So, you’ve been tasked with throwing your very first bridal shower. While it might seem daunting, consider it a vote of confidence and accept the challenge. As the maid/matron of honor or a close family member/friend of the bride, no one is better equipped to throw a stellar bridal bash than you!
To help you wrap your head around the details of planning a bridal shower, we’ve broken it down into eight easy steps below, answering all your questions to give you the confidence to be the perfect host.
Step 1: Set a budget and pick a theme
First things first, you’ll want to figure out whether you’re recruiting any other bridal party members or friends as co-hosts. From there, determine a budget you’re comfortable paying for the shower. While there’s no “typical” price, bridal showers on average range from $20–$60 per guest or around $400–$1.200 for a 20-person party — and that includes everything from invitations and decorations to food and party favors. Keep in mind that additional, unplanned expenses may creep up as you calculate your total budget.
A bridal shower theme isn’t required, but it’s a fun way to bring a cohesive element to the celebration and help guide your decisions, such as style of invitation and decorations. Whether you opt for a theme or not, keep the bride’s personal style and interests in mind as you continue planning. Not sure where to start? Get inspired by our favorite themes for spring, summer, fall, and winter; themes for every zodiac sign; or every month.
Step 2: Make a guest list
So, who is invited to a bridal shower? As a rule of thumb, your guest list should be comprised of:
- The bridal party
- Other local close friends of the bride
- The bride and groom’s immediate family and local female relatives
Bridal showers are usually reserved for those closest to the bride. Don’t feel as if you must invite every female that will be invited to the wedding. This is a budget buster unless it’s a very small wedding. Remember the etiquette rule: everyone invited to a bridal shower must also be invited to the wedding, but not everyone that will be invited to the wedding is invited to the bridal shower.
Get everyone’s address from the bride or someone else involved in the wedding planning. And, don’t forget to send an invitation to the guest of honor!
Step 3: Lock in a date and venue
Once you’ve finalized your budget and guest list, you can find a venue to accommodate everyone. Depending on the overall shower itinerary, you may want to consider different venue types:
- Restaurant: You can’t go wrong with a brunch or lunchtime bridal shower. Try and find a restaurant that accommodates large groups easily or even has a private room.
- Someone’s home: If you prefer to host at home, or if someone has offered up their home for the bridal shower, it can be a great way to save money on your overall budget. Make sure to consider things like space for eating, mingling and opening gifts, as well as logistics like parking.
- Spa: If the shower consists of a small group (under 10 guests), a spa can be a beautiful venue to celebrate the bride. Many spas offer day passes, so you don’t have to commit to a treatment if it doesn’t fit your budget.
Typically, a bridal shower falls about two to four months before the wedding. As you work to determine an optimal date for your party, the most important schedules to keep in mind are those of the bride and any key guests, like her mother and future mother-in-law.
Step 4: Create and send invitations
It’s good to send out your invitations three to four weeks before the shower. A bridal shower invitation has a few important elements that should always be included. Keep the checklist below handy as you select and customize your party invitations.
- Guest of honor’s name
- Shower date and time
- Venue location with the full address
- Host(s) name(s)
- RSVP contact information and deadline
- Registry information
You might be surprised to see that we listed registry information in that checklist. While it’s an etiquette no-no to include wedding registry details on the wedding invitation, the bridal shower is a perfectly acceptable time to provide that information. To make it easy for guests, let them know they can find all the couple’s registries in one spot on RegistryFinder.com!
There are many online invitation services with beautiful and easily customizable invitations. Some of our favorites are Minted, Etsy, and Shutterfly. For budget-friendly customized invitations, Vistaprint is also a good choice. They have expanded from business printing to party printing as well.
Step 5: Plan the details
Now that you’ve got the high-level party details figured out, it’s time to start planning the party details. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks in this step — if someone is willing to lend a hand, take it!
Depending on your chosen venue, you may or may not have to think about supplying additional decor to set the party mood.
