Your dear friend is getting married! It’s time to celebrate, but how do you plan to do it? Well, the no-brainer answer is by holding a bridal shower.
A bridal shower is a party thrown in honor of a bride-to-be. It’s meant to be a celebration in anticipation of her wedding. It’s a tradition that dates as far back as the 1890s and is practiced in many countries.
While it’s now more a celebration of the upcoming wedding, the tradition started as a way for the married-couple-to-be to get financial assistance for their wedding from willing patrons.
The party has now evolved into a gift-giving event, where most of the gifts provided are meant for the couple’s home. Guests who attend a shower are expected to bring gifts. However, those who were invited but opted not to join the celebration are not expected to give gifts.
In the past, only women were allowed to join bridal showers, but it is now becoming common for friends and families of couples to hold joint showers for the bride and groom.
Planning a bridal shower
Now that you know what the occasion is all about, it’s time for planning a bridal shower. Traditionally, if you’re the maid of honor or one of the bridesmaids, you’ll be tasked to do the planning. However, anyone close to the bride can now take care of the event. If you happen to be the one assigned to it or you took it upon yourself to do it, here’s how to start. It’s not as overwhelming as it seems, especially when you’ve got all the details down pat. But if you’re still a bit iffy about taking on the challenge, we’ll help you get everything in place with this ultimate guide on how to plan a bridal shower. We’ll even include a few checklists.
Ready? Here’s where you should start.
Three months before the bridal shower
Pick a date
There’s a time for everything, they say. It’s true. And that applies to the bridal shower, too. Just like the wedding, you need to zero in on a date. Make sure that most of the people you invite are available on the date but don’t wait too long that it’s already too near the date of the wedding.
You’d want to have time to revel in the occasion. But you don’t want to have the guests celebrating in your honor for too long either.
You’d want to build up momentum for the big day and not bore your guests by holding it too early from the wedding day. The best way to go is to schedule it one to three months before the ceremony.
Holding the shower the same month as the wedding is alright, but it would be realistically too much to handle. There will be lots of planning for the wedding, and the focus should be there. Plus, it can also be quite draining for not only the bride but also the attendees to have such big events crammed into each other.
Make the guest list
Once you’ve finalized the date, it’s time to make the guest list. It’s important to finalize the guest list as early as you can so you can start inviting people and getting their confirmation. The earlier you are able to finalize the list, the easier it would be for you to get a hold of people.
Getting confirmation and making sure that they are available can entail a lot of going back and forth in communication, so it’s best to get this straightened out as early as possible. But how do you figure out whom to invite to the party? Here are a few questions to ask yourself while making the list.
- Has the bride talked to this person recently? Or at least in the last year or so?
The bride would want to be surrounded by people whom she values. They can be people from different times in her life. But it’s not exactly ideal to invite someone the bride has known in 3rd grade but have never spoken to since.
If the bride hasn’t got in touch with them in the last decade, it’s safe to say they no longer have a connection. This applies to family members as well. If they’re part of the immediate family, invite them in a heartbeat.
If they’re a distant relative who can’t even remember the bride, you don’t need to feel obliged to put them in the list even though they’re related.
- Would they invite the bride to their wedding?
It’s not an issue of closeness but more of a comfortability in witnessing such a personal occasion. Is the bride on a level of relationship with the guest that they can be sure that the favor would be returned should the tables get turned.
- Would the bride regret not spending the day with them?
No matter the relationship, it’s important to gather people who are important to the bride. Ask your friend for a list of names of people who cannot not be part of her wedding journey. That said, make sure that all the invited parties to the wedding shower are also invited to the wedding. It would be awkward to have someone part of one aspect of the celebration but not the other.
Pick a theme
Once you’re done with the guest list, it’s time to think about the party itself. What would the guests be interested in partaking in?
Before you get to the minor details, you need to decide on what would anchor them. It’s time to pick a theme. You’d want the party to be memorable, so it’s important to choose something that will leave not only the bride but also the guests with memories to look back to.
