What is a bridal shower? What to know before you go
So, you've been invited to a bridal shower, but if you're totally honest, you're a little confused; "what is a bridal shower?". Don't be embarrassed, you're not alone in this. Although bridal showers are common in the US and are gaining popularity across the world, they're still not common. Perhaps this is the first shower you've ever been to. Or maybe you are about to become the host of a bridal shower for a close friend and in need of a little inspiration. Regardless of your situation, you're going to need a little help. In this article, we talk about bridal showers. We'll answer the question, "what is a bridal shower?" and then share some helpful information about the components that make this unique occasion totally special.
What is a bridal shower?
Let's get to the basics. A bridal shower is a pre-wedding celebration held in honour of the bride-to-be. The purpose: to shower the bride with good wishes, congratulations, and gifts. It's as simple as that!
During a bridal shower, guests come together to celebrate the bride and have some fun. The event usually includes activities, games, and sometimes even a theme. Essentially, it's an opportunity for the bride's closest friends and family to show their support and celebrate as she embarks on her journey to marriage.
What is the history behind a bridal shower?
You might be surprised to hear that a bridal shower has its roots in 16th century Holland. During this time, the bridal shower emerged as a substitute for the dowry system. Essentially, friends and family would present the bride-to-be with small gifts to assist her in starting her married life. This tradition served as a support for brides, especially those who may have lacked the means to provide a dowry or who faced opposition from their fathers regarding the marriage. Fortunately things have changed a little since then!
Today, bridal "showers" are particularly popular in the US, where many years ago, a bridal shower became a favoured social event. Women of the upper class organised these gatherings to celebrate and exchange gifts, delectable treats, and thoughts about the bride-to-be's impending role as a wife.
A charming tradition emerged during these parties, where attendees would place small gifts inside a paper parasol and "shower" them over the honoured bride-to-be. It was during this era that modern bridal showers, began to take shape!
When is a bridal shower held?
You'll find that most bridal showers are usually held three weeks to three months before the wedding. This is often the case, since during the weeks before a wedding, a bride can be too busy to enjoy a party. Therefore, the months leading up to the wedding, are considered a much better time for a bridal shower.
But forget the rules! You can hold your bridal shower whenever you like; whether it's a year before, or three days before.
So, what is the difference between a bridal shower and a bachelorette party?
All this celebration around a wedding - it's hard to know where one event ends and the other begins. And although a bachelorette or hen party can feel similar to a bridal shower, there are some key differences.
Firstly, a bridal shower is designed to equip the bride-to-be for her forthcoming married life. On the other hand, a bachelorette or hen party is intended for the bride to unwind and celebrate. It often involves a more prolonged celebration and a fun farewell to her current pre-married existence.
So let's get a little more specific. For a hen party, the bridesmaids and the maid of honour will typically plan a night out or a weekend away. Cue the celebrations, champagne, and partying.
During a bridal shower however, the maid of honour (perhaps even with input from the bride) will typically take care of the event. Think brunches, long lunches, perhaps a dinner or a garden party. A bridal party is usually a day time event, whereas a hen party can last for multiple days.
Who organises a bridal shower?
A bridal shower is typically organised by the maid of honour, with help from the bridesmaids or family members of the bride. On the day itself, these girls will run the party, making sure everything goes smoothly. The host (or the group of women) will often take care of all the expenses too, including food, catering, decorations, and anything else required.
Do people bring gifts to a bridal shower?
Gift-giving is a customary practice at bridal showers. As we shared previously, it is a tradition rooted in Dutch and also American bridal history.
Guests often bring presents for the bride-to-be, ranging from sentimental keepsakes to personalised items, homewares, self-care products and much more. In some cases, the maid of honour and the bridesmaids may contribute to a larger gift to make the occasion even more special.
Everything you need to plan a bridal shower
Now you know the answer to the question "what is a bridal shower?"!. It's a great start!
So with the FAQs behind us, it's time to focus on the components of a bridal party that make the event what it is. We're talking about everything from games, to food to outfits, so get your pen at the ready and take note!
Bridal shower themes
While it's not a requirement, some hosts choose to incorporate a theme into their bridal parties. Of course, the chosen theme can influence various aspects of the bridal shower, such as the decorations, activities, and even the attire.
