Planning the Bridal Shower: What You Need to Know
The bridal shower is a celebration of a bride’s upcoming marriage and presents guests with an opportunity to give gifts that help to prepare her for the next chapter in her life. As with every other part of planning a wedding, a bridesmaid needs to understand that the bridal shower should be unique to the bride’s wishes, and this means making many decisions (just like when she chose her wedding dress). Try to include the bride in every step of the planning process for a seamless and tasteful event. This event can be the perfect excuse to get dressed up and feel fancy; it can include fun décor, refreshments, games, and activities to keep it exciting. No need to worry if this seems like a lot; you can consider this your one-stop-shop for everything you’ll need to know to plan the perfect bridal shower.
Before you get overwhelmed, you should know what’s involved in making a bridal shower. The main event of the bridal shower is when the bride gets to see her offerings. Before and after the bride opens her gifts, offers guests a chance to mingle and get better acquainted. For the rest of the day, guests will partake in snacks, hors d’oeuvres, and beverages that can be cutely wedding-themed; games, activities, and appropriate entertainment can also be a part of a lovely bridal shower. Remember, the bridal shower often includes guests from all walks of the bride’s life, so do your best to respect her with fun activities and wait until the bachelorette party for anything a little more X-rated.
Planning the Shower
When planning the shower, you’ll want to consider:
- The budget
- The date
- The guest list
- The location
- The theme
- The menu
- The games/entertainment
The Bridal Shower Budget
The bridal shower budget all depends on who is involved in the planning, as they will be taking on costs. If the bridesmaids decide to host together, you can account for a lot more since you will be splitting the costs. If it is in the hands of the parents, they’ll cover the costs; whereas if the bride is involved, she may insist on chipping in as well.
The Date of The Bridal Shower
The shower date should typically be anywhere between two to six months before the wedding. The shower can be coordinated to be on the same day as (but prior to) the bachelorette party, since it will include some of the same people. If you decide on an earlier date (around the six-month mark), that just means the planning will have to start earlier. For showers held two months before the big day, planning will usually begin six months before the wedding date.
The Bridal Shower Guestlist
One simple rule for any pre-wedding event is to stick to the wedding guest list and keep things simple by avoiding additional guests who are not going to the wedding itself. The bride can also decide if she wants to make it a co-ed event or a women’s only event. Consider the budget you can cater for, start with family members and the bridal party, then you can add in any close friends and extended relatives if you have the means. Unless it’s a surprise shower, you should also ask the bride for input on who she wants in attendance, and the final list should stay under 50 guests. Have the invitations sent out at least four to six weeks in advance, so guests have enough time to find a gift, and it may be a good idea to include a section for dietary restrictions on the invite.
The Location of the Bridal Shower
Traditionally this event will take place at the host’s house. However, if the numbers exceed what your home can accommodate, you can also ask a close relative of the bride to host at their home. Other options also include restaurants and private banquet rooms; do your best to host in an area that is easily accessible to the majority of the guests (consider the bride’s hometown if this is where most guests reside). If the bridal shower theme (more on this below) is activity-based, you can also host the shower on site. For instance, you could have a shower that includes wine tasting at a local winery, a cooking class at the bride’s favorite restaurant, or a visit to a brand-new art gallery. As with many elements in the wedding planning process, the options are endless, and you have the freedom to make each experience as unique as possible to the couple at hand.
The Bridal Shower Theme
It’s not necessary for a bridal shower to have a theme, although if you choose to have one, it may make decorating and the menu a lot easier and more fun to plan. A shower theme can be another way to add personality and differentiate it from other pre-wedding events. Be sure to have the theme be relative to the bride’s interests and personality. Some tried and true themes to consider are a tea party, a Parisian theme, a bubbly champagne party, a flower arranging party, or rustic décor. Be sure to consider décor when planning the theme as well, as it will be a big part of tying everything together.
The Menu for the Bridal Shower
The bridal shower is usually a daytime affair, which is very important when considering which food and drinks you will be serving. In addition to the time of day, the theme can be reflected in the food, whether it’s the shape and color, the cuisine it originates from, or even just cute labels with on-theme names for each dish served; throughout the event, the theme should be clear and evident. You can incorporate the bride’s favorite dish in bite-sized form as well just to further delight her, or (if there’s enough room in the budget) cater food from her favorite restaurant. Otherwise, the food should include light hors d’oeuvres and bite-sized snacks in addition to lots of sweet treats and desserts. As for drinks, have various non-alcoholic beverages, and consider having a DIY beverage cart for guests to create signature mimosas and sangrias. Be sure to look at any dietary restrictions that have been specified and have food for everyone that shows up.
The Bridal Shower Games and Entertainment
Keeping in mind everyone attending the bridal shower, you’ll want to make sure your games and hired entertainment have been approved (if not by the bride, then by her mother). Since the bridal shower is also a chance for guests to get better acquainted, you should include some ice breaker games to start off the party. Games can liven up the party during any lulls, such as after food is served or to gather the group right before the gifts are opened. Create a playlist that can be played as background music and make sure it’ll last the whole event (anywhere from two-five hours), have some love songs, as well as some upbeat favorites from the bride herself to keep the party alive.
The final items that need your consideration for a bridal shower include a designated table for the gifts, bridal shower favors for the guests, and a toast that honors the bride and thanks the guests for coming. When you’ve considered all of the above, there is no doubt your bridal shower will please the guests and, most importantly, the bride. Be sure to get more tips on all bridesmaids’ duties by reading The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Perfect Bridesmaid.
Photo by Amy Humphries
Photo by Alvin Mahmudov