Wedding Shower vs Bridal Shower

Tom Pumford
Written by Tom Pumford · Posted in Showers & Parties Last Updated June 23, 2023 · minute read

When it comes to weddings, there are so many events and parties that you can get a little lost. Not only that, at some point in time, somebody decided to call them weird names! We get it, it can be a little tricky to keep track. To know your wedding showers, from your bridal showers. 

From rehearsal dinners to elopement parties, we’ve always tried to guide our visitors through the minefield of wedding parties and traditions that you need to follow. Today is no different. Today we are focussing on the difference between a wedding shower and a bridal shower. What they both are, how they stand apart, traditions to follow, and generally just tips on how to make the most out of them.

wedding shower vs bridal shower port

Wedding Shower vs Bridal Shower

While you’ve probably heard both interchanged with each other in conversation, both are actually very different. To put it simply, a wedding shower is thrown for the couple, whereas a bridal shower is thrown exclusively for the bride. Don’t ask us why they didn’t call it a ‘Couple Shower’ over a wedding shower. 

Let’s dig a little deeper and look into what happens during each event, and how you can navigate the complexities of each. 

What is a shower?

Before we dive into the wedding shower vs bridal shower debate, let’s answer that one question on everybody’s mind. Why the heck is it called a shower?

The term shower actually comes from a rather strange tradition where the bride-to-be would be put inside a parasol, which was then opened, therefore “showering” the bride in gifts. Yeh, we get it, but why?

Nowadays, a shower is generally considered a pre wedding event or party, arranged to celebrate the specific party. Bridal shower, honoring the bride. Wedding shower honoring the couple. So on.

Usually friends, family and loved ones gather together, providing gifts, wedding wishes, and thoughtful considerations to the specifically honored person or people. 

History of bridal shower

So, when did bridal showers begin? Well, it’s generally agreed that bridal showers have been around since the 16th century, when local celebrities such as Elizabeth 1st and Mary Queen of Scots, would be showered in gifts including toaster ovens, cookware and bridal subscription boxes. Pretty sure that’s right…

Back then they were called dowry parties and were typically thrown for brides or grooms that couldn’t that couldn’t afford a dowry. For those wondering what a dowry is, something about compensating the bride’s family for the loss of labor opportunity. Something, something, something. Times were weird. 

In modern times, a bridal shower is a way to celebrate the bride and provide gifts to help prepare her for both her wedding day and future life.

History of wedding shower

Wedding showers are more of a modern invention with experts believing they began right here in the late 19th century. We think it was just an excuse for the middle class to throw another party. And good on them! You should milk the wedding as much as you can.

The wedding shower has always been a party organized to honor the soon-to-be-wed couple. Gifts are once again shared however there is a slightly increased focus on spending time with friends and family. Sharing stories, looking back on memories, while offering advice for the couple and their new life together.

What’s the difference between a wedding shower and a bridal shower?

Right, let’s dive into what exactly is the difference between a wedding shower and a bridal shower. 

While we’ve already outlined that a wedding shower is for the couple and a bridal shower is for the bride, let’s get into the specifics. The need to know information to allow you to make the most out of your showers. 


The first place to start when comparing the two is with the hosts of the event. Generally speaking, the hosts should differ between each event, it’s too much to ask one party to host all the pre wedding events. 

The bridal shower will typically include all the bride’s friends and family. However, traditionally(although sometimes disputed) the event will be attended by the women only. But in 2023, we believe it’s perfectly acceptable for everyone to attend. 

In addition, traditions also suggest that the bridal shower shouldn’t be hosted by immediate family, think maid of honor or bridesmaids rather than mother of the bride. However, with over 15 years of experience in the wedding industry, hosting the event at the bride’s family’s house was actually most popular. 

The wedding party is usually attended by everyone close to the family and can be hosted wherever. While it’s common to host at a close family or friends house, there is nothing to say you couldn’t hold the event at a venue of your choice. Think private room at your favorite restaurant. That kind of thing. 

Story Amour Tip: To share the load, host the bridal shower at either the maid of honors or the bride’s family house. Host the wedding shower at the groom’s family’s house. This way, no one party is having to host all the events and can look forward to a party without having to worry about event planning. 


As we mentioned above, traditionally the bridal shower attendees include the women or close friends and family of the bride specifically. Whereas the wedding shower is attended by friends and family of both the bride and groom.

The specific guest list for each event is quite important. We suggest more of a slimmed down wedding guest list. You don’t need to invite three-times-removed cousins. Just the people you are closest with. Bridesmaids, groomsmen, immediate family and generally anyone you feel close to and want to invite. 

Related Reading: How many wedding guests to invite to your big day.


One thing you don’t want, is leaving it too late having all your wedding parties crammed into the week before the big day. 

While the team at Story Amour all agree that you should throw the wedding experience you want, which includes throwing the parties when and where you want. There are certain traditions that are good to follow to allow a maximized wedding experience. This is never more applicable than with the timing of the bridal and wedding showers. 

You should hold your bridal shower quite early on in the process. Most couples plan a 1-2 year build up to the big day. We recommend hosting the bridal shower around month 4. A little later is completely fine however this is all about preparing the bride for the wedding day and everything that wedding experience entails. 

