EEP editors sometimes link to products to make your planning process fast and easy. We may earn a small commission if you make a purchase from a link.

Bridal Shower Etiquette: 26 Great Tips

Bridal Shower Etiquette

Updated on: Feb 18, 2024

Did you or your loved one get married recently? Are you planning to throw a bridal shower for a loved one, but don’t know where to start? Well, we got the answers for you. If you are looking to learn about how you can plan the best bridal shower, you are in the right place. We will be covering everything from planning and throwing the shower to attending the shower and some bridal shower etiquette tips.

The tradition of bridal showers dates back to the 1890s, but the legends of how bridal showers became a tradition goes back even further, to the 16th century. The legend says that the tradition started in Brussels, Belgium, where villagers came together to raise money for a wedding of a rich man’s daughter and a poor villager. The father disapproved of the wedding, which is why he refused to finance it. In order to help out the young couple, villagers came together and raised money for the two individuals, which marked the beginning of the tradition known as bridal showers. Since then, bridal showers have undergone many transformations, as seen in changes in etiquette, planning, attire, etc.

Today, many people are having to adapt their bridal showers to the conditions and standards created by COVID-19; due to this reason, people have come up with very creative ways of throwing bridal showers while adhering to the rules and guidelines that must be followed during this time of the pandemic. We will discuss these ideas in detail. We also have a checklist and a budget worksheet to make your planning process even easier.

What Happens at the Bridal Shower?

Bridal showers consist of playing games, eating, and opening gifts in front of loved ones. Traditional games at the bridal shower include making wedding dresses out of toilet paper, the newlywed game, and gift bingo. To change things up a bit, bridal showers can also be planned around a specific central activity, such as a spa day. Also, if the bride is uncomfortable with opening gifts in front of everyone, special arrangements should be made, where gifts are opened with the groom or by the bride only.

Bridal Shower Etiquette Tips

1. Invitations

Invitations for the shower should be sent out four to six weeks before the bridal shower actually takes place.

Wrapping paper and origami boxes with cutout designs


2. How Should Guests be Invited?

There are really no boundaries when it comes to bridal shower stationary, however, shipping can get a little expensive. Snail mail is highly recommended. A save-the-date is a great idea, but an email is also seen as appropriate. Creative e-cards can also be a great strategy! Look for sites that offer that service, like Blue Mountain.

3. When to Hold the Bridal Shower?

Bridal showers should be held two weeks to two months before the wedding, but the couple should already have firm wedding plans.

4. Who Throws the Bridal Shower?

Usually, bridal showers are hosted by the maid of honor, close friends, or bridesmaids, but today, it has become more acceptable for anyone to throw the shower. Unless the shower is a complete surprise, the bride gives some sort of direction as to what she wants at the shower, where she wants the shower to be held, etc., but it is up to the planners to bring the bridal shower to life. The key to throwing a successful shower is communication among the individuals that are planning it.

5. Who Gets Invited?

Traditionally, bridal showers are meant to be women-only events, but today, a large number of people are choosing to throw coed bridal showers, where the groom and his friends can also show up. Usually, the people that are invited to the bridal shower are the same people that are also invited to the wedding; these individuals include close friends, family members, bridesmaids, and any other loved ones. The only exception to this rule is coworkers. Although coworkers can throw an office shower for the bride, that does not mean that they have to be invited to the wedding.

6. Multiple Bridal Showers?

Having multiple bridal showers is quite common today, but it is important to remember to invite different guests to the different bridal showers. As mentioned above, coworkers can throw an office shower for the bride, but the bride may also want to have separate showers for friends and family. As an attendee, if you are invited to more than one shower, you only have to bring a gift to the first one.

7. How Many People Should Be Invited?

Bridal showers should be small gatherings made up of close friends, family members, and other wedding attendees; the shower itself should not be as big as the wedding.

8. Where Should it Take Place?

Bridal showers should be held in the hometown of the bride unless it is impossible to do so. More specifically, the actual party can be held at a family member’s / friend’s house, at a restaurant, or at a specific place if the shower has a theme. Everyone should be comfortable with the designated place.

9. Who Pays for the Food if Dining Out?

If everyone decides to go out to eat for the bridal shower, someone must pay for the food and the drinks. It is usually the co-hosts of the shower that pay for the meal. If co-hosts cannot pay for the food at a specific place because of their budgets, they should find another place that will meet their spending requirements.

