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Bridal Shower vs. Bachelorette Party

What’s the Difference (and Should You Do Both)?

"May you have love that never ends,
lots of money, and lots of friends.”

-Traditional Irish Wedding Blessing

So you're getting married. Congratulations! You've found your life partner, and you both want to be together forever. But before the big day and that first kiss of wedded bliss, there's usually some traditional fun for the bride-to-be, namely the bridal shower and the bachelorette party.

 What's the difference between them?

It's a common question, but the answer is not so simple. The terms "Bridal Shower" and "Bachelorette Party" are sometimes interchangeable, depending on who you ask.

For many people, it is the term used to describe where the party is being held (Showers at the bride's home; Bachelorette Party at a single friend's bachelorette pad). For others, the difference lies in the slight variations in the type of activities or gifts involved.

Let's break down some key terms:
  • Bridal Shower: A gathering to provide friends and family an opportunity to participate in welcoming the bride-to-be into married life with gifts and celebrations. The gift registry is often created for the bride-to-be, and a bridal shower usually includes a party spread of light foods and plenty of desserts. For some great ideas on how to throw a great Bridal Shower, check out our article full of tips here.
  • Bachelorette Party: A party held for the bride-to-be on the eve of her wedding, typically full of fun and other games that may not be suitable for the guests at the wedding reception. The bachelorette party often includes a gift for the bride. We've got some great tips on Bachelorette Party themes you can check out here.
  • Bridal Shower Gifts: Bridal shower gifts include those useful for married life, such as appliances, linens, kitchen items, and bridal accessories.
  • Bachelorette Party Gifts: The most popular bachelorette gifts might include lingerie or more adult-themed party favors.

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Do I have to do both?

Many brides opt to do both (or have both planned for them by others), but it really is up to you. In most cases, it's traditional for a member of the wedding party (usually a bridesmaid) to host a bachelorette party for the bride-to-be, while close friends and family plan a shower at home with a gift registry for housewares and other things that may be helpful in her new home.

Depending upon your location, season, budget, guest list size, or the number of days between the wedding and the reception (if any), there are pros and cons to each type of celebration. It'simportant that you make both plans work within your budget. As with most weddings, finances can play a significant role in how you decide to approach these parties. 

Another consideration is whether or not you will have a wedding reception. For couples who choose not to have one, the bridal shower becomes a good opportunity to gather with friends and family and celebrate your last days as a single woman. If your wedding ceremony is out of town, it may be especially nice if you plan ahead so that the wedding and shower are nearby or on the same weekend.

Can I forgo them both, or can I pick one?

It’s not uncommon for stressed out brides-to-be to feel like they’d rather skip either the Bridal Shower or Bachelorette Party, or both. 

We get it. Planning a wedding is exhausting all in itself (unless you use the services of a great wedding planner like us 😉). It's not uncommon for brides to feel like a Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party together is just too much. But at the same time, your friends and family may be looking forward to these traditional events, and it's hard to say no.

The main thing to remember is that this occasion is about you and your soon-to-be spouse. That means that the party is YOUR event, so if you'd rather just have a quiet night in or out with your friends and family, don't be afraid to speak up. 

The best bet is to speak with the person planning the party and work together on deciding how you want to approach these events. If one party does not take priority over the other, try having a small gathering with your close friends or family for each event. That way, no one feels left out, and you can get to the big day without any additional stress.


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