Bridesmaid 101: the Bridal Shower

Though wedding season is over for me this year, I figured it was the perfect time to resurrect my Bridesmaid 101 series. To be clear, I was not on bridesmaid duty most recently, but oh have I done my time (so far!)

Maybe you just got asked to be a bridesmaid for the first time, or maybe you’re a seasoned vet with war stories to share. Either way, this series is for you, because weddings are full of tradition and nuance-y things that there are no real rules for. And on that note, though I’ve been in a few weddings, these posts are 100% my experience and not to be taken as law.

In case you missed the start of this series: we talked about the things you should do FIRST when you’re asked to be a bridesmaid, and of course how to survive or even thrive during a Bachelorette party.

All caught up to speed? Great! Today we’re talking about *~the bridal shower~*.

Now I may have a single female heart of ice, but when did bridal showers become kinda a drag?? I do think there is a right way to do it, and it does not involve a wedding dress made out of toilet paper. (Please don’t be offended because I have been to some really lovely showers.)

+ a case for the Bridal Brunch | This might be my issue #1: bridal showers always happen in the witching hours of empty afternoon (like 1-3) which just feels strange. I’m not saying your shower has to coincide with a meal, but I do think an actual event time anchors it nicely. Bridal brunch (two words: mimosa bar) is fantastic, Happy Hour also works well!

+ size does NOT matter | My sisters & I threw a very intimate (read: small) shower (or maybe it was a sprinkle?) for my sister-in-law, Marisol, and you know what? It was just perfect. We had a group of about 15, mostly just hung out and ate, and a family friend my mom described as “as American as apple pie” said it was one of the best bridal showers she’d ever been do. BOOM.

+ cool it on the games | Because I promise you, no one really wants to play them! Haven’t we all just taken one too many quizzes about the bride and groom? Yes. Will a lack of games make it look like you didn’t plan or make the shower boring? NO.

+ howdy, partner | That said, if you do want to include some kind of “programming”, get the partner (who, likely is not at the shower) involved. Getting the partner to answer some funny questions and playing it back never gets old, and always results in the bride being pleasantly surprised/crying.

+ thematic elements | Seriously, use the energy you saved from not planning games and put it into a theme that brings the house down! This is the time to really GO FOR IT with something the bride loves (friends that are reading: Beyoncé for me, thanks), or maybe an inside joke between you and the bride, or the bride and groom? Themes I’ve been a part of (click through to see more details!): Bollywood, travel, floral; themes I want to be invited to: 80’s, 90’s, Paris, any Broadway musical. And of course you cannot go wrong with classy af wedding colors + gold.

+ skip the lingerie | I had to put this note in here: UNLESS it is a LINGERIE SHOWER, DO NOT bring lingerie as a gift. Bring it to the bachelorette party. Otherwise the bride will be forced to open edible underwear while sitting next to her future grandmother-in-law. Yikes!

+ stop: delegate & listen | So whose job is it to plan the bridal shower? Historically, the Maid of Honor. If there is no Maid of Honor, or if you’re the “Maid of Honor”, what has worked really well for me in the past is splitting up the bachelorette party and bridal shower. No one person needs to be in charge of both. That said, though I usually try to be on the bach team, I always make it a point to be available or help with the shower in some way (organizing an activity, gathering supplies, making decorations, etc.)

+ Also do I have to be there? | Another thing that has worked so well in the past is having the bachelorette party and bridal shower in one weekend (if it’s in California and I’m in Nashville.) This is super ideal and worth pitching to the ‘maids, if the majority of you would be traveling. Of course, it doesn’t always happen this way. If you can’t make it to the shower (but only like, because it’s across the country and not because you just don’t want to go) the bride WILL forgive you. The most important event for you to attend is the wedding, right?

+ But do I have to bring a gift? | In my experience, if you’re: traveling, planning the bachelorette party and bridal shower, your bride really doesn’t expect you to. In all honesty, at times I’ve been so busy with planning that I’ve intended to get a gift but forgotten or run out of time. It is totally nice to just pick up something small on the registry, or treat her to something she didn’t register for, or save your awesome gift for the wedding. BUT: that’s what the next post in the series is about.

Ok, let’s hear your bridal shower loves and laments! What has worked well for you? Are bridal showers so over & just a pain? What’s the best themed shower you’ve attended? Am I just an asshole? I want to hear it all! Share below!!

Missed the first and second installments of Bridesmaid 101? Catch them right here!

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