Traditionally, wedding showers followed a predictable pattern in nearly all situations. Today, although some broad rules still apply, there is much more flexibility and room for creativity in hosting a bridal shower. The most important thought to keep in mind is that the purpose of having the party is to “shower” the bride or the couple with affection and a show of support for their decision to marry, and to provide them with thoughtful gifts.
Typically, the maid or matron of honor or other good friends of the bride or groom host the shower. It is also perfectly appropriate for anyone with a strong connection to the guest of honor (for example, the best friend of the mother of the bride), a co-worker, or a family member (aunt, cousin, etc.) to host the bridal shower. Historically, close relatives, such as the mother of the bride or siblings would not host a shower. However, there are some parts of the country where that has become an acceptable custom. It is also perfectly acceptable for the mother of the bride to open her home to be used as the location for the bridal shower, to involve the families of the bride and groom in the planning, and to accept offers of help with food/activities/etc.
Many brides/couples are fortunate enough to have several different circles of people who want to host a shower for them…attendants, church friends, co-workers, groom’s out-of-town relatives, old family friends. While there is no limit to the number of showers that can be held for a couple, it is most considerate not to invite any guest, with the exception of immediate family, to more than one bridal shower.
Another increasingly popular option in hosting wedding or bridal showers today is to throw the party with a co-host or a group of co-hosts. The advantages to sharing the responsibilities include:
- Share the expenses…much easier on the budget. Purchase a bigger gift for the bride, or make the shower unforgettably spectacular with favors, great decorations and wonderful food!
- More options for the party location.
- Time saving for everyone with responsibilities divided equally.
Wedding Shower Location
Traditionally, the most popular location for a wedding shower has been the home of the hostess. That remains a popular option for the following reasons:
- Least expensive option – no rental fees
- Easy to prepare for if your time is limited (no scouting, negotiating fees, contract signing, etc.)
- You won’t have to transport your shower goodies (gifts, decorations, favors, etc.) to another location
- Decorating and cooking can be done in advance
- Regardless of what the invitation says, whoever’s home the party is held at will receive the majority of thanks for the party.
The following factors have caused some busy hosts to consider alternative locations to their own home:
- After the party is over, the mess will be yours to contend with
- Amongst all the other preparations, your home will have to be cleaned and tidied
- For a few hours, you will need to empty your home of children and pets
- Guest list may be limited by size considerations
- Someone else can see to all the fun details (for a fee)
If you are co-hosting a bridal shower, choose the home that will be most practical in terms of convenience for other guests, and space requirements.
For some of the reasons listed above, and also because so many wedding showers are built around a theme today, more and more hosts are choosing alternative locations for their party. Consider one of the following, but don’t blow your budget on the location!
- A hotel tearoom
- A favorite restaurant (many have private rooms, and don’t add a surcharge for using them)
- The home or grounds of the parents of the bride or groom, or a favorite aunt
- The beach
- A park
- A zoo
- A community center or reception hall
- A church hall
- The Country Club
- An art gallery or museum
- An athletic facility or field
- A building on campus at the bride or groom’s Alma Mater
- A barn (great for a Western theme – complete with bonfire)
Consider the interests, hobbies, honeymoon destination, careers, or family heritage of the bride and/or groom, and tie the theme and location together to honor the couple.
Wedding Shower Planning Timeline
TWO MONTHS PRIOR:
- Determine a budget, and stick to it
- Select a date (make sure you clear this with the bride, or the mother of the bride or the groom if the shower is a surprise)
- Determine location and time (especially critical if your shower will not be held at a home)
- Select a theme
- Begin to gather a guest list
- Make or purchase invitations
- If co-hosts are involved, meet and divide responsibilities (put everything in writing to avoid overlapping duties or forgetting a key factor)
SIX WEEKS PRIOR:
- Mail invitations
- Select a menu (if your event is to be catered, finalize the menu with the caterer)
- Purchase decorations, paper goods, and favors
- Order cake from the bakery if you won’t be making one
- Select a shower gift for the bride
ONE/TWO WEEKS PRIOR:
- Start purchasing non-perishable food/beverage items
- Confirm the caterer, cake, florist, photographer, location, etc. (These confirmation calls will help you avoid last minute panic!)
