The Bride's Guide To Wedding Parties & Events

We always love a good reason to party, and two people getting married is one of the best! Weddings are such a joyous occasion that brings two people together and their family and friends. This starts before with all of the pre-wedding parties, showers, and events that are held for the couple. As a bride-to-be it is completely up to you to decide what traditional wedding celebrations you would like and also any that you don't, or would want to modernize. It helps to know the typical showers and parties beforehand so that you can have a say if there's something special or perhaps different that you would like. This is certainly an exciting time, but also can be overwhelming. Let our detailed bridal guide help you navigate through! 
 
Bride and Bridesmaids gathered together and wearing Kennedy Blue Bridesmaid robes
 

Kennedy Blue Satin and Lace Robe 'Navy' | Lindsey White Photography

1. Engagement Party: What is an Engagement Party? 

The moment you become engaged you'll want to share the news and everyone you know will want to hear it from you! An engagement party is the perfect occasion for all of those close to you to come together to celebrate. Whether it's formal or a casual event, that is completely up to you. Usually this party occurs soon after the proposal as it's a celebratory way to kick off your engagement! Typically it is an additional wedding celebration that is generally not expected. As this event is an extra wedding party that not all newly-engaged couples have, it's helpful to know what to plan and what the etiquette is. Are you considering having an engagement party or does someone want to host one for you? We have all of the answers to common engagement party questions to help you get started!

Round frame with string and clothespins holding photos against the wall and a banner saying "best day ever" hangs across.

Natalie Caho Photography

Who Plans & Hosts The Engagement Party?

There really is not a set-in-stone traditional way to have an engagement party. Unlike other wedding events, an engagement party is acceptably hosted by anyone close to the couple - including the couple themselves! Which means that you could potentially have more than one within your different circles. Sometimes the partner who proposes will have arranged a gathering for close family and friends to celebrate immediately following the proposal. Other times the couples' parents may want to host separate or joint parties - like a formal event, while a group of friends may want to plan their own fun night out. If you do wish to have an engagement party, surely let your family and friends know and take it from there!

Where Do You Host An Engagement Party?

Just as there's not a customary engagement party set-up, the same goes with where it is held. The locations may vary depending on who is hosting the party and how many people are attending. For a larger gathering, renting out a small space such as a restaurant's event room where food and drinks are catered can make planning easier. If it's a smaller invite list, a family member's home may be a welcoming spot for everyone to gather. Depending on who is hosting will help determine where the party is. Make sure to have a conversation with your family and friends to hear what their plans are and to bring up any input you may have!

Who Do You Invite To An Engagement Party?

An engagement party is essentially a pre-wedding celebration that a couple has with close family and friends that will be invited to the wedding. These parties are usually on a smaller scale because it is such an intimate moment to share with others. Don't worry, you'll have your wedding day to spend with everyone that you want! For an engagement party, it's nice for the couple to select a list of close people that they want to celebrate the news with. Also important to note with hosts involved such as parents, they may want to invite some of their friends. Be sure to have an open discussion with the host such as about the invite list so that everyone knows what to expect!

When Do You Have An Engagement Party?

Once a couple becomes engaged, the engagement party (if they have one) should occur soon after. After all, it is an *extra* kind of wedding party to start off the celebrations! Also, you'll want an engagement party as soon as possible so that you can share your news and proposal story with your loved ones! Many times these parties are informal or semi-last minute invites due to the nature of the circumstances - and that's okay! There's no need to stress over planning- your family and friends just want to spend time with you to celebrate. Think of it more like a get-together with all of your favorite people! 

Engagement Party Invitations: Are They Needed? 

Since planning for an engagement party can be sudden, using formal engagement party invites may not be necessary, or even possible with the timeline. Depending on if you're planning a casual or an elegant affair can help dictate if you need invitations or not. For something more formal, perhaps with a dress code, rented location, or a large crowd size- invitations are a good idea to help with planning. Make sure to include an RSVP so that you will know how many people to plan for. As for something that's casual, such as a get-together at someone's house, or a backyard party- invitations may not be necessary for what you're planning. A simple Facebook party invite or email/text/call works well to reach out about a casual or spontaneous gathering! 

Engagement Party Gifts: What To Expect

As an engagement party, whether formal or informal, is a gathering to congratulate the newly-engaged, gifts are not expected in this setting. The party is simply a chance to hang out with the close to you and to share this happy moment with them. Although some may want to bring a small gift such as wine or a cute "Mr/Mrs" item, gifts should not be a requirement or listed on an invite. There are other wedding showers and parties that we will go over where a bridal registry or honeymoon fund is appropriate to be listed. 

