Hosting a Bridal Shower – The Ultimate Planning Guide & Checklist

If you’ve been given the honor of hosting a bridal shower, congratulations! It’s a fun and exciting event that celebrates the bride-to-be and her upcoming marriage. But with so many details to consider, it can also be a little overwhelming. That’s why I’ve put together this ultimate planning guide and checklist to help you navigate through the process with ease.

Hosting a Bridal Shower: Frequently Asked Questions

First things first, let’s start with answering some basic questions, the who, what, how and when of bridal shower hosting.

Bridesmaids toasting glasses of champagne at an outdoor bridal shower

Who is in charge of hosting a bridal shower?

Traditionally, it’s the maid of honor and bridesmaids who are responsible for hosting the bridal shower. However, in modern times, anyone close to the bride can take on this role, including family members or close friends. So, feel free to include the bride-to-be’s mom or soon-to-be mom-in-law (if they’re close!). 

To ensure a smooth planning process, it’s crucial to initiate a conversation among all parties involved as a first step. The maid of honor should take the lead by first consulting with the bride or couple to understand their preferences. Then, it’s important to reach out to the bride’s mother to gain insight into her expectations, followed by communicating with the members of the wedding party.

If you end up with multiple hosts, no problem! There are plenty of aspects to coordinate, so the maid of honor can take lead on doling out responsibilities to all of the hosts, so no one has to feel left out. You might start to feel like Oprah …“You get a job, and you get a job, and you get a job!”

Who pays for the bridal shower?

The bridal shower expenses are typically covered by the host(s). However, if you’re on a tight budget, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for contributions from the other bridesmaids or guests.

Money is always a delicate subject though, so contributions don’t always have to be monetary. If friends or family have extended their offer of support, they could help with DIY decorations (if they’re handy with a hot glue gun!), or making a food item that adds to your menu plans. 

bridal shower hosts counting cash contributions from the bridal party
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

What does a bridal shower typically cost?

  • For a venue event, The Knot recommends budgeting $125 per person for an all-inclusive experience. This covers invitations, food, one or two drinks, cake, centerpieces, games, and prizes.
  • For an at-home event with light catering, the recommended budget is $40 per person. This includes invitations, wine or bubbly, simple decorations, games, and prizes. 

In either case, it is important to set a budget upfront, and stick to it, to avoid overspending. There are plenty of creative ways hosts can pull off a budget-friendly bridal shower including going with a potluck style menu, hosting the event in a friend or family member’s backyard, or contributing their time to DIY most of it. 

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Bridal Shower Planning Checklist Download from the Savvy Swaréy

How long is a typical bridal shower?

To ensure a pleasant experience for everyone, try to limit the duration of your bridal shower to around three hours. This time frame provides ample time for activities and conversations while avoiding dragging on for too long. After three hours, your guests might start to get anxious. Also consider the schedule of the bride and the hosts in particular when setting the schedule.

Who typically attends the bridal shower?

It depends on if you’re looking for the traditional response or today’s modern take. Traditionally, a bridal shower was considered an all-female celebration for the bride, her friends/bridesmaids, and close female relatives from both sides of the family (i.e. grandmothers, aunts, and cousins).

Now, you can pretty much throw tradition out the window if you so choose. For example, it’s becoming more and more common to host a combined shower for the couple. In this case, the guest list could be limited to the couple’s closest friends and family. 

Pink floral centerpiece decoration on table of bridal shower

When is the bridal shower typically scheduled?

A common rule of thumb is to schedule the bridal shower about two months before the wedding. That said, the timing should be based on the preferences of the bride and her loved ones, as well as any logistical considerations.

It’s generally a good idea to avoid scheduling the bridal shower too close to the wedding date, as this can create stress and pressure for the bride and her guests. However, it’s also important to avoid scheduling the shower too far in advance, as this can lead to guests forgetting about the event or being unable to attend due to other commitments.

Bridal Shower Checklist

Bridal Shower Checklist of items that hosts need to plan

Step #1 – Confirm your budget

Once you’ve agreed between the bridal party and the mother of the bride who will be assuming hosting responsibilities, your first step in bridal shower planning is to confirm a budget that the hosts are all comfortable with. Money is always a tricky conversation, so I recommend keeping this conversation open and honest. Understand that everyone has different situations. You might even reach out to each host one-on-one to determine each person’s comfort level. Once you’ve aligned on a budget and everyone’s contributions, you can use a budget planner to keep track of your expenses to ensure you stick to your guns. 

