Invitation Intricacies: Bridal shower specifics

by epi on September 9, 2011

Q: Can you invite people to the bridal shower if they are not invited to the wedding? If not, is there a way to invite them and let them know they can’t come to the wedding? There are just so many people but I would think that they would want to be included where they can.

A: The rule is that only those invited to the wedding should be invited to a shower. Remember that the best showers are smaller and more intimate, with the guest list comprised of those truly close to the bride and/or the groom. They are not for every single wedding guest to have to attend. There is not a way to tell people they are okay to come to a shower but not to the wedding. It would hurt their feelings.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Lilli September 9, 2011 at 8:40 am

Perfect advice. I would just add that you not only run the risk of hurting feeling, but run the risk of looking like your wedding festivities are all about the gifts. A shower invite without a wedding invite would say (to me at least) “I like you enough to let you buy me a present, but not enough to include you in one of the most important days of my life”.


Kathy Scruggs September 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Would you say the same applies to an engagement party? I have a related question regarding bringing my 2 year old to an engagement party. I am told no children will be invited to the wedding, so I feel children would not be welcome at the engagement party either. After all, Engagement parties are for wedding guests correct?


Just Laura September 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Is your 2 year old actually invited to the engagement party? Is the party toddler-appropriate (isn’t in a bar, doesn’t take place at 10pm, etc)? If the party invite is informal (word-of-mouth or via Facebook), have you asked the host/hostess if the child would be welcome?


Vanna Keiler September 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Good heavens! This question (or a variation of it) comes up so often in the EPI blogs that I would like to suggest EPI have an “FAQ” section on this site which addresses “current etiquette trends”, like this one. It seems for the last decade, there is a trend for “bridezilla issues” “shower invites without wedding invites” and other current etiquette faux-pas. Just a thought. :)


epi September 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Dear Vanna,

What a great idea! Thank you! We will definitely look into this.



Lisa September 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm

This is great advice, but what if the shower is being thrown by people not well known to the bride? My future husband’s stepfather’s sisters offered to throw a shower, and I tried to decline, as I don’t know them well, but his mother urged me to take them up on it. So I did. Now it turns out that they have invited many people my fiance has never met (nor heard of). My parents are unhappy essentially paying for a family reunion for Stepfather’s family. What should I do?


Just Laura September 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm

You might have exerted a little control over the guest list. If you were aware that you and your parents would be uncomfortable with inviting these people to the wedding, then they shouldn’t have been invited to a shower. You sound like a kind person – perhaps you have been too nice regarding other people taking over your shower’s guest list?
Look at it from the shower guests’ perspective: They are asked to buy a gift for someone they don’t know, and they aren’t welcome at the wedding. How very uncomfortable! If the shower has already happened, or will in the near future, try to find a way to include them in the wedding as well. Otherwise, I see a few hurt feelings ahead.


Lisa September 12, 2011 at 8:38 pm

See, the problem is that I was under the (apparently naïve) impression that the bride has nothing to do with inviting people to her showers, or at least that’s how this whole mess was presented to me. What’s more, is that FH’s stepfather’s sisters had most of these people actually help plan the party before I’d even heard about it. I guess I am going to have to accommodate them, and will do so with a smile, but it means fewer of my friends will be invited. The venue only holds a certain number of people.

I think this is ultimately a misunderstanding related to geography. Where I am from, this sort of thing doesn’t seem to happen, but when I talk to local women have planned a wedding, they all seem to have gone through this exact situation. When I have asked what they did in this case, there is simply, “invite them” or “ignore them”. Not nuanced enough. Furthermore, my mother believes that FMIL and her husband’s sisters are inviting people to the shower that my future husband didn’t put on his guest list so that I feel shamed into inviting them to the wedding. I don’t know if I believe that, because I would not have thought it plausible before.


Just Laura September 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Furthermore, my mother believes that FMIL and her husband’s sisters are inviting people to the shower that my future husband didn’t put on his guest list so that I feel shamed into inviting them to the wedding.

I have heard of that sort of behavior, but I sincerely hope that is not the case here. I wish you luck.


Jean October 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I am planning a shower for my future daughter in law in March. Her mother is planning one in November. Should my immediate family (my sisters) be invited to both?


Winifred Rosenburg October 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm

No, just one. Only the bridal party gets invited to both. You don’t want to seem gift grabby.


Alicia October 6, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Typically guests other then moms sisters and bridesmaids are only invited to one shower as they will have already given the shower gift and wisdom at the previous shower. If both of you however want to invite the aunts of the groom go ahead and do so. In theory immediate family (mothers and sisters) of the bride and groom should not be throwing showers as they are gift required occasions and it can be percieved as greedy. Additionally in theory at least showers are held in the last few months prior to a wedding so if the wedding is in november or december March is way early. Additionally typically there is only one shower. That said logistics of different states can make two showers a logistical preference. If you are hosting two different showers in different parts of the country the timing and rational makes more sense in that case the aunts of the groom should be invited to whichever they live closer too.
Is there any way you can combine the two showers into one?


