11 Modern Bridal Shower Etiquette Rules You Need To Know

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By Audrey

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. 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.

1. Anyone can be the person who throws the bridal shower

Traditionally, the responsibility of hosting a bridal shower should not fall upon the bride’s immediate family members, 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.

Bridal shower protocol about who should host the event
Bridal shower protocol about who should host the event – Photo by: Lulus

But time has changed. Nowadays, anyone close to the bride can be the person who throws 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.

However, bridal shower etiquette for the bride still advises her to refrain from throwing the event herself. 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.

2. The bridal shower can be held anytime before the wedding

“When do you have a bridal shower?” is a common question when you host this event for the first time. According to traditional bridal shower protocol, this event was held approximately three months prior to the wedding.

However, in modern times, there is more flexibility in determining the timing of the shower. You can choose any time before the nuptials as long as the wedding is scheduled within the next six months or so. This rule helps to make sure the two events are appropriately related.

Wedding shower etiquette for planning the event
Wedding shower etiquette for planning the event – Photo by: Green Wedding Shoes

If you’re the host, pick a convenient date for both the bride and the most important guests. To accommodate everyone’s schedules, throwing the event well in advance or coordinating it with another gathering, such as a bachelorette party in the evening after an afternoon bridal shower, may be necessary.

3. Anyone can be the person who pays for the bridal shower

Etiquette for bridal shower costs payment
Etiquette for bridal shower costs payment – Photo by: Digibuddha

It is customary for the person who throws the bridal shower to cover the costs of the gathering. Therefore, the bridal shower costs are typically covered by the maid of honor and bridesmaids. However, if necessary, the expense of the shower can be covered by others, including the bride’s parents, members of both families or even the happy couple. So, anyone close to the bride can pay for this event as long as they have the means and are willing to do so.

4. You can have a co-ed bridal shower

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 who should be invited to the bridal shower; they would have their own bachelor party instead.

Bridal shower invitation etiquette for co-ed events
Bridal shower invitation etiquette for co-ed events – Photo by: The Aisle Guide

Today, new wedding shower etiquette rules have allowed more couples to have a co-ed 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.

5. There’s no need to invite out-of-town guests

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

Wedding shower etiquette on who should be invited
Wedding shower etiquette on who should be invited – Photo by: Modern MOH

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 asking everyone on your wedding guest list for 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.

So, it’s acceptable to limit the guest list to those who live nearby, or the handful of people 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.

6. Send out the shower invitation early

bridal shower invitation etiquette
Etiquette for bridal shower invitations – Photo by: Chicfetti

Sending invites to out-of-town guests as early as possible is good bridal shower invitation etiquette. It is recommended that you send out invitations at least two months in advance, preferably more. If the majority of your guests are local, a duration of four to six weeks would be sufficient.

7. Playing games is not a compulsory bridal shower etiquette

Including 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, and the Love Story Game.

Bridal shower etiquette about playing games
Playing bridal shower games is totally optional – Photo by: Oh Happy Printables

However, according to modern bridal shower protocol, skipping the cheesy or embarrassing games is acceptable. 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.

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

8. Requesting small or no gifts is acceptable

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, it has been increasingly bridal shower gift etiquette to opt for a no-present requirement. Some brides may request small gifts that are more personal or meaningful, such as books, candles, or jewelry.

Etiquette for bridal shower gifts
Etiquette for bridal shower gifts – Photo by: Southern Living

For years, unwrapping gifts was seen as the main event of a bridal shower, where the bride opened 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 for 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.

9. The bride should give the bridal shower host a gift

Bridal shower gift etiquette for the bride
Bridal shower gift etiquette for the bride – Photo by: Wedding Wire

According to bridal shower protocol, it is customary for the bride to present the host with a small gift and a thank-you card as a gesture of gratitude for their efforts in organizing the event. On the other hand, guests are not expected to bring a thank-you gift for the host, as they are already giving a gift to the bride.

10. You must send thank-you cards following the shower

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.

Bridal shower etiquette for the bride when sending out thank-you cards
Bridal shower etiquette for the bride when sending out thank-you cards – Photo by: Etsy

This etiquette for bridal shower thank-you notes 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

11. It’s totally okay to skip the bridal shower

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.

Bridal Shower protocol: Having A Shower Is Optional
Having a bridal shower is optional – Photo by: Mom Always Knows

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. 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.

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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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