Skip to main content

How to plan a bridal shower

minute read

    One of the final celebrations leading up to a wedding is the bridal shower. If you aren't sure how to plan a bridal shower, there are plenty of ideas to make sure the party goes off without a hitch.

    What is a bridal shower?

    A bridal shower is typically a daytime event that celebrates an upcoming marriage. It's often an opportunity for family and friends to celebrate the bride and gift her items to help build her new home. As with many longtime traditions, it's not entirely clear where bridal showers got their start, but it's generally believed to be in 16th-century Holland. When a father couldn't or wouldn't pay his daughter's dowry either due to lack of funds or disapproval of the match, friends and family would gather to provide money and gifts to get the couple's new life started.

    In the United States, bridal showers as we now know them began gaining popularity in the latter half of the 1800s. Nowadays, these events are purely about celebrating a couple and the life they are starting together. Bridal showers are traditionally reserved for the bride and her female wedding guests, with the groom often making a quick appearance at the end. However, there's no right or wrong way to throw a bridal shower — so feel free to tweak your party in whatever ways best suit you. 

    As for when to plan the bridal shower and who plans it, that's flexible too. They are usually scheduled between two and six months before the wedding at a time that's most convenient for the bridal party.

    Bridal showers are traditionally hosted by the maid of honor, bridesmaids, or close friends. However, it's not uncommon for mothers and mothers-in-law to host, too. Bridal showers should give the bride a bit of a break from planning. Of course, you'll want her general input as far as theme and venue, but the bulk of the planning should be done by the hosts.

    To make sure you get all the planning done on time, you may want to follow a bridal shower planning checklist. 

    How to plan a bridal shower

    A step-by-step checklist will help make bridal shower planning a breeze.

    Set the budget

    The first step in planning a bridal shower is to set a budget. The party is generally paid for by the host, so make sure you won't be breaking the bank if that's you. Once you know how much you're comfortable spending, you can start nailing down other details.

    Choose a date

    The bridal shower is usually held around two to three months before the big day, but this is flexible depending on other factors. For instance, if you live in the northeast and two months before the wedding is January, you may want to consider November to avoid a winter storm prohibiting travel. If you're hosting, be sure to check with the bride and her closest friends and family to ensure the date you're considering works for them.

    Create a guest list

    Depending on the budget, you may want to invite all the women and girls on the wedding guest list, or just the bride's close friends and family. And of course, all of this with the disclaimer that while bridal showers have traditionally been just for women, it certainly does not have to be that way. Chat with the bride and see what she envisions for her guest list, then go from there. 

    Pick a theme

    A bridal shower does not have to have a theme — “wedding” is certainly theme enough! However, a theme does provide fun food and décor opportunities and may make ironing out those details a little easier. It can also add in some of the bride's personality to the party. Some ideas for bridal shower themes include tea party, champagne brunch, garden party or rustic.

    Book a venue

    Keeping in mind your budget, date, guest count and theme, you can start looking for a venue. The most traditional option is in your home, but if it's going to be too cramped, a venue will likely work better. You can host a bridal shower in a multitude of venues, such as a restaurant, private banquet room, a park, or anywhere that you think the bride will like. Just be sure to keep parking and location in mind.

    Send invitations

    Invitations should be sent out about six to eight weeks in advance. This will give guests plenty of time to check their calendars, purchase a gift and let you know if they aren't able to make it.

    Plan activities

    While not required, it is often fun to have a few pre-planned activities for the guests for the time between eating and the bride opening gifts. These are generally wedding themed or focused on the bride. Some ideas may include wedding mad-libs, bride (or bride and groom) trivia or bridal bingo. This also breaks the ice and gives guests who may have not met before the chance to get to know each other.

    Day-of bridal shower checklist

    On the day of the shower, you'll want to keep another, more precise checklist to ensure everything is ready for the party. This checklist may include:

    • Set up decorations
    • Pick up cake
    • Designate someone to keep track of gifts
    • Put out party favors
    • Set up a station for gifts 

    What's more

    Knowing how to plan a bridal shower makes the event even more enjoyable. However you want to customize the event, bridal shower ideas should always focus on spoiling the bride with love before the big day. 

    What to read next