Planning A Bridal Shower - A Step By Step Guide

Gold trim tea cup and pink rose.

Do you need a guide to planning a bridal shower? Then the steps outlined below will help you create and event to be remembered. By following the list of steps below you will find that everything associated with planning the shower will just fall into place. You will not only be well organized and have happy guests you will have created an event to be proud of. But before we get started let's get a few questions you may have answered.



Who Can Host A Bridal Shower?

Any person or group of people who are close to bride and groom gives the shower (although the bride's mother doesn't usually give the shower, but there is no hard and fast rule to this).

It could be the future mother in-law, an aunt, cousin, close friend, or a member of the bridal party usually the Maid/Matron of Honor by herself or in conjunction with the other bridesmaids.

Can You Have More Than One Bridal Shower?

It is common that more than one shower can be given, if this happens the hosts of each planned event should consult with each other regarding the guest list - so that duplication can be avoided and guests are not invited to more than one party.

As a host or hosts it is your responsibility along with the bride-to-be to greet the guests as they arrive at the party.

Who Pays?

The host or hosts are responsible for paying for the event so take numbers into account and work within your budget.

After all the shower is supposed to be a happy fun occasion you don't want to harbour resentment because the shower is going to cost you more than you can afford.

Who Do You Invite?

Traditionally close female family members and friends of the bride who are part of the wedding guest list would be invited to the shower.

But there has been a growing trend to have couple showers where both male and females are invited.

Tip: Just remember to invite only those who are on the wedding guest list to the bridal shower and you should be right.

When To Hold A Wedding Shower?

There is no hard and fast rule as to when a wedding shower can be held but ideally it should not be too far away or too close to the wedding date - anywhere between three and one month before the wedding would be appropriate.

Bridal Shower Etiquette

Let's discuss bridal shower etiquette before we go any further. Generally, the showers should last between three and four hours, any longer than that the guests may feel restless. 

It is the hostess responsibility to keep the afternoon or evening moving smoothly.

If you have planned a surprise shower, you should ask the guests to arrive a least half an hour before the bride is expected so that they can all yell “Surprise” and welcome her. When the bride has arrived, she should mingle with her guests.

By the time this is done it should be time to have the meal served. When everyone has finished eating, the bride should be seated at the front end of the room where everyone can see her as she opens her gifts.

The bridesmaids can help her by passing the gifts to the bride and recording each gift and who gave it.

A bridesmaid can be designated to collect the bows and ribbons from the gifts and makes them into a “bouquet” by attaching them to a paper plate.

The bride can then carry this at the wedding rehearsal. While the bride is opening her gifts the dessert and coffee and tea are served. Once the dessert and the gift-opening are completed the guests will then begin to leave.

The bride can have input into who will be invited to her bridal shower, but because the Matron of Honor/Bridesmaids (or other persons) pay for the bridal shower, the budget and number of guests is ultimately up to them.

If you are the guest of honor (and the shower is not a surprise) it is polite to give your hosts a small gift of thanks. This could be done in advance (you may like to send her some flowers before the shower), or bring a small gift with you on the day. Also, send a hand written thank you note to your hosts.

Bride Idea: During the bridal shower, have a notebook passed around secretly and have each of the guests write a personal message to the bride. Then on the wedding morning present it to the bride.

What the Host Should Do Before Making Any Plans

Before you go start planning a bridal shower clear it with the bride first and then go ahead and do it. You will also need to take into consideration how much you can afford to spend on the shower. If you find that your funds are limited then consider asking others to co-host the shower with you.

If you are not planning a surprise shower you should really talk to the bride-to-be.

You will need to discover important details such as a convenient date, time, size of the guest list and get a general idea of the type of shower she would like for example an all female or couples event etc.

Give yourself plenty of time when planning a bridal shower - start at least three months before the actual shower date If possible.

1. Compile The Guest List

You should then start to compile the guest list. Ask the bride for a list of people she would like to invite.

Also ask for a list from the bride's mother and future mother in-law but do make it known how many guests you would like to be on the finalized guest list.

If someone else is hosting a shower contact them so that you can compare the lists and avoid inviting the same people to yours.

Also when gathering the list ask for details such as full names, addresses, phone numbers and emails, you will need these when sending out the invitations.