So how do you pick a theme? Here are a few things to do to make it easier for you.
- Ask the bride about her interests.
Chances are you already know the bride’s passions and interests. You aren’t the maid of honor or bridesmaid for nothing. But it’s still best to be accurate, and the best way to arrive at a concrete answer is by getting it from the horse’s mouth.
Ask your bride about the one thing she loves doing the most. You can do this slyly, of course, if you’re planning a secret shower. If you’re all open about the planning process, it would be great to take the load off planning from the bride but you’d also want to still involve her.
- Consider the date.
In what season will the shower be held? You can also take cues from that. While there’s no right or wrong way to pick a theme, it makes sense to pick one that’s in line with the season. If it’s during the summer, a beach theme would be nice. If it’s during the winter, something about white would be ideal.
- Consider the wedding theme.
You can streamline the experience of partaking in the bride’s wedding journey by making sure that the theme of her wedding and her shower are aligned. It’s easier this way, too, as it will save you a bit of time racking your brain for a good theme. One thing you need to consider above anything else, though, is that the bride should like it. After all, the party would be held in her honor.
To give you an idea, here are some themes you can explore.
You can never go wrong with a classic. Make romance the theme of the shower by incorporating details that never go out of style. Choose a color that’s always on-trend like white or gold. Make sure there are lots of flowers and candles for that rustic, romantic touch.
This one’s a different take on the beach theme but more streamlined. So instead of just having a party with the ocean in mind, this one makes it easier for your because there are elements that are already present — red, white and blue are the usual colors; stripes and chevron are the usual patterns; and wood and ropes are the usual props.
If the bride’s a laid-back girl through and through, go for a backyard BBQ. It’s the perfect theme for someone casual. Just jazz up your backyard a bit with flowers, lights and serve picnic food or BBQ, and you’re all set.
If the bride’s a little bit dainty, go for a tea party. You can decorate the place to look like the party is a traditional British afternoon for tea or get more creative and go Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter theme. Make sure there are lots of flowers and ribbons all around for that dainty touch.
Glam Pajama Party
Slumber parties were so fun when you were younger, so why not hold one now that you’re an adult? You can opt to wear pajamas like you used to or tread a more adult route and ask your guests to wear lingerie. Decorate the venue with simple embellishments. Plan fun games and serve food that you would usually have like pizza.
Select a location
After settling all those, it’s time to pick the wedding shower venue. Selecting a location can be quite a daunting task, but if you get to tick all the items in this checklist, you’ll have an easier time. So what do you need to consider?
This one’s a big item in the book. You want to make the bride feel special, but you don’t want to go broke in the process. There are definitely some areas you can cut costs on, and you can try the location as one.
In the past, showers and hen parties were held in the house of the bride. If this is a feasible option, you’ve already covered the cost for this. If not, scout for places that charge reasonably. You can also try to bargain.
Of course, you also need to consider the theme of the shower. You wouldn’t want to bring people poolside for a winter-themed shower. Look for locations that would be perfect for the theme of the party you’ll be throwing.
- The number of guests
You’ll also need to consider the number of attendees. It would be wise to pick a place that can house all the guests comfortably. Somewhere that’s not cramped is ideal.
Make the invitations
Once all the details are ready, it’s time to start making the invitations for the bridal shower. Of course, you have the option to make the invitations yourself or have them professionally made. Here are some options you can consider.
- You can buy templates, fill them out with the necessary details and have them printed. There are lots of places to get templates from. You can try Etsy or Creative Market.
- If you want to try your hand at a bit of creativity, you can go to Canva and try creating your own design. Buy inexpensive but quite elegant paper and have your design printed onto them.
- You can also solicit the help of one of the bridesmaids in making the invitations. You can get crafty and make some really kitschy invitations.
- If you’re unsure, ask for professional help. There are so many vendors for this. Find local vendors through The Knot Marketplace or Wedding Wire.
