What is a bridal shower? Important things you need to know

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Have you ever found yourself asking, “What is a bridal shower?“. If you’re a newbie to the world of weddings and all its delightful traditions, you may have wondered about this. Don’t worry; we will be there for you at all times. Today, Viva Wedding Photography is here to help you with the basics of planning one of these happy events. Such matters as the selection of invitees, the activities to partake in, the financial responsibilities, and other pertinent details shall be expounded upon.

What is a bridal shower?

what is a bridal shower
People help the bride-to-be prepare for her married life – Photo by: Brides

A bridal shower is a celebration held before the wedding. It’s an opportunity for the bride’s nearest and dearest friends and family members to come together and celebrate the occasion.

Similar to the tradition of baby showers, a bridal shower serves as a chance to “shower” the bride with gifts, well wishes, and excitement for their forthcoming nuptials.

It is crucial to highlight the difference between “What is a bridal shower?” and “What is a wedding shower?”. The traditional bridal shower typically revolves around the bride and her close-knit circle of female friends and family members.  On the other hand, wedding showers are a more up-to-date and inclusive version of bridal showers. Both men and women are welcome to celebrate the upcoming wedding.

What is the purpose of a bridal shower?

what is the purpose of a bridal shower
What is a bridal shower aim for? – Photo by: Beyond the Ponytail

The main point of a bridal shower is to gather all the bride’s closest female friends and family members (either at a restaurant or some other destination) to celebrate her upcoming marriage and shower her with gifts and well wishes.

This is quality time that the bride can spend with her dearest ones ahead of the wedding day to enjoy all of the festivities that the event brings.

When do you have a bridal shower?

When do you have a bridal shower?
When Should a Bridal Shower Take Place? – Photo by: Stewart Leishman

According to etiquette, the bridal shower is often held between two weeks and two months before the wedding day. If you’re hosting, scheduling this way can help you avoid conflicts with other pre-wedding events, such as the bachelorette party or rehearsal dinner. It also gives the guests enough time to RSVP and shop for gifts. 

However, this is not a strict rule, and you can choose any date that works best for you and your situation. For instance, if you have guests traveling from long distances. We recommend scheduling the shower closer to the wedding date so they don’t have to travel twice. 

When selecting a bridal shower date, 2 important things that you need to consider: 

  • The preferences and desires of the bride (and the groom, if applicable), especially their wedding plans. 
  • Avoid big holidays or holiday weekends to reduce the likelihood of guests having prior plans or commitments.

>>> Maybe you’re interested in: When Should You Have A Bridal Shower? The Ultimate Guide To Avoid Timing Mistakes

Where to have a bridal shower?

 Where to have a bridal shower?
 Where Should a Bridal Shower Take Place? – Photo by: The Venue Report

There are no hard-and-fast rules when choosing a location for a bridal shower. You can host it anywhere else that suits your theme and budget. 

The most important thing is to make sure that the venue is comfortable, accessible, and spacious enough for your guest list. You should also consider the weather, parking, and catering choices when choosing a venue. Here are some popular locations regarding the question, “Where to have a bridal shower?“:

  • Home: The most traditional and cost-effective place to have a bridal shower is at home, whether it be the host’s home or that of another guest (typically a close friend or family member). 
  • Restaurant: A restaurant provides an inviting and comfortable atmosphere, making it an ideal choice for hosting a bridal party.  
  • Winery: You can host a bridal shower at a local winery or vineyard for a sophisticated and scenic celebration. 

Who throws the bridal shower?

Who throws the bridal shower?
Who’s Responsible for Hosting the Bridal Shower? – Photo by: Wedding Ideas Magazine

Traditionally, the bridal shower was a women-only affair, and it was usually hosted by the maid of honor or a close friend of the bride. However, in recent years, bridal showers have become more inclusive and flexible, and there are no strict rules about who can throw a party. Some possible hosts for a bridal shower are:

  • The mother of the bride or the mother-in-law: In the past, etiquette dictated that the couple’s mothers should not host the shower, as it might seem like they were asking for gifts for their children. But nowadays, it’s widely acceptable for mothers to host or co-host this celebration.
  • The bridesmaids or the bridal party: Another common option is to have the bridesmaids or the entire bridal party host the shower as a group. This can help split responsibilities among multiple people, making the planning process less stressful and more enjoyable.
  • A family member or a relative: Sometimes, a family member or a relative of the bride or the groom may offer to host the shower, especially if they have a larger home or a better location for the event.

Ultimately, whoever throws the bridal shower should be someone close to the bride and willing and able to host a memorable event. The host should also communicate with the bride (and any other key players) to make sure they are comfortable with the guest list, theme, date, and other details of the shower.

