride is confronted with a myriad of important decisions for the big day – dress, flowers, menu, etc., – those planning her bridal shower have other decisions to make. How do you create a warm and comfortable atmosphere when, often, the guests do not know each other and are ages and interests apart? If work friends, school friends and Aunt Mary are to enjoy this get-together equally, then there must be a well-chosen theme and some active involvement to bring the guests together. Party games get everyone involved – but you must choose them with care. Try to find out as much as you can about the likes and dislikes of your guests, and plan around them. Some people love the limelight while others quail when a group focuses upon their answers. Try to choose themes where everyone has something to contribute, like cooking or travel. If you can get people actively working at something in small groups, so much the better. Playing charades is great for getting a small group to interact.

Plan to have some music going in the background to set the mood. This will assure that early lapses in conversation are not pronounced. Make sure the music is low so that it will not drown out the conversation. Try show music if the age group is varied. Another idea would be to choose a CD of wedding music that will set the tone and provide a talking point with regard to the upcoming wedding. When the shower is over, give the CD to the bride. This will be of help to her when deciding upon what music to request for her walk down the aisle or for her first dance with her new husband.

When considering whether to have a sit down luncheon or a buffet, remember that many people are not adept at holding a plate and drink on their lap. If you do decide on a buffet, you may still want to set place settings around a table or tables.

Many people agree that the very first bridal shower, many years ago, helped to bring the end of the dowry system. Friends and family showered a young woman whose father wouldn’t give her a dowry with many of the items she and her groom would need to begin a life together.

It evolved into parties held by the bride’s closest friend, was all women, and was an afternoon of games, gifts and laughter. Today, it could involve mixed genders and held at all times of day.

However, planning bridal showers should be done with care, as this is a gift giving event celebrating a gift giving event. This is also an optional pre-wedding party. So, these parties are not requested.

Who Hosts? Bridal showers can be hosted by a variety of people, such as a friend, member of the wedding (any gender), and it could be single gender, or co-ed. However, family members should never host, with the exception of a sister if she is also a bridesmaid. It is considered self-serving and as if begging for gifts. Hosts should be close friends of the bride. Friends of the bride’s mother are not a good option if the bride doesn’t know them.

When? It should be scheduled after all engagement parties, after the couple registers, and at least a couple of weeks before the wedding.

Any time of the day is fine, with the afternoon still the most popular time. Typically the time of day is closely tied to the theme of the party. An after-five party would suggest that this will be a cocktail party.

Multiple Parties? There could be multiple parties, but never invite the same person to more than one. They are usually informal, but can sometimes be quite elaborate. It can be held anywhere, a home, restaurant, hotel; you are only restricted by your imagination. It could be a lunch, brunch, barbecue, pool party, cocktail party – co-ed or no. However, having more than two showers hosted for the couple can create an atmosphere of double gift grabbing. So, plan carefully.

Who is Invited? Family, friends, and those who are participating in the wedding are invited. The bridal party is expected to attend all parties, but is not expected to give gifts at each one.

Bridal showers are partly used to help involve those closest to the couple in the celebration, to bring the excitement closer to everyone. So it follows that only those invited to the wedding should be invited to the bridal shower. The guest list should not be a repeat of all the female guests invited to the wedding. And, hosts should send the invitations at least two weeks before the shower.

The one exception to the “who is invited rule” is the work shower. These participants don’t have to be invited to the wedding. Generally, the bride’s associates host a surprise bridal shower directly before the wedding. Refreshments and often a group gift are provided.

Words of Thanks! These thank you notes should be written as soon as possible, by hand and have included a personal note regarding the gift. Guests have bought a bridal shower gift and more than likely will give the couple another gift for their wedding. Weddings can be very expensive for guests. Show your appreciation, please.

Bridal showers are meant to be small, intimate gathering of friends and family who want to give the bride gifts and share in the joy of planning the wedding. This party helps the guests feel as if they are a part of the wedding planning process. If you plan this pre-wedding party wisely and use these bridal shower ideas, you’ll have a happy bride and happy guests.

