Bridal showers are one of those cultural staples that have been around forever. We’ve all been to one at one point in our lives but when it comes to planning one...well that’s another story. Where to even begin? Who hosts? Where do you host? What’s on the menu? Is there a dress code? All important questions that we’ve got step-by-step answers to. Get ready, here’s everything you need to know to plan a special shower for the bride-to-be!
History of Bridal Showers
Like all things, it has historical origins. According to World Bride Magazine, the idea of a bridal shower originated in 16th century Holland as an alternative to the dowry system. The bride-to-be’s friends, family, and the local community came together to give her small gifts to help her start her married life. Oftentimes due to her being unable to afford a dowry or her father disapproving of her spouse-to-be and refusing to provide a dowry. It later morphed and became a social gathering for ladies of the upper class to eat and talk about the duties of being a wife. This is where the standard that only women attend bridal showers came from. We’ve come a long way since then, that’s for sure. This narrative reinforces gender roles within a marriage and family and exludes same-sex couples. So we’re here to tell you that it's totally okay to have a couple shower that includes both partners and their respective friends and family.
And of course, if you like the idea of having a bridal shower and just having a fun time with the girls that’s great too! We love and support all things. As the person hosting the shower, clarify with the couple what type of shower they would like and what their preferences are.
Overall, the first foundational step is to talk to the bride or couple to get a general idea of what they want for location, theme, décor, food, etc. At the end of the day, with their feedback and your expertise on them, you’ll put together something in their taste.
The maid of honor/best man tends to be the one to spearhead the shower but it can also be the wedding party and close family members.
Traditionally, female bridesmaids, friends, and family attend but if your couple wants to have a couple shower then gender does not matter. Just ensure that you go over the guest list with your bride/couple beforehand.
Pro Tip: One rule of etiquette is to only invite people to the shower who are invited to your wedding. It's considered poor taste to invite those who didn’t make the list but of course each situation is unique. For example, maybe the couple is having a small wedding, so this may be a nice opportunity to invite and celebrate with more guests.
Location depends on where the bride/couple lives and where the family lives. It’s best to plan a location that most of the guests can easily travel to. It's also contingent on the theme and the budget.
Some common locals:
Date & Time
Usually showers are thrown between 3 months and 2 weeks before the wedding. They're great brunch events or nighttime soirées. Choose a time wisely and of course, a time that works best for the bride/couple and the guests they can’t have the event without.
Two to four hours is the sweet spot. You want it to be long enough for people to eat, drink, interact with each other and the couple, but also not be itching to leave because it’s so long.
Theme & Décor
Pick a theme that speaks to the bride/couple and represents them. Color, tea party, beachside, Gatsby, whether they chose the theme or you do, here’s some shower theme inspiration to get you started.
The great thing about a bridal/couple shower is that it’s intimate so you can really go all out on the details. It’s not as grand as expensive as a wedding but it's a time to have fun with florals and décor. Here are some décor essentials:
- Photo Booths
- Hanging Florals
- Framed Pictures of the Couple
- Dessert Labels
Dress codes aren’t a must unless the couple/you want them to be. They can be casual or formal. If you have a theme, then you should absolutely put it on the invitation. Or if you simply want them to dress nicer, say so.
It's common practice to send invites 4-6 weeks before the shower to give guests ample time to plan accordingly. You can go traditional and send paper invitations over mail or create virtual invitations via digital services like Evite, Paperless Post, and Canva.
Include all of the above:
- Name of the person hosting
- Name of couple
- Dress Code (if there is one)
- Registry Information
Pro Tip: This is a must! Ensure the couple has created and finished their wedding registry before invites are sent out.
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can now plan the day-off activities.
It’s not a party without music! Make a feel-good playlist that will keep the ambiance full of energy. Include the couple's favorites!
If it’s brunch time, go for easy-to-grab bites, like lighter appetizers. For dinner, plan for a more filling dinner that’s buffet style. Think dinner staples like pasta, chicken, and vegetables.
- Finger Sandwiches
- Charcuterie Board
- Mini Lobster Rolls
- Veggie Platter
- Bite-Sized Tacos
Mimosas, need I say more. You don’t have to stick with orange. A mimosa can be a party of flavors, like berry, mango, pineapple, peach, etc. Not a fan of mimosas or want to explore other drink avenues? Here are 30 bridal shower cocktails to meet your fancy.
Life is so much sweeter with dessert and we all love a good dessert bar. Dessert bars are a part of the décor because of the beautiful colors and variations you can play with. Think small and delectable.
- Fruit Platter
- Creme Brulee
- Mini Cheesecake
- Mini Ice Cream Cones
Shower games are silly and get everyone laughing. Games are one of the most memorable aspects of a shower. You can do bingo games, couples questions, scavenger hunts, charades, etc. The key is to choose 4-5 games to fill the time appropriately.
The word shower comes from the idea of showering the bride/couple with gifts. So this is the main event. Typically the bride/couple opens gifts in front of guests. As the host, you should make a list of who gave the couple what so they can later give them a personalized thank you note.
Pro Tip: Make sure guests are aware of the type of shower so they don’t get gifts like lingerie when their partner and father are present.
Alternative Activities to Traditional Showers
If your bride/couple dances to their own beat, try out one of these activities instead. You can have guests mail gifts from the registry ahead of time.
- Spa Day
- Wine Tasting
- Yoga Class
- Cooking Class
- Painting Class
If you’re looking for an online option, read more about How to Host a Virtual Bridal Shower!
Hero photo courtesy of Jen Wojcik