Best Bridal Shower Planning Tips: A Step-by-Step Guide
Planning a bridal shower? You’re in the right place! This special event is all about celebrating the bride-to-be, and it’s your chance to make it a day she’ll never forget. Let’s dive into the details, shall we?
Step 1: Decide Who Is Hosting The Bridal Shower
Traditionally, if you follow etiquette the Maid of Honor or Bridesmaids often take on the role of hosting the bridal shower.
In the past, it was considered a bad form for the bride’s mother or a close female relative to organize the bridal shower. It might have given the impression that the family was only out to get the gifts.
However, modern practices are more flexible, and it can vary based on relationships, preferences, and circumstances.
In some cultures or families, it’s common for a close family member like a mother or sister to host. It’s wise to understand any family expectations or traditions.
Sometimes, a group of people may choose to co-host the bridal shower. This can be a great way to share responsibilities and costs.
- Friends Co-Hosting: Bridesmaids or close friends can collaborate.
- Family and Friends Co-Hosting: A mix of family members and friends can create a more inclusive celebration.
- Couple’s Shower: If the groom’s side wants to be involved, a co-ed shower hosted by both families or friends might be suitable.
Communication is Key
Open and honest communication among potential hosts can prevent misunderstandings. A clear discussion about expectations, responsibilities, and budget is crucial.
If there are sensitive family dynamics or friendships, consider them when deciding on the host. The goal is to create a joyful and drama-free event.
Step 2: Set A Date
The next question is when does a bridal shower typically take place?
The ideal timeframe for hosting a bridal shower is one to three months before the wedding.
Before booking a venue and sending invitations, make sure everyone in the bridal party is available first, including the bride’s and the groom’s mothers.
Pro Tip: Start Early. Begin planning at least three months in advance. This gives you time to sort out the details and allows guests to mark their calendars.
It’s also a good idea to spread out the date for the bridal shower and bachelorette parties so that they don’t happen too close to each other.
In addition, hosting your bridal shower too close to the wedding day can be hectic and stressful. Chances are your wedding timeline is already hectic enough without having to worry about finalizing shower details a week or two before the big day.
Plus, people may already be feeling wedding fatigue by the time the shower rolls around if it’s held too close to the wedding. If you can help it, try to schedule your bridal shower at least a month or two before the wedding day.
Step 3: Selecting the Perfect Location
A. Align with the Theme
The location should resonate with the chosen theme. A garden party theme might be best in a beautiful botanical garden, while a spa-themed shower could be at a local spa.
B. Consider the Guest List
Think about the number of guests and their needs:
- Size: Ensure the venue can comfortably accommodate everyone.
- Accessibility: Consider guests with mobility issues; ramps and elevators might be necessary.
- Proximity: Choose a location convenient for most guests, especially if many are traveling from out of town.
C. Evaluate the Budget
Different venues come with different price tags. Consider rental fees, catering costs, and any additional charges like parking or equipment rental.
D. Indoor vs. Outdoor
Weather can be unpredictable, so weigh the pros and cons:
- Outdoor Venues: Offer natural beauty but may require a backup plan for bad weather.
- Indoor Venues: Provide shelter and controlled climate but might lack the ambiance of an outdoor setting.
E. Think About Amenities
Consider what the venue offers:
- Catering Options: Some venues provide catering, while others allow outside food.
- Audio/Visual Equipment: If you need microphones or projectors, check availability.
- Decor Restrictions: Some places have rules about decorations, so inquire in advance.
F. Home Sweet Home
Don’t overlook the possibility of hosting the shower at someone’s home. It can be intimate, personal, and budget-friendly.
G. Unique Venues
Think outside the box for a memorable experience:
- Art Galleries: For a sophisticated vibe.
- Vineyards: Perfect for wine lovers.
- Beach Houses: For a relaxed, coastal theme.
H. Visit in Person
If possible, visit the venue to get a feel for the space. Pictures can be deceiving, and an in-person visit can provide valuable insights.
I. Review Contracts Carefully
If you’re renting a venue, read the contract thoroughly. Understand cancellation policies, what’s included in the fee, and any additional costs.
J. Consider Virtual Options
If guests are spread out geographically, a virtual shower might be a fitting choice. Platforms like Zoom can host virtual gatherings.
