Wedding shower vs. bridal shower: which one should you host?

People in cocktail attire raise colorful coupe glasses to cheers at a flower-filled table
Paperless Post BlogWedding > Wedding shower vs. bridal shower: which one should you host?

There’s a wedding on the horizon—and you can’t wait to celebrate! Get the party started before the big day with a shower of gifts, cake, games, and well wishes. The question is: are you hosting a bridal shower… or is it actually a wedding shower?

Both showers bring loved ones together to honor an upcoming marriage, but wedding showers and bridal showers are not exactly alike. Dive into the differences between these types of bridal showers to decide which one you should host, and how that affects the rest of your planning. (Desserts and corny games are appreciated at both.)

Bridal shower vs. wedding shower

Many people use the terms “bridal shower” and “wedding shower” as synonyms, but they actually do describe different wedding events. Before you’re ready to choose between bridal and wedding shower invitations, decide which shower you’re getting ready to host.

What is a bridal shower?

An invitation with a large diamond ring; an invitation with a graphic, tile-inspired pink and orange pattern with an orange and gold envelope
Emerald Cut” by Carolyn Suzuki Studio for Paperless Post; “Bicottura” by Paperless Post.

 

If you’re planning a bridal shower, you’re celebrating a woman who’s about to be married. These parties tend to be more gender-specific and focused on the bride of an upcoming wedding.

To celebrate a wedding for two brides, the bridal shower can honor one or both of the women getting married.

What is a wedding shower?

An invitation with colorful flowering plants; an invitation with a couple embracing and a gold foil border
Sweet Flowers“ and ”Simple Gold Border (Photo)” by Paperless Post.

 

Wedding showers are more often for the couple getting married, rather than just the bride. For weddings without a bride, a wedding shower can also celebrate the groom or grooms.

Wedding showers are also referred to as “couples’ showers” or “couples’ bridal showers.”

Can you have both a bridal shower and a wedding shower?

For couples with more well-wishers than they can count, having both a bridal shower and a wedding shower is acceptable. A bride may want to celebrate with her family and friends, for example, but the couple’s church or workplace might also want to honor the couple as a whole.

If you’re throwing a bridal shower and a wedding shower, make sure the guest list and the dates you host the events don’t overlap too much. Inviting guests to two different gift-giving events before the wedding may not be considered proper wedding shower etiquette.

Bridal shower invitations

Find beautiful, customizable shower invitations the bride-to-be will love.

Differences between a wedding shower vs. bridal shower

Choosing between a bridal shower and a wedding shower doesn’t stop with the guest of honor. There are a few more differences to consider before you decide which type of shower is best for your soon-to-be newlyweds.

Guest list

Women smiling and laughing at banquet tables; people dancing joyously at a dimly lit party
Images via Towards The Moon and Adobe Stock.

 

While the guest lists for both bridal showers and wedding showers include friends and family, there are often a few differences in who’s invited to each.

  • Bridal shower: Invite the bride’s female friends and family members, which can include young girls.
  • Wedding shower: All genders can be on the guest list! The guests of honor often want other couples that they know to attend.

Invitations

The timing for bridal shower invitations and wedding showers is about the same—around 6–8 weeks before the event. But you can find different design options and templates for bridal showers vs. wedding showers.

A baby blue invitation with the word ‘miss’ striked out and ‘mrs’ underneath in gold script; an invitation with a border of blue and green florals and plants next to a cream and gold envelope
Miss Out” invitation by kate spade new york for Paperless Post; “Hawthorne” by Rifle Paper Co. for Paperless Post.

 

  • Bridal shower: Bridal shower invitations tend to be more floral and feminine, like the “Hawthorne” invitation by Rifle Paper Co. They can also be centered around the bride, like the “Miss Out” invitation by kate spade new york.
  • Wedding shower: Wedding shower invitations are more gender-neutral because they highlight both members of a couple. The “Painted Circle” photo invitation or the “Olive Arch” invitation by Paperless Post are classic wedding shower invitations that work for most themes and types of events.

 

An invitation with olive branches at the top; an invitation with a photo of a couple in winter clothes in an abstract circle shapeOlive Arch” and “Painted Circle” by Paperless Post.

Shower host

Can the host of a wedding shower and a bridal shower be the same person? Maybe, depending on the couple—and the host.

  • Bridal shower: The host is usually a woman who is close to the bride, such as a sister or friend. The most common host of a bridal shower is the mother of the bride or groom.
  • Wedding shower: Anyone can host a wedding shower, whether it’s someone related to one member of the couple or a group of people who know them both, like the couple’s parents or friends.

Shower venues

Rattan chairs and banquet tables at a greenery-filled outdoor space; a place setting with citrus details and a dinner roll in a sleeve with a menu on it and olive branch
Image via Found Rental Co.

 

Even the venue of your event may differ, depending on whether you’re throwing a bridal or wedding shower. However, many venues work for both occasions.

  • Bridal shower: Relatives’ homes, dining halls, restaurants, and tea houses are popular venues to host a bridal shower.
  • Wedding shower: Wedding showers often require larger or more open venues since they include more guests. Backyards, parks, and recreational areas make good wedding shower venues.

Shower gifts

Both bridal showers and wedding showers are considered gift-giving occasions—but what’s in the gifts may not be the same for both parties.

  • Bridal shower: Brides often receive household items from their registry in addition to lingerie and other traditionally feminine items.
  • Wedding shower: Wedding shower gifts include registry items and other gifts that benefit the couple, including honeymoon funds.

Activities and games

One last detail that sets bridal showers and wedding showers apart is the activities and games.

  • Bridal shower: Traditional bridal shower games are centered around the bride, including “Toilet Paper Wedding Dress,” “Pin the Veil on the Bride,” and “Match the Celebrity Wedding Dress.”
  • Wedding shower: Wedding shower games focus more on the couple, including quizzes about their dating history. These shower games can also be competitive between couples or between genders, depending on the makeup of your party’s guest list.

The history of bridal showers

The tradition of a bridal shower dates back to the 16th-century dowry system. Brides whose families approved of their match provided a dowry—or monetary gift—to the couple. But brides whose families did not approve of the marriage needed help from their community to gather gifts for their future households.

Today, bridal showers—and wedding showers—are a little more lighthearted and often include games, favors, desserts, and registries, but the purpose of a bridal shower remains the same: to support a new couple as they move into the future together.

Shower them with love and Paperless Post

No matter if you’re throwing a bridal shower, wedding shower, or your own unique brand of pre-wedding party, Paperless Post has what you need to pull off the big day that comes before the bigger day. Add a co-host to any Paperless Post invitation to split the work of the event management, RSVP tracking, and answering guests’ questions. And make sure the newlyweds-to-be get what they need by adding a Registry Block with links to all of their wedding registries beneath the invitation.

When it’s time to write your invitations, use our guide for bridal and wedding shower invitation wording. Your job is to support your loved ones as they step into the rest of their lives—let us do the rest.