Written by: Cynthia Rebolledo
Everything you need to know about throwing a bridal shower
For centuries, cultures around the world have had festive ways to celebrate and honor brides, including through pre-wedding rituals. These traditions offer thoughtful details, clarity, and meaning for the bride-to-be. In whatever form they take, bridal showers provide family and friends with precious moments in the bride's life to connect, hope for the future, and learn from the wisdom of generations.
In India (and also carried out in other cultures in the eastern part of the world), during the mehandi ceremony (also sometimes spelled "mehndi"), intricate henna designs are applied to calm, beautify, and bless the bride. In Moroccan culture, milk baths in a hammam are a pre-wedding cleansing ritual. In Chinese culture, a hair-combing ceremony takes place the night before the wedding to cleanse and bless the bride.
The practice of preparing a bride for a new stage in life has evolved with time. The origin of the bridal shower dates back to 16th- or 17th-century Holland—it developed as an alternative to the dowry system—when a young girl's father refused to consent to a marriage because the groom did not have the means to support his daughter. As a result, friends gathered together to give the young couple gifts to start a home.
In the United States, bridal showers became popular in urban areas during the late Victorian era among the upper-urban middle class. By the 1930s, it spread to rural areas. Nowadays, bridal showers are often lavish, tailored affairs.
As we step into a season so inherently rooted in tradition, Giggster compiled a list of five things you need to know before planning a never-to-be-forgotten bridal shower. Here's how to prepare and celebrate the next season of a bride's life to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime.
Make a list and timeline. Check it twice.
To ensure everything is in order and to add a sense of calm for those more prone to worry, create a timeline and checklist to ensure the day is memorable and stress-free. Although bridal showers typically occur two to four months before the wedding, it's best to begin planning at least four to six months before the big day to offer plenty of time to coordinate with important guests and family members to avoid scheduling conflicts. This stage is when you should sort out a guest list—usually consisting of the bridal party, the bride's closest friends, and family.
Google Sheets is an excellent tool for creating a checklist and efficiently managing a budget, guest list, to-do list, timeline, and ideas. Sharing your document with multiple people can help you plan and organize the shower.
Pick a bride-inspired theme or mood.
This is where you can get as creative or stay as simple as you like. The theme should be reflective of the bride and their personality. A mood board on Pinterest can be a great starting point and a helpful way to keep the event cohesive.
Instead of a traditional bridal shower, consider a Julia Child-inspired event for a gourmand bride where guests can partake in a cooking demo and fill out recipe cards for the future newlyweds. If you want something sweet and simple, an outdoor or indoor movie night in the theme of your favorite film might spark some memorable moments.
Send the shower invitations. Don't forget the registry.
Create a guest list consisting of the bridal party, family members, and close friends with the desired size of the event in mind. Once you have that squared away, send out invitations six to eight weeks before the bridal shower (regardless of whether invites are sent digitally or by mail).
Invites should relate to the theme and include essential details such as date, time, place, dress code, and contact information for RSVPs. Don't forget to direct guests to the wedding website or registry should you have one, even though it's not quite yet the big day. Some guests might like the extra time to consider what gifts to give. It's considered proper etiquette only to invite people who are also invited to the wedding.
Have fun with the bridal shower decor and game alternatives.
Pick decor and games that speak to the theme and have fun with them. You don't have to go all out to create a personalized experience for the bride—unless you want to, of course. A photo backdrop can provide a focal point for snapshots to capture the special day. The couple can also use it for the wedding should it fit the motif.
Get creative with DIY decorations to turn out unique customized party details. Those looking for alternatives to playing bridal shower games can opt for a group activity like paint and sip or asking guests for words of advice or ideas for a date night to be written and placed in a jar.
Create a menu for everyone.
Regardless of the theme and location of the event, you'll want to provide food and refreshments that takes the varied needs of your guests into account. You can't go wrong with a charcuterie board—or any type of grazing table for that matter—not only are they beautiful displays, but there's something for everyone.
When it comes to libations, a signature cocktail is a nice touch, but Champagne is a classic option, too. Mocktails are also a thoughtful gesture that ensures everyone can join in the fun, which in the end, is all that a bride-to-be wants.
Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn. Photo selection by Lacy Kerrick.
About Bridal Showers
Now that the big day is finally set (or at least you’ve narrowed down some prospective dates), it’s time to shower the bride with love, well wishes, and gifts. But preparing for a wedding shower takes more than just determining which present will be valuable and memorable for the couple.
Bridal showers are a perfect opportunity to celebrate, eat, drink, share stories, and make the bride feel extra special before the wedding. That’s why you want to hold it in a space where everyone can relax and be comfortable. Although you can organize it at home, choosing the best bridal shower space is as important as picking the right wedding venue.
Any place works, but banquet halls, restaurants, and hotels are worth exploring if you're looking for some popular options. But if you want to build excitement, take your event to the next level by choosing unique and extraordinary bridal shower venues.
The Best Bridal Shower Venues
When selecting a venue, what matters is its ability to bring your vision to life and ensure the bride-to-be had a great time. It could be in a luxury location or just a DIY bridal shower studio. If still unsure, check out these impressive spaces that will get everyone excited for the party.
The ease and convenience of hosting an event in a hotel are unmatched. You can book a suite for a small intimate bridal shower or a banquet hall to cater to more guests. Hotels also have experienced event specialists to ensure everything goes smoothly.
- Studio Spaces
Major cities often have studios for photoshoots, dances, commercials, and other productions. Aside from serving as film sites, they can also provide a dramatic backdrop for an impactful bridal shower. They’re usually small spaces, so you might want to reconsider if you’ve expecting hundreds of guests.
- Industrial Sites
Their hardwood floors, brick walls, soaring windows, open floor plans, and exposed beams make industrial spaces appealing to many event organizers. They love the unique design elements and the vast emptiness that leaves so much up to their imagination. So if you want to go glam and rustic, pick a clean, open, and versatile industrial space for your bridal shower.
- The Beach
Does the bride love the beach, the sand, and the sun? If so, there’s no better place to hold the bridal shower than the beach. Set up a tent and a few chairs or ask everyone to bring their beach towels to sit on the sand while you chat, enjoy a bonfire, and party all night. The only downside is when the rain threatens to ruin your celebration, so be sure to check weather updates before heading to the beach.
What To Look for In Bridal Shower Spaces
It may be convenient and cheap to host the party in your home, but there are many reasons you’d want to do it elsewhere. This guide will help narrow down your search if you’re on a hunt for the best bridal shower venue.
Some people may not care much about the location as long they find their dream venue. But if you want it to be a fun experience for everyone, it should be central to where they would be traveling from. Sure, your main goal is to please the bride. However, you’ll also want to ensure its conveniently located for the majority of the guests and not too far away from everyone.
You don’t have to work so hard and call many different vendors if the venue has enough amenities for your bridal shower. They are a nice bonus and help eliminate some of the burdens off your shoulder, allowing you to focus your time and resources on other essential elements of the celebration.
Before thinking about the additional services or features of the venue, you’ll first need to know its size. If you expect more than fifty guests, you need a big enough room to accommodate everyone on your guest list. Whether it’s a loft, art gallery, ballroom, or restaurant, don’t book it unless you have visited the area and get a sense of its capacity, size, and overall vibe.
Flexibility is now the real game-changer when choosing a bridal shower space. The setting should be versatile and adaptable, providing various options to meet any demands and be able to solve unexpected situations. Since it’s hard to determine how well your plans will work, it’s also a good idea to pick a venue with flexible and responsible staff to quickly respond to your requests.
Bridal Shower Inspirations
Whether you live in a major city or the countryside, there’s always a place that will stand out and ignite your creativity. In case you need additional ideas, here are some impeccable venues to add to your list.
- Garden Bridal Shower
Instead of renting a hotel or crowding into a tea house, why not organize a party in your garden? If no one’s garden is suitable for an event, you can always rent a botanical garden near you. Thanks to the gorgeous foliage and flowers, it doesn't require much decoration and provides excellent photo opportunities.
- Bridal Lunch at a Country Club
Are you an exclusive member of a country club? Perhaps, the bride or one of the guests is and if that’s the case, try organizing an exquisite bridal shower there. Most country clubs now host a range of events, including parties and intimate celebrations. They provide a sense of exclusivity and privacy and the best photo op backdrops.
- Outdoor Bridal Shower Party
Outdoor spaces can come as blank canvases, allowing you to add your personal touch and decorate according to the bride’s style. These venues will definitely unleash your creativity, so don’t hesitate to explore with fairy lights, linens, and blooms. It could be in a backyard, a community park, or a woodland area, providing a more relaxed and enchanting setting for a special gathering.
- Bridal Party at a Local Winery
There’s probably no better way to mingle and celebrate the bride’s upcoming wedding than hosting a bridal shower at your local winery. And if the bride loves wine and liquor, she’ll undoubtedly be delighted to spend time with the people she cares about in an extraordinary setting.