Traditional And Modern Bridal Shower Etiquette You Should Know in 2023

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The bridal shower is one of the time-honored pre-wedding parties since it is a great way to celebrate the bride before her big day. A bridal shower is an occasion to provide the couple with the essentials they need to start on their journey to togetherness. Furthermore, it symbolizes the warm welcome to the bride into the world of married women and her new family.

This is a pretty traditional celebration, but social norms regarding what is acceptable and what is not are always shifting. If you are not sure of modern bridal shower etiquette, don’t need to worry; Viva Wedding Photography has provided the basics you need to avoid any awkward situations and keep the focus on the bride-to-be and her happiness.

Bridal shower host etiquette

  • The Old Rule: The maid of honor and her bridesmaids play hostess at the bridal shower.
  • The New Rule: Almost everyone close to the bride can throw a shower.
Bridal shower host etiquette
Bridal Shower Etiquette On Who Should Throw The Event – Photo by: Lulus

When planning a wedding shower, the first thing to do is select a host. According to tradition, the responsibility of hosting a bridal shower should not fall upon the immediate family members of the bride, such as her mother, future mother-in-law, or sister. This is primarily to avoid any perception or misconception that they may be asking for gifts from the guests.

So, for years, the role of bridal shower hostess always went to the maid of honor and the bridesmaids, who were also responsible for sending out invitations, choosing a theme, planning games, and providing favors.

But this is changing. Nowadays, anyone close to the bride can host the bridal shower, including friends, relatives, co-workers, or even the groom’s family. The host can also enlist the help of other guests or hire a professional planner to share the workload and expenses. 

Modern bridal shower host etiquette still advises the bride to refrain from throwing the event herself. This is because it is considered more appropriate for someone else to take on the role of hosting and organizing the celebration. The purpose of a bridal shower is to honor the bride-to-be, and having someone else host the event helps maintain the spirit of generosity and celebration without the bride having to take on additional responsibilities.

Out-of-town bridal shower etiquette

  • The Old Rule: Every lady on the wedding guest list should be invited.
  • The New Rule: There’s no need to invite out-of-town friends or family who won’t be able to attend.
Out of town bridal shower etiquette
Etiquette On Inviting Long Distance Guests To Bridal Shower – Photo by: Green Wedding Shoes

Previously, it was considered rude to leave out any female guest from the bridal shower invitation list, even if they lived in another state or country.

However, these days, most of us live away from home and have many out-of-town friends or relatives who realistically won’t be able to attend. That’s why the old bridal shower etiquette rule of asking everyone on your wedding guest list to your celebration can lead to awkward situations. When you invite them to travel for both the shower and the wedding, it may appear that you are asking a lot. Besides, some guests may feel pressured to give a gift even if they cannot attend, making the shower invitation seem like a request for extra presents.

Modern bridal shower etiquette has been allowed to limit the guest list to those who live nearby or the handful of people whom you know would never miss it. If you feel bad about hurting the feelings of distant friends or relatives by not inviting them, consider sending a message or mail to out-of-town guests. By that, you can let them know you understand if they can’t make it and that their presence at the wedding is more important. Another option is to host a virtual bridal shower, where guests can join online and send gifts in advance.

In case you’re inviting people who will be attending, you might want to skip the traditional gift-giving requirement and note in the invitation that no gifts are expected. That way, people can save their budget for the wedding while still celebrating the shower.

Bridal shower etiquette on playing games

  • The Old Rule: You must play cute little games about your and your partner’s relationship 
  • The New Rule: Playing bridal shower games is not compulsory
bridal shower etiquette on playing games
Etiquette For Bridal Shower Games – Photo by: Oh Happy Printables

The inclusion of games in a bridal shower is a debatable topic, with many guests wondering if they are necessary. Although some people enjoy them, others would rather pass.

Traditionally, bridal shower games were designed to test the bride-to-be’s knowledge of her future spouse, such as how they met, what they like, or what they do. Some examples of these games are the Newlywed Game, the Shoe Game, or the Love Story Game.

However, according to modern bridal shower etiquette, it’s totally acceptable to skip the cheesy or embarrassing games. Instead, the bride can have a more relaxed and casual bridal shower, where she can simply enjoy the food, drinks, and conversation with her guests. 

So, if that’s all you want to do at your bridal shower – gather with your closest friends and have a good time – feel free to request that there are no games. Alternatively, you may opt for more creative or interactive activities like painting, crafting, or karaoke.

