Wedding wisdom so you can stop worrying—and start enjoying—this special event.
More formal than the bachelorette party, the bridal shower tends to follow a few basic guidelines to ensure everything runs smoothly. From who should host to who to invite and what to do to what gifts to register for, here's what you asked us about traditional wedding shower rules.
My mom is insisting that we play a game at my bridal shower, though I'm shy and would rather not. Do I have to oblige?
No, but you should consider it—an organized activity actually takes the spotlight off you, which you'll likely welcome after opening presents front and center (another shower tradition). When your gals join in, you'll be far from flying solo. You can also choose an activity centered around a favorite theme that doubles as built-in entertainment and helps guests get to know one another more easily. If you're a foodie, ask the hosts to invite a local chef to lead a simple cooking lesson based on your most-loved eats. Or recommend something that results in a favor, such as bracelets made during a jewelry workshop or mugs from a pottery class.
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Can my aunt throw me a bridal shower?
In a word: yes. Although showers were traditionally hosted by the maid of honor, these days the rules are a lot more flexible (groom showers, we're talking about you). In the past, a family member hosting the shower was seen as making a grab for gifts on behalf of the bride, but that's outdated thinking that we're happy to see change. Just make sure she runs her plans by the bridesmaids so they can attend—or help out.
A bride can have more than one shower, as long as the guest lists are different. If the same people will be invited to both, suggest that the hosts collaborate on a joint celebration instead. The exception to that rule: Your mom, future mother-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, and sometimes attendants are usually invited to every shower thrown in your honor. Just remind them that they needn't attend all of them, and that if they attend more than one, they don't need to give you more than one present.
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My sister and I are both getting married this year and are each other's maid of honor. Is it okay for us to host one joint bridal shower?
Logistically, combining both events into one would make sense. But the sticky issue here is with the guest list. Having a two-for-one shower works only if everyone who comes is invited to both weddings; otherwise, partygoers will feel compelled to bring presents for a bride whose celebration they're not attending. As sisters, you may share family, but your friend groups may not overlap. If that's true, one way to work around the situation is for you to host a joint, family-only shower in your hometown, so relatives travel for just one party. Then, for those who aren't going to both nuptials throw separate low-key celebrations, like a fun girls' brunch or a day at the beach. Those you can absolutely host for each other.
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People generally understand the desire for a small celebration. But if they're not invited to the wedding, they often feel less charitable about buying gifts and attending events surrounding it. That's why it's best to work from one main guest list, asking people who appear on it (whether closest to your heart or close in proximity) to the ancillary celebrations, like your engagement and bachelorette parties and bridal shower. That said, if you've been clear about your day-of guest list, and your pals still insist on fêting you, it's fine to relax the rules and invite them.
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Great question. Here's another: Are those 'maids going to be named on the invite? If so, they are. Technically, anyone listed as a cohost, whether she's an attendant or a sister, friend, or relative, is expected to pitch in. The organizer (usually the maid of honor) should contact the entire bridal party well in advance of the shower, clearly outlining what the costs will be and asking who wants to help host. If someone opts out of throwing the party, that's fine, but let them decide if they want to contribute; just because they may not be there to enjoy the event doesn't mean that they won't want to participate from afar.
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In a word, yes. For your friends and family, part of the fun of attending your shower is watching you ooh and aah over the gifts they spent time picking out for you (read: something that requires a box, not $50 bills). A better alternative is to throw a theme shower where guests are asked in the invitation to bring a favorite family recipe, piece of lingerie, bottle of wine, DVD for your entertainment collection, or anything else you dream up.
First, work with your hostess to ensure that there's a good mix of people from both families at every table. Then, ask a few stealth assistant hostesses to make a special effort to draw everyone into the conversation. Or, for a less centralized approach, try shower games designed to get people to talk about themselves.
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While it's true that bridal showers often include icebreakers and activities (clothespin game, anyone?) expecting guests to assist in making day-of details like escort cards might be too hands-on. The point of this prewedding party is to celebrate the bride, and tasking attendees with folding, cutting, or writing may be seen as a tedious job best left to your bridesmaids. That said, giving them the choice of helping isn't totally tacky. You could set up two staging areas, one for snacking and chatting, for instance, and the other for crafting, so that people can move easily between them. The point is to keep it light, easy, fun—and completely optional.