Guest list etiquette is one of the trickiest parts of planning a wedding. Whether you’re worried you’ve invited too many people, you're trying to squeeze in your parents’ friends, or you can’t figure out who gets a plus one, there are so many questions to answer before those invitations go out the door. And those same questions may apply when it comes to planning your bridal shower.
Often a bridal shower may be planned by the mother of the bride, the maid of honor, or another close friend or family member. And with a different host or hostess in charge, keeping tabs on the bridal shower guest list can be difficult. If your mother is hosting, can she invite a friend of hers who didn’t make it onto your wedding guest list? Is it okay to invite your coworkers to your wedding shower but not to the wedding? What about a destination wedding? Our experts are here to weigh in.
Who to Invite to the Bridal Shower
The short answer is, you should not invite anyone to your shower who will not be invited to the wedding. Your shower is an intimate gathering of some of the closest women (and men if you choose) in your life, and if anyone makes the cut for your shower, they should also be close enough to you to get a wedding invite. "You're basically telling your guests that you like them enough to have them celebrate you (and buy you gifts) but not enough to include them on one of the most important days of your life," says Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events. "Anyone who is invited or included in the bridal shower should be invited to the wedding."
Meet the Expert
Amy Nichols is the owner of Amy Nichols Special Events, a luxury event planning company in San Francisco, California.
Work on the Guest List With Your Host
Even if you aren’t involved in the planning of the shower itself, it is a good idea to get involved with the guest list. If a friend or other family member is hosting your bridal shower, make sure they have access to your full wedding guest list as soon as it's finalized. Showers are usually held after your guest list has been completed, so you will have already done most of the negotiating with family by this point. By sharing your guest list with the host or hostess, they can make sure everyone invited is on the wedding guest list, as well as take advantage of all of the mailing address research you’ve already done. Provide the hostess with a list of who you would really like to have present to make sure none of your friends or family members are overlooked. Find out how big of an event your host is planning and then curate your guest list accordingly.
Destination Weddings are an Exception
Although the standard is to invite anyone on your bridal shower guest list to your wedding, there are a few exceptions to the rule and a destination wedding falls into that category. “I don’t think guests should be invited to the bridal shower and not the wedding," says Tzo Ai Ang, owner of Ang Weddings and Events. "But, it may be appropriate if a couple is having a very small family-focused destination wedding. They may want to have a larger reception to celebrate the wedding with friends where they live.” Once you get back home and throw your reception, be sure your bridal shower guests are on the reception list.
Coworkers are an Exception
One other exception to this rule is an office bridal shower. "If your colleagues insist on hosting a small shower for you at work (and you've clued them in that your wedding can't accommodate everyone in your department), then it is appropriate for you to accept someone wanting to host a modest shower in your honor (but it shouldn't be expected by any means)," says Nichols. These workplace events are usually hosted by a number of coworkers (usually not a bridesmaid or family member of the bride), and the office will often contribute to cover the costs of the celebration. Even if only one of your closest coworkers is actually getting an invite to the wedding, it’s perfectly acceptable to celebrate with all of your colleagues in this way without extending an invitation to everyone.