2. Bridal Shower & Wedding Shower: What's The Difference Between a Bridal Shower and a Wedding Shower?

The most customary pre-wedding event is a bridal shower to honor the bride. It's a time-honored tradition for the bride and her closest female friends and family to come together and shower the soon-to-be newlyweds with gifts. Sometimes bridal shower and wedding shower are used interchangeably, but they are different parties! Although similar, a couple could choose to have both a bridal or wedding shower, or may decide on only one. If having both, the bridal shower could be with family and wedding shower with friends. 

Wedding reception room in an industrial building with brick walls, wooden pillars, large windows. Many round tables set up with white tablecloths, golden chiavari chairs, and vases of flowers.

Dana Cubbage Photography

What Is A Bridal Shower?

A bridal shower is a common party held for the bride where her family and friends shower her with gifts for married life. It's traditional that attendees bring household gifts to help the couple get situated in their home and new life together. Bridal showers are typically a daytime affair often hosted over brunch or lunch. Typical bridal showers include prepared food and drinks, and activities such as bridal-themed games and gift opening.  

Who Hosts The Bridal Shower?

The bridal shower is hosted by either family (not including the Mother of Bride and Mother of Groom) or someone in the bridal party. Sometimes a bride may have more than one bridal shower depending on group-size and if multiple people want to host different parties. Usually a family bridal shower will be hosted by the bride's aunts whereas a friend bridal shower will be hosted by the maid of honor. 

Bride and Bridesmaids raising glasses of champagne to toast.

The Kismet Collective

Who Pays For The Bridal Shower?

When a bridal shower is hosted by family or friends, usually people in the group will help with the costs. For a family bridal shower, the bride's aunts and maybe the Mother of the Bride will help contribute to the bridal shower. Whereas for a friend bridal shower, the maid of honor and bridesmaids will take care of paying for it.  

When To Have A Bridal Shower

A bridal shower is usually held anytime from 2-3 months before the wedding. It's important to talk with hosts about any schedule conflicts especially if there's multiple showers being planned. If you have out-of-town family, make sure they are included in the discussion of what works for them to come for a shower. As for a friend shower if there's out-of town friends, maybe a shower the week of the wedding might be a fun time to get-together (if it works- it will be a busy week!)

Who To Invite And Where To Have A Bridal Shower

Traditionally, a bridal shower is a female-only event with the bride's family and friends. The invitation should be extended to the bridal party, immediate family, close friends, and members from the groom's side like the Mother of Groom and sisters or close cousins. Depending on the group-size, the party may be held at a family or friend's home/backyard, restaurant, or rented party space. If there is a large guest list, then it may be helpful to have more than one shower (different family and or friend parties) so that the parties are less overwhelming to organize and attend. At the end of the bridal shower, the groom is usually invited to stop over to eat and to socialize with the group. 

Bridal Shower vs. Wedding Shower

The difference between a bridal shower and a wedding shower is that a bridal shower is more traditional whereas a wedding shower is more modern. The main distinction is that a wedding shower is held for both the bride and groom and open for anyone- not strictly female like a bridal shower is. It is a modernized setup and a great way for everyone in the wedding party and all close family and friends to attend. Some brides may not be interested in having a bridal shower or following wedding traditions. For our couples looking for something non-traditional and flexible, a wedding shower is a wonderful option to consider.

Bridal party gathered on a golf course cheering and throwing their hands in the air.

Kennedy Blue Bridesmaid Dresses in 'Dew Drop'Lindsey White Photography

Do You Need Wedding/Bridal Shower Invitations?

A wedding and bridal shower is a planned pre-wedding event that requires an invitation. It's important to have the wedding or bridal shower invites mailed out at 4 to 6 weeks in advance. Make sure the invites include the bride's name, the date, the party start time (and end time), the location, registry information, a way to RSVP, and the names of the party hosts. Also important to note especially if sending an invite to a family, include each person's name that is invited to attend on the envelope. 

What Are Appropriate Bridal and Wedding Shower Gifts For a Wedding Registry?

Both the bridal shower and wedding shower are established events  with wedding gifts. It is customary for the couple to prepare a wedding gift registry for these events. Some common places that are easily accessible and have a range of household items are: Target, Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Macy's or a registry service such as Zola or MyRegistry. With a gift registry you can list all of the items that you need for your home or would like, and it helps ensure that you won't receive something you already have or might not want. When creating a registry, include practical home goods and fun house items. Make sure there is a variety of small and large budget items so that everyone can find something at a price point that they are comfortable with affording.