Step #2 – Create a Guest List

Work with the bride (or couple, if you’re planning a couple’s wedding shower) to create a guest list that includes close friends and family members. You can also consider inviting coworkers or other acquaintances if the bride wishes. Once you have a guest list pinned down and your budget set, bridal shower planning can officially begin!

Step # 3 – Set a Date

Setting a date can be a bit of a moving target when you first begin your bridal shower planning. First, figure out a few dates that will work for the bride, the hosts, and any VIP guests. Make sure everyone is factoring in work schedules, holidays, and other events. Once you have these dates in mind, you can explore venue options.

Step #4 – Book Your Bridal Shower Venue

When it comes to choosing your bridal shower venue, there are a variety of options to consider depending on the size of the guest list, budget and desired atmosphere. Here are a some bridal shower venue ideas to consider:

1. Private home or backyard – Hosting the bridal shower at someone’s home can be a budget-friendly option and allows for a more intimate setting.

2. Local restaurant or café – A restaurant or café with a private event space or banquet room can provide a more formal setting and a variety of food and beverage options.

3. Outdoor park or garden – A picnic bridal shower theme or garden party-themed bridal shower can be a fun and relaxed option for a spring or summer celebration.

4. Winery or vineyard – If the bride enjoys wine, consider booking a local winery or vineyard for a unique and picturesque setting.

5. Country club or event space – For a more upscale and spacious option, consider booking a country club or event space with indoor and outdoor areas.

Ultimately, the bridal shower location will depend on the bride’s preferences, guest list size, and budget.

Step #5 – Choose a Bridal Shower Theme

Tea cup with tag "Come Let us Have some tea and talk about happy things" for tea party themed bridal shower

Selecting a bridal shower theme can be a fun and creative process, but ultimately, the theme you choose should reflect the bride’s personality and interests. Some popular bridal shower themes include high tea, picnic, travel, lemon, retro and bohemian.

Here are some steps to help you choose a theme that will make the bride-to-be feel special and celebrated:

1. Consider the bride’s interests and personality – Think about what the bride likes, her hobbies, her favorite color, her favorite food, her favorite TV show or movie, etc. Use this information to brainstorm potential themes that reflect her interests and personality.

2. Consider the time of year – Depending on the time of year, you may want to choose a theme that is appropriate for the season. For example, if the bridal shower is in the summer, you could choose a beach or garden party theme.

3. Consider the venueThink about how you can incorporate the venue space into your theme. For example, if you are having the bridal shower at a vineyard, you could choose a wine-themed bridal shower (“Vino before the vows,” let’s say)

Whatever bridal shower theme you have in mind, it’s important to involve the bride in the selection process. Ask her what kind of theme she would like or if she has any ideas in mind. This will help ensure that the theme is something she will enjoy and feel comfortable with. Also, the most important thing is to celebrate the bride-to-be and have a fun time. Don’t stress too much about finding the perfect theme. When in doubt, keep it simple and focus on creating a welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone involved.

Step #6 – Send Your Invitations

lemon theme bridal shower invitation

Once you’ve chosen a theme, confirmed your guest list, and booked your venue, you’re ready to send out your invitations. Bridal shower invitations should be sent out at least 4-6 weeks before the shower.

You can find a variety of invitation templates online to complement your theme or design them yourself through sites like Canva. Make sure to include all the necessary details, like the date, time, location, RSVP instructions, and registry details. On the registry topic, you’ll need to make sure the couple has at least completed that first step of setting up a registry, even if they’re still working on adding items to it!

Step # 7 – Plan the Bridal Shower Menu & Bar

Choose a bridal shower menu that fits both your theme and budget. For your menu, you may also want to consider a variety of options that can accommodate different dietary restrictions.

If budget allows, I’d recommend hiring a caterer if your venue doesn’t already provide food service. For hosts on a tight budget, you can also consider making the food yourself. Just keep it simple and consider delegating others to help with the food prep to avoid added stress.

Don’t forget to plan for beverages, including non-alcoholic options.

DIY drink bar for bridal shower

Mimosa bars are a popular bridal shower beverage, but you might also consider sangria or punch, especially if on a tighter budget, as these can be made ahead in larger batches. 

Step # 8 – Bridal Shower Decorations

Now, for the fun part! The bridal shower decorations. Set the mood with décor items that fit the theme. This could include flowers or balloons in your shower’s color scheme, thematic table settings, and centerpieces, as well as thematic signage.

