A Complete Timeline for Planning a Bridal Shower

Allow us to help you outline the event, from setting the date to allotting enough time for games and gift opening.

rehearsal dinner tablescape pink drum roses and white velvet tablecloths
Photo: Anna Delores Photography

A bridal shower is one of the most exciting pre-wedding parties. Whether you're hosting an intimate or large celebration, a planning timeline can help you piece the event together—it can also keep you on budget and stress free, which means you can freely enjoy the get-together with loved ones (and the bride-to-be!) when the day arrives. So, if you're unsure about how to plan a bridal shower, consult our expert-approved timeline, ahead, to help you organize and choose every element.

Getting Started

"Before making any set shower plans, it's always good to know who's contributing and how much you collectively plan to spend," says Ashley Mason, the founder and lead planner of Saunter Weddings, of setting a budget. "Themes are so fun to dream up—however, you can very easily blow through a budget if you're not tracking your numbers." About four to five months ahead of a local event, sit down with everyone involved in the spending process, she says. If you're planning a shower with immediate family only, chat with both sides so everyone feels included. And if you are hosting a bridal shower from afar or one that will require several loved ones to fly in? Because of changes in travel restrictions, she suggests getting started about six to seven months in advance.

Wherever the event is set to take place, during this preliminary timeframe, brainstorm venue ideas. To nail one down, you'll need to have a general idea of the guest count and a few prospective dates in mind; bridal showers typically happen one to three months before the wedding. Consider style, too, when shopping for venues: "Think about the style you're going for and then pinpoint a space that best suits it," Mason adds. "If you are throwing a bridal shower at home, consider opening up the backyard for those who want to come, but have concerns about COVID-19 safety."

Three to Four Months Out

At this point, it's time to check in with the bride and any honorary guests to determine what they would like to do at the shower—not every woman of the hour, for example, wants to stick to typical traditions, Mason says. "Talk with the guest of honor in the first month of planning and see what they're comfortable with," she notes. "If you know people are coming that may not be familiar with each other, it's nice to throw in a game or two that connects your guests." Pose a few options—a cocktail competition or a game of true or false are engaging bridal shower activities—and select a few to make the day more intimate. This is also the time to nail down the delicious food and drinks you will serve at the event.

Two Months Out

Ensure bridal shower invitations are placed in the mail six to eight weeks ahead of the event, explains Mason; these notes should give guests an idea of what to expect and offer crystal-clear information. "There seems to always be one or two guests who mistake the bridal shower for the bachelorette party," she shares. She also suggests driving guests to the bride-to-be's registry (do so by adding her wedding website to the cards): "It can't hurt to list [the] gift registry, so no one shows up with intimates while everyone else brings housewares."

The Day Of

On average, a bridal shower lasts between two to four hours; if you're the host, be sure to arrive early to set up any activities or stations ahead of time. Ultimately, the timeline of the bridal shower itself comes down to what's happening there. "If you're planning for lots of games or opening all of the gifts, make room for a longer soirée," Mason says; longer events call for more food and drinks, so make sure to budget and account for both long before the day arrives.

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