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Inspiration » Pre-Wedding Parties » The Essential Bridal Shower Checklist to Plan the Perfect Party

The Essential Bridal Shower Checklist to Plan the Perfect Party

by Joy Editors
women celebrating bridal shower party with champaign glasses

Organizing a bridal shower is a fun and rewarding experience. You get to plan a celebration for someone you care about dearly, and it’s a chance to be creative and thoughtful in the days leading up to the wedding.

But planning a bridal shower can also be tricky at times. There are many moving parts and responsibilities, such as when to make arrangements and how to create a timeline.

Fortunately, our comprehensive guide covers everything a host needs to know. Use it as your bridal shower checklist to prepare, organize, and plan for an unforgettable party.

3+ Months Out

A few months before the event, you’ll want to firm up the main details and work out the invitation list. The earlier you can start planning, the better. Stay organized and prepared with our handy bridal shower checklist below!

bridal shower checklist printable

Download this FREE Bridal Shower Checklist from Joy

Decide on a date

It’s not an event without a date, so this will be one of the first few things to mark off your checklist.

A bridal shower usually takes place about one to two months before the wedding. Some brides choose to celebrate a few more months out, while others may prefer their bridal shower closer to the big day. In either case, planning the shower at least three months in advance best helps with preparation.

If your bridal shower isn’t a surprise, it’s a good idea to ask the bride when she’d like to be hosted. For surprise showers, make sure someone close to your guest of honor keeps her calendar free (or faux busy) for the date you have in mind. The maid of honor or the groom would be a great choice for this.

Confirm a budget

Every celebration has a budget. Whether your bridal shower plans are big and extravagant or small and intimate, there’s a price tag involved. One of the first steps to planning a bridal shower is to have an idea of the venue and vendors. This will help set the tone for the celebration (and stay within your budget). 

For instance, if you’re planning for the event in a restaurant, consider the average plate cost per person and planned number of guests. For hired vendors like a DJ, who charge per hour, estimate the hours of service.

If your job is to plan the bridal shower but someone else is footing the bill, make sure you check in with them regularly. They’ll appreciate being kept up to date with what’s planned and be relieved you’re staying within budget.

Choose and book the venue

Once you know the budget, you can start looking at potential venues. There’s a whole range of choices here to suit every taste, budget, and theme.

Many bridal shower planners opt to host the event at their home, or the home of a close relative of the bride-to-be. Not only does this keep things affordable, but it’s a lovely way to celebrate a big life moment in familiar surroundings.

If you want to host the bridal shower elsewhere, choose a place that’s special to the bride. Does she have a favorite restaurant, bar, or hotel? If so, ask if they rent out the space for private bookings and consider having a surprise party at this “secret” location.

Decide on a Theme

Now is a good time to think about theming, styling, and decor. Even the most casual and minimal of bridal showers has a theme of some kind, so it’s a chance to get creative.

Look to your guest of honor for inspiration on the bridal shower theme. If she’s involved in the planning, ask for her ideas and what she’d enjoy most. If it’s a surprise, draw inspiration from the things she loves including movies, TV, music, and books.

Think about the colors she’s drawn to, if she’s a fan of the DIY approach, and if there are any seasonal touches you can incorporate. Plan something personal and fun, with a nod to what’s important to the bride.

Along with your theme, think about whether your event has a dress code. You’ll want to decide this now so you can mention it on the bridal shower invitations. Chances are your dress code will tie in with your event theme — think cocktail dresses for an evening at the bar or something more casual for brunch at the future mother-in-law’s home.

Plan the guest list

This is where so many bridal shower hosts get stuck — planning the guest list. It can be complicated, especially if your bride-to-be has a large group of friends and family who would love to be there.

You’ll want to get the guest list sorted out early so you can send out invitations within a reasonable time frame. While it’s not required, some hosts also send a save-the-date for bridal showers around this time. A bridal shower is one of the pre-wedding day events that people enjoy the most, so they’ll want to keep their calendars free to attend.

Not sure who should make the list? Read our guide on who to invite to a bridal shower for the top tips and etiquette.

2 Months Before

With two months to go before the bridal shower, now’s a good time to make plans to finalize the menu, decor details, and invitations.

elegant table setting with floral centerpiece

Hire vendors

Some bridal shower hosts opt for a caterer and hired-in bar for parties at home. This can take the pressure off the host and the bridal party, who would otherwise be in charge of these elements. 

If you’re renting a venue for the bridal shower, they’ll likely offer catering and bar service as part of your booking. If not, they can recommend vendors who can cater your event.

Confirm the wedding registry

Traditionally, most guests rely on the couple’s gift registry to purchase their gifts. Before sending out invitations to the bridal shower, you’ll want to make sure the wedding registry list is ready. Consider adding the gift registry link to the invitation so that it’s easily accessible. 

Your wedding registry, your way

From gifts, to cash funds, experiences or charitable causes, add any gift you want, from any online retailer, to your Joy registry.

Send the invitations

With a month to go before the bridal shower takes place, now is the perfect time to send out invitations.

Since bridal showers are generally intimate gatherings of close family and friends, there’s often little travel planning needed. Still, you’ll want to send the date to guests about a month in advance so they don’t make other plans.

When you send your invitations, include all the key details about the bridal shower. Include the date, location, and any relevant information such as party theme, dress code, or gift registry.

