The custom of the bridal shower is said to have grown out of earlier dowry practices, when a poor woman’s family might not have the money to provide a dowry for her, or when a father refused to give his daughter her dowry because he did not approve of the marriage. In such situations, friends of the woman would gather together and bring gifts that would compensate for the dowry and allow her to marry the man of her choice.
The earliest stories about these events have been known to originate in Belgium around 1860. A frequently quoted legend traces the origin of this practice to the 16th or 17th Century Netherlands. In the United States, bridal showers started in urban areas in the 1890s, mainly among the upper middle classes. By the 1930s, bridal showers had spread to rural America. Although the format has remained relatively consistent, there have been some significant changes. An etiquette guide from the 1920s suggested showers should be “purely spontaneous and informal,” with guests arriving unannounced at the bride-to-be’s home, while a planning guide from the 1950s suggests more complex themes and games. Traditionally, hosting the bridal shower falls to one or more close friends of the bride, often one or more of the bridesmaids. Mothers, sisters, and other close family members should not host bridal showers, as it is rude and greedy for the family to ask for gifts for their own members. Instead, the Maid/Matron of honor, Bridesmaids, close friends and even future in-laws, who wish to celebrate the upcoming wedding may host a bridesmaids’ luncheon, engagement announcement party, or other non-gift-oriented party.
The host(s) cover the price of the shower, unlike the bachelorette party, so plan your budget accordingly. The maid of honor may ask the other bridesmaids if they’d like to co-host, in which case they help decide on activities, food, etc., and in turn, costs. If you don’t want to ask others for money, consider asking each bridesmaid to bring her favorite dish. You can also divide up party tasks, like menu, decorating, music, and so on. Shower guests often get small party favors, so remember to incorporate that into your budget as well.
The shower should take place one to three months before the wedding so the guest(s) of honor have time to write thank-you notes for shower gifts before their honeymoon. If the bride has a lot of out-of-town family and friends, ask if her mom or another close family member or friend is planning a trip to visit her before the wedding and schedule the shower date around that.
Embossed Notes When in doubt, this is the note to send. The size, paper quality, and rich embossing reflect your care in writing. The embossed notes feature an extra large embossed name or monogram. Perfect for thank yous, or inviting guests to your first dinner party as a married couple! Also makes a perfect wedding party gift.
Send out invitations six to ten weeks before the party, particularly if the bride is hoping certain family or friends who will have to travel can make it. Suggest that the bride and groom register for gifts before you send out invitations, and if you’re planning a themed shower, make sure there are items on the registry that match the theme. Putting registry information on the invitation is generally accepted, since the whole point of a shower is to give the bride gifts; however, there are those who consider it tacky and feel that guests should ask the host, a family member or the bride to find out instead. To be on the safe side, ask the bride if she’s comfortable with your adding registry information to the invite.
Tea Bride Invitations show that not all bridal parties are wild and crazy. These elegant invites have a bride ready for a tea party on the front and are perfect for your celebration.
Lovely Placesetting Invitations are a perfect invite for an afternoon celebration with a light lunch or dinner.
Vintage Lingerie Invitations are a throwback to vintage times when were all more care free. Use these fun bridal shower invitations to let loose and relax while enjoying the celebration with your loved ones.
Big Bling Invitations will let your friends now exactly what they are invited to with the big bling of an engagement ring on the front of this card.
Let the kind of shower you’re throwing dictate the kind of food you’ll have. An evening cocktail party suggests one sort of menu, while an afternoon picnic suggests another. Your theme may also help you decide what to serve.
Still, when in doubt, it’s fun to fully embrace the retro shower standards.
The drinks you serve depend on the kind of shower you throw and the time of day. If you plan to serve liquor, it’s best to stick to lighter alcohol like sparkling wine for morning or afternoon events, though stiffer cocktails like cosmos and whiskey may be appropriate for after-dark affairs. Nonalcoholic choices like black and herbal teas, juice, a big bowl of punch, or ginger ale served in champagne flutes are appropriate anytime.
Eating, drinking, catching up, playing shower games and watching the bride open gifts make up the usual shower entertainment, though your theme and/or location may also include other built-in activities, such as a chocolate tasting or spa visit. If you’re bringing together a lot of people who don’t already know each other well, planning things to do will help ensure that every guest feels included.
Guests should include only close friends and family, so it’s typically a small party; certainly no one should be invited who isn’t also invited to the wedding. Ask the bride for a guest list — and while you’re at it, ask her if there’s anything she’d particularly like or prefer to avoid; after all, it’s her party.
You might also ask her if there’s a theme she’d be especially into. Themes can make hosting easier since you can plan everything around them, from gifts to activities to favors.
No matter what you have planned, dress up for it in a dress or nice slacks or a skirt and sweater. This party is all about the bride, so show her you care with a little effort.