Jack and Jill parties are an opportunity for engaged couples to spend time with loved ones together ahead of their big day. This trend is relatively new, and it’s fresh territory for both hosts and guests.
What Is a Jack and Jill Party?
A Jack and Jill party is a coed wedding shower where the couple is given gifts they need to start their new life together. It's like a bridal shower, but the groom and his family and friends are also in attendance.
To answer your most pressing questions, we consulted New York City-based wedding planner Jennifer Brisman. “There’s something special about men and women coming together that makes such celebrations more thoughtful,” she says.
Meet the Expert
Jennifer Brisman has been planning wedding-related events for 23-years including couples’ wedding showers. She is also the founder of VOW, a tech platform that connects the wedding industry.
Read on to learn the answers to many common questions as well as a step-by-step guide to planning a Jack and Jill party.
Jack and Jill Party Etiquette
Who throws a Jack and Jill party?
Like a bridal shower, a Jack and Jill party is thrown by a close friend, family member, member of the wedding party, or a combination of people.
When do you throw a Jack and Jill party?
A Jack and Jill party should take place one to three months before the wedding. If there are out-of-town guests attending, consider staging it farther away from the wedding so travel is spaced out.
Who gets invited?
A Jack and Jill party is more intimate than a wedding or engagement party, and the numbers should reflect that. Around 30 people or fewer is an ideal number. The main rule is don’t invite anyone who isn’t invited to the wedding. The couple can make a list of their closest friends and relatives. Unlike a bridal shower, couples can be invited and representatives from both sides are welcome.
Who should consider having a Jack and Jill party?
“Coed is not for everyone,” says Brisman. But it is a great option for couples who have family and friends who live far away. The format also works well for brides who want their fathers, brothers, grandfathers, or male friends to be included in their shower.
What kind of gifts should be given?
When it comes to a coed event, the trickiest part is to make sure gifts are appropriate for everyone. For example, if men are present, giving the bride lingerie is a bad idea. Stick to items that can be considered universal or for the household. You can also buy the couple an experience they can enjoy together like contributing to their honeymoon or giving them a gift certificate to a nice restaurant.
How should you word the invitation?
It's important to indicate on the invitation that the party is coed. That way, guests can plan their gifts and games accordingly and won’t be surprised by the crowd. It also lets guests know that they won’t be attending two separate events.
Can you play party games at a Jack and Jill party?
Absolutely. In fact, it’s a great way for guests to get to know each other and become friends before the wedding. “If most of the participants are couples, I love doing things like ‘How well do you know your partner?’ or similar games,” suggests Brisman. “They engage guests and make it fun, lively, and memorable.”
How long should the party last?
The event should last long enough that every guest has an opportunity to engage with the couple but short enough that it isn’t an imposition on guests’ time. Somewhere in the two-to-four hour range is ideal.
Steps to Planning a Jack and Jill Party
Decide the format.
The fun part of throwing a Jack and Jill party is that there are fewer rules. They can take the form of a brunch, a sit-down dinner, a wine tasting, a cocktail party in a bar, an informal gathering in a backyard, or a group outing. There should be some sort of formal activity, whether it’s a speech or a game.
If you opt for a sit-down dinner, make sure guests aren’t sitting the entire event. “Just because you have a traditional style and format doesn’t mean you have to have people sit through a movie of speeches,” says Brisman. “Making the experience flow, interactive, and dynamic is vital.”
Compose a guest list.
Close family (including both sets of parents, siblings, and grandparents) should be invited along with the entire wedding party. This party is a great time for the bridesmaids and groomsmen to get to know one another before the big day. Unlike bridal showers where plus-ones aren’t traditionally invited, at a Jack and Jill party, they can be included if desired.
Secure a venue.
A Jack and Jill party should take place in a gender-neutral environment. It could be a restaurant or a bar, particularly one that has meaning to the couple. It could also be at someone’s home or outdoor space.
Create the food and drink menu.
When thinking through what to serve, make sure it is food and drink everyone can enjoy. Instead of tea, serve cocktails, wine, and beer. Instead of tiny cupcakes, try tacos or pizza.
Organize the programming.
“Asking guests to sit for two to four hours is a bit redundant,” Brisman cautions. “And whether you open gifts or not, asking people to enjoy food, beverages, and conversation is an absolute must.” A popular choice is always some kind of cooking class. If you’re outside, consider lawn games. Guessing games that involve asking the couple questions about each other are always a crowd-pleaser.
Arrange the space.
It can be tricky to get the decor right for a Jack and Jill party. When coming up with ideas, focus on the couple. Collect cute photos of them over the years and place them around the room as decoration. Or take inspiration from activities they enjoy together; if they like to travel, decorate the room with photos of world landmarks, or if they like tennis, create a centerpiece made of tennis balls.
Arrive early at the venue the day of the event so you’ll have plenty of time to get everything in order before guests arrive.
Be the ultimate host.
Remember that many people have never attended a Jack and Jill party. It is a new experience for everyone, so make the extra effort to help guests feel comfortable. Greet them at the door (with a cocktail!) and let them know how excited you are to have them be part of this new tradition.