Bridal Shower Etiquette



Bridal shower etiquette, with wedding planner Maureen Woodman, is discussed in this podcast.

John Maher:  Hi. I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner for on and off‑site catered events at The Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about bridal shower etiquette. Welcome, Maureen.

Maureen Woodman:  Hi, John. Thank you for having me today.

Who hosts a bridal shower?

John:  Maureen, who hosts a bridal shower, the mother of the bride, or bridesmaids, the maid of honor, or what’s traditional and what’s today’s trend?

Maureen:  I think traditional has always been that the maid of honor should contact the bridesmaids, and the girls should try to plan some kind of bridal shower for their best buddy that’s getting married.

I think a lot of times, again, things have changed so much in the last five or six years, where first you would be going to a function hall, it was bigger, it was more of a party atmosphere. Then people went back to having them small at their house or their backyard. Some people tried to up each other. You’d be at a fancy function hall, and have a sit‑down dinner. Again, do I invite everybody, do I try to cut it down?

That being said, I would say that the same challenges are still there for the bridesmaid. I think if the bridesmaids, depending on the age or the demographic where everyone lives, because everyone lives all over the place now, and the girls are getting married so much older, I think the mother of the bride usually steps in or supplements somehow with the income to help the girls out.

Multiple Bridal Showers

John:  Is it common for brides today to have more than one shower, even?

Maureen:  Absolutely. Again, with that demographic thing. In the old day, you married your high school sweetheart, everybody lived on the same street, and everyone in the neighborhood was going to the wedding. It’s not like that anymore.

These girls are getting married at 30, 32 years old. They have already been to college, they have jobs; they’re all over the country. They may have some of their new coworkers in the wedding, they might have some of their cousins from growing up, they may have their best friend from high school.

John:  Their siblings maybe live all over the country, as well.

Maureen:  Absolutely. Things are just splintered. It’s not like the old days.

You might have to have a shower in a few different locations. Again, if it’s an economic thing, you might have to have three smaller showers. Maybe you have a shower with the groom’s family, a shower with the bridesmaids or the bride’s mom. Maybe you have a work shower, because everybody’s working now. All the girls are working, and they might have a bunch of girlfriends that they want to have a little party.

Bridal Shower Invitations

John:  When should bridal shower invitations be sent out, how far in advance of the shower itself?

Maureen:  Unlike the wedding, where I like a six to eight week lead, I think four weeks is fine. Maybe three to four weeks out, you should be able to get them to go.

Myself, I’m a fan of a weeknight shower, but again, with everybody’s schedule, I think a lot of people they do the showers on the weekend. When people are working five, six days a week now, nobody wants to give their weekend up. I still think that a Tuesday, Wednesday night shower, you’ll get more success on the turnaround or time. That’s my own opinion.

John:  Otherwise you bump up against all those other family plans and things like that that people are trying to plan for the weekends. I know, having a young family myself, that that can be tough to try to fit everything in.

Maureen:  Yeah, and you want to have the best turn out possible for the shower so that the bride get all the presents and gets to see everyone. Everyone now is running around. Like I said, seems like everyone is working six days, and Sunday’s the only day off.

John:  Do people send out paper invitations, or is it OK now to send out bridal shower invitations electronically, like via email or social media?

Maureen:  Sure, I think a lot of people can make it‑‑ That’s something that has changed. Most of the time the bride knows about the shower. Back in the day, the shower was supposed to be a surprise. It was an absolute, 100%, gigantic surprise. Now, I don’t know anybody that’s having a surprise shower. Those days are over.

When you have the invitation, because it’s not a surprise, you can make an event on Facebook, you can text each other, you can do an email blast, you can do an evite, you could do a post card, if you don’t want to spend the money on postage, because the girls are so paper‑conscious now, and waste‑conscious. I wouldn’t be insulted if I got it on an email. That’s the way today is.

John:  So, a little different than the actual wedding invitation itself, which I think is generally still a paper invitation that’s being sent out by mail. Right?

Maureen:  Yeah. I think that people want to spend the money on the invitation, and I think the invitation is still part of the formal wedding ceremony.

Invitations to the Wedding

John:  Another traditional rule, if you will, for bridal shower etiquette, was that if you invited somebody to the bridal shower, they had to be invited to the wedding. Is that still the same?

Maureen:  Absolutely. That’s coming from the major shower. That would be the shower that is run by the bridesmaids, the bride’s mom, or the groom’s mom.

There is still a little place there, where if you have your coworkers, all of them may not be coming to your wedding, and they still may throw a little shower for their friend in the office or somewhere, even though they’re not going.

John:  They probably put that together themselves, knowing that, “Hey, we probably are not going to be invited to this wedding, but we still want to do something nice for our friend or our coworker.”

Maureen:  Absolutely. That could be a separate thing, but that is also very trending. They might have a little theme, it could be lingerie, it could be makeup, it could be a little pocketbook. They just buy little presents, or they go in on one nice gift, and have a little dessert or something, and just say congratulations to their coworker.

Grooms at the Bridal Shower

John:  Is it OK for grooms to attend, or maybe make a little short appearance at a bridal shower?

Maureen:  Yes, I think it’s very common that you see the father of the bride, if the father is alive. I definitely think that you see the groom coming, and you want to do that, especially if there’s people at the shower that haven’t met him yet. I think this is a nice time for the intimate people in your life to meet him, and the people in his life to meet you, the groom’s family as well.

Of course, I think, for some reason, the dad always shows up with the car or the truck to take the presents out of there. Even if you live together, they still end up at your mother’s house for some reason.

I think that if you had a brother, if you were the bride, I think it wouldn’t be unusual to see him. And I don’t think it would be unusual to see the groom’s father there.

Bridal Shower Traditions and New Trends

John:  That’s interesting. What are some bridal shower traditions that are coming back in style, or some new trends that you’re seeing?

Maureen:  I see games, games, games. Back in the old day, we always played games at bridal showers. It’s just bigger than ever. It’s bigger and better, and bigger than ever.

John:  What are some fun games that people play at bridal showers?

Maureen:  They’ll play the scavenger hunt. They’ll play like a truth or dare, to see what went on. They’ll play bridal shower bingo, where they have all kinds of little graphics that represent weddings, or pots and pans, or silverware or something.

Games are popular, and I think games are a good way to bring two groups together. Again, if you have the bride’s family and the groom’s family, and nobody knows each other, I think games and competition always brings everyone a little – you get to see everyone’s real side.

John:  Little ice breakers, and something to just be able to break the ice and get to know each other a little bit more.

Maureen:  Yeah. For fun.

John:  All right, that’s great information, Maureen. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Maureen:  My pleasure. Thanks for having me, John.

John:  For more information, you can visit The Essex Room website at or call 978-768-7335.