Balloon arch for Bridal Shower décor

Step #9 – Music

No one wants to walk into a party where they can hear a pin drop. You’ll want some background music to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere for when your guests begin arriving. Create a playlist that fits the theme and mood of the event. You might even consider hiring a DJ or musician if you want live entertainment (budget permitting of course!).

Step #10 – Book Your Vendors & Rentals

If you’re planning to have your bridal shower catered, be sure to place your order at least a few weeks out from the event date. Check lead times for the caterer you have in mind to make sure you don’t miss the boat on their cut-off time.

Also, if you aren’t using a venue that supplies the tables, chairs, linens, etc., that you’ll need to set up the space, you’ll want to work with a rental company to reserve these items. You might also consider hiring vendors like a photographer, DJ, or florist if needed.

Step # 11 – Bridal Shower Games, Activities & Prizes

As a general rule of thumb, you should plan to have around 3-5 bridal shower games for a 3-hour event. This will allow you to have enough variety and entertainment for your guests without making the event feel too rushed or overwhelming.

It’s important to also consider the interests and preferences of your guests when selecting games. If you have a large group of guests with diverse backgrounds and personalities, include a mix of traditional and modern bridal shower games to keep everyone engaged. Some popular bridal shower games include: bridal shower bingo, He Said/She Said, How Well Do You Know the Bride.

35 Games, activities, and icebreakers your bridal shower guests will love

Ultimately, the goal of a bridal shower is to celebrate the bride-to-be and create a fun and memorable experience for everyone involved. So, choose games that suit the personality and style of the bride-to-be and her guests. Don’t forget to purchase prizes for the winners!

Step # 12 – Buy or DIY Your Bridal Shower Favors

Party favors, though not required by any means, are nice to include if the budget allows so you can show your appreciation for your guests. These could be super simple and inexpensive, or highly personalized and unique to fit the theme. Some popular bridal shower favors include:

1. DIY Flower Bar

This idea adds color, is simple to execute, and doubles as a fun activity for your guests. Simply buy an assortment of 3-5 flowers and fillers (the quantity of each type needed will be dependent on your guest list), scissors, and containers or wrapping for your guests to use to take their arrangements home.

2. Succulents or Small Plants

Miniature succulents or small plants in decorative pots can serve as a lasting and eco-friendly reminder of the shower.

DIY flower bower bridal shower favor idea

3. Custom Cut-Out Cookies

You’ve probably seen these all over your Instagram feed and on Pinterest. Decorated cut-out cookies are extremely popular right now. Not only could they double as a dessert, but they can be customized to fit your theme and serve as a pretty and edible party favor. 

custom cut-out cookies as bridal shower favor idea

Step # 14 – Special Gifts and Speeches

This event is all about showering the bride-to-be with love. Consider giving her a special gift from you and/or the bridal party or making a toast to celebrate her upcoming marriage. This is a great opportunity to express your love and support for her.

Step # 15 – Assign Roles & Responsibilities

Last but not least, as part of your bridal shower planning process, it’s important to make sure you’ve got a game plan for the day of the shower. Delegate tasks to the bridesmaids or other volunteers to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day of the shower. Tasks include:

  • setting up the decorations
  • greeting guests
  • taking photos
  • setting up and/or serving the food and drinks
  • coordinating the games or activities and prizes
  • helping the bride with gifts (handing them to her, disposing of the paper)
  • creating the ribbon bouquet
  • keeping a list of gifts and giftee’s names for thank you cards
  • handing out favors
  • clean up
Delegating tasks for bridal shower. Bridesmaid taking photos of the table set-up.

Sample Bridal Shower Itinerary

Now that you’ve gone through the bridal shower checklist of everything you need to plan your event, let’s take a look at a sample itinerary for a 3-hour bridal shower.

  • 11:00 AM – Guests arrive and mingle
  • 11:30 AM – Bridal shower games and activities begin
  • 12:00 PM – Food and drinks are served
  • 12:30 PM – Bride begins to open gifts (incorporate 1-2 games)
  • 1:30 PM – Speeches and toasts
  • 2:00 PM – Party favors are distributed, and guests depart

Of course, this is just a sample itinerary, and you can adjust it to fit your specific event. The key is to have a good balance of activities and allow for plenty of time for guests to socialize and enjoy the celebration.

In conclusion, hosting a bridal shower is a fun and exciting way to celebrate the bride-to-be. By following this ultimate planning guide and bridal shower checklist, you can ensure that your event is a success and that everyone has a memorable time. Just remember to have fun and enjoy the planning process!

Questions, or feedback? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.

Happy planning, friends,


The Savvy Swaréy


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