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Ultimate Guide to Planning a Memorable Bridal Shower

Picture: Bridal Shower Tasked with planning a bridal shower? Your to-do list may be long, but with the right advice, teamwork, and a thorough checklist, it'll be a breeze! In this ultimate guide to planning...

Bridal Shower Picture: Bridal Shower

Tasked with planning a bridal shower? Your to-do list may be long, but with the right advice, teamwork, and a thorough checklist, it'll be a breeze! In this ultimate guide to planning a bridal shower, we'll cover everything from responsibilities to bridal shower itineraries. Let's dive in and make sure you plan the perfect bridal or wedding shower.

Bridal Shower Responsibilities: Who Hosts, Pays, & Plans?

The first step to planning a bridal shower is to assemble your team. Who's traditionally responsible for hosting, paying, and planning? Who's prepared to help with these roles? Be sure to communicate properly with everyone involved in the bridal shower preparations, so everyone knows their assignment.

1) Who Throws the Bridal Shower?

Depending on the situation, the bridal shower host could be a close family member (like an aunt or a cousin), the maid of honor, one or more of the bridesmaids, or even a close friend who wants to contribute. Sometimes, the mother of the bride and/or the mother of the groom will be the bridal shower host. Whoever has the means and the time to host the wedding is the best option!

Mother of the Bride Picture: Mother of the Bride

2) Who Pays for the Bridal Shower?

The host throwing the shower will typically incur most of the costs. However, if there are co-hosts, they should chip in too! Members of the bridal party, including bridesmaids, the mother of the bride, and the maid of honor should consider contributing. Try not to let the finances fall on one person, especially if the party requires a higher budget.

3) When Do You Have a Bridal Shower?

Bridal showers typically happen 1-3 months before the wedding. Make sure you try to pick a date that will accommodate as much of the bridal party, the bride and groom's family members, and other important guests. If most potential guests live far away, you may need to plan the bridal shower to coincide with the bachelorette party or a holiday that people will be in town for.

Bridal Shower Picture: Bridal Shower

4) Who Is Invited to the Bridal Shower?

Guests typically include the bride's close female friends and family, her bridal party, and her spouse-to-be's close family. Guest lists are normally about 15-30 people but can vary depending on circumstances. If there is only one bridal shower and/or if the bride and groom have a large family, the party may end up being larger.

5) What Is a Bridal Shower vs Wedding Shower?

Traditionally, a bridal shower is a party for the women in the wedding couple's life to celebrate the bride. However, in modern-day, some people opt for a wedding shower so that everyone can be invited, not just the ladies. Depending on the bride's preference and the traditions followed by her bridal party and family, she may prefer to have a wedding shower. A wedding shower would also include her partner and their friends and family of any gender.

Couple Picture: Couple

6) What to Wear to a Bridal Shower

Wondering what to wear to a bridal shower? Bridal showers are typically semi-casual events. If you're in charge of planning the party, you may want to include a dress code on the invitations, especially if you're incorporating a specific theme or color scheme. Guests should try to dress slightly more dressed up than they normally would, but not as much as they would for a rehearsal dinner or the actual wedding. The event is generally modest, so try to shy away from exceptionally fancy, bold, or risqué outfits.

Bridal Shower Picture: Bridal Shower

Bridal Shower Checklist: 2-3 Months Ahead of the Shower

You'll want to start your bridal shower checklist a few months before the shower date! This will give you plenty of time to get everyone on board, send out the invitations, and start looking for inspiration. The most important thing to do during this time is to communicate with everyone who's helping plan and host the bridal shower so everyone is on the same page!

1) Decide Who Is Hosting & Planning the Shower

The maid of honor will most likely be leading the charge for the bridal shower. The maid of honor should coordinate with the bride and the bride's close family members to see who's willing and able to host the shower. The best choice is someone who has the space, time, energy, and financial means to host the guests.

2) Choose the Overall Vibe & Theme of the Bridal Shower

Ideas for themes and decorations can be found in our guide to memorable bridal shower ideas.

3) Set a Budget for the Shower

A bridal shower may cost somewhere between $10-$150 per person, depending on how much you want to splurge on the event. You should decide your budget ahead of time based on the number of people invited. If you have co-hosts, discuss with them how much they want to contribute and what they think is a fair budget.

4) Encourage the Couple to Create a Gift Registry (If Applicable)

A gift registry is the best way for the wedding couple to receive exactly what they need and want. Encourage the couple to create a registry, even if it's just an online one. Online registries are great for couples who have long-distance family members who need to have their presents shipped. Target, Amazon, Walmart, Crate and Barrel, IKEA, and more are great options for a bridal shower registry!