Step 4: Set A Budget and Determine Who Helps Paying
Generally, the responsibility of covering all expenses falls upon the person hosting the party, often the Maid of Honor.
However, if the Maid of Honor cannot cover the bridal shower expenses alone, in all fairness, the footing of the bill should be shared by the bridal party and anyone who would like to contribute.
Pro Tip: Set a Clear Budget. Break down the budget into categories like venue, food, and decor, invitations, games and activities. Track expenses to avoid surprises.
Be sure the bride-to-be is not expected to pay for anything and is not approached to discuss any financials.
The Maid of Honor should clarify that everyone in the bridal party is covering their share of the celebration costs and how much they will be paying beforehand so no one feels slighted.
|Venue||$200 – $500|
|Food & Drinks||$100 – $300|
|Decorations||$50 – $150|
|Invitations||$30 – $100|
|Games & Activities||$20 – $50|
|Total||$400 – $1100|
Remember, these are just estimates. You can always find creative ways to cut costs without sacrificing fun!
Step 5: Choose a Theme
Most bridal showers are themed to match the bride’s personality.
The overall bridal shower theme is usually an informal, fun-filled get-together with various finger food, a served lunch, brunch or dinner, drinks, opening gifts, and game activities.
Unless the event is a surprise, check with the bride-to-be what colors or decorations would suit her personality and style to create an unforgettable bridal shower.
- Pro Tip: Know the Bride’s Wishes. Consult with the bride on key decisions like the guest list, theme, and date. It’s her day, so her input is vital.
Check with the bride if she has a Pinterest board on which she shares her ideas and vision for the bridal shower.
After you have a clear idea of what type of theme she likes, it is time to start planning and running with it!
Popular bridal shower ideas and themes are:
- A High Tea Afternoon Party
- A Cocktail Reception Style Party with Champagne or Bar
- A Sunday Brunch with Mimosas and Bellinis
- A Garden Party
- A Beachy-Nautical Style Bridal Shower
- A Romantic French Getaway
- A Rustic Country Lunch
- A Modern Loft Martini & Butler Passed Fingerfood Party
- A Southern Barbecue Pool Party
- A Lingerie Shower
- A Movie Themed Party (Disney, GOT, Great Gatsby)
- A Spa Day
- A Co-Ed Shower
- Vintage Glamour
Step 6: Send Invitations
For a small wedding, one rule of thumb is to invite all female relatives and friends who are also invited to the wedding. Everyone knows already the other, and you don’t have to give it a second thought.
Ultimately, it’s up to you who you invite to the bridal shower; just include all the important people in the bride’s life.
A large wedding might make it more difficult to determine who to invite, and it might be a good idea to invite only close friends, the bride’s and groom’s closest female family members, and some of the bride’s co-workers. This will keep your event more intimate, and you still maintain a group where everyone knows each other.
Just envision how you feel about your bridal shower theme overall, and then invite accordingly toward what kind of event you would like to create.
In any event, the bride should share her guest list with the Maid of Honor so she can send out invitations and plan for the best time and date.
The formal invitation for the bridal shower should go out at least four to six weeks before the event.
In addition, it is a good idea to alert everyone from far away, even before mailing invitations, by calling or texting them so they can plan better.
Make sure people RSVP before they come, so you know who will be there.
If it is a surprise bridal shower, the Maid of Honor would need to get a hold of the wedding guests through the groom or should check with the mother of the bride or anyone close who is involved with the guest list.
Step 7: Consider a Co-ed Shower
It can be great fun to host a co-ed shower (Jack and Jill shower), where both the bride and groom are celebrated together. This modern twist on the traditional bridal shower brings everyone into the mix, making it a lively and inclusive affair
Make sure the groomsmen, close male family members, and groom’s friends get an invitation.
- Groomsmen: These are the guys who stand by the groom’s side. They’re part of the wedding party, so they should definitely be on the guest list.
- Close Male Family Members: Think fathers, brothers, uncles, and cousins. They’re part of the family, and this is a family affair.
- Groom’s Friends: Don’t forget the groom’s buddies. They’ll add fun and energy to the party.
