Wedding Shower Etiquette Tips

The 1950s brought the idea of organized bridal showers for young ladies who were preparing to get married. Before then, these showers were informal and very spontaneous and included very small and inexpensive gift items. Party planners during the 1950s gave these events structure and organization so that women were more prepared to marry their husbands-to-be. Today, we are still hosting bridal showers for our loved ones so that they can set up their homes more easily once the wedding day has come and gone. Etiquette is a large part of planning, preparing, and pulling off a successful bridal shower.

Thank You

We were taught at a young age to say “thank you,” and receiving a shower gift is no exception. The bride should always send a thank-you note as soon as possible after the shower gift has been opened. There should be a gift assistant keeping track of the gifts being opened with the names of the gift-givers. The bride should get the list at the end of the shower so she can write her thank-you notes. Don’t forget to give big thanks (preferably with a gift) to the friend who threw the shower.

Photo by Pamela V White (Flickr Photo by Pamela V White (Flickr

What to Give

The fun of a shower is to see what each guest has chosen to give the bride. Gift cards and money are not great shower gifts to give. The reason for making bridal registries is to give guests options for what the bride is in need of before her big day. A simple note to remember is that bridal shower gifts are simply less-expensive wedding gifts, as most guests will be purchasing a wedding gift in the near future as well.

An Intimate Gathering

The bridal shower is not to be confused with the wedding reception. Every female who will be invited to the wedding does not need to be invited to the shower. The shower should be a more intimate event with mostly closer friends and family, and it usually shouldn’t exceed 35 people. Anything larger could seem greedy. Usually only those with a close relationship with the bride or groom should be invited. The host does not have to be a bridesmaid but can simply be a close friend. The host is responsible for the planning of the shower, while the bridesmaids are not necessarily needed in the planning for this event. Those guests invited to more than one shower for the bride are not obligated to give more than one shower gift. The bride or groom or their parents should never plan the shower: This appears extravagant and makes you seem greedy as well.


Only people who will be coming to the wedding should be invited to the shower. You should not invite anyone who is not invited to the actual wedding. This will only make them feel bad that they are not wanted at the big celebration. The only exception to this is something like a workplace shower. Not everyone at your place of work may be invited, but they know the bride or groom well enough that they feel comfortable throwing them an informal workplace shower to celebrate their upcoming big day.

Planning the Date

Be sure that your shower date is no earlier than two to three months before the wedding. Plans can change, and weddings can be postponed or unfortunately canceled. When picking a date within that window of time, don’t plan the shower during the two weeks before the wedding day. The bride and groom will be in a frenzy of planning and preparing and don’t need to worry about attending a shower and sending out thank-you notes that close to the big day.

Using the Gifts

Shower gifts should never be used before the wedding day. The reason for this is that if the wedding is canceled or postponed, the gifts should be returned to the gift-givers. When the gifts are unopened and unused, this will be easier. If not, the bride and groom are expected to repay the gift-giver for the cost of the gift if the wedding doesn’t take place.