Assign and delegate tasks

From coordinating vendors to purchasing decorations, hosting requires a lot of time and energy. If you need help, consider rounding up a group of volunteers for extra sets of hands. Give everyone responsibilities by creating a detailed to-do list of what needs to be done. This way, you get more done in less time.

1 Month Before

You’re a month away from the festivities. Now’s the perfect time to get the invitations out and plan the finer details of the day.

three women discussing party plans for bridal shower

Set the schedule

As the event edges closer, you’ll want to narrow down the running order of the day. This way, you know exactly what’s happening and avoid getting flustered on the day of the event. It also allows you to book any vendors or suppliers you might need.

It’s up to you whether to have a full list of activities or keep things more casual. Whichever option you choose, you’ll want to have a rough idea of when the main moments will happen — like your meal, toast, and gift opening.

Plan games and activities

Many bridal showers are filled with games, activities, and fun ways to mark the occasion. Whether you want to include one or many, it’s best to plan these in advance.

The activities you plan will be influenced by your theme and venue. If your bride is a real foodie, try cupcake decorating or making handmade chocolates. If you’re enjoying an afternoon at the vineyard, this might include wine tasting and a tour.

When it comes to bridal shower games, there’s lots of inspiration around. They can be cheesy and fun or heartwarming and full of nostalgia. Popular choices include themed bingo, trivia, and scavenger hunts.

Finalize decor and party favors

Your bridal shower theme is all set, and you’re excited about how it’s all going to look. A month before the event is a great time to start shopping for supplies like decor and favors.

If you plan to make the decorations for the celebration, give yourself enough time to get everything ready. You’ll likely need some volunteers to help — if you do, call on the bridal party or the bride’s close friends for their support.

Before you shop for decor and supplies, make a list of everything you need to buy. Depending on your party’s theme and budget, this could include balloons, floral displays, arches, streamers, banners, and more. You’ll find plenty of inspiration in our list of wedding shower decoration ideas.

1 Week Before the Event

There’s now only one week to go until the bridal shower. It’s time to finalize details and make some final preparations.

table decorations with dessert items

Check in with vendors

If you’ve booked vendors and suppliers to help bring your bridal shower to life, you’ll want to check in with them a week before the event. This gives you the chance to confirm details and identify any potential problems.

Order food preparations

If you’ve chosen to prepare the food for the bridal shower yourself, order it or buy it several days before the party. You’ll want to make sure it’s fresh enough to last but with you early enough that you don’t panic. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare food — especially if there’s a large number of guests.

Confirm decorations, reservations, and deliveries

If you want floral arrangements, schedule the flowers to be delivered to you the day before the event to preserve freshness. It’s also best to pick up any other decorations during this week. This gives you time to check the inventory of all display and centerpiece components before setup.

Check RSVPs

Most guests will RSVP to the bridal shower shortly after receiving the invitation. Some, however, will leave it until the last minute or forget to reply at all. Send a gentle nudge to any guests who have yet to RSVP so you can put together a final guest list for the day.

Finalize the timeline

Once you’ve confirmed with all vendors, services, and guests, you can put together a day-of timeline detailing all scheduled events. Consider the following factors before creating a full itinerary:

  • Cleaning and setup time
  • Food preparation
  • Guest arrival time
  • Number of games/activities
  • Meal serving time
  • Opening of gifts

Day Before the Party

With only 24 hours until the festivities, use this time to check off any last and minor tasks. The goal of this day is to make sure everything is where it needs to be on the venue and everyone involved is up to speed.

Gather gifts for the guest of honor

Your guest of honor will be inundated with bridal shower gifts from her closest friends and family members. When you’re organizing the event, consider using signage or decor that designates a specific area for gift placement. 

Set up equipment and decorations

If you’ve hired a venue, arrive early so you can set up with plenty of time. Some venues will allow you to set up the day before. If that’s the case, do as much as you can so you aren’t scrambling the day of the event. 

Make sure you rope in some friends to help you, too, especially if you expect many guests. The same goes for bridal showers hosted at home, although you’ll likely have more freedom with setup timing.

Prepare menu items (if applicable)

If there will be additional food outside of the vendors, make sure these are cooked and prepared the night before the event. This includes cutlery, serving pieces, and wedding shower favors, ensuring enough is purchased and packed.

Handle any other errands

Touch base with everyone assisting with the bridal shower to see if anything else needs to be done. Give everyone copies of the checklist, vendor contact information, and day-of timelines to use as reference.

Day of the Bridal Shower

The day has finally arrived. You’ve worked so hard to create a beautiful, memorable event. Now it’s time to set up the venue, make some last-minute checks, and enjoy the party.

bride to be with balloons enjoying bridal shower surprise

Prepare food and drink areas

Make sure the serving space and bar area are set up, organized, and ready for your guests. If you’re providing the food and drink, set this up as early as you can the day of so you can focus on other activities. For hired-in catering and bar setups, confirm your vendors have everything they need and are ready to serve.

Have fun

As the party organizer, it often feels like your work is never done. Don’t forget that you’re also a guest, so once everything is set up you can let your hair down. Whether the bridal shower is lavish or simple, people will only remember the excitement and joy of the day. Don’t sweat the small stuff — enjoy the party and have fun!

The key to a brilliant bridal shower is to be organized and plan ahead. Once you have a bridal shower checklist and you stick to it, you’re on your way to having an event that will run effortlessly.Need help planning the timeline of your big day? Check out our ultimate wedding planning checklist.

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