If you're getting married, we're sure you know the basics of a wedding shower. But for those who haven't been a part of a wedding for some time or are the first of many cousins to get hitched, a little refresher can't hurt!
(Oh, and pictured above are the lovely ladies from my wedding party that planned my special celebration! <3)
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So what is a bridal shower anyways, and what's the difference when it comes to a wedding shower?
Essentially they are the exact same event, it just depends on who is invited to celebrate with you! More traditionally, a bridal shower is hosted in honor of the bride, by her close female relatives (moms or sisters) or bridesmaids. While a wedding shower might be more of a co-ed event honoring the couple together. (Hey, some guys like to get in on the pre-wedding celebrations too, and why not!?)
During the late morning or early afternoon event, there are generally gifts, games, and food.
The building blocks of any great gathering!
Guests "shower" the bride or the couple with gifts as they prepare for their new life together. Even if the couple already has a home together, sometimes it's made up of some of "his stuff" and some of "her stuff", which don't always piece together well. This is an opportunity for them the combine their styles and create a new, fresh space to start their exciting chapter of married life.
Who's invited to the shower?
No matter who is hosting the shower (moms or bridesmaids for example), be sure there is communication between everyone who is taking part in the planning! Guests should not feel obligated to attend two showers, purchase additional gifts, or feel the need to "choose" which shower to attend.
Everyone invited to the shower, should also be invited to the wedding. Typically this guest list would consist of mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, bridesmaids, and close female friends. (If you are the bride, and your close-knit coworkers want to throw you their own shower, you likely would not invite them to one hosted by your family.)
Occasionally, showers are planned as a surprise, but more often than not, the bride is aware of the shower and can assist in creating the proper guest list.
The shower invitations should not be addressed from the bride or the couple, nor should guests RSVP to them. It's best to choose one person to collect and tally all the responses to avoid any confusion. Shower invitations will often include a line that says "Please join us in honoring [so-and-so] with a bridal shower, hosted by [the hostess(es) name(s)].
It can be considered poor etiquette to throw yourself a party, especially if gifts are involved. So it's best to leave any information regarding your registry to the invitation and word-of-mouth.
What else might the bride have a say in when it comes to the planning?
We've found that it's best to be open about this topic. Have you always dreamed of having your shower at a park on a sunny day, or does the location not matter? What about a theme? Should it hint at the wedding theme or colors? Do you have a favorite dessert? (Mine was cake pops at the time! YUM!)
If you have preferences about any of these, be sure to speak up! Your hostesses only want to create a special day for you, and would likely do whatever possible to make your dreams a reality within reason, of course. ;)
How about a specific theme to the shower, consider a unique location that fits right in with the theme.
Having a cute theme like a Nautical "Tying the Knot"? -- Try a lakefront restaurant.
Love the vino? - What about a winery or vineyard?
Want to go classy and have everyone wear white? -- Find a location with a ton of color that pops behind you!
What if the bride is uncomfortable opening gifts in front of everyone, or would prefer to skip the traditional shower games (We're looking at you, gift bingo!)
Why not opt for a fun activities, like a wine tasting, a board and brush or pottery class, or even just a casual tea party? There is no right or wrong way to celebrate!
One note of caution, as any good planner would recommend -- Always, always be sure there is a backup plan if you're event is going to be outside. My shower was planned at a winery, but the wind was so bad that day, my hostesses opted to move things from the outdoor patio to inside the winery. I'm thankful that they decided to do that and spare everyone from the chaos of blowing table coverings and of course to maintain presentable hair for photos! (Although it wasn't their ideal location, it was pretty neat to see the wine vats!)
When is the ideal time to hold the shower?
A great time to have the shower is between 1 and 3 months before the wedding. Be sure it's a date that works well for all the most important guests, the bride or couple, the wedding party, and immediate family. If the couple is from out of state and would require travelling, maybe consider having the shower and bachelorette/bachelor parties in the same weekend. Life can get a little hectic in the weeks before the wedding, so one less trip might be a great option!
In addition to making sure the date works for everyone involved, it's also a good idea to have some time built in for the couple to replenish their gift registry after the shower... and before wedding guests begin making their gift purchases. It may sound selfish at first, but more often than not, guests do not know the kind of decor that will be in the couples' home and appreciate the guidance a registry can provide when gift-buying. This way, they know the couple will be sure to love and appreciate their gift.
We hope you enjoy your shower and one of the first big event celebrations as you start counting down the days until your wedding!
Hi there! I'm Jo, a certified wedding planner and the owner of Witt & Co. Events in Neenah, Wisconsin. I'm a wife to my amazing husband and high school sweetheart Matt, a mama to our sweet little James, (and a Fur-mama to Scarlett and Charlie!)