The Differences Between a Bridal Shower and a Wedding Shower (2024)

While the terms “wedding shower” and “bridal shower” sound like interchangeable ways of describing the same event, they don’t delineate exactly the same type of party. Whether you’re hosting a shower or showing up as the guest of honor, understand the difference between these events—from who is invited to whether or not gifts are expected—so you can decide which event is right for you or the couple you're celebrating.

Meet the Expert

  • Rebecca Martens is the owner of Belle Events, a Houston-based planning firm that specializes in pre-wedding and wedding celebrations.
  • Terrica Skaggs is the chief event planner at co*cktails and Details, an award-winning planning agency specializing in destination weddings in Coastal Georgia and Mexico.
  • Chanda Daniels is an event planner and the founder of her eponymous wedding design firm; she is based in Oakland, California.

Ultimately, though, you don't technically have to choose between the two pre-wedding parties. Since they're different enough (spoiler: one honors just one half of a couple, while the other celebrates both!), you can build both a bridal shower and a wedding shower into your timeline. Here, three experts walk us through the nuances of these gatherings and clarify what sets them apart.

What Is a Bridal Shower?

Since the 1880s, women in a bride’s life have gathered to help her prepare for the milestone of marriage, says Rebecca Martens, owner of Belle Events. “Historically, you would find all women at the bridal shower,” she says. “Guests would provide gifts to help the bride to nest and set up her new home with her spouse, post wedding.“

While many of the gifts were specific to homemaking, bridal showers also included more intimate gifts for the bride-to-be. “While most people associate bridal showers with the opportunity to [shower] gifts from the registry upon the bride, they were initially created to build the bride’s trousseau—her personal and curated collection of jewelry, lingerie, bed linens, and toiletries,” says Terrica Skaggs, chief event planner at co*cktails and Details.

22 Modern Ideas for a Bridal Shower

What Is a Wedding Shower?

As weddings have evolved, so have the pre-parties. “Weddings are more inclusive in terms of who’s getting married and how the wedding is being celebrated,” says event planner Chanda Daniels. “A wedding shower is focused on the couple, more specifically—and very inclusive.” The guest list includes the groom, as well as friends and relatives of any gender.

“The wedding shower is co-ed and inclusive of anyone the couple wants to include in the celebrations,” says Martens. “Simply put, a wedding shower is for the couple and a bridal shower is for the bride.”

Bridal Shower vs. Wedding Shower: Key Differences

Though both these types of parties celebrate a couple’s upcoming wedding ceremony, they can be organized and designed in different ways.

The Guest of Honor

A bridal shower honors the member of the couple who identifies as the bride; for a wedding with two brides, it can honor either (or both). A wedding shower honors a couple—and, like a bridal shower, is planned by friends or family members of either partner.

The Guest List

A bridal shower’s guest list primarily includes female friends and relatives, “but may be tailored to the host’s relationships if the bride is having multiple showers,” says Martens. “The guest list may need to be strategized so that some guests are not getting multiple invites to showers celebrating the same bride.”

A wedding shower is for anyone and everyone on the wedding guest list. “The wedding shower is co-ed,” says Martens. “Guests that are invited should also be guests invited to the wedding. The number of people invited is directly related to the space capacity and the host’s budget for the event.”

The Venue and Entertainment

Modern bridal showers are typically daytime events, hosted by friends or family of the bride in a home, restaurant, or community space. Since bridal showers are often held in the late morning or afternoon, menus often revolve around brunch, lunch, or high tea. “Games and activities are usually about writing down advice or recipes and helping people meet each other and make conversation,” says Martens.

Wedding showers are often evening events, held in the host’s home, at a restaurant or brewery, or in a community space—customized in accordance with the couple’s preferences. “These parties are usually themed and have an informal timeline,” says Martens. “Lots of games are played, and it’s not uncommon to have a bar, a band, and a buffet.”

The Gifts

At both events, guests are expected to bring gifts. “Brides having a shower hosted for them must have a registry,” says Martens. “It’s polite to your guests—and it keeps you from having six Crock-Pots that you cannot return.” Since the wedding shower is an opportunity to celebrate the couple as they prepare for married life, gifts are also encouraged at this type of event—though not opened during the party, says Martens.

10 Common Wedding-Related Events and Parties to Know About

Can You Have Both a Bridal Shower and a Wedding Shower?

The short answer is yes! You and your partner can have either type of celebration—or both. “Everyone can have a shower, and you don't have to assign it as a bridal or wedding,” says Martens. “It can just be a shower! The bride may have childhood friends or work colleagues throw two different showers, while mutual couple friends may throw a wedding shower with all of the couple’s current friends.”

You also don’t have to have a shower at all, says Daniels. “Do what fits with you as a couple and what makes you extremely happy,” she says. “If having a wedding or bridal shower doesn’t speak to you, then don’t do it—it doesn’t take away from how you celebrate your wedding!"

