Wedding Showers and Parties Wedding Showers and Parties

Wedding parties are not only tons of fun, but they allow your friends, family, and family-to-be time to get to know each other.  You definitely want people to socialize at your reception, and these pre-wedding parties can make that happen.  There are a lot of traditions involved in wedding parties and showers, but feel free to make them your own.  Many of the activities created for your parties will be determined by you and your friends ages and interests, so they should be fun for everyone.

Bride’s Luncheon

The bride’s luncheon has begun falling out of favor, largely due to the added expense.  Traditionally, the bride, bridesmaids, or a close family member host a luncheon for the couple’s female family members, close friends, and most importantly, the attendants.  This luncheon is the bride’s opportunity to honor her maid of honor and her bridesmaids. 

Usually, it is at this function that the bride provides her attendants with gifts.  These gifts are traditionally jewelry, photo frames, jewelry boxes, or other gifts that are engraved with the bride and groom’s initials and wedding date.  However, modern gifts are often tote bags, wine boxes, slippers, etc. that are monogrammed with the bridesmaid’s initials or first name.  You have endless options to choose from, and you should have fun with the gifts.  Choose presents that you think your bridesmaids will like, and that you will feel good about giving.  The bridesmaids’ usually give their joint gift to the bride at this time.  Otherwise, gifts are exchanged at the rehearsal dinner.

The cake for this occasion is supposed to have pink frosting and a trinket inside.  Whichever lady receives the trinket in her piece of cake is considered the next to be married. If this seems too outdated for you, consider having a cake that goes with your wedding theme, or revolves around a humorous concept that all your friends will enjoy.   Sometimes the bride will choose to show off her wedding presents at the luncheon, so her friends can see what else was purchased for her.

This occasion can be as formal or informal as you like.  The luncheon may be a home-cooked meal, or it may be held at a restaurant.  Tables may be elaborately decorated, or they may be plain.  If many of the honored guests are from out of town, the party may be held the day of or the day before the wedding.  More contemporary couples often choose to have a joint lunch or dinner for both the bride and groom to honor their attendants.  This choice would be very important if the bride or groom were to have an attendant of the opposite sex.

Bachelor Party

Although tales of rambunctious bachelor parties abound, they tend to be much more subdued in reality.  This occasion may be hosted by the groom, his father, or other close friends or relatives.  The groom honors his attendants by presenting them with engraved or monogrammed wallets, belts, flasks, etc. while giving a slightly more expensive gift to his best man.  At some point during the evening, the groom toasts his bride after which he and the guests traditionally throw their glasses over their shoulders.  It should be noted that breaking someone else’s champagne flutes must be discussed beforehand. 

The party may be held at the host’s home or at a restaurant or club.  Since the attendees may drink too much, it is a good idea to hold the bachelor party a few days or a week before the wedding so no one will be hung-over for the rehearsal dinner or the ceremony.  Most of the activities of the bachelor party are planned by the groom’s friends or other male relatives, and things may get out of hand. 

More subdued men, especially older ones, may choose to have a simple dinner or party with less drinking and loose behavior.  The groom may also choose to combine the bachelor’s dinner with the bride’s luncheon.  This will allow the attendants and the couple’s relatives to get to know each other better before the rehearsal, wedding ceremony, and reception. 

Bridal Showers

Bridal Showers should be an intimate gathering of friends and should not include every guest on the wedding list.  According to tradition, immediate members of your family should not be the hostess of the shower, unless you don’t know many people in the area.  But this tradition seems to have fallen out of favor.  It is appropriate to invite your bridal party, members of your family, and members of the groom’s family to the showers.  Traditionally, bridal showers are for women only, and are held during the afternoon.  However, many contemporary party themes are co-ed and focus on something important to both the bride and the groom.

If you are having multiple showers, you should not invite all of your friends to every single one.  Buying presents can get expensive, especially if several of your friends are getting married as well.  It may be a good idea to divide up the guest lists for the showers, so that you can be respectful of your friends’ bank account.  If bridesmaids or a close relative will be invited to all of your showers, let her know that she does not have to bring more than one gift.  You will want the guests at the shower to know at least a few of the people there, so the hostess and the bride should carefully select the guests.  For example, the guest list for a shower given by a co-worker may include mostly other people who work with you. 

Showers can be at any time of day, and the food and beverages can be of any type.  For example, a shower can be a:

  • Brunch
  • Coffee
  • Luncheon
  • Tea
  • Cocktail Party
  • Dessert Shower

It is best for the invitation to say what will be served, and to also indicate the theme of the showers.  Many showers require gifts of a certain type, and guests must know ahead of time.  Some popular types of showers are:

  • Pantry shower – food
  • Lingerie showers
  • Round-the-clock – each invitation has a time of day, and the recipient should bring a gift that would be used at that time of day
  • Gardening shower
  • Recipe Shower
  • Paper Shower

Some showers may also be designed for both the bride and the groom, and these co-ed events should have themes that reflect an interest the couple has in common.  Personal gifts, such as lingerie, should not be given at co-ed showers; gifts must be meant for both the bride and the groom.

For all kinds of bridal showers, gifts should fit with the type of shower given -- but they don’t need to be expensive.  Friends and relatives still have to buy wedding presents, so try not to drain their wallets.  A good idea would be for the hostess to limit the price range on the invitation so that guests do not feel pressured to spend a lot of money.  It is also appropriate to get several people together to buy an expensive gift. 
Unless the hostess requests that she receive presents a day or two before the shower so she can wrap them in the same paper, or coordinating paper, gifts should simply be wrapped in paper that looks like it’s for a bride. 

The invitations to the bridal shower should be sent three to four weeks before the shower.  They don’t need to be formal, and they can be hand-written or telephoned.  The information in the invitation needs to include the:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Theme
  • Price limit (if applicable)
  • Hostess’s preferred date to receive presents (if applicable)

The decorations for the shower should maintain the theme of the party.  In general, decorations should be light, airy, and cheerful.  There should also be a gift book that the hostess or her delegate should maintain throughout the party so the bride will be able to remember who gave her each present.  Presents are opened at different times during the shower depending on what type of food and beverages are served.  For coffee, tea, and cocktail parties, presents are opened as soon as all guests have arrived.  For dessert parties, presents are opened after everyone has finished her dessert. 

After the presents are opened, they are passed around for everyone to see.  The bride should be gracious and excited about her gifts, and her sincere appreciation is generally accepted in lieu of thank you cards.  However, if someone who is unable to attend sends a gift, the bride should send a thank you note.  Also, the bride should send a gift and a card to the hostess of the shower to show her appreciation.

You should do your best to make sure that these parties and showers are fun for everyone.  The parties should incorporate your personal style and interests, as well as those of your guests.  Having themes and activities that are closely aligned with your personality will reduce the stress of these occasions, and allow you to simply enjoy your time with your loved ones.

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