A bridal shower is one of the major milestones after the engagement; it’s a time to celebrate the bride and “shower” her with well wishes and gifts before the wedding day. It’s a coveted wedding tradition. A typical bridal shower will send the bride off into marriage knowing how much she’s cherished by friends and family.
The history of the bridal shower started as women of high society celebrated the bride in the late 1800s. The bride-to-be was “showered” with small gifts inside a parasol at these parties.
Today, the bridal shower tradition continues as friends throw brides-to-be showers to help prepare them for their new home. Wedding showers now can take many forms and some are even themed. No matter what kind of party, though, it’s part of a long tradition intended to wish the new bride well, celebrate her upcoming marriage, and help her prepare her new home.
The Honor Of Hosting A Bridal Shower
If you’re wondering who throws the bridal shower, and thinking it might be you, or just willing to help, keep reading. Here we’ll discuss the art of throwing a bridal shower at a venue and, everything you need to know.
Who should host the shower?
Etiquette suggests that the maid of honor, bridesmaids, or relatives, such as an aunt or cousin, host the bridal shower. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. In fact, it’s common for close family friends to honor the bride with a wedding shower.
In fact, my close friend Johnese and I hosted a shower for our dear friend’s daughter. Having known Danielle since she was born made the celebration even more special. It was an honor to celebrate Danielle’s new adventure in life.
The shower took place in Los Angeles where Danielle lives, so the planning process for an out-of-town event is a bit tricky. I wanted to share all of elements that you should consider when planning a bridal shower at any venue.
A perfectly planned shower can be overwhelming so I hope that this guide will make it easier if you are planning on the celebration being at a restaurant or any event space.
How To Plan & Throw a Memorable Bridal Shower
#1 Talk To The Bride
Make sure you know what type of bridal shower the bride is interested in having. Keep in mind that these days, the brides are more particular about how the party may be curated. Here are some key questions to ask the bride:
- How many guests were they considering? Try to keep the guest list to a manageable number of close family members and closest friends.
- What type of bridal shower theme did they have in mind? Brainstorm and discuss options.
- Time of day- What day and time would work best for the bride and her friends and family?
- Chat with the bride’s mother when making any of the above decisions.
#2 Set The Budget
The bridal shower budget is essential for planning your event. After you know how many guests will be invited, it’s time to start to look for the venue.
Opting to co-host the event with other bridesmaids, friends, or family members of the bride is a great idea. That way you can evenly split the cost of the party, which may allow you to splurge on items you know the bride will love. Co-hosting makes the planning process so much more fun. Johnese and I had a blast planning the event together.
There are many ways to manage the costs of a wedding shower including being creative with the guest gifts as I have shared below.
#3 Choose A Bridal Shower Theme
Once you’ve finished collecting the addresses and the final guest list has been approved by the bride-to-be, it’s time to determine what the bridal shower theme will be. While having a theme isn’t an essential part of bridal shower planning, it can be the perfect way to add some personality to the party with invitations, food options, and decor.
Feel free to get as creative as you like—for starters, some popular options include a brunch and bubbly theme, a rustic theme, wine tasting theme, or even a flower arranging party. Whatever you ultimately choose, it should make sense for the bride’s personality and everyday interests.
Danielle happens to love the boho vibe so we went with a color scheme that would fit her wedding colors and the decorations that fit the theme.
#4 Find The Venue For The Bridal Shower
Finding the venue is the most important factor you must nail down in advance for the bridal shower. It took us several months to finalize the location of the event. A private event venue in Los Angeles was way over our budget so we found a unique space that allowed us the ability to host an intimate gathering with a festive outdoor seating area.
Wherever you are planning on hosting the bridal shower, a key consideration is the you’ll want to pick a place that has good food and a nice atmosphere. It’s also important to consider the size of the restaurant. You don’t want it to be too crowded or too empty. Another thing to consider is whether or not the restaurant has private dining options. Private options can be expensive but no worries public spaces can be great too!
Here is what you should consider when choosing a bridal shower venue:
- Food costs
- Seating area- private of non-private
- Consider banquet halls, private venues (clubhouses and private spaces) and restaurants. Our event was at The Everleigh on the Sunset strip in La. It’s an sweet spot that has a Boho feel- which is what we were looking for.
- Beautiful restaurant and or good esthetics.
- Parking and valet parking
- Long Table options- A long table is ideal to keep the group inclusive and it’s fun to decorate.
Make a Reservation Early- Once you’ve picked the perfect restaurant, make sure you make your reservation early! Popular restaurants can book up quickly, so it’s important to reserve your spot as soon as you can. This will also give you time to work out any details with the restaurant staff ahead of time.
#5 The Bridal Shower Invitation
The next step is to send out invitations! Give your guests plenty of notice so they can clear their schedules. Make sure you include all of the important details like the date, time, location, and any special instructions (like what to wear or bring). Make sure the invite design fits the theme of the shower. Read more about the art of the wedding and shower invitation here.
Consider using online invites such as Basic Invite or Paperless post so you can keep track of the guest count and you can send out reminders about the big day.
