The Ultimate Guide To Bridal Showers

Being asked to be a part of someone's wedding day is always a special moment. Whether you are a bridesmaid, the mother of the bride, or one of the ushers, you are a significant part in the beginning of a couple's marital life. Accepting the offer to be the maid of honor is more than just being a special part of it. It is taking on the role as the ultimate caretaker, the second opinion, and of course the ultimate party planner. From aiding in decision making to mitigating stressful situations, as the maid of honor, your goal is to make the bride's walk down the aisle a seamless one. While giving your opinion on trumpet style dresses, planning a raucous bachelorette party, and getting the bride ready on her big day is are all important jobs, one of the biggest jobs is planning her bridal shower.

"A successful bridal shower is one that truly reflects the bride's style and personality," said WeddingWire editor Alex Merriman. "A great hostess makes a point to keep the bride's tastes, interests, and unique characteristics at the forefront of her mind throughout every aspect of the planning process. It also can't hurt to throw in a small surprise or two to make the day that much more special for your bride. This can be anything from having her very favorite dessert specially catered to putting together a sentimental group gift in addition to individual gifts. It's all about making it personal and memorable."

To help you give your favorite bride-to-be have the best bridal shower, we've come up with a  complete guide to help you plan the perfect shower. But we didn't do it alone. We reached out to our vast network of bridal experts, party planners and etiquette coaches to bring you all of the ins-and-outs of bridal shower planning. In our series of slideshows, we'll give you everything from the rules of planning and the hottest themes to the perfect party menu and the perfect gifts. To make planning a breeze and to learn secrets from the experts, click through our guide!

The Rules of Planning

The first step in planning a bridal shower involves gathering your bearings. After all, this is tricky territory, especially if you aren't well acquainted with the other bridesmaids or family of the bride.

Click here for the Bridal Shower Etiquette Guide (Slideshow)

Deciding who does what and pays for which aspect is a lot to manage! But worry not, our party planning and etiquette expert Annette Joseph, stylist and author of Picture Perfect Parties, has some wonderful advice on how to handle the toughest of situations and how to maximize your planning skills.

Choosing a Theme

When it comes to planning a bridal shower, everything rests on the theme. From the menu selections to the decor ideas, you have to have something to centralize it. Not only will it make planning your party easier, it is a way to really personalize the event for the bride-to-be. Whatever her passions are, her colors, or her favorite time of year is, you can fashion an event around the concept and let it extend into the finer details.

Click here for our Inspirational Bridal Shower Theme (Slideshow)

But even if you know your bride-to-be like the back of your hand, sometimes getting inspired is a little tough. We contacted our vast network of bridal experts to list the hottest trending bridal shower themes for you to throw. Not only did they give us the ideas, they fleshed them out for us as well, complete with everything from menu selections to decor ideas. This way you can throw your bride a flawless, gorgeous shower without scrambling to make every detail count!

Selecting a Menu

Though no one can argue that a menu should center around your theme, it doesn't hurt to have a few tasty backups. You want to be sure you can appeal to your audiences' taste buds rather than isolate them with a overtly niche menu. You want to be sure that you establish whether you are hosting a luncheon or small bites and make sure that it is communicated to your guests. Also, ask the bride-to-be, or whoever is available, to help curate the guest list for any known food allergies amongst the guests or simply ask them to let you know when they RSVP.

Click here for 25 Inspiring Party Foods (Slideshow)

It is crucial to keep the food as fun and inventive as possible, so be sure to include something that as visually appealing as it is delicious. To do that, you need to get a little creative. While you're probably a pro by now and coming up with pretty decor and jaw dropping centerpieces, you may need a little help getting inventive with your menu. To make it truly your own, look through our slideshow for some party foods and recipes that will stun and delight your guests.

Choosing the Wine

Planning a wedding shower can be a stressful experience for even the most seasoned bridesmaid. You have to juggle the bride's family, friends, and coworkers as well as have Pinterest-worthy décor. And, of course, somewhere in the back of your mind is always the bridal shower scene from Bridesmaids. In our opinion, there's one thing that can make many a bridal shower go a little smoother — wine! 

Click here for the best Bridal Shower Wine List (Slideshow)

The experts at Drync — the free wine app that lets you scan and purchase wine instantly — have provided a few guidelines that are sure to make the process of selecting wine a bit easier. First, try to have a mix of white, red and sparkling — and don't be afraid to throw a rosé in there too. Second, this may not be the time for that heavily oaked chardonnay or hugely tannic red — not when you have to please a crowd and you only have a few options.

Don't be afraid to have fun too! Can you theme the wines around the bride's honeymoon destination? How about having the labels match her wedding colors? Or what about picking wines that start with the first letter of the bride's first name?

If you want to take all the guesswork out of wine selection, though, click through the slideshow for a few favorites straight from the wine experts at Drync!

Selecting a Gift

After pulling the shower and menu together, it is usually customary for the bridal party to select a group gift for the bride-to-be. Aside from a big registry item, the gaggle of gals usually band together to gift something a little more personal like a scrapbook or a family recipe box. While you know your bride-to-be best, honing in on the perfect gift may be tough. WeddingWire editor Alex Merriman gave us these great ideas to help make deciding a little easier:

  • Experience Gifts:
    Take the bride to a fun class on something she's always wanted to learn, tickets to a show you know she'll love, or dinner for two at a restaurant she's been dying to try.
  • Personalize It:
    Whether it's a set of custom cocktail napkins and coasters, personalized stationery, or an engraved item from the registry, you can't go wrong with a personal touch.
  • Home Accents:
    Consider giving the bride stylish little extras that make a house a home (but may not be on the registry). For example, try gifting a great coffee table book, a gorgeous vase, or some pretty packaged soaps and candles she can display in her powder room.

Click here for the 25 Essentials Every Newlywed Needs (Slideshow)

On the flip side, if your bride needs help deciding what to put on her own registry, you can help her with our handy guide! This list of must-haves will make a world of difference in her marital kitchen and she'll have all the essentials she will ever need. So grab the price gun and start aiming at these super necessary items.

Party Activities

Sure, eating, drinking, and chatting are fun, but if you don't keep the mood light and loose, you may end up with a super boring shower. A great way to help guests break the ice is by organizing a ton of fun shower games. Like what you ask? Well, you want to choose games that are fun, buzz worthy and will get the guests into it.

Click here for 5 Great Bridal Shower Games

"Each guest that arrived is given a ring pop," suggests Meredith M. of Love & Lavender"If you say the brides name you had to give up your ring pop to the person who pointed it out."

For more great ideas, click through our game ideas guide so you can save the party if it starts getting a little snoozy!

The Day Of

After all of that planning, the day has finally arrived. You're on your way to having thrown the best bridal shower that there ever was. But wait! The bride arrived early and ruined her surprise, the in-laws are fighting and the buffet is looking strangely empty. The months you spent planning could all come undone, unless you act fast! With tips from WeddingWire editor Kim Forrest, we've got the answer to any day-of disasters you could ever imagine and let you know what is and isn't a real emergency.

Click here for Day-Of Disaster Survival Guide (Slideshow)

From the rules of planning to the party games you'll play, we've taken you through an entire guide to planning the perfect bridal shower. We wish your favorite bride-to-be all of the luck in the world and best wishes for her future marriage!