The Complete Bridal Shower Ideas and Planning Guide

pink and orange floral and fun al fresco bridal shower ideas dining setup
photo: Anna Delores Photography | see more from this chic summer party

Hosting a bridal shower and not sure where to start? We put together a killer guide to help you plan a bridal shower that’s equally fun and unforgettable, with epic ideas that are sure to impress. We’ll kick it off with all the FAQs before we jump into bridal shower theme ideas, food ideas, and games and activities that are anything but cheesy—we promise.

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What is a bridal shower?

neon sign bridal shower idea surrounded by pastel floral arrangements
photo: Jessica Lynn Photography, as seen in this sunshine themed shower idea

A bridal shower is a gathering of close friends and family to celebrate the bride with gifts, activities, food, and drinks. It’s a centuries-old tradition — and one seriously good reason for a party. Bridal showers are often considered the kickoff to the wedding’s events. Which may or may not put a lot of pressure on the host, depending on your vibe.

Whats the difference between bridal shower and wedding shower?

wedding shower ideas
photo: Anna Delores Photography, as seen in this chic pink and orange wedding shower inspiration

A bridal shower and a wedding shower often carry the same structure (and incorporate a lot of the same fun ideas and games), but the name of the event varies slightly depending on who is actually being showered.

If the shower is for the couple as a whole or the individual being celebrated doesn’t identify as a bride, the correct term is “wedding shower.” However, if the party being thrown is for an individual who identifies as a bride, you can go with “bridal shower.”

Who plans the bridal shower?

fun bridal shower ideas
photo: Sylvie Rosokoff, as seen in this socially distant Galentines party

Traditionally, the maid of honor plans the bridal shower, with help from the bridesmaids to put together ideas and other fun plans. But we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: traditions are not rules.

It’s not uncommon for a wedding shower or bridal shower to have multiple hosts. Family members can also co-host, though it’s best to give the mother and future MIL the day off.

Oftentimes, the bride or couple have communities in different locations (current city vs. hometown, for example) and therefore may have more than one bridal or wedding shower.

Final word: As long as the bride is on board, any close friend or family member can plan the bridal shower—though traditionally the maid of honor is expected to lead the way.

Who pays for the bridal shower?

bridal shower ideas pup
photo: Courtney Pecorino Photography, as seen in this elevated backyard party with boho influences

Traditionally speaking, the host(s) pays for the bridal shower. Unlike a bachelorette party, where guests may come prepared to pay for their own food and activities, the wedding or bridal shower is completely paid for by those planning the shindig. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to create a budget for the day.

Final word: Hosts pay for the bridal shower.

How much does a bridal shower cost?

what is supposed to happen at a bridal shower
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this sunshine-filled beachside bridal shower

As the host, it’s up to you to determine the cost of the bridal shower. Set a budget to include your major elements: invitations, food, decor, favors, and a gift for the bride. Your budget will scale with each guest invite and will typically start at $10/person for a daytime party hosted in a home. Costs will go up from there — especially if you’re booking out a venue and incorporating elaborate bridal shower theme and decor ideas.

Final word: The host sets the bridal shower budget, but plan on $10/head on the low end.

Who do you invite to a bridal shower?

what to wear to a bridal shower
photo: Jenavieve Belair, as seen in this vintage garden party bridal shower

Bridal showers are generally reserved for the bride’s closest friends and relatives. And here’s a rare rule we’d advise you not to break: only guests invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower.

You can go about putting together a guest list one of two ways.

  • Ask the bride to create a guest list or two.
  • Ask the bride to share the entire wedding guest list and you can create it from there.

The latter option might be a better choice for a small wedding, where you’re familiar with the guests.

Final word: Close friends and relatives who are also invited to the wedding should get an invite to the wedding shower.

When should the bridal shower be?

low outdoors picnic bridal shower ideas
photo: Courtney Pecorino Photography, as seen in this bohemian backyard party

It’s good to plan the wedding shower 4-8 weeks before the wedding. Make sure it’s far enough in advance to where it’s not a crazy stressful situation for the bride or couple.

You’ll also want to factor bridal shower theme ideas into this, too. Some themes only work during certain seasons, so that will impact when you plan a bridal shower for.

Final word: Plan the bridal shower within 2 months from the wedding.

