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bridal shower checklist

Bridal Showers: A Planning Checklist

Maids, planning the shower? Here's a timeline with all your to-dos.

Photo: Dana Gallagher

The bridal shower (or couple shower) is the maid of honor's pre-wedding piece-de-resistance. Rise to the challenge! Even if someone else is hosting the bridal shower (like the bride's aunts) or you're holding it at a restaurant or spa, it's up to you to take the reigns. So here's a handy bridal shower checklist to help you plan a perfect party for the bride-to-be. Feel free to adjust the timing to suit your showering style.

3+ Months Before

  • Talk to the bride. Does she want all women or co-ed? Afternoon tea or Saturday night soiree? Does she want a particular bridal shower theme, style or color? Does she want to gather at a Chinese restaurant, a quaint tea salon, her grandmother's house, a spa, your apartment? Does she want to serve cocktails? While most of the bridal shower details and decisions will be up to you, make sure you plan according to her input.
  • Set the date -- shoot for a month or two before the wedding. (If certain bridesmaids and important family and friends can't convene until a few days before, hold off until then).
  • If the bridal shower will take place at a tea salon, private dining room, restaurant, or nightclub, make the reservations.
  • Create the guest list for the bridal shower. (Knot Note: Anyone you invite must also be invited to the wedding).

2 Months Before

  • Send a "save the date" email and/or call important guests such as the bride's best friend from high school, her favorite cousin, the groom's mother, etc. to see if there are any scheduling conflicts.
  • As a courtesy, call any guests who will have to travel some distance to attend -- they'll appreciate the advance notice.
  • Confer with the bridesmaids to establish a budget.
  • Purchase bridal shower invitations or materials to make them.
  • Hold a brainstorming session to finalize decisions about table linens, flowers, menu, decorations, favors, music, and activities.
  • Order special menu items through the bakery/caterer and linens, coffee urns, and other equipment from a rental company, if necessary.
  • Compile addresses for the guest list.
  • Make a detailed to-do list and assign tasks.

1 Month Before

  • Assemble and address invitations. (Include information about the couple's registries. And, if it's a theme party, make sure to provide proper gift-giving instructions.)
  • Mail invitations.
  • Shop for decorations, paper goods, and other party props.
  • Purchase favors.
  • If guests have offered to bring desserts and other treats, call to confirm what they plan to bring -- adjust your recipe plans accordingly.

2+ Weeks Before

  • Place flower order.
  • Buy your shower gift for the bride.
  • Figure out what you're going to wear to the shower. Why not treat yourself to a slick new outfit or dress (you're the hostess, after all)?
  • Make a shopping list for the food and drinks. Buy any hard-to-find ingredients.
  • Purchase spirits, if you're having cocktails.
  • Pick up any baskets, CDs, cake stands, punch bowls, tea services, stereo equipment, or serving platters that friends or neighbors have offered to lend.

1 Week Before

  • Confirm reservations.
  • Confirm orders and delivery times.
  • Confirm RSVPs.
  • Assemble and/or gift-wrap favors.
  • Buy groceries.
  • Create a mental floor plan to facilitate decorating and setting up.
  • Prepare shower games and activities.

1 Day Before

  • Prepare any menu items that can be made in advance (or just do prep work).
  • Receive and set up equipment, assemble decorations and favors, set table(s).
  • Touch base with the bridesmaids -- confirm who's bringing what and ask them to arrive early to help.
  • Run last-minute errands.

-- Amy Elliott

See More: The Bridal Shower