There are typically only two real rules that you, your friends, coworkers, or family need to keep in mind when hosting a shower. First and foremost, any guest who is invited to your bridal shower must be invited to the wedding (this includes children). This is a hard-and-fast rule that cannot be broken! The second rule is that you should not have your shower less than two months prior to your wedding. This rule can be broken depending on the circumstances surrounding your wedding and scheduling. It is better to have the shower two to three months prior to the wedding only due to the fact that a shower so close to the wedding might be stressful (as opposed to something that should be fun)!
When making a guest list for your bridal shower, be sure to check with your host(s) about budget and space. You and your host(s) should work together on what would be an appropriate number of guests for the budget and space in which the shower will be held.
What if I do not want guests to bring gifts to my bridal shower?
Typically a shower is centered on showering the bride with gifts. However, you can ask your host to make it clear on the invitations that gifts are not necessary. You should consider making the shower centered on a theme (discussed later in the chapter) or telling your guests to make a donation to a nonprofit organization of your choosing in lieu of gifts.
The guest list should really dictate the type of shower that you plan to have. If you and your guests hate bridal shower games, do away with them! You can have anything from a classic food, drink, game, and present shower to a themed shower!
In the past, etiquette dictated that a bridal shower could only be hosted by your friends, and not by family. Today, as with almost all things wedding, this has changed. Family, friends, coworkers, or anyone else who is so inclined can throw a shower for you. The most common hosts are your bridal party, in combination with your mother and other close family members — but who's to say which other generous (and ambitious) people might have a party up their sleeves?
If your hosts are aware of the other showers you'll be treated to, they may want to gear their own parties in specific directions. For example, your college friends may want to host a lingerie shower. Your coworkers may want to throw a pantry-stocking party, and your in-laws may want to have a domestic house wares party.
Typically a shower is held either at a small function hall or in someone's home, depending on the size of the guest list. The guests are usually women, but your fiancé can come along for the ride if he wants. He probably won't be nearly as excited as you are about the pots and pans and measuring spoons and placemats — but you never know.
No matter how much society wants to make weddings into the most fantastic day of anyone's life, there are some brides-to-be who simply hate being the center of attention. If you get overwhelmed in crowds and cringe at the thought of attending a shower with 100 of your mom's closest friends, here are a few pointers to help you navigate!
Keep cool — even if you're completely overwhelmed, every guest wants to see you looking happy. Try to breathe and smile as much as possible.
Mingle — all of these women have come to celebrate your impending marriage, and they brought you gifts. Say hello to every single one of them and make them feel welcome.
Feed yourself — you're going to have a long afternoon. If you know that you become easily irritated when you feel crowded or hungry, don't turn a potentially bad situation into a disaster.
Fudge it — every gift deserves a sincere (or at least sincere sounding) “ooh” and/or “ahh,” even if you find you're losing steam when you're only halfway through the pile.
Some brides are on edge during pre-wedding parties. Unfortunately, these are the same brides who earn the labels difficult or “Bridezilla.” Don't act as though someone forced you to come to this shower and collect all the goodies. Go into each party with a good attitude and it will go by faster than you think!
The In-Law Shower
How can you possibly attend a shower where you don't know anyone and act as though it's perfectly natural to be opening expensive gifts given to you by complete strangers?
If your future in-laws host a shower for you, you may be meeting many of your husband's relatives for the first time — and you may feel incredibly awkward about accepting gifts from them. Don't. For starters, no one is forcing these women to come to your shower. For another thing, it's a sure bet that your mother-in-law has gone to bridal showers hosted by these ladies (and given for brides your mother-in-law didn't know yet) and that they're returning the favor.
The best thing you can do (when you're surrounded by strangers) at your own bridal shower is to smile and say thank you, and make as much polite conversation as you can. You'll leave those ladies saying, “Wow! We could use more of her type in this family!”
If you are not the biggest fan of your future in-laws, don't dismay! Typically the maid of honor and your mother are always invited to every single shower. So just cling on to them for support throughout and breathe!
Many couples opt for the co-ed shower. Why should the bride have all the fun? Some brides are shy and simply do not like being the center of attention. The co-ed shower is the best way to make sure your groom is there to take some of that attention off of you. Some couples share the same friends and a co-ed shower is a great way to make sure everyone can be involved.
Since co-ed showers tend to be more inclusive (and can be in lieu of multiple showers), be sure you have the right host(s) and space available. Co-ed showers are typically larger showers than bridal showers and you don't want your guests to be cramped in a smaller space.
Typically the groom will invite his groomsmen along with any of his other best friends and their dates. As a bride, feel free to invite your best friends and your wedding party as well. Be sure to serve foods that everyone can enjoy, as opposed to tea sandwiches and iced tea! A barbecue is the perfect setting for a co-ed shower. You might even be able to fit in some fun games like volleyball and a potato sack race! Keep the atmosphere fun and light.
Themed showers are the norm these days with brides having multiple bridal showers. Each host of each shower should be made aware of any particular theme that may be on the horizon at another shower. Most themed showers are centered on a particular room in your home, such as your kitchen or bathroom. Here are a few ideas for you and your host:
Stock the Shelves Shower — have your host say in the invitation that they want to stock the shelves in your kitchen! This would include anything having to do with finding items on your wedding registry having to do with your kitchen from china to salt and pepper shakers.
