Chances are you’ve heard of the terms bridal shower and bachelorette party before, you may have even attended one or both. But beyond the separate titles for each event, can you really describe the differences between the two?
Yeah sure, each of these pre-wedding festivities represents a way to celebrate the bride-to-be and her upcoming marriage, but what’s the real distinction when it comes to a bridal shower vs a bachelorette party?
To help you better understand and plan these important events, follow along as we break down the five major differences between a bridal shower and a bachelorette party by answering the age-old 5 Ws (who, what, where, when, and why?)
Bridal Shower vs Bachelorette Party: The 5 Ws of Difference
1. Who is invited to each?
One significant difference between a bridal shower and a bachelorette party is who receives an invitation to attend. Because these events are held for two different purposes (more on that with #5!), the guest list will not be the same for both.
When it comes to the bridal shower guest list, all close female friends and relatives are traditionally invited. Typically this means the bridal party plus other inner circle pals, as well as mom, future mother-in-law, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins.
As for the bachelorette party, the guest list usually includes just the bridal party and any extra close friends (though it’s not entirely uncommon for a mother of the bride or close female relative to make the cut!)
2. What happens at a bridal shower vs bachelorette party?
Another important distinction between these pre-wedding festivities is what goes on at each. In other words, the two have very different itineraries/agendas (again, this has much to do with #5).
While no two bridal showers are the same, this particular event follows a pretty standard schedule. Typically, this includes a light meal with refreshments, followed by a few games or group activities, then finishes with the bride-to-be opening her gifts.
On the other hand, the itinerary of a bachelorette party is very dependent on both the bride’s preferences and the length of the event itself. In most instances, there is often a night out on the town that includes dinner, drinks, and dancing, and for longer events, an activity or two is usually planned for the group to participate in.
3. Where do they take place?
The third difference between a bridal shower and a bachelorette party is the location in which they each take place. This has much to do with the who, what, and (you guessed it) why.
Traditionally, the bridal shower will take place in the bride’s hometown or somewhere close by. The venue itself is typically the home of a guest, like a bridesmaid or close relative, or a local restaurant/event space.
As for the bachelorette party, the location is completely up to the bride. Nowadays it’s very common for brides to choose a destination bachelorette that requires travel and booking a place to stay.
4. When do you have a bridal shower vs a bachelorette party?
This is often the toughest detail to differentiate between these two pre-wedding events because it depends on a variety of factors, mainly the availability of both the bride and her guests as well as the venue.
Typically both the bridal shower and bachelorette party are held anywhere within two weeks to two months from the wedding date. And though there is no hard-fast rule about which comes first, it is important that you have them spaced out so guests aren’t required to travel back in forth in too short a timeframe.
Another major difference besides the time and dates of these two celebrations is the length of each. While a bridal shower is most commonly a one-day, 3-4 hour event, a bachelorette party can last up to three days and nights.
5. Why do we have both?
The final, and major, difference between a bridal shower and a bachelorette party is why we have them. In other words, the intended purpose and overall vibe of each event.
To put it simply, a bridal shower is meant to be an intimate, gift-giving celebration to prepare the bride-to-be for her next chapter in life, while a bachelorette party is a chance for the future Mrs to let loose and de-stress before the big day.
Traditionally, a bridal shower is much more formal (i.e. sophisticated) than a bachelorette party, a difference that carries into nearly every facet of each event. For example, bridal shower games tend to be much more family-friendly than typical R-rated bachelorette games, while the dress code for a bachelorette party is a lot more casual than a bridal shower.
Additional Bridal Shower vs Bachelorette Party FAQs
Who throws and pays for the bridal shower and bachelorette party?
Typically, the maid of honor and bridesmaids have a hand in both throwing and paying for the bridal shower and bachelorette party.
The major difference between the two is that the bridal shower can also be co-hosted by the bride’s mother, future mother-in-law, and close female family members.
Do you have the bridal shower before the bachelorette party?
As we touched on in question #4, the answer to this question is tricky because it depends on the availability of the bride and her guests. While there is no rule to which comes first, it’s very important to space them out so no one is traveling too much in a short span of time.
That being said, many brides choose to have the bachelorette party before the bridal shower as it typically involves a lot of travel and requires a lengthy recovery period before the big day.
Can you combine a bridal shower and a bachelorette party?
Despite all the differences between a bridal shower and a bachelorette party, it is certainly possible to combine the two events into one big pre-wedding celebration. If this option sounds appealing to you, let us break down a few ways to go about it.
Do you give gifts at the bridal shower and bachelorette party?
While you can certainly give gifts at both the bridal shower and the bachelorette party, it is not required for the latter. As we touched on in #5, the bridal shower is intended to be a gift-giving celebration, while the bachelorette party is meant to help the bride let loose and de-stress before her big day.
If you do wish to give the bride a gift for her bachelorette party, keep it small and not too expensive. You can also consider pitching in with the rest of the bridal party to cover the bride’s bachelorette expenses as her gift (this is certainly not necessary, but does sometimes happen).