Those months leading up to your wedding are filled with opportunities to celebrate, and your bridal shower is no exception. Unlike your bachelorette party, it’s also a great chance to include both older and younger family members in the festivities, meaning grandma and your flower girl can be part of the anticipation and excitement. So when’s the best time to throw a bridal shower? Our experts share some scheduling advice on when to host the bridal shower.
Tradition (and Emily Post) state that the bridal shower should take place between two weeks and two months before the wedding. Seems tight, no? Thankfully, the real requirement for planning a shower isn’t how soon your wedding is, but whether or not you have concrete plans. As long as you and your partner have started planning your wedding and have a date set, any day goes when it comes to throwing a bridal shower.
Finding the right timing is especially important if you live further away from home and would have to travel to attend. Heading home five months before the big day for a dress fitting? Host your shower on the same weekend. Planning to be in town for a week before your wedding day? Instead of making extra trips, choose a date that’s convenient for your friends and family, even if it’s the day before you walk down the aisle. If you’re hoping to spread out the events, look at when you’re scheduling your engagement and bachelorette parties, so your shower isn’t too close to one or the other. This will make sure you’re not taking over your friends’ social calendars, and help them to budget any travel days they might need.
And of course, keep your guests in mind, too. When you start looking at dates, double-check with your VIPs to see if they’ll be available to join in the celebration. If you aren’t involved in planning the shower, make sure your mom or maid of honour knows when you’ll be around. Provide them with a list of weekends when you’re free, so they don’t accidentally plan a surprise shower when you’re going to be away on a business trip. And make sure they have an outfit for you, so you don’t arrive at your surprise afternoon tea in workout gear.
What is the best bridal shower timeline?
There should be a time designated for eating, playing games and opening gifts. There are some extra things to add for entertainment purposes like cake cutting and advice/speeches.
In this blog post, you will learn how to host a bridal shower from start to finish. You will have an understanding of what happens at a bridal shower, the sequence, and how long each aspect lasts.
Keep It Short
Weichelt says bridal showers should ideally last between two and four hours. Anything shorter and guests will feel like they didn’t have a chance to spend time with the bride; anything longer, and they’ll be itching to head home. Three hours might just be the sweet spot, then. Be sure to list a start and end time on your invitations so guests have a clear idea of just how long the party will be.
Time Flies When You’re Having Fun
You’ve heard it before, right? It’s true: Guests will have more fun when they have something to do. That’s why we suggest doing something other than just playing wedding bingo or the Newlywed Game. More and more brides skip the shower games. They would rather spend time socialising. However, there should be more than just gifts. Non-traditional games or activities like flower arranging, cookie or cake decorating, and candle making-are all fun ways to keep guests busy.
Try Something Different
If you’re nervous about timing, it is recommended forgoing a traditional shower in favour of something different, like a wedding tea. Brides to have a wedding tea instead of a shower. With a bridal tea, the gifts are laid on a table with the card of who the gift is from in front. This allows the bride to have more time enjoying friends and families. I always suggest a Sunday afternoon from 1 to 3 PM.
Dos and Don’ts of Planning a Bridal Shower
Do take the initiative to plan it—but don’t plan the entire thing yourself
Whether you’re the honour attendant or a family member, it’s never a bad idea to get the bridal shower conversation going (and the earlier, the better!). But just because you’re game to coordinate and lead the charge doesn’t mean you have to take it all on yourself. Enlist the other members of the bridal party and even the families of the bride and her fiancé to give input and help out too. The best way to go about it is to get everyone together and ask what each person wants to help with instead of assigning duties. Anyone who’s hosting should be included on the invitation as well.
To organise a theme or group activity, but don’t make the bride uncomfortable
Having a bridal shower theme or planning out a group activity will make the planning easier, and it’s a talking point to bring college friends and grandparents together. But before you start making plans to have a sex toy demonstration or take everyone bungee jumping, ask the bride if there’s anything they’d be uncomfortable with. If it turns out they’re anti-tradition and want to have a get-together that doesn’t include the classic games or gifts, then you should respect that and come up with something they’ll enjoy—even if it isn’t your thing.
Do pick a date early on, but don’t forget to ask the VIPs for their availability
Even if you’re planning to wait to host the bridal shower until shortly before the wedding, you’re going to want to make sure you pick a time when most, if not everyone, can come. Figuring out multiple schedules can be a lot of back and forth, so it’s best to start early and pick a date way in advance. Depending on where guests live, they may need to make travel plans, but if most people are local, you have more options. It’s possible not everyone will be able to come, but there are at least a few people in the immediate family and the honour attendant who should definitely be there, so their schedules might be the deal-breaker.
Do ask the bride for the guest list, but don’t invite anyone who isn’t invited to the wedding
Instead of starting from scratch, you should ask the bride to help out or make suggestions for the guest list. But before you send out invites, just do a quick double-check that everyone who’s being invited to the bridal shower will also be invited to the wedding to avoid any hurt feelings.