Bridal Shower Guest List Do's and Don'ts

Careful planning of the bridal shower guest list is one of the many ways to create a happy and fun atmosphere at the bridal shower party.

Ideally you should start by asking the bride who she would like to see there.

By consulting with the bride you will be eliminating any awkwardness that may occur had you invited someone she did not want there.

Do Keep It Small An Intimate

Anyone you invite to the shower should also be invited to the wedding but you don't have to invite everyone from the wedding guest list to the bridal shower.

Keep the numbers small and intimate by only inviting the brides close relatives and friends to the shower.

Don't Ignore The Partners of the Groomsmen

As the groomsmen are a major part of the grooms life it would be a nice gesture to consider inviting the wife's or girlfriends of the groomsmen if the bride has not already met them before.

This would be the perfect opportunity for the bride to get to know them and create a friendship.

After all the bride will be spending more time with these women in the future because of the friendship between the groom and best friends.

Don't Leave Anyone Out

You should include all members of a specific group to the shower. Don't hurt anyone's feelings by forgetting to invite a member or two of that group.

In other words if you where to invite your aunts to your shower you should extend the invitation to all of them not just your favorites.

Or if your mother has a group of friends she would like to see there, extend the invitation to the entire group not just a select few.

Do Have More Than One Bridal Shower

Some brides have friends and family in different areas and it can be difficult to get everyone together at one time so there is nothing wrong with having more than one bridal shower.

Also if you have circumstances where certain members can't stand being in the same room together the option of having more than one shower is idea.

For example if your Grandmother can't stand your stepmother and they always cause a scene when they are together then inviting them to separate bridal showers is the way to go.

Don't Invite The Same Guests to Every Bridal Shower

As a rule you should not invite a person one or two bridal showers at the most.

However, the exception to this is the brides attendants, and immediate family members of the bride and groom they can all be included on more than one bridal shower guest list.

But remember they are not expected to bring a gift on each occasion - just giving a gift to one shower is enough.

Setting the Date and Time

When setting the date for the shower try and avoid holding it on public holidays or special occasions such as mother's day or special religious days.

These might be days that some of your friends treasure such as (spending time with her mother on mother's day) and would make it impossible to participate in the bridal shower.

If you are planning a surprise bridal shower it would be wise to discuss possible dates with the groom-to-be or mother of the bride to ensure that the date you have chosen is appropriate for the bride.

The type of theme that you choose will ultimately dictate the time of the day that the event is to take place.

If for example you are planning on a brunch bridal shower the obvious time would be between breakfast and lunch on the other had a cocktail bridal shower would be better suited to the evening.

Also if you have chosen a location other than a private home you may be restricted to the opening hours of that establishment.

2. Choosing A Bridal Shower Theme

Having a theme is not required but having a theme can help make the occasion a more memorable one. When planning a bridal shower theme you should take into consideration the age of the guests that you are inviting and chose a theme that would be appropriate for all ages.

For example if you have invited junior bridesmaids to the shower then a shower held in a bar might not be appropriate.

If you are stuck for ideas below are some fun bridal shower theme ideas that you could consider:

  • Arabian Theme
  • Beach Theme
  • Blue and White Theme Or Any Other Color
  • Christmas Theme
  • Cooking Theme
  • Country Theme
  • Craft Shower Theme
  • Dessert Bridal Shower Theme
  • Eco-Friendly Bridal Shower
  • Flower Based Theme Such as Orchids, Roses, Lilies etc
  • Garden Bridal Shower
  • Honeymoon Theme Bridal Shower
  • Lingerie Theme Shower
  • Seasons Based Bridal Shower Theme
  • Spa Theme
  • Wine Theme Bridal Shower

3. Selecting A Location

There are many different bridal shower locations that you could consider when looking for a suitable venue. Selecting the right location is just as important as the theme, decorations, food and entertainment - it will have a huge impact on the way the event turns out.

One of the most important things to consider when planning a bridal shower location is will it be large enough for the number of guests you have invited.

You should also take into account some or all of the following points before settling on the location:

  • Do you have to hire a venue? if you do:
    • Will the hire cost be within your budget?
    • Are there any restrictions to bringing in outside food?
    • Does the kitchen have a refrigerator and sufficient table space?
    • Are tables, chairs, plates, glasses etc provided or do you have to supply them?
    • Are there any other restrictions that might affect the day?
  • Is there easy access for elderly guests or guests with disabilities.
  • Does the style of the location blend in with the bridal shower theme?
  • Also take into consideration the brides taste - would this be the type of venue she would be happy in.
  • As everyone has different tastes try to get a venue that everyone will feel comfortable in.

