A bridal shower is a joyous occasion and one of the most important events leading up to the wedding day. While it is less formal than a wedding, there are a lot of tasks involved with putting together a successful bridal shower.
Whether you’re throwing a bridal shower all on your own or partnering with some of the bride’s other friends and family members, it’s essential to start the planning process prepared. Viva Wedding Photography is delighted to give you a hand. Here’s a handy bridal shower planning checklist to assist you in creating an unforgettable party for the bride-to-be.
3+ Months Before
Decide who will host.
The first step in the checklist for planning a bridal shower is to decide who will host the bridal shower. Traditionally, the maid of honor or a close friend of the bride would take on this role, but nowadays, anyone can host the shower, including the bride’s mother, sister, aunt, or cousin. The host is responsible for planning and paying for the shower, so make sure you choose someone who is willing and able to take on this task. You can also have more than one host and split the duties and expenses among them.
Talk to the bride about the type of shower desired
As the bridal shower is all about the bride, make sure to talk to the bride and get her insights and opinions on what kind of shower she’d like. Some brides may have a clear vision of their ideal shower, while others may leave it up to you. Either way, you should ask them some basic questions, such as:
- Do they want a women-only or co-ed shower?
- Do they want a formal or casual shower?
- Are there any particular bridal shower themes she would like for the shower?
- Does she have any preferences for food, drinks, games, and activities?
- Does she want to open gifts?
- Does she have a specific venue or color scheme in mind?
These questions will help you narrow down your options and plan a shower that suits the bride’s personality and style.
Confirm the budget
Before setting any tasks in your bridal shower planning checklist, it’s always good to get clear about how much you can spend.
The budget will depend on several factors, such as:
- The number of guests
- The venue
- The food and drinks
- The decorations
- The favors
- The invitations
- The games and prizes
Set and stick to a reasonable budget that aligns with your financial capabilities. You can also ask the other hosts or guests to chip in if needed.
Before you get too far into the planning process, make sure to:
- Take a look at your finances, be realistic about how much you can afford, and stick to it.
- You can also ask the other hosts or guests to chip in if needed. This will give you more money to throw a more memorable celebration without going into debt.
Set a date for the shower
When creating a bridal shower planning checklist, finding a suitable date for the event is another important step to consider.
Typically, the ideal time to have a bridal shower is about two months before the wedding, but you can also have it earlier or later, depending on your schedule and availability. Before finalizing the date and time, we recommend you keep a few things in mind, including:
- Consider the season, the weather, and any holidays or events that may conflict with the shower date.
- Consult with the bride, the other hosts, and the guests of honor to nail down a date that works for everyone’s schedules.
- An ideal bridal shower date should be no closer than one month from the wedding date.
Pick a bridal shower theme
While having a theme isn’t an essential box in the bridal shower planning checklist, it can make your shower more fun and memorable, as well as easier to plan on other things like invitations, food options, and decor.
Feel free to embrace your creative spirit and let your imagination soar! To kickstart your event planning journey, consider exploring some well-liked themes, such as a brunch and bubbly theme, a rustic theme, a wine-tasting theme, or even a flower-arranging party.
Whatever you choose, it should make sense for the bride’s personality and everyday interests.
>>> Further reading: Tea Party Bridal Shower: 25 Creative Tips And Ideas In 2024
Create the guest list
The guest list will depend on your budget, venue capacity, and type of shower. Generally speaking, you should invite people who are close to the bride and/or couple, such as their family members, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. It would be better to have the bride or couple give you a list of any people they want to invite or exclude from their showers.
- Make sure to get the bride’s opinion before finalizing the guest list.
- Everyone invited to the bridal shower must be invited to the wedding.
Choose and book a venue
Once you’ve selected a date and theme and have a guest count, deciding where the event should be held is the next task to complete in the checklist for bridal shower.
In many cases, the bride’s mother or a close relative would often offer their house for use if it is conveniently located. If that option is not available, utilize the season and the number of guests to narrow down your selection.
When choosing to have your bridal shower at a restaurant, hotel, or event space, you should consider the venue’s amenities, services, and policies (such as catering, parking, music, and cancellation). We suggest booking your venue as early as possible to secure your date and other tasks in the bridal shower planning timeline.
