As tradition goes, there are a number of pre-wedding celebrations that take place leading up to the big day. One of those is the bridal shower or wedding shower. Traditionally, this was a party to honor the bride where guests gave gifts for her new home. Overall themes have become much more varied over the years, and the overall structure has changed again and again since it’s origins in the 1800s. What was once a party to assist young women with no dowry then turned into a fun and spontaneous event in the 1920s. Eventually bridal showers took on more structure in the 1950s and have since turned into what we know today.
With all of these changes throughout the last couple of centuries, what is proper wedding shower etiquette now? Let’s take a look.
The maid of honor is traditionally in charge of hosting the bridal shower. However, these days it’s not atypical for a bridal shower to be unisex, celebrating both sides of the couple instead of just the bride, which can throw the hosting question up in the air. In the end, it all depends on who wants to do it. No matter who decides to throw the bridal shower, it should be discussed among the wedding party and all close family members involved, to ensure everyone is on the same page.
The hosts are the ones who pay for the shower, not guests in attendance or the guests of honor. As the host, they are supposed to provide everything needed for the entire party. It should be noted that it is up to friends and family if they want to host a wedding shower or not; no one should be forced to regardless of tradition.
Planning anything can be quite tricky when money is involved, especially if a group is planning it together, so there must be open conversation about each decision regarding the party. That way everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Choosing the guest list shouldn’t be too difficult; just look to the wedding guest list like most pre-wedding parties. It’s impolite to invite people who are not invited to the wedding.
For a traditional bridal shower, in particular, the guest list should include the bridal party, the bride and groom’s female relatives (such as moms, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, and female cousins). If the party is going to include the groom and his side of things, include the groomsmen and close male relatives. Other close friends from the wedding guest list can also be invited.
When putting the list together, the hosts should work together in order to keep the shower a surprise, but if the shower isn’t going to be a surprise, they can ask the bride or the couple for assistance with who to invite.
When deciding to go the digital or paper route, snail mail should always win. It’s a lot nicer to receive a party invitation in the mail than in your inbox. E-mail is fine for save-the-dates if they are needed because it’s during a busy season or someone is out of town.
Invitations should be sent out at least a month to six weeks in advance. Ideally, these should match the theme of the shower, whether it’s classic, cute, or high-end. Options today are infinite, which can make it difficult to decide on the perfect stationary, so take time when exploring what’s available.
The best time to throw a wedding shower is about one to two months before the big day. It’s very unfortunate for many couples, but a lot can happen between the engagement and ceremony, so it’s a good idea to keep it somewhat close the event, just in case things go very south. Too close isn’t good either though. Planning a wedding is a lot of work and everyone will be preoccupied with the actual big day versus the shower.
Games are often expected at bridal showers. They’re entertaining, and they help the guests get to know one another better. There a bunch of different activities you can get everyone playing, from Bingo to trivia. However, if you have a day packed full of things to do like spa treatments or a scrapbooking station, you might want to forgo the games. And if the bride or couple insists that they don’t want any, the host needs to respect their wishes.
Deciding on what to bring as a gift to the bridal shower can be quite daunting. The wedding is usually reserved for the big one and often has a registry to choose from, but a bridal shower often will not. Some people do choose to include the bride and groom’s wedding registry information to the bridal shower guests to make it easier on them, but expect that you many have to go without it.
Cash and gift cards should not be given as a shower gift since part of the party involves watching the bride-to-be or couple open gifts. Luckily, guests can be comforted by the fact that shower gifts are supposed to be much less pricey than the wedding gift.