Planning a bridal shower, especially if it’s your first time and you’re not quite sure how to throw a bridal shower for the bride-to-be, is not only exciting and fun but can also be stressful. Having a bridal shower checklist at your fingertips, that lists all the things to do in preparation for the upcoming wedding bridal shower, helps keep the party hostess organized and stress-free.
Showering the bride with gifts, friendship and love by close friends and family is the purpose of a bridal shower, and bridal shower etiquette traditionally says a shower should be held at least four to six weeks before the wedding for practical reasons. If you or someone you know is planning to throw a surprise bridal shower, or the party is being held closer to the wedding date, feel free to adjust the details or timeline of the checklist according to your needs.
If you’re considering throwing a surprise bridal shower, talk with the bride and groom’s family and friends for help with compiling the guest list of full names and addresses. Be sure to include information on the Bridal Shower Invitations and “save the date” cards that the shower is a surprise, so invited guests don’t accidentally spoil the surprise.
Sending out “Save the Date” cards to everyone on the guest list, very early in the planning process, helps build excitement and anticipation for the bridal or personal shower amongst all the attendees, but also alerts all guests to mark their calendar and watch for the formal invitation arriving in the mail soon.
The Knot Wedding Shop says to begin planning the bridal shower and all the details as early as possible, even if the bridal shower is still six to eight or more weeks away. The more time you give yourself to plan and arrange everything for the shower, you will feel more confident and relaxed when the big day arrives, rather than rushed. Last minute bridal showers can be unique and fun too, but hosting a bridal shower at the last minute only adds to the stress and can become chaotic.
Bridal Shower Checklist
6 to 8 Weeks Before the Shower
- Decide the date, time and location of the bridal shower with the bride and groom, unless the shower is a surprise. Does the bride want a women-only shower or a co-ed couples shower?
- Traditionally, the Maid or Matron of Honor is responsible for hosting the bridal shower, with help from the bridesmaids. Confer and decide on the shower budget with all who will participate and help with the expenses, and make a detailed to-do list of tasks and who is assigned to perform each task.
- Prepare the guest list of names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses with help from the couple, or the bride and groom’s family if it is a surprise shower. Review the guest list carefully so no one is forgotten and hurt feelings occur.
- If the shower will be held at a restaurant, private club or special occasion venue, reserve the date and time as soon as possible.
- Decide on the bridal shower theme, style or color. Possible bridal shower themes might be a Wine and Cheese Tasting Shower; an afternoon Tea Bridal Shower; a Beach Bridal Shower; a Hawaiian Luau shower; a Kitchen Shower; a Garden Bridal Shower; a Lingerie Shower, just to name a few ideas.
- Make your own bridal shower invitations or purchase shower invites. Printable bridal shower invitations can be personalized in many ways and printed from your computer on card stock paper, along with personalized envelopes.
4 to 6 weeks Before the Shower
- Prepare and mail invitations (with directions and map) to all invited guests, being sure to include Bridal Registry and RSVP details.
- If you are planning on playing bridal shower games or special activities at the shower, decide which games or activities will be played and gather needed party supplies like pens and paper, plus game prizes and bridal shower favors.
- If catering the bridal shower, reserve the caterer as soon as possible.
- Order the bridal shower cake
- Order the flowers and balloon bouquets (if applicable)
- Make or purchase the shower decorations, centerpieces, paper goods, bridal shower wishing well, candles, music, nametags, etc.
- Brainstorm the menu of foods and beverages to be served at the bridal shower, and create lists of ingredients to buy to complete the shower menu.
2 to 3 Weeks Before the Shower
- Finalize the shower menu and who will bring what, if not a catered event. The menu should reflect the shower theme. Plan to serve a variety of foods and refreshments in appropriate amounts, including a few options for guests who may have dietary restrictions or food allergies.
- Buy your shower gift for the bride from the bridal registry, or if an intimate personal shower, purchase the bride’s personal gift(s) and gift wrap them immediately.
- Purchase champagne or spirits, if serving alcohol at the shower.
- Make your shopping list of ingredients needed for the menu.
- If needed, pick up any borrowed or reserved rental equipment such as punch bowls, cake stands, crystal wine glasses or tea service, serving platters and stereo equipment, party props, etc.
1 Week Before the Shower
- Pick up needed chairs, tables, dishes, utensils, linens, etc.
- Finalize the number of confirmed guests, and make phones calls to guests who have not yet RSVP’d. Catered bridal showers and showers held at special venues or restaurants need the final count in order to know how much food and drinks to prepare and serve, and the final count is part of what determines the total cost of renting the venue space.
- Confirm reservations (if applicable)
- Place food orders (if applicable)
- Clean your home or hire someone to clean for you (if applicable)
- Decide what you will wear to the shower, making sure your outfit is clean, pressed and ready.
- Buy film for camera or purchase disposable cameras for guests to take pictures.
1 to 2 Days Before Shower
- Decorate your home, arrange furniture and set tables (if applicable)
- Set up extra seating or chairs for guests
- Wash and prepare china and/or crystal, if needed
- Have a large trash bag ready for wrapping paper and trash
- Pick up the bridal shower cake
- Purchase beverages, prepare food, buy ice
- Make street signs, if necessary
The Big Day Has Arrived!
- If shower is being held somewhere other than your home, arrive at the venue at least 30 minutes prior to guests and honoree. Shower helper’s should arrive early to help.
- Set out party favors on tables
- Create a gift-opening area with the guest of honor’s chair, scissors, large trash bags, pen and paper nearby for listing gift items and from whom. Save the ribbons for the rehearsal bouquet!
- Light candles
- Pick up balloons (if needed) and finish any last minute decorating
- Prepare and set out beverages or punch, drink glasses, plates, napkins, cups and silverware
- Prepare and set out food on buffet table
- Warmly greet and introduce each guest to others as they arrive
Take a deep breath and relax. Enjoy hosting the bridal shower and have fun, as you have done everything necessary to plan a perfect bridal shower party for the bride-to-be!