Wondering Who to Invite to Your Bridal Shower? We Asked an Expert

For some, getting married is a single, glorious event. For others, the actual getting married part is but a cherry on top of a many tiered wedding cake that includes (but is by no means limited to) engagement parties, bachelor and bachelorette trips, rehearsal dinners and, of course, bridal showers. And you thought the seating arrangements at your reception would be the only logistical hurdle. Unfortunately, every great wedding event is another opportunity for miscommunications (it was 57 Evergreen, not 59 Evergreen) and hurt feelings (boohoo, your third cousin once removed is upset her daughter wasn’t invited to your bach), both of which we want to help you avoid at all costs. 

So, if you’ve Googled “who to invite to a bridal shower?” and wound up here, we’re happy to help. In fact, we brought in a wedding expert, New York City event planner Jennifer Brisman, for professional her advice.

 Here’s a short list on how to make your list…and then a handy guide on whom to invite.

  • The host/s decides head count
  • The host/s also decides type of shower (just women, couples, etc.)
  • Put your family and your future in-laws at the top of the list
  • Consider any long-held family or cultural traditions
  • Bridal party is usually included

Don’t worry, we’ll break all that down for you.

1. Talk About The List With Your Hosts/hostesses.

Sure, the bridal shower may be conventionally about “showering” the bride with gifts (get it?), but Brisman says that typically the bride works on her guest list with whomever is paying for the shower. That doesn’t mean the hosts will invite a bunch of their friends that you don’t know. Instead, they’ll probably give you a head count based on cost and space as well as the type of shower. For example, besides the typical all women showers, there are couples’ showers that includes—shocker—couples. And there are probably a million other versions that don’t just keep to the whole women-only theme. In general, though, the bride (or groom!) will talk this all over with the gracious hosts.

2. Think About Your Family As Well As Your Future Family.

“I think,” Brisman suggests, “the right plan of attack is for the bride to make the list with a nod to her own family, along with her future family. This means, being inclusive as opposed to exclusive if and when possible.” Some tips? If your shower is all-women, Brisman says to think about the important females on both sides of the immediate family. “And,” she continues, “as the bride’s own list grows to accommodate her own family, try to balance that with her future in-laws and their own family females.”

3. Consider Different Family Customs And Traditions.

All families have their idiosyncrasies. So merging two families together, no matter how big or small, will involve some shifting and adjusting. For example, in one family, it might be customary for every single relative to be invited to every single event. For the other family, they may only invite those with whom they have active relationships. Brisman recommends having those conversations with in-laws to address expectations up front.  

4. Include Your Bridal Party.

Typically, the bride will invite her “maids” to the shower. And if you’re concerned that your entire crew is already coming to a bachelorette party and your destination wedding, it’s perfectly fine to request “No gifts” and just focus on everyone getting to know each other.

5. Keep Your Mind Open.

Remember, every shower is different. And as Brisman says, “That’s plenty OK. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by family and friends. A bridal shower need not be hosted and/or attended by just women or solely focused on gifts!” But if it is…make sure to keep a list so you can send your thank-you notes because those, Brisman says, are a must. 

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