Bridal shower etiquette: who do you invite to the bridal shower?


bridal shower guest listThere are many steps to take when it comes to planning bridal showers. But perhaps the biggest task hostesses and brides struggle with is who to invite to the bridal shower. Some brides want to keep their bridal shower guest list small to keep it close and intimate. This allows the bride to mingle with all her guests, it allows the guests to talk to one another and get around to see everyone and it makes it feel more special in general for the bride. Other brides enjoy a large celebration and want to include as many people as possible for a celebration that will {hopefully} only happen once in a lifetime.

10 guests who should always be invited to the bridal showerDeveloping your bridal shower guest list

As mentioned in my bridal shower planning post, you should always consult with the bride first and make sure you know who she wants at the shower. As a general rule, only guests who are invited to the wedding should be invited to the bridal shower. Here are the guests who should certainly receive an invitation to the bridal shower:

  • Maid of honor
  • Bridesmaids
  • Flower girl
  • Junior bridesmaids, if applicable
  • Mother of the Bride
  • Mother of the Groom
  • Step-mothers (this one can be tricky – make sure the bride-to-be feels comfortable with this and that inviting a step-parent won’t make the situation awkward for anyone)
  • Sister(s) of the bride
  • Sister(s) of the groom
  • Step-sister(s) (again, if appropriate and okay with the bride)
  • Aunts of both the bride and groom
  • Close cousins of the bride and groom
  • Close girlfriends of the bride – childhood friends, sorority sisters, college roomates, etc.
  • Close girlfriends of the groom IF the bride is mutually friends with them
  • Close members/friends from a church community

**Keep in mind that the #1 rule to inviting guests to the bridal shower is that they MUST be invited to the wedding**

Can co-workers be invited to the bridal shower?

If co-workers are invited to the wedding and the bride wants them to be invited to the bridal shower as well, then they can absolutely receive an invitation. However, if they are not invited to the wedding, they shouldn’t be invited to the bridal shower. Typically, co-workers will decide to host a private shower at work for the bride if they aren’t invited to the wedding but would like to do something for her.

What about out-of-town family and guests? Should they receive an invitation?

Wedding experts have mixed feelings about this. Historically, only local family and friends received invitations to the bridal shower, but this has been changing over the last couple decades. More and more people live far away, so if there are really close family members and friends who live far away, the bride may still wish to send an invitation as a courtesy. And you never know – those frequent flyer miles may just get put to use by someone who wants to surprise the bride and show up at the shower!

Keep venue size in mind

Make sure that, as you begin to build your guest list, keep your venue size in mind. If one of the bridesmaid’s is hosting the shower at her apartment, chances are she can’t accommodate 50 people in her home. So if you are inviting a larger number of guests to the bridal shower, you may want to look into options where you can rent space to accommodate the number of guests who will be attending. We’ll be posting more about selecting a venue in a future blog post, so be sure to stay tuned for more information on this topic!

Managing expectations: what to do when all you see are money signs

guest list frustration
Make sure to talk to the bride and wedding party to make sure everyone is on the same page with planning and budgeting. Background image created by Nensuria –

Open and honest communication is key here! Sitting down with all the hostesses and the bride-to-be at the before all the planning begins is the best way to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of expectations and keeping budget and contributions in mind. If the bride wants to have a large shower, but all the bridesmaids are still in college and can’t afford to rent out a venue, cater, etc., it is best to be open and honest with the bride. Usually, the bride’s family and even the groom’s family may be willing to pitch in and help with some monetary contributions to ensure the shower is what the bride was hoping for.



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