A row of tables set with glasses, plates, and napkins in a dimly lit restaurant


10. Is it Okay to Have a Theme?

It is completely acceptable and even encouraged for the hosts of the shower to come up with some sort of theme. This sets the mood/tone for the shower, adds a unique touch, and can even make the bridal shower more exciting. The bride can also have a say on the theme of the shower. Whatever theme the hosts decide on, it should be fun and unique to the bride.

11. What is the Dress Code?

The dress code for the shower depends on what the hosts agree on. It can range from informal to casual to formal. Information about the dress code should be included in the invitations, but if not, it is always best to overdress than to underdress.

12. Is Having a Bridal Shower Required?

Some brides may not want to have a bridal shower, which is completely okay. If this is the case, the bride should discuss this with the maid of honor; in turn, the maid of honor should listen to the bride’s wishes. Instead, the bride may agree to go to a restaurant, the movies, or another place with her friends.

13. When Should the Gifts Be Opened?

It is best to open the gifts towards the end of the ceremony after everyone has got their dessert. Since this is a key part of the shower, it should not be rushed or overlooked.

14. Is a Registry necessary?

Not necessarily. Your wedding registry can also be your bridal shower registry. If the shower has a unique theme, like a lingerie shower, it would require a different registry if the bride wants to register specific pieces of lingerie. As a guest, it is good etiquette to buy a gift from the shower registry.

15. After the Bridal Shower

After the shower is over, it is important to send a thank-you note to everyone that attended. This shows that you appreciated the fact that the guests attended your shower, and it also displays good manners.

Additional Tips for Planning a Bridal Shower

16. Choose a Date

The bride should be consulted about the date that would work the best for her and one that fits the timeline of the wedding well. As discussed previously, the bridal shower should be hosted anywhere from two weeks to two months before the wedding.

A booklet with a calendar inside


17. Create a Budget

It is important to know how much you want to spend (per person) on the shower, and to keep track of your spending throughout the process. Main things to include in your budget are food, decorations, location (if renting out a place), photography, and venue designs. The budget usually ranges from $10-100 per person.

18. Put together a list

The bride and the maid of honor need to work together to put together a list of all of the guests that need to be invited.

19. Pick a Theme

As mentioned above, it is generally a good idea to have a theme for the bridal shower, because it adds a personal touch and makes the shower more entertaining / interesting. The theme can also be used as a guide for the rest of the decisions during the planning process.

20. Select a Location

It is always a good idea to have a bridal shower in the hometown of the bride, but that may not always be possible. Instead, everyone should choose a location that they are comfortable with. This could range from the host’s house to a rented venue.

A large venue with circular tables set with plates, glasses, flowers, and candles


21. Send Invitations

Invitations should be sent out four to six weeks prior to the shower, preferably through physical mail instead of electronically. This is because some recipients may not end up getting the email or it may end up in their spam folder. Make sure to give the guests some sort of notice and time prior to the shower.

22. Have a Menu

The food should correspond to the time of day (of the bridal shower) and maybe even the theme. If the shower is during brunch hours, breakfast foods and desserts are always a good option.

23. Plan the Decorations

Unless you hire a personal decorator, this step will take some thinking. Decorations should follow the theme of the shower, unless there is not a theme, in which case party decors should be specific to the bride.

24. Choose Games and Activities

For this step, you can either choose to play games that are traditionally played at bridal showers (such as TP wedding dress or gift bingo), or you can find another shower/board games that the guests will enjoy.

A woman filling out a card titled "He said She said"


25. Create a Playlist for the Shower

It is always good to have music at the bridal shower. Pick your favorite tunes that will liven up the shower and guarantee a good time.

26. Thank the Hostess

Planning a bridal shower is a generous act. A handwritten thank-you card is totally acceptable, however, the bride-to-be may also choose to give the host a small gift: concert tickets or a gift basket filled with small luxuries are spot-on!

Bridal Shower Etiquette: Conclusion

Now that you know 15 helpful bridal shower etiquette tips as well as bridal shower planning ideas, you are ready to begin! Whether you will be a guest at a shower or the host of the event, these tips and tricks will allow you to arrive prepared and confident for the day!

We partner with various affiliate sites, like Amazon, from time to time to assist our users in planning their events more quickly. If purchases are made, we receive a small commission.

Written by Nika Ukhurgunashvili and Grace

Nika Ukhurgunashvili

University of South Florida

Visit profile: