How To Plan A Bridal Shower: Everything You Need To Know

How To Plan A Bridal Shower: Everything You Need To Know
jennifer skulski wedding hashers guest author

Jennifer Skulski

Published: Nov 29, 2022

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The idea of a bridal shower dates back to Holland in the 16th century when friends would offer the future bride small gifts if her father couldn’t afford or be actively withholding the dowry.

As an alternative to the dowry system, this tradition slowly evolved into a small party celebrating the bride with gifts, gossip, and advice.

In the 19th century, bridal shower guests would place their small favors, keepsakes, or written notes within a paper parasol, that literally “showers” the bride with her gifts as she opens it.

This is where we get the term “bridal shower.”

From here, the celebration has evolved into what we know today.

While most of us may not actually shower the bride-to-be with her trinkets, we still exchange meaningful bridal shower gifts that’ll be useful to the bride in married life.

Now that we know the origin of the bridal shower, let’s dive into the planning process, view a sample itinerary, and examine proper bridal shower etiquette to follow to achieve the perfect celebration!

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What’s The Difference Between A Bridal Shower And A Wedding Shower?

While the bridal and wedding showers are two similar celebrations, the main differences stem from the guest list.

The bridal shower is a party specifically for the bride and her close female friends, including her bridal party and family members.

The wedding shower, on the other hand, is to celebrate both the bride and the groom.

It’s a celebration that originally evolved from the bridal shower to be a modern, co-ed party for both sides.

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Pro Tip: Not everyone on your wedding guest list needs to be invited to the wedding shower. Typically inviting your wedding party and close family members is a good start for a more intimate celebration.

photo of girls at bridal shower

Leading up to the big day, there are other pre-wedding events that couples may choose to have such as an engagement party and a bachelor or bachelorette party.

These are both separate celebrations from the two showers.

The engagement party typically occurs shortly after the proposal and likely before any major wedding planning begins.

The bachelor and bachelorette parties are strictly for the bride and the groom to each enjoy one last celebration or trip with their close friends a few weeks or days before the actual wedding day.

How To Plan An Unforgettable Bridal Shower

Decide On A Budget

Budgeting may not be the easiest or most glamorous part of the wedding planning process, but you’ll be thankful to have a set budget in place later down the line.

This is an important first step to considering how extravagant or intimate this shower party should be.

In this initial budgeting phase, you’ll also want to consider how you might wish to divide up the costs. Traditionally, the friends of the bride, specifically the bridesmaids, host the bridal shower.

Depending upon who hosts, you might want to evenly divide the associated costs between each other if you’re planning the party as a group.

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Set A Date

Once you have a budget in mind, begin by setting the date for the celebration.

If you wish to have the bridal shower at a specific location or restaurant that may need a reservation in advance, part of this step may involve working with that venue to see what dates they have available.

For reference, bridal showers typically take place between two to six months before the wedding day.

Create A Bridal Shower Guest List

Next, it’s time to establish that bridal shower guest list.

You’ll want to have a set-in-stone guest list so you can begin organizing the bridal shower invitations.

bridal shower invitations screenshot
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Pro Tip: Try a digital version of your bridal shower invitations. You can fully customize your invitations and it comes with online RSVP tracking too!

Typically, a bridal shower will consist of the bridal party – bridesmaids and other close friends of the bride as well as the bride’s female family members, including her future mother-in-law or any sisters-in-law.

Pick A Location

Once you have an idea of the date the shower should be and how many guests you expect to come to celebrate, you can pick out and reserve the venue that should host it.

Bridal parties can be as simple and intimate as a tea party at a friend’s home or a celebration in a family member’s backyard.

However, if you’re looking for a different location, you may wish to reserve a cafe for brunch and mimosas, a park for a quaint picnic, or even a winery for some wine tastings.

Choose A Bridal Shower Theme

picnic themed bridal shower

For the best bridal shower, it might be a fun idea to have a themed celebration.

This theme can be as simple as choosing a stunning color scheme or having the theme relate to the bride’s interests or style.

Possible themed bridal shower ideas might include a boho vibe, a tea party, a beach theme, a floral affair, a Hawaiian or tropical theme, a rustic aesthetic, or a bubbly brunch party.

Select An Easy Dress Code

bridal party dress code in a bridal shower

With the bridal shower theme in mind, set a simple dress code that all guests can easily achieve.

This can be beach casual, a request to wear bright colors, a sundress code, or even a pajama party for a more casual and cozy celebration at home.

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Send Out Invitations

Now it’s time to send out the bridal shower invitations to all the guests on the list.