To make a co-ed wedding shower enjoyable for everyone, consider including some features and activities that appeal to both men and women. This will provide a fun and inclusive way for the men to participate in the celebration.
Make It Fun for Everyone
Now that you’ve got the guest list sorted, how do you make sure everyone has a blast? Here’s where creativity comes into play:
- Choose a Neutral Theme: Pick something that appeals to both men and women. A tropical luau or a backyard BBQ can be great choices.
- Plan Games and Activities: Think of games that everyone can enjoy. How about a couples’ trivia or a scavenger hunt?
- Serve a Variety of Food and Drinks: From cocktails to mocktails, burgers to salads, make sure there’s something for everyone.
Co-ed showers are a great idea because they include gifts for the bride and groom.
Step 8: Organize Games and Activities
No bridal shower is complete without coming up with some games to play.
Before you pick the games, think about the guests. Are they a competitive bunch? Do they love creativity? Understanding the crowd will help you choose activities that everyone will enjoy.
Playing a few games during the event keeps the party going and creates an icebreaker for new friends and family.
Fun Games and Activities
- Bridal Bingo: Customize bingo cards with wedding-related words.
- He Said, She Said: Guests guess who said what between the bride and groom.
- Toilet Paper Wedding Dress: Teams create a wedding dress out of toilet paper.
- DIY Flower Crown Station: Guests can make their own flower crowns.
- Customize a Recipe Book: Everyone brings a favorite recipe to add to a book for the bride.
- Memory Sharing: Guests write down a favorite memory with the bride.
- Ring Toss: A fun and competitive game that can be played indoors or outdoors.
- Dance Off: Let loose on the dance floor with a friendly dance competition.
Choose the best fun for your group by including games appropriate for all ages. Games where the winner receives a prize are the most fun.
- Pro Tip: Prepare for the Unexpected. Have a backup plan for outdoor events in case of bad weather. An emergency kit with essentials like safety pins or tape can be a lifesaver.
Plan the Schedule
You’ll want to space out the games and activities throughout the event. Here’s a sample schedule:
|1:30 – 2:00 pm||Welcome & Ice Breakers|
|2:00 – 2:30 pm||Bridal Bingo|
|2:30 – 3:00 pm||DIY Flower Crown Station|
|3:00 – 3:30 pm||Ring Toss|
|3:30 – 4:00 pm||Memory Sharing|
|3:30 – 4:00pm||Dance Off|
Who doesn’t love prizes? Consider small, thoughtful gifts for the winners of each game. Think scented candles, gourmet chocolates, or cute mugs.
Set Up a Photo Booth
A photo booth with props matching the theme can be a hit. It’s not just a fun activity; it creates lasting memories.
Consider Hiring a Professional
If the budget allows, consider hiring a professional game host or entertainer. They can take the pressure off and ensure everyone has a blast.
Step 9: Gifts for the Bridal Shower
It is a big deal at bridal showers to bring a meaningful present for the bride that she and the groom can enjoy. For example, something practical for the home they’re about to move into.
One of the main elements of the celebration is to shower the bride with gifts.
The concept of bridal showers began as an alternative to the dowry system in 16th century Holland when a man promised his daughter to an affluent pig farmer but refused to give her dowry if she married him.
The village people then provided useful gifts to replace the dowry to marry the man she loved.
A. Create a Gift Registry
If the bride has a gift registry, make sure to include the details in the invitations. A registry takes the guesswork out of gift-giving and ensures the bride receives items she truly wants and needs.
B. Offer Guidance
If there’s no registry, provide guests with some guidance. You can include the bride’s preferences, needs, or even a theme for the gifts.
Popular Gift Themes
- Kitchen Essentials: Think mixers, blenders, or a beautiful set of dishes.
- Spa Day at Home: Luxurious bath products, robes, and scented candles.
- Travel Gear: If the couple loves to travel, consider luggage, travel guides, or travel gift cards.
C. Organize a Group Gift
Sometimes, guests may want to pool their resources for a more substantial gift. This could be a weekend getaway, a piece of art, or a high-end kitchen appliance.
D. Set Up a Gift Table
Designate a beautiful table for the gifts. Add some decorations that match the theme of the shower, and perhaps a sign with a sweet thank-you note from the bride.
