Like weddings, modern bridal showers are all about experiences these days. So we totally understand if you're not the type who wants to sit and play cheesy (albeit sometimes fun) games or open up gifts in front of a big audience. Some of these activities and traditions have barely changed at all since your grandmother's own bridal shower, so we're pretty sure even she will greatly appreciate some fresh ideas being worked into the mix. Rest assured, you've got plenty of options with our modern bridal shower ideas. Your girls will surely thank you for your merciful act of saving them from another cookie-cutter bridal shower, especially if they're attending more than one this year.
Host a Wine Tasting With a Professional Sommelier
What's a bridal shower without some bubbles? Instead of the standard mimosas though, invite a wine specialist to guide the group through wine tasting 101. You can even theme the tasting around a place you have traveled or where you’ll be honeymooning. Caterer Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs shares the example of focusing on Tuscany: You can set up long farm tables and serve a family-style, Italian meal, paired with different Tuscan wines for each dish.
Unleash Your Inner Beyonce
Suit up for your own dance class and learn the moves to your favorite song, says Chancey Charm Denver planner Lauren Groeper. Hire a choreographer to teach you and your guests a signature dance. It can be your latest jam or a specific style of dance that you want to perform at the wedding, such as the bhangra for an Indian celebration. “Hula lessons are perfect for a Hawaiian wedding and guests can always learn the 'Orea Pou Ine Nifi Mas' dance for a Greek wedding,” Groeper explains.
Create Beauty Products
Everyone wants to feel good and look good so incorporate that into your bridal shower, suggests Raquel Bickford of ROQUE Events. "Creating sugar scrubs will be fun, plus the guests will take them home and use them to get that sought-after glow," Bickford says. You can also have someone show the group how to blend essential oils to promote sleep or relaxation, or even have a perfumer help you make a custom scent.
School Your Guests in Calligraphy
Beautiful script is becoming more important in the days of technology; so if you’re going to handwrite something, it best be well done. Sign everyone up for a calligraphy workshop, where you will begin to master envelope addressing and thank-you notes. It’s something many guests would love to learn, but often do not invest the time in taking a class. Plus, it will come in handy post-wedding, and if your girlfriends are also soon-to-be brides, they’ll really be singing your praises.
Head to the Kitchen
Cooking classes are all the rage for corporate team building, and the interactive quality of these parties makes them ideal for bridal showers, notes planner Andrea Freeman. Freeman advises to keep it simple and have guests make one item; for example, craft mozzarella and then enjoy Caprese salads. The communal activity also helps you bond with your closest gal pals. We bet they’ll be recalling the funny moments well beyond the wedding reception.
Make It a Coed Party
Throw an evening bash with all your friends and family—not just the gals. Host a couple’s shower, where guests can honor both you and your partner, and make it a full-on party. Have a bar with some of your favorite drinks, and hire a DJ or throw on your number one playlist. "We're seeing less daytime, female-only showers,” says Tracie Domino, founder of Tracie Domino Events, “[in lieu of] events in the evening with the couple’s friends and family of both sexes, often with a bar, catering, and entertainment."
Put a Spin on Opening Gifts
Sometimes you just cannot get around grandma’s plea to open all the gifts at the shower, so put your own spin on the classic tradition instead of doing it the same old way. “Some brides feel that they need to open gifts, so there are ways to make it fun,” explains Maddy K, owner of Maddy K Events Atelier. Make the production into a larger game; set a timer for, say, every five minutes, while you open the gifts. When the timer dings, whoever’s gift is being opened wins a prize and the guests are entertained while some of the focus is deflected from the bride.
Be Your Own Bartender
Gather your closest friends and family to learn the art of the craft cocktail, recommends planner Kristin Banta of Kristin Banta Events. Have a skilled mixologist guide your group through the basics of shaking and stirring to put twists on classic drinks, such as an old-fashioned, martinis, and daiquiris. “Not only can you all hone a valuable hosting skill, but an interactive team building activity will give you something to do while having something delicious to toast with,” Banta says. Another fun idea is to have a build-your-own drink station; "Serve Champagne with all sorts of accompanying fruit, edible flowers, and even rock candy,” explains planner Brie Owens of Chancey Charm Atlanta.
