Whether you’re the parent of a nearly-newlywed or an excited future in-law, favorite cousin, or bestie since kindergarten, you’re about to embark on planning one of the most anticipated events in the next chapter of their life—the bridal shower.
Bridal showers are a joyful pre-wedding tradition—and with up to 72% of soon-to-be-married couples celebrating their upcoming nuptials with a wedding or bridal shower, chances are you’ll attend or host one at some point. But if you’re looking into how to plan a bridal shower, one important question you might find yourself asking is, who pays for the bridal shower?
Although once upon a time it was expected that the bride’s family would foot the bridal shower bill, modern society has changed the rules. Nowadays, the person (or people) hosting the bridal shower are responsible for covering the costs associated with the shower.
The history of the bridal shower (and who pays)
The concept of a bridal shower dates back to the mid-1800s. It used to occur when the bride’s family, friends, and neighbors offered money and household goods for the happy couple. Back then, however, it was less of a carefully executed and fun-filled party for the bride, and more of an opportunity to ensure the bride had a sizable dowry to offer her husband. (Oh, how times have changed!)
Although bridal showers are longer dowry-related, the sentiment remains the same—to shower the happy couple with good wishes, love, and plenty of gifts ahead of their wedding day.
Image via Spell; “Laurelwood” by Paperless Post.
Modern methods of paying for a bridal shower
While neighbors and friends of the bride are no longer expected to fill a hope chest with money, fine china, and cotton bed clothes for the couple’s wedding night (scandalous!), the cost associated with throwing a bridal shower very much does still exist.
The person (or people) who covers that cost, however, varies from shower to shower. When it comes down to it, anyone can contribute to the cost of the shower, including:
— The bride’s parents: As tradition would have it, it’s not uncommon for the bride’s mother (or both of the bride’s parents) to take responsibility for the cost of the bridal shower. Since parents often don’t attend their children’s bachelorette or bachelor parties, the bridal shower is their chance to shine—and celebrate their child—by orchestrating a beautiful bridal shower.
— The bridal party: Although it’s typically the responsibility of the bridal party to pay for other pre-wedding events, like the often libation-filled bachelorette party, sometimes the maid of honor and the bridesmaids band together to pay for the bridal shower, too. This typically only occurs if members of the bridal party are the ones hosting the shower.
— Members of both families: These days, the mother of the bride isn’t the only one known for paying for the bridal shower. Sometimes one or both of the bride’s parents plan the bridal shower with the bride’s future in-laws. In addition to planning the venue, catering, and decorations, the in-laws’ responsibilities sometimes include paying for a portion of the shower, depending on what they and the bride’s parents discuss and agree upon.
— The happy couple: Who’s to say that the happy couple can’t throw tradition to the wind in lieu of a joint celebration? A wedding shower is a more modern take on the bridal shower, offering both partners the chance to bask in congratulatory vibes from their friends and loved ones—and each other. What could be more special?
How much does a bridal shower cost?
Whether you’re the bride’s mother, the maid of honor, or a loved one of the future spouses, it’s valid to wonder what the total cost of the bridal shower will be. After all, if you’re hosting, it’s helpful to have an idea of how much money you (or the group) will be shelling out for this pre-matrimonial party.
Generally speaking, the cost of a bridal shower can fall somewhere between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand, depending on the following factors:
Your chosen venue will make a big difference in the overall cost of the bridal shower. For instance, an intimate bridal shower hosted from the comforts of your living room can save you a lot more money than booking a venue at an exclusive upscale restaurant. From a barbecue in your backyard to something more elegant (and expensive), here are some common venue options to consider:
— The home of the shower host
— A resort
— A banquet hall
— A bar or restaurant
— An rustic or outdoor venue, such as a botanical garden, park, beachfront, farmhouse, or winery
“Floral Letters” by Paper Source for Paperless Post. Image via Ocho at Hotel Havana/CultureMap San Antonio.
The number of guests
Whether you’re keeping it quaint and cozy or large and luxurious, the number of guests you plan to invite can have quite an impact on the cost of the shower, too. This is especially true if you’re reserving a venue and are planning to cater food and beverages for the event.
