Bridal Shower Party Ideas
Let guests help you decorate by asking them to bring a favorite photo of themselves with the bride (the older the photo, the better) and displaying them on a mantel or table. After the shower, you can make a photo album from the snapshots.
Gifts with pretty wrapping can also make a great visual. Instead of stacking them off to the side, have guests set them on a table that's front and center.
Beyond that, let the type of shower and/or its theme set the tone for decorations. Having a brunch? Decorate accordingly. Hosting a wine tasting? Likewise. If it's a ladies-only traditional shower, however, embrace your feminine side with pastel colors and delicate fabrics like lace or tulle over plain tablecloths. Add streamers, balloons and/or flowers and you're set.
The maid of honor typically throws the bridal shower, often in conjunction with the other bridesmaids. But friends, relatives and/or co-workers can also host. If the bride has friends and family across the country, she may even have a few showers. That said, there's an old rule that the bride's sister, mother or grandmother shouldn't throw her a shower, since it may seem like they're begging for gifts for a family member (though yes, technically speaking, the main purpose of the shower is to shower gifts on the bride, no matter who's hosting). If you're the maid of honor and the bride's sister and you want to stick to the strictest etiquette, you can wait for another bridesmaid to offer to host or ask the other maids if they want to co-host and just leave your name off the invite.
Guests should include only close friends and family, so it's typically a small party; certainly no one should be invited who isn't also invited to the wedding. Ask the bride for a guest list — and while you're at it, ask her if there's anything she'd particularly like or prefer to avoid; after all, it's her party. Does she want a ladies-only or coed event? Daytime or evening? Cocktails or tea? Games or no games?
You might also ask her if there's a theme she'd be especially into. Themes can make hosting easier since you can plan everything around them, from gifts to activities to favors. A few possibilities:
- Hobby (like biking or movies)
- Tea party
- Wine tasting/start a cellar
- Chocolate tasting
The host(s) cover the price of the shower, unlike the bachelorette party, so plan your budget accordingly. The maid of honor may ask the other bridesmaids if they'd like to co-host, in which case they help decide on activities, food, etc., and in turn, costs. If you don't want to ask others for money, consider asking each bridesmaid to bring her favorite dish. You can also divide up party tasks, like menu, decorating, music, and so on. Shower guests often get small party favors, so remember to incorporate that into your budget as well.
The shower should take place one to three months before the wedding so the guest(s) of honor have time to write thank-you notes for shower gifts before their honeymoon. If the bride has a lot of out-of-town family and friends, ask if her mom or another close family member or friend is planning a trip to visit her before the wedding and schedule the shower date around that.
Send out invitations six to ten weeks before the party, particularly if the bride is hoping certain family or friends who will have to travel can make it. Suggest that the bride and groom register for gifts before you send out invitations, and if you're planning a themed shower, make sure there are items on the registry that match the theme. Putting registry information on the invitation is generally accepted, since the whole point of a shower is to give the bride gifts; however, there are those who consider it tacky and feel that guests should ask the host, a family member or the bride to find out instead. To be on the safe side, ask the bride if she's comfortable with your adding registry information to the invite.
No matter what you have planned, dress up for it in a dress or nice slacks or a skirt and sweater. This party is all about the bride, so show her you care with a little effort.
Eating, drinking, catching up, playing shower games and watching the bride (and/or groom) open gifts make up the usual shower entertainment, though your theme and/or location may also include other built-in activities, such as a chocolate tasting or spa visit. If you're bringing together a lot of people who don't already know each other well, planning things to do will help ensure that every guest feels included. Here are some ideas, including a few activities even brides who groan over traditional shower games will love:
- I Knew Her When…: To start things off, ask each person to introduce herself and explain how she met the bride and what her first memories of her are. This breaks the ice — and establishes the guest of honor as the center of attention.
- Poetry of Love: Have one guest make up the first line of a poem about the happy couple and write it on a sheet of paper. That guest then passes the paper to another guest, who writes the next line, rhyming it with the first if possible. Before passing the paper to the next guest, however, she folds the paper over so only the line that was just added shows. The game continues in this way until all the guests have added their lines, at which time the guest who finished the poem reads it out loud.
- Tie the Knot: Cut yarn into small pieces; you should have about 10 times the number of pieces as the number of guests you're expecting. Hide the scraps around the room, then tell guests to find as many as they can. Each guest ties the pieces they find together into one continuous length of yarn, and whoever has the longest piece at the end wins.
- That's My Honey's Knee: This is a game for a coed shower attended by a saucier crowd (in other words, you may want to skip this one if the bride's grandmother is a guest). Ask the bride to leave the room. Then have all the male guests and the groom sit in a row and roll up their pant legs to the knee. Bring the bride back in, blindfolded, and ask her to identify which leg is her honey's based on feel alone. It's not as easy as it looks!
- How Well Do You Know the Bride (or Couple)?: Ask guests 20 questions about the bride, from where she was born to how she met the groom. Or ask 20 questions about the couple, from where they went on their first date to how they got engaged. Award a small prize to whoever gets the most right.
- Recipe for a Happy Marriage: Ask guests to write their best advice on how to make love last on an index card, then put them in a recipe box she can use for years to come — both to plan meals and refer back to guests' words of wisdom.
- Bridal Bingo: Even if you don't play any other games, consider this one; it makes watching the bride open a bunch of gifts much less, well, boring. Have guests create bingo cards by making five columns across and five columns down on a sheet of paper, filling each square with the name of an item they expect the bride to receive, like a toaster, lingerie, etc. Every time she opens one of the gifts a guest has predicted, that guest gets to mark that item off. When a guest has crossed off a whole row, column or diagonal line, they yell "Bingo!" and win a prize.
Once you've played a few games, the hostess offers a toast to the bride, and the gift-opening begins. One bridesmaid should take careful notes on what the bride receives, making sure cards go in the right boxes, while another makes a bow-quet by taping gift bows to a paper plate with a hole in the center to pull ribbons through. The bride then saves the fauxquet to use in place of the real one during the wedding rehearsal.
Let the kind of shower you're throwing dictate the kind of food you'll have. An evening cocktail party suggests one sort of menu, while an afternoon picnic suggests another. Check our party guides for more ideas. Your theme may also help you decide what to serve.
Still, when in doubt, it's fun to fully embrace the retro shower standards. For example, try cucumber, watercress and cream cheese or chicken salad tea sandwiches (don't forget to cut off the crusts!). Add deviled eggs and a green or fruit salad, then lemon bars or petits fours for dessert.
The drinks you serve depend on the kind of shower you throw and the time of day. If you plan to serve liquor, it's best to stick to lighter alcohol like sparkling wine for morning or afternoon events, though stiffer cocktails like cosmos (or even hot tea spiked with Irish whisky) may be appropriate for after-dark affairs. Nonalcoholic choices like black and herbal teas, juice, a big bowl of punch, or ginger ale served in champagne flutes are appropriate anytime.
For a ladies-only shower, the girly pink sparkle of a rosé spritzer is perfect. Set out pomegranate juice, rosé and club soda and let guests make their own drinks, mixing soda, wine and/or juice in whatever proportions they wish.
- 4 oz rosé
- 2 oz club soda
- Lemon twist
Fill a wine glass with ice. Pour in rosé, then top off with club soda and garnish with lemon twist.