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The bridal shower is a pre-wedding ritual where close female relatives and friends of the bride gather together for a party in her honour, and bring gifts to prepare her for married life. It is often difficult to know whether a separate bridal shower, kitchen tea, and hen’s party should be organised, as well as who should arrange it, and who should be invited.
Here are the answers to some common questions on bridal shower etiquette:
It is perfectly possible for the bride to have a hen’s party, a kitchen tea, and several bridal showers, but where possible different groups of women should be invited to these. For example, family members could be invited to the kitchen tea, friends could be invited to the hen’s night, and work colleagues could be invited to a bridal shower. However, if the bride doesn’t have a huge number of female friends, relatives, and colleagues to invite to these events, it may be better to combine them all into one celebration.
The bridal shower is generally the responsibility of the Maid or Matron of Honour, and traditional etiquette suggests that it should not be hosted by a member of the bride’s family, and certainly not by the bride herself. In recent years the rules have relaxed a little, and it is common for the mother or sister of the bride to host a bridal shower, especially if the Maid of Honour lives out of town. It is still polite for the host to liaise with the Maid of Honour though. An office shower is sometimes thrown just for work colleagues, and this can be hosted by a friend from work.
The ideal time for a bridal shower is four to six weeks before the wedding, when the bride still has plenty of time and isn’t too preoccupied with wedding planning. However, if the bride lives out of town and is just returning home for the wedding, the shower can be thrown in the week before the wedding as long as she is happy with that.
Traditionally bridal showers were small events, with around ten to twenty guests. The female members of the wedding party, such as the Maid of Honour, the bridesmaids, and the flower girls would be included, along with the mothers and sisters of the bride and groom. Additional invitations would be sent to close female friends and work colleagues.
There is a current trend for larger bridal showers, with every female wedding guest getting an invite. Although this is perfectly acceptable, it is not always necessary. Just because you are inviting someone to the wedding, they shouldn’t expect and invite to the shower, although if you invite someone to the shower they can expect an invite to the wedding. The exception to this is an office shower, as it is usually difficult to invite all of your work colleagues to the wedding.
The essential guests for a traditional bridal shower are the mothers and sisters of the couple, and these should always be invited to take part in the organisation of the bridal shower. Perhaps one could be asked to assist with the catering while another is asked to keep track of any gifts and another is asked to help with decorations.