If you’re hosting at home or an informal venue, think about incorporating elements like floral centerpieces or balloon arches — and it’s never a bad idea to get a custom welcome sign to place at the venue entrance.
Consider including games or other bridal shower activities. And while not required, prizes can make it more fun. You can give small prizes like $5–$10 Starbucks gift cards or a fun pin or other accessories to denote the game-winners. Here are some typical games to consider:
- Bride and groom newlywed game: Print a list of questions such as “When did the bride and groom become official?”, “Who said ‘I love you’ first,” and “Who does the cooking?” and have guests write down their guesses before the bride reveals the correct answers.
- Toilet paper wedding dress: Give each guest a roll of toilet paper and challenge them to design their best wedding dress. Then, have them perform in a fashion show and let the bride decide who wins.
- Don’t say “bride”: As each guest arrives, give them a fake engagement ring with the caveat that they can’t say the word “bride” at any point during the shower — otherwise, whoever hears them say it can steal their ring! The guest with the most rings at the end of the shower wins!
- Romantic movie quotes: Like the newlywed game, you’ll print out a list of famous quotes from classic romance movies and have guests match them correctly.
Looking for more? Check out our blog post, 10 Fun Bridal Shower Activities, and add some of these to your party itinerary.
Speaking of itineraries, as the host, it’s up to you to keep the party moving, so create a timeline plan for the day that you can keep handy as the celebration unfolds.
Step 6: Set up
As the party host, you’ll want to arrive at the bridal shower venue early to set up, put on the finishing touches, or simply connect with the venue coordinators and make sure everything is set up correctly. Think about bringing balloons or another way to denote the bride’s seat, and if you include a photo booth area, make sure that your props are easily accessible for guests. Whether you’re hosting at someone’s home (or your own) or a public venue, be mindful of the space and thank whomever necessary for providing a place for the party.
Step 7: Celebrate
Once it’s time to party, let yourself enjoy the celebration as much as you can! Depending on your planned activities, you can expect the shower to last anywhere from two to three hours. The trick to being the perfect bridal shower host lies in a few key elements:
- Keeping track of guests’ food and refreshments, including topping off drinks and taking away empty plates
- Logging the bride’s gifts on paper or through your phone, so it’s easy for her to write her thank-you notes after the party
- Creating the atmosphere through your cool and calm demeanor and making sure every guest is comfortable throughout the shower
Step 8: Send guests off with a goodie bag
Before the party is officially over, make sure to thank guests as they depart and send them off with a small goodie bag of treats. If your bridal shower party has a distinct theme, consider tying it into your thank-you gift. You can never go wrong with a mini bottle of prosecco, scented candle, handmade body scrub, and locally made pastries.
That’s a wrap
And just like that, your first bridal shower is a wrap! I know you’ll be an excellent hostess thanks to all the planning and preparation you put in — and with this helpful step-by-step guide, it’ll be a breeze. If you’re looking for even more hosting tips, check out our blog on being the perfect bridal shower hostess. You’ve got this!
Other frequently asked questions (faq’s):
Who normally throws a bridal shower?
A bridal shower is typically hosted by the maid of honor, the bridesmaids, a female relative (such as an aunt or cousin), or a combination thereof. Traditional etiquette says the mother or future mother-in-law of the bride should not host because it comes across as a direct ask for gifts. However, times are changing, and it is now more common for a close female family member to host. See our blog post, Bridal Shower Etiquette for All Involved for more etiquette tips.
Who pays for a bridal shower?
Those hosting the shower pay for the expenses of the shower. That is why bridesmaids often pool their time and resources, dividing the cost and the responsibilities when hosting the event.
When should you have a bridal shower?
A bridal shower is usually held between two to four months before the wedding. As a host, consult the bride to choose a convenient date for you, the bride, and any VIP guests, such as her mother and future mother-in-law.
What is supposed to happen at a bridal shower?
The typical order of events for a bridal shower includes food and drink, games or activities (if you choose to have them), and the opening of the gifts. The bride-to-be opens her gifts surrounded by her friends and loved ones, showing sincere appreciation to everyone there.