There are many traditions surrounding weddings and all of their associated events and activities. Also, standards in etiquette encompass every wedding-related element, from how you should organize your seating chart, to behaving like a proper wedding guest. There is even essential etiquette to follow, both as the party planner, and as a guest, surrounding a bridal shower. If you are unsure if you know all the rules and requirements of a well-organized and executed bridal shower, we have ten essential etiquette tips you should know before planning (or attending) a bridal shower.
Timing is Everything
Best practice suggests that bridal showers should be held anywhere from two weeks to three months before the main event. Follow Goldilocks’ advice and do not plan a bridal shower too close, or too far away from, the wedding day.
Location, Location, Location
The bride may no longer live in her hometown. However, if the majority of the shower guests will be friends and family who live where the bride grew up, you will want to plan for the shower to take place where the majority of the guests are located. It will be easier for you and the bride to travel to her hometown, than for all her cousins, aunts, family friends, and grandmother to travel for the shower.
Do Not Duplicate the Guests Lists
It is common for brides to be given more than one shower, especially if the bride and groom’s families live in opposite parts of the country. The planners for each shower (more on that later) should coordinate with one another to ensure the events are not scheduled for the same day. More importantly, except for the bride and her bridesmaids, each guest should only be invited to one shower.
Make Sure Shower Guests are Wedding Guests
It is considered proper etiquette to only invite guests to the shower who are also invited to the wedding. Make sure you check with the bride to ensure anyone you invite to the shower is someone she plans to invite to the wedding. Never assume that a bride is inviting all her cousins, or her co-workers, or her high school and college friends, so always cross-reference your guest lists first. There is no worse feeling for a guest than receiving a shower invite only to realize you were not invited to the wedding.
The Party Planner Role
Traditionally, neither a bride nor her immediate family should host a bridal shower. This rule would include the bride’s mother, mother-in-law, or sister. This practice is changing, however, and can be thrown out entirely when the maid-of-honor is the bride’s sister. Today it is acceptable for showers to be thrown by siblings, bridal parties, best friends, and soon-to-be-sister-in-laws.
Who Picks Up the Tab?
Typically, whoever is planning the shower pays for the shower. For this reason, it can help ease the financial responsibility if the cost is shared among several party planners, such as a group of friends, bridesmaids, cousins, or siblings. It is considered poor etiquette to ask guests to chip in for the cost of the shower, so if you are the party planner, make sure you start by creating a budget, and that you stick to it. The bride will appreciate your efforts, and will be thrilled to celebrate her wedding with friends and family, regardless of how extravagant the event.
Send Printed Invitations
Etiquette rules still dictate that shower guests should receive an invitation in the mail, so do not even think about trying to invite guests via email. Work with a stationer to create invitations that reflect the theme of the shower. Planning a feminine tea party? Consider invitations adorned with delicate lace. Planning a sophisticated couture event? Silk ribbons and bold colors will make a statement.
Ensure the Bride Receives an Invite
There is no need to mail a shower invite to the bride. Unless you are planning a surprise shower, the bride will know when and where the event is taking place and does not need to receive an invite in the mail. However, do plan to ensure the bride gets a copy of the beautiful shower invite as a keepsake.
The same rules that apply to wedding etiquette apply to shower etiquette when it comes to RSVPing. The party planner will need an accurate headcount to accommodate food, beverages, thank you gifts, and place settings. Make sure you RSVP as soon as possible. If an unavoidable circumstance arises and you are no longer able to attend, make sure you let the organizer know as soon as possible (and still plan to send a gift).
Remember, the Shower is About the Bride
While you may have specific thoughts about what would make a perfect bridal shower (wild games, exotic foods, a lavish venue), remember that you are planning the bride’s shower, not your own. Have a conversation with her to get an understanding of what she dreams about as the perfect shower. By keeping your bride’s perspective in mind, you are guaranteed to plan the type of shower; she has always wanted.