Just Who Exactly Is Invited: Bridal Shower & Bachelorette Guest List Questions Answered

Oh, the tricky web that wedding invitations weave. I can tell you from personal experience that choosing who to invite to your wedding can feel like participating in Hunger-Games-like elimination rounds. And sending out invites to your bridal shower and bachelorette party can be just as filled with hair pulling and grief. Here, we try to simplify things for you a bit with answers to the most common questions we get on guest lists for pre-wedding parties.

Who should I invite to my bridal shower and bachelorette? Guest list questions answered.

Who is invited to the bridal shower?
The bride should provide the host with a guest list. Showers are generally attended by a select group of close friends and relatives, so you should not invite every woman who is attending the wedding. The guest list will usually include the bridesmaids, the bride’s close friends, her mother, grandmother and aunts (and even female cousins, if she is close with them) and the mother of the groom. Important to note: Only ladies who are invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower.

But we are having a small wedding and I wanted to celebrate with some of the friends I didn’t invite to the wedding. Can’t I invite them to my bridal shower?
No, you really can’t. This is considered very rude. Only guests who are invited to the wedding can be invited to pre-wedding parties like the bridal shower. Though you may be tempted to invite the friends who didn’t make the wedding list cut to your shower, you’d basically be saying “please get me a present, but sorry, you can’t come to the wedding.”

Can someone from the groom’s side of the family throw the bride a shower?
Traditionally, the shower is thrown by someone on the bride’s side of the family: her maid of honor, her bridesmaids, an aunt, her godmother, her sister, or even occasionally her mother. That being said, we can do what we want. If the bride is close with her fiancé’s mother or sister and they want to throw her a shower, there’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t! Just make sure you don’t have competing showers from the bride’s and groom’s side. It’s best to combine into one event if most of the same guests would be invited.

Can men be invited to a bridal shower?
While showers have traditionally been female-only affairs, there are several cases in which inviting men is totally cool. If you want to have a co-ed affair, it’s called a couple’s shower. In this case, both the bride and groom attend the party and invite their friends and family. But what if the bride doesn’t want a couple’s shower, she just wants to invite some of her male friends? Just as wedding parties may now have “Men of Honor” or the “Best Maid,” if you have close friends of the opposite sex who your shower would be incomplete without, you should by all means invite them. As long as your fiancé’s feelings won’t be hurt that he isn’t invited, press on!

Who should be invited to my bachelorette party?
The bachelorette party usually consists of the bride’s closest girlfriends. This includes all her bridesmaids, plus other close friends. Sisters are usually invited, but other relatives usually don’t make the cut. The bachelorette is usually for women in the same generation as the bride—aka aunts and grandmas skip this one.

Should my mother be invited to my bachelorette party?
I have a follow-up question for you: Do you want to invite her or is she pressuring you to invite her? If you and your mom like to party together and you want her to be there, then yes, go ahead and invite her. But usually mothers and other older female relatives are not invited to bachelorette parties. Generally the parties are confined to the bride’s close friends. If your bachelorette party is going to be more laid-back—say, a wine and painting class or a nice dinner out—it may make sense to invite your mom. I’ve also seen brides go on trips with their mother and sister as their bachelorette getaway. Your bachelorette should be what you want it to be. If you want a weekend away with just your close girlfriends, do that! If you want your mom to be there, invite her! But if your mom is just pressuring you to include her, feel free to say “sorry, mom, this one’s just for my girlfriends—Ultimate Bridesmaid says so.”

Before I set the date of a bridal shower or bachelorette party, who do I have to clear it with?
This is so tricky. I feel your pain. It can be nearly impossible to pick a date that works for all guests and feelings can sometimes get hurt. But honestly, one of the roles of host is not to find a date that works for every single person. For the bridal shower, make sure the date works for the bride (duh) and the mother of the bride. Ask the bride to pick a few other priority guests—this may include her bridesmaids, her mother-in-law-to-be, or an aunt or cousin she is close with. For the bachelorette, try to pick a date that works for all her bridesmaids. Setting the date well in advance will help make this easier. The earlier you can pick a date, the less likely your guests are to have a conflict. At the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up if every single person can’t attend. You did your best.

Who should I invite to my bridal shower and bachelorette? Guest list questions answered.

Photo by Alixann Loosle Photography.

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