- Make calls to guests who have not RSVP’d yet
- Select games/activities and gather the tools/props/copies you’ll need, along with prizes for the winners
THE DAY BEFORE THE BRIDAL SHOWER:
- Decorate as much as possible (including the gift table and a special chair for the bride)
- Prepare as much of the food as possible
- Bake the cake (cover it with clean, damp kitchen towels and it will remain moist and fresh)
- Purchase perishable food items
- Make sure that you have plenty of film and fresh batteries in your camera
- Gather serving dishes and utensils
- Purchase plenty of ice…plan on one pound per guest
- Gather pad and pen so that gifts can be documented (this will make preparing “thank you notes” much simpler for the bride)
THE DAY OF THE BRIDAL SHOWER:
- Finish decorating (wait till the day of the party to inflate helium filled balloons)
- Decorate the cake
- Finish all food preparations
- Set the tables (paper goods and serving dishes)
- Clean the guest bathroom, and make sure there is plenty of toilet paper available
- Simmer pot pourri, light the candles
- Give yourself plenty of time to dress, apply a little make-up, and relax for a few minutes before guests arrive
- Start the background music before guests arrive
Wedding Shower Guest List
- The guest list for a bridal shower typically includes the bridesmaids, close friends of the bride, and family members (both bride and groom’s female relatives). If you are hosting a shower for “work friends”, or a “church” shower, you would not be obligated to include anyone outside that circle of friends. This is especially true if the paths of the different groups of friends do not often cross each other.
- Today, more and more wedding showers are co-ed events that honor both the bride and the groom. Some people refer to this type of shower as a Jack & Jill Party, and it really is much more like a party than the traditional bridal shower. If you are hosting a co-ed wedding shower, the groomsmen, ushers, friends of the groom, and male family members would also be included. Gifts are still the hi-light of the event, but this is also a fantastic opportunity to gather families and friends together prior to the wedding…the reception will be all the more fun for everyone!
- How many people should be included? There are no rules as to the number of guests that should be included. The bridal shower hostess really is the one who needs to define the number that she feels comfortable with, and the location and/or budget may be determining factors in the decision.
- In order to assure that mistakes are not made, consult with the bride about the guest list. If the shower is a surprise party, consult with the mother of the bride, or the honor attendant as to the makeup of the guest list.
- It is generally considered to be in good taste to include only people who will be invited to the wedding to a bridal shower. There are some exceptions to this rule. If the couple is getting married in the bride’s home state of New York, and they reside in California…invite everyone to the shower held in California…chances are 95% of them wouldn’t make it to the wedding even if they were invited. Other exceptions include: acquaintances or colleagues who might be included in a church or work shower, but who aren’t close enough to be invited to the wedding; if the couple are having a small intimate wedding with only family members; or if the couple has chosen to marry at a location away from their home town (exotic destination weddings have become extremely popular).
“Girls Only” Wedding Shower Theme
Hosting a wedding shower for a special bride is a wonderful way to demonstrate your love, and to show her just how important she is in the lives of those she holds dearest. Not everyone loves huge parties, so consider your guest of honor’s preferences when putting together your guest list. In fact, unless the shower is a surprise, the bride can be called upon for help with the guest list. The party should be as upbeat as possible, and should show the bride that her decision to marry is being supported and celebrated by those she cherishes.
While the traditional bridal shower will never go out of style, it has become increasingly popular to build a shower around a specific theme. We recommend that you center your theme around the bride’s interests, hobbies, passions, hopes and dreams for the future, honeymoon destination, family heritage, occupation or favorite era. To get your creative juices flowing, we have outlined a few theme ideas. Choose one of the ideas that follow, or come up with something that feels just right to you. After you make your selection, choose invitations, decorations, favors, cake, and games/activities that match your theme. We’ll be happy to provide you with help on the details!
Host an “Around the House” shower. Each guest is assigned a specific room in a home (it’s okay to duplicate assignments)- bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room, garage, or laundry room.
Gift Certificate Shower:
If the wedding couple already has all the necessities for their home, or has had several showers, host a Gift Certificate Shower. This type of shower is perfect for a second marriage, or a more “mature” bride. Gift certificates can be either “store bought”, or can be for “services” redeemable from the giver of the gift. Gift certificates could be from a sporting goods store, a department or specialty store, a fancy restaurant, a hotel, a spa, a house cleaning service, a professional decorator, dry cleaning certificates, or theatre tickets.