- Another option you can choose is going paperless. While a tangible invitation has a certain charm, sending digital invitations is definitely a viable option. Not only would it be easier to create, it would also be easier to get confirmations. Here are just some of the sites you can check out: Green Envelope, Minted, Evite, Pingg, and Punchbowl.
Two to three months before the shower
Send the invitations
After you get the invitations ready, it’s time to send them out. Before you get overwhelmed by the idea of sending them and sending follow-ups, here are some guidelines to help you streamline your process and make sure that you get answers on time.
- Send the invitations as early as you can.
If the guests are locals, sending them the invitations at least two weeks before the party is ideal.
- A week after sending out the invitations, do reach out to guests who have not confirmed to follow-up on their attendance.
- Do a final follow-up a week before the party, in case there are those who cannot commit till that date.
If you’re not confident about managing the list on your own, there are also apps to help you take care of it. The Knot has a guest list manager. You can also try this guest list tracker by Style Me Pretty. They’re made for weddings, but the system they use for managing the guest list can be used for just about any type of event.
One month before the shower
Finalize decorations for the venue
You’ve already finalized all the major details, it’s time to zoom into the little ones for the bridal shower. Now that you’ve set the theme and venue, it’s time to think of the decorations. You should definitely choose decors that are in line with the party’s theme.
There are some decorations, however, that can be used for any type of theme. A bunting for the wedding shower cake, for example, is a versatile little detail. Personalized letter garlands can also be used for just about any type of theme. Succulents, just like flowers, are also versatile decorations for any bridal shower theme. Candles are always great for setting the mood of a venue. Balloons are festive additions to any party. Mason jars can be used not just for the drinks but also as holders of different things like candles, straws, utensils and more.
You can also use your favors as part of the decorations for the venue. You want your guests to remember the party even long after it has ended. A good way to ensure that it happens is by gifting the guests with favors that are not only unique but are also incredibly useful. Depending on the theme of the wedding, there are so many favors you can give away.
Think of the food
What’s a party without food? You’d want to serve the guests with something delectable, of course. And it would be great if the food is related to the party’s theme.
Although there’s nothing wrong about serving tried-and-tested selections such as a dessert table or a breakfast menu. If you want to be perfect, here are a few things to consider.
- You don’t need to take the theme literally. Say, you’re aiming for a beach-themed wedding, but you can’t source good tropical fruits or good seafood in your area. You can opt for dishes and other food options that can be made to look like them instead. Think cupcakes, cookies, and more.
- Think of your offerings as a way of telling a story. You can think of one dish as the prelude to something. And of course, you finish off with something sweet.
- You can make the food yourself. That’s, of course, considering you have good experience in the kitchen. If not, you can always get a caterer. But to cut a bit down on costs, you can also ask some of the guests if they would be willing to bring food for everyone.
- Make sure that you tell your guests about the food beforehand as well. Also consider if a guest is allergic to an ingredient or is following a certain type of diet.
Finalise activities for the party
It’s time for some more fun! Get into game-planning mode (pun intended) by thinking of activities to do during the party. Make sure your guests are entertained by planning things for them to do. Here are some fun things you can do.
Played the same way as the traditional bingo, this iteration focuses on the wedding. So instead of numbers printed on the cards, this one has wedding-related words.
What’s in your purse?
Similar to the typical what’s in your purse game, this one would require participation from the guests. But instead of having to list the items, you can just get a checklist to use. What’s fun is that the items have corresponding points, so it can double as a points race.
Pass the love story
It’s like pass the message, but the message is the couple’s love story. Someone will tell the story of the couple’s journey to marriage. The message would be passed on to one guest to another, and the last person in line has to tell the story as accurately as possible.
Planning a bridal shower, especially one that is meaningful to you, can be quite daunting. But there’s nothing a little research and a lot of patience can’t help you with. Now that you’ve learned the basics of planning a wedding shower, you’re all set to make a remarkable one.