Have you been tasked with planning the perfect bridal shower for your daughter, sister or best friend? Whether you’ve planned half a dozen picture-perfect showers or this is your first, you may not know where to start. Use these 6 steps to create a wedding shower that is exactly what your bride dreams of.
Step 1: Decide Who’s Hosting
It’s customary for the bride’s mother or future mother-in-law to take the lead in planning. Another close female relative, such as a sister, aunt or cousin, may also host the event. If the bridal party will be taking on the majority of the planning, they can also be considered the hosts. No matter which arrangement works best for your situation, make sure you communicate the decision with everyone involved. Otherwise, you could accidentally end up with two showers!
Step 2: Set a Budget
Traditionally, the shower hosts are also the party responsible for paying for the event. Decide on an amount everyone feels comfortable with and use it as a guide for other decisions, including the location and guest list.
Step 3: Choose a Date and Location
Finding a date for a wedding shower entails a lot of calendar-coordinating. You’ll want to pick a date that works for all the most important guests (bridesmaids, close family, etc.). This could mean as early as three months before the wedding and as late as days before the ceremony itself, if many guests will only be able to travel once.
Choosing a location is also about convenience. Often, this means a shower in the bride’s hometown. Depending on the city and budget, a host could volunteer their home or you can rent a small event space.
Step 4: Invite the Guest List
Bridal showers can range from small, female family-only gatherings to “Jack and Jill” parties that include much of the wedding guest list. When going the traditional female-only route, you don’t need to invite every woman who will be attending the wedding. Just ensure a clean line between who is invited and who isn’t; don’t include some cousins and not others, for example.
You can also break the festivities into two celebrations, as long as the guest list won’t overlap (with the exception of the bridal party). The first may be a casual affair with friends and the bride’s family, while the second is a more formal shower with the future in-laws.
While a wedding lends itself to formal invitations, bridal shower invites can be more fun and feminine. Make sure to send them four to six weeks before the shower, unless many of your guests will be traveling to your location. Then, six to eight weeks is courteous.
Step 5: Plan the Shower’s Schedule
There’s no need for a rigid itinerary. You should plan for a general outline of the afternoon that includes drinks, a light meal and dessert, a few fun games, and time for opening gifts. When it comes to games, talk to your bride to know what she’s comfortable with. If she loves being celebrated by friends and family, opt for the traditional bingo and trivia. For a more group-focused option, plan a scavenger hunt or set up a station for manicures with your bride’s favorite nail technicians.
You can point guests to the couple’s registry, ask guests to follow a specific theme when bringing gifts or forgo gifts altogether. Including a recipe card or fill-in-blank advice card with the invitation offers a heartfelt alternative to large gifts.
Step 6: Send Guests Home
Before your guests head home from the shower, make sure both the host and the bride thank them. Make a short toast and individually thank guests on their way out the door. Send everyone home with a small favor, such as themed cookies, pretty candles or part of your centerpieces.