E. Plan the Gift-Opening
Decide when the bride will open the gifts. Some prefer to do this privately, while others enjoy sharing the moment with guests. If the bride chooses to open gifts at the shower, make sure to have someone jot down who gave what to make thank-you notes easier.
Gift opening works best with a smaller group, and you may want to consider skipping it when it is a large function.
Guests tend to lose interest after the 25th gift unwrap, and the entertainment factor takes a nosedive.
F. Consider Alternative Gift Ideas
Not all gifts have to be physical. Some brides appreciate contributions to a honeymoon fund, charity donations in their name, or even experiences like cooking classes or spa days.
G. Thank-You Notes
Remind the bride to send thank-you notes to all the guests. It’s a gracious way to express gratitude for their presence and presents.
Step 10: Plan the Menu
Bridal showers often feature fun themes that add a touch of excitement and creativity to the celebration. When it’s time to plan the menu, you’ll want something to match the theme and other details.
The food can be a delightful extension of the theme. Planning a garden party? Think fresh salads and herbal teas. A spa-themed shower? Light and healthy options might be the way to go.
Whether you’re catering or cooking, make sure to have options for everyone’s tastes and dietary needs
Think about what kind of shower this will be: a brunch celebration, luncheon, afternoon party, an outdoor BBQ, or a fancy dinner.
Make sure there are options for any special dietary needs, i.e., gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, kosher, etc., guests might note on their RSVPs.
Types of Meals
- Sit-Down Meal: Elegant and formal, perfect for a sophisticated theme.
- Buffet: Offers variety and allows guests to choose what they like.
- Finger Foods: Great for a casual, mingling atmosphere.
Consider Catering vs. Homemade
Depending on your budget and culinary skills, you may choose to cater or cook the food yourself.
Catering Pros and Cons
|Professional quality||Can be expensive|
|Less stress||Less personal touch|
Homemade Pros and Cons
|Budget-friendly||Requires cooking skills|
Plan a Balanced Menu
A well-rounded menu includes appetizers, main courses, desserts, and drinks.
Here’s an example of a Tea Party theme:
- Mini sandwiches
- Scones with jam and cream
- Fresh fruit skewers
- Quiche Lorraine
- Grilled chicken salad
- Vegetable tart
- Petit fours
- Chocolate-dipped strawberries
- Assorted teas
- Champagne with raspberries
- Lemonade with fresh mint
Consider a Signature Drink: A Unique Splash of Flavor
A. Why a Signature Drink?
A signature drink is more than just a beverage; it’s a statement. It can reflect the bride’s favorite flavors, align with the theme, or even tell a story about the couple. It adds a unique and personalized touch to the event.
B. How to Choose the Perfect Signature Drink
- Know the Bride’s Preferences: Is she a fan of fruity cocktails, classic martinis, or non-alcoholic mocktails? Start with what she loves.
- Align with the Theme: If there’s a specific theme, consider a drink that complements it. A tropical luau might call for a Piña Colada, while a winter wonderland theme might inspire a hot spiced cider.
- Consider the Season: Seasonal ingredients not only taste better but add a timely touch. Think fresh berries in summer or spiced pumpkins in fall.
- Think About Presentation: The way the drink is served can be as important as the taste. Consider special glassware, garnishes, or even ice shapes.
- Offer Alternatives: While the signature drink is a highlight, make sure to have other beverage options to cater to all guests.
C. Signature Drink Ideas
Here are some examples that might inspire you:
- The Blushing Bride: A mix of champagne, peach schnapps, and grenadine.
- Marry Me Mojito: A classic mojito with a twist of blueberries.
- Love on the Beach: A playful take on the Sex on the Beach cocktail with personalized garnishes.
- Eternal Bliss Mocktail: A non-alcoholic option with sparkling water, fresh lime, mint, and a splash of cranberry juice.
D. Create a Special Menu Card
Consider creating a special menu card for the signature drink, explaining its ingredients and the story behind it. It adds an extra layer of personal connection.
E. Consider Professional Help
If the budget allows, hiring a professional bartender can elevate the experience. They can craft the drink to perfection and add flair to their presentation.
Step 11: What To Wear To A Bridal Shower
A. Consider the Theme and Venue
The theme and venue often dictate the dress code. A garden party might call for floral dresses and sun hats, while a chic city venue might inspire cocktail attire.
