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Bridal Shower Etiquette
(For the Bride and Hostess)
Just like everything having to do with weddings there is even etiquette for bridal showers - who to invite, who not to invite, when, where, etc. Both the bride and hostess can find adhering to bridal shower etiquette difficult, which is why we have decided to list the answers to all your questions on bridal shower etiquette in this issue of the Cost-Effective Bride.
* Note:The bridal shower etiquette advice listed here is a more modern twist to some of the traditional rules. Consult a wedding etiquette book (for example, "Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette") for the traditional rules.
Who can throw a Bridal Shower? Traditionally, bridal shower etiquette says that close family members of the bride (sisters and moms) are not supposed to throw a shower for the bride. But, for many brides, there simply is no one else who can or is willing to do it. Therefore, anyone who wants to throw a shower can, bearing in mind that if there are plenty of people who would like to throw a shower for the bride, then the mother and sisters should take a backseat. Bridesmaids do traditionally throw the bride a shower.
When should a Bridal Shower be held? Ideally, the bridal shower would be held 1-2 months before the wedding, but there is nothing wrong with it being held more in advance, provided that the bride can attend.
Who should be invited to the bridal shower?
The mother-of-the-bride and mother-of-the-groom should always be invited to the shower - along with the bride, of course! (As well as step-mothers on both sides.)
Sisters of the bride and groom are also generally invited to every bridal shower, but have the option of choosing to attend just one.
People who are not invited to the wedding should not be invited to the bridal shower.
Other than that, the bride and hostess should work together to come up with the guest list for the bridal shower. Numbers should be kept within the hostess' budget (brides, be respectful of their wishes!) and hostess' you should clearly set this limit from the beginning.
Couples showers are becoming more popular, but keep in mind that this can double the guest list.
Where should the bridal shower be held? Really there is no bridal shower etiquette rule on this. The one exception I would make is that you should never ask people to pay for their meal at a shower. So, if it is not in your budget to have the shower at a restaurant, no matter what the bride prefers, don't!
Are gifts given at Bridal Showers? Of course! This is, actually, the point of bridal showers - to "shower" the bride with gifts as a way to help her start her new life on the right foot. If you cannot attend a bridal shower, there are varying opinions on whether or not you should still send a gift. When in doubt, send one! The bride won't forget that you remembered.
The same rules that apply to addressing wedding invitations apply to shower invitations:
One invitation per guest (even if they live within the same household, unless 16 or under).
Hand address the invitations
Use the formal name of invitees (Mrs. Jane Smith, rather than Jane Smith)
Send invitations with at least a month of lead-time.
Include an address and phone number for guests to call for directions and to RSVP to.
You can include the bride's registry information printed or hand-written on the invitation. Do not include the tacky cards that stores will give you to put in the invitations.
Bridal Shower Games: Games are not a required part of a bridal shower, however, they often serve the purpose of breaking the ice with a group of people that may not all know each other. If games are not going to be played, at least begin the shower with introductions. As a side comment, if games are played prizes are generally given out. (Check out our CEB on "Free Bridal Party Games".)
Thank You Notes: Thank you notes are absolutely required for each person you receive a gift from. If several people go in on a gift with one another, you must write each person a thank you. Send the "Thank Yous" within a couple of weeks of the shower. And, don't forget an extra special thank you for the hostess of the shower. Finally, I have heard it said that it is rude for the hostess to ask the guests to write their name and address on an envelope at the shower, but I personally think this is a wonderful idea. The bride has a lot going on in her life and this little bit of help can save her a lot of time. One great idea is to take the envelopes with the names and addresses on them and make it into a raffle for a prize. Pull one name out of the pile and give them a favor. (Check out our CEB on "How to Write Wedding Thank You Notes".)
I hope that helps you out and answers all of your bridal shower etiquette questions! If you do not see the answer to your question here, please let me know - firstname.lastname@example.org - I would be happy to answer your questions for you!