1. Lilli

    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

      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?

      • 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?

  2. Vanna Keiler

    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. :)

  3. Lisa

    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?

    • 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

        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.

        • 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.

  4. Jean

    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?

    • Alicia

      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?

  5. Roe Puglissi

    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

    • 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.

  6. Vickie F

    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?

    • 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

        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

          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.

    • Elizabeth

      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.

  7. Tara Horoshak

    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

      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

      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

      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

  8. MrsMcDole2013

    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

      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

      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

      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.

  9. Olivia

    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

      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.

  10. Serena Van Der Woodsen

    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

      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

      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.

  11. Eileen Bloodgood

    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.

  12. Kathy

    My future son in law comes from a small town 2 hours from us. When we began discussing wedding planning, he mentioned that several wives of friends wanted to throw a shower in his small town. He also mentioned that immediately after the shower there would probably an after-party where couples would come and bring gift for admission. He insisted that “where he comes from”, if you throw a party and people hear about it and are not invited they wonder what they did to offend you. In shock, I mentioned how only guest who will be invited to the wedding should be invited to showers and we have a limited number of invites. He insisted this was “how they do things” , not to worry and took an extremely casual attitude about the whole matter. I persisted a bit saying that that is not how “we do things” but that I am not sure about the etiquette of small towns. He totally disregarded my concern. Feeling uncomfortable, I later discussed this with my daughter who became upset with me and feels she has no control over this matter. She feels she does not know the hosts and this shower is the grooms deal. I said my piece and let it drop. Last week I received the shower invitation which now has turned into a “couples” shower with no mention of the after-party. I again talked to my daughter and restated my concerns and hopes that the shower invitations only went to those to be invited to the wedding? She said she understood but it is grooms problem. Later I realised one of the 5 host couples was not on the wedding invitation list given to me by the groom. I immediately sent an email to both bride and groom mentioning this and requesting the overlooked hosts address. I also said that from now on any additional invites would be “b” listed. My concern is that when my husband and I attend the shower, there will be many people there assuming they will be invited to the wedding who are not. My husband agrees I have done everything I can but won’t engage. I might mention, grooms mother is not involved in any of the planning. My fear is that the groom will realize his mistake and want me to fix it by adding to his invitation list. He has already been given half of the invites. I could not have been more clear about this situation before hand and my concerns were dismissed. I like the groom a lot but he seems the type that needs to learn things the hard way. Space is limited and so is our budget. How should I handle this?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      You are correct that people who are not going to be invited to the wedding should not be invited to the shower. However, because this is not your event, you can’t do anything more than what you have already done to prevent it. If the groom tries to add guests later on, you can tell him “I’m sorry we have space constraints and can’t accommodate any additional guests.”

  13. Jody

    I’m assuming from your description that you and your husband are paying for the ceremony and reception, not the bride and groom. If the groom wants to invite the additional people you need to stand firm and remind him that you’d told him that no additional guests can be accommodated (if he’s “big boy” enough to get married he’s “big boy” enough to fix problems he creates). Don’t give in if there really isn’t room.

    It looks like you’ve clearly stated your position and now need to stand back and let things happen as they will. Don’t bring your daughter into the middle of it, it looks like she’s taking a “hands off” position as well, as the party is something the groom’s friends are organizing. Yes it will be embarrassing to the groom but he needs to realize that he can’t expect others to rescue him all the time. It’s also quite possible that many of the guests don’t expect to be invited to the wedding and it’ll turn out to be a non-issue.

  14. Gina Leiva

    I’m from California and living in Ireland now for two years. I’m engaged and not sure yet about the size of the wedding or even the location for that matter. My girlfriend wants to throw a shower for me when I return to visit home this fall just to celebrate me finally getting married at close to 50 but also give me the opportunity to see so many of my girlfriends. Since it will likely be a destination wedding at Thanksgiving time many of my girlfriends will not be able to attend, and again, we’re not sure what size of wedding we’ll have. This isn’t about gifts, it’s about seeing friends who just love me and are happy for me and inviting them to celebrate in the form of a shower. Is there an exception to the rule in this case?

    • Elizabeth

      Gina, your friend can easily have a party for you, she should just not call it a shower. The implication for a shower is that the purpose of the party is for people to buy you objects (not even give you cash, but buy you things) to furnish your home with. Etiquette requires that only those invited to the wedding should be invited to a shower. However, your friend could easily throw you an “engagement party” for which no gifts are required. She could also throw you a “bridal tea.” Almost any kind of party could work, just not a “shower.” Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      She could also go with a “Gina’s in town (and engaged!) party” or some variant thereof. There’s no need to stick to traditional party excuses. Feel free to make one up.

  15. Ann

    My daughter is getting married in the NC mountains. We are from Florida and the groom is from Georgia. The wedding invitations will be sent primarily to their college friends as well as family with only a few invitations to people from their home towns. My friends have offered to have a party honoring the kids as an introduction of the groom to our friends and our daughter’s friends at home. Since the wedding is a destination wedding (600 miles away) a large number of our friends as well as some of my daughter’s high school friends will not be invited to the wedding. However we would Love to have them celebrate the upcoming event at the pre party. They are getting married in the summer, however the party would be over the Christmas holidays. Is this acceptable for my friends to host a party for the kids inviting people who would not be invited to the wedding? No gifts are expected. What is acceptable wording for the invitations so people know this is a holiday party honoring the kids, not a shower? Will the invitees expect an invitation to the wedding?

    • Alicia

      A post wedding party would be lovely. But pre wedding parties are limited to those invited to the wedding.
      A holiday party with no invite mention of thw couple that the couple attending and maybe a toast to the happy couple would work.

  16. Joanna M

    Okay, here is my problem. I was asked to cut the guest list, but this was after the shower invitations went out. How would you handle it in that situation?

    As if I am not already torn up over that (and the impression of impropriety it might invariably cause), I have another wrinkle. My fiancé and I decided to throw a reception for my family members, in an area where most of them live, that live at least a days drive away from where the wedding is going to be taking place. They were sent invitations to the shower as well.

    I don’t want to appear to be in bad taste. Its killing me, because I hate hurting anyone’s feelings.

    • Alicia

      Have the invites gone out to either wedding or this other reception? Who is asking you to cut the guest list?
      At this point those invited to the shower must be invited to wedding reception but you don’t need two wedding receptions. Scale back to one, scale back on reception, scale back to only one reception near wedding, ect are all polite options

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