When to send bridal shower invitations

spring and summer inspired bridal shower invitation suite ideas with fruits and florals
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this gorgeous fall wedding shower inspo

Invitations should arrive a month before the party date so if you’re mailing them via snail mail, plan accordingly. That means thinking about whether or not you’re sending custom designs out (and what the turnaround tine is for those). You’ll also need to factor in printing time as well.

Final word: Invites should arrive a month before the party date.

What is supposed to happen at a bridal shower?

pink champagne tower
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this Pretty in Pink party theme inspiration

The traditional bridal shower generally includes three elements: food, activities, and gifts. We’ll jump into detail a bit more below (with tons of epic bridal shower party ideas for every style), but one other thing you should always consider is a toast.

As the host, one of the most simple yet impactful things you can do is share a few words about the lady of the hour. It doesn’t need to be super emotional or long! It could be as simple as sending her a little love as you welcome guests. Or if you’re serving a meal, pause to give a toast. It’s easy to get busy with all the details when you’re hosting, so remember to take time to honor the bride.

Final word: Food, drinks, activities, gifts, and a speech.

Where to have a bridal shower

bridal shower theme ideas beach
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this beach themed bridal shower

Traditionally, the bridal shower is held in one of the host’s homes, but it truly can be anywhere. The benefit of a home is there is often less to set up and you’ve got a kitchen to work with. But depending on your budget, theme, and time of day, you can host the bridal shower at a park, a restaurant, an event space, a brewery — the options go on and on!

Final word: In the host’s home—or anywhere!

The Best Bridal Shower Ideas for Every Style

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s get into those ideas! These are our favorite bridal shower ideas, broken out by category. We’re covering everything from the best themes, gorgeous decor, fun games, and must-know hosting tips.

Bridal Shower Theme Ideas

bridal shower theme ideas
photo: Liz Barnes Photo, as seen in this modern + fresh bridal shower theme inspiration

When you’re choosing between bridal shower theme ideas you should first and foremost consider the person being showered. Often a theme will inform the menu, so this might be a good place to start.

Consider any favorite foods or allergies. Or you might want to look toward the actual wedding style and align the bridal shower theme with the couple’s aesthetic. Here are a few of our favorite bridal shower theme ideas to get you started!

1. Beach Bridal Shower Theme Idea

beach themed bridal shower
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this beach themed bridal shower

You don’t need to host on the beach to plan a beach themed bridal shower (but bonus points if you do). All it takes is a few killer details! Light a sea salt candle, incorporate shells in your decor, serve up a Seabreeze cocktail, and put some Beach Boys on the speakers!

When you’re planning flowers for this bridal shower theme, think about beachy sunset tones. Decor elements like sea glass, rattan, or sandy-colored vessels would all work here.

2. Brunch Wedding Shower Theme Idea

bridal shower brunch
photo: Anna Delores Photography, as seen in this lovely, vibrant wedding shower inspiration

Brunch is beloved by all and one bridal shower theme idea where food can also serve as decor. Serve up a brunch charcuterie board, complete with pastries and fruit. Set up a waffle bar, a breakfast taco bar, or a granola parfait bar!

The options are seemingly endless with this wedding shower theme, but whatever breakfast cuisine you choose, remember that mimosas and fun juices are highly encouraged.

3. Moroccan-Boho Wedding Shower Theme Idea

bridal shower ideas food and drink
photo: Lindsey Marie Photography, as seen in this intimate + boho bridal shower

Get low—but make it classy. You can’t go wrong with a low table covered in an array of delectables surrounded by plush cushions. Plate up a few Middle Eastern favorites with plenty of spreads and rent a few specialty place settings for an extra special detail. Talk about the most luxurious (and delicious!) bridal shower theme idea!

4. Tea Party Bridal Shower Theme Idea

bridal shower party ideas tea theme
photo: Wisteria Photography, as seen in this garden party theme inspiration

Blame it on Bridgerton, but we can’t get enough of the tea party aesthetic. This would be such a fun DIY party! Source mismatched teacups and serving ware from family members and thrift stores. Create a spread of tea sandwiches, petit fours, macarons, scones, cream, and jam. The more color the better!

5. Stock the Bar Wedding Shower

bridal shower theme stock the bar
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this fall wedding shower inspiration

If you’re planning a couples wedding shower, this is such a fun theme idea. It’s also a great idea if the couple isn’t in need of traditional shower gifts like appliances and linens. Guests arrive with gifts in tow to stock the bar! Anything from barware to liquor works here. Serve up wine and cheese, and you’ve got yourself a party.

