A table made of barrels filled with desserts and decorated with a burlap banner reading "Miss to Mrs"

Wedding showers are a longstanding tradition. They served to help couples outfit their homes when the bride didn’t have a dowry. These days, many people have the basics. They’re living on their own by the time they get married instead of in their parents’ homes. Understanding recent wedding shower trends helps make planning the perfect shower easier.

Who Should Host?

Traditionally, the maid of honor hosted the wedding shower. These days, anyone can host the shower. People may still frown on family members doing so. Sometimes more than one person hosts showers. Each shower should include different people.

Who Should Be Invited?

In the past, only women attended wedding showers. These women-only events comprised just close friends and family members of the bride. As time went on, wedding showers increased in size. Current trends lean toward smaller guest lists or having couples showers including both men and women. Whatever you decide, only invite people invited to the wedding to pre-wedding events like showers. Be sure to get a copy of the wedding guest list before doing any inviting. Invite those in the wedding party to all showers, but only expect them to attend one.

When and How Should Guests Be Invited?

Invite guests at least a month before the wedding shower. Most experts still recommend using paper invitations instead of electronic. Older guests may not use computers as much. The invitation serves as a nice memento for the couple. However, many wedding shower hosts now send electronic invitations. Choose this option when all potential guests are okay with electronic invitations.

Who Pays for the Shower?

With the traditional small wedding showers, the host covered the costs. If multiple people host together, such as the bridesmaids, they split the costs. When holding the shower at a separate location, inform people on the invitation of any expected costs. You may ask them to pay for their own meal, entry, or service fees (and part of the bride’s costs). Decide how much you can afford to spend in the early days of planning.

When Should the Wedding Shower Be Held?

Most people hold wedding showers between two and six weeks before the wedding. Hold the event closer to the wedding to make it easier for out-of-town guests to attend. However, this can be difficult with all the other wedding-related tasks and events leading up to the big day. Check with the guests of honor to make sure they’re free on the date in question. A wedding shower lasts between two and four hours.

Where Should the Shower Be Held?

The host holds a small wedding shower in her home if possible. Otherwise, consider renting a nearby venue or holding it at a restaurant or spa. If holding it somewhere other than a private home, consider asking what the guest of honor prefers.

Should There Be a Theme?

While unnecessary, a theme helps bring the whole event together. The theme helps determine decorations, what foods to serve, and maybe even what gifts the attendees should bring. Go along with the wedding theme or hold a shower to help furnish a room of the home. Have a lingerie shower where ladies bring lingerie or a kitchen shower that supplies her with kitchen goods and recipes. For an around-the-clock shower, people bring a gift used during an assigned hour of the day. Other options include a tea party or a champagne brunch. People who have everything they need sometimes choose honeymoon showers or showers where they ask guests to donate to charity. Whatever you do, keep the couple’s wishes, likes, and dislikes in mind.

Are Games Necessary?

Some people look forward to playing silly wedding shower games. Others dread it. Games aren’t necessary, especially if you hold an event-based shower, such as attending a cooking class or spa together. If you include games, consider ones that won’t embarrass anyone. Guess how many candies a jar holds or guess the age of the guest of honor in different pictures. Force no one to play. Offer other optional activities to keep everyone happy and busy, such as writing advice for the couple on notecards. Personal games, such as fun questions about the couple, are more meaningful and better than generic games.

What Food Should Be Served?

The theme and timing of the party determine the food. Obviously, a champagne brunch should include champagne and a mix of brunch foods. A Jack & Jill backyard BBQ involves more substantial BBQ food made on the grill. A tea includes canapes, tea sandwiches, tea, and a few desserts. Don’t hold an event that spans a typical mealtime and only serve small bites and appetizers. You don’t want to leave your guests feeling hungry.

How Should Registry Information Be Provided?

People used to frown upon including registry information on invitations. This could be considered soliciting gifts. However, everyone knows that people bring gifts to showers. It’s nice to make this easy for them. Some experts recommend including an insert with this information, instead of printing it on the invite itself.

Should the Guest of Honor Open the Gifts?

Traditionally, the gift opening was one of the main events of the shower. People still sometimes enjoy oohing and aahing over the different gifts, but you don’t want to spend hours opening gifts. With a larger shower, skip this part of the typical routine. If you open presents, have someone on hand to note who gave what. Perhaps even have guests address envelopes to themselves at the party to make sending thank-you notes easier. Couples typically open gifts near the end of the event either during or after dessert.

Should Your Offer Favors for the Guests?

Giving wedding shower guests favors is becoming more common. These favors don’t have to be anything expensive or elaborate. It’s the thought that counts. It might be as simple as candy, lip balm, candles, soaps, nail polish, s’mores in a bag, or even rice crispy treats. Add a cute saying on a tag or a sticker, and you’re good to go.