Bridal Shower Planning Tips and Checklist
Is there anything sweeter than hosting a celebration of the next bride-to-be? Bright colors, fun games, yummy treats and giggles make for such an enjoyable time, and as the one in charge of planning, you have a fun, but perhaps daunting, task ahead of you.
As you prepare to shower your loved one with gifts and laughter, you’ll want to stay on top of your planning to make this party an absolute blast. You’re certainly in the right place if you’re looking for a quick guide to what to do at a bridal shower, and this bridal shower checklist can help you brainstorm everything from themes to games to the best decor.
Of course, our favorites are all candy-related, but no matter what theme you choose, we’re sure you’ll discover fun bridal shower ideas to make your celebration the most special of them all.
Step 1: Schedule a Date for the Bridal Shower
Before you can start planning fun details and exploring decoration ideas, you need to find a good date to hold the event. One to three months ahead of the wedding is the perfect sweet spot between being too far removed from the wedding day and too close to it.
If you celebrate with bridal shower guests too far in advance — say six months before the wedding — their excitement for vows, cake and nuptials may die down way before the big day arrives. Conversely, if there are only a couple of weeks in between, the extra party may end up causing added stress for the bride and her family.
But even this isn’t a set rule for everyone. Your main goal needs to be picking a time that is convenient, accounting for travel days for out-of-towners or any of the bride’s other to-do list items, like dress fittings and cake tastings. You may find the week before the wedding is the perfect time for a shower, with everyone already coming into town and most of the wedding planning already finished. Any day is fair game if it fits neatly into the bride’s schedule — and yours, too!
Step 2: Compile a Guest List for the Bridal Shower
What if the bride and groom are only inviting a select few to the wedding? A bridal shower is an excellent event for including other friends and acquaintances into the marriage celebrations who perhaps didn’t make the final cut for the big day itself.
As opposed to a bachelorette party, a bridal shower gives you some flexibility to invite young and old loved ones from many parts of the bride’s life. Make sure to get a second opinion on the guest list to make sure you don’t accidentally miss anyone, like a moderately close relative or a childhood buddy. Let the bride go over the list, as long as the party is not a surprise. Otherwise, another close friend or family member can double-check it for you.
Once you’ve made your guest list, you can go about figuring out addresses for invitations!
Step 3: Determine the Location for the Bridal Shower
Depending on the size of your crowd, you may opt to host your party in your home or someone else’s, if they have a more suitable space for sitting in a circle and opening gifts. Adequate seating space is the main thing you’ll want to make sure you have room for. Everything else, like a snack buffet or little game or activity stations, is just the cherry on top!
You could also choose to throw the party at a local hangout like a coffee shop, ice cream parlor or brunch place, but that may limit the number of custom decorations you can put up. You may need to reserve your room early, so if this is what you prefer, get ready to make that phone call ASAP.
Step 4: Choose a Theme for the Party — If You Want One
Themed bridal showers bring all the traditional wedding fun with a juicy twist. Just as you would with any other themed party, you can flaunt your chosen bridal shower theme with quirky decorations, food arrangements, punny games and, if appropriate, even theme-centered accessories and costumes.
Here are some of our favorite bridal shower theme ideas.
- Love in every season. For a December wedding, host a winter wedding shower with hot ciders, scented candles, rustic vibes and frosty accents. If you’re celebrating in the spring, you can get away with nearly going overboard on bright floral arrangements and brunch faves. Whatever the season may be, find unique ways to incorporate it into your decorations.
- The romance of an era. Join the growing trend of Gatsby-themed parties to awaken everyone’s inner flapper. Other decade-centered examples include disco fever, ’80s and ’90s throwbacks or even a turn-of-the-century theme, complete with vintage costumes.
- A place your heart adores. Choose a city or culture that means a lot to the couple, and find decor and traditions you can celebrate. If the newlyweds are honeymooning in Paris, for example, you can create a sparkling faux-Parisian ambiance to ignite some early anticipation. If the couple has a unique ethnic heritage, or if the bride is marrying into one, you can incorporate culture-specific ways to honor those traditions as you shower her with gifts.