Bridal Shower Decor Ideas

bridal shower party decor ideas
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this Pretty in Pink party theme inspiration

Creating an atmosphere is more than just great bridal shower decorations or a theme. It’s also important to think about how the bride and guests will experience the day through ALL the five senses.

What they hear, via a great playlist, can totally change the atmosphere. Cozy pillows and cushions will create a totally different feel than picnic benches might. And because smell is so strongly associated with memory, choose your candles or essential oils wisely! These are our favorite bridal shower decor ideas.

6. Balloon Garland Decor Ideas

Bridal Shower Ideas Pastel Spring Brunch
photo: Liz Barnes Photo, as seen in this modern + vibrant bridal shower

The balloon garland isn’t going anywhere! If you order early enough you can find a wide array of color options and add details like flowers or streamers. No matter if you hire a designer to create something truly unique and show-stopping or you order your own kit from Amazon or Etsy (we also have a DIY Floral Balloon Arch!), balloons are an excellent decor piece.

GWS Tip: If you build the balloon arch yourself, you must get this inflator!

7. DIY Flower Bar Decor Idea

bridal shower decor ideas diy flower bar
photo: Lisette OC Photography, as seen in this Galentines brunch

We love a decor piece that does double duty and a DIY flower bar covers all the bases! It looks great once it’s all set up and guests can build their own bouquets for the perfect wedding shower favor.

8. Pink Bridal Shower Decor

pink bridal shower theme
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this Pretty in Pink party theme inspiration

Pink is in! Sometimes a theme is as simple as choosing a color, and we’re seeing pink trending once again for bridal showers. Flowers, treats, balloons, you name it. Pink exudes joy and happiness, so it’s the perfect color for such an exciting day!

9. Cocktail Station

bridal shower ideas cocktail station
photo: Jessica Lynn Photography, as seen in this sunshine themed shower idea

Here’s another double-duty decor option! A cocktail bar is destined to be a photo op at the wedding shower. Bring in lots of fun flourishes like fresh fruit and herbs, umbrellas, and cocktail stirrers. Make it DIY with a few simple cocktail recipes and mix up a few pitchers of party drinks for a crowd, with cute labels and signs.

10. Marquee Letters Decor Idea

bridal shower sign ideas
photo: Chrissy O’Neill & Co., as seen in this ladies night hosting guide

Say it big and say it loud! This bridal shower decor idea is especially fun for an outdoor party where you’ve got room for a major photo-op moment. You could work with a planner to help source signage or you can find marquee letters on Amazon!

Bridal Shower Food Ideas

bridal shower food ideas on the beach
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this beachy wedding shower

Next, it’s time to address the menu. Food and drinks are their own essential elements, because what is a bridal shower without snacks?! You could go classic with cheese + wine and charcuterie or creative with a chicken + waffle wall! Maybe churros, coconut bowls, or a new take on a tea party would be more your speed. And don’t forget cocktails and treats!! Any of these bridal shower food ideas are sure to be a delicious hit.

11. Churro Station Bridal Shower Food Idea

bridal shower food ideas churro wall
photo: Bonphotage, as seen in this Kashmiri engagement party

Churros are the ultimate nostalgic snack (especially for Disney World fans). And it’s one of our favorite current food trends for events, wedding showers included. After all, who could say no to sweet cinnamon fried dough? Even better with some dipping chocolate.

12. Custom Bridal Shower Cookie Ideas

bridal shower ideas custom cookies
photo: Courtney Pecorino Photography, as seen in this boho backyard party

If you can find a local bakery or a talented friend to create custom cookies for the bridal shower, do it! This sweet treat is a fun way to bring customization and that ever-important attention to detail to the dessert table or shower favors.

13. Luxury Picnic

bridal shower ideas luxury picnic
image via Miss Mays Picnics tent from Exotic Soirées

Yes, a charcuterie board is a meal, and you can’t convince us otherwise. You can build an entire event around a charcuterie board and a dreamy picnic. In fact, you might even be able to find a picnic producer in your area to bring in all the dreamy rentals and set it up for you!

14. Frozen Cocktails on Tap

bridal shower ideas frozen cocktails
photo: Chrissy O’Neill & Co., as seen in this girls night out hosting guide

Frozen margaritas, anyone? Hire out a frozen cocktail machine for a super-fun drink station, and don’t forget to put out a spread of umbrellas, stirrers, and garnishes!

15. Charcuterie Cone Bridal Shower Food Idea

bridal shower food ideas charcuterie cone
photo: Chrissy O’Neill & Co. catering: Apricot & Olive, as seen in our girls night hosting guide

If you’re passing snacks, these cute little charcuterie cones are a fun option for the wedding shower that’s both full of flavor and pretty to look at! You can work with a caterer to make these or fill them up with a salami rose, cheeses on toothpicks, and berry skewers.

Bridal Shower Game Ideas and Activities

bridal shower game ideas
photo: Jessica Lynn Photo, as seen in this fall bridal shower inspiration

It’s important to put structure to the wedding shower via activities and events. At a typical shower, you might play a few games before opening gifts. This is still totally acceptable—especially if it’s fun for the bride! But again, there is no hard and fast rule.

Maybe instead of games, you opt to build flower crowns or have guests share their favorite memories with the bride. Get creative and have fun! Plan on having 2-3 bridal shower game ideas or activities lined up before opening gifts.

16. Two Truths and a Lie

bridal shower toast ideas
photo: Karra Leigh Photo, as seen in this modern brunch party

Bridal shower game ideas can be polarizing, it’s true. But we vote to give them a shot because sometimes the cheesiest games can bring about the most laughs! Two truths and a lie is an easy game that requires no planning and gives guests a chance to learn something about one another. Here’s how to play: whoever goes first tells the group three facts about themselves, one of which is false. The group tries to guess the lie and you move around the room from there!

And if you’re planning a wedding shower with the both parties in the couple present, turn it into a couple’s edition.

17. The Price is Right – Wedding Edition

bridal shower game ideas flowers
photo: Liz Barnes Photo, as seen in this feminine and fresh bridal shower theme inspiration

This bridal shower game idea requires a bit more planning but when it’s done right, it’s fun for guests and the bride, alike. Start by purchasing 8-10 small gifts that the bride will enjoy on the wedding day or after. This can be anything from lip gloss to something from the registry.

Create and print a card for each guest with a list of all the items. When it’s time to play, allow the bride to pull the gifts out of a bag and put them on display for guests to guess the price. At the end of the game, each guest adds up his or her prices and whoever gets closest to the actual cumulative price without going over is the winner! Make sure you have a backup prize in case of a tie!

18. Wedding Shower Flower Crown Building Party

bridal shower game ideas
photo: A Raw Collection, as seen in this retro glamping party

If games are not the right vibe for your bride, we love an activity that doubles as a party favor! DIY flower crowns can be made with real or faux blooms and it’s a fun craft that allows for connection among guests.

19. Wedding Shower Bounce House Idea

bridal shower ideas bounce house
photo: Chrissy O’Neill & Co. bounce house: The Bouncy Blonde, as seen in our girls night hosting guide

Forget the games, forget the crafts—let’s bounce! Bounce houses for adults are all the rage, and the appeal is obvious. They’re fun, nostalgic, and white bounce houses are the perfect canvas for a little custom bridal shower decor in the form of a giant balloon garland!

20. Don’t Forget the Favors

bridal shower soaps and favors
photo: Harper & Grace Photography, as seen in this citrusy summer party

Yes, you’re showering the bride, but you’re also creating a fun experience for your guests! Favors are a super-sweet way to close out the day and pass out a little love. You could go DIY (here’s an easy grapefruit scrub), or pick up some sheet masks and nail polish.

Favors could also be food gifts or mini flower bouquets! Think of something the bride would enjoy and let that influence your ideas.

Bridal Shower Favors

Want the details on our fave bridal shower favors? We’ve compiled a list of the best.

21. Finally, Always Leave Them Wanting More

bridal shower low picnic
photo: Courtney Pecorino Photography, as seen in this boho backyard party

This is THE KEY to a good party…bridal shower or not. If people are looking at their phones to check the time, it’s not a good look. It’s hard to find a balance between too little and too much, but if you can find the sweet spot then you’re golden! You don’t need five games and a 3-course meal, but planning with a little margin is definitely a good call. Read the room as you go — and don’t forget to enjoy it!

Party on with more bridal shower ideas, right this way!