– Ask Cheryl – How Many Should Be Invited to a Bridal Shower?

Is it just me, or have you noticed that bridal showers are becoming larger and larger? Today, I advised a concerned hostess on how to handle a ballooning guest list. Read on for my tips and the etiquette behind why showers shouldn’t feel like mini-weddings.

Dear Cheryl,

I’m co-hosting a bridal shower for my niece with my sister, mother and aunts on her mom’s side. We plan to invite the bride’s future mother-in-law, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and sisters-in-law – all of the groom’s immediate family.

To our surprise, the future mother-in-law (FMIL) has indicated that she would like to invite an additional 35-50 members of her family and friends! Are we missing something? As the hosts of the event, we feel that we should decide who is invited and don’t think we should be expected to give the FMIL 35 – 50 “spots” on the guest list.

I believe that if she wants to invite that many people from her side then she should consider hosting another shower for her future daughter-in-law. What do you think?

Looking forward to your reply,
Hostess who doesn’t want the “mostest” guests

Dear Hostess,

You are not missing anything, and you are correct. The host(s) of a bridal shower decides the number of guests since they are footing the bill and providing the space. You should ask the bride about the guest list, but you are under no obligation to invite anyone suggested by the groom’s mother.

I recommend having a conversation with the FMIL — give her a call. As an aunt, not the bride’s mother, there’s little risk of causing future family issues. You can let her know that you planned to invite “X” people and can’t accommodate extra guests (due to budget, accommodations, or simply because it’s not the event you had in mind). She may not realize that she is being rude. Maybe she has attended a “mini-wedding” disguised as a bridal shower.

Here’s some additional ammunition you can use in your conversation:

Bridal showers are intended to be intimate gatherings, allowing the bride to enjoy quality time with her nearest and dearest friends and family. The custom and purpose of a wedding shower is to “shower” the bride-to-be with gifts to help the couple start their new lives together. Therefore, its sole purpose is a gift-giving event, and those that attend are expected to bring a gift. It should definitely not be an event where every female wedding guest is invited! When the party gets too large, it seems like a “grab-for-gifts.”

Those that should be invited to a bridal shower are:

  1. the bride’s attendants,
  2. other close, personal friends of the bride, and
  3. local family members of the bride & groom (mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and possibly aunts and cousins).

Never invite someone to a bridal shower that will not be invited to the wedding. In most cases, this is beyond rude.

Additionally, out-of-town friends and family members are usually not invited to a bridal shower (unless it’s the mother-of-the-bride, mother-of-the-groom, or the bride’s sisters). It puts undue pressure on them to accept the invitation and travel or send a gift. A bridal shower should be an event for those closest to the bride, both in relationship and location.

I’m often asked how many guests should be invited to a shower, and I usually recommend keeping it to around 25 guests if possible. Everyone wants to see their gift opened and the reaction on the bride’s face. With 50 or more people in attendance, how can the bride open all those gifts? It becomes rushed, long, and tedious for the guests and bride.

Skipping the traditional gift opening at bridal showers might save time, but it could also appear impolite to guests who have thoughtfully selected and presented their gifts. Expressing gratitude and opening gifts is an excellent way for the bride to demonstrate appreciation for the love and support of her friends and family. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to keep the tradition alive.

To keep your bridal shower flowing, see our article, “Day-Of Timeline for a Seamless Bridal Shower.” And for more information about Bridal Shower Etiquette, check out this article!

If you have questions or comments about this post or gift giving, bridal shower, baby shower, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Questions in this column are received from readers. They may be edited for spelling, length, and grammar or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

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