While showers have evolved into something more relaxed in recent years, you should still know the basics of bridal shower etiquette to avoid a chance of offending anyone. Since there will probably be disparate groups at the shower — friends, family and co-workers, usually — it’s important to understand how everyone should interact. Especially in the case of family: mothers and grandmothers can place great weight on proper bridal shower etiquette, so make sure you know “the rules”!

Also See Shop Bridal Shower Favors | Complete Guide to Bridal Showers

The Maid of Honor’s usually the person who plans and organizes the bridal shower. If she lives out of town, however, it’s fine for someone else to do the honors. Don’t take over without checking with her, though. It’s her privilege, and you should always ask her before assuming anything. If you’re going to do it for her, make sure you keep her comfortably involved through frequent emails and phone calls.

Bridal shower etiquette traditionally says that a shower should take place at least four to six weeks before the wedding. This is just for practical reasons — the bride’s going to be too busy any closer to the ceremony — but if she’s coming home only two weeks before the wedding, talk to her and see how she feels about having a shower in her honor so close to the wedding. Chances are, she’ll think that’s fine if most of her friends can manage to come.

There’s been an uncomfortable trend in recent years for large showers, where nearly everyone the bride knows gets an invite. This isn’t quite what the bridal shower is supposed to be, though. At least by tradition, a bridal shower’s meant to be a small, intimate gathering of the bride’s closest friends and family. Proper etiquette dictates a group of no more than ten to twenty guests.

Who the guest list should include: the wedding party, the mothers of the bride and groom, sisters of the bride and groom, and the bride’s closest friends and/or coworkers. Contrary to some recent practices, it probably shouldn’t include every woman invited to the wedding.

Finally, bridal shower etiquette means making a special point of including the wedding party members … and the mothers. Ask each of these people to take on some particular responsibility, whether it’s recording a list of the givers as the gifts are opened, or running the party games. This will help everyone feel like a key part of this special day.

Also See Shop Bridal Shower Favors | Complete Guide to Bridal Showers

Melanie Doetsch is an author at eBridalShowers.com where you will find further bridal shower ideas. Be sure to check out our new wedding planning guide and much more at http://www.ebridalshowers.com.
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1,607 Responses

  1. Arlene Wilson

    The father of the bride (my son) is not invited to the wedding. Makes me so unhappy as he has been divorced from the bride’s mother for five years. What’s a grandmother to do!

  2. Suzanne

    To Marie who isn’t sure if she should attend a step-daughters shower.
    No you SHOULD NOT ATTEND. the bridal shower and wedding is a special time for the bride and HER MOTHER. Trust me, they want you there less then you want to be there. If you are the reason the brides parents are no longer together (extra marital affair) you should be considerate enough not to spoil this special time for the bride and her mother. Your invitation was extended out of obligation to the Brides father. I am a mother of the bride and I have spent many months in agony over the thought of having my ex-husband’s Mistress Bride attend ANY
    Wedding events. It would be my hope you would not attend the wedding either!

  3. Judy Hopwood

    There are two bridesmaids and the maid of honor standing for my granddaughter. One of the bridesmaids (groom’s sister) has taken over and is running the show. She has asked the mothers and me to contribute money to help pay for the shower. She has planned an elaborate over-the-top event that in my opinion isn’t necessary and I don’t feel it is appropriate for her to ask for monetary contributions. Your opinion please. Thanks so much.

  4. Maria

    My friend is getting married and her sister is the maid of honor. She lives out of state and is not able to plan a bridal shower for her. Myself and the other bridesmaids are planning a bridal shower but not sure who to invite. We were planning on inviting co-workers but some may not be invited to the actual wedding. Is it okay to invite people to the bridal shower that my not be invited to the wedding? The wedding is going to be very small. Hope they understand that. Don’t want to offend anyone.

    • Suzanne

      You need to get a guest list from the bride. A shower is for close friends and family.

