Hosting your first bridal shower and looking for a bit of guidance on how it all works? We’ve got you covered!
Without a doubt, our number one piece of advice for pulling off the perfect pre-wedding party is to create a bridal shower schedule outlining the order of events from start to finish. From our personal experience, we can tell you that having a basic bridal shower timeline will help your celebration run as smoothly as possible and guarantee that nothing important is overlooked.
But before you can even begin to build this bridal shower schedule of events, you need to understand what these events entail and just how much time you’re supposed to allocate to them.
What do you do at a bridal shower?
While no one bridal shower is the same as the next, there are three main events that traditionally take place in the following order: eating a meal, playing games, and opening gifts. Most of the time, these events take place one at a time, but there are some instances in which there may be some overlap.
For example, certain games may be related to gift opening (e.g. bridal bingo), so you would obviously need to play them while the bride opens her gifts. On the other hand, it’s possible that the meal takes longer than planned in which case you may begin playing games as guests are finishing up.
When it comes to making your bridal shower schedule, you’ll want to keep these scenarios in mind. It’s also important to understand that no matter how meticulously planned your timeline is, there is always a chance for unforeseen hiccups.
How long does a bridal shower last?
Typically a bridal shower lasts three hours from guest arrival to departure. Ideally, you will want to be wrapping up the gift-opening portion with some time to spare, so guests who may have to leave early don’t miss out on this event.
Basic Bridal Shower Schedule
Below we have outlined a very basic bridal shower schedule of events based on a 1-4 PM timeline:
1:00 PM: Guest Arrival
1:15 PM: Food & Drinks are Served
2:00 PM: Bridal Shower Games are Played
2:30 PM: Brides Sits Down to Open Gifts
3:45 PM: Guests Say Goodbye & Begin to Leave
4:00 PM: Help with Clean-Up & Depart Venue
Detailed Bridal Shower Agenda
Here is an in-depth look at what goes on during each bridal shower event:
While there is no way to determine exactly when guests will show up, this portion of the bridal shower typically lasts for about 15-20 minutes.
During this time, guests can make introductions and mingle amongst themselves. Simultaneously, the bride-to-be will be making her rounds to greet her loved ones.
As the host, you’ll need to direct guests to their cards and gifts table if it’s not clearly displayed. This is also a great time to show off all the lovely decorating you and your fellow hosts did.
Food and Drinks
Because this portion of the celebration typically takes up a good chunk of time, it’s best to get it going as soon as possible, say 15-20 minutes from the start of the bridal shower.
If you’re planning a buffet-style/serve-yourself meal, we recommend that all the food and drinks already be set out upon guest arrival. This allows for you as the host the opportunity to greet everyone as they arrive while also guaranteeing guests can grab something to drink right away.
Depending on the crowd, you may have to make a quick announcement to let guests know they are welcome to start making their plates.
Bridal Shower Games
Though there is no way to guarantee that all guests will be finished eating by a certain time, you’ll want to be prepared to begin playing games about an hour into the shower.
If there are some guests who are still working on their meals at this time, just make another announcement that you’re going to be passing out games for everyone to begin as soon as they are ready.
During this time, you’ll want to check on the bride to make sure she has had time to make her rounds and finish her meal before she begins opening her gifts.
As soon as you’re done playing games, kindly ask guests to gather around to watch the bride open her gifts. Ideally, you’ll want to start this portion of the bridal shower with an hour and a half left in case it takes longer than planned.
Like we mentioned earlier, there is a chance you’ll be playing some games during this time. If that’s the case, just be sure that they do not overshadow the bride in any way (e.g. read answers/hand out prizes in between, not during, each gift being opened).
If the bride gets through all of her gifts with time to spare, this is a great time for her to snap pictures with her guests, family members, and bridal party.
If you have rented out a venue for a certain time period, then it’s very important that you leave at least 15-20 minutes for guests to say their goodbyes. If you’re not on any time restrictions, feel free to let guests trickle out at their own pace.
We do recommend beginning your clean-up as soon as possible though, as this usually takes some time. You’ll also want to factor in some time for transporting all of the bridal shower gifts into the bride’s car.