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What Is a Wedding Shower? All You Need to Know

Discover the essence of a wedding shower. Explore its purpose, traditions, and how to make this pre-wedding celebration truly special for the bride.

By Ruksana Hussain

What is a Bridal Shower and What is its Purpose
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

  • The bride’s close friends and family make up most of the guest list at this fun event.
  • This is your quality time celebrating the bride and her upcoming wedding ceremony.
  • There may be cultural nuances to consider, so prepare ahead and be well-informed.

Celebrating the soon-to-be bride with a special event thrown in her honor by her family and nearest and dearest friends before the wedding has been a practice since the 1800s. Held at a venue where all shower guests can gather, the wedding shower has, of course, evolved over the years, and has also transformed to include cultural and religious variations. But, at the end of the day, the focus is the beautiful bride and providing her with thoughtful gifts that she may find useful in her new life and home.

Who Attends the Wedding Shower?

What is a Bridal Shower and What is its Purpose Photo Credit // Shutterstock

The bride is the guest of honor at such an event, but other attendees on the guest list include her family and closest female friends. Depending on the culture and geographical location, that can mean an intimate part of 20 to a larger gathering of a few hundred. Most times, guests at the shower have also been invited to the wedding. While male members typically do not participate, having a hybrid wedding shower for the happy couple is a trend that is gaining popularity. That’s when the groom and some of the men of the family join the festivities later in the day.

When and Where?

Wedding showers are mostly held in the afternoon or evening where a smaller menu is offered, rather than a formal lunch or dinner. Typically, the venue is either a place of special significance for the bride or is simply one of convenience to accommodate all the shower guests and the plans for the evening. Showers are typically organized just a few weeks ahead of the wedding so that the bride has most of her wedding planning done and can relax at this event. A couple’s shower closer to the wedding is also recommended so that the bride has had enough time to think about what gifts she would like for her future life and home, and can provide that information to the organizers (or can show that via her wedding gift registry).

Why Attend?

For the bride, a wedding shower is a great way to gather with family and friends one more time before the wedding. This is quality time that you can spend with them ahead of your wedding day to enjoy all of the festivities that the event brings. If you’re invited to a wedding shower, then this is your opportunity to share some of your time with the bride, celebrate the momentous occasion of her wedding, and present her with gifts that she’ll find useful. If you’re hosting the wedding shower, then you must be very close to the bride. This is your moment to show her your adoration as a friend or family member by helping to celebrate her in any way possible.

What Happens at a Wedding Shower?

What is a Bridal Shower and What is its Purpose Photo Credit // Paradis Photography

If you’re invited to a wedding shower, it’s expected that you RSVP confirming your attendance. Check if there is a gift registry where the bride has outlined the gifts that she would like to receive on the occasion. Unless you know the bride well and have a special wedding gift in mind that she will appreciate, do not get her anything that is not listed. This is common wedding shower gift etiquette that you'll want to follow at most showers. Arrive for the event on the date and time specified, and adhere to any attire mentioned.

At the wedding shower venue, spend time interacting with the bride and also her close family and friends. There may be activities and games organized by the hosts that you will participate in. Food and drinks will be served appropriate for the time of day, and you’ll possibly be provided with a thank you souvenir of some sort to mark the day. Before you leave, remember to thank the hosts for inviting you and the bride for having you be part of her guest list.

A Few Pointers

No matter the culture, the wedding shower has the sole purpose of showering the bride with your attention and love, celebrating her and her big day, and showing her your happiness for this moment in her life. There may be cultural nuances to consider—during American wedding showers, it’s customary to have gifts opened in front of all guests, and for brides to thank guests in person, on the spot, for their gift and their presence, while in other cultures this is inconsiderate.

In some South Asian cultures, the occasion is marked with applying henna for all, and in other cultures dancing is part of the evening’s activities. If in doubt, ask the host or organizer that invited you what to expect at the wedding shower venue and if there is anything that you need to know as a guest. At the end of the day, all guests engage in what the bride chooses to have at her wedding shower, and, in doing so, show their love for her, and their support as she gets one step closer to her wedding day.

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