>>> Recommended reading: 23 Hilarious Bridal Shower Game Ideas To Keep Your Guests Entertained

Etiquette for bridal shower gifts

  • The Old Rule: You must request tons of presents and open them at the party while everyone watches
  • The New Rule: You can request small or no bridal shower gifts. 
Etiquette for bridal shower gifts
Etiquette for bridal shower gifts – Photo by: Southern Living

Traditionally, the bride-to-be would register for a list of items that she wanted or needed for her new home, such as kitchenware, bedding, or appliances. Nowadays, many couples already have everything they need for their household or don’t want to pressure their guests to give gifts. Therefore, some brides-to-be opt for a no-gift requirement. Others may request small gifts that are more personal or meaningful, such as books, candles, or jewelry.

For years, unwrapping gifts was seen as the main event of a bridal shower, where the bride opens all the gifts in front of the guests. But these days, as gift receiving is optional, it’s not a hard-and-fast bridal shower etiquette on gift opening as well. If the bride would rather not be the center of attention when she opens gifts in front of her bridal shower guests, she can do it in private. 

Etiquette on who to invite to the bridal shower

  • The Old Rule: No future spouses allowed!
  • The New Rule: You can have a co-ed bridal shower
Bridal shower etiquette on guests list
Bridal shower etiquette on guests list – Photo by: The Aisle Guide

In the past, bridal showers were strictly ladies-only events, where the bride-to-be would receive advice and tips from her female elders and peers. The groom-to-be and his friends were not invited, and they would have their own bachelor party instead.

Today, new rules of bridal shower etiquette invitations have allowed more couples to have a co-ed bridal shower, where both the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be invite their friends and family of both genders, which is called a “wedding shower.” This way, they can celebrate their upcoming marriage together and share the fun and excitement with everyone. A joint wedding shower can also have a more casual and relaxed vibe, with games, activities, and food that appeal to both sexes.

Bridal shower thank you card etiquette

  • The Old Rule: You must send thank-you cards following the shower
  • The New Rule: You still must send thank-you cards following the shower
Bridal shower thank you card etiquette
Etiquette for bridal shower thank-you card – Photo by: Etsy

Traditional etiquette suggests the bride-to-be write and mail handwritten thank-you cards to each guest within two weeks of the bridal shower, expressing her sincere thanks for their presence and their gift. She would also mention something specific about the gift, such as how she plans to use it or why she likes it.

This bridal shower etiquette rule has not changed much over time, and you shouldn’t throw it out the window. Sending thank-you cards is still a courteous and respectful gesture that shows your guests how much you value their friendship and support. However, you can be more flexible and creative with your thank-you cards, such as using email, text, or social media to send them or adding photos, videos, or stickers to make them more personal and fun.

>>> Further reading: How To Write Heartwarming Bridal Shower Thank You Cards

Bridal shower etiquette: Is it a rule to have a shower?

  • The Old Rule: The bridal shower is a must-have pre-wedding celebration for every bride
  • The New Rule: It’s totally fine to skip this event
Bridal Shower Etiquette: Having A Shower Is Optional
Modern Etiquette: Having A Bridal Shower Is Optional – Photo by: Mom Always Knows

In the past, having a bridal shower was seen as a mandatory and expected part of the wedding planning process, where the bride-to-be would receive gifts, advice, and blessings from her female friends and relatives. Declining a bridal shower invitation or request was also considered rude or ungrateful.

Having a bridal shower now is not mandatory for everyone. Maybe you want a more intimate or low-key celebration, or you have other priorities or preferences. If you decide to skip the bridal shower, you don’t have to feel guilty or pressured. You can simply explain your reasons to your potential host and guests and thank them for their understanding and support. They’ll understand and appreciate your honesty.

You can also suggest alternative ways to celebrate with them, such as having a spa day, a brunch date, or a movie night.

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Bridal showers are a wonderful way to celebrate the bride-to-be and her future spouse. They can be as traditional or as modern as you want them to be, as long as you follow some basic rules of bridal shower etiquette. Whether you are hosting, attending, or skipping a bridal shower, remember to be respectful, thoughtful, and supportive of the bride-to-be and her choices. After all, Viva Wedding Photography wants you to keep in mind that the most important thing is to make the bride feel loved and happy on this special occasion.

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