3. Themed Wedding Showers: Trending Stock-The-Bar Party

For a modern twist on a wedding shower, a trending theme is a "Stock-The-Bar" party. The name speaks for itself- it's a party to receive gifts to stock up your home bar! Some couples may choose to have both a typical wedding shower, and an alternative shower, or simply just have a Stock-The-Bar party. It all depends on the couple and what wedding showers they are interested in having. A themed wedding shower like a Stock-The-Bar party is a great option for couples that want something casual and fun. 

Bride and Groom opening a bottle of champagne with the bridal party cheering.

 Kennedy Blue in 'Cinnamon'Santiago Murillo Photography

Stock-The-Bar Wedding Party Planning Details

A themed shower like Stock-The-Bar is typically a party just for the bride and groom's friends. It's a fresh change from traditional wedding parties and a nice way to get-together with friends. As it's something informal, the couple may host the party themselves, unless someone from the wedding party offers to plan. Usually the Stock-The-Bar is held at the couple's house (which can also make a great housewarming party!) Invite your friends over for a casual night of some apps and drinks.

Who Pays For a Stock-The-Bar Party?

Since a Stock-The-Bar is an informal party that the couple may host, they will pay for it themselves. If the maid of honor and best man plan the party, they would take care of it. This party is typically more laid-back, so guests could be requested to bring snacks and drinks to share. If so, the hosts would provide additional food like prepared apps, maybe food on the grill, and a station with signature drinks.  

Wedding bar set up with an drawn on acrylic sign that says "Signature Drinks, His Hers" and pictures of their drinks and the names.

Mike Zawadzki Photography

Are Invitations Needed For a Stock-The-Bar Party?

Even though the party is informal, it is helpful to send out invitations for the Stock-The-Bar. Sending out a mailed invite, an email, or making an event on Facebook will work just fine. Make sure to include the party details and anything extra like a Stock-The-Bar party registry if you made one. 

4. Bride's Bachelorette Party: What is a Bachelorette Party?

One of the most anticipated parties for the bride-to-be, a bachelorette party is her "last hoorah" before getting married. The idea behind this party is it's an opportunity for the bride to bond with just her bridesmaids and close female friends before the wedding. The bachelorette party is a great time for everyone involved to let loose, have fun, and celebrate the bride and their friendship. Some brides have a celebratory night out close to home, while others opt for a bachelorette bash weekend getaway.  

Bride and Bridesmaids gathered together and wearing Kennedy Blue Satin and Lace Bridesmaid Robes in 'Taupe'

 

Kennedy Blue Satin and Lace Robe 'Taupe' | Bethany Collins Photography

Who Plans The Bachelorette Party?

Usually the bachelorette party planning will be overseen by the maid of honor with help from the bridesmaids. Just as any other pre-wedding celebration, this party is meant to be hosted for the bride - but she will also have some input. Make sure to ask the bride if there is anything specific she would like, and if there is anything she wouldn't. This will help with planning a successful bachelorette party and ensuring that the bride's wishes are met.

Bride and Bridesmaids walking down a brick alley.

Kennedy Blue Bridesmaid Dresses in 'Dew Drop' | Love And Covenant Photography

Who Pays For The Bachelorette Party?

As with any wedding party expenses, it is customary for the bridal party to pay for their portion of the bachelorette party. Additionally, everyone will usually chip in to cover or to help pay for the bride's costs as well. However, this may change depending on circumstances such as an expensive planned activity or traveling for a weekend getaway. It is important for the host and bride to have a candid conversation with the group about costs and to take any budgets or concerns into consideration while planning. 

 Bride and Bridesmaids dressed up and holding customized wedding koozies.

Kennedy Blue Bridesmaid Dress "Elena" in 'Fawn' | Wedding Shoppe, Inc. Mori Lee Bridal GownLove Big Live Small Photography

Where & When To Have The Bachelorette Party

Planning out details such as where and when to have the bachelorette party is something to discuss with the group who'll be going. Usually a bachelorette party is planned for anytime from 1-3 months before the wedding. Every party is unique to the bride and what kind of bachelorette bash she wants. Some brides just want one fun night out close to home, while others want to have a weekend getaway somewhere. Ultimately, choosing a time and place will need to be decided within the group about what will work best for everyone. Be mindful to keep dates and scheduling conflicts into consideration, but also know that you might not be able to find a time that fits for everyone and that's okay! Maybe you can plan an *extra* bachelorette brunch just for fun another day!

Bride and Bridesmaids gathered together, holding flower bouquets, in front of a tropical background with lots of greenery and palm trees.
 

Kennedy Blue Bridesmaid Dresses in 'Rosewood' | Erika Smith Photography

Who Attends The Bachelorette Party?

