How Long Should a Bridal Shower Really Be?

Keep it short if you want your guests to enjoy their time.

outdoor picnic spread
Photo: Ava Moore

The bridal shower is one of the most exciting pre-wedding events. It's a time when the bride-to-be gets to be surrounded by her closest family and friends, and everyone gathers to celebrate the beginning of a new journey for the woman of honor. But just how long should everyone be gathering for? We've all been to a bridal shower that seems to go on forever, but it's near impossible to duck out early when the bride is opening gifts or attendees are playing games. To ensure you plan a shower that guests will enjoy every minute of, we asked Randi Barksdale of Jet Set Planning and Alliey Weichelt of Sash and Bow Wedding Planning their advice on timing.

Keep It Short

Weichelt says bridal showers should ideally last between two and four hours. Anything shorter and guests will feel like they didn't have a chance to spend time with the bride; anything longer and they'll be itching to head home. Three hours might just be the sweet spot, then. Be sure to list a start and end time on your invitations so guests have a clear idea of just how long the party will be.

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

You've heard it before, right? It's true: Guests will have more fun when they have something to do. That's why Weichelt suggests doing something other than just playing wedding bingo or the Newlywed Game. "More and more brides skip the shower games," she says. "They would rather spend the time socializing. However, there should be more than just gifts." Non-traditional games or activities-like flower arranging, cookie or cake decorating, and candle making-are all fun ways to keep guests busy.

Try Something Different

If you're nervous about timing, Barksdale recommends forgoing a traditional shower in favor of something different, like a wedding tea. "I always suggest to my brides to have a wedding tea instead of a shower," she says. "With a bridal tea the gifts are laid on a table with the card of who the gift is from in front. This allows the bride to have more time enjoying friends and family," she suggests. "I always suggest a Sunday afternoon from from 1 to 3 PM."

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