Ultimate Guide to Planning a Bridal Shower
Tasked with planning a bridal shower? Your to-do list may be long, but it’ll be a breeze with the right advice, a little teamwork, and a thorough checklist! In this bridal shower planning guide we’ll cover everything from what to buy, what to wear, and who to invite and more! Use this guide to help you plan the perfect bridal or wedding shower.
Bridal Shower Responsibilities: Who Hosts, Pays, & Plans?
The first step to planning a bridal shower is to assemble your team. Who’s traditionally responsible for hosting, paying, and planning? Who’s prepared to help with these roles? Who’s the best choice for each responsibility? Be sure to communicate properly with everyone involved in the bridal shower preparations so everyone knows their assignment.
1) Who Throws the Bridal Shower?
Depending on the situation, the bridal shower host could be a close family member (like an aunt or a cousin), the maid of honor, one or more of the bridesmaids, or even a close friend who want to contribute. Sometimes the mother of the bride and/or the mother of the groom will be the bridal shower host. Whoever has the means and the time to host the wedding is the best option!
2) Who Pays for the Bridal Shower?
The host throwing the shower will typically incur most of the costs. However, if there are co-hosts, they should chip in too! Members of the bridal party, including bridesmaids, the mother of the bride, and the maid of honor should consider contributing. Try not to let the finances fall on one person, especially if the party requires a higher budget.
3) When Do You Have a Bridal Shower?
Bridal showers typically happen 1-3 months before the wedding. Make sure you try to pick a date that will accommodate as much of the bridal party, the bride and groom’s family members, and other important guests. If most potential guests live far away, you may need to plan the bridal shower to coincide with the bachelorette party or a holiday that people will be in town for.
4) Who Is Invited to the Bridal Shower?
Guests typically include: the bride’s close female friends and family, her bridal party, and her spouse-to-be’s close family. Guest lists are normally about 15-30 people but can range depending on circumstances. If there is only 1 bridal shower and/or if the bride and groom have a large family the party may end up being larger.
5) What Is a Bridal Shower vs Wedding Shower?
Traditionally, a bridal shower is a party for the women in the wedding couple’s life to celebrate the bride. However, in modern day some people opt for a wedding shower so that everyone can be invited, not just the ladies. Depending on the bride’s preference and how traditional her relationship, bridal party, and family are, she may prefer to have a wedding shower. A wedding shower would also include her partner and their friends and family of any gender.
6) What to Wear to a Bridal Shower
Wondering what to wear to a bridal shower? Bridal showers are typically semi-casual events. If you’re in charge of planning the party, you may want to include a dress code on the invitations, especially if you’re incorporating a specific theme or color scheme. Guests should try to dress up slightly more than they normally would, but not quite as much as they would for a rehearsal dinner or the actual wedding. This is also generally a modest event so try to shy away from any exceptionally fancy, bold, or risqué outfits.
Bridal Shower Checklist: 2-3 Months Ahead of Shower
You’ll want to start your bridal shower checklist a few months before the shower date! This will give you plenty of time to get everyone on board, send out the invitations, and start looking for inspiration. The most important thing to do during this time is communicate with everyone who’s helping plan and host the bridal shower so everyone is on the same page!
1) Decide Who Is Hosting & Planning the Shower
The maid of honor will most likely be leading the charge for the bridal shower. The maid of honor should coordinate with the bride and the bride’s close family members to see who’s willing and able to host the shower. The best choice is someone who has the space, time, energy, and money to host guests.
2) Choose the Overall Vibe & Theme of the Bridal Shower
3) Set a Budget for the Shower
A bridal shower may cost somewhere between $10-$150 per person, depending on how much you want to splurge on the event. You should decide your budget ahead of time based on how many people are invited. If you have co-hosts, speak to them about how much they want to contribute and what they think is a fair budget.
4) Encourage the Couple to Create a Gift Registry (If Applicable)
A gift registry is the best way for the wedding couple to get exactly what they need and want. Encourage the couple to create a registry, even if it’s just an online one. Online registries are great for couples who have family members who live long distance and need to have their presents shipped. Target, Amazon, Walmart, Crate and Barrel, IKEA, and more are great options for a bridal shower registry!