Let guests decide what the bride will need for her honeymoon…hopefully she’ll leave the shower with lots of silky, sexy lingerie…fun stockings, teddies, lace panties and bras, and negligee sets. Be sure that the bride approves the theme, or that she is a good sport, and include her size in the invitation. For grandma and straight-laced Aunt Martha, the bride can also use luggage, scented lotions, perfume, or a camera and lots of film. Center your theme around the couple’s honeymoon destination. This theme is a favorite of brides everywhere!
If you have been friends with the bride since childhood…relive some of those fun moments by hosting a slumber party bridal shower. Recreate the slumber party of your adolescent days…sleeping bags, nail polish, curlers and home facials, popcorn, midnight pizza, truth or dare, revisiting old crushes and embarrasing moments, and watching her favorite movie from her teen years! Ask guests to bring a gift that the bride can use for her “overnights” with her new husband. For invitations, attach a computer generated or hand written tag to a toothbrush (decorated with Tulip™ paint…little dots or stripes are adorable), a miniature teddy bear, or a satin sleeping mask. Use your imagination! Use curling ribbon, satin ribbon, yarn or pipe cleaners to attach.
Harried Homemaker Shower:
For the beautiful young blushing bride who has every intention of remaining perfectly groomed and perfumed 24 hours a day for her handsome groom, host a harried homemaker shower! This theme is also great for the determined career woman! Encourage guests to arrive dressed in curlers, housecoats or fuzzy bathrobes, shower caps, mudmasks, slippers, or frumpy aprons. Treat guests to cleaning product favors. The bride can leave the shower with all the necessities she will need for becoming the perfect homemaker…cookie sheets, mops, brooms, an iron and ironing board, coffee maker, etc. For a fun themed centerpiece, gather a bouquet of kitchen utensils or toilet bowl brushes and place them in a small cleaning bucket. Send kitchen sponges, scouring pads, wooden spoons, spatulas, or potholders with a tag attached as invitations. Ask each guest to bring along a favorite recipe so that a cookbook/memory book can be assembled for the bride after the party. Take a picture of each “harried homemaker” at the party, and add the photos to the memory book beside each recipe.
Family Treasures Showers:
This shower is intended for family members only. Invite mothers, sisters, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, cousins, aunts, great-aunts, godmothers, etc., on both the bride and groom’s side of the family. The general idea of the party is that each family member will pass a small piece of herself, in the form of a family heirloom, antique or special memento on to the bride as a gift. In addition to the special gifts, send out a card with each invitation that says “You will always be special to our family because…” or “We are so happy you are joining our family because…”. Ask each guest to complete the card, and share a funny or heartwarming story, family legend or tradition, or ways they feel their family has been richly blessed. Request that they bring the completed card on the special day. At a specified time, possibly before you eat, have each person read the message they have prepared. Videotape each guest as they deliver the message to the bride, and then present the guest of honor with the videotape as a memento of the party. She will be moved by the gesture, and you will have created a priceless family treasure. As an alternative to videotaping the messages, you can collect the cards after they are read and compile them into a scrapbook. You could add a photo of each person to her message, and the scrapbook will be an instant family heirloom for the bride.
For a charming and elegant bridal shower, host a proper afternoon tea, complete with tea sandwiches, petit fours, chocolate dipped strawberries, scones, jam, clotted cream, and a variety of flavored teas served in real china tea cups (borrow from friends, or scour thrift shops). Ask guests to dress for the occasion…romantic dresses, white gloves and hats. Use lace tablecloths, good sterling, and lots of fresh flowers. Arrange a display of family wedding hierlooms including enlarged photos of the bride’s parents’ and grandparents’ weddings. Ask each guest to come prepared with advice for a “prosperous marriage” for the bride. This theme is ideal for a guest list filled with multi-generations of family and dear friends. A harpist or string quartet would make the setting picture perfect.
Along the same lines, you could host a Champagne Brunch for the bride. Incorporate a “romantic” theme by asking guests to bring romantic gifts like bottles of wine, CDs of romantic music, velvet pillows, cashmere blankets, candle holders and candles, and gift certificates to hotels and nice restaurants.
