Bridal Shower Etiquette
Throwing a shower for the bride-to-be is a tradition that dates back to the 1800s. Over the years, the practices surrounding the event have gotten a bit muddled, so today we’re answering some of the most common questions about bridal shower etiquette.
Who Hosts the Shower?
Traditionally, a shower should not be hosted by the bride’s immediate relatives — such as her mother, future mother-in-law, or sister — since it would appear as if the family was trying to garner as many gifts as possible, though these guests can take on the role of co-host if necessary.
The maid of honor or the bridesmaids typically share the responsibility of throwing a shower for the bride-to-be, but these days, more brides and grooms are living in cities other than the one where they grew up, and it’s unrealistic to assume that the maid of honor who lives several states away will be able to plan a successful shower without the help of those nearer to the bride. So today, who hosts the shower comes down to who wants to host it; if others closer to the bride — like her aunts, her mom’s friends, or her coworkers — want to have a shower in her honor, that’s perfectly acceptable.
Typically, anyone invited to the shower will also be on the wedding guest list. The main reason behind this is that the bridal shower is a time for those close to the couple to share in their excitement for their upcoming nuptials — bridal shower attendees will be discussing the wedding and all the preparation going into the big day, so it would be incredibly uncomfortable to have individuals there who weren’t going to be invited to the wedding day festivities.
The only exception to this is in the case of an office shower. Coworkers may want to gather to celebrate the bride, but they may not all be invited to the wedding. An office shower should not include office staff who do not know the bride-to-be well, or anyone who feels coerced into participating.
Should You Register? How do You Relay that Information?
We think that brides and groom should always register! A bridal registry takes the guesswork out of selecting a gift, and is almost always truly welcomed by guests. Register early, at several different places, and for a wide range of gifts at various price points.
It is common knowledge that it is poor etiquette to reference your wedding registry on the save the date or wedding invitation, but when it comes to a shower, the rules are a little different. It is acceptable to include registry information with the shower invitations, but not written on them. The stores where you register will usually provide cards that are the perfect size to insert into the invitation’s envelope. You can also include a link to the couple’s wedding website, which often has information regarding their gift registries.
Gifts given at bridal showers used to be smaller tokens like fresh flowers or baked goods. These days, it is more common for guests to give the bride-to-be something of higher value — remember that if a shower guest brings something larger or from the bridal registry, they are not obligated to bring an additional gift to the wedding.
Mix Up the Guest List
If you’re having more than one shower, be sure that the guest lists are different. Close family members and the wedding party are almost always the only individuals who should be invited to more than one shower. Keep in mind that guests to more than one shower are still only obligated to give one gift.
Always, Always Say Thank You
Sending thank you notes is the number one rule of bridal shower etiquette! Brides, designate someone at the shower (typically the maid of honor) to take note of who gave which gift, and be prepared to get started on thank you notes right away. Enlist the groom to help! After all, he’s getting gifts as well — many showers these days are couples showers rather than bridal showers, where friends of both the bride and the groom are invited. Remember not to use the gifts until after the wedding date, in case plans change and they need to be returned.
Looking for more planning tips? Here’s a great article on the new etiquette on who pays for what!