Vendors can provide professional and quality services that enhance your shower experience. If you’re planning to hire vendors such as caterers or photographers, now is the time to do so. When you do this task, remember:
- Communicate with them clearly about your expectations, preferences, and requirements.
- Hire your vendors as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute issues.
Make sure the couple has finalized their registry
Guests traditionally bring gifts to a bridal shower, and based on the registry, they can choose the perfect gifts for the couple without any guesswork or duplication. You should encourage the couple to create and update their registry before sending out the invitations.
2 Months Before
Select, Order, and Send Invitations
The invitations are the first impression of your bridal shower, so you might want to make them attractive and informative. You can either buy ready-made invitations from a store or online or make your own invitations using software or a website.
If you’re ordering bridal shower invitations, consider ordering them even further in advance. It’s advisable to add some extra in case of mistakes or changes.
Be sure the invitations include all important details:
- The name of the bride and/or couple
- The date and time of the shower
- The venue name and address
- The RSVP deadline and contact information
- The registry information
- Any other details or instructions
We recommend sending out your invitations at least six weeks before the shower to give your guests enough time to respond, plan their schedules, and buy a gift.
Finalize decisions on decor and shop for any needed supplies
The first step to choosing decorations is determining how much you’re willing to spend on dressing up your venue. Then, you can go as simple or as elaborate as you want with the bridal shower decorations, depending on the theme, venue, and the bride’s personality.
Fresh flowers in lovely vessels, candles in mason jars, paper garlands, banners or balloons, or anything else that corresponds with the shower theme can be used as shower decorations.
Give yourself enough time to purchase all the decorations from stores and, if necessary, to order them online. Make sure you receive all of them at least two to three weeks before the event.
Plan the menu
Choosing the menu may be a challenging box to tick off in the bridal shower planning checklist, especially for first-time planners, as there are endless options to choose from.
The menu is one of the most important aspects of your bridal shower, as it will affect the mood and satisfaction of your guests. You should plan the menu based on your budget, theme, venue, and guest list.
For the food, you can choose between a full meal or a light snack, depending on the time and duration of your shower. You can also choose between a buffet or a plated service, depending on the space and staff of your venue. Consider offering a variety of dishes that cater to different tastes and needs, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or allergy-friendly options for your guests.
For the drinks, you can choose between alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, depending on the tone and style of your shower. You can also choose between a self-serve or bartender service, depending on the availability and cost of your venue. You should have a selection of drinks that complement your food and theme, such as water, juice, soda, tea, coffee, wine, champagne, cocktails, or mocktails. You should also have some ice, cups, napkins, straws, and stirrers for your guests.
Two pieces of advice for planning the menu are:
- Stick to the menu that suits the bride’s preferences
- Choose foods and drinks that are easily served.
1 Month Before
Plan out the bridal shower games and activities
While games are not always necessary to include, they are a good way to help your guests break the ice, especially if many of them have never met before. Plan the games for a natural lull in the bridal shower itinerary, such as after everyone has finished eating and before the bride opens her gifts.
Some classic bridal shower games to get started: bridal bingo, wedding mad libs, and guessing trivia about the bride.
If you plan to have bridal shower games, you’ll want to gather the necessary supplies beforehand. And if any of those supplies need to be printed, make sure to stock up on printer toner – you don’t want to run out at the last minute while attempting to print everything for the guests!
As the bridal shower date gets closer, it is important to contact all the vendors you have booked in advance to confirm the important details:
- The date and time of the shower
- The venue name and address
- The contact person and phone number
- The delivery or pickup time and location
- The payment method and amount
- The cancellation policy and fee
- The backup plan in case of any issues
2 Weeks Before
Choose and purchase bridal shower gifts
The favors are one of the most thoughtful parts of the bridal shower, as they will show your gratitude and generosity to your guests. It is advisable to choose gifts that are useful and meaningful, such as mugs, candles, soap, or something related to the shower theme.
If your favors need to be created, wrapped, or tagged, prepare them ahead of time rather than leaving DIY projects until the last minute.
Create a playlist
While music isn’t the main focus of the day, it’s nice to have some background sound while guests arrive, mingle, and enjoy their beverages. Make a bridal shower playlist of songs that are both mood-boosting and age-appropriate – bonus points if they are about romance or marriage!
