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How can I Prepare to Host a Wedding Shower?

By O. Wallace
Updated May 17, 2024
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A wedding shower is a rite of passage for any bride-to-be and the friends who throw one for her. It is believed that Holland was the birthplace of the wedding shower. According to the story, a Dutch girl married a poor miller despite her father’s protestations. He withheld her dowry, which was what the couple would have begun their life with. Because the poor miller had always been generous with his local townspeople, they came together and “showered” the couple with gifts with which to furnish their home.

A modern wedding shower, also called a bridal shower, adheres to the tradition by providing a way for loved ones and friends to help a betrothed couple build their future life together. It is also a time for the bride and her family and close friends to have some time for a quiet celebration before the fuss of the big day. The shower is typically hosted by the bridal party, but any close friend can serve as host. For anyone planning a wedding shower, the seemingly daunting task should be started by establishing a budget, guest list, location and theme.

The wedding shower should be held no more than two months and no less than two weeks prior to the wedding date. Anything closer than two weeks may be too stressful for the bride and her bridal party. The guest list should include close friends, co-workers and family — generally women who are already on the wedding guest list. It is a major faux pas to invite someone who has not been invited to the wedding.

Invitations can be as formal or as simple as budget and time constraints allow. Most stores with a stationary aisle have pre-printed, fill-in invitations or kits to assemble them yourself. Of course, there is always the more expensive option of having invitations professionally printed. Invitations should be mailed approximately four weeks prior to the wedding shower.

Traditionally, only women were included in a wedding shower. Today, however, more and more wedding showers are co-ed affairs. Usually, this type of wedding shower caters to couples and includes a cook-out, beach party or the like.

A wedding shower can be hosted virtually anywhere. Private homes, hotels and restaurants are popular choices, but these days, the sky’s the limit. Showers can be a simple picnic or barbecue in the park or backyard, or an indulgent spa retreat. Location is dependent upon budget and the tastes and preferences of the bridal party and the bride.

A theme should be selected to fit the bride’s personality. Many popular themes include lingerie showers, kitchenware showers and gourmet cooking showers. An “around the clock” wedding shower is an interesting concept in which each invitee is assigned a specific time of day to purchase a gift for. For instance, if assigned 8:00 a.m., a guest might purchase a coffee maker.

A wedding shower menu has endless possibilities. Traditionally, wedding shower menus consist of finger foods that allow circulation of the guests for maximum socializing. Other options include tea, brunch or breakfast, a formal sit down lunch or dinner and a barbecue. The choice is of course also dependent upon budget.

Once all the necessary details of the wedding shower are decided upon, it is fun to include a couple of games as ice-breakers. Favors commemorating the special occasion are also nice to give to departing guests.

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Discussion Comments
By pastanaga — On Aug 20, 2014

@clintflint - The best wedding shower idea I've heard was a couple who had a lot of creative friends and specifically asked for homemade presents for their shower.

It was actually a really good opportunity for their friends, because they could showcase their work in front of others if they chose, or they could just give something as easy to make as baking.

Plus it meant everyone there could use time to put value into their gift if they didn't have much money to spend.

By clintflint — On Aug 20, 2014

@pleonasm - I really don't like the idea of getting people to give presents at both the shower and the wedding. I think it's much classier to tell people for one event that in lieu of presents, you'd prefer that they donated to a particular charity.

This has the added bonus of enabling people who might be more strapped for cash to keep their dignity because the gifts would be anonymous. Wedding shower gifts are probably the better ones to get, though, because you actually have the time to open them in front of everyone, while wedding gifts don't usually get appreciated until the day after the wedding.

By pleonasm — On Aug 19, 2014

I would suggest that you think carefully about what you want for your gifts at a wedding shower and how to encourage people adhere to your wishes. Remember that you'll probably be getting a lot of presents at your wedding as well. And if you're a couple that have been living together for a while, they might all be things you've already got at home.

If you really have your heart set on particular items, then put them on a registry and tell people about it. If you want money put towards your honeymoon, then there are ways to set that up so it's easy for people to contribute.

People tend to either be too creative or too predictable when it comes to this kind of thing and you might end up with lots of duplicate presents or things you don't want if you aren't specific.

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