Make It a Charity Fundraiser
Use your bridal shower as an avenue to give back. Michelle Rago, founder of Michelle Rago Destinations, suggests hosting a “Shower the World with Compassion” party, where guests can learn about and donate to a charity or charities that are close to your heart. “There is so much waste in the world, what better way to give back than by establishing a lifetime of philanthropy as you start your married life?” Rago says; “We can all make a difference that can change the world.” Establish a no-gift policy and share how guests can participate in the charity on the invitation—to keep the momentum of giving back, have everyone volunteer at a local soup kitchen before cheering with your own celebratory meal.
Learn How to Spin Like a DJ
If Paris Hilton can do it, so can you and your gals. Set up a masterclass with a local DJ or head to a spin school, such as Scratch DJ Academy in New York and Los Angeles. You can host a private workshop, where your guests learn the basics of the turntable, mixing songs, and of course, the timing of scratching. Before the event, have your guests share their favorite songs so that the teacher can work them into the lesson; and after you can cheers with a cocktail and get down with yo’ bad selves with a dance party.
Host a Private Shopping Day
Who doesn’t want a personal shopper? Make this dream come true for your guests—and yourself—by hosting your bridal shower at your go-to boutique. Many brands and local stores allow for private gatherings, where Champagne is served alongside canapés, and personal shoppers help guests take their fashion to the next level. When planning, ask if the store offers discounts for private events—sometimes you can save up to 20 percent on that perfect pair of shoes for your bachelorette.
Hire a Hot Chef
We’re cutting straight to the point here: Invite a good-looking chef to show your gals how to whip up homemade pasta or that elusive hollandaise for eggs Benedict at home. A professional guiding the experience will ensure everyone has a great time, and well, you won’t be working the whole party. Planner Jove Meyer recommends offering snacks and drinks, so guests can serve themselves while learning to fold dumplings or whisk a French sauce. He also notes that the activity enhances the idea that it’s a party for everyone, not just the bride; “It takes the focus off the bride-to-be and allows it to be more of a group celebration,” he says.
Do a Health and Wellness Day
Are your guests heath gurus? Serve cold-pressed juices and acai bowls along with wellness chats for a fun-filled way to geek out on all things well-being. Bring in a yoga teacher to lead a vinyasa flow class or guide you through a meditation. Nutritionists can provide insight on ways to prep for the wedding when it comes to food, and skincare experts can talk beauty upgrades leading up to the big day.
Bite Into a Cheese Experience
Forget that your dress fitting is tomorrow for a minute and dive into a cheese shop with your favorite pals. Find a local cheesemonger, like the French Cheese Board in New York, that allows for private events and host a custom cheese tasting, where your guests can learn about different styles, production methods, and flavors of the world’s best cheeses. Consider pairing the cheeses with drinks. One hint: that doesn’t have to be wine (beers, hard ciders, and cocktails are fantastic accompaniments to various types of cheese).
Ever heard of Paint Nite? It’s a company that puts on art classes at bars, which equals painting with drink in hand—that definitely says bridal shower. Customize the experience by having guests paint their beloved pets or their significant others. If watercolor isn’t your thing, you can take this idea to other artistic forms: Try a pottery class and form mugs, then gift everyone custom tea blends as favors; or take a lesson from a caricaturist.
Take a Makeup Class
It’s time to get glam, just because it’s your bridal shower so hire a makeup company—bonus points if it is your wedding day artist—to come on-site and lead a makeup class. You can focus on techniques like smoky eyes, highlighting and contouring, or applying false lashes. Whether most ladies admit it or not, they could all use a few pointers to elevate their looks or get out of their makeup ruts. Plus, your guests can employ the newly acquired skills for your wedding day to look extra fabulous.
Eat Chocolate and Drink Wine
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t love chocolate and wine, so combine the two for a truly luxurious experience. Planner Jennie Maretti of Pixies and Petals has organized parties like these with local specialty chocolatiers who can pair styles of chocolate with different varieties of wines. “Make sure to include dark, milk, and white chocolate and have the chocolatier tell the story behind how each is made,” Maretti says of organizing the gastronomic affair. “Indulge your senses by closing your eyes and describe what notes you taste,” Maretti says to promote interaction among guests.
Try an Airbnb Experience
Looking for something unique that you don’t do every day? Check out Airbnb Experiences for inspo, says Shannon Leahy of Shannon Leahy Events. The activities are localized and priced per person, plus you can comb through for those with good reviews. Experiences include everything from sushi rolling classes—“It's interactive and you get to savor the results together,” Leahy says—to tattoo courses, ghost tours, and hiking excursions.
Have the perfect activity list in mind for your bridal shower? Now all you need is to find the perfect outfit to wear.