Some may think that the bachelorette party is just for the bride and her bridesmaids, but that's not true! A bachelorette party is for any gals that the bride wants to invite, which could be friends or close family members. It's important to note to only invite those that are invited to the wedding as well. Depending on the theme and activities of the party will help dictate who to include. Perhaps if the bride has younger sisters or close family, she can have a fun early dinner and activity that they can join, and then the rest of the night will be catered to just the bridal party. Keep in mind who is attending when planning and you should be fine! However the bachelorette party is planned out, simple party etiquette is to always disclose any themes or activities that may be important for guests to know beforehand. 

5. Bride And Groom's Rehearsal Dinner: What is a Rehearsal Dinner For?

A traditional pre-wedding event the night before the big day is a wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner party. It's common to go to the ceremony venue the night before to do a practice run and finish any last minute details. This helps all involved such as parents of the couple and the wedding party to know what they are doing the next day. Following the wedding rehearsal, it is customary for the couple (or parents of the couple) to host a rehearsal dinner. It's a sweet and simple celebratory dinner in honor of the soon-to-be newlyweds. This dinner is a chance for everyone to socialize and relax, and to show appreciation for all of the people who have worked so hard to make your wedding day possible!

Bride and Groom sitting on wooden folding chairs with "Mr" and "Mrs" signs at their outside reception.

Drake Photography

What Is A Rehearsal Dinner?

The rehearsal dinner is an intimate pre-wedding party usually the night before the wedding. If a couple has a wedding rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner will follow immediately. However even if the couple doesn't have a wedding rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner is still a customary event to have. Many times this dinner will take place at a restaurant or rented party space with catered food and drinks. After dinner, the floor may be open for speeches, toasts, and stories that anyone would like to share. 

Who Do You Invite To The Rehearsal Dinner?

A rehearsal dinner is a special moment for the bride and groom to share with a select number of close friends and family. Typically the rehearsal dinner will only include the wedding party and the couple's immediate family including grandparent's - some couples may include a few others. The rehearsal dinner as the last event before the big day is a way to relax and socialize with the ones closest to you. It's also a way for the bride and groom to thank everyone who has helped and supported them during this time.

Bride and Groom sitting as one of their parents says a toast.

Kennedy Blue 'Rosewood' Bridesmaid Dresses: "Rose" & "Caitlin"Mike Zawadzki Photography

Who Pays For The Rehearsal Dinner?

Unlike other time-honored wedding parties, a rehearsal dinner is an event that the bride and groom or their parents usually host. Another event that is interchangeable is a "Groom's Dinner", which is the same in everything except it is traditionally hosted and strictly paid for by the groom's parents. As for a rehearsal dinner, the couple will pay for it or their parents may volunteer to help cover the costs. 

Rehearsal Dinner Invitation Etiquette

The wedding week will be a busy time especially for your family and bridal party. Make sure to plan the rehearsal dinner well in advance and notify everyone who is invited with a month's notice. This is a formal event which can require an invitation. Include if there is a wedding rehearsal, and the dinner details such as location, time, and dress code if there is one.  

Conclusion

From the engagement party to the rehearsal party and everything in-between, there are many different wedding festivities to plan for! It can be overwhelming with all of these parties to add to the calendar as you're busy planning the wedding, but remember that the parties are made for you! Don't be afraid to be upfront and honest about what you're interested in and what you're not. At the end of it all, these parties are an opportunity to spend time with friends and family and celebrate being a bride-to-be!

Bride and Groom running down the sidewalk as guests throw streamers in the air.

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Leave a comment

Jillian Eldridge
June 30, 2022 11:08

Good to know!

Waundricka
June 25, 2022 13:42

This was very helpful!

Noelle
June 16, 2022 08:06

The only parties we’re having are the rehearsal and the wedding itself! Saves a lot of money for the honeymoon.

Elizabeth
June 16, 2022 08:05

VERY useful information for this new bride!

Hannah
May 15, 2022 19:53

Great info! I’ve always wondered what the difference is between a bridal shower and a bachelorette party, so that clears it up!

Katie M.
April 26, 2022 11:33

Thanks for sharing this info; super helpful!

lacey
April 25, 2022 22:11

wow kind of overwhelming helpful i didnt wven think of any of these for my wedding tho im so unorganized i havent started on anything lol this is a helpful way to be gin lol

Emily L
April 19, 2022 20:00

This is a great read to break down the different events. It could also help someone choose which events they would like to have.

Lorianne
April 19, 2022 01:12

A great read! I have to admit, I’ve always been confused on the customs of engagement parties, but this helps! Also, I’m in love the those Rosewood dresses. :O

Amber R
April 19, 2022 01:12

This was great to read and will have to reference back to it when closer to our date. I’m wondering if a wedding party is similar to a jack and jill, just less informal? We have a small group for our wedding but planned on having a large jack and jill

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