Do give some guidelines for gifts, but don’t make the gift-giving too raunchy
Come up with a theme for the gift-giving that ties in with the party. Share the couple’s registry info, but prepare for some guests to bring off-registry items. Our only advice here: Remind guests that the shower is an all-ages affair, and while something tongue-in-cheek, like an artful kama sutra coffee table book, will probably go over okay, you may want to avoid anything outright naughty, like sex toys and triple X-rated lingerie (save those fun goodies for the bachelorette party!).
Do send shower invitations, but don’t go overboard on the paper
Once you have all the logistics together, you should send out invitations, even if most of the guests have helped out with planning the bridal shower. If a lot of guests are coming from out of town, the earlier you send them, the better—at least two months before if not earlier; if most people are local, four to six weeks should be just fine. That doesn’t mean you have to go nuts with the invites—those cute ready-made cards available at any card store are great. And you can even go paperless for this one with the help of a graphic designer or an evite service.
Do serve something to nibble on, but don’t cater an entire meal (unless you want to!)
Having some type of food is a must, whether it’s inspired by breakfast for dinner or a sweets table. Consider catering if you’re throwing a large party, but you could even make some of the main dishes and then supplement with catering additions, or have other guests contribute as a potluck. As long as the party doesn’t cover all of the dinner times, for example, you don’t have to serve a full meal. Light snacks, heavy hors d ‘oeuvres or a continental breakfast of pastries, fruit and coffee, are plenty. Just let guests know on the invite, so they’re prepared.
Do have a loose schedule, but don’t make it too detailed or strict
Keep the momentum rolling by having a general idea of what you’ll do at the beginning, middle and end of the shower. You may need to enlist the help of some other hosts for the gift-giving portion (you’ll need at least two people—one to bring each gift to the bride and another to write down who gave what). Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you have to control every single second. If The Newlywed Game inspires everyone to share their own hilarious stories, let it roll. But having a plan is helpful in case there’s an unexpected lull in the party.
Before the Shower
You should start planning a bridal shower at least four to six months prior to the wedding. A bridal shower is usually thrown about two months before the ceremony, so make sure the date and times work for the bride-to-be, her family and her friends. Send invitations as soon as possible and give a deadline for RSVP.
Bridal Shower Timeline
Now it’s time to get this party started. Here are the elements you will need to make a bridal shower as efficient and useful as possible. Keep in mind that the bridal shower is for the bride, but the guests must be entertained and are occupied.
As the host, you want to keep things moving along so that guests do not get bored. You want to make sure their attention stays on the bride and her upcoming wedding.
Arrivals should last about 15– 20 minutes. Allow guests to take a seat and say their hellos to fellow guests and to the bride to be. This is a good time for the guests to place gifts on the gift table and to admire the bridal shower decorations.
The meal will take up a large chunk of time. Depending on the serving style, allow at least one hour for guests to get their food and eat. This is a good time to talk and get to know the guests and their relation to the bride. The hist should float around to make sure the guests are okay and enjoying their food.
The games depend on the tone of the bridal shower. It is the host’s job to figure out the audience. For example, if the crowd is getting quiet during the meal, play He Said, She Said, that way guests are occupied. If the crowd is more active, you may want to play the Toilet Paper Dress game for some movement.
Time to cut the cake! This is good practice for cutting the wedding cake. This part should be quick. There should be enough time for people to take pictures of the cake and the bride. Once the bride is done with her photo, the cake cutter, someone should take over parcelling out the cake to the guests. While guests eat their cake, the bride should get front and centre and begin opening her gifts.
The bride should begin opening her gifts. This should last about 30-45 minutes. Someone should be available to assist the bride with opening gifts and set gifts aside. Having an extra set of hands will make things buy quicker. One way to keep the part interesting is by playing bridal shower Bingo. Be sure that someone is writing down the gifts and who they came from.
This is the end of the bridal shower say goodbyes and thank the guests for coming. Give away any bridal shower favours you may have and begin the cleanup process. Remember to help the bride pack her gifts up and put them in her car.
Having a bridal shower less than one month before your wedding may be too stressful, as you have so much else going on in the final days before the event. Additionally, friends and family who would have to travel to be there may be less likely to do so in short succession. However, a shower at the start of your engagement isn’t necessarily a great idea either. First of all, you and your future spouse need time to create your registry if you choose to have one. You also want to give your maid of honour (or whoever throws the shower) time to plan and organise.
No matter the length of your engagement, the main concern for the average bride is the availability of her nearest and dearest. Depending on how many guests you hope to invite to your bridal shower, it can be nearly impossible to find a date that works for everyone. Figure out who your VIPs are and work together to find the right date. As long as you have an actual wedding date booked, you can have the shower any time during your engagement period. Whatever time frame causes the least amount of stress for you and the host(s) is what you should choose!