bridal shower etiquette


Bridal showers are not the same uptight parties of yester-year.

Besides showering the bride with gifts, they're also a great opportunity for the bride and groom's family and friends to get better acquainted before the wedding day.

Rules are more relaxed but there's still some basic bridal shower etiquette to follow to ensure a good time. Below are some Q's and A's to get you started planning the perfect shower and being considerate of everyone.

questions & answers

Q:If I'm invited to several bridal showers for the same bride. Do I need to buy a gift for each of them?

A:A gift is required if you attend a bridal shower. That is the purpose of a shower. You can attend only the shower you feel is most important and bring a gift, or attend more than one and choose modest gifts to offset the cost.

Q:I am matron of honor in a wedding and cannot afford the cost of the shower. Can I host the shower and present the bridesmaids with their portion of the bill afterwards?

A:It is rude to hand out "bills" if this wasn't discussed. The bridal shower costs are usually divided but must be agreed upon beforehand. Attendants are usually more than willing to pitch in so you can designate an expense to each one or divide the bill after the shower. Whatever is decided, do not settle up in the presence of the bride.

Q:I'm ready to throw a bridal shower but my apartment is small and I'm short on space. The other attendants live out of town. Is it proper etiquette to hold the shower at the bride's mother's house if she agrees? The bride also lives there.

A:It's fine to hold the shower at the bride's house as long as no one else sees a problem with it. Ask mom to help out so the bride will not have to clean up. If this is to be a surprise shower, it will be harder to pull off. On the plus side, the bride won't have to load up and transport her gifts home.

Q:Do I have to send out thank-you notes or can I just thank them for the gift in person? How about thanking guests when I send out thank-yous for the wedding gift? What about by e-mail?

A:Mind your manners and don't try to cut corners. Every guest deserves a gracious thank-you, on paper. They took the time to attend your bridal shower and bring you a gift, it's your turn to take the effort to write out and send thank-you cards. No shortcuts allowed.

Q:How long do I have after a bridal shower to send out thank-you notes?

A:It's a good idea to get them sent out shortly after the party. Typically, they should be sent out before the wedding, unless the shower is a week or two before the ceremony. Your best bet is to set aside time to get them done so that you can focus on final wedding details.

Q:I am maid of honor in a wedding that is quickly approaching. We are pressed for time and my question is, can we wait until after the wedding to have a bridal shower?

A:After the wedding is not a good time for a shower. Most guests will have already presented the bride and groom with their wedding gifts. However, those close to the couple may wish to help out and give additional gifts as they see fit.

Q:Can we invite men to the bridal shower?

A:Men should not be present at the bridal shower unless it is a couples shower. You can compromise. If the shower is in the evening, consider inviting the men to join the party after all of the "shower" activity is over. Check with the bride-to-be first.

Q:Can the couple use the gifts before the wedding?

A:No! If for some reason the wedding gets cancelled, you will need to return the gifts in new condition. There's no compromising here.

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today's tip

Brides: When opening gifts, find and read the cards first so you can announce who each gift is from and it can be recorded for thank-you notes.