B. Look for Guidance on the Invitation
Sometimes, the host will include dress code information on the invitation. If it’s there, follow it! If not, don’t hesitate to ask the host for guidance.
C. Think Seasonally
The time of year can influence your outfit choice. Light fabrics and pastels might be perfect for spring, while rich colors and layers suit a fall celebration.
D. Keep the Focus on the Bride
While it’s a chance to dress up, remember that the bride is the star of the show. Avoid white or overly flashy outfits that might overshadow her.
E. Comfort is Key
You’ll be mingling, playing games, and possibly dancing, so choose an outfit that allows you to move freely and feel comfortable.
F. Accessorize Thoughtfully
Accessories can add a touch of elegance or fun to your outfit. Think statement necklaces, elegant scarves, or even thematic pieces that align with the shower’s theme.
G. When in Doubt, Go for Classic
If you’re unsure about the dress code, you can’t go wrong with a classic knee-length dress or a smart blouse and skirt combo.
Examples of Outfits for Different Themes
- Floral dress
- Comfortable wedges or flats
- Sun hat
- Light, airy clothing
- Minimal jewelry
- Retro-inspired dress
- Pearl accessories
- Casual chic outfit
- Comfortable shoes
- Travel-inspired accessories
H. Don’t Forget the Groom’s Side
If it’s a co-ed shower, make sure to provide guidance for the men as well. This could be casual slacks and a button-down shirt or a full suit, depending on the theme and venue.
Step 12: Decorate the Venue
A. Align with the Theme
The theme is your guiding star. Whether it’s a beach bash or a vintage tea party, the decorations should reflect and enhance the chosen theme.
B. Choose a Color Palette
Selecting a cohesive color palette adds harmony and visual appeal. Consider the bride’s favorite colors or tones that match the season.
C. Focus on Key Areas
Identify the main areas that guests will interact with, such as the entrance, dining tables, and gift table. These spots deserve extra attention.
D. Incorporate Personal Touches
Adding personal elements like photos of the bride and groom or customized signs can make the space feel unique and intimate.
E. Use Flowers Wisely
Flowers add natural beauty and elegance. Consider arrangements that fit the theme, and don’t be afraid to use faux flowers to stay within budget.
F. Create Ambiance with Lighting
Lighting sets the mood. Fairy lights, candles, or lanterns can create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
G. Think About Functionality
While aesthetics are essential, don’t forget about practicality. Ensure there’s enough seating, and that decorations don’t obstruct views or movement.
H. Consider DIY or Professional Help
Depending on your budget and skills, you may choose to create decorations yourself or hire a professional decorator.
I. Don’t Forget the Details
Small touches like napkin rings, menu cards, or themed place cards can elevate the overall look.
J. Set Up Early
Give yourself plenty of time to decorate without feeling rushed. Enlist help if needed, and take the time to enjoy the process.
Examples of Decorations for Different Themes
- Fresh flower arrangements
- Rustic wooden signs
- Lace table runners
- Calming candles
- Soft, plush towels
- Zen-like stones and bamboo
- Antique tableware
- Feathered centerpieces
- Gold accents
K. Consider Sustainability
If possible, opt for reusable or recyclable decorations, including potted plants to minimize waste. It’s a thoughtful touch to host a sustainable bridal shower that aligns with many modern values.
Step 13: Music and Entertainment – Setting the Tone for Fun
A. Choose the Right Music
Music is the heartbeat of any celebration. It sets the tone, energizes the crowd, and adds a layer of emotion to the event.
1. Align with the Theme: If you have a specific theme, consider a playlist that complements it. A beach-themed shower might call for tropical tunes, while a vintage affair might enjoy some classic jazz.
2. Consider the Bride’s Favorites: Include some of the bride’s favorite songs to make the playlist more personal.
3. Create a Playlist: Platforms like Spotify allow you to create and share playlists. You can even ask guests to contribute their favorite tracks.
B. Live Entertainment Options
If you want to elevate the entertainment, consider hiring live performers. Here are some ideas:
- Live Band or Singer: Adds a touch of class and can be tailored to the theme.
- Magician or Comedian: Offers a fun and interactive experience.