Winifred Rosenburg October 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Actually, there is no rule against multiple showers as long as they have different guest lists.


Jean October 6, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Thank you for the help. The wedding is actually in April and the families are a little distance apart. I think I will stick with my original plan – one shower per invited guest except for bride and grooms immediate family.


becky March 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

I thought it was generally frowned upon for family members to host showers at all.


Roe Puglissi November 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm

who should pay for the bridal shower…most of the girls are young and just starting out,early 20′s…maid of honor is 21


Just Laura November 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm

As with any party, the person hosting the party is the one who pays for it. Just so you know, the maid of honor and bridesmaids are under no obligation to throw a shower.

From the EPI:
Must the bridesmaids host a shower?
Contrary to popular belief, the maid/matron of honor and the bridesmaids are not required to host a shower as part of their official responsibilities, though they certainly can if they want to.


Vickie F June 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Question: My son is getting married. He met his bride at college and she is from another town about 2 hours away. They are now living in another state. They are coming back to have their wedding mid-way between our towns (about 45 minutes from each home town). They are having a small wedding of approximatley 100 guests. Our family would like to have a Pampered Chef shower for them. My question is concerning the invitations: As I read through your earlier Q & A’s it looks like to me that we should not invite guests to the shower / party that will not be invited to the wedding, correct? We have always lived in a small town and belonged to a small church of which I would like to invite people of the church, extended family and neighbors to attend to meet the Bride and welcome her. Is there no way to do this properly without seeming rude (or seeming to ask for a gift)? A letter could accompany the Shower / Pampered Chef invitation to explain to them about the small guest list for the wedding out of town and that at the Party / Shower they can choose to buy their own Pampered Chef item for themselves if they wish (or purchase one for the Bride), would this be improper?


Just Laura June 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Please don’t invite people who are not invited to the wedding to this Pampered Chef party, and please do not include a letter stating that there is a small guest so that’s why they aren’t invited (who needs a reminder that they didn’t make the cut for the guest list?)


Alicia June 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm

If you want to just throw a Papered chef party then throw a Pampered chef party but take shower out of it and you cvan invite all the people you would like to buy stuff for their own kitchen. But when you mix shower into it it adds to the level of guilt that people have when they feel bad when they do not want to attend sales pitch “parties” and buy kitchen stuff they do not want. Additionally it leaves the guest with the impression that it is not them that is wanted so much as their money. Seriously, this is a bad bad idea.


Katie K June 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Vicki, I agree with Just Laura, and Alicia. Also, in most communities (and especially among those on this website) it is considered in poor taste for a close relative to host a shower for a prospective bride or for an expectant mother.

If you merely want to introduce your prospective daughter-in-law to your friends and to members of your church family, you can host a luncheon or tea in her honor.


Just Laura June 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm

“you can host a luncheon or tea”

This is such a lovely idea.

Joy January 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Can friends host a meet the fiancé party and invite people that will not be invited to the wedding?


Elizabeth January 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Yes, they can. This is the case because a ‘meet the fiance’ party is not a gift-giving event like a shower. Plus, the invitation list is presumably the choice of the host and not the couple.


Tara Horoshak January 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm

My question is a bit different. I am having a destination wedding in Hawaii and running into issues with the invitation list. We invited 100 guests and were planning to create a couples shower or pre/post wedding celebration for family friends that we just don’t have enough room to invite to the wedding. My mom is by the book when it comes to etiquette and says that we cannot invite people to a shower when they are not invited to the wedding. However my fiancé and I were hoping to create a separate invitation stating: “Tara and Aaron are getting married in Hawaii on July 7, 2013. Please join a pre-wedding celebration on May 11th .” Thus allowing each family to host and invite all the family friends we just don’t have room for. Is this bad idea? I am open to any suggestions.


Elizabeth January 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm

It would be better to have a post-wedding reception when you return. That way the event doesn’t seem like a “shower” so much as a “meet the newlyweds” reception. It seems weird to celebrate something that hasn’t happened yet.


Country Girl January 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Good etiquette is to invite only those who are invited to the wedding itself to the other wedding events and festivities. The reason being is that way you are not unintentionally sending the message “You made the cut to give us gifts, but not the cut to be at the wedding itself.” For this reason, I agree with Elizabeth that inviting those who aren’t invited to the wedding to any pre-wedding celebration is not really appropriate and can actually be hurtful. (Of course, however, those 100 guests who made the actual wedding guest list may certainly be invited to a shower.)

A post-wedding celebration sounds great, but I would also urge you not to call it a “reception.” Rather your families could throw “Welcome John to the Family Dinner” or “Meet our new daughter-in-law Tara luncheon” as a reception is another one of those things intended for those invited to the actual wedding.


Alicia January 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Mom is right. Inviting someone to a prewedding party particularly a shower but not the wedding is an insult. It says that you want their gifts but not their company. Do not do this.