So where can you hold a bridal shower? Below you will find a list of suitable bridal shower location ideas.

  • Private Home
  • Local Park
  • Bowling Alley
  • Community Hall
  • Beach
  • Bar Or Club
  • Restaurant
  • Boat or Yacht

4. Select And Send the Bridal Shower Invitation

You can mail out written invitations, phone or email the guests. If the guest list includes close friends word of mouth would be fine. Be sure to include the date and time of the party; the brides (and or grooms) name, preferred gift color and sizes; your name and address (and any directions to the location) and your phone number, and RSVP information and dress standard.

You can use pre-printed invitations or make your own. Make sure that these invitations are sent out at least two weeks before the party, this will give the guest sufficient time to arrange their schedules.

Bridal Shower Invitation Wording

The wedding bridal shower invitation wording can be as formal or casual as the host or hosts chooses. The bridal shower invitation should match the style of the party.

You can purchase pre-made cards from the stores and just fill in the shower details.

Other options for wedding shower invitations are make them yourself on your home computer or if you are crafty you could make simple invitations out of card stock covered with vellum and ribbon. The invitations should be mailed or handed out to the guests three to four weeks before the wedding shower.

It is acceptable to include the names of the stores where the couple has set up a gift registry; this will make it easier for the guests to select the right gift.

Some stores may even provide cards for you to include in the invitation envelope.

If the stores don't provide cards you can simply make some up, just write “Amy is registered at (Name of the Store)” or "Amy and Tom are registered at (Name of Store) on the invitations.

Once the guests have been provided with this information they will have the option to select their gifts for the bridal shower from the registry or from another store.

Sample Wedding Bridal Shower Invitation Wording

Thumbnail Image 1

Bridal Shower Inviation Example
Without Hosts Name

Bridal Shower Inviation Example
With Host Name

Bridal Shower Inviation Example
With Host Name

Bridal Shower Invitation Example
With Gift Registry Details and 
Hosts Names At End Of Invitation

Bridal Shower Invitation Example
With Gift Registry Details and
Hosts Names At Top Of Invitation

Bridal Shower Invitation Example, With Gift Registry Details and 
Hosts Names At End Of Invitation

Bridal Shower Invitation Example
With Gift Registry Details and
Hosts Names At End Of Invitation

** Bridal Shower Wishing Wells **
Some invitations will ask you to bring something for the Bridal shower wishing well. This means that the guests are asked to bring a small inexpensive household item such as a wooden spoon, tea towel or dish cloth; these are placed in the wishing well. These gifts don’t have to be wrapped.

Bridal Shower Invitation Example
With Theme Mentioned

Bridal Shower Invitation Example
With Theme Mentioned

Bridal shower inviations examle with future partners name on invite.

Bridal Shower Invitation Example
Inclding Name of Future Married Partner

5. Bridal Shower Decorations and Favors

When planning a bridal shower consider having themed decorations and favors these are a great way to set the mood and can be a great conversation started. Go with a creative theme or simply use the wedding theme or color.

6. Create A Bridal Shower Menu

What you serve will depend on the time of day. For example if you were to hold the party between main meals then light snacks would be appropriate and something more filling should be served for main meals. Depending on how much help you are getting you could serve these as a sit down meal or buffet style.

Don't forget to organize the plates, cutlery, napkins, serving tools, tablecloths etc. when planning your menu.

7. Organize Entertainment For The Shower

Every party has to have some entertainment this could be a few appropriate games and music. Select a few games that represent the bride that you know that she will be comfortable with.

Just keep in mind that the bride should be happy with what you plan and should enjoy the occasion and not be made to feel uncomfortable. If you have doubts about the games discuss your choices with the bride or a few of her other close friends and you should not go wrong.

8. Gifts

Most people like to see the bride open her gifts at the bridal shower, so plan a time for this to happen – usually before the desert or coffee is served. Try to keep the gift opening flowing relatively fast as it can get quite boring for the guests if draws out for more than an hour. Also ask someone to write down the names of the guests and gifts that they have given so the bride can send thank you notes later.

