If you’ve ever been part of a wedding, you’ve probably had a tiny feeling of dread when you shoved this one event to the back of your mind — the bridal shower.
Why does the bridal shower invoke such mixed feelings?
Well, I mean, think about it. In the history of pop culture, bachelorette parties are the events that evoke hot male strippers and hangovers that you’ll talk about for days whereas bridal showers are painted all prim and proper. It doesn’t take long for prim and proper to get old. Plus, no one really actually knows what’s supposed to go on during a bridal shower except for the fact that it’s clean and there are gifts to be opened.
In this guide, I will be really cracking open the books to give you a comprehensive overview of how to get started on planning a, quite frankly, b*tchin’ bridal shower. Now let’s get started!
The Nuts & Bolts
As elaborate as parties can get, these are the three ingredients to practically guarantee a good time for guests:
- Good conversation
- Good food
- Good vibes
People, myself included, very rarely have exacting standards for what makes a good party. This isn’t an insult to whoever planned the event, it just happens that people have very short attention spans. It won’t really matter if your napkins turn out to be a cranberry pink instead of a rose pink, because people are just going to be focusing on what’s going to be impacting their senses most heavily — the people, edibles, and general atmosphere surrounding them. I can practically guarantee you that as long as those three prerequisites are fulfilled, you will not have a mediocre bridal shower. In fact, if everyone and the bride are enjoying themselves, you can consider your bridal shower a success.
You certainly can go all out Bridesmaids style (and give me a golden retriever puppy as a shower favor), but my point is to not stress out too much over getting every detail right. The bridal shower is meant to be intimate, so pay close attention to what sort of bride you’re planning it for. Maybe she’s extremely high-maintenance and wants her bridal shower to get featured on Style Me Pretty — fine. But most likely, she’ll just be happy to see that her closest relatives and friends are there to celebrate her and support her.
Themes & Schemes
Now, if you wanna go all FAHN-CEE, you can really let your creative juices flow while planning a bridal shower. Why?
Themes and color schemes, my friend. Themes and color schemes.
This is a great way to borrow all those little decor details that the bride wanted to fit in her wedding but couldn’t unfortunately. If she was struggling between a color scheme of gold/blush pink and a color scheme of silver/blue, you can choose to model the bridal shower over the color scheme she didn’t end up using. For example, if you know that the bride is a HUGE fantasy-lit nerd (AKA me), you can go all out in decorating the bridal shower as a primeval forest and pretend to all be regal elves.
Here’s some theme inspo of some really awesome bridal showers:
Harry Potter-themed| Greg Obierek Photography
Boho Picnic Themed | Braedon Flynn
Minty-fresh Themed | Mindy Lipcavage Photography
Purple & Pink Flower-Themed | Marin Kristine Photography
Backyard Bridal Shower | Danielle Capito Photography
The 5 Ws
Everyone knows the 5 W’s from the day that they figured out how to ask a question. Turns out that the 5 W’s are also great for planning an event, especially when you’re writing out the logistics on the wedding invites (and I’m TOTALLY not ripping off the five W’s from Wikipedia. -cough-).
- Who is it about?: It’s about the bride. Duh. Moving on.
- Who is invited?: That’s a different story. Just like planning an engagement party, MAKE SURE that everyone who is invited to the bridal shower is definitely being invited to the wedding. The easiest way to ensure that is to request the guest list from the bride, groom, or mother of the bride, and work your way from there. Bridal showers are traditionally all-girls, but co-ed showers are definitely a thing now.
- What is happening?: The bride is about to get married, so the maid of honor (or whoever the bride specifically requests to throw the bridal shower for her) is in charge of planning the bridal shower. It’s essentially a celebration in which the guests “shower” the bride with love, affection, and some sort of snazzy gift.
- What should I include on the bridal shower invite?: Basic logistics such as time, location, and date. However, it would also be helpful to include details about the wedding registry if you intend for guests to bring gifts.
- When will it take place?: There is no hard-and-fast rule as to when a bridal shower can take place. It can be six months in advance to the wedding all the way up to the week before. However, I would suggest doing it 3-4 months before the wedding. That way, the bride won’t be completely overwhelmed with ALL the wedding-related things, and you’ll still have ample amounts of time to plan. Send out invites at least a month in advance so guests can put the event on their calendar!
- Where will it take place?: Anywhere you want the bridal shower to be, depending on the theme and formality! If you want to dress up and drink fancy tea and scones, it probably won’t be a great idea to show up in denim cutoffs. Likewise for a backyard BBQ — you don’t want to show up dressed to the nines and be horribly out of place. Keep in mind the context of your theme and what you think the bride will enjoy the most to determine the venue.
- Why is it happening?: Because the purpose of a bridal shower is for friends and family to show support and affection for someone who’s about to enter the next phase of their life. This is especially important because if the only other occasion where you will see the bride in a wedding-related context is the wedding itself, it’ll be very hard to spend some quality time with her — the bridal shower serves to remedy that. I think that’s good enough cause to celebrate!
What’s Actually Going Down
Now that we’ve established the skeleton of a bridal shower, we can finally start talking about what’s actually going to go down at a bridal shower.
This is a rough agenda of how a bridal shower’s supposed to go. Keep in mind that this timeline is flexible:
- The guests arrive. It is imperative that the host is at the venue from the very beginning to greet guests and ensure that everything is delivered and prepared for the bridal shower. While this is happening, guests can mingle among themselves, help themselves to food, drinks, and whatever goodies are available at the shower.
- Photo-taking and small activities. Guests can continue to mingle, but it might be opportune to get some nice shots at this point between brides and groups of friends. Additionally, if you have small activities like a scavenger hunt or writing little letters/notes to the bride planned for guests, people can do these in the downtime.
- Lunch/small-meal and bigger games. If you have a small sit-down meal planned out for guests, you will want to transition from general mingling into mealtime. This will allow people to continue chatting and also provides a collective space where you can make announcements like how excited you are to be hosting a bridal shower for the bride or something in a similar vein. Additionally, this would also be an appropriate time to play games that have the bride as the center of attention.
- Gift-opening. After the past activities have concluded, you can now transition from those to opening gifts. This is a pretty self-explanatory segment, with the bride opening gifts one-by-one and giving thanks to her friends and family. Gifts are typically what’s on the wedding registry, but they can also be something very unique and appropriate to the bride’s liking.
- Wrapping up the festivities. After opening gifts is done, there really shouldn’t be much left to cover in a bridal shower besides thanking everyone for coming. At this point, it’s just a matter of how much people are enjoying their conversations and want to trickle out naturally.
And the final step? Congratulate yourself on a bridal shower well done! Now go take a bubble bath and treat yourself to a glass of wine!