Bridal showers are a longstanding wedding tradition that date all the way back to the 16th century. But bridal showers have evolved tremendously. What was once an all-women's event meant to give the bride gifts to help organize her new home has turned into a more inclusive party devoid of gender norms. The bridal shower is generally one of the first parties thrown in a series leading up to the wedding. And while this type of pre-wedding party has changed over time, if you're tasked with planning the event, figuring out exactly what you're supposed to do can be a little bit overwhelming. Here, three things you must know about organizing and throwing a bridal shower.
Generally speaking, the wedding shower is usually hosted and organized by the maid of honor, a close friend of the couple getting married, or the bridesmaids.
When it comes to traditional wedding etiquette for throwing the shower, the mother of the bride or mother-in-law (and usually relatives in general) avoid throwing the party. Traditionally guests could perceive this as a way of directly asking for gifts for the couple. But nowadays people do what works for them—it's about your level of comfort and what the couple wants. While the maid of honor is sometimes tasked with throwing the shower, it can be a huge undertaking to organize and also pay for.
If the couple getting married expects the maid of honor to host the shower, then keep this in mind when deciding who will be your maid of honor. Another option: Bridesmaids can work together to throw the shower. This way many of the tasks associated with throwing one—the guest list, shower invitation, food menu, location, etc—can be shared among a few people making it less overwhelming. If there are other family members, such as aunts, cousins, or sisters who are willing to step up and want to host, this is also a possibility.
In some instances, someone may organize an event for the shower, but ask guests attending to pay for themselves. For example, someone may reserve slots at a spa and ask that those who are attending pay for their own services. Or if the event is being hosted at a restaurant, the bridal shower invitation may indicate that people will pay for their own meals and will celebrate with cake and Champagne after.
One thing that can determine if the couple will be involved in the planning of the event at all or not is if it is a surprise bridal shower. If you’re trying to organize the shower under the couple's radar, your best bet is to not involve them. Instead, try enlisting the help of a family member or a close friend. That way you can be sure to work in specific details about food and beverage items they like and other thoughtful touches the couple enjoys.
If the couple being showered does know the event is happening, then the host should have a conversation with them about their preferred date and time, location, activities, and other details.
If you're part of the happy couple getting married and you're unsure if there will be a bridal shower, don't worry. A bridal shower isn't obligatory.
However, if you’re in a position where you think you may not be having one and you feel disappointed, there are a few things to keep in mind. It's possible someone may be throwing you a surprise bridal shower. However, if time goes by and it seems like a shower may not be in the works for you, then you have to decide if you’re comfortable asking someone to host one for you.
Of course asking someone to host can seem a bit forward, so try to suggest something low-key that can happen at someone's house or even backyard. An afternoon tea-themed event with simple desserts the host can provide or perhaps even a dessert potluck of sorts could be a fun, low-pressure party. Try to keep in mind that asking someone to host the event is also a financial responsibility.
Whoever hosts the shower, the most important thing is that it’s being organized in honor of the happy couple getting married. At the end of the day the shower isn't about the gifts you will get or the kind of food or drinks you’ll have. While all those details are great, it’s about getting together with the people you care the most about to celebrate the next chapter of your life with your partner.