Whether you’re a sister or a bridesmaid, a cousin or a colleague, if you’re throwing a bridal shower for the first time, it can be a daunting task!
So we’ve put together your step-by-step guide: Follow these do’s and don’ts to make sure your bride’s big day is everything she’s dreamed of—and fun for her friends and family as well.
Do: Think About What the Bride Would Like
For the bride-to-be, a shower isn’t just a party, it’s a day she will remember forever. That said, the event doesn’t have to be over-the-top or overly expensive to be special. Instead, get creative. Think about the bride’s favorite foods and drinks, her personal style, the activities she enjoys, and where she likes to hang out, and try to incorporate those things in her shower theme. If she’s a party girl, plan a “cocktail hour shower” with girlfriends, martinis, and passed appetizers. If she’s a more casual, outdoorsy type, plan a beach picnic instead.
Don’t: Do it Alone
Just because you’ve been deemed shower hostess doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Recruit some co-hostesses by asking your fellow bridesmaids, co-workers, or your shared group of friends to help out and pitch in. Believe me, it will not only spare your pocketbook, but your sanity, too. For the smoothest division of labor, assign each hostess a different element of the party: Invites and RSVPs, Menu, Games, Favors and Prizes, and Décor. Most importantly: Don’t forget to include everyone who’s helping as hostesses on the invitation!
Do: Carefully Consider Who to Invite
You should ask the bride for her guest list, but before you do, think about whether you want to have a traditional bridal shower, which typically includes all female family members of both the bride and groom, girlfriends, bridesmaids, and sometimes even neighbors and co-workers. If you aren’t sure you want to host the entire clan (and yes, that’s OK), ask the bride who else is throwing her a shower. If she’s already having a family shower, would she prefer something more intimate with just girlfriends? Would she love a couples’ shower instead? Think outside the box and plan something that suits you both.
Also remember that while it’s proper etiquette to invite bridesmaids to each shower, they’re only expected to attend one.
Don’t: Create an Evite
Though many brides have more than one shower, each one is still an occasion to be permanently inked in the scrapbook of time. So, whether you have them professionally printed or make them yourself, mailed invitations are a must.
Another invite don’t: Never invite anyone to a shower who isn’t invited to the wedding. If you aren’t sure—ask the bride. The one exception is an office shower, which typically occurs during work hours and only includes co-workers. If co-workers are invited to an outside shower, they should also be invited to the wedding.
Do: Include Registry Information
While it’s not typical to include registry info on the wedding invitation, it is perfectly acceptable to have it listed on the shower invitation. Sure, guests can find most registries on weddingchannel.com, but save them a step by sending it to them, and help ensure that your beloved bride gets what she really wants.
Don’t: Take too Long Opening Gifts
Yes, everyone wants to see the bride open the gift they brought, but do they really want to be stuck in a circle for an hour or more while the bride fawns over 30+ gifts from everyone else? No. So, schedule time for gift opening, but make sure to keep it organized and moving along. And don’t forget to assign someone to record who gave what, so the bride knows who to thank later on.
Do: Make it Personal!
The most interesting and enjoyable shower games aren’t the generic ones that you’ve played at a million showers over the years—they’re the ones that represent the bride and what you know and love about her. If you’re not sure where to start, remember that the people invited to the shower are those closest to the bride and groom, and come up with games that draw on that connection.
For example, make a list of fun or quirky questions about the bride. Before the shower, interview her fiancé and have someone video tape him answering the questions. During the shower, hand out the list of questions to each guest. Play the recording, and hit pause before he answers each question, and have guests guess the correct answers. (For added fun, also have the bride guess what her fiancé’s answer will be!)
Don’t: Overdo It
While games are a necessary element of a bridal shower, unless the bride is a gung-ho competitor, keep them to a minimum. Stick with one or two, skip the ones that don’t have any special meaning, and leave time for the guests to socialize and relax.
The most important thing about planning a bridal shower is making sure the bride has a happy occasion, thrown by her nearest and dearest, that she will always remember. Make it all about the bride—with these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to make it fun for everyone else, too!