While showers have evolved into something more relaxed in recent years, you should still know the basics of bridal shower etiquette to avoid a chance of offending anyone. Since there will probably be disparate groups at the shower — friends, family and co-workers, usually — it’s important to understand how everyone should interact. Especially in the case of family: mothers and grandmothers can place great weight on proper bridal shower etiquette, so make sure you know “the rules”!
The Maid of Honor’s usually the person who plans and organizes the bridal shower. If she lives out of town, however, it’s fine for someone else to do the honors. Don’t take over without checking with her, though. It’s her privilege, and you should always ask her before assuming anything. If you’re going to do it for her, make sure you keep her comfortably involved through frequent emails and phone calls.
Bridal shower etiquette traditionally says that a shower should take place at least four to six weeks before the wedding. This is just for practical reasons — the bride’s going to be too busy any closer to the ceremony — but if she’s coming home only two weeks before the wedding, talk to her and see how she feels about having a shower in her honor so close to the wedding. Chances are, she’ll think that’s fine if most of her friends can manage to come.
There’s been an uncomfortable trend in recent years for large showers, where nearly everyone the bride knows gets an invite. This isn’t quite what the bridal shower is supposed to be, though. At least by tradition, a bridal shower’s meant to be a small, intimate gathering of the bride’s closest friends and family. Proper etiquette dictates a group of no more than ten to twenty guests.
Who the guest list should include: the wedding party, the mothers of the bride and groom, sisters of the bride and groom, and the bride’s closest friends and/or coworkers. Contrary to some recent practices, it probably shouldn’t include every woman invited to the wedding.
Finally, bridal shower etiquette means making a special point of including the wedding party members … and the mothers. Ask each of these people to take on some particular responsibility, whether it’s recording a list of the givers as the gifts are opened, or running the party games. This will help everyone feel like a key part of this special day.