Bridal showers have long been a staple of the engagement period. The elegant celebration of a shower is a pillar of tradition and an awaited joy for the bride-to-be. A bridal shower is usually hosted by one of the older women in the bride's life, although the maid of honor is also expected to play a role in assisting with the planning and festivities.

On top of being a celebration, this life event is also a right of passage. A bridal shower symbolizes maturation, and the celebration usually consists of the bride, her close friends, the extended family, and friends of the bride's mother and future mother-in-law. Traditionally, only women attended bridal showers, though modern showers are often called “wedding showers” and are increasingly more gender-inclusive events.

Overall, the best time to send out wedding shower invitations is anywhere between four and eight weeks before the event. That said, the six-week mark is a widely accepted sweet spot, with an RSVP deadline at least two to three weeks before the event. This time frame gives guests ample time to book their calendars and find a gift, but still affords the host time to prepare for the final headcount.

Wedding Shower vs. Bridal Shower

While Bridal showers are still the most common, many couples choose to have a combined wedding shower. A wedding shower is any kind of pre-wedding celebration that honors one or both of the people who are getting married. While bridal showers have been standard practice in the wedding industry for years, Zola is happy to see that showers are expanding to be a more inclusive event.

A wedding shower celebrates the couple as a whole, rather than the individuals themselves. This celebration of the couple is a more significant reflection of the premarital journey and reinforces the couple's choice for unity.

Wedding showers are a popular choice for couples who cannot invite everyone they know to a wedding. Wedding showers are especially popular if the couple is from two different geographic locations, or if the couple is eloping, having a destination wedding, or even a quickie ceremony at the courthouse.

Shifting away from a traditional bridal shower in favor of a wedding shower also allows friends and family who might not be able to attend the wedding to participate in the celebration of matrimony in a meaningful way. There is no right or wrong way to throw a shower, but there are still those who believe that certain traditions are not to be altered.

Whether you are throwing a shower, being showered, or attending a shower, invitations will be a part of that process. Often an invitation needs to convey a lot of information in a small space, which is why Zola offers complete customization for all paper products and invites!

What to Include on a Shower Invitation

Before you pop those bridal shower invites in the mail, make sure you’ve included all of the following important details:

  1. The name of the host/hostess
  2. A formal/cordial invitation to attend
  3. Name of the person for whom the shower is being thrown
  4. Date and time of the event (including an approximate end time)
  5. Event location
  6. Attire (be as specific as possible!)
  7. A link to the couple's Zola registry
  8. An RSVP request with a name, email, or phone number

The Importance of Completing Your Registry First

Your wedding registry should be live and fully functional, with gifts of varying monetary value, by the time your shower invitations are sent. But to avoid any miscues for your guests or extra work for the host, we recommend completing your wedding registry even earlier—about two months before your shower date. The more time your guests have to plan and shop, the more likely it is that you will receive the gifts you asked for.

To make this process easier, Zola has a seamless registry platform that only takes a matter of minutes to set up. Our completely customizable and comprehensive wedding registry allows you to add gifts from other stores, add cash funds and gift cards, and even keeps track of your guest list.

The Dos and Don'ts of a Wedding Shower

Once invites are sent, and your registry is set up, it's time to start thinking about the logistics of your shower. While the host/hostess typically handles these details, it is important for you, the person being showered, to understand some basic shower etiquette.

Keep It Classy: A Shower Is Not Risque.

This is not the place for lewd party games or inappropriate behavior—save that for the bachelor and bachelorette parties. Instead, a shower should be elegant and propper with a focus on the joys of marriage.

Games are encouraged, and refreshments should be served. Some showers include a sit-down meal. Whatever specifics you choose to adhere to, try to picture it as a semi-formal affair.

Keep It Light: A Shower Is Fun!

But don't sacrifice fun in the name of elegance; keep the mood light and fun. Remember, everyone in attendance is there to support a budding romance. Try to do things that encourage your guests to stay focused on the couple. Share stories, open gifts, and above all else, enjoy the party.

Keep It Moving: A Shower Shouldn't Feel Forced

Part of keeping it light and fun is to keep the party moving. Most showers take place during a weekend to ensure the maximum number of guests can attend, and the prime hours for a shower are between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Part of the host/hostess’s job is to keep the party on the decided schedule, and a rough outline of the day's events will help.

Keep It Private: This Event Is Invite-Only

This has nothing to do with keeping the shower a secret—invite as many people as you can, within reason. This vital reminder is to ensure that the location where the shower is held is a private and welcoming space.

On a day when the focus is all about one person, it is important to limit disruptions and distractions that may take away from the event. Typically, private spaces like someone's home or a rented space are better than everyone congregating at a public place like a bar or park.

Keep It Intimate: Large Groups Are Harder to Plan For

Many couples will have an average of 1-3 showers thrown on their behalf during the engagement period: one from each side of the family, and sometimes one from work colleagues. Thirty guests is a widely accepted maximum number of attendees for a wedding shower, as a group larger than 30 tends to be challenging to manage—particularly if the guest of honor will be opening presents.

When to Send Out Bridal Shower Invites Photo Credit // Brook Lark Unsplash

Prepare to Be Showered!

Wedding showers are a popular way for the people in your life to express their joy about your upcoming nuptials. There is nothing more special than celebrating the love you have for your spouse-to-be than with your friends and family.

Zola is here to help you with every aspect of your engagement and wedding planning process leading up to the big day, including any showers you may have. Our easy-to-use wedding registry will help your guests shower you the best way they know how while helping you navigate the wedding registry process seamlessly.

For more resources surrounding bridal showers, see our expert advice below: