While your full attention is undoubtedly on planning your dream wedding day, don’t forget about the fun pre-wedding events that you also get to partake in! Your bridesmaids may be planning you a surprise bridal shower, or you may even be thinking of organizing a wedding shower of your own. But wait, aren’t they the same thing?
So What’s the Difference?
A wedding shower and a bridal shower are actually very similar but there are a few key differences…
A traditional bridal shower is held in honor of the bride and typically includes an all-female guest list.
A wedding shower is a joint occasion, hosted for the bride and groom, where guests of both genders are invited.
The word “bridal” can be problematic for some couples, because what if there is no bride? In that case, it’s best to choose a wedding shower… although no one ever said there couldn’t be a groom shower!
Why Have a Shower at All?
The main reason for having a shower is to receive gifts from your nearest and dearest. It’s literally a “showering” of gifts on you and your betrothed; a celebration of your future life as a married couple!
However, a wedding or bridal shower is also a brilliant excuse to get the people you love together before your wedding day. Some friends may not have met your family, some friends may not have met each other, so it’s a really nice way for your closest people to connect ahead of the big day.
It can take any shape or form, so don’t feel like it’s essential to take the traditional route – you can 100% make this day your own!
Should We Have Both?
It is very unlikely you will have both a wedding shower and a bridal shower. As these events are focused on gifts, the costs wouldn’t really be fair on the guests who will be expected to buy for both events!
Who Should We Invite?
The guest list for a bridal shower is traditionally all-female; so your mother, sisters, aunties, and closest female friends should be there.
However, since the guest list for a wedding shower includes guests of both sexes, there is less confusion about who to invite. This idea of a couples shower is becoming more popular these days as they are more inclusive of mutual friends of the bride and groom.
Note: If your guest list is getting too large, you could decide to only invite your immediate family and your wedding party. Also, anyone invited to your shower should also have an invitation to the wedding!
Bridal Shower Vs Wedding Shower Gifts
At a traditional bridal shower, the bride opens her gifts in front of all of the important women in her life.
These gifts would usually be specifically for the bride such as perfume, lingerie, beauty products, or even jewelry. It’s the perfect time to be given sentimental gifts like your ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’.
At a wedding shower, the guests would normally give the type of gift that can be shared and enjoyed by both the bride and groom. Household items, for example, or even experiences to enjoy together such as dinner at their favorite restaurant. Many couples choose to set up a gift registry for their shower but it’s not essential.
There are also amazing wedding registry options for honeymoons, where guests will gift you money towards travel, hotels, or activities on your honeymoon. This is a great way of asking for money from your guests without being quite so direct about it.
Where Do You Have the Shower?
A bridal shower is usually hosted in the home of a friend; usually a member of the bridal party’s. Alternatively, a location such as the bride’s favorite restaurant is a popular choice.
A wedding shower is less of an intimate occasion and will often be held in a restaurant, bar, or some kind of event space.
It is very rare that the couple would host either shower at their own home; it’s nice to have someone else do the organizing!
What Do You Do at a Wedding Shower vs. a Bridal Shower?
Aside from receiving gifts, what do you actually do at these events?
Traditionally, a bridal shower is a daytime event, often planned by the maid of honor or one of the bridesmaids.
There’s always some kind of food – lunch or brunch, plus cake. Depending on the bride herself, there could also be champagne, cocktails, or wine.
After the gifts, there will likely be some bridal shower games to play! This is a great way for people to get to know each other if they don’t already. These could be games based around funny memories of the bride, quizzes about the couple, or wedding movie trivia, guess the wedding-related song… there are loads of fun icebreakers to consider!
The vibe is quite different at a wedding shower which typically happens in the evening, and will usually include dinner and drinks. There are often speeches made by close friends and family members, and gifts are opened at the end of the evening.
What About the Bachelorette Party?
Now, this is an important one… can you have a bridal shower and a bachelorette party? Well not really… it seems that most people go for either one or the other.
If you are a bride-to-be then have a think about which one of these events will be most suited to you and bring you the most joy. If it was me, I would pick the bachelorette party every time… a night (or weekend) to switch off and let your hair down with your best friends – YES!
But some brides will of course prefer a more low-key affair, like a tea party or intimate garden shower. So sit down with your maid of honor or bridesmaids and decide which celebration feels right for YOU.
Whichever shower or event you choose, make sure you take a moment to sit back, look around and remember all the love in the room from your closest friends and family. This is a truly exciting time and these are special days!