The engagement period is filled with excitement —there are so many different parties to attend and people who want to celebrate your nuptials! Here are some common parties that may be thrown in your honor as the wedding day approaches.
The bridal shower should be hosted by a family friend or non-immediate family member; neither the bride nor her mother should be the hosts, as the shower is primarily an event when guests bestow gifts upon the bride to help her start her new home. Hosting your own shower, or having an immediate family member host, makes it seem like you’re terribly concerned about gifts.
Showers typically take place in the morning or early afternoon. If a meal is being provided, a brunch or light luncheon is appropriate; finger foods are also appropriate if the shower will take place between meal times.
The shower invitation does not have to match the rest of your invitation suite, though the host may try to incorporate elements from your suite. The invitation should include the names of the bride and the hostess, the date and time of the event, the type of shower (details below), if a meal will be served and registry information, if the bride has made it available. The hostess should also include her phone number and e-mail address, and specify if she wants everyone to RSVP, or “regrets only.”
A potential invitation may look like this:
Please join us for a bridal brunch
in honor of
Laura Jane Cook
Saturday, October 28 at 11 a.m.
at the home of Carrie Spelling
234 Watership Way
Please RSVP to Carrie at 987-654-3456 by October 20
The bride is registered at Pottery Barn
For specialized showers, you may request specific actions instead of including the registry information, such as:
Please bring an index card with your family’s favorite recipe.
The reason it is acceptable to include registry information on a shower invitation and not the wedding invitation is that the person issuing the invitations, the hostess, will not receive any of the gifts. She is providing information purely for the other guests.
Alternatively, there are some types of showers in which it is not necessary to include registry details. When in the company of close friends, some brides are thrown lingerie showers; family showers may include recipe parties, where each guest brings their favorite recipe on an index card for the bride, or themed events, where all gifts fit into a category (for example, only items that can be used for entertaining).
As a thank-you for hosting the shower, it is polite for the bride to provide the hostess with a gift, and she should also write a thank-you note to the hostess for the lovely event. She should also send thank-you notes to party guests, preferably before the wedding.
A good rule of thumb is to only invite guests to the shower if they have been invited to the wedding. It is rude to invite someone to celebrate your bridal shower — an event where guests are expected to bring gifts — if you have no intention of inviting them to the big day. The hostess should ask the bride for a guest list a few weeks or months before the shower so she can send the invitations.
Of course, if you have co-workers who wish to throw you an office shower, they are allowed to do so with no expectation that you will invite them to the wedding. They are not expected to bring gifts, but they may choose to, or they may all chip in for one larger gift. An at-work shower may include a small party with snacks or cake to send you off into married life.
Traditionally, it has been viewed as inappropriate for second-time brides to have showers thrown in their honor, as it was assumed that they already had all the items needed to create a home. However, as times have changed, more and more couples enter marriage with at least one divorce between the two of them, and to not celebrate their union with the same excitement as a first-time bride can hurt the feelings of the involved parties.
If you feel uncomfortable with the idea of having people bring shower gifts to an encore shower, you can make your wishes known to the potential hostess, as there are a few ways to make it more comfortable for you. Perhaps a note on the invitation that says, “No gifts, please,” or a lunch or brunch event in which the group goes out for a meal, where it’s more about the celebration than the gifts? If you are truly uncomfortable with the idea, you can let the potential hostess know you would rather not have a shower at all, and that is acceptable too.
BACHELOR, BACHELORETTE AND COUPLE SHOWERS
Unlike the bridal shower, family members are not typically invited to the bachelor and bachelorette parties, unless a sibling or cousin is particularly close to the couple. These parties are opportunities for the bride and groom to spend time with their friends and celebrate their last night as a single man and woman. The men and women may celebrate separately, or they may choose to have one big event together. The party (or parties) may be as simple as a fun night out, or as elaborate as a trip to a different city or state.
Despite the “last night” implications, these parties do not necessarily need to take place the night before the wedding. In fact, if alcohol will be available, it is preferable for the party to be at least a few days before, or perhaps even the weekend or month before, the wedding. This will ensure that everyone in the wedding party will arrive bright-eyed and clear-headed for the wedding.)
Typically, the Maid of Honor and the Best Man throw the bachelorette and bachelor parties, respectively, though any member of the bridal party may contribute to the planning. All adult members of the bridal party should be invited. (Accommodations could be made for junior bridesmaids, flower girls and ring bearers, if you wish to include them, but this is not required.)
As far as other guests, similarly to the bridal shower, you only want to invite those friends that are invited to the wedding; even though gifts are not necessarily a part of bachelor/bachelorette festivities, it is likely that talk will turn to the wedding, which could make an uninvited guest feel uncomfortable.
How to Invite Guests
Because the members of the bridal party may not live in the same city as you, you’ll want to get the invitations out several weeks to a month in advance, so travel arrangements can be made if necessary. If you are planning a party trip to another city, state or country, make sure that guests have all this information well in advance, in case things like passports or flights need to be arranged. Be sure to work with the host or hostess to plan activities for everyone once you get to your destination!
Specify on the invitations whether the event will be a bachelor, bachelorette or co-ed party. Should guests choose to bring gifts, they will want to bring one that is appropriate for the event; for example, it is not uncommon for bridesmaids to bring presents of lingerie for the bride, and the bride may not be comfortable with that in the mixed company of a co-ed party.
While bachelor and bachelorette parties have a reputation for being racy and raucous, they do not have to be! There are plenty of ideas for having a fun “last night,” together or separately. You could go out for a nice dinner, go dancing, or attend a show at a comedy club. Wine tastings, brewery tours or pub-crawls can be fun if the couple likes a particular winery or district. For a less traditional spin, take your friends to play paintball or attend a paint-and-sip class.
Make sure the event is tailored to your personality, and you and your guests will have a blast.