Perhaps you are a newly engaged soon-to-be bride, or maybe you have been asked to attend a bridal shower of a loved one and have no idea what it even means.
Whatever your situation, the idea of a bridal shower can feel alien if it is something you have never experienced before.
Bridal showers and bachelorette parties often get mixed up. However, they are actually quite different. In this article, we will be exploring what a bridal shower is, why you should have one, what happens in a bridal shower, and who should be invited.
What is a bridal shower and why should you have one?
A bridal shower is a celebration for the bride-to-be and their closest family, friends, and loved ones. Historically, a bridal shower was given in place of a dowry.
They are thought to have originated in the 16th century, where brides without dowries, whether due to poverty or a father refusing to approve the marriage, would invite loved ones to bestow gifts upon them.
These days, even with the ceasing of dowries, the tradition of the bridal shower remains strong, and the bride is still gifted.
However, the point is more of a celebration and a showering of the bride to be with gifts, well wishes, and love. It is typically in the form of a party or sit-down meal, often with drinks and games.
As for why you should have one, we first want to make clear that there is no rule that says you must have a bridal shower. Some brides do not like the attention on them that a party would bring, and so they opt for something a little more relaxed.
However, if you do want one, it can be a really lovely way to get together with your closest loved ones and spend some quality time before the wedding.
It was traditionally meant for female loved ones and members of the bridal party (bridesmaids, maids of honor, etc). As such, it could be a great way for female members of the bride’s family to meet female members of the groom’s family.
However, these days, it is far more common to see a variety of people, and even the groom there!
When to have the bridal shower?
It is common practice to have the bridal shower anywhere from 3 months to 3 weeks before the big day.
However, it is totally up to you, your schedules, the schedules of the attendees, and any venues that you want to use.
If you have lots of guests coming from out of town, then it may be a good idea to spread the big day and bridal shower out from each other, so they don’t have to make long trips just a week or so apart.
Likewise, some brides choose to hold their bridal showers on the same week as the wedding or even the day before so that all the loved ones that they want there are already in town for the wedding.
What happens at a bridal shower?
At a bridal shower, you can expect there to be food, drinks, fun, and games. You may well have a formal sit-down meal, or perhaps some more relaxed nibbles and appetizers.
Champagne and wine are usually flowing, or perhaps some signature cocktails created especially for the occasion.
It is common for there to be games and fun quizzes, such as guessing facts about the married couple to be. There may even be gag games that are sure to get some red blushing cheeks and giggles.
Of course, there is nearly always time spent watching the bride-to-be opening their gifts. These gifts may include family heirlooms, wedding day essentials (such as jewelry, the garter, and little keepsakes), there could be lingerie, and there may even be a funny gag gift such as inflatable genitals (yep really!), and naughty adult games! It’s all a bit of fun and totally in the spirit of the bridal shower.
Some bridal showers may take place at settings such as vineyards, spas, art classes, or restaurants. In this case, there may be less chance for games and quizzes, as your activities may revolve around the venue such as wine tasting, massages, cocktail making, and more.
Bridal showers tend to be a little more intimate than, say, bachelorette parties, where the bride is usually drinking alcohol whilst out partying with their friends.
Bridal parties are a little more sophisticated in comparison and catered towards a wider group of people, often including older female members of the family who wouldn’t like to go out partying at the bachelorette.
Who goes to the bridal shower?
You can invite anyone you want to the bridal shower. Typically it will involve the bridal party (bridesmaids, flower girls, maids of honor, mother of the bride, etc), as well as your closest family and friends.
You should invite loved ones from both your side of the family and your soon-to-be spouse’s family. For example, it is a great chance for your mom and their mom to get to know one another.
As the celebration is usually more intimate than your bachelorette party, it is a good idea to invite your family and best friends first. Perhaps your old, wild college acquaintance is more bachelorette party material than bridal shower material!
Ultimately, though, who you invite is your choice entirely. There is no reason why you should stick to tradition. If you want to turn it into a huge celebration for both you and your spouse to be, then there is no reason why that can’t happen!
The bridal shower is certainly a longstanding tradition, and while the original reason for them is long gone in most modern cultures, the celebration is still widely acknowledged.
It can be a lovely way to spend some intimate time with your nearest and dearest whilst you prepare for a long, loving marriage.