1 Week Before
Confirm the RSVPs
The RSVPs are the responses from your guests that will tell you if they are coming to your shower or not. Add the task of confirming the RSVPs in your bridal shower planning checklist to get an accurate headcount of your guests, as well as their names and contact information. Also, don’t forget to confirm any special requests or needs they may have, such as dietary restrictions, allergies, or accessibility.
For the final count, remember to update your guest list with the confirmed RSVPs and add any plus-ones or last-minute changes. After finalizing everything, inform your venue and vendors about the final guest count and make any necessary adjustments to your budget, menu, seating, etc.
Create a day-of timeline
The day-of timeline is a document that will help you organize and execute your bridal shower smoothly and efficiently. It will include all the details and tasks that you need to do before, during, and after the shower. It will also include the time and duration of each activity and event. Here is an example of a bridal shower planning timeline for the big day:
- 9:00 AM: Arrive at the venue with the other hosts
- 9:15 AM: Set up the furniture
- 9:30 AM: Set up the tables
- 9:45 AM: Set up the decorations
- 10:00 AM: Set up the food
- 10:15 AM: Set up the drinks
- 10:30 AM: Set up the cake
- 10:45 AM: Set up the favors
- 11:00 AM: Set up the games
- 11:15 AM: Set up the music
- 11:30 AM: Check everything is ready
- 12:00 PM: Greet the guests
- 12:15 PM: Serve the food
- 12:30 PM: Play the games
- 1:00 PM: Cut the cake
- 1:15 PM: Open the gifts
- 1:30 PM: Give the favors
- 1:45 PM: Thank the guests
- 2:00 PM: End the shower
- 2:15 PM: Clean up the venue
- 2:30 PM: Leave the venue
You should share your day-of timeline with the other hosts and vendors to ensure the shower day will go smoothly. We suggest bringing a printed copy of it with you on the shower day to help you host the celebration without missing out on anything.
1 Day Before
You’re almost in the final period of the bridal shower planning timeline! You’ve done most of the preparation for your bridal party, but there are still some things you need to do to make sure everything is ready for the big day.
Depending on where you’re throwing the bridal shower, you may be able to set up the space early. Check with your venue and vendors if they allow early access or delivery. If you can, set up as much as you can for your shower one day before to save time and avoid stress on the day of.
Some things to think about setting up the day before the shower (if possible) include:
- The bar table or area
- The gift table or area
- Games and/or activities
- Make-ahead food and drink items
Check things off the list
Check tasks and items off your planning list the day before to ensure you have all you need for the following day. Double-checking is always a good idea; make sure everything is working and in order so that you don’t have to scramble on the shower day.
The Day Of
It has finally arrived! Soon, you’ll be able to celebrate all your hard work, but first, there are some things in the bridal shower planning checklist that you need to do.
We recommend arriving at the wedding shower venue at least one to two hours early for adequate time to finish setting everything up. That may seem like a lot of time, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Extra time will also give you breathing room before switching to full-on hostess mode.
Create a ribbon bouquet
While the bride-to-be is unwrapping her gifts, have a member of the bridal party gather all of the ribbons to make a lovely ornamental bouquet. It’s a custom for the bride to take the ribbon bouquet from her bridal shower down the aisle during the wedding rehearsal, not just a nice keepsake or a tick on the how to arrange a bridal shower list.
Track the gifts
This does not have to be the host’s responsibility, but someone should keep a spreadsheet of the presents the bride receives. With this information, it would be easier for her to send out thank-you cards.
>>> Further reading: How To Write Heartwarming Bridal Shower Thank You Cards
Finally, take a break from worrying about the little things that could go wrong; just enjoy the love, joy, and excitement of the bridal party after all the work you’ve put into making this day special for the bride.
>>> Further reading:
- 23 Fun Bridal Shower Game Ideas To Play With Your Guests
- What Is A Bridal Shower? Important Things You Need To Know
- Modern Bridal Shower Etiquette You Should Know In 2024
Congratulations on hosting a successful bridal shower! You’ve done a great job of planning and preparing everything for the big day. You’ve also made the bride-to-be and her guests happy and satisfied. Now you can relax and have fun in the rest of the wedding festivities. Viva Wedding Photography hopes this bridal shower planning checklist was helpful and useful for you.