Make sure to clearly describe the event, the date, the theme of the party, and any dress code you wish there to be.

These invitations should be sent out around six to eight weeks prior to the party in order to give all your guests ample time to plan ahead and RSVP.

Plan The Menu

Who doesn’t love party food and snacks?

It’s time to plan out the bridal shower menu to match your theme and taste buds.

Perhaps you’re planning a lovely brunch with waffles, omelets, and fresh fruit. Or maybe homemade hors d’oeuvres are more your style. If you’re having caterers or renting out food trucks instead, now’s the time to solidify that menu, too.

dessert cakesicles for wedding shower

Plus, don’t forget about the dessert!

Whether it’s a cake, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, a chocolate fountain, or something else entirely, make sure you plan out what sweet treats you might serve.

Buy Bridal Shower Decor

As with any party, the decor, flowers, and centerpieces can truly bring everything together.

Consider any custom decor you might need and shop accordingly. Be sure to take your theme or color scheme into account when planning the decorations.

wedding shower decor with flowers screenshot

Are you thinking of hanging up signs, garlands, or string lights to decorate the walls?

How about the tablescapes?

Will you have pastel place settings and napkins to fit your whimsical bridal shower theme?

Or will you have DIY centerpieces with flowers and greenery to match your enchanted garden theme?

Get creative with the decor and personalize it to fit the bride’s style.

Plan The Games And Activities

What’s a party without games?

Bridal shower games can range from personalized trivia questions, wedding-themed charades, and mad libs, to yard games like giant Jenga or corn hole.

You can also host competitions or activities like creating your own cocktails or decorating the best wedding-themed gingerbread house.

These are some of our favorites:

  1. Where Were They Photo Game

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2. Bridal Shower Feud

bridal shower feud game for bridal shower

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3. The Perfect Match

the perfect match bridal shower game

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4. Ring Shaped Mad Libs

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5. Put A Ring On It

put a ring on it bridal shower game

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6. Guess The Dress

guess the dress bridal shower game

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7. Who Has The Groom

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The best bridal shower games are the ones that can get all your guests involved, so try to select a variety of activities where everyone can easily get in on the fun.

Curate A Bridal Shower Playlist

Create a custom playlist all your guests will want to jam out to.

To make sure everyone has a bit of say in the music selected for the party, you can have your guests leave song suggestions when they RSVP or have everyone add a few songs to the playlist once they arrive to the shower party.

What To Do During A Bridal Shower

Set Up A Gift Station

After planning out an unforgettable party on paper, it’s time to put those bridal shower ideas to fruition the day of.

Start by setting up a gift station at your selected venue. It’s best to have this table or area be close to the entrance so guests know exactly where to place their presents when they arrive.

cute bride to bee honey car

Decorate this gift station with photos of the bride and small accents such as flowers, a lantern, or a welcome sign.

Make Festive Signs

festive backdrop on a bridal shower

Speaking of signs, signs are a great way to decorate a space.

They are also great for photoshoots as the bride and her crew pose with festive party signs. Personalize these signs with pictures, memories, and words of support for the bride.

A fun, flashy sign would even be a fantastic place to showcase the bride’s wedding hashtag.

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Add Personal Touches

When setting up and celebrating a bridal party, you don’t want the event to feel overly generic as if it could be for just any bride.

You want the party to truly represent just how special the bride is to her friends, family, and fiancé.

Celebrate this special lady with personal touches throughout the venue, including fun photos and hints of all her favorite things from her favorite foods and treats to her favorite games to play.

You can even set up a cute station where all the guests can write down their favorite memories with the bride-to-be and jot down any advice they might have as she prepares for her big day.

Set Up A Seat Of Honor

seat of honor for bridal shower

Make the bride feel special by decorating or creating a seat of honor for her.

Whether it be at the head of the table or the front of the room, this chair will be her throne throughout the evening and an excellent spot for a photoshoot.

Decorate this special seat with balloons, flowers, greenery, or sparkly accent pillows.

Serve Dynamic Beverages

Take your bridal shower to the next level with unique beverages to quench your crew’s thirst.

Perhaps you’re feeling inspired to create your own fruity bridal punch. Or put out a plethora of ingredients for your guests to design their very own cocktails.

bridal shower tablescape with menu

Prepare A Toast For The Bride

The host of the bridal party or perhaps the maid of honor might want to prepare a brief toast to celebrate the bride-to-be.

Put together a well-thought-out speech ahead of time and bring it with you to ensure you convey everything you wish to say.

An intimate event like this is the perfect opportunity for everyone to give their advice and well wishes.

