While a bridal shower is a generous gesture from loved ones, we can’t deny that some aspects of the celebration can be awkward and outdated. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have one—those closest to you want to celebrate you and you should let them. You may just prefer to put your own more modern spin on things. Here are a few common bridal shower traditions and easy ways to update them for a party that truly fits your vibe.
Traditionally, a bridal shower is a pre-wedding celebration thrown in honor of the bride, during which guests “shower” her with gifts. It usually takes place during the day, is women-only, and is thrown by a woman close with the bride.
The Update: More and more couples are choosing instead to have a coed wedding shower that includes everyone: both partners and both sets of friends and family. This way there’s much more wiggle room in terms of activities and the theme. Plus, including both partners is a practical and thoughtful way to celebrate both people and also bring family and friends together ahead of the wedding.
Usually, the bridal shower is held just before the wedding: about 2-8 weeks out. Older etiquette suggests that this is to prevent your wedding festivities from spanning more than a few months, thus inconveniencing guests.
The Update: While it’s considerate to keep your guests in mind, having your shower within this time frame might just not work. It’s also possible that you don’t want to have your shower so close to your ceremony, regardless of any other reason. Giving yourself more time between the two occasions allows you the opportunity to open and sort through gifts, send thank you notes, and, honestly, just relax a little. It’s a lot to go event-for-event. Choose a time that works best for you and (most of) your guests.
The traditional bridal shower is a brunch party, afternoon tea, or another daytime affair. And it’s likely to include small appetizers and desserts, beverages like mimosas, and typically feminine decor.
The Update: Your bridal shower or coed wedding shower doesn’t need to fall within any kind of themed parameters—and it doesn’t need to be a brunch either. Your shower can—and should—take on any form that best suits you (or you and your partner). Hire a local bartender and have a cocktail hour mixology class. Spend a weekend at the beach or spa. Wine tastings, cooking classes, hiking, art lessons—all acceptable. When it comes down to it, your shower should be an event you’ll enjoy. No one will care if it’s in the evening or not at someone’s home, so long as you’re celebrating with one another.
Games are almost always included in the traditional bridal shower itinerary. Common bridal shower games include gift bingo, a toilet paper wedding dress competition, and newlywed questions.
The Update: While many enjoy these specific—and admittedly cheesy—games, they’re by no means required. If you’d rather skip couple’s trivia and spend time doing just about anything else, do that. If you still like the idea of Say you’d still like to gather everyone together to do something. No problem. Opt instead for a non-shower themed group activity (remember that fun mixology class idea we mentioned before?).
Everyone invited to a bridal shower is expected to bring a gift for the bride or couple (if it’s a wedding shower). The bride or couple then open each gift in front of their guests.
The Update: Let’s be honest—there’s ample opportunity to receive gifts throughout your engagement and wedding. Between the engagement party, wedding shower, bachelor or bachelorette parties, and wedding, guests may feel pressured to give multiple times. If this isn’t something you’re comfortable with (or if you simply don’t have room for a lot of gifts), feel free to tell guests to skip gifts.
If you do, however, include gifts in your shower, don’t feel pressure to open them in front of everyone. Let your guests know that you won’t be opening them during the party—or simply don’t mention it at all. Send thank you notes no more than a week after the party, though!
The Tradition: Traditionally, while you’re unwrapping presents at a bridal shower, someone else is collecting the ribbons and bows and fashioning them into a bouquet. This bouquet is then to be used for practice during your wedding rehearsal.
The Update: Feel free to cut this tradition out entirely—especially if you don’t plan on opening gifts in front of everyone. While the sentiment is nice, you really can just use another bouquet of flowers (or nothing) during your rehearsal.
Older tradition suggests that your fiancé should show up towards the end of the party, to “surprise” you with flowers. This is considered a sweet way to included them into the festivities (and help you load gifts into the car). Often, the fiancé will show up thirty minutes to an hour before the shower is over and sometimes participate in games.
The Update: Whether your spouse to-be is busy (they might be at their own party) or wants to leave the shower to you, there’s no reason they need to make an appearance. Your shower is yours, after all, and maybe they’d rather avoid the spotlight. You can still have them show up to help relocate gifts, just wait until everyone has left and you’re heading out. On the other hand, if you’d like your partner to be more involved, consider making the entire thing co-ed.
In the end, your wedding shower is meant to celebrate you and your upcoming marriage. Don’t worry yourself with what’s expected of a typical party. Focus on having a good time and getting excited for the main event—your wedding! We can toast to that.