Lingerie Shower — make sure you don't have the shy ladies on your guest list for this one! Let your host know your measurements so your guests can bring the right size bra, panties, and other fun lingerie items for your honeymoon (and beyond). You will most likely receive something that may not be your particular style. Don't worry; most lingerie stores will take back anything unworn and with tags (so don't ask for the receipt)!
Baking Shower — this shower is to help you get your bake on! No matter where you are in life, baking will happen. Celebration cakes to cookie making with your children or nieces or nephews. This is a shower that helps you get ready for all of those celebrations! Have your host(s) go all out and either buy a festive cake or have a cake or cookie-making shower! (What is a shower without cake anyway?)
Wine Shower — what a better way to celebrate than with wine? From table wines to sparkling wines, you can keep those bottles stashed away for years and wait for the right occasion for each bottle. Your host can get creative and ask each guest to bring a specific year of wine or type of wine. Have plenty of cheese, chocolate, and palate cleansers available for this party!
Linen Shower — this shower is for stocking the shelves with pillowcases, guest towels, beach towels, and blankets. Your host(s) can ask one guest to bring the laundry detergent too!
Whichever type of shower you end up with, don't forget to say thank you after the event! Make sure you thank the host(s) with a kind letter or a gift. If gifts were given at the shower, a handwritten note to each guest is important. Make sure you have someone at the shower taking notes of who gave which gift(s)!
During the gift-opening part of the shower, put someone you trust (an organized bridesmaid, your mother, a friend — but not your six-year-old niece) in charge of recording each gift and who gave it. Choose someone who can keep things organized even if the party gets hectic, so that when you sit down to write your thank-you notes, you won't come off sounding like a confused bride. (You don't want to thank your Aunt Marion for the gift that Aunt Mary gave you, and vice versa.)
Make sure the person charged with keeping track of who gave you which gift understands the importance of the task. You don't want to see this person chit-chatting or hitting the buffet while you're working your way through the stack of presents.
Everyone has a definite opinion on shower games: You either love 'em or you hate 'em. Unfortunately, your personal feelings and the opinions of your guests (and most importantly your host or hostess) may be different, so in the interest of keeping everyone amused and happy, showers often include games. If you hate them, and your hostess wants to have them — try to be courteous!
Think of this as a way to liven things up a bit for your guests. Alas, even the most engaging party games can encounter some initial resistance from a party pooper or two. If you offer prizes for the winners of these games, though, even the biggest wet blankets may be encouraged to play! Following are some ideas for fun shower games.
Guess the Goodies — fill a large decorative jar with white or colored candies. Ask the guests to guess how many candies are in the jar. They can take as long as they want to hazard a guess; at the end of the shower, they hand in their answers on a slip of paper. The person who comes closest to the number without going over wins the jar and the candy (and maybe an additional prize).
Famous Couple Trivia — try developing some trivia questions with a love theme for your shower. Sample questions include these:
Who was Tom Cruise's first wife? (Mimi Rogers)
Who did Prince Rainier marry? (Grace Kelly)
Who dies first in Romeo and Juliet ? (Romeo)
Make up your own questions — it's a fun game and most of the guests will have an equal chance of winning if you include questions about couples from every generation represented at your shower. Set a time limit for answers, and give a prize to the winner. The person with the most correct answers wins.
Knowing Your Groom — have the hostess of the party interrogate your groom to come up with fun and interesting facts about your husband-to-be. See who gets the most answers. Naturally, the bride should know all the answers!
A word to the wise: Keep it clean, especially if you're in mixed company. It's one thing to play rowdy games when you're sitting around with your girlfriends — it's quite another to include Grandma and Great-Aunt Ruth. You'll send them packing, and they won't look back.
Prizes are the bribe you'll need to get some of your guests to play these games. For others, game playing is nothing less than an expectation. But what kind of prizes? New cars? Small appliances? An all-expense-paid tropical vacation for two? Nope!
Winners of shower games expect something useful, but not something that's incredibly cheap. When your hosts (or you) are out looking for prizes, think middle-of-the-road. You don't want anything too expensive, but nothing should look like it came from the dollar store, either. Some suggestions include books, note cards or stationery, coffee/tea mugs, candy, bubble bath/bath oils, decorative magnets, coasters, house plants, etc.
To guard against the possibility of a riot, prepared hosts will have more than one prize on hand for each game, just in case there's a tie.
The prizes should be wrapped, if possible to ensure maximum suspense for the guests (“Ooh, I wonder what she'll get!”) and the prize winner as she makes her blind choice (“This one looks like it might be a magnet, but I really want some note cards”).
If there are no ties, or if your hosts are particularly generous, or in the event that the “No Games” opinion wins out, the prizes can be door prizes. When the ladies enter, hand them a number (or a ticket — you can buy rolls of them at your huge warehouse/grocery/household goods store or online). If the tables have place cards, you can write small numbers in the corner of each guest's card. One of the hosts chooses a number, and whoever has the number chooses a prize.