5) Determine Bridal Shower Guest List & Send Out Invites

Your goal is to try to send out bridal shower invitations at least 2 months before the shower date! Start compiling the invite list as soon as possible. Discuss with the bride to get approval of the list you created and make sure you didn't miss anyone. Then, collect everyone's full names and addresses from the bride and her family.

Bridal Shower Invitation Picture: Minimalist Bridal Shower Invitation Template

6) Book the Bridal Shower Venue or Decide on the Location

If you want to use a rented bridal shower venue, make sure to book far enough in advance! Restaurants, catering halls, parks, vacation rentals, and hotels are all great options for bridal shower venues. If you're using someone's house, confirm with them that they are prepared to host the party and then check the venue off your list!

Bridal Shower Host Checklist: 1 Month Ahead of the Shower

About a month before the bridal shower is when you'll need to start buying decorations, favors, and games. You can also start planning the bridal shower menu. Shipping takes time, so make sure to order anything you need to buy a month in advance just in case. This way, you'll have enough time to correct any errors, return or exchange supplies you're unsure of, and double-check that you can find everything you had in mind.

1) Start Purchasing Bridal Shower Decorations

Start ordering decorations early to ensure everything turns out perfect! Order any signs, custom printed stationery, etc. you may need at least a month out. A month should be plenty of time to order custom art and ensure it all arrives correctly before the party. Starting a month out will also give you time to DIY anything you want to do yourself!

2) Plan Out the Bridal Shower Menu

You can't start cooking a month in advance, but you will want to have an idea of what kind of food and drinks you'll be serving. If you're having the party catered, start calling around to get price quotes and make sure you can find the foods the bride likes. If you're cooking most of the bridal shower food, you can start making your grocery list. This would also be a great time to ask if anyone would like to bring a dish for the party to help lighten your cooking load.

3) Order Bridal Shower Favors (If Applicable)

Bridal Shower Favors Picture: Essential Oil Soap Bridal Shower Favors

4) Brainstorm Bridal Shower Games & Activities

Bridal Shower Game Picture: 'Where Were They?' Bridal Shower Picture Guessing Game

Week of Bridal Shower Host Checklist

The week leading up to the bridal shower is a great time to prepare everything for the party! You can get the rest of your shopping done, double-check the guest list, make sure your co-hosts are ready, and print any paper products and photos. This week is the perfect time to cross off any tasks that can be done in advance. This way, you won't be rushing to get everything done on the day of!

1) Shop for Any Food & Beverages for the Shower

Drinks, snacks, dips, and more can all be bought the week before the shower. If you're having the party catered or ordering a custom cake, you may need to pick those up (or have them delivered) on the day of the bridal shower. Make your grocery list ahead of time so you aren't scrambling at the store! Buy your food early enough in the week to leave yourself a day or two to prepare any dishes you're making from scratch ahead of time.

Bridal Shower Food Picture: Bridal Shower Food

2) Check on RSVPs & Reach Out to Guests

About a week before the shower, double-check who has RSVPed from your guest list. You'll want an official headcount so you and your co-hosts know how many people to expect. Reach out to anyone who hasn't responded to your RSVP to check if they plan on attending or not. If you're having the party at home, it'll be especially helpful to know how many people will be there!

3) Connect with Any Co-Hosts to Confirm Plans

You probably aren't throwing this party completely on your own, so some tasks have been delegated to co-hosts and other helpers. In the week before the shower, make sure everyone remembers what they need to buy, do, and pick up. Send out a friendly reminder in your group chat to ensure everyone is prepared and ready to get everything done!

Bridal Shower Glass Cheers Picture: Bridal Shower Glass Cheers

4) Print Out Any Game Sheets or Photos

You can print out all your games, signs, and photos anytime during the week before the bridal shower. Keep them somewhere safe, like a sturdy folder, so they don't get wrinkled or scuffed as you're getting ready for the shower. Double-check everything to ensure there aren't any typos or errors. You may also want to confirm with the bride that she approves of the photos and games you've chosen!

Day of Bridal Shower Checklist

The day has finally arrived! It's crunch time. If you've been preparing in advance, you won't have too many things left to do before the party. When guests start to arrive, you'll want to be ready to greet them and enjoy the party. Double-check your to-do list, pick up any last-minute items, then start decorating!