1. Skip this spend the money on inviting more people to the actual wedding instead
2. Skip this because if a guest is not close enough that they are invited to the wedding really how close are they anyway
3. Have a party after the wedding for all your friends and have it be a post wedding celbration
4. Have a party after the wedding for all your friends and just enjoy it and have the party be not about you or your wedding but about just havibg a darn great time.

All of those are good choices but I like 2 and 4 best


MrsMcDole2013 March 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm

what if the wedding is to be just family due to space limitations and the shower or bachlorette party is a way to include friends in the festivities ? we are having a small wedding with just family ( with the exception of our bridal party members who are practically family) at my aunts house in another town.. her house can only accommodate maybe 40 people including us and our child and i was thinking that the bridal shower/bachlorette party could be my way of celebrating with my girl friends


Elizabeth March 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm

It is considered rude to invite people to a shower (i.e. to ask them for gifts) and then not invite them to the wedding. The message it sends is: “I like you enough to ask you for gifts, but I don’t care about you enough to share my actual wedding day with you.” If you want to celebrate with more people, why not find a more accommodating venue?

The bachelorette party can be considered something of an exception, though. Lots of women just like to party, and would happily join in a hen’s night whether or not they were going to at the wedding. I would caution you, though, against doing anything very costly or asking them to contribute for a limo, etc. It works best when everyone simply pays for themselves, or even better, if you are able to host something for them.

Another alternative would be to have something “like” a shower, but without the gift-giving expectations – a ladies’ tea or luncheon in celebration of the upcoming wedding.

For me, the general concept is this: as adults, when we want people to celebrate our lives (weddings, birthdays, etc) the onus is on US to treat our guests. It is not to ask them to treat us.


Winifred Rosenburg March 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I don’t think you should invite people to the bachelorette party without inviting them to the wedding either. My brother-in-law was invited to a bachelor party and spent quite a bit of money travelling to the party, buying the groom drinks, etc. because he he was being there for an important part of his friend’s life only to find out later on that he wasn’t invited to the wedding. He was very hurt.


Alicia March 10, 2013 at 7:06 am

Sorry but by making the choice to have a small wedding you are also foirgoing the prewedding parties. It is part of the hoice you are making. Otherwise the message is you do not care enough to have them attend but you want them to buy you gifts and parties in your honor. Either understand you are forgoing prewedding events or have your wedding where you can have more guests. Another option would be hosting a post wedding party.


Olivia April 26, 2013 at 1:20 pm

My bridal shower is tomorrow. Yesterday, a co-worker’s wife contacted me on Facebook to ask about when my bridal shower and bachelorette party are, so she can mark them on the calendar. They are both happening and she wasn’t invited to either. I had considered inviting her to the bridal shower, but since I don’t know her super well (I’ve been to her house once for dinner), I decided not to. Also, she’s a good 10 years older than me, and I’m doing the bachelorette in Vegas with a group of girls that I’m closer with both in friendship and in age. So what can I say to let her off gently? I thought I could say “I’m having a small bridal shower with my close group of friends, but maybe we could go out for dinner sometime to celebrate” and then “My bachelorette is also with a small group of friends in Vegas.” She IS invited to the wedding. Thanks!


Winifred Rosenburg April 26, 2013 at 6:40 pm

It is odd that she is assuming she’s invited. I think your answer is fine. You could instead say that it will just be family and bridesmaids or something along those lines in case she gets offended that you don’t consider her a close friend.


Serena Van Der Woodsen December 6, 2013 at 11:25 am

We are throwing a bridal shower for my friend getting married in May of next year. I am the MOH, and the bride lives in a different state very far away. She will be coming home to have her shower. We are throwing a pampered chef bridal shower so that she can have any gifts shipped to her home, and not have to take an extra suitcase home on the plane. How do i word the invitations so people know that they dont have to buy a gift but if they would like to, to please do so at the shower… without sounding rude.


Alicia December 6, 2013 at 11:34 am

You don’t. A buying party mixed with a shower is rude. If the bride wants some pampered chef items then she may register for them. But to combine a feel pressured to buy party with a shower is unfair to the guests and rude. The guests will be close friends of the bride and feel pressured to buy more then they would normally as well as pressured to attend when they would normally decline this sort of sales pitch party. Skip the pampered chef part of this event. You can trust the guests to be smart and to buy small easy to pack items or to ship the items to the bride in advance and bring simply a picture of the item in a card.


Winifred Rosenburg December 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I agree with Alicia. You may also want to include a note in the invitation with thebride’s mailing address. That may help people realize that shipping the gift directly to her is an option. If anyone does bring difficult to transport gifts, she’ll just ship it to herself before she leaves.


Eileen Bloodgood April 14, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Is it ok not to invite everyone to my daughter’s bridal shower. She does not even know my husband’s second cousins. She really did not even want a shower. My mother – in- law said that they thought it would be odd. It would be adding 10 more people to the list. I know I would be fine with it but she made me feel bad about it. I don’t want people spending another 75.00 to 100.00 dollars on a shower gift. We do not socialize with them. We honestly see them at wakes and weddings. Please advise.


Alicia April 14, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Showers are typically for those closest and much smaller then entire wedding.


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