5) Determine Bridal Shower Guest List & Send Out Invites
Your goal is to try to get bridal shower invitations sent out at least 2 months before the shower date! Start getting the invite list together as soon as possible. Talk to the bride to get approval of the list you created and make sure you didn’t miss anyone. Then, collect everyone’s full names and addresses from the bride and her family.
6) Book the Bridal Shower Venue or Decide Location
If you want to use a rented bridal shower venue make sure to book far enough in advance! Restaurants, catering halls, parks, vacation rentals, and hotels are all great options for bridal shower venues. If you’re using someone's house, just confirm with them that they are prepared to host the party and then check the venue off your list!
Bridal Shower Host Checklist: 1 Month Ahead of Shower
About a month before the bridal shower is when you’ll need to start buying decorations, favors, and games. You can also start thinking of bridal shower food ideas. Shipping takes time so you’ll want to make sure anything you need to buy is ordered by a month out just in case. One month is a good amount of time to correct any errors that may have been made, return or exchange supplies that you’re unsure of, and double check that you can find everything you had in mind.
1) Start Purchasing Bridal Shower Decorations
Start ordering decorations early to make sure everything turns out perfect! Order any signs, custom printed stationery, etc. you may need at least a month out. A month should be plenty of time to order custom art and make sure it all arrives and is correct before the party. Starting a month out will also give you time to DIY anything you want to do yourself!
2) Plan Out the Bridal Shower Menu
You can’t start cooking a month in advance, but you will want to have an idea of what kind of food and drinks you’re serving. If you’re having the party catered, you’ll want to start calling around to get price quotes and making sure you can find the foods the bride likes. If you’re cooking most of the bridal shower food, you can start making your grocery list. This would also be a great time to ask if anyone would like to bring a dish for the party to help lighten your cooking load.
3) Order Bridal Shower Favors (If Applicable)
4) Brainstorm Bridal Shower Games & Activities
Week of Bridal Shower Host Checklist
The week leading up to the bridal shower is a great time to prepare everything for the party! You can get the rest of your shopping done, double check the guest list, make sure your co-hosts are ready, and print any paper products and photos. This week is the perfect time to cross anything off your to-do list that is possible to do in advance. This way, you won’t be rushing to get everything done on the day of!
1) Shop for Any Food & Beverages for the Shower
Drinks, snacks, dips, and more can all be bought the week before the shower. If you’re having the party catered or ordering a custom cake, you may need to pick those up (or have them delivered) on the day of the bridal shower. Make your grocery list ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling at the store! Buy your food early enough in the week to leave yourself a day or two to prepare any dishes you’re making from scratch ahead of time.
2) Check on RSVPs & Reach Out to Guests
About a week before the shower is a good time to double check who has RSVPed from your guest list. You’ll want an official headcount so you and your co-hosts know how many people to expect. Reach out to anyone who hasn’t responded to your RSVP to check if they plan on attending or not. If you’re having the party at home, you’ll be especially grateful to know how many people will be there!
3) Connect with Any Co-Hosts to Confirm Plans
You probably aren’t throwing this party completely on your own, which means some tasks have been delegated to co-hosts and other helpers. In the week before the shower, make sure everyone remembers what they need to buy, do, and pick up. Send out a friendly reminder in your group chat to make sure everyone is prepared and ready to get everything done!
4) Print Out Any Game Sheets or Photos
You can print out all your games, signs, and photos anytime during the week before the bridal shower. Keep them somewhere safe, like a sturdy folder, so they don’t get wrinkled or scuffed as you’re getting ready for the shower. Make sure you double check everything to make sure there aren’t any typos or errors. You may also want to confirm with the bride that she approves of the photos and games you chose!
Day of Bridal Shower Checklist
The day has finally arrived! It’s crunch time. If you’ve been preparing in advance, you won’t have too many things left to do before the party. When guests start to arrive, you’ll want to be ready to greet them and enjoy the party. Double check your to-do list, pick up last minute items, then start decorating!
1) Pick Up Any Last Minute Items (Food, Ice, etc.)
