If you’re looking for the answers to all of your bridal shower etiquette questions, then you’ve come to the right place. We here at Modern MOH know a thing (or two) about planning a bridal shower (or two) and we’re here to give it to you straight.
No old school practices or outdated traditions, simply the modern-day rules and regulations to help you throw one poppin’ pre-wedding party.
What is a bridal shower?
According to Wikipedia, a bridal shower is defined as a “gift-giving party held for a bride-to-be in anticipation of her wedding.” According to Modern MOH, a bridal shower is a cocktail-clinking celebration for the future Mrs. Sounds similar, right? Not quite. Tradition says that the purpose of a bridal shower is to “shower” the bride-to-be with gifts for her new marital home.
We say the focus of the wedding shower should not be on material gifts, but on the overall experience. Sure, gifts are great, but the real goal is to throw your bestie a once-in-a-lifetime party that she’ll never forget (unlike the casserole dish she’ll shove into that kitchen cabinet above the fridge)
Who pays for the bridal shower?
When it comes to bridal shower etiquette, this is one of the top questions that needs to be answered. As the maid of honor, you are the HBIC (head bridesmaid in charge) when it comes to hosting the bridal shower, but that doesn’t mean you’re the only one who should be spending their money.
While it’s important to keep your fellow bridesmaids involved in the overall planning process, it’s even more important that you’re sharing the financial responsibility with them as well. That means splitting costs on all things- food, drinks, games, favors, decorations, etc.
MODERN MOH TIP: Ask for assistance from the mother or the bride (and even the mother of the groom). Although you may feel a bit uncomfortable doing so, chances are they are eager to help in any way they can.
When should the bridal shower be?
Typically the bridal shower is held anywhere between two months to two weeks prior to the wedding day. To help you determine where in that range your party should fall, consider taking into account the overall length of the couple’s engagement.
For example, if the couple will be engaged for a year or longer, you may want to host the bridal shower farther out from the wedding because your bestie will likely be eager to start the celebrations. On the other hand, if the couple is having a quick engagement, say 6 months, you may want to hold the shower closer to the big day to make sure the future Mrs. isn’t still in the middle of wedding planning.
Either way, we recommend first consulting with the bride and the rest of the bridal party to determine a date that works best for everyone. The only real rule is to avoid major holidays or travelling holiday weekends to decrease the chances of guests having prior commitments .
Where should the bridal shower be held?
For some of you, this answer may be as easy as having a large enough home (and the willingness) to host the bridal shower yourself. It’s also possible that the mother of the bride, or a close female relative, will offer up their home. If neither of these options are available to you, the first step is to take location into consideration.
The general rule of thumb is to hold the bridal shower in the bride’s hometown, especially if that is where the wedding is taking place. If it is a destination wedding or the bride is the one who lives far away, consider a location that is within driving distance of the majority of the guest list.
Depending on your budget and the size of the guest list, look into local restaurants or event spaces to rent out (wineries and breweries are fun alternatives as well!)
Who gets invited to the bridal shower?
There are two major bridal shower etiquette rules when it comes to the guest list. Rule number one- everyone who receives an invitation to the shower must also be invited to the wedding. Rule number two- always consult with the bride because she has the final say on who makes the guest list and who does not.
Typically, all close female friends and family members (including the groom’s) are invited to the bridal shower. That being said, it’s very important to keep your budget in mind, and the bride-to-be’s mind, when determining the size of the guest list.
Remember, the shower is meant to be an intimate pre-wedding party, not a rehearsal for the real thing (this is especially important if you’re hosting a couple’s shower!)
When should bridal shower invitations be mailed out?
Whether you’re sending the invitations out electronically or by mail, be sure to have them on their way four to six weeks before the bridal shower.
The information included on the invitations should be as follows- the bride’s name; the date, time, and location of the event; any registry information; how and when to RSVP (your name, number, and/or email address).
MODERN MOH TIP: Ask guests to RSVP two weeks prior to the bridal shower, so you have plenty of time to make adjustments according to the final guest count.
Do all bridal showers need to have a theme?
We here at Modern MOH are all about themed bridal showers, but that doesn’t make it an absolute necessity. Before you begin planning, sit down with your bestie and ask her opinion on the matter.
Chances are she will already have an idea of what she wants her bridal shower to be like, so deciding to follow a theme may be as easy as that.
MODERN MOH TIP: If your bride is unsure, or simply doesn’t have an opinion, consider hosting a classic brunch-themed shower– you can never go wrong with a bunch of bubbly!
What’s the overall timeline of a bridal shower?
Right about now you may be asking yourself “Ok… but how exactly does this all work?” Generally speaking, the bridal shower should begin with greetings and introductions, then move on to food and drinks.
As everyone begins to eat, drink, and mingle, you can explain any bridal shower games that will be played or introduce any activities you’ve planned for guests to participate in.
If the bride will be opening gifts during the bridal shower, have her begin about midway through the party so guests are able to leave on time without missing anything.
Should the bride be involved in the planning process?
We’ve already touched on this part a bit, but let’s recap just to be safe. The bride should only be brought in for major decisions such as the date, the guest list, and overall vibe.
Other than that, leave your bestie out of deciding on minor details. You want to have a few surprises up your sleeve, don’t you?
Finally, and this should really go without saying, the bride should never under any circumstances pay for anything relating to her own bridal shower.
Bridal Shower Traditions: Old vs New
Something old: No boys allowed
Something new: Couples showers are in
One of our favorite trends taking over the bridal shower space is the rise of couples showers, aka coed or joint showers. Instead of making this pre-wedding party a girls-only event, a couples shower allows for the bride and groom to celebrate with both sets of friends and family before the big day (again, make sure they’re all invited to the wedding).
As the host of this type of shower, we recommend teaming up with the best man to take some of the load off when it comes to planning. Also, be sure to indicate on the invitation that this is a couples shower so guests know what to expect (and who to bring).
Something old: The bride must open gifts at the shower
Something new: The bride can open gifts at home… or request no gifts at all!
We’re here to put an end to this antiquated rule of bridal shower etiquette. No longer must the bride sit and open every last gift in front of her guests. In fact, she doesn’t have to receive any bridal shower gifts at all (if that’s what she wants).
Like we touched on earlier, the point of this celebration is to enjoy the experience, so why waste time having guests “ooh” and “aah” over frying pans and bath towels when they could be spending that same time creating memories with the bride?
P.S. It’s also perfectly acceptable for the bride to ask for gift cards in lieu of creating a registry.
Something old: There must be games at the bridal shower
Something new: You can include alternative activities… or simply enjoy quality time
In bridal showers long ago, guests would be forced to wrap themselves in toilet paper for a few laughs and a prize. Today, you can totally skip the traditional games and opt for some fun alternatives instead.
And if those just aren’t your bride’s thing, consider simply throwing a bridal shower that involves no extra thrills. Believe it or not, simple conversation makes for some quality memories.
Something old: The bride MUST have a bridal shower
Something new: She sure DOES NOT
The truth of the matter is, bridal showers themselves are not a necessity. Oftentimes brides may find the bridal shower to be an added source of stress as opposed to a relaxing celebration in their honor. So if your bride-to-be wants to skip this particular pre-wedding party, listen to her. Just make up for it with a ballin’ bachelorette.