- Dance Instructor: If you have space, a dance lesson can be a lively and engaging activity.
C. Karaoke Fun
Karaoke can be a hit, especially if you know the crowd loves to sing. Make sure to have a mix of popular songs that everyone can enjoy.
D. Background Music for Activities
Different parts of the event might call for different types of music. Soft background music during mealtime or gift-opening adds ambiance without overpowering conversation.
E. Consider Professional DJ Services
A professional DJ can read the crowd, manage the playlist, and ensure that the music aligns with the different stages of the event.
F. Sound System Considerations
Make sure to have the right equipment for the space. Whether it’s a portable speaker or a full sound system, test it beforehand to avoid technical glitches.
G. Create a Dance Floor
If dancing is on the agenda, designate a space for it. Even a small dance area encourages guests to let loose and have fun.
Step 14: Photography – Capture the Moments That Matter
A. Decide on Professional vs. DIY
Photography is an investment in memories. Depending on your budget and preferences, you may choose to hire a professional photographer or take a more DIY approach.
- Pros: High-quality images, experience with event photography, less stress for the host.
- Cons: Can be expensive, less personal.
- Pros: More personal, budget-friendly, allows for creativity.
- Cons: Requires equipment, may lack professional quality.
B. Create a Shot List
Whether you’re hiring a professional or doing it yourself, a shot list ensures you capture the key moments. Include:
- Group shots with the bride
- Candid laughter and conversations
- Decor and food details
- Game and activity highlights
C. Consider a Photo Booth
A photo booth with props matching the theme can be a hit. It’s not just a fun activity; it creates lasting memories.
- DIY Options: Set up a backdrop and provide props like hats, glasses, or thematic items.
- Professional Booths: Many companies offer photo booth rentals with instant prints.
D. Think About Candid Shots
Candid shots often capture the true spirit of the event. Encourage guests to take photos or even designate a friend to capture candid moments.
E. Use Good Lighting
Good lighting is key to great photos. If the event is indoors, consider additional lighting or even renting professional lights.
F. Encourage Sharing
Create a hashtag for the event or set up a shared online album where guests can upload their photos. It’s a great way to collect all the images in one place.
G. Consider Videography
If you want to capture speeches, games, or the overall vibe, consider videography. A short highlight reel can be a cherished keepsake.
H. Plan for Post-Event
If you’ve taken many photos, consider creating a photo book or digital album as a gift for the bride. It’s a beautiful way to package the memories.
A bridal shower: a celebration of the bride’s impending marriage. Make it a blast, leaving the bride and everyone else with unforgettable moments to cherish!
What are the best Bridal Show Tips?
1. Guest List: Keep the guest list small and manageable. It’s important to consider the bride’s comfort and preferences when making this list.
2. Budget: Typically, you should spend between $50 and $75 on the bridal shower gift, depending on your relationship with the bride. (source: Brides)
3. Bride’s Input: Seek her input as necessary to craft something special for her, but leave some element of surprise. Be careful not to get too carried away.
4. Timing: The rule of thumb is to have a bridal shower one to three months before the wedding.
5. Recruit Help: Recruit the help of your bridal party. Planning a bridal shower is a team effort.
6. Theme: Choose a fitting theme that the bride would love.
7. Vendors: Book vendors far enough in advance to avoid any last-minute hitches.
8. Potluck: Instead of burdening yourself with more work and expenses, have each guest (or each bridesmaid) bring a dish. Avoid repeats by delegating everyone to a different type of dish.
9. Arrival Time: Arrive 1 to 2 hours early to set up and ensure everything is in place.
10. Games: If you have any games planned, it’s your job to read the room and initiate them at the right time.
11. Create a Signature Drink: Prepare a special signature drink or cocktail that reflects the bride’s taste or wedding theme. It adds a personalized touch and can be a fun conversation starter.
12. Prepare a Thoughtful Favor: Show appreciation to the guests by preparing thoughtful party favors. It can be something small and meaningful, such as customized candles, personalized keychains, or mini succulents.
13. Capture Memories: Arrange for a designated person or photographer to capture special moments during the bridal shower. Whether it’s through candid photos or a photo booth, it allows the bride and guests to cherish and remember the occasion for years to come.