Some items will be easier to pick up the day of the party. Cake and other desserts, bags of ice for drinks and coolers, and hot catered food items may need to be picked up at the last minute. We recommend delegating some of these tasks to co-hosts and trusted family or friends so that you aren’t running around all over town on your own. You could also ask if any of your food vendors offer delivery service!
2) Arrive at the Venue Early (Along With Co-Hosts)
Our biggest day-of tip for throwing a bridal shower is to get to the venue early! The sooner you get there, the sooner you can start getting everything set up. Arriving early will give you plenty of time to make sure everything looks the way you expected. Some guests may arrive early as well and you’ll want to be there to greet them.
3) Start Decorating for the Bridal Shower
You’ve been envisioning the set up in your head for months, now it’s time to put up all those decorations you bought! Set up tables, signs, balloons, and any other decor. Put tablecloths on the tables, set up any activity stations, and put all the finishing touches on the space. Make sure everything looks how you want it to before the bride and the guests start to arrive!
4) Ensure Food & Drinks Are Ready to Go
After your tables are set up you can start arranging your serving stations. Set up a table with beverage options and set up a space for snacks. If you’re serving food later in the party, you can set up your serving dishes and utensils so you will be ready when it’s time for everyone to eat.
5) Greet Guests & Provide Group Introductions
Greet everyone as they arrive to make sure they feel welcome at the party and make introductions to get everyone talking to each other! Not everyone at the party will know each other. The bride will have friends from work, family members, friends from high school, members of her partner’s family, and more all together (possibly for the first time). To help break the ice, have everyone say who they are and how they know the bride. Try to pay special attention to the guests who don’t know anyone at the party besides the bride.
6) Record Gift Info As the Bride Opens Presents
Someone will need to write down a list of all the gifts the bride receives as she opens them. Be sure to record the guest’s name, gift they gave, and any other important details. This information will make it easier for the bride to write out thank you cards later. She will likely be getting a ton of gifts and not writing 'thank you's for at least a few days after the party so she won’t be able to remember every detail.
7) Thank Everyone Who Helped With Or Attended the Shower
As each guest leaves, be sure to tell them thank you! Let them know they are appreciated whether they helped out with decorations, clean-up, or just took the time to show up. If you have favors, make sure every guest is offered one. Find a way to show extra appreciation for your co-hosts and helpers!
8) Clean Up Everything After the Bridal Shower
No one wants to clean up after the party but someone has to do it. The sooner you get started cleaning, the sooner it’ll be done. Don’t be afraid to ask for some help with this task. Everyone can do a little clean-up and it will get done even quicker with more hands.
Bridal Shower Itinerary Examples
You’ll want to have a bridal shower timeline in mind. Bridal showers usually last 2-4 hours. You don’t have to keep everyone on a strict schedule if you’d like to have a more relaxed party, but you’ll still want to have a general plan. The bridal shower itinerary should include start time, meal time, games and activities, gift opening, and an estimated end time.
Bridal Shower Brunch Timeline
- 11:00AM Guest Arrivals
- 11:15 Introductions
- 11:20 Food & Drinks
- 12:00 Bridal Shower Games & Activities
- 12:40 Bride Starts Opening Gifts
- 1:30 Continue Socializing, etc.
- 2:00PM Say 'Thank You's & Goodbyes to Guests
- Cleanup Time!
Bridal Shower Itinerary (Afternoon Shower)
- 2:00PM Guest Arrivals
- 2:15 Introductions
- 2:30 Snacks, Drinks, and Mingling
- 2:45 Bridal Shower Games & Activities
- 3:30 Serve Dinner
- 4:15 Bride Opens Gifts
- 5:00 Goodbyes & 'Thanks You's'
- Cleanup Time!
Create Your Own Bridal Shower Checklist
Everyone’s bridal shower checklist will be a little bit different. Use our checklist as a guide as you create a personalized checklist for your party! Make sure you create a list with everything from bridal shower games to bridal shower themes and ideas. Don’t forget to delegate some of the tasks to trusted co-hosts so you’re not going through your bridal shower checklist alone!