Expectations of Your Bridal Shower

If you’re totally new to the whole bridal shower thing, you are not alone! Last weekend my future MIL graciously threw me a bridal shower with G’s side of the family in his hometown, but going into the celebration I really didn’t know what to expect. I have only been to one shower prior so I was completely unaware of what the event would entail.

In short, at your bridal shower you are the guest of honor as your closest friends and relatives gather to eat, chatter, and lavish you with a truckload of amazing gifts. This is one party you do not need to worry about planning on your own, but it may help to know what to expect so to best be prepared. So read on to discover a few more details on this traditional pre-wedding party used to celebrate and shower the bride-to-be with many well-wishes.

First off, let’s cover the basic question of What is a bridal shower? A bridal shower is a pre-wedding celebration in honor of the bride that traditionally is an opportunity for guests to give her gifts to help set up her new home. The general format is daytime women-only event, but tradition has begun to shift in this regard in modern times. Many couples go with a coed shower nowadays in the form of a cocktail party, barbecue, or drinks out in the evening. No matter if the honoree is just the bride or the couple, a shower mainly consists of eating, drinking, and mingling with guests.

The bridesmaids will most likely host the bridal shower, though the mother of the bride and/or mother of the groom may also play a part in the planning process. The total cost is often split among the bridal party. No matter who is hosting, be sure to communicate clearly to make sure the plans come together and the shower isn’t two separate affairs!

The bridal shower typically happens within two or three months of the wedding, and are usually on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The exact time of the day will be up to the hosts, but expect a brunch, luncheon, or afternoon tea (the most traditional time scheme.) Be sure to have your registry completed by this time as guests will use it/them to purchase gifts. And yes, gift opening is one of the main events of the shower so expect to open the presents in front of your guests! Expect the party to last past three hours and do not rush this time spent with the best ladies in your life.

Hosts will take care of invitations to the shower. Ideally, invites will be mailed out about six weeks in advance and include the bride’s name, date, time, location, registry information, and the host(s)’ names in order to RSVP. As with any other pre-wedding event, the guest list for the shower should be limited to people also invited the wedding. Usually for the shower, this includes the bridal party, the mothers, and close family relatives. Other female friends may be included as well, but the number invited depends on how large the shower is intended to be. This is typically a group of 20-50 guests. Some showers may be a surprise, but others may require the bride to assist with the guest list — and then keep out of the rest of the planning.

The invitations may also give a little idea of the theme of the shower. Though the shower doesn’t have to have a theme, most usually do. A bridal tea party, Disney-themed, or a crafting event (floral-arranging or jewelry making) are a few ideas.

A themed shower may also give an idea of the dress for the shower. The bride can wear white, but that’s not necessary. Just choose something that will make you stand out as the bride — you are the honoree after all and should be the best dressed in the group. Whether there is a dress code or not, expect most women to dress up for the shower. Cocktail dresses, heels, and statement accessories are the norm.

As far as the actual happenings at a bridal shower, the general outline is usually the same: food, a few games, and an opportunity for the bride to open gifts. Drinks may also be included, even being a mid-day party. Mimosa or bloody Mary bars are becoming more and more popular as they create a feminine atmosphere to the celebration. Depending on your venue, champagne or craft beer tastings may also be a fun activity.

Speaking of the venue, the specific location depends on the type of shower and the host’s budget. A friend or family member’s home, backyard, a local restaurant, wine tasting room, day spa, or a place revolving around an activity (pottery shop or design studio) are all places a shower may take place.

No matter the location, the host will probably put together a fun game or two. There are the classics of bridal bingo and toilet paper dresses, but some showers are focusing more on activities like a calligraphy lesson or cupcake decorating. No matter the activities, remember to be a good sport. Your wedding party and/or family members worked hard to plan this shower, so be gracious and take part in the activities with a positive attitude and smile. This is your special day, so enjoy it!

Following the food and fun will be the time to open gifts. Don’t love the idea of opening gifts in front of everyone? You’re not alone — I was shaking from nerves of being in front of everyone. However, it’s important to remember that the host(s) and guests came to the shower to celebrate you! Again, be gracious and bite the bullet knowing all those surrounding you love and support you in this next big step of Life!

Typically, the bride will take a seat in front of her guests and your host will hand you gifts to open. Make sure to ask one trusted friend (a bridesmaid would be an ideal candidate) to sit alongside you and jot down each gift and its giver. You’ll need to write thank you notes following the party, and this list will make it easy to write a special and personalized thank you to each person who made your shower amazing.

One thing to note is you’ll probably receive many gifts you’re genuinely excited about (because many will come from your registry), but you may also receive gifts that are a bit random. Be sure to hide your confusion and/or disappointment behind a smile and act appreciative for each and every gift you open. No matter the gift, look directly at each gift-giver and thank them with a genuine heart. “Thank you” will become your most used phrase throughout the event as you thank everyone for showering you with love frequently.

Finally, there is no rule stating you can only have one bridal shower. For me, my future MIL hosted my first shower in G’s hometown with his aunts, cousins, grandmother, and family friends. This was a beautiful celebration where I was able to meet a lot of women I did not know but who will be my family in less than two months. However, my bridesmaids and mother are throwing me another shower this coming weekend with my side of the family and some of my closest girlfriends.

No matter who hosts your shower, where the party is located, what activities are planned, or what gifts are brought, continue to thank your guests for their attendance, love, and support during this pre-wedding celebration. Plus remember to enjoy the party! You can finally start to enjoy the wedding festivities now that most of your planning is out of the way. And in only a few months you’ll be saying your vows and dancing the night away… alongside these friends and family members showering you today!

Have fun, my friends!


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