Congratulations! You are an important part of someone’s life, and you have been entrusted with planning her bridal shower. Where do you start? How do you know what will work and what won’t? The good news is that, if you’re in a position to be planning this event, you probably know the bride pretty well! Lean into that relationship and what you know of the bride, and the resulting soiree will be one to remember.

There are a lot of traditions around bridal showers, from who should attend to how you should handle gifts. But how much should you let those traditions dictate things? Follow our guide to planning a bridal shower to help you plan the perfect event.

Setting your budget is an important first step. Whether you’re splitting the bill with bridesmaids or going alone, it’s important that everyone involved gives their number and everyone else respects it. If it’s lower than you’d like, that’s okay. You can enlist others’ help, or you can go it alone and achieve something beautiful on a budget. But don’t overextend yourself for it. The bride will understand and will appreciate your desire to celebrate her.

According to tradition, every female on the wedding guest list should be invited to the bridal shower. This should definitely include the entire wedding party and female family members. But the rest can be a bit flexible.  Is the bride inviting her childhood friend with a plus one? His girlfriend of a couple of months doesn’t need to be at the shower. Plus, many exceptions exist for showers thrown for specific groups like work colleagues or church groups that throw a secondary shower.

Make a list based on friend groups and family, but when in doubt ask the bride.

Traditionally, paper invites would be sent six to eight weeks before the event. And for some showers, this will still be the right call. But if the shower is less formal or on more of a budget, an email invite or even a Facebook event may suffice. Just remember to keep it consistent with the rest of the shower and with what you think the bride would prefer.

If you’re on a tight budget, you may consider looking for a nice venue that requires less decor. If you want to focus on the meal, you may be able to book a private room at a restaurant for simply the cost of the meals.Or, some shower planners prefer to choose the venue around the activity, like a spa or a bowling alley. Otherwise, any space with the right decoration can be a bridal shower venue.

Whatever you choose, keep the bride in mind. Remember, the purpose of the day is to celebrate the bride, and the decoration and venue set the tone for the entire event.

Depending on your budget and the time of day, you could have anything from a full meal to light snacks for the guests. If you choose a full meal, it could alleviate the need for as many activities. Finger foods or passed hors d’oeuvres, on the other hand, are generally better if you want to focus more on games and activities. Plan to have food of some sort, especially if you plan to have alcohol. We recommend saving the serious drinking for the bachelorette party and sticking to sipping for the bridal shower.

Bridal shower games have a reputation for being cheesy, from wedding dresses made of toilet tissue to bridal Pictionary. The best way to make games feel less cheesy or forced is to focus on the bride and the guests. If the bride hates being the center of attention, games that put her on the spot could feel awkward and forced. If none of the guests know each other well, activities like a crossword puzzle or MadLibs that happen during other things may be better than interactive games like charades.

Some of our favorite foolproof games include date night suggestion jars and Love Story Memory (where you try to stump the crowd on the details of the couple’s story). Or you could have a Wedding Relay, with stations such as cake tasting, bouquet arranging, ring toss, and MadLib vows.

Traditionally, the bride opens her gifts in front of the group, often saving the ribbons and bows to create a bouquet to use during the rehearsal dinner.

As the host of the party it’s your duty to help the bride keep track of all the gifts and who gave them so that thank you notes can be sent. Tradition also dictates that the host should still get the bride a gift. However, you may consider going in with the other hosts or bridesmaids on a joint gift.

Bridal showers can be casual or formal; high class or a real party. But regardless of how close to tradition you stay, the bridal shower you throw is sure to be a day to remember, and one which the bride will treasure long into her marriage.

The Ultimate Bridal Shower Checklist

_ Liaise with the mother of the bride
_ Set the budget and run it by everyone involved
_ Choose a date based on availability of key attendees
_ Decide on a venue
_ Create your itinerary for the day and assign roles
_ Choose a theme and decorations
_ Send out invitations
_ Choose your games and activities
_ Plan your food and drink menu
_ Buy a gift
_ Collect RSVPs and adjust plans accordingly
_ Enjoy the shower!

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