Bridal Shower Thank You Notes

Bridal shower thank you notes should be sent even though you already have thanked your guests in person.

The thank you notes should express your gratitude to them for their gift and their attendance at the shower.

If you want you can have the thank you notes made to match the theme of the bridal shower. Or you may prefer to just have some decent paper and matching envelopes.

Thank you notes should be sent out as soon as possible after the event, they don't have to be long, but do personalize at least one aspect of each note to your shower guests, this can be done by mentioning the gift by name and include a line about how you intend to use it. 

If a gift has been given by two or more people write a thank you note to each person separately. However if you have been given a gift by your work colleagues, you can just write one note which is addressed to the whole group.

Bridal shower thank you note example

Example Of A Bridal Shower Thank You Note Wording

9. Be Organized Use A Bridal Shower Checklist

It will help if you have a time line to work with. Most of your bridal shower planning should be done six to eight weeks before the shower.

Use this bridal shower checklist to help with the bridal shower planning. Ideally start the planning at least two months before the date.

If you are planning a bridal shower closer to the wedding date make sure that the planning starts even earlier, because this might be a busy time for you and those who will help you with the cooking, decorating, and other details.

6 to 8 weeks before

  • Select a time and date for the shower.
  • Select the location for the shower.
  • Prepare the Guest List.
  • 6 weeks before
  • Decide on a Theme.
  • Plan a Menu and Decorations.
  • Make or buy the invitations.

4 weeks before

  • Buy your gift for the bride (Give yourself more time if you are making the gift).
  • Buy or make shower favors.
  • Plan the activities and prizes.

3 to 4 weeks before

  • Send out the invitations.
  • Make sure that you have the right table cloths, serving dishes, cutlery, crockery, glasses and so on.
  • Purchase the decorations.
  • Prepare the shopping list for all the menu ingredients.
  • Check tables and chairs be sure that there is enough.

2 weeks before

  • Thoroughly clean your house and backyard if the shower is to be held there.
  • Order flowers and centerpieces if required.
  • Buy the non-perishable food for the menu.
  • Iron table linens if necessary.

2 to 3 days before

  • Buy the rest of the food for the menu, except the fresh bread and rolls.
  • Do a final clean of your house.

The day before

  • Prepare as much of the menu as possible (also get some help to do this).
  • Set up the tables and decorations.
  • Assemble items for the activities (if you are having any).
  • Wrap any prizes.
  • Make sure that your gift to the bride is wrapped.
  • Pick up the flowers.
  • Buy perishable favors or make them.
  • Do a quick check of the house to see that everything is in order.

The day of the party

  • Arrange the centerpieces on the tables.
  • Buy fresh bread and rolls.
  • Set out the coasters and ashtrays.
  • Prepare the rest of the menu.
  • Set up an area for the gifts.

Last Minute details

  • Be dressed at least one hour before the guests arrive, some may arrive early.
  • Make sure that the beverages are ready.
  • If you can take a moment to relax before the guest arrive do so.
  • Greet your guests and have a good time.
Bridal Shower Checklist Tip: Get one or two other people to help you prepare for the bridal shower it will certainly make things a lot easier for you.
You might also like to read this article by on How to throw a DIY bridal shower it has many tips and great ideas that you could possibly utilize yourself.


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Bride Idea

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Planning on Making Your Own Wedding Cake?

A few weeks before your wedding start baking your cake one tier at a time, do this over several days until you have the required amount. Use a serrated knife to level the top of the cake. Wrap each cake well with plastic food wrap and store in the freezer until you are ready to decorate.
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Wedding Tips and Ideas

You can read more tips and ideas by clicking here.

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Flower Girl Planning Tip

If you are planning on having the flower girl scatter rose petals in front of you as you walk down the aisle (first check with the church) get her to practice this.

For practice get her used to throwing small bits of paper from the basket you intend to use.

Also try and make them understand that they need to throw small handfuls at a time, because you don’t want her to empty the basket right at the start

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Wedding Reception Budget Tip

Always keep your budget in mind when looking at reception venues. If your budget is $3500 and the venue charges $100 a head that means you can only have 35 people at your reception. If you want to 100 people you will have to find somewhere that will charge you $35 a head.

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