Hosting a bridal shower for a friend or family member is a wonderful way to show her how much you care about her and how much you want her to be happy in her married years. Of course, if you’ve never hosted a shower before or you aren’t sure about best bridal shower etiquette, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Keeping your thoughts and ideas organized is a great way to prevent getting overwhelmed, so use this list as a starting point for your bridal shower planning.
Two Months Before the Shower
Pick a date! Before you do anything else, you should work with the bride to pick a date for the shower. Usually, it’s better to host a bridal shower up to two months before the wedding, but definitely don’t host it any later than two weeks before the wedding. Earlier is usually better for keeping the bride from getting overwhelmed with events and planning, especially if she is planning a large or a destination wedding.
Rule of thumb: It’s important to include the bride at this stage of planning to make sure you are aware of all the needs and details about the guests. But after this stage, you should take over all of the planning. From this point on, it’s the bride’s job to relax and enjoy her party!
Next, starting planning for the location and theme of the party. If it will be a destination wedding, you may want to pick a venue for the bridal shower that is close to many of the bride’s friends and families, especially if many of them won’t be able to make it to the wedding.
You don’t have to decide definitively on a theme or a color palette this far in advance, but it’s fun to have invitations that reflect the theme and palette, so this may be something you want to figure out before you choose or design invitations.
Next, work on a guest list. Make sure you are including the bride closely in this aspect of planning.
Rule of thumb: if it’s a large wedding, don’t invite anyone who hasn’t been invited to the wedding. If it is a smaller wedding or a destination wedding, it’s a good idea to invite people who are not invited to the wedding or who might not be able to make it to the wedding.
One Month Before the Shower
By this point, you should have a pretty good idea of who will be able to attend and where you are going to host the shower. Now it’s time to start organizing the particulars for the party.
Settle on a theme or on a color palette. You could choose spring decorations and colors if it’s a spring wedding. You don’t have to have a theme, but if the bride has a particular interest or the bride and groom are having a theme wedding or had a theme wedding announcement, it could be fun to reflect that theme in the shower. For example, if the bride and groom are both avid hikers and they met or got engaged on the trail, make it an outdoors or hiking themed party. Enlarge and frame lots of photos of the bride and groom on hikes to decorate the party. Go with a woodsy palette of dark greens and browns. Organize related activities. You could even host the party in a state or national park, or organize a short hike as part of the event.
Of course, you aren’t obligated to have a theme and you may be more comfortable with a more traditional party setup. If you decide to go this route, popular palettes to consider might include champagne, pinks, or cream whites. If the bride has already chosen a color palette for the wedding, consider reflecting that palette at the shower. You can also do some fun DIY projects like making a message board and have people attending write little notes for the bride.
Next, you should set a budget. As you are determining your budget, try to consider what percentage of your budget should go to decorations, gifts, and food.
Finally, consider what you will do for food and drinks at the event. Do you want to have the event catered? Will you hire a bartender to attend? If you are on a budget, can you have friends and family help you prepare the dishes?
At this stage, you should also designate roles for the other members of the bridal party and any other guests who will be helping you out. This might include the bride and groom’s mothers and other family members. Give them clear, concise roles and tell them on which days and with which exact tasks you need help. For example, you might ask a friend to prepare a cake for the day of the event and to come over the day before the event to help you decorate.
Two Weeks to Two Days Before the Shower
If you want to give the bride a gift, set yourself a budget of around $30 to $50. As the shower organizer, you shouldn’t feel like you have to also spend a lot on a gift. Choose something thoughtful and purchase it well in advance to be sure it will arrive on time.
Purchase all of your decorations or any materials you will need to make your decorations. Over the course of the next two weeks, do small preparation tasks everyday like straightening the house, preparing the centerpiece, wrapping the gift, etc. Things to remember:
- Take care of any advance preparation early on. For example, if you need to order customized decorations like custom signs with the bride and groom’s names and pictures, order these well in advance to be sure they arrive on time.
- Order flowers, fruit arrangements, or other centerpieces.
- Prepare party favors. Cute ideas might include mini flower arrangements, small potted plants, small boxes of chocolates, or something particular to the bride and groom. For example, for the hiking couple, make a gift donation in each guest’s name of a small amount towards a nature preserve trust.
The Day Before and the Day Of
Hopefully, with enough planning in advance, you won’t have to do a lot of last minute preparations. Try to leave yourself only small things for the day before like vacuuming and preparing food items that can be made in advance. Now, have fun and focus on your guests and, of course, the bride-to-be!