Some popular bridal shower themes include baking parties, yoga-themed gatherings, beach parties, tea parties, disco themes and so on.
Bridal shower venues
Bridal showers can be held pretty much anywhere, making them affordable for guests and adaptable to the bride. For a low-key event, throw it at someone's (most likely the host's) home. Otherwise, you could book a restaurant for brunch or dinner. Looking for a more outdoorsy event? You could also hold a picnic in a park or head for a barbecue on the beach.
Bridal shower presents
If you're attending a bridal shower, you'll want to bring gifts. It's in the name! Here's a short list of gift ideas to ignite a little inspiration:
Something for the wedding day
Custom bridal hanger, champagne flutes, or a jewelry case.
Monogrammed towels, custom-made keepsakes, or engraved jewelry.
Spa day, self-care gift basket, or a restaurant voucher.
Kitchenware and home essentials
Cookware, kitchen gadgets, or stylish home decor.
Wedding planning journal, scented candle, or a bouquet of flowers.
Bridal shower games
A bridal shower is a great time for a bride-to-be's family and friends to bond and get a little silly. Enter the bridal shower games!
Games such as "How Well Do You Know the Bride?" (a quiz about the bride), "Guess the Bride's Age" (guessing the brides age from different photos) and "Bridal Shower Bingo" (wedding related bingo) could make for some great ice-breaker games. Be as creative as you like!
Bridal shower cake
It's not totally necessary to have a bridal shower cake, but cake is always a surefire way to commemorate an occasion. So, why not?
Whether you desire a classic layered cake or a one-of-a-kind creation that reflects the bride's individuality, make yours personal and to the bride's unique preferences. The best part is, not only will a beautiful cake be a feast for the eyes, but also for the tastebuds.
Bridal shower favours
Bridal shower favours can serve as both decorations and useful supplies. There's no rule anywhere saying that you have to have bridal favours, but if you'd like to include them in your plans, go for it! Consider items such as bottle openers, personalised wine glasses, candles, or vases, and where possible customise them for your guests.
When it comes to paying for bridal shower favours, it's typically the host that provides them, however the bride might want provide these as a thank you to her favourite people, her maid of honour and bridesmaids.
Bridal shower invitations
Set the stage for your bridal shower with invitations that add a touch of luxe to your event.
At Peppermint Press our beautiful range of invitations can be personalised to your event colours, wording and details, incorporating fun elements or matching the design of your wedding invitations.
Bridal shower decorations
Depending on where an event is held, bridal showers can be dressed up to match a theme or simply with flowers for an elegant look. Consider integrating confetti, balloons, signage, floral arrangements, flower walls and photographs to create the ambiance and experience you're after!
Bridal shower food
If your bridal shower doesn't involve eating at a restaurant, it's a good idea to think about the kind of food that can be served. Need a little inspiration? Here's what we came up with:
Finger foods and appetisers
Mini quiches, stuffed mushrooms, bruschetta, sliders, skewers.
Charcuterie and cheese platter
Cured meats, cheeses, crackers, olives, nuts, dried fruits.
Mixed green salad with fruits and nuts, Caprese salad, quinoa salad, orzo salads etc.
England inspired sandwiches
Cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, chicken salad.
Mini cupcakes, macarons, petit fours, fruit tarts.
Bridal shower drinks
Holding a bridal party at your house? Or perhaps the house of your bride-to-be? You've got the opportunity to make some cocktails, or serve up some of the bride's favourite drinks. Play your cards right and you could also match them up with the theme or decorations at your party.
Whether it's wine, craft beer or fun cocktail concoctions that will impress your bride, do your research and find out what it is that will take the party to the next level. Remember to be inclusive and serve non-alcoholic drinks too!
Bridal shower outfits
What a bride-to-be and her guests wear to a bridal shower totally depends on the event. Ultimately, you could wear absolutely anything you want. As the organiser of the event, you might like to send out some information with the invitations which will help people plan in advance.
Whether you're going for bikinis, summer dresses, yoga pants or Christmas jumpers, try to match bridal shower outfits to the theme, season or preferences of the bride.