Who pays for the bridal shower? 

who pays for the bridal shower
Bridal Shower Etiquette: Who Pays? – Photo by: Jennings Trace

According to bridal shower etiquette, whoever throws the celebration should also cover all associated costs. As mentioned above, the maid of honor and the rest of the wedding party are typically responsible for paying for the bridal party.

The host often pays for the bridal shower, but others (like the groom’s mother or bridesmaids) can contribute if they want. Depending on the host’s budget, she can also ask for help from other guests or co-hosts to share expenses. It is completely acceptable for the entire bridal party to contribute equally to the total costs.

Who gets invited to the bridal shower?

Who gets invited to the bridal shower?
Who to invite to a bridal shower? – Photo by: White Sand Weddings

The guest list should include people who are also invited to the wedding, as it would be rude and awkward to invite someone to the shower but not the main event. 

Traditionally, the bridal shower is a women-only affair, consisting of the bride-to-be’s closest female friends and relatives and the close relatives of her spouse-to-be, such as their mother, sisters, grandmother, or other family members. 

However, modern couples may opt for a coed or joint shower that includes partners, friends, and family of all genders. So there isn’t a clear answer to the question “Who gets invited to the bridal shower?” as it’s all up to the host’s budget and venue capacity. But it would be better if you keep the number of guests intimate and manageable.

>>> Maybe you’re interested in: Bridal Shower Invitation Wording: Examples & Etiquette

What happens at a bridal shower? 

A bridal shower is a delightful and joyous occasion to honor and celebrate the soon-to-be bride. But what exactly happens at a bridal shower, and what can you expect as a guest or a host? 

What you do at the bridal party depends on the preference of the hostess and the bride. However, all bridal showers share some common activities: 

Guests arrive and enjoy food and beverages 

What happens at a bridal shower in the initial hour? 
What happens at a bridal shower in the initial hour?  – Photo by: BestProducts

As with most celebratory events, the host welcomes the guests and invites them to enjoy refreshments. During the initial hour of an event, it is customary to offer delectable appetizers and refreshing beverages to tantalize attendees’ taste buds. Afterward, guests are usually requested to find their assigned seating.

Once everyone has found their seat, a delectable meal is often served. Depending on the theme and the venue, the food and beverages can range from a simple brunch or tea party to a lavish cocktail hour or dinner.

The crowd plays games

What happens at a bridal shower in game session?
Playing games is one of the expected activities at a bridal shower – Photo by: Creative Union Design

After everyone has settled in, the host introduces some games to break the ice and entertain the guests. The games can include trivia, bingo, charades, advice cards, or even crafts that the guests can take home as favors. 

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

The bride opens gifts 

what is a birdal shower - gift unwrapping etiquette
Bridal shower etiquette: Gift unwrapping

The main event of the bridal shower is the gift opening, where the bride opens shower gifts received from the guests. 

In some cases, unwrapping presents at the party may make the bride uncomfortable for several reasons, such as:

  • She doesn’t want to make anyone who didn’t bring a present feel awkward.
  • She worries she will bore the guests and ruin the cheerful party atmosphere.
  • She’d rather spend the time eating, drinking, and socializing with her gathered loved ones.

Then, this activity is not compulsory. As an alternative, we suggest having a display shower. This is where guests bring their gifts in an unwrapped state, and they are “displayed” on a table for everyone to see. To hold a successful display shower,  it’s essential to explain the process to guests in advance and provide them with labels or pens to mark their presents.

How long should a bridal shower be?

How Long Should a Bridal Shower Really Be?
Bridal Shower Etiquette: Normal time for a bridal shower – Photo by: WeddingWire

One of the most common questions about bridal showers is how long they should last. The answer depends on several factors, such as the number of guests, the type of activities, and the preferences of the host and the bride-to-be.

However, a general rule of thumb is to keep the bridal shower between two and four hours. Anything shorter and guests might feel rushed or left out; anything longer and they might get bored or restless.

Three hours might be ideal for most bridal showers, as it gives enough time for mingling, eating, playing games, and opening gifts without dragging on too long. 

>>> Read more:

A bridal shower is not just a pre-wedding party. It’s a fabulous celebration of the bride-to-be and her upcoming wedding. It’s also a chance for guests to express their love and generosity by giving gifts that will help the couple start their new life together. Whether you’re the bride, the hostess, or a guest, Viva Wedding Photograph hopes this article has answered your question, “What is a bridal shower?” and everything else you need to know about this wonderful and exciting event

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