Best Bridal Shower Etiquette

bridal shower etiquette


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.

etiquette for bridal shower


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.

Note: The Maid of Honor typically hosts this with the help of the other bridesmaids. But, this is a choice. It is not mandatory or part of their duties.

bridal shower ideas


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.

bridal shower location


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.

Important Note: Do not use any of the gifts until after the wedding.

bridal shower ideas


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.

ideas for bridal party

Credit: Enchanted Events & Design –

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.

A Word of Caution: A disturbing trend has been developing to produce the “mega-bridal shower”, some even as large as 60 to 100 guests. Many of these are hosted by the bride’s mother, which is a faux pas for obvious reasons.

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.

Tell us how you feel about bridal showers in a comment below.

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  1. Mitzi

    If the wedding is cancelled should the bride-to-be return her gifts fromthe bridal shower

  2. donna

    Yes, if the wedding is cancelled all gifts should be returned with a note of explanation. That is why etiquette states that no bridal shower or wedding gifts should be used before the wedding.
    If you’re canceling your wedding, I’m sorry and wish you the best.

  3. Top Wedding Sites

    If you have a bridal shower etiquette question please visit Top Wedding Questions to ask for help there.

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