What Is a Display Bridal Shower and Should You Have One?

You might want to tell your guests to ditch the wrapping paper.

Room filled with multicolored balloons

Photo by A Heart String

We've all been there: You're at a bridal shower and solidly into hour two of watching the bride unwrap gifts. No one wants to "ooh" and "ahh" over the third blender she's unwrapped that day. If you're a bride interested in avoiding this very situation and doing something a bit less traditional, perhaps it's time to consider a display shower.

What Is a Display Shower?

At a display shower, guests bring unwrapped gifts and put them on display with name tags labeling who gave what. This cuts down on the time spent unwrapping gifts and can also be eco-friendly.

Jennifer Spector, Zola newlywed-at-large, explains how it works. "During a traditional bridal shower, the majority of the time is spent watching the bride as she unwraps her gifts," Spector says. "[Display showers] are really designed for brides who don't want to stop the party. But you can't go wrong with either one."

We tapped Spector, Ashley Douglass of Ashley Douglass Events, and Tracey Goldstein, founder and design coordinator of Polka Dot Events, to elaborate on what a display shower is, how it works, and advice on how to throw one.

Meet the Expert

  • Jennifer Spector is the director of brand marketing for Zola, a leading online wedding registry, planner, and retailer.
  • Ashley Douglass is the founder of Ashley Douglass Events, a wedding and event planning company based in Connecticut and NYC.
  • Tracey Goldstein is the design coordinator of Polka Dot Events, a full-service wedding planning, coordinating, and design company serving NYC, Philadephia, Seattle, and beyond.

Read ahead for how to pull off this type of bash.

Display Bridal Showers
Alison Czinkota/Brides 

How to Explain It

Are you a maid of honor who is stumped over how to explain this choice to guests? "A long explanation isn't necessary—usually you can just tell your guests to bring their gifts unwrapped, then designate one person at the shower to place name tags on all of the gifts," Spector says. "It limits confusion, cleanup is minimal, and the bride will for sure know who gave her what. Guests shouldn't feel uncomfortable with a bride's decision to do a display shower. It's a day to celebrate her, plus she's saved them the hassle of wrapping their gifts, too!"

If you're hosting the bash, Douglass suggests keeping it lighthearted on the invite with something like: "In efforts to save time unwrapping and more time conversing, please save your wrapping paper for the next birthday party you attend," or saying it's a "green" shower.

Thanking Your Guests

If you're a bride going the nontraditional route, it doesn't mean you should skip acknowledging gifts altogether, says Goldstein. She recommends that the bride stand up and acknowledge each gift individually. It doesn't have to be much longer than "Thank you so much, Aunt Brenda, for this amazing spa gift certificate; I can't wait to use it!"

"I think it's the right thing to do," Goldstein says. "It's a nice time to appreciate your guests; I still think that's important."

Potential for Awkwardness

A display shower may not be the choice for everyone, though. It can create a sticky situation for guests who are giving an extremely personal (or racy!) gift. "It can be sensitive, and also there may be some gifts guests give that are highly personal and they prefer to hand you a wrapped gift to be opened in private," Douglass says.

"What if a gift is a real surprise and not something you necessarily put on any registry? It may be more fun to be able to unwrap the item, at home or in front of everyone," she adds. "People often give brides undergarments and it may look silly to walk into a shower with a table filled with gag gifts like edible underwear."

What's more, a display bridal shower can set up an expectation that guests absolutely must bring gifts to a shower. "You don't want your bridal shower to turn into a gift-giving showdown," Spector says. "So it's important to mention that gifts, while appreciated, are not necessary."

One Last Thing to Remember

It may have completely slipped your mind, but if you're hosting a display shower, consider how the bride will get those gifts home. Often, brides and the bridal party repurpose gift bags to help carry presents home—if everything's unwrapped, then there are no gift bags lying around. If you're hosting the bridal shower, make sure to have a few reusable bags on hand for the end of the festivities.

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