- Colors to match the wedding. For a simple theme that pays homage to the bride herself, create your visuals using the wedding colors she selected for her big day. From your centerpieces and your decor on the walls to colorful drinks and tableware, you can make this theme as extravagant or as subtle as you desire. Even the foods and candy can be wedding color-themed. Consider wedding color-themed candy bags to send home with the guests so they will remember the wedding colors once the big day rolls around.
- Southern charm and shabby chic. Many weddings these days go for a rustic, nearing on vintage decorating style, decked with old crates, wood slabs, mason jars, beautiful succulents, lace and of course, lots of flowers. You can take this theme a step further by moving it outdoors, with picnic-style cuisine and sparkling lights in the evening.
- Ladies’ high tea. Floral patterns, elegant china, cloth napkins and lacy doilies make for a posh and pristine dream come true. And, of course, you’ll need tea, no matter if it’s hot or iced. This theme, unsurprisingly, pairs well with sweet treats of all kinds, from baked goods like scones to tasty candies. Yum!
- Diamond rings and shiny things. Aren’t engagement rings one of the best ways to make groups of girls squeal and giggle with delight during wedding season? This theme highlights one of the most exciting parts of the wedding tradition, complete with sparkly gem decor, ring-centered games and activities and, of course, ring pops galore.
- A candy wonderland. If bright colors and delicious treats don’t get the party started, honestly, what will? Let’s paint you a picture of the many places you can go with a candy theme. Instead of a standard invitation, send out candygrams. Give out candy grab bags for guests to continue enjoying the party long after it’s over. Not only does this theme offer fun and versatility for candy-themed decorations and prizes, but you can tie in wedding themes using candy to accent specific wedding colors.
Ultimately, there are an endless array of options, so you should pick the theme you are most comfortable with that also highlights the bride’s personality and interests. And, of course, you shouldn’t feel pressure to choose a theme if you prefer a more minimalistic approach to celebrating. Even simple gatherings can be extraordinary for a bride-to-be and her loved ones.
Bonus! Choose a Theme for Bridal Shower Gifts
Your decorations don’t have to be the only themed elements to your bridal shower. One of the best tips for planning a bridal shower is to add a personalized touch to the celebration by instructing guests to bring gifts in a specific category, as long as the bride is on board:
- A “pounding.” This is an old Southern tradition about stocking the bride’s pantry with “a pound of this, a pound of that.” In short, it’s an entirely kitchen-oriented gift theme. While it may seem old-fashioned to shower the bride with only kitchen gear, it can be a well-received gesture for young couples who are still just entering into the cooking world.
- Stock the bar. On the other hand, if the kitchen is good to go, why not stock a different kind of pantry for the bride and groom? This theme will focus on setting them up with quality barware and other entertainment essentials.
- A lingerie shower. Sometimes it’s the frilly things that excite us the most. Since a collection of lingerie can be quite the investment for a newlywed couple, hosting a themed shower for the bride can be an exceptional gift.
- A honey-fund. Some couples have met all their home-related needs before they get married. In this case, sometimes they will ask wedding guests to forego the traditional gifts and instead provide a small financial donation to fund their honeymoon adventures. Even if you’re hosting a bridal shower where other gifts are involved, you can set up a jar for cash donations or a laptop for electronic transfers.
Consider pairing one of these gift themes with related visuals, like displaying drinkware elements for a bar-stocking party or decorating with bees, flowers and honey for a honey-fund. The games and activities you decide on can also reflect these themes.
Step 5: Start Your Preparation Engines!
Now is the time to knock out all that research. Do it well before the shower date approaches so you’ll have plenty of time to gather, purchase and assemble everything you will need to craft a gorgeous and organized party.