  5. Liz

    My mother-in-law is throwing me a bridal shower in a few months. Because the wedding is not being held in either my fiance’s home town or mine, I am having a shower close to my fiance’s town to include their family/friends and a smaller one close to home to include my family/friends.
    Should I be getting my mother-in-law/her friend hosting the shower gifts to thank them for organizing the event??

  6. Mary

    How many weeks before the event should bridal shower invitations be sent?

  7. MnM

    Should a women getting married for the 6th ( sixth } time have a wedding shower ?

    • suzanne

      No, That’s just down right greedy. Nor should she register for wedding gifts. The marriage probably won’t last anyway

  8. Tania

    My sister, Patricia, offered to host a bridal shower for our niece, Linda. She asked Linda for the guest list and Linda asked if she should email it or drop it off. Patricia said either. Patricia never received it and asked for it again and never received it. The mother of my niece, , our sister-in-law, Natalie called Patricia one day and asked for the address of the venue, which is Patricia’s club she’s a member of and Patricia told her and mentioned she hadn’t received the guest list yet. Natalie told her she got it, Linda gave it to her, and the invitations were ready to be mailed, all she needed was the address of the venue. Patricia was shocked and told her she had the invitations all ready picked out and Natalie told her it was all done. Patricia didn’t know what to say. The invitations arrived with Natalie’s name first as host and Patricia’s name second, with Natalie’s number following.

    Patricia was furious, she was going to ask our older sister to co-host as she always has and put her name on the invitation as co-host, but it was too late. Patricia called Natalie and said that since she made her self co-host she will send her half the bill.

    Mind you, Patricia loves throwing showers for all the girls in the family, is the main event planner of the family and does everything in grand styles. She’s also at home caring for her husband who has alzheimers so she was really looking forward to planning the shower she offered to host from start to finish with no help, its some joy in her life she badly needed. And besides that she is the host and its at her club.

    My sister-in-law gave her husband her half of the bill and he went crazy, telling my sister she should learn to call and discuss things prior to planning things when he should have told that to his wife. I have discussed it with my brother and he feels like Patricia tried to embarrass his wife, but in all honesty she embarrassed herself.

    I don’t know how to get it across to Natalie and Linda that they made an awful decision to take over the shower without discussing it with the host. I really need advise from someone about all this because family isn’t listening to family about this at all. Its a shame because Patricia is so hurt she won’t go to Linda’s wedding now.

    I have run out of ways to convey to them all that this was so rude in a nice way. My brother did state on the phone that his wife and daughter were worried that the invitations weren’t going to go out in time so that’s why they decided to take over. Of course, they should have discussed it with the host first, to see where things stand, but they don’t see it that way.


  9. Trisha

    Is it acceptable to hold the bridal shower at the same venue as the wedding reception?

  10. kinikia

    My daughter will be a bridesmaid for a friend in September. One of the mothers of the couple has informed the bridesmaids that it is their job to host a shower, and pay for it, and by the way, we’re inviting 90 people to the shower. This seems a over the top to me, in several ways. How can she and other BMs tactfully make this “obligation” more manageable, financially, without upsetting the Bride, groom & mothers?

  11. Sheree

    I have been invited to a bridal shower for my niece. She has been living with her fiance for several years. They have a beautiful home, fully furnished. Her fiance is quite wealthy. They have traveled all over the world. Am I wrong in being offended she is having a shower and asking for gifts?

    • Dawn

      Sheree, In my opinion, for your niece to have a bridal shower is a great idea…You go into a marriage with the expectation that you only get married once, so you will only ever have one bridal shower. The happy couple’s fortune should have no relevance on it.. You are there to celebrate their future together as man and wife.. and I’m sure you can think of something that you can never have too many of. 😀

  12. chris

    My neighbors just booked a cruise for the week my son is getting married. Do I still invite them to the wedding and shower?

    • Beverley

      Just express personal regret that they will not be with you. I would not send an invitation knowing beforehand that they cannot attend. It would appear to be a request for donations. It is, what it is. Wish them a happy trip and keep the friendship unencumbered.


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