Traditionally, a shower is an intimate affair with only the future spouse’s (or spouses’) closest friends and family in attendance. For some people, however, bigger is better, and the guest list becomes more extensive (and therefore more costly). In 2023, the average bridal shower size is 30 guests. Whichever route you and the happy couple choose to take, you can establish a better idea of the total cost after you’ve created a guest list.
Another factor to consider when budgeting for the bridal shower is the type of invitations you plan to send. An online bridal shower invitation is a convenient, modern method of inviting your guests that can save you time and money—all while putting digital party planning tools at your fingertips.
Depending on your shower plans, you can choose from various bridal shower invitations or joint couple’s wedding shower invitations, tailor them to your liking, and send them via text message, email, or shareable link to each shower guest.
“Main Squeeze” by Paperless Post.
The cost of your decor can vary widely depending on your bridal shower aspirations—and from a Champagne brunch to a beach bonanza, there are plenty of bridal shower theme ideas to consider. Once you’ve settled on some of the other crucial aspects of the shower, you can narrow your scope on the perfect bridal shower themes for the future Mrs. (or Mr.) and begin budgeting for shower decor.
Regardless of your theme, we recommend starting with a few decor must-haves suitable for any bridal shower budget (and working your way up from there, if desired). You can bring the dazzle and glitz to her shower with a few of these sophisticated and affordable bridal shower decor staples:
— Balloons: Pale pink and pearlescent balloons set a romantic mood and add a soft feminine flair. If the Champagne is flowing freely, you can also consider adding some helium Champagne balloons to the mix—or add in a Pink Balloon Cloud or two to evoke those cloud nine vibes.
— Bridal shower photo booth props: You can make unforgettable memories by setting up a photo booth for each bridal shower guest to commemorate the special day. Heart-shaped glasses, giant faux engagement rings, and cute catch phrases are popular choices for on-theme photo booth props.
— Party favors: You can’t go wrong with monogrammed trinkets. From makeup bags to nail polishes, there are endless pint-sized bridal shower favors you can monogram with the bride’s new initials and future wedding day date. Or, treat your guests to Macaron Surprise Balls that open up to reveal delightful prizes. You can also use bridal shower games to distribute the gifts.
Ladurée Paris Macaron Surprise Balls, Ladurée Paris Dinner Plates, and Ladurée Paris Macaron Pyramid Napkins by Meri Meri, In Full Bloom Mini Toppers by Coterie; “Ruban d’Or” by Ladurée for Paperless Post.
The food and drinks
A potluck-themed bridal shower will ensure you and your guests enjoy an undoubtedly tasty variety of foods to sample and savor, all while reducing your catering costs. However, many showers rely on the host to take care of the spread of delectable delights for bridal shower guests.
Whether you choose to curate your own pint-sized aperitifs or cater a three-course meal for each guest, here’s the general per-person cost related to your bridal shower menu of choice (and no, most bridal showers don’t require guests to pay for their food):
— For a fabulous DIY table of hors-d’oeuvres: If you consider yourself as confident and capable as Julia Child in the kitchen, then for approximately $10 per person, you can craft the ultimate spread of delicious finger foods (and some equally tempting handcrafted libations).
— For a lunch catered at a local restaurant: If the guest of honor has a particular favorite restaurant where they’d like to celebrate, you can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $40 per person for a meal and beverage of their choice from the menu.
— For a multi-course meal catered by an upscale vendor: Whether you’re hosting at your home or a local event hall, expect a multi-course meal to set you back $40 to $100 per person.
“Sips and Sweets” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio for Paperless Post; Image via Andee Layne.
Find bridal shower invitations and decorations all in one place at Paperless Post
No matter the size of the shower, you can find everything you need (and some you never knew you needed!) with Paperless Post.
Start by setting your sights on the perfect invitation for your bridal guests. Then, customize it to your heart’s content. If you’re sharing hosting duties with someone else, you can even add a co-host to the invitations to keep them in the loop. Need to add multiple sections for things like accommodations, registries, and more? Utilize our informational Blocks to add as many sections as you need.
Once you’ve sent off your invites, it’s time to curate your list of bridal shower decoration ideas and focus on the finer details. From sparkly balloons to baby pink plates and everything in between, Paperless Post Party Shop has a wide selection of bridal shower decor the guest of honor will love, and that will pair perfectly with any bridal shower theme.
Get the ball rolling with Paperless Post and start planning the bridal shower of their dreams today.