1) Pick Up Any Last-Minute Items (Food, Ice, etc.)

Some items will be easier to pick up on the day of the party. Cake and other desserts, bags of ice for drinks and coolers, and hot catered food items may need to be picked up at the last minute. We recommend delegating some of these tasks to co-hosts and trusted family or friends so that you aren't running all over town on your own. You could also ask if any of your food vendors offer delivery service!

Bridal Shower Picnic Food Picture: Bridal Shower Picnic Food

2) Arrive at the Venue Early (Along With Co-Hosts)

Our biggest day-of tip for throwing a bridal shower is to get to the venue early! The sooner you get there, the sooner you can start setting everything up. Arriving early will give you plenty of time to ensure everything looks the way you expected. Some guests may arrive early as well, and you'll want to be there to greet them.

3) Start Decorating for the Bridal Shower

You've been envisioning the setup in your head for months, now it's time to put up all those decorations you bought! Set up tables, signs, balloons, and any other decor. Put tablecloths on the tables, set up any activity stations, and add all the finishing touches to the space. Make sure everything looks how you want it to before the bride and the guests start to arrive!

Bridal Shower Decor Picture: Bridal Shower Decor

4) Ensure Food & Drinks Are Ready to Go

After setting up your tables, start arranging your serving stations. Set up a table with beverage options and prepare a space for snacks. If you're serving food later in the party, set up your serving dishes and utensils so you'll be ready when it's time for everyone to eat.

5) Greet Guests & Provide Group Introductions

Greet everyone as they arrive to make sure they feel welcome at the party and make introductions to get everyone talking to each other! Not everyone at the party will know each other. The bride will have friends from work, family members, friends from high school, members of her partner's family, and more all together (possibly for the first time). To help break the ice, have everyone say who they are and how they know the bride. Try to pay special attention to the guests who don't know anyone at the party besides the bride.

Bridal Shower Bride and her Guests Picture: Bridal Shower Bride and her Guests

6) Record Gift Info As the Bride Opens Presents

Someone will need to write down a list of all the gifts the bride receives as she opens them. Be sure to record the guest's name, the gift they gave, and any other important details. This information will make it easier for the bride to write out thank-you cards later. She will likely be receiving a ton of gifts and won't be able to remember every detail while writing the thank-you notes.

7) Thank Everyone Who Helped With Or Attended the Shower

As each guest leaves, be sure to thank them! Let them know they are appreciated whether they helped out with decorations, clean-up, or just took the time to show up. If you have favors, make sure every guest is offered one. Find a way to show extra appreciation for your co-hosts and helpers!

8) Clean Up Everything After the Bridal Shower

No one wants to clean up after the party, but someone has to do it. The sooner you get started cleaning, the sooner it'll be done. Don't be afraid to ask for some help with this task. Everyone can do a little clean-up, and it will be done even quicker with more hands.

Bridal Shower Itinerary Examples

You'll want to have a bridal shower timeline in mind. Bridal showers usually last 2-4 hours. You don't have to keep everyone on a strict schedule if you'd like to have a more relaxed party, but it's still important to have a general plan. The bridal shower itinerary should include the start time, meal time, games and activities, gift opening, and an estimated end time.

Girls at Bridal Shower Picture: Girls at Bridal Shower

Bridal Shower Brunch Timeline

  • 11:00 AM: Guest Arrivals
  • 11:15 AM: Introductions
  • 11:20 AM: Food & Drinks
  • 12:00 PM: Bridal Shower Games & Activities
  • 12:40 PM: Bride Starts Opening Gifts
  • 1:30 PM: Continue Socializing, etc.
  • 2:00 PM: Say 'Thank Yous' & Goodbyes to Guests
  • Cleanup Time!

Bridal Shower Itinerary (Afternoon Shower)

  • 2:00 PM: Guest Arrivals
  • 2:15 PM: Introductions
  • 2:30 PM: Snacks, Drinks, and Mingling
  • 2:45 PM: Bridal Shower Games & Activities
  • 3:30 PM: Serve Dinner
  • 4:15 PM: Bride Opens Gifts
  • 5:00 PM: Goodbyes & 'Thank Yous'
  • Cleanup Time!

Create Your Own Bridal Shower Checklist

Everyone's bridal shower checklist will be a little bit different. Use our checklist as a guide as you create a personalized checklist for your party! Make sure you include everything from bridal shower games to bridal shower themes and ideas. Don't forget to delegate some of the tasks to trusted co-hosts, so you're not going through your bridal shower checklist alone!