Some checklist items in this stage of planning include:
- Making and mailing invitations. You can opt for handmade messages that relate to the party theme you’ve chosen, or do an e-vite if you’re short on prep time. In your invitations, make sure you indicate whether the party is a surprise or not, include any registry info and send the invitations out preferably three to six weeks before the shower.
- Writing your shopping list. Create a master list of everything you need to purchase between now and the bridal shower. Sections within the list may include tableware, food, snacks, drinks, wall hangings, decorations, game templates and knick-knacks for other activity booths.
- Getting a head-start on crafts. Anything that may take time to assemble or make on your own may be worth your while to complete in advance. You don’t want to be gluing paper flowers together or cutting out diamond shapes last-minute when there are other tasks to achieve close to the start of the bridal shower.
- Gathering information. If any of your games involve trivia about the bride and groom, you will need to figure out what sort of questions you need them to answer. Since preparing the games may also take some additional work, get this information as early in the planning process as you can.
Collaborate during this stage on tasks other people can assist you in, such as splitting some costs for item pickups or other logistical factors. You can keep the bride up to date on how planning is going, but she should be as uninvolved in this process as you can stand. The purpose of a bridal shower is to honor the bride, not overwhelm her with everything else she probably has on her plate during this season.
Step 6: Plan and Perfect Your Decorations
One of the most time-consuming projects will probably be mastering the decorating phase. You must first determine how to decorate, then break down what supplies you will need, shell out whatever costs these items require, assemble them to create your design and, eventually, put them on display. It can be an intensive task to take on, so make sure you get started early and delegate some to-do list items to others as needed.
We’ve discussed some decoration options for a themed bridal shower, but there are a few shower classics you may want to consider, whether you have a party theme or not:
- Balloons. Try an assortment of sizes and similar colors for a complete look.
- Glitter everything. From champagne glasses to gift wrapping, there are few items you can’t improve with a dash — or dump — of glitter.
- Floral ideas. Flowers can hang, sit in spray-painted glass bottles or they can be fake and used for wreaths, crowns and accents. Scatter florals throughout your arrangement, and you’ll see the kind of life they bring to any party.
- The seat of honor. Choose the chair where the bride will be sitting for her gift-opening and adorn it with a sparkly sign or sash.
- Wedding countdown sign. Have a chalkboard or wooden sign that indicates how many days are left until the big day arrives.
- Photographs. Display cute photos of the bride or the couple in creative ways, such as hanging from a clothesline or suspended from balloons.
- Table settings. Consider making custom place settings for each guest and decorating the table with cloches and floral arrangements.
All your hard work in creating the right visual decoration for the bridal shower is undoubtedly going to pay off. If you’re at a loss for what you are going to do with all the trinkets once the bridal shower is over, ask the mother of the bride or the bride herself if she wants to keep anything for herself. The flower arrangements, in particular, may be a much-appreciated gift for a special person to take home.
Step 7: Decide What Will Be on the Menu
You can choose to serve a meal at your bridal shower, but light refreshments and desserts are also a suitable option for a bridal shower. Here are some ideas you may consider for your snack table:
- A “candy bar.” In other words, this can look like a self-serve candy and sweets station for guests to make their own favor bag to take home with them, complete with delicious selections to match your theme.
- Cake ideas. Consider a classic cake to emulate the traditional wedding confection. Or, you can change things up with cake pops or cookies.
- Mini donut rings. A bridal shower favorite is mini powdered donuts adorned with diamond-shaped paper cutouts to look like sugary engagement rings. Candy rings are also always an option to keep the engagement story at the front of everyone’s minds.
- Bite-sized finger foods. Classic hors d’oeuvres like bruschetta, small sandwiches or a meat-and-cheese platter are always a hit for those who need a break from all the sweets.
Keep it light and simple, but engage with the theme. You want your guests to be more interested in the company than the food, but tasty snacks always make a good time even better.
