Wedding Shower vs Bridal Shower: What's the Purpose? [2023]

by Ryan Hart | Updated on March 1, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’re planning a wedding or know someone who is, you’ve probably heard of wedding and bridal showers. They’re both pre-wedding events, but they have different purposes.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what sets a wedding shower apart from a bridal shower and help you decide which one might be right for you.

Bride and bridesmaids

What is a Bridal Shower?

A bridal shower is hosted by the bride’s maid of honor or a close family member, and it’s a celebration of the bride’s upcoming marriage. It’s usually held a few weeks before the wedding and is attended by the bride’s family and female friends.

The event focuses on the bride, and guests often bring gifts specifically for her. These gifts are typically items that the bride will use in her new home, such as kitchen appliances, bedding, or decor.

Bridal showers are often held during the daytime and are more casual than wedding showers. The event is hosted at someone’s home, a restaurant, or a public park.

Activities may include games, food and drinks, and gift-opening. Bridal showers are an excellent way for the bride to spend time with her close friends and family members and receive gifts to help her start her new life with her partner.

What is a Wedding Shower?

A wedding shower is typically hosted by the couple’s closest friends or family members, and it’s a celebration of their upcoming marriage.

The bride and groom attend, and guests often bring gifts for the couple to use together. These gifts may include household items, tools, or other items to help the couple build their new life together.

Couples showers are often held closer to the wedding date than bridal showers, sometimes just a few days or weeks beforehand. They can be more formal than bridal showers and may include a sit-down meal or more structured activities. The event focuses on the couple and their future together rather than just on the bride.

Key Differences Between Bridal and Wedding Showers

Now that we’ve defined each type of event, here’s a closer look at some of the key differences between wedding showers vs bridal showers:

Host

Some traditions have been passed down over the years regarding who hosts a wedding shower versus a bridal shower. Traditional bridal showers are typically hosted by the maid of honor, the bride’s mother, or another close female relative, such as a sister or aunt.

The bridal shower allows the bride’s closest female friends and family members to come together to offer their support and advice as she prepares to embark on married life.

On the other hand, wedding showers are typically hosted by the bride’s mother, the groom’s mother, or another close female relative, such as an aunt or grandmother. Wedding showers are generally larger events attended by a broader range of people, including the bridal party, extended family members, friends of the couple, and co-workers.

As a result, the responsibility for hosting the event often falls to someone who has a close relationship with the couple and can coordinate with all the various groups of people who will be in attendance.

However, in recent years, these traditional expectations have started to shift. For example, it’s becoming more common for friends or family members to take on the responsibility of hosting either a bridal shower or a wedding shower, regardless of gender or relationship with the bride or groom.

Some couples even choose to host their pre-wedding events, taking on the responsibility of planning and paying for everything.

Guest List

Bridal showers are typically smaller, more intimate events focused on the bride and her closest female friends and family members. The guest list for a bridal shower often includes the bride’s bridesmaids, her mother and mother-in-law, and perhaps a few close female relatives and friends.

In contrast, wedding showers are often larger events with guests such as extended family members, friends of the couple, and co-workers. The guest list for a wedding shower may include a mix of men and women.

Gifts

Gift-giving is an important aspect of both bridal showers and wedding showers, but there are some differences in the types of gifts typically given at each event.

At a bridal shower, the focus is often on giving the bride practical gifts that she can use in her new home or on her honeymoon. Common bridal shower gifts include kitchen gadgets, bedding and linens, bath towels, and lingerie.

In contrast, wedding showers are typically more focused on giving gifts that celebrate the couple’s new life together as a married couple. This can include gifts such as personalized items like monogrammed towels or picture frames, travel accessories for their honeymoon, or things that reflect their shared hobbies and interests.

Another key difference between the two events is the timing of the gift-giving. At a bridal shower, guests are often asked to bring their gifts to the event, and the bride will open them in front of everyone. This allows for a fun and festive atmosphere and gives everyone a chance to see the bride’s reactions to her gifts. At a wedding shower, gifts are usually given to the couple either before or after the event, as they can be quite cumbersome to bring to the shower itself.

Focus

Another important difference between a wedding and a bridal shower is the focus of the event. Bridal showers are typically focused on celebrating the bride and her upcoming marriage, and the atmosphere is often more relaxed and informal. The event’s focus is usually on the bride, and guests will often play fun games and participate in activities centered around her.

In contrast, wedding showers are often more formal and may be hosted by the couple’s parents or another family member. The focus of a wedding shower is typically on the couple as a unit rather than just the bride. The atmosphere is often more sophisticated, and the event may include more formal activities such as speeches and toasts.

Activities

Bridal showers are typically more relaxed and casual, with activities like playing games and opening gifts taking center stage. The tone of the event is usually lighthearted and fun, with lots of laughter and conversation.

Wedding showers can be a bit more formal and structured. Guests might sit down to a full meal, with toasts and speeches taking place throughout the event. The couple might open gifts together rather than having the bride open them on her own.