#7 Set The Menu For The Shower
The food you choose will depend on the theme and time of day. Whatever the menu, make sure it’s something you know the bride will like and includes options for any food restrictions the guests note on their RSVPs.
#8 Plan The Bridal Shower Decorations
If you’re decorating yourself, this is arguably one of the most fun steps in planning a bridal shower. Just my opinion! Whether you’re following a theme or not, think about what kinds of personal touches you can include for the bride.
When decorating the tables, consider using floral decorations that you can give to the guest to take home as a gift. Succulents or a special floral arrangement is a great choice. Romance is the underlying reason behind all showers, so why not celebrate it with your decorations? These decorations should be a bit romantic.
For Danielle , we made these lovely floral arrangements to go with the boho theme. The off white painted mason jars were super cute and ideal for the neutral color scheme. You can paint mason jars yourself or buy theme on Etsy here. We then went to Trader Joe’s and bought flowers to fill the the jars. We also embellished the mason jars with ribbon and a cute wooden sign “Let Love Grow”.
The long table was decorated with a sheer nude table runner that was carefully gathered around the flowers on the table. Between each flower arrangement, we placed faux white hydrangea flowers to soften the flow of the table. At the end of the table at the bride’s place setting was a wood carved sign her her new married last name.
Decorate The Bride’s Chair
It’s a fun to decorate the bride’s chair. We hung a cute white wreath sign that said “Mrs” . We tied it on the chair with white tulle. The chair decoration was embellished with greens and flowers. You can find inexpensive bridal decorations at Hobby Lobby, Michaels or online.
Photo block or framed photos of the couple make for an interesting and creative fun decoration as well. Behind the bride, we strategically placed four photo blocks that spelled LOVE. Each block contained the photos of the bride and groom. Darling idea and the bride loved it. She can repurpose the blocks.
#9 Bridal Shower Favors
Bridal shower favors for the guests is traditionally a fun idea. As stated above, we gave the gorgeous flower arrangements as a gift in addition to a bottle of facial oil and French Squirrel chocolates founded by the bride’s good friend Sydney.
#10 Place Cards For Seating
Consider placing name cards at each seat. Doing so will eliminate the stress for the guests to determine where they will sit. Having a name tags on each place setting will also provide a place where the ladies can place their items while they mingle about.
#11 Plan Games and Activities
Games are a great way to break the ice when guests first arrive, especially if they are not already acquainted with one another. With a lot of traditional shower games, there is no purchase necessary—just a bit of creativity! For our shower, we printed out a questionnaire for each guest to fill out. “How Well Do You Know The Bride? Prizes were awarded to the top several people who answered correctly. Each guest wrote a sweet note at the bottom of the questionnaire to the bride. It was a kick!
#12 The Surprise Guest Of Honor- The Groom
It’s always a treat to see a groom show up at a bridal shower as a surprise guest of honor. It’s a great way for the guests to get to know the groom and gives the groom lots of bonus points with the bride.
There are many great photo opportunities, and if the groom shows up towards the end of the shower, he can help load the gifts. It is always appreciated when the guest of honor surprises the mother of the bride. The groom bringing flowers to the bride is a nice touch.
#13 Set Up A Gift Table For Bridal Shower Gifts
When guests show up with gifts in hand, it’s nice to have a designated place to place the gifts.
#14 Bridal Shower Gifts For The Bride
Bridal shower gifts may be part of a theme or no theme at all. I do suggest that the bride doesn’t open the gifts at the venue.
Here are some ideas for a gift theme:
- Leisure time shower: Entertainment tickets, boards games, videos, CDs, cocktail glasses, napkins
- Gourmet cook shower: Gourmet foods and wines, utensils, cookbooks
- Lawn games shower: Badminton set, flower seeds and gardening tools, picnic basket, Japanese lanterns, croquet set
- Labor of Love- Friends pledge to lend their skills to this shower by painting, wallpapering, gardening, or donating their abilities in any way they choose.
- The great outdoors: This shower provides the adventurous couple with gifts to help them survive in the wilderness. As always, the invitation should not suggest any gifts but should indicate what activities they enjoy. For example, guests may bring camping equipment, fleece blankets, matching ski hats, or golf clothes, depending on what the couple enjoys doing.
- How does your garden grow? This party will nourish the gardening couple’s green thumbs. The garden shower theme makes for a nice garden party or tea party. Guests can bring gifts like tin watering cans, garden tools, packets of flower and/or vegetable seeds, bird feeders, or sets of his-and-hers garden gloves.
Does the Bride Need a Registry For A Bridal Shower?
Not necessarily. The actual wedding registry can also function for the bridal shower. If, however, it’s a lingerie shower, that would require a separate registry should the bride want to register for specific lingerie. As a bridal shower guest, it is in good etiquette to purchase a shower gift from the registry.
Conclusion: Throwing a successful bridal shower at a restaurant takes some planning but it’s definitely doable! Just pick the right restaurant, make your reservations early, send out invitations in advance, plan some games or activities, and prepare for gifts. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to throw an amazing event that your guests will remember for years to come!