Bridal Shower Gift Protocol
Times may have changed, but showers are still gift-giving occasions
By Michelle Bolyn
Traditionally, the purpose of a bridal shower was to gift the bride with goods so she could set up a home once she was married. In modern times, many engaged couples already have those household basics. Yet, presents are a big part of bridal showers hosted today. And while shower gift etiquette is changing, there's still some protocol to keep in mind.
The bride should register her gift preferences before you order or design the bridal shower invitations. This way, you can include her registry information on the invitations. Give the names of the stores where the bride is registered at the bottom of the invitation. For example, "Susan is registered at Macy's and Target." While many people feel it is inappropriate to include registry information on wedding invitations, this is not the case for bridal showers. Traditionally, the purpose of a bridal shower is to shower the bride with gifts, so registry information on a shower invitation is expected and helpful to the guests.
If the shower you're hosting has a theme, include it on the invitation and request that guests bring a theme-related gift or dress in theme. When you plan a bridal shower around a theme, it makes it easier to decide on invitations, decor and refreshments. Themes can be general, such as centering around a color; practical, such as a kitchen-themed shower; racy, where guests give lingerie as gifts; or a phrase that guests can interpret different ways, such as "Isn't It Romantic?," which may prompt a range of gifts from champagne flutes to his-and-her massages.
Some brides who are shy prefer to skip opening gifts at the shower; however, typically, guests expect the bride-to-be to open her gifts at the gathering. If the shower is themed and the guests went to the trouble to buy a themed gift, then the honoree should open the gifts at the shower. However, if the shower is not themed and the invitees are unlikely to be offended by skipping this tradition, consider having a gift table without the gift-opening session so the bride-to-be is comfortable at her event. Guests might be even more amenable to this if the shower is held at a location that may be logistically challenging for opening gifts, such as a tearoom.
Assign one of the bridesmaids to keep a list of all the gifts and who they came from. This will make writing thank you cards simple and stress-free for the bride. Another bridesmaid can gather all the ribbons and bows from the gifts and make a "bouquet" out of the ribbon strung through a paper plate. This is traditionally used by the bride as her bouquet during the wedding rehearsal.
Thank You Cards
The bride should send thank you cards within two weeks of the bridal shower with a mention of the gift received. Thank yous do not need to be long; short, heartfelt and to the point will be appreciated.
About the Author
Michelle Bolyn regularly writes on weddings and relationships.
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Plan bridal shower
The maid of honor will likely head this up, though some brides have multiple showers thrown by people from different walks of their life. Your hostess may request a list of invitees from the bride. Be sure to express any preferences you have -- from including the boys to game requests or omissions.
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