Bridal Shower Etiquette 101: Everything You Need to Know About Your Pre-Wedding Party

Bridesmaids, Etiquette, Showers & Parties

While the bridal shower is usually planned by bridesmaids or the bride's family instead of by the bride herself, that doesn't mean you can't brush up on the dos and don'ts surrounding this pre-wedding bash! We talked to our experts to get the low-down on official bridal shower etiquette — read on!

What It Is?
A bridal shower is a pre-wedding celebration in honor of the bride that traditionally is an opportunity for guests to give her gifts to help set up her new home. While the types of gifts and themes have become much more varied in recent years, the general format remains the same: a daytime women-only event in celebration of the bride's upcoming marriage.

Who Hosts It?
The bridal shower is usually hosted by the bridesmaids, the bride or groom's mother, or other close female relatives. If family members aren't available to help plan, the bridesmaids should step in to help take care of some of the arrangements. No matter who is hosting, be sure to communicate clearly to make sure you aren't planning two separate showers!

Who Is Invited?
As with other pre-wedding events, the guest list should be limited to people who are also invited to the wedding. For the bridal shower, this usually includes the bridal party, the bride and groom's mothers and sisters, aunts, close female cousins, and grandmothers. Often other female friends are included, though the number invited depends on how large the event is intended to be. If the shower is going to be a surprise, the maid of honor and the bride's mother should work together to come up with a guest list they think the bride will be happy with. Otherwise, they can have the bride assist them with the guest list, then keep her out of the rest of the planning.

When Should It Be?
Usually the bridal shower is held between three months and two weeks before the wedding. Choose a date that is convenient for both the bride and her guests of choice, whether that means hosting something a little farther in advance or planning it to coincide with a trip home or another get-together, such as a bachelorette party in the evening after an afternoon shower. No matter the selected date, make sure that the bride has put together a wedding registry before the invitations are sent out so guests can purchase gifts.

Where Should It Be Held?
If the bride still lives relatively close to home, the shower can be held in her hometown. Does she live in another state? It may still be more convenient for the bride to travel to her shower if most of the guests live locally, instead of asking the entire guest list to hop on an airplane. The specific location depends on the type of shower and the host's budget. It could be in a friend or family member's home or backyard, at a local restaurant, or somewhere more specific if the shower has a theme (such as a cooking school or a wine tasting room).

What Is Included?
Whether or not you opt to have a themed shower, the general outline is usually the same: Food, drinks, a few games, and an opportunity for the bride to open gifts surrounded by her guests. Of course, the traditional inclusions aren't required! You could play games like Gift Bingo or designing wedding dresses using rolls of toilet paper, or you could instead plan an activity-oriented shower like a spa day or a calligraphy lesson. Don't love the idea of opening gifts in front of everyone? Speak up! Those gifts could be set aside so you can open them at home along with your fiancé. Speaking of your fiancé, they often arrive toward the end of the shower (with flowers in tow) as a surprise for the bride. It's a sweet way to include him in your celebration, as well as help you get those gifts home!

See More: 22 Festive 4th of July Wedding Ideas

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from brides.com