What is a bridal shower and what does it consist of?
Everything you need to know about bridal showers
Are you tasked with planning the bridal shower and unsure what to do or where to start? I’ve done the hard work for you and researched what bridal showers consist of and how to have a great time!
The origins of a bridal shower
The bridal shower dates back to 1890’s when the woman would gather and “shower” the bride-to-be with gifts in anticipation for her upcoming wedding. Generally, bridal showers are attended by the bride-to-be and her female guests however trends are changing and a Jack and Jill trend is fast emerging (both the bride and the groom attend.)
Bridal showers are generally held four to six weeks prior to the wedding. If the bride or wedding party are absent during this period, or the maids of honour (for example), are flying in from out of state, bridal showers can be thrown in the week before the wedding.
Gifts are generally given at the bridal shower – If the couple has a gift registry you can purchase from this and your gift will be sure to please.
How does a bridal shower differ from a bachelorette party?
The Bridal shower;
A bridal shower is a well-structured event, for example, a high tea, a formal luncheon or similar. The event itself is generally polished and running on a schedule and the guests celebrate the upcoming wedding by “showering” gifts on the future bride. The bride’s mother and grandmother usually attend so you need to be on your best behaviour for mum and granny or you may find yourself relegated to the back corner of the ceremony or the reception. That being said though, read your crowd right and it can be a fun day for everyone (granny included).
When designing your invitations for the bridal shower, try to include a start and end time keeping in mind that there may need some time set aside for guests to linger and chat as some of these people may not have seen each other for a while. If you’re having the bachelorette party straight after the bridal shower, you may want to allow time to change clothes and do your hair or makeup.
The Bachelorette party;
The bachelorette party sometimes referred to as a “Hens Night”, is more of a “casual” or “loose” celebration where everyone gathers to celebrate the bride-to-be’s limited days of being unmarried. These are generally held “out on the town” and a lot of times are held on the same day after the bridal shower. The bachelorette party can be a bit too raucous for granny and mum to attend so you can usually cut loose without fear of being sent to the naughty corner! At the bachelorette party, no presents are provided or expected. However, if gifts are given at the bachelorette party they are generally more risqué and fun than what is given at the bridal shower.
Who is expected to host the bridal shower?
The Maid of Honor is in charge of the bridal shower and the bachelorette night (if you’re having one). The bridesmaids are expected to assist with ideas, give feedback, and assist with the set up /clean up as well as all other hostess duties. This is also when a wedding party member should be writing down who gave what gifts to the bride-to-be as etiquette dictates that thank you cards should be written for presents that have been given. Keep in mind that bridal shower gifts are separate from your wedding gift so don’t go all out and leave yourself with no gifting option for the wedding.
Who should be invited to the bridal shower?
Weddings are stressful, not just for the bride and groom but for family and friends actively involved in the planning process. The bridal shower is no different. Please see the list below of people who should be on your list to invite:
- The bride's attendants (bridesmaids/maid of honour)
- Close friends of the bride
- The bride’s family members mother/grandmother/aunt
It is not okay to invite people to the shower that aren’t invited to celebrate the wedding with her.
What is the etiquette for bridal shower gifts?
Bridal showers are held to prepare the bride for marriage with gifts such as lingerie or fashion accessories etc. Ensure you don’t confuse the bridal party and bachelorette party - remember the bride’s mother and granny will most likely be in attendance so try to keep your gifts appropriate. Try to stick to the shower theme for ideas on what to bring if you’re stuck however you could consider small household items for the bride-to-be. As a general rule, you should expect to pay in the range of $25 - $75 for your gift. Prior to purchasing the gift, make sure you keep the bride's tastes in mind so you don’t inadvertently purchase a hot pink pillow for the couch when she decorates the house in neutral colours for example.
Bridal Shower Theme Ideas
Here are a few ideas of activities and themes for your bridal shower.
- Wine tasting bridal shower – near the Barossa? Head to your nearest vineyard and taste test the wines with the girls!
- High tea bridal shower – Celebrate the bridal shower with a British themed high tea – for the girl that loves everything dainty and floral. Service scones, English breakfast tea, croissants and enjoy.
- Cooking class bridal shower – take a cooking class and learn something new! Love Malaysian? Want to learn how to make cakes from scratch? Have at it.
- Paris Romance bridal shower – Incorporate the Eiffel Tower and celebrate everything that is love!
- Painting class bridal shower – take a local painting class with the ladies and have some fun!
- Beach bridal shower – head to your local beach with the ladies and celebrate the surf, sunshine and waves.
- Sculpture class bridal shower
- Mixology bridal shower – learn from the best how to mix your own cocktails / mock tails. Something that will always come in handy.
- Destination bridal shower
- Craft bridal shower
- Tea party bridal shower
- Pool bridal shower – head to the backyard with the biggest pool with your ladies. Perhaps a chilled out and easy barbeque is more her style.
- Beauty makeover bridal shower – pamper the ladies with a makeover or facials, perhaps a lovely pedicure
- Great Gatsby bridal shower
- Mad Hatter Tea Party
- Garden romance bridal party – take the excitement outside and enjoy the wide open spaces of a beautiful garden
- Glam pyjama party
- Bridal shower based on the wedding theme – pair the bridal shower with the wedding and match the themes
- Shabby Chic bridal party – decorate with distressed décor and mason jars.
- Country Chic – For the country / rustic bride. Decorate with hay / horseshoes etc.
- Jack and Jill Shower – some couples want to have a co-ed bridal shower.
What should I wear to a bridal shower?
Depending on the location and theme of the bridal shower, you might find your style range from a maxi-dress to a cocktail dress. Bridal showers are generally considered semi-formal – make sure you’re comfortable though, games are sometimes held.
Consider the bride-to-be and avoid white but don’t buy something that you’re not intending to wear again.
A planning checklist for your bridal shower:
- Pick a date, location and time for the party
- Compile the guest list
- Choose a theme
- Determine the location
- Buy or make the invitations
Four to six weeks before the shower
- Send invitations
- Decide on decorations
- Plan the menu
- Select 3-6 activities that will keep the guests entertained
The week before the shower
- Buy a gift for the bride
- Prepare a timeline of events for the shower
The week of the shower
- Call any guests that haven’t responded
- Shop for and prepare food if necessary
- Create or make any favour packs for guests (if you’re planning on giving them out)
- Try any games that you haven’t played before and become familiar with them
- Charge your video camera
- Clean the party area
The day of the shower
- Prepare a gift opening area
- Set up decorations and lay out food
I hope you have a slightly better understanding of the origins of and the do’s and don’ts of the minefield that is a bridal shower. There are a few themes in here that I wouldn’t mind being invited to myself! Have I missed anything? Is there anything you would love to see included?