As the host, don’t be afraid to encourage the other guests to join in on the toast as well.

Pass Out Favors To Guests

Having bridal shower favors to pass out to everyone can be a fun and memorable way to celebrate the occasion.

These bridal shower favors can be personalized lip balms, champagne flutes with everyone’s names on them, custom compact mirrors, or a box of treats for some sweet party favors.

Plan A Surprise Appearance

As we’ve covered, bridal showers typically have an all-female guest list that celebrates with the future bride.

Since the groom is not expected to be at this event, it might be a fun surprise to have him make a special appearance at some point during the evening.

groom-to-be surprises bride-to-be in bridal shower

The bride’s surprise when she sees the love of her life at her party can be a nice touch to a lovely day.

Perhaps the groom prepares a sweet speech for his bride or he organizes a surprise flash mob with the bridal party.

Whatever the surprise might be, it’s a great opportunity to capture a candid reaction of the bride on film.

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Sample Bridal Shower Itinerary

bridal shower itinerary chart by wedding hashers

12:15 PM – 1:00 PM

Set up the venue with decorations, music, lighting, food, and games, then wait as guests begin to arrive.

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Begin serving food and allow guests to mingle, catch up, and socialize as they enjoy a good meal.

charcuterie board for bridal shower screenshot

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Organize a group activity or bridal shower game that gets everyone in on the action. Be sure to explain the rules, then let the games begin!

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Now it’s time for the future bride to sit on her throne and be handed gifts. Put on that bridal shower playlist and gather around to celebrate. Now is also a good time for the groom to arrive with a bouquet of flowers if he’s planning a surprise appearance.

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM

Allow time for the host and bridal party to share their toasts and well wishes with the bride (and groom, if he’s there). Follow these special speeches up with some sweet desserts.

4:00 PM – Onwards

Hand out any bridal party favors to the guests to take home as the evening wraps up. Don’t forget to leave time to clean up the venue.

Bridal Shower Etiquette And FAQs

When it comes to planning a bridal shower, there is proper etiquette to follow.

While deciding on hosting responsibilities and the guest list may be the most difficult initial task in the planning process, it’s important to note that everyone who gets invited to the bridal shower must also be invited to the wedding.

Furthermore, neither the bride-to-be nor her immediate family members should host the shower. This would be seen as a selfish act from a family potentially seeking out gifts.

Therefore, a friend should instead offer to host.

bridal shower karaoke party

As the bride, it is proper etiquette to show your appreciation to the hostess of the shower by offering favors or hostess gifts in addition to thank you notes.

For inspiration, the bride might want to give out personalized gift boxes, gift cards, or tickets to a movie, show, or another event to those who helped plan the evening.

If the groom decides to make a brief appearance towards the end of the shower, it would also be proper for him to verbally thank the guests in attendance as many of the gifts the bride-to-be receives will likely be of great use to him as well.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of bridal shower etiquette, let’s dive into those pressing shower party questions you may still want to clarify.

When Do You Throw A Bridal Shower?

Bridal showers are typically thrown two to six months before the wedding day. It can be a great way to help the bride de-stress from wedding planning as her closest friends and family show their support leading up to the big day.

Who Throws A Bridal Shower?

Traditionally, the maid of honor, bridesmaids, or close friends of the bride-to-be will throw their good friend a bridal shower. Whether it’s an individual hosting or a group effort, be sure to communicate effectively with the other guests to decide on financial contributions and bridal shower activities.

Who Pays For The Shower?

The maid of honor and the bridesmaids will often host and split the expenses of the bridal shower between each other. Many times, the mother of the bride may also wish to make a contribution. If you do decide on splitting expenses, ensure everyone is comfortable with their contributions.

What Does The Groom Do?

The groom typically isn’t involved in the bridal shower as this pre-wedding event is for the bride and her crew. However, some grooms may decide to make an appearance towards the end of the evening to surprise his bride, thank her guests, and help clean up.

Does The Bride Need A Registry For The Shower?

Having a separate registry for the bridal shower isn’t required. Typically, guests can look towards the regular wedding registry for inspiration for a bridal shower gift. However, if you’re specifically planning a lingerie shower, then a registry would be helpful to create.

Shower Her With Love

Now that you know all the top tips and best bridal shower ideas for planning an unforgettable celebration, it’s time to soak up the fun.

Enjoy the evening with delicious food, tasty treats, silly bridal shower games, an epic playlist, and unique party favors.

Don’t forget to keep in mind proper bridal shower etiquette, and be sure to shower the bride-to-be with all the love and support she deserves. Party on!


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