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Bridal Shower Planning & Etiquette

Learn about bridal shower etiquette. Our guide offers insights and tips for hosting or attending a memorable celebration in honor of the bride.

By Anni Irish

Who organizes a Bridal Shower
Photo by Zola

Bridal showers (also known as wedding showers) are a longstanding wedding tradition that date all the way back to the 16th century. But the bridal parties of yesteryear hardly resemble today's celebrations!

Bridal showers have evolved tremendously over the years—and what was once a traditional, all-women's event meant to supply the bride with essentials she needed to help organize her new home has turned into a more inclusive party. Instead of limiting the event to just women, many brides are opting for celebrations with all their loved ones, regardless of gender identity; if they love the bride, they're welcome at the shower!

The bridal shower is generally one of the first pre-wedding parties thrown in a series (for example, the bachelorette party, engagement party, and rehearsal dinner) leading up to the wedding day. And whether you're the guest of honor or you're the person tasked with planning the bridal shower, chances are, you have a lot of questions—especially around who is supposed to throw the shower and what, exactly, that person is supposed to do.

Let's take a look at everything you need to know about who throws and organizes the bridal shower:

Who Throws a Bridal Shower?

So, the big question—who should throw the bridal shower? Close family members, immediate family, best friend, bridal party?

Generally, the wedding shower is hosted and organized by someone extremely close to the bride—like a best friend, immediate family member, or member of the bridal party. In some cases, the bridal shower may be hosted by more than one person (like a group of close family members, like the bride's sisters, or all the bridesmaids).

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 generally avoid throwing the party. That's because, traditionally, there was an idea that guests could perceive this as a way of directly asking for gifts for the couple. But nowadays, that rule has gone out the window. People do what works for them—and plenty of bride's mothers or future mother-in-law's organize and host the shower. It's all about who is willing and able to host the shower and what the couple wants.

Who Typical Organizes and Throws a Bridal Shower Photo Credit // Unsplash

The maid of honor might seem like the ideal person to host the shower. And while there are certainly instances where the maid of honor is tasked with throwing the shower, they already have a lot on their plate, both from a wedding planning and financial perspective—and organizing and hosting can feel like a lot. If a couple is planning to ask their maid of honor to throw the bridal shower, that's something they should keep in mind when choosing who the maid of honor will be. That person needs to have the time, energy, skills, and resources to pull off not only the shower, but also all the other maid of honor duties—so choose accordingly!

As mentioned, some couples opt to have a group host their wedding shower. And one of the most popular groups for the task? The bridesmaids. When the bridesmaids work together to throw the bridal shower, all of the tasks and to-do's associated with throwing the event—making the guest list, designing shower invitations, choosing the food menu, scouting a location, etc—can be shared among a few people, making the entire process less overwhelming. If there are other family members—such as aunts, cousins, or sisters—who are willing to step up and want to host, that's also a possibility.

Responsibilities of a Bridal Shower Host

Whether the bridesmaids, the mother of the bride, the maid of honor, or only loved one ends up hosting the bridal shower, it's important they know what, exactly, is expected of them.

Some of the key responsibilities that go into bridal shower planning include:

  • Choosing the shower date, time, and location
  • Putting together the bridal shower guest list
  • Brainstorming bridal shower ideas and bridal shower themes and deciding what type of wedding shower to throw (for example, will the event be a laid-back brunch at the bride's favorite breakfast spot, an elegant tea party at a local boutique hotel, or a casual backyard BBQ?)
  • Coordinating the details of the event, including food, drinks, shower decorations, proper attire, and activities (like bridal shower games)
  • Sending out shower invitations and tracking RSVPs
  • Making sure guests have access to wedding registry information for bridal shower gifts
  • Setting up the bridal shower on the day of the event (for example, putting out place cards, decorating the venue, and setting up a gift table)
  • Toasting the bride/Making a speech at the shower
  • Keeping track of the gifts and bridal shower cards

Is It Appropriate to Ask Someone to Host?