The 34 Best Bridal Shower Gifts for the Bride Who Has It All

The Differences Between a Bridal Shower and a Wedding Shower (2024)


The Differences Between a Bridal Shower and a Wedding Shower? ›

The bridal shower is designed for just you and the girls while the wedding shower is a co-ed party where the bride and groom both get showered with gifts and love. If you're a bride who loves to party and celebrate, then have both a wedding shower and bridal shower!

What happens at a wedding shower? ›

The wedding shower is an opportunity for the couple's closest relatives and friends to meet and celebrate before the wedding. The party takes place a few weeks or months before the wedding and typically involves light hors d'oeuvres, games and watching the couple open their registry gifts.

Who throws a wedding shower? ›

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.

What do you call a wedding shower for couples? ›

Photo by Zola. If you and your soon-to-be spouse have a knack for doing things your own way, you might love the idea of a couple's shower—otherwise known as a coed wedding shower or a Jack and Jill shower.

Why is a wedding shower called a wedding shower? ›

The original tradition is that the ladies would drop small gifts into a parasol, explains Keith Willard, event planner and owner of Keith Willard Events, and the bride-to-be would open the parasol and be "showered" with gifts.

Who should not host a bridal shower? ›

Traditional etiquette dictates that the maid of honor—not the mother of the bride—should host the shower. Nancy is a freelance writer for Some etiquette rules were meant to fade away into oblivion, like the one about family members of the bride not hosting her bridal shower.

Does the husband go to the wedding shower? ›

A wedding shower is a co-ed event where both men and women are invited. The bride and groom both attend and the party celebrates the couple as a whole rather than just the bride. A wedding shower is a more modern and inclusive take on the time-honored shower for the bride.

What does mother in law give at bridal shower? ›

Consider heirloom-worthy serveware or a handmade book featuring your family's secret recipes. Alternatively, opt for items she'll likely need for the wedding. Think: a luxurious getting-ready robe, something blue or travel essentials for the honeymoon.

How much should a bridal shower cost? ›

If you're going all out with an elaborate bridal shower, you could be talking $40 to $150 or more (gasp!) per person. Even a small, elaborate bridal shower (think 15 guests) could cost between $600 and $2,250—and that's before invitations, decorations and cake.

Is the bride involved in the bridal shower? ›

The bridal shower is designed for just you and the girls while the wedding shower is a co-ed party where the bride and groom both get showered with gifts and love. If you're a bride who loves to party and celebrate, then have both a wedding shower and bridal shower!

What is Jack and Jill party? ›

A Jack and Jill party is a co-ed shower for celebrating with close friends and families before the wedding. The traditional purpose was a fundraising event for the wedding and honeymoon. Modern Jack and Jill parties are relaxed gatherings with food, games, and gifts.

Is it rude to invite someone to a shower and not the wedding? ›

Don't Invite Anyone to the Bridal Shower If They're Not Also Invited to the Wedding. This may seem obvious, but inviting people to the bridal shower if they are not invited to the wedding is inappropriate. It will likely offend them, and it looks very much so like you're pandering for gifts.

Do you bring gifts to a bridal shower? ›

In short, yes. If you're attending a bridal shower, you should always bring a gift with you to congratulate the bride. This is considered good bridal shower etiquette. Even if you're a part of the bridal party or wedding party, a gift is still necessary.

What time should a bridal shower start? ›

Pick the right time of day.

A bridal shower usually starts between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and lasts between two and four hours. If the bridal shower theme includes brunch, you'd want to host the event on the earlier side, while an afternoon tea would be on the later side.

Do you bring registry gifts to bridal shower? ›

Technically, these are two separate events, and traditionally, it is proper etiquette for guests to show up to the bridal shower with a gift, and also purchase a gift for the wedding (this is typically done via a wedding registry, but it's also fine to bring a present in-person to the wedding).

Do you bring a gift to a wedding shower? ›

Yes, if you are invited to a shower in addition to the wedding, you're expected to bring a gift to the shower as well as send a wedding gift. You shouldn't spend more than you're comfortable with, however (see the next answer), and can split your budget between both gifts.

How many hours is a wedding shower? ›

Weichelt says bridal showers should ideally last between two and four hours. Anything shorter and guests will feel like they didn't have a chance to spend time with the bride; anything longer and they'll be itching to head home. Three hours might just be the sweet spot, then.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Errol Quitzon

Last Updated:

Views: 5423

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Errol Quitzon

Birthday: 1993-04-02

Address: 70604 Haley Lane, Port Weldonside, TN 99233-0942

Phone: +9665282866296

Job: Product Retail Agent

Hobby: Computer programming, Horseback riding, Hooping, Dance, Ice skating, Backpacking, Rafting

Introduction: My name is Errol Quitzon, I am a fair, cute, fancy, clean, attractive, sparkling, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.