Step 8: Prepare Entertaining Games and Activities
A fundamental characteristic of bridal showers is the gift-opening event, but there are many ways to entertain your guests while they are waiting for the gifts portion of the party to start. Here are some activity and game ideas you can brainstorm to make your bridal shower the most memorable of all.
Ideas for Booth and Mingling Activities:
- Photo booth. Have a large frame made out of cardboard and other photo booth props like cutouts of oversized glasses and mustaches for guests to take cute pictures together for their social media profiles. Don’t forget the unique shower and wedding hashtags.
- Crafting table. Have a “make-your-own-party-favor” station. Some ideas for party favors include flower crowns, bouquets or candy bags.
- Tip jar. Have a table with notecards, pens and a jar labeled with something like “date night suggestions” or “recipes for a happy marriage” guests can fill out for the bride.
- Unique guestbook. Have all shower guests sign their names in a photo album, on a spray-painted champagne bottle, on a plate for the couple to display in their kitchen or some other unique idea. Have plenty of pens that can write on the surface of whatever item you choose.
Fun Bridal Shower Games:
- Bridal bingo. Have guests fill out bingo cards with gifts they think the bride may receive. Have them play the game while she opens gifts and award prizes to any bingo-achievers.
- Bridal Jeopardy. Have a board displaying question categories relating to the bride’s and groom’s interests, traits and love story and play a round of Jeopardy with a few select guests for everyone to watch and enjoy.
- Trivia quizzes. Create quiz sheets with questions themed “How well do you know the bride?” or “Who said it, bride or groom?” for guests to answer as they mingle. Have the bride provide the answers, and award a prize to whoever gets the most answers correct.
- Ring pop game. Give every guest a ring and instruct them not to say a word of your choice — “bride” or “wedding,” perhaps. If someone hears another guest say the word, they must call them out and win their ring in return. Whoever has the most rings by the end of the party wins.
- Dresses of the decades. Print out pictures of classic wedding dress designs from every decade in the 20th century and see if the guests can put them in the right order. This game can be a group effort or a competition.
Tips for Gift-Opening Time:
Once the gift-giving event begins, you may want to consider conducting a game like bridal bingo or serving a dessert simultaneously to keep all guests engaged in what’s happening.
Another rich tradition during gift-opening is the crafting of the ribbon bouquet, or “bow-quet,” out of the discarded gift wrapping materials for the bride to use on the day of the wedding rehearsal in place of a floral bouquet.
Step 9: Buy a Gift for the Bride
Even though you’re the one planning the party, you can’t forget to shower the bride with a gift of your own. For a good rule of thumb on price range, stay somewhere between $30 and $50. Don’t worry too much about finding the most extravagant gift at this time, especially if you plan on giving another gift at the wedding. Even if it’s small, the bride will appreciate the heartfelt gesture, considering all your hard work in planning the party.
Step 10: Get Everything Else on Your Shopping List
The week leading up to the shower should be when you stock up on the snacks you need and other standard party items, if applicable, like napkins and paper dessert plates.
Remember to share the load if the expenses keep piling up. The bride probably has plenty of other loved ones who would be honored to contribute, even if it means sharing some cute decorations they already have on hand, so you don’t have to purchase or make them.
Step 11: Set up and Refine the Pre-Shower Details
Once the day of the bridal shower arrives, embrace the frenzy of last-minute tasks and errands, which should be minimal if you put all your early prep work to good use. Relax and enjoy all the hard work you’ve put in. The bride and all her guests are going to love your ideas and have the time of their lives thanks to your excellent planning!
What’s a Bridal Shower Without Wedding Candy?
For a bridal shower with memorable colors and tastes, choose Candy Central to help you send your guests home with a real treat! Choose from colorful chocolates and theme-related mints, and use them to decorate with the colors that you choose. At Candy Central, we pride ourselves on our low prices and fresh products, and we are eager for your bridal shower to be the best it can be. Get in touch with us, and we’ll hook you up with the cutest and tastiest selection, or feel free to check out the most popular picks for an event like yours.