Bridal showers are steeped in tradition. For over a century now, close friends and loved ones have gathered to toast and celebrate each bride-to-be.
The sentiment remains the same today, yet etiquette has changed since the 1860s. Years ago, if the bride’s parents disapproved of the groom and refused to provide a dowry, they expected bridal shower guests to pay for the big day.
Talk about asking a lot from your friends!
This article addresses frequently asked questions, such as who pays for the bridal shower, who hosts, average costs, how to establish a budget, and more!
What Is a Bridal Shower?
While the exact origins of the bridal shower are still unclear, some believe it may have originated in the Netherlands in the 1600s. The original purpose was to provide a dowry for a bride from a low-income family, ensuring she had the homemaking essentials.
Traditional bridal showers today offer a chance to celebrate the bride and her upcoming nuptials.
Gift-giving is still a part of the celebration. Bridal shower gifts tend to be things like home goods, champagne, and personalized picture frames — unique and special Etsy finds.
Key Takeaway: A bridal shower is a party for the bride, and it’s customary for guests to bring a gift priced within the $50-$75 range.
Who Throws the Bridal Shower?
One of the best things about modern bridal showers (and weddings in general!) is a chance to mix tradition with personal preference. There’s no longer an air of stiff stale formality.
Today, it’s common for the maid of honor or matron of honor — sometimes in conjunction with the mother of the bride — to plan the shower. However, the bridesmaids, wedding party, and the bride's family can all pitch in if necessary.
Another modern trend is to make bridal showers gender inclusive. This is what we call a “wedding shower,” a celebration where everyone is welcome and invited to partake in the festivities.
Key Takeaway: Many bridal showers are a collaboration between the maid of honor (or plural maid of honors) and the mother of the bride. Yet, no “rules” prohibit close family members, the wedding party, and friends from helping.
How Much Does a Typical Bridal Shower Cost?
The cost of a bridal shower depends on a few things, like:
By calculating the number of guests (the bride provides the details of who to invite), you can use that figure to help gauge how much you’ll need to spend on food. Depending on your budget, you may decide to go all out or focus on cost-effective finger foods instead.
According to the website Cost Helper, multiply the number of guests by $10-$15 to determine what you should expect to spend on a lower budget.
You’d do the same for a high budget, except multiply the number of guests by $50-$150.
Popular bridal shower themes include brunch, a tea party, and a garden party and include bridal shower favors — usually small items. However, the reality is that a bridal shower can be as creative as those hosting it.
Key Takeaway: The average cost for a gathering of 40 guests is anywhere from $400 to $6,000. Don’t forget to add the cost of an event space if you’re renting one.
Who Pays for the Bridal Shower?
Modern bridal shower etiquette states that the shower host is responsible for paying for it.
Depending on the circumstances, this can be a lot for one person to handle, and there is nothing wrong with delegating both costs and duties.
But what if there’s a bridesmaid who’s a whiz at DIY and decorating — and loves it? Well, then, she can be the one to select and set up the bridal shower decorations and table centerpieces.
Another can be in charge of bridal shower games and put together some fun game prizes for the winners.
Having multiple people working together is an excellent way to take advantage of each person's unique skill set.
But beware, when a handful of people get involved, it’s key to have someone overseeing bridal shower planning as a whole. So find a go-to person to coordinate and make the day as lovely and special as the guest of honor.
Key Takeaway: The host is the one who usually pays for the bridal shower. However, if needed, others can help, too. The planning process can be a beautiful collaboration between the maid of honor, the bridesmaids, the bride's mother, and the groom's mother.
And yes, even the bride can join in if she wants!
Is the Bridal Shower Host Also Supposed to Provide a Gift?
It’s customary for the bridal shower host to give the bride a gift. It can be a small yet meaningful gift, or even something practical newlyweds can use in their home.
Key Takeaway: Yes, the expectation is that the host does give a gift — though it doesn’t need to be outlandish or extravagant.
Can the Mother of the Bride Host a Bridal or Wedding Shower?
The mother of the bride is more than welcome to host the bridal shower. Friends of the bride and loved ones can as well. There are no rules on who can host!
Key Takeaway: Who hosts? Anyone can host.
What Are the Best Places to Host a Bridal Shower?
Bridal showers are usually at the host’s home. Yet, you can really host them anywhere.
Book a favorite restaurant for brunch. Or, head to a brewery or winery, or arrange something at a local spa.
Take budget into account, of course. Hosting in someone’s home usually makes the most sense economically — but again, there are no rules or limits to where you can hold it.
Key Takeaway: Bridal showers are usually at the shower host's home, but the reality is you can hold them anywhere.
What’s the Difference Between a Bridal Shower, Wedding Shower, and a Bachelorette Party?
With all the pre-wedding events, it can be hard to keep each one straight.
Many couples kick off the wedding festivities after becoming engaged with an aptly named engagement party. This is a chance for both families to meet, future bridesmaids to mix and mingle, and everyone gets to celebrate and cheer on the upcoming wedding day.
A bridal shower and a wedding shower are essentially the same things, except a wedding shower is coed. Everyone is welcome!
The bachelorette party tends to be a no-holds-barred fun night out. This one is typically only for bridesmaids and perhaps close family members who don’t have an early bedtime.
Also, some brides love to gather their wedding party together and head out on a quest for the perfect bridesmaids’ dresses and a wedding dress.
Key Takeaway: The engagement party starts everything off. It’s usually a celebratory dinner with close friends and family members.The bridal or wedding shower (coed) is a chance to celebrate the upcoming wedding and enjoy food, drinks, and games. The bachelorette party is a fun night out for bridesmaids.
Can the Bridal Shower Be a Surprise?
The bridal shower can be a surprise. But, of course, the bride needs to provide the guest list.
Some brides may not appreciate a surprise or want to have input in their shower and be part of the planning. Additionally, some people hate surprises.
Key Takeaway: It can be a surprise, but not everyone likes surprises.
From the engagement to the actual wedding reception, wedding planning can feel a little overwhelming.
The biggest key to managing it all? Remember what it’s for: a chance to bring together best friends, family, and loved ones in the ultimate celebration of love. There’s nothing better in the world.