Wedding shower etiquette can get tricky when factoring in hosting families from both sides. When it comes to sending out invitations for a wedding shower, the question of whom to invite from the groom’s side always arises. You may be inviting everyone you’ve ever known to join in on the festivities with you, but the same may not go for your soon-to-be in-laws and their family and friends. However, when it comes to any wedding-related event, it’s best to tread carefully and balance your wishes with being inclusive of others.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to invite the groom’s closest female relatives and friends of the family. When the groom’s mother is co-hosting the wedding shower, there should be room on the guest list to include her sisters, aunts, and cousins, too. If you’re feeling unsure about the group becoming too large, talk with your wedding shower host about your concerns. Also, talk with your partner about what makes you feel the most comfortable when adding his side of the family to the mix.
A wedding shower is traditionally thrown by the maid of honor or the bride’s family. However, wedding showers can be held by any group of people who want to make you feel special, such as colleagues, church congregations, and your next-door neighbors. As a result, there may be multiple affairs and multiple guest lists, to which we say, the more the merrier.
One option is to have a family-only wedding shower that’s separate from the larger one you want to have with your friends. This keeps the celebration to a small circle, which allows both sides to come together and get to know each other over brunch or afternoon tea in a comfortable setting.
In addition to a separate family-only wedding shower and/or a friends-only wedding shower, there’s the option of a coed wedding shower. Though it’s not customary for the groom to make an appearance (except at the end when he helps to take gifts to the car), couples today like to celebrate together. This makes sense if the happy couple lives in another city, away from the majority of their friends and family.
Even if the wedding shower starts out as ladies-only, it can turn into a co-ed celebration. At that time, the groom can bring whomever he wants to be part of the day. This option depends on the people who are hosting the event, where it’s hosted, and how long the occasion is scheduled to last. For example, if your mom and future mother-in-law are hosting a lovely wedding shower for close friends and family, extending the event and expanding the group is likely best done at another location.
A wedding shower is usually kept intimate, reserved primarily for those nearest and dearest to you. If you want a smaller group, make your wishes known ahead of time to those who are planning the event. Alternatively, you can choose to put the guest list and coordination entirely into the hands of your hostesses, and revel in the number of people who want to show and celebrate you.
Either way, a wedding shower is a beautiful occasion to toast to your upcoming nuptials and spend quality time with those you love.
Determining the key individuals who will make the guest list is easy. These will include the wedding party, sisters, moms, and best friends. From there, the invites become more selective. Other people that may be considered for the guest list are co-workers, childhood or college friends, and family acquaintances.
It’s important to remember that no matter who the wedding shower invitation is extended to, it’s poor etiquette to invite someone to your shower who is not invited to the wedding. Conversely, you do not have to invite every female wedding guest to your wedding shower, either.
While it may be tempting to invite co-workers, consider how close the relationship is outside of work. Invite people who know you as a couple. Also, think about the awkwardness that may ensue when you invite a few people from your company, but not everyone. It’s likely that one of your co-workers will want to host a wedding shower for you. Take her up on the offer and schedule something at work where everyone can attend as they please.
It’s easy to lose touch over the years with friends you had growing up. No matter how close you once were, years may go by without keeping in touch. On the other hand, it can be a sweet moment to reconnect with friends from the past during such a happy time in your life. An easy way to determine whether you should have them on the guest list or not is considering whether you feel excited or anxious about the reunion. If you’re the kind of friends who can go for long stretches of time, yet catch up like no time has passed, invite away.
It’s your engagement, but the fact that you’re getting married is a big moment in the lives of your family, too. Your parents may go to the extreme and want to invite anyone that’s ever met you. If you have the feeling that it’s going this way, sit down with your mom or family member, and talk about keeping the group to a select few. There may be a need to compromise, because she likely will want a friend or neighbor there for her, too.
Factors, such as space, budget, and date, will all make a difference in how big the guest list becomes. A wedding shower hosted at someone’s home likely can’t accommodate a large group comfortably, with everyone having equal time to spend with you. Additionally, most wedding showers have food and beverages, decorations, and party favors, all of which can quickly add up and blow a budget.
Finally, the time of year will make a difference for who can and cannot attend. For example, a wedding shower may be larger when shower guests cannot make it to a destination wedding. Or, it may be smaller if the shower is hosted in another place than where the majority of guests live. The hostesses of the shower have final say on the number of people who can attend, simply because they are providing the space.
The hostesses and/or wedding party will take care of the invitations, which should go out approximately four to six weeks before the wedding shower. This gives people enough time to plan and make arrangements to attend. For an out-of-town event, they should be sent out a few months in advance. The invitations can mimic the colors and aesthetic of the wedding celebration, or it can illustrate the location or type of wedding shower that’s being held, such as a ladies’ luncheon or a backyard picnic.
The wedding shower invitation should include the bride’s name (of course), date, and time of the wedding shower, location, and wedding registry information. It should also name the women who are hosting and a place to RSVP. Although the affair is usually less formal than the wedding itself, it still needs to feel special for the bride and have a sense of organization to it, even if the overall feeling is relaxed. For more guidance, see our guide on how to word bridal shower invitations.
A typical wedding shower timeline involves mingling and eating as guests arrive, followed by a game or two, and then the opening of shower gifts. However, wedding showers are customized to the bride’s preferences, which may involve ditching games and sharing stories together, or doing an activity as a group. It could also mean opening gifts with the groom instead of in front of the group. Making it as personal as possible is what will lead to a successful event.
The wedding shower is a momentous occasion, and one of the many mini-celebrations that lead up to the big day. When considering who is invited, think about the people who will add to the joy. It’s an afternoon to be spent with those closest to you, which often include members from the groom’s side, since they have been—or will soon be–intertwined with your life. They will be just as thrilled to add a new member to their family as you are to join theirs.
Enjoy the cake, champagne, and feeling of love that surrounds you from the group of women who care about you most. It only adds to the excitement of the wedding day itself. Take a moment to soak it all in.