Wedding Showers

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Wedding Shower How-to

Sept 2003

My best friend is getting married next summer, and as I haven't ever been involved in a close friend's wedding, I am at a loss. I am one of the two bridesmaids, and I would like to throw some sort of bridal shower but I don't know any of the usual/classic things to do at one. In fact, I haven't even been to one! She is already very busy and stressed, and I want her bridal shower to be fun and happy for her...Does anyone have any ideas of what I should do or how I can get a crash course in weddings? Thanks! -where do i start?

Although there are MANY MANY wedding shower books, websites, and advice chat rooms, there is no such thing as a ''proper'' wedding shower. You want your friend to be stress-free. So, the first thing to do is to ask her how she would prefer to have her wedding shower. Does she want something fancy with catered food and people dressed up? Would she rather have a casual get together at someone's home with a pot-luck? In other words- honor your friend's wishes and she will LOVE the wedding shower you plan for her. Hilary

Buy the indispensible (and inexpensive) book: ''Check List for a Perfect Wedding'' by Barbara Lee Follett. Read it, and then you can give it to the bride. It lists bridesmaids' duties, as well as the traditional routine of a wedding. It also includes suggestions and how-tos for showers, and includes suggested themes.

My personal advice about showers: keep them short and sweet. Try 30 minutes of mingling, then food, then open the gifts, and keep things moving! Encourage the bride to make a guestlist on which everyone knows at least one other person. Be sure to assign someone to keep a list of gifts for the bride. I prefer those that avoid games, although one or two can be an icebreaker. Be sure to take pictures for the bride, and save the ribbons from the gifts. Tie them into a bouquet, using a paper plate, that the bride can carry at her rehearsal. Melissa T

Some brides like parties with all those silly games (I'm not quite sure about most of them myself), but if your friend isn't that type, how about tea at a really fancy hotel. It's a nice shower event for a small group (10 or fewer, I'd say). Otherwise, I'm sure there are books or wedding magazines that can guide you in traditional showers and other wedding issues. anon

Is the bridal shower for the bride only, or is it a wedding shower (which is often for couples)? If the former and your friend is not into the typical ''male stripper'' events, I would invite a few of her friends (ones that are invited to the wedding) to a weekend somewhere - everyone can chip in to pay for a house and do things like hike, or go to a spa, or do whatever a bunch of girls do when they're together. Nice theme gifts are: find a special wine to drink for every year of their marriage; spa and gift certificates for massages and such for the couple, etc. anon

Hi - there are books available discussing how to throw a wedding shower - ask at your local bookstore or search online. However, as a veteran shower host I'll offer the following advice.

Most brides prefer a dignified, sophisticated get-together over the silly games type of shower most people think of first. A brunch or lunch at a restaurant is great, or a gathering at someone's home with brunch or lunch served is great too. Some suggestions for food: bagels & fixings, quiches or frittatas, fruit salad, vegetable salads, chicken or shrimp salads, an assortment of cheeses & breads or crackers. For beverages, depending on time of day, coffee, tea, juice, iced tea, mineral water, wine or champagne (if brunch, mimosas are nice.)

There doesn't have to be a theme to the shower. Guests can bring gifts purchased from the bridal registry, just something on a smaller scale than a full-blown wedding gift.

The flow of a shower is generally 1/2 hour for everyone to arrive, with beverages and snacks available while people socialize. Then bring out the main lunch, let people serve themselves buffet-style, and everone sits with that in their laps & chats. Now you may want one game if the bride is OK with it. There are lots of games on the internet - try to focus on those that don't humiliate the bride or embarrass the mother & mother-in-law of the bride (sex jokes.) Games can seem corny but are good icebreakers to get the guests talking to each other. After games, it's gift time. The bride opens gifts and oohs and aahs and passes the gifts around. If you're a pal, you'll sit next to her and write down who gave her what to help with the thank you notes. Then bring out a cake or desserts, and coffee or tea.

To be the ultimate hostess, arm a couple of guests with disposable cameras and have them roam and take pictures of the the bride in a little photo album.

Roam the room during socializing & eating to refil guests' drinks. Pay particular attention to older guests & offer to get them food if they are sitting in a low chair or couch & would have difficulty rising.

One tradition most brides like is if someone makes a ''bouquet'' of ribbons and bows from the shower gifts. The bride uses this as her stand-in bouquet at the wedding rehearsal.

The important thing is to make the bride feel like the guest of honor, and that she is valued and loved by her friends. This should be a relaxing day for her, so the bridesmaids/hosts should not expect her to lift a finger. Have fun! hostess

For starters, talk to the other bridesmaid because ideally you should throw the shower together. It will cost less and be less work for you. Also, find out if there are any other showers happening. Sometimes the grooms family friend will throw one or something and that will lessen the number of people you will have to invite.