However, the wedding shower can be held quite a bit closer to the big day. We recommend around 1-2 months before the wedding date. Once the majority of the planning is sorted and you have everything major in place. 

This is a great time to start to get even more excited for your big day!


Next up is the gifts for each event and you better believe that when the word shower is used, the gifts they be flowing!

The gifts received at the bridal shower are quite different than during the wedding shower. A simple way to look at it is that the bridal shower gifts should be tailored towards the bride. Whereas, the wedding shower gifts should be more joint gifts for the couple. 

Wedding shower gifts are typically for the home, more practical than personal. Think toaster ovens (They keep popping up. Whey!), fine linens, home based products. You can also include gifts that cross the boundaries such as picture frames and candles. Just try to tailor them to the couple rather than the bride. 

With the bridal shower, it’s all about the bride and getting her ready for both the wedding, and married life. Little cute gifts such as jewelry, perfumes, bottles of bubbly etc. As with any gift buying, try to give gifts that you know the bride will love. Get creative, you don’t need to follow set rules too much, as long as it’s bride specific. 

Activities & Games

Activities and games are a part of both bridal showers and wedding showers. The only difference may come in the form of socializing and quizzes. 

A bridal shower will typically include a series of fun games about the bride and soon-to-be-wed couple, whereas a wedding shower is more about mingling, talking to guests, receiving advice etc. 

Other typical activities include gift giving, general socializing and of course, food and drink. A little glass of fizzy wine is to be utilized. 


Nevermind bridal showers and wedding showers being traditions themselves, they also both include an array of traditions unique to each event. 

We’ve all seen the bachelorette party walking through the airport baggage hall, dressed all in pink. But have you noticed that the bride is often wearing a little sash, usually embroidered with something along the lines of “bride-to-be” written across it? Well they are also commonplace, and were probably actually started at bridal showers. 

Another rather strange tradition at a bridal shower is the bridal shower umbrella. More than likely linked to the original parasols, nowadays this tends to include the invitees writing a cute little note to the bride, wishing her well for her wedding day. The umbrella then acts as a beautiful keepsake to remember the day by. 

Wedding showers can go either way with the traditions. In the modern, western understanding, traditions tend to be more relaxed and it’s more of a party gathering to look ahead to the future. However, in many cultures, pre wedding parties can include all sorts of traditions. Rather commonplace is actually feet washing and is seen across many different cultures and religions. 

If you ask us, you are best sticking to a little bit of mingling, chatting and generally enjoying the company of your close friends and family. 

FAQs about wedding and bridal showers

We used to be wedding planners and would often get asked about advice for couples planning their wedding showers and bridal showers. Below are a few of the most common questions.

Does the groom attend the wedding shower?

Yes, the groom is expected to attend the wedding shower. The wedding shower is for the couple and both sides of the family and friends. 

When it comes to the bridal shower, things are a little different. Traditionally the groom would skip the bridal shower, however in 2023 things are changing! 

If you want the groom to attend, then the groom should attend. In fact, in recent years, the groom attending has become so popular that they have even given it a name of its own. Yes, that’s right. In modern times “Jack and Jill” showers are all the rage. Cue articles titled “What is a Jack and Jill shower?”

Who plans the wedding shower?

When it comes to the wedding shower it’s usually the couple or close families and friends that plan the event. Someone you can trust, perhaps has a knack for planning. Maybe just a bossy person… You get the drift. 

With the bridal shower… Maid of honor, bridesmaids, mother of the bride, the bride, the bride’s dog… Ok maybe not that last one. It’s common for a close member of the bride’s side to plan and host the event. While traditionally it’s not meant to be a member of the bride’s immediate family, in 2023 it’s more than likely it will be.

What to wear to a wedding shower?

Wedding showers are basically a form of engagement parties. Think of it as more of a smart casual affair. That being said, it does depend completely on what type of wedding shower is being thrown.

If you are having the event at a Michelin star restaurant, get yourself dolled up. However, a cookout in a backyard? Smart shorts and shirts for the men. Maxi dresses for the ladies. It all depends on the location and time of year. 

As with pretty much every wedding event, as a guest you should probably hold back on wearing white gowns and tuxedos unless otherwise requested. 

Can you have both a bridal shower and a wedding shower?

100% you can have both. And you should!

You only get married once so let’s make the most of all the parties you can. Furthermore, both events are quite different in terms of attendees, time of hosting, reason for hosting and of course, the type of gifts. 

If you feel a little overwhelmed with parties, it’s also fine to combine the two and invite everyone to just one event. It’s up to you, it’s your wedding!


We are often asked, why do people get married, for us, that’s easy to answer. All the parties! And while it can often be difficult to determine the difference between the parties, we hope our wedding shower vs bridal shower guide tells you everything you need to know!

With bridal showers generally being hosted for the bride by her close friends, and the wedding shower being for the couple, it’s quite easy to distinguish the requirements for each. Gifts? Bridal shower equals gifts for the bride. Wedding shower equals gifts for the couple. Guests? Bridal shower equals guests that are friends/family of the bride. Wedding showers equals guests that are friends/family of the couple. Simple really. We just hope you understand the nuances between the both and can throw a couple of epic parties in the build up to your special day!

PS, we have no idea why they don’t call it a couples shower. It would make things a heck of a lot easier. Let’s try and get it trending!