If you're part of the happy couple getting married and no one has offered to host, try not to stress! First of all, a bridal shower is by no means obligatory—and just because no one has offered to host doesn't mean someone isn't planning a surprise shower behind the scenes.

However, if you’re in a position where you don't think anyone is planning a shower—and you feel disappointed—then you have to decide if you’re comfortable asking someone to host one for you.

Is it appropriate to ask someone to host? In most situations, yes—particularly if it's someone you have a close, open relationship with.

However, how you ask someone to host your bridal shower is extremely important.

How To Ask Someone To Host Your Bridal Shower...

If you do decide to ask someone to host your bridal shower, the key is to do so in a way that doesn't put them on the spot or create any pressure. Let them know that they have every right to say no—and if they do say no, you won't be disappointed.

It's also important to keep in mind that asking someone to host is, essentially, asking them to invest their time, energy, and money into your shower—so make sure to suggest something low-key and affordable that won't put too much of a strain on them. For example, an afternoon tea-themed event with simple desserts the host can provide or perhaps even a dessert potluck of sorts—thrown at the host's home—could be a fun, low-pressure party.

If you're asking someone to host your bridal shower, you should also offer support if you can; for example, if you're asking them to throw the event at their home, you might offer to stay after the shower to help them clean up.

Now, on the flip side of this scenario, you may have someone who has offered to host your bridal shower, but, for whatever reason, you don't want them to (for example, maybe one of your bridesmaids has offered to host—but you know they're not in the best financial place and don't want them to take on the cost of the event). Or maybe someone offers to organize and throw your bridal shower—but someone else has already started the planning process.

In that scenario, the key is to be as gracious as possible. Thank the person for offering to host—but let them know that, while you so appreciate their help and support, it's not necessary. If you feel comfortable sharing details as to why you don't want or need them to host—and those details won't hurt their feelings in any way—then you can. But it's also not necessary; a kind, gracious "thanks, but no thanks" will suffice.

Who Typical Organizes and Throws a Bridal Shower Photo Credit // Unsplash

How Much Does a Bridal Shower Cost?

When it comes to how much a bridal shower costs, there are no clear-cut answers. Having a casual event for 10 people in the host's backyard is going to be a lot more affordable than hosting a three-course meal at a high-end restaurant for 50 people. The budget will depend on what kind of event the host wants to throw and the number of guests in attendance. But the good news? You can throw a bridal shower on just about any budget—so whether you have a lot or a little to work with, you can throw an amazing event for the bride-to-be.

The next question: once the budget for the bridal shower is set, who covers the costs?

When someone agrees to organize and host a bridal shower, generally, they're also agreeing to pay for it.

Now, keep in mind that the person throwing the shower doesn't necessarily have to pay for the entirety of the event. In some instances, it's appropriate for the host to 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.

Tips to Save Money in a Bridal Shower

Hosting a wedding shower on a budget? Here are some must-know tips to help you save money in a bridal shower:

  • Host at home. The venue is typically one of the largest expenses in throwing a bridal shower. So, if you're trying to save money, eliminate that cost—and host the shower at your home.
  • Opt for affordable flowers. Floral arrangements can definitely make your bridal shower look and feel more elegant—but you don't need to spend an arm and a leg on flowers! Talk to a florist and let them know your budget; they should be able to help you find in-season blooms that will look gorgeous and won't sacrifice style or impact—but also won't break the bank.
  • Let go of "perfect" expectations. Wanting to throw the perfect event for the bride can not only put undue pressure on you during the planning process, it can also lead to you splurging where it isn't necessary. As you're planning, know that no one is expecting you to put on a "perfect" event—and when you're making decisions about how much to spend (and how to spend it), don't let the pressure get to you. Instead, make rational, responsible decisions that are in line with your budget.

Should the Couple Be Involved in the Planning?

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 (or if they're already totally overwhelmed with wedding planning), 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.

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.

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