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Top Bridal Shower Themes

  • Oooh-La-Lingerie. This one can be as tame or as racy as you like depending on the guest list. Guests can bring gifts of wedding lingerie which can include penoir sets, comfy jammies, garters and more. Lingerie Shower Kit.
  • The Pampered Bride. Guests buy gifts associated with helping the bride to care for her personal needs. This can include health spa or nail salon gift certificates (although, you should really bring along something the bride can open so include a manicure set, etc with a certificate), yoga instruction or bath incidentals.
  • Garden Party. Know a bride who has a passion for gardening? Host a shower in a garden setting and decorate tables with beautiful flowers. Ask guests to bring along gifts that the bride can use in her garden.
  • Belly Up to the Bar. Guests bring gifts of wine or other types of favorite drinks, glassware, drink mixes, etc. to help the couple stock their bar.
  • Christmas Theme. Ask your guests to help the couple fill in their first Christmas tree by bringing gifts of Christmas ornaments. These could be fun or sentimental, handmade or store bought. The couple will remember each guest every year as they trim their tree. Buy a set of plain glass ornaments and permanent markers and have guests decorate or sign the ornaments, including a short message to the couple.
  • Old Fashioned PJ Party. Good, clean fun! Ask guests to dress in their favorite jammies. Have tons of super-bad-for-you snacks, chick flicks, board games, etc. Comon – you remember how this is done!
  • The Wine Connoisseur. Couples who love wine, and have a lot of everything else they need for the home, will love this shower idea. Asks guest to bring two bottles of their favorite wine (one to share and one to give to the couple) along with their favorite recipe that goes with their wine selection. Serve a nice assortment of cheese and crackers for an elegant wine tasting shower. Have some non-alcoholic beverages on hand for those guests who do not drink.
  • Recipes Galore. For the bride who loves to cook – or hasn’t got a clue! Guest write their favorite recipe on an index card (which can be provided with the bridal shower invitations) and bring the card along with all non-perishable ingredients for the recipe wrapped in anything festive.

Non-Traditional Bridal Shower Themes

Are you throwing a shower and looking for something a little out-of-the-ordinary? While the traditional kitchen and linens showers are still appropriate for many brides, a growing number of women walking down the aisle already have established households. So what do you do when the bride really doesn’t need another toaster, but you still want to get together with friends and family to celebrate an upcoming wedding?

One very non-traditional bridal shower themes is, of course, the gift-less shower, which is becoming very popular these days. Many couples just don’t need the help to set up a new home like they once did. These showers can still bring the guests together for a fun afternoon of wedding chatter. Games can be played and food served. You may need to get a bit more creative with the planning so you’ll be sure to fill up time when the bride would normally open gifts.

Is the idea of guests showing up empty handed not for you? Instead, try one of these non-traditional themes, perhaps taking your cues from the bride’s interests or hobbies. A few ideas:

Garden Party – This theme works well if you’re having an outdoor gathering, but you can also bring the garden inside by using potted plants or flowers as centerpieces and giving seed packet favors. Give the plants away as prizes or as favors to save money, plus you won’t have a dozen centerpieces to find homes for afterwards. Your games can be garden-themed as well – try putting a tablespoon of different flower and vegetable seeds into sealed bags and passing them around to quiz the guests’ gardening know-how. Serve fresh fruits and vegetables, either grown in your own garden or purchased at the local farmers’ market. Encourage the bride to register for gardening tools and supplies at the local home store, and if guests call you for gift ideas, suggest potted plants, seeds, gardening tools and gadgets.

Travel Shower – This is a great theme if the couple loves to travel! It can be tied in with the honeymoon destination, if one is planned, or it can focus on other places the couple hopes to visit. For a really unique touch, create invitations that look like boarding passes. Decorate in keeping with the featured locale, and consider serving cuisine from that part of the world. If the bride has already travelled extensively, games could test the group’s knowledge of the places she has visited, perhaps even using some of her own travel photos. Put together a scrap book (with plenty of room for the couple to add photos later) and encourage guests to jot down their travel advice. Ideas for an on-the-go bridal registry can range from luggage pieces to travel mugs.

Arts and Crafts Shower – Is the bride-to-be crafty? If so, maybe this is the shower theme for her! Whether she is a quilter, scrap booker, painter, or something in between, artists and artisans never have enough supplies and equipment. Plan a simple project that anyone can do, and buy enough supplies so that guests can try their hand at the bride’s favorite hobby, thus creating their own party favor. Mix them up and let the bride (and her mother, maid of honor, flower girl, etc.) pick her favorite, and award that person a prize. Ask the bride ahead of time if she wants to lead the instruction; if not, go through the process several times yourself so that you’re ready for any questions.

Western Theme Shower – Host a country themed couples shower in honor of both the bride and groom. Invite couples to wear farmer’s clothes like overalls, blue jeans, bandanas and cowboy hats. Use hay bales for seats, fruit jars with handles for drinks, burlap tablecloths and food served in pie tins. A fun game for this theme is The Newlywed Game, which is perfect for any theme couples’ shower.