Cost

Traditionally, bridal showers were hosted by the maid of honor or the mother of the bride, and they were responsible for covering the cost of the event. However, it’s become more common for friends or family members to chip in and help cover the expenses in recent years.

Wedding showers are typically hosted by the bride’s mother, the groom’s mother, or the couple’s close female relatives. It’s not uncommon for couples to host the wedding shower, especially if they’re older and have more established careers and finances. In general, the cost of a wedding shower is higher than that of a bridal shower simply because there are more people in attendance, and a larger space is needed to accommodate everyone.

Party Favors

When it comes to party favors, a wedding and bridal shower can be a great opportunity to give a little something back to your guests as a thank-you for their attendance and support. While not all hosts choose to provide favors, it can be a nice touch that helps to make the event feel more special and memorable.

Bridal showers are typically more casual affairs, and favors can range from simple items like candles, chocolates, or homemade cookies, to more personalized gifts like monogrammed tote bags or custom wine glasses.

The favors don’t need to be extravagant or expensive - the goal is simply to show your appreciation to your guests for their love and support.

Wedding showers are often larger events with more guests in attendance. As a result, the cost of providing favors can add up quickly. However, if you do choose to provide favors, there are plenty of options to choose from, such as mini champagne bottles, personalized candy jars, or custom photo frames.

Invitations

Bridal shower invitations typically use wording that is more focused on celebrating the bride and her upcoming marriage. The invitations may include phrases such as “Join us in showering the bride with love” or “Help us celebrate the bride-to-be.”

For wedding showers, the wording of the invitations may be more focused on celebrating the couple as a unit. Invitations may include phrases such as “Join us in celebrating the upcoming nuptials of [Couple’s Names]” or “Please join us for a shower to honor the soon-to-be-wed couple.”

It’s also important to include event details on the invitations, such as the date, time, location, and any theme or dress code information. Additionally, the host or hosts of the shower should include information about any gift registries or other gift-giving information.

Bridal shower invitations may be whimsical or feminine, while wedding shower invitations may be more formal or traditional. Some hosts may opt for custom invitations that feature photos of the couple or unique artwork or design elements.

Which pre-wedding event is right for you?

Deciding whether to have a bridal shower or a wedding shower depends on your preferences and family traditions. If you’re a bride who wants to spend a fun afternoon with your close friends and family members, a bridal shower might be the perfect choice for you.

If you and your partner want to celebrate your upcoming marriage together with all of your loved ones, a wedding shower might be a better fit.

If you’re still unsure which type of pre-wedding party to have, consider your guest list and the types of gifts you hope to receive. If you’re looking for gifts that are specifically intended for you, a bridal shower might be the better option.

If you hope to receive gifts that will help you and your partner build your new life together, a wedding shower might be a better choice. Ultimately, both types of events can be a lot of fun and can help you celebrate your upcoming marriage with your loved ones.

Bridal Shower vs Bachelorette Party

While bridal showers and bachelorette parties are both pre-wedding celebrations, they are quite different in nature.

A bridal shower is a more formal event where the bride and her close female family members and friends gather to “shower” the bride with gifts for her upcoming marriage. The event focuses on celebrating the bride and helping her prepare for her new life with her partner.

A bachelorette party is a more casual, often wild, night out with the bride and her closest female friends to celebrate her last days as a single woman. The event focuses on having fun and creating unforgettable memories with the bride before she ties the knot.

Engagement Party vs Wedding Shower

Engagement parties are typically held shortly after a couple gets engaged, and it is a celebration of the engagement itself. The party can be as formal or informal as the couple chooses, and it typically includes family members and close friends. The event focuses on congratulating the couple and marking the beginning of their engagement.

A wedding shower is typically held closer to the wedding date and is a celebration of the bride (or the couple, in the case of a co-ed shower). The event focuses on “showering” the couple with gifts from their wedding registry to help prepare them for their new life together. The event is typically hosted by close family members or friends, and it includes fun games, food, and drinks.

Wedding Shower vs Wedding Reception

A wedding shower is a time-honored pre-wedding event that celebrates the upcoming nuptials of an engaged couple. It is an opportunity to shower the couple with gifts and wishes for their happily ever after. Wedding showers can range from coed couples’ showers to more traditional bridal showers.

Depending on location, culture, and personal preference, some couples co-host coed showers, inviting both sides of their family and all friends. However, not all wedding guests are typically invited to the pre-wedding parties.

A wedding reception is a celebration that follows the wedding ceremony, and it is typically a large event that includes all the guests who attended the ceremony. The focus of the reception is on celebrating the newly married couple and enjoying food, drinks, and dancing. The reception is often held at a reception venue, and it can include formal traditions such as speeches, cake cutting, and the first dance.

Bottom line

Bride and bridesmaids drinking champagne

In conclusion, while wedding showers and bridal showers are often used interchangeably, they have key differences in terms of the host, guest list, gifts, and focus.

Deciding which event to have depends on personal preferences, traditions, and the types of gifts you’re hoping to receive.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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