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

Photo of author

By Audrey

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 details shall be expounded upon.

What is a bridal shower?

In short, a bridal shower is a pre-wedding celebration where friends and family gather to honor the bride before the wedding festivities begin. Like most celebrations, weddings typically involve food and drinks, along with fun games that engage and energize the guests, adding to the festive atmosphere of the occasion.

Typically held as the second-biggest event in the pre-wedding parties, it is a time for the bride to celebrate and for guests to give her the presents she will need to start her new life as a wife.

what is a bridal shower
Bridal shower definition – Photo by: Brides

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?

After understanding the bridal shower definition, you might wonder, “What is the main point of a bridal shower?”

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

From past to present, a bridal shower is more than just a gift-giving party; it’s also a chance for the bride’s closest friends and family to get to know each other before the wedding. The bridal shower is often the perfect occasion for the bride and groom’s extended family members to meet each other, especially if they haven’t had the chance to do so before. So, in sum, the main purpose of a bridal shower is to celebrate the bride and foster meaningful interactions among those closest to the couple.

This may also be the first opportunity for the whole bridal party to meet face-to-face. If they’ve already met, the bridal shower is just another chance to get to know each other better. If they’ve met before, this gathering is merely an additional occasion for them to spend more time together.

When do you have a bridal shower?

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. 

When do you have a bridal shower?
When should a bridal shower be held? – Photo by: Stewart Leishman

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 out-of-town guests, we recommend scheduling the shower closer to the wedding date so they don’t have to travel twice.

Before deciding “When do you have a bridal shower?“, there are two 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.

>>> Further reading: When Should You Have A Bridal Shower? The Ultimate Guide To Avoid Mistakes

Who throws the bridal shower?

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

Who throws the bridal shower?
Who’s responsible for hosting the bridal shower? – Photo by: Wedding Ideas Magazine

If you’re one of these people, you can be the person who throws the bridal shower:

  • 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 bridal shower 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.

>>> Recommend reading: What to Wear to a Bridal Shower as the Bride

Who pays for the bridal shower?

In short, 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.

who pays for the bridal shower
Who throws the bridal shower also pays for it – Photo by: Jennings Trace

The host is typically the person who 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.

Where to have a bridal shower?

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.

 Where to have a bridal shower?
 Where should a bridal shower be held? – Photo by: The Venue Report

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 for 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 gets invited to the bridal shower?

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, relatives, and the close relatives of her spouse-to-be, such as their mother, sisters, grandmother, or other family members.

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

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 to 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 preferences 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.

When it comes to what happens at a bridal shower, the main event is the gift opening, where the bride opens shower gifts received from the guests. 

what is a birdal shower - gift unwrapping etiquette
Gift unwrapping is optional – Photo by: Brides

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 worried she would 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?
What is a bridal shower party length? – Photo by: WeddingWire

Bridal showers typically have a shorter duration compared to the wedding itself, usually lasting between two to four hours. However, the shower length can vary depending on various factors such as the number of guests, the type of activities, and the preferences of the host and the bride-to-be.

An intimate wedding shower held at a private residence typically lasts between two to three hours and has around 20 attendees. On the other hand, a wedding shower hosted at a venue with a sit-down meal and a guest list of 50 or more people usually lasts between four to five hours.

>>> 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.

5/5 - (1 vote)
Audrey Avatar

Leave a Comment