Bridal Shower vs. Bachelorette Party: What's the Difference?

 Bridal shower vs. Bachelorette Party: What's the Difference?Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Philadelphia/Stacy Hart 

Before the big day arrives, you’ll get to partake in all sorts of fun pre-wedding celebrations. The wedding shower and bachelorette party are two of the most enjoyable ones!

Many brides agree these are some of their favorite, most memorable moments. 

But before they take place, they often have one big question:

Bridal shower vs. bachelorette party: what’s the difference?

From who’s invited to when it takes place to what activities to expect, here’s everything you need to know about these two oh-so-important events!

The Purpose

Stunning bride in a white dress for her shower or bachelorette partyPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Baltimore/Shair Photography

The first difference between the two is their purpose. 

What’s the Purpose of a Bridal Shower?

A bridal shower is a way to celebrate that you’re a bride-to-be!

A wedding shower is where your friends and family shower you with love (and gifts!) before your upcoming nuptials. It’s the time when most of your guests will purchase gifts from your wedding registry. 

And since most registry gifts are home-related, a bridal shower also celebrates the new home and new life you’ll share as a married couple.

What’s the Purpose of a Bachelorette Party?

The purpose of a bachelorette party is very different. Traditionally, bachelorette parties celebrated your “last night as a single woman” — a last “hurrah” of sorts.

But that’s not the case anymore.

Today, bachelorette parties are just a fun way to party with friends, a grand “girl’s night out,” if you will, and you can do so in any way that’s meaningful to you! 

Related: Who Pays for the Bridal Shower? (+ Other Bridal Shower FAQs)

The Timing

Another difference between the two is when they take place.

When Does the Bridal Shower Take Place?

Wedding showers can take place weeks or even months before the big day. They’re typically in the afternoon as a brunch gathering, a casual or dressed-up lunch, or a classic tea party.  

They can also be held at night with seated, plated dinners or massive buffet spreads. There are no strict rules on when or where to have your bridal shower!

When Does the Bachelorette Party Take Place?

The bachelorette party usually occurs one to four months before the wedding day. Depending on the bride’s style, it can be a daytime event, a night out, or a fun-filled weekend getaway with both daytime and evening events. 

The Host

blonde bride at her shower or bachelorette partyPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Freehold/Instagram

Next, let’s compare who hosts each.

Who Hosts the Bridal Shower?

Anyone close to the bride can host the wedding shower. 

Sometimes, it’s the mother of the bride. Other times, it’s the bride’s future mother-in-law. It can also be a combination of the MOB, MOG, maid of honor, an aunt, or the entire wedding party.

Who Hosts the Bachelorette Party?

The wedding party, close friends of the bride, or the bride’s best friend are most likely to host the bachelorette party. For the bride who wants a tame, low-key bash, the bride’s family or MOB might weigh in on the planning.

The Guest List

Both events also have different guest lists.

Who Gets Invited to the Bridal Shower?

The traditional bridal shower guest list consists of every woman near and dear to the bride. That includes close family members, the bride’s closest friends, and coworkers invited to the wedding. 

Yet, these days, it’s not uncommon to throw a shower for both partners and invite all of the close friends and family on each side, including guys and girls.

Who Gets Invited to the Bachelorette Party?

The bachelorette party guest list looks a bit different. Usually, it’s just the wedding party, the bride’s besties, and close female friends. 

In some cases, the MOB and MOG are also invited. Or, the couple opts for a joint bachelor/bachelorette party where everyone celebrates together.

Brides with a tame bachelorette party, such as a spa day or dinner at a nice restaurant, may invite their mom or mother-in-law-to-be. Brides that want to be wild, bar hop, and get tipsy typically exclude the moms and only invite people they want to party with. 

So, if the plan is to hit up a Magic Mike show, grandma probably won’t be on the guest list! 

The whole point of the bachelorette party is to have fun. It’s always best to fill your guest list with people you feel comfortable letting loose with.

The Activities

Each of these pre-wedding events also has its unique set of activities.

What Happens at a Bridal Shower?

The bridal shower consists of three main things:

• Eating
• Opening gifts
• Playing bridal shower games

    Gift-giving is often the focus, and the games played are typically family-friendly. After all, grandmothers, children, and elderly loved ones are usually in attendance.

    And don’t be shocked if your bridal shower ends with you wearing a ribbon hat. It’s been a long-standing tradition for the bridesmaids to create a hat or bouquet out of all the ribbons and bows from your gifts. So, expect a photo of the bride wearing a silly hat or holding a DIY bouquet. 

    What Happens at a Bachelorette Party?

    Your bachelorette bash doesn’t revolve around gift-giving. Activities can range from a relaxing spa day getting massages to an adventure-filled afternoon rock climbing to a night out dancing at a club until the wee hours. 

    It’s also common to partake in some potentially embarrassing behavior. To name a few: playing drinking games or naughty party games before heading out for the night.

    Your Outfit

    Cute bride in a pretty little white dress for shower or bachelorette partyPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Freehold/Bianca Davis

    Where you’re going, the time of day, and the activities planned all factor into what you should wear. 

    But there’s one good tip to keep in mind:

    You can never go wrong with a little white dress

    Whether you’re going to a bridal shower brunch at your mom’s house or a wild bachelorette bash at a nightclub, you’ll probably take lots of photos. So wear something you love that suits your own personal style, whatever that may be!

    Just be sure to dress appropriately for the occasion. For example, a classy, pretty, elegant makes sense for a daytime bridal shower or afternoon bachelorette events. 

    For a night out as a bachelorette, a more playful, or more dressed-up look may be more appropriate. It’s all about what makes you comfortable and what look meets the moment!

    It’s not uncommon for bridesmaids to want to keep the details of the bachelorette party a surprise. If you don’t know exactly where you’re going or what you’ll be doing when you get there, just ask your besties for the dress code. 

    They may not tell you the event's details, but they can guide you on what to pack or wear! 

    Shop the entire collection of bridal shower dresses at Bella Bridesmaids!


    Wedding showers and bachelorette parties are super fun events, and the best part is that you don’t even have to plan them yourself! So when these events roll around, take a break from wedding planning and thoroughly enjoy them.

    Your wedding day might be the most important day of your life. These pre-wedding celebrations are also memorable moments to cherish with the ones you love and kick off married life. 

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