Couple’s Shower Themes
We recommend that you center your theme around the couple’s interests, hobbies, passions, dreams, honeymoon destination, family heritage, occupation or favorite era. To get your creative juices flowing, we have outlined a few theme ideas. After you make your selection, choose invitations, decorations, favors, cake and games/activities that match your theme . . . we’ll be happy to provide you with help on the details!
Around the Clock Theme
For this shower, your guests (typically by couple) will be assigned a certain hour of the day. Guests then bring a gift for the couple appropriate to their designated time. If you have 24 guests, you could assign each one a different hour. If you have less, divide the day up so that you have morning, afternoon, evening and night covered. More than 24 guests? Double up on a few afternoon or evening times.
A few examples are a sexy nightgown and silky boxers for 11:00pm, a coffee maker for 7:00 am, and a gift certificate to a restaurant for 5:00pm. For invitations, use either toy watches (set to an assigned time) with a tag attached to provide all the details or have an invitation imprinted with custom wording. Remember that each one will need a blank space for a time assignment.
Another popular variation of this theme is a “Through the Year” shower. Couples are assigned a particular month of the year or a season, and gifts are centered on the calendar. For April, the couple may receive gardening tools or patio accessories; for July, a picnic basket filled with goodies; for December, ski lift tickets or a snow shovel!
A third alternative is to host an “Around the House” shower. Each couple is assigned a specific room in a home (it’s okay to duplicate assignments)…bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room, garage, or laundry room.
Throw a party at the bride and groom’s favorite place to hang out (this could be a restaurant, bar, entertainment center, amusement park, college union, etc.), or the spot where the couple met or shared their first kiss. Reserve the entire place (unless their favorite hangout is Disney World!) for about three hours and invite all of the couple’s friends and family. Serve a meal, or just cake and appetizers, play the couple’s favorite music, and encourage friends and family to say a few words about the upcoming event. Ask both the bride and groom to share their own version of the courtship. The variations in who-did-what-first will provide great entertainment! A very fun evening together…and a nice trip down memory lane for the couple!
Because Hawaii is the #1 honeymoon destination, this is a terrific shower theme! If you can throw the party in the spring or summer (or if you live somewhere with a year-round warm climate), host your party outside. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, move the luau party supplies inside! Let all the guests feel like they are enjoying a little bit of honeymoon magic with this warm and balmy destination shower!
To make a wedding shower very special for the couple, center your theme around their shared hobbies or interests. For example if they are avid golfers, host a golf shower…”Teeing up for McKenzie and Jake’s wedding!” Play a round of golf, then gather at the 19th hole for mingling, munchies, and gifts!
For inspiration, here are a few additional hobby ideas: sports, traveling, nature, music, motorcycles, crafts, horseback riding, photography, art, sci-fi, or acting/performing/dancing. A theme can be built around any hobby . . . be creative, and know that your effort will be much appreciated!
Gift Certificate Theme
If the wedding couple already has all the necessities for their home, or has had several showers, host a Gift Certificate Shower. This type of shower is perfect for a second marriage, or a more mature couple. Gift certificates can be either “store bought”, or can be for “services” redeemable from the giver of the gift. Gift certificates could be from a sporting goods store, a department or specialty store, a fancy restaurant, a hotel, a spa, a house cleaning service, time with a professional decorator, dry cleaning certificates, tickets to a sporting event, or theater tickets.
Hard Hat Theme
This theme focuses on the couple’s new home and the fix-up adventures that usually come with it! Ask each guest to wear clothing to match your working-around-the-home theme (hard hats, jeans, work boots, tool belt, etc.). Use hard hats to decorate and give to guests as favors. Guests should bring gifts that are home improvement related – tools, lawn care equipment, a stepladder, and brooms. A hardware store is the perfect shopping spot for this one!
Other very popular themes for wedding showers include:
Hawaiian Luau (Hawaii is the #1 honeymoon destination)
Hollywood Shower (for the bridal “star”)
Casino Night (Great if the honeymoon destination is Las Vegas, Atlantic City or Monaco…gambling on love theme!)
Above all else, relax and enjoy yourself and know that the bride and groom will appreciate the loving effort you have made on their behalf. Because we believe that life should be more fun, we want to help make all your celebrations special. The party planners at www.Shindigz.com will be happy to assist you!
What are some of your favorite wedding and bridal shower ideas?