Traditionally falling under the maid of honor and bridesmaids’ list of duties, planning the bridal shower is one of the more fun and light-hearted of the wedding festivities. But whether you’re the bride’s best friend or her mother, we don’t want you to stress. From etiquette to theme ideas, here’s a complete guide to planning the most perfect of bridal showers!
So long are the days of the dowry and hello to the days of “showering” the bride (and the groom) with lots of wonderful gifts to fill their first home together. But who comes, who brings gifts and are there any specific must-do’s or please don’ts to take into consideration?
The bridal shower should be scheduled after all of the engagement parties, after the couple registers at their stores of choice. Typically it’s scheduled a month or two in advance of the wedding.
Any time of the day is fine, with the afternoon being the most popular slot – with Sunday’s following as the most popular as well.
Who Does What?
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. The Maid of Honor typically hosts this with the help of the other bridesmaids.
The invitations should be bought/made by the host/hosts and be sent out by them as well. But when it comes to the food and decor, it’s okay to ask for help and have everyone in on the fun. A handmade touch will make the entire event more warm and cozy, as well as less stressful for anyone involved. This way everyone can enjoy the event!
Do’s & Don’ts
DO invite all friends, family members and those participating in the actual wedding day.
DO NOT expect your bridesmaids to give gifts at every single one of your festivities as they are already expected to attend all of the events.
DO send the invitations at least two weeks prior to the shower so everyone has enough time to RSVP and buy a gift.
DO NOT invite people that haven’t made the guest list for the wedding. It’s rude to expect those to buy a gift but not join in on the big day.
DO remind the bride to get the these thank you notes written and sent out as soon as possible. The couple will be writing lots of thank you notes once the wedding is over as well and this way the task is over before the final event.
DO NOT invite the same person to more than one shower. If there are multiple, you can’t expect guests to double up on gifts.
DO NOT give in to the “mega bridal shower” trend. Some of these showers involve 60-100 guests and has become quite the faux pas for obvious reasons. Bridal showers are meant to be small and intimate – keep it that way!
Start Your Planning By Choosing a Theme
Planning the bridal shower will become a bit easier once you pick a theme! Figuring out the menu of the afternoon and some of the decor all coincide with what the vision is. Check out some of these popular ideas!
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 peignoir sets, comfy jammies, garters and more.
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.
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.
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 them, including a short message to the couple.
Good, clean fun! Ask guests to dress in their favorite jammies. Have tons of super-bad-for-you snacks, chick flicks, board games and more!
The Wine Connoisseur
Couples who love wine, and have a lot of everything else they need for the home, will love this shower idea. Ask guests 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. But make sure to have some non-alcoholic options as well!
For the bride who loves to cook – or hasn’t got a clue! Guests 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.
Planning a Memorable Bridal Shower
Whether you’re planning a casino party or having a chic Parisian theme, make sure that the lovely bride to be is the center of attention! Provide lots of fun and lots of snacks to keep everyone involved and happy.
Events & Games
Obviously gift-giving is a huge part of any bridal party, but even this can be livened up by playing “Gift Bingo” for a fun way to shower your unsuspecting bride with a multitude of weird and wonderful presents.
And it’s also important to plan some amusing activities that involve everyone so that nobody becomes a wallflower. Karaoke has become a massive hit at bridal parties! Just get creative and let loose a bit, “Bride and Groom” trivia can be fun too!
Don’t forget a bride-to-be banner! Banners are a top trend for adding a decorative touch to any bridal shower. You will find DIY pennants that can be hung just about anywhere, such as against a wall, along a fence, or above a door frame.
Make sure to have the tables set with pretty decorations too. There is nothing more stunning than walking into a party room and seeing the tables beautifully staged. From the tablecloths, placemats, napkin rings, place card holders, and table runners, you are able to make an impressive statement as soon as guests walk into the room.
Sweeten up the dessert table with trendy accessories! Give the bridal shower cake a perfect finish with a decorative cake stand to enhance the theme of the party. Let guests sip in style with patterned paper straws and vintage mason jars. Label the treats with homemade signs and just pay attention to all of the small details.
Food & Drink
The great thing about hosting a bridal shower at home is that you can cut costs on providing some seriously extravagant culinary experiences. Canapés are a great way to ensure that a variety of tastes are well catered for, and be sure to include plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options.
And similarly, whilst it’s a fact that cocktails are the quickest way to really get the party started, it’s also a good idea to try some lovely alcohol free cocktail recipes so that everyone’s got a glass in hand to toast the bride!
Even if you decide to go with a specific bridal shower theme, like “Wine Night” or you want everyone to “shower” the bride with lingerie, make sure she’s receiving some needed things off the wedding registry as well. Just gauge the couple’s true needs – take a look at if they’re starting out on their own in a new home or they’ve already settled into a space and made it their own for a bit.