Then you go to the bride and tell her you want to throw a shower for her. If she agrees, work with her on a date and an invite list. But remember that you are throwing a shower for her, so don't stress HER out with the details. Ideally she should show up and have a good time and not have to worry about anything.

Once the date and list are set. Find a location. Your house or (if its just a few people) a restaurant. If you do it in a restaurant, you and whoever is throwing it will traditionally pay the bill (you could get a set menu) unless you let the guests know otherwise. Showers normally are a luncheon (around noon) or tea/snacks (afternoon) or something. Get the invitation out at least 4 weeks in advance and make sure you let them know on the invitation whether it is lunch or snacks or whatever.

At the shower, you provide food. There is usually gift opening. And at some point its nice to have some sort of a ''mixing'' strategy esp if the guest list includes people who don't know each other. You could play a game or simply have the bride go around and introduce everyone. Or have everyone go around and introduce themselves and say one thing about the bride (where they met or their fondest memory or their wish for her marriage).

Basically a shower is a little day time get together so that the women of the wedding (it can also be a co-ed thing) can get to know each other and provide support for the bride. Other alternatives to the traditional luncheon shower are 1) if there are just a few people, everyone go to a spa for the day and get a pedicure or something then have lunch afterwards (The Clairmont is nice for this but pricy). You should still send out invitations and organize the whole thing.

2) You could do a hike in Tilden followed by a nice picnic (if its good weather).

The most important thing is that you are doing the shower out of love for your friend. Try to figure out what she would like best right down to the setting and the food (without asking her to choose). You are very nice to do this for her. She will leave feeling like she is so fortunate to have so many people who love and support her. A great feeling when you are about to get married. have fun

At a shower I went to, the guests were broken into groups of three. Each group was given rolls of toilet paper, scotch tape, streamers and scissors and the result was great fun as two people on each team got to dress their bride. My team even scrounged used ribbons and wrapping paper from the opened shower gifts to make me a cross between Chiquita bananna and Queen for a day. We also had the Mermaid Lady, and a third splendor beyond description. The ''judges'' couldn't stop laughing at us all long enough to award a prize.

The other party game involved giving everyone a cheap wedding ring (round piece of metal) to wear. You had to give it up if you said the magic word, in our case ''marriage.'' whoever was the last one with a ring on was the winner. the rule they forgot to explain was that people could play dirty and try to get others to say the word; if the person did, the dirty-deeder got their ring. Whoever had the most rings at the end was the winner. though i kept my ring to the end, the winner had the rings of five other people -- and was clearly the Biggest Troublemaker in a room full of Troublemakers. ns

I threw a shower for my friend last year. The shower was in the early afternoon so we had lunch first then played a couple of games. I did a Google search on the internet for wedding shower games and came up with quite a few. The ones that we played were: 1. Asked the groom to be to answer some questions ahead of time and then asked the bride to be what she thought his answers would be (this was quite funny as we asked some interesting questions...) 2. Divided up into groups and each group was given a roll of toilet paper. They selected a ''model'' and had to design a ''wedding dress'' out of the toilet paper. I think people really had fun with this one and it mixed up the group so that even though a people didn't know each other, they were able to work together and get to know each other. The bride to be videotaped this activity (all the groups were in separate rooms) and she judged which was the best dress. After the games we had cake and she opened presents. Enjoy the festivities! Terry

Traditionally a bridal shower is giving by the maid of honor, so check with her first before starting. It is best to have a shower about 5 to 6 weeks before the wedding so the bride is not really swamped in pre-wedding planning/details. You want to send out invitations at least four weeks before, so you would need to get the guest list from her about a two week before that.For your own peace of mind you want to call anyone on the list who hasn't rsvp'd about a week before the shower, this will help you plan how much food to buy. You need to decide where you want to hold the party, her place, yours, a restaurant. You will want to get her input on whether she wants a couples shower where men attend or is it a ''girls only'' party, and are children welcome. You need to decide what type of food you want to serve (hors d'ouvres only, a brunch, a lunch, high tea) this might be dictated by the time of day you want to have the party. Three to four hours is a good length of time for a party, giving about 30- 40 minutes of mingling before eating, 45 minutes to an hour eating and visiting, 45 minutes for games and 45 minutes to an hour of opening gifts. If she is registered anywhere she can usually get little registry cards that you can add inside the invitations. If not just write on the invitation where she is registered and any online information if it is available. Many times people who cannot attend the shower will send a gift. As for games there are probably books that list all sorts of them--- or online too. The best game ever is to make toilet paper wedding gowns. Divide the guests into teams, each team gets two to three rolls of toilet paper, they select a model for the team and make a wedding dress out of the toilet paper. Each team goes into a different room so there is no stealing ideas. And the bride will judge the best dress. The model wearing the best gown gets a prize (candles, bath salts, etc). Hope this helps! Nicole