Planning a wedding shower is a time honored tradition. Way back when, a wedding shower was thrown to help the Happy Couple gather the items needed to start their happy home. As a result most wedding shower gifts were pots and pans, appliances, towels and linens and other items geared towards the home making bride. Times have changed and so have the rules regarding gifts. Many of the rules regarding etiquette however, have stayed the same.
Who Should Host?
Traditionally, the shower is hosted by the maid of honor or bridal party, If not one of these, a sister or close friend should handle hosting duties. It’s considered poor etiquette for the mother of the bride.
What Type of Shower?
Would you like the shower to be a surprise? If so, this will need to be indicated on the invitation so no one inadvertently spills the beans when speaking with the bride-to-be. If you feel a surprise is going to be difficult to pull off, you might consider telling the guest of honor. There’s no rule stating the bride has to be surprised.
What About the Groom?
Should men be invited to a shower? Back in the day, wedding showers were only for women. These days, hosting a “couples” shower is more acceptable. Nothing written in the etiquette books discourage this. In many cases, the women open gifts in one room while the men watch a sporting event on television or talk in another room.
At some bridal showers, the men are invited to come after the guests are open in time for food to be served. Whatever you decide is fine.
It’s important not to hold the shower too early. No one wants to think this, but there’s always a chance the wedding won’t go through. The shower is generally held six to eight weeks prior to the big day. You don’t want to cut it to close because the bride is bound to be busy with wedding dress fittings and other last minute wedding planning details.
If the bride knows about the shower, she can furnish the hosts with a list of available dates. If it’s a surprise, the groom and bride’s family and friends will have to work together to pick a date that works for all concerned.
The wedding shower should be held on a day both the mother of the bride and groom can make it, as well as any other special relatives. It’s important not to hurt any feelings.
Knowing who to invite is the tricky part. If the bride knows about the shower, she can give a list of names and addresses. If the wedding shower is to be a surprise, it will probably take a bit more work. Someone in the bridal party can request a list from the bride early on, letting her know eventually a shower will be planned but giving no indication as to when this will happen.
The groom and relatives can help as well. The mother of the bride is bound to know who will be on the guest list and the groom can help with friends and co-workers. The important thing is not to invite anyone to the shower who won’t get an invitation to the wedding. Although, you may invite coworkers who aren’t invited to your wedding.
If the bride knows about the shower or if she’s registered, she can furnish the host with a list of desired items. While it’s not considered the best etiquette to request specific gifts or money in an invitation, it can be noted that the bride is registered. When the guest calls the host to RSVP more detail can be given about wedding shower gifts.
Generally guests arrive at a shower 30 to 60 minutes before the guest of honor. When all the guests are present, it’s a fair assumption that many people may not know each other. Break the ice by going around the room and having everyone introduce themselves and give their relationship to the bride. After that, there shouldn’t be any awkwardness among guests.
Once the bride arrives, one of two things can happen. If the guests want to play some wedding shower games, this would be the time to do so. Otherwise, it’s time to open the gifts. The bridal party should help hand the gifts to the bride, and move them out of the way once they’re opened. They should also be available to whisk away any wrapping paper. One person should be delegated to write down each gift and next to it write the name of the person who gave that gift. The bride will appreciate having such a list when writing thank you notes.
Once the gifts are opened and properly “oohed” and “aahed” over, food can be served. The type of meal provided is up to the hosts and dependent on the time of day. An early afternoon wedding shower would require lunch or snacks and appetizers, while an evening party would warrant dinner being served. Cake is always served for dessert.