Traditionally, there are a series of parties and events leading up to the wedding day and brides and grooms each have their own special occasions. Parties include, but are not limited to, engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelor or bachelorette parties, brides-maids' party and a rehearsal dinner.
The bridal shower was traditionally an event for women, but is no longer primarily a single-sex occasion. Today, hosts exercise their imaginations and throw theme showers and co-ed showers.
It is considered improper for a family member of the bride to host the shower because bridal showers are primarily a gift-giving event. However, family members can certainly help. Traditionally, the maid of honor hosts the shower, so if you want to help in planning, be sure to check with the maid of honor first. Commonly the maid of honor is a sister of the bride. In these cases, it has become acceptable for a family member to host the shower.
Immediate female family members of both the bride and groom's family should be invited to the shower as well as close friends of the bride and the wedding party. It is best to consult with the bride when making up the invitation list. Anyone invited to the bridal shower ordinarily would be invited to the wedding. However, everyone invited to the wedding does not have to be invited to the shower.
A good time for the shower is one to two months before the wedding. This may be a very busy time for the bride, so be sure to consult with her when setting the date. It can be held earlier, but it can be more exciting if held closer to the wedding date because guests are anticipating the wedding. If at all possible, avoid holding the shower too close to the wedding. It's a stressful time and the bride's schedule is likely to be jam-packed.
A co-ed shower is usually more of a party than a shower. Barbecues are popular for co-ed parties. Men aren't typically interested in the gifts received and might get bored during gift opening, so consider having an alternate activity for your male guests during this part of the event.
The best man or groomsman typically hosts the bachelor party and friends of the bride can host the bachelorette party. This event is held to remind the bride and groom why they want to get married. Barbecues and outdoor events are popular, as well as a day of golfing and an evening of festivities.
Try not to have the party on the eve of the wedding. It is a much too busy time for the bride and groom. It is highly likely they will be spending a good part of their life savings the following day, they will want to be sober for it. A week in advance is a good idea. Even a month in advance is acceptable. Friday and Saturday nights are best.
The host or hostess probably won't be expected to truly feed everyone, however they should provide something to eat. It could be potluck or a catered event, which typically depends on how much money has been budgeted for the event. It is not out of the ordinary for the host or hostess to ask for monetary assistance from guests or friends of the bride or groom. If the party is going to be a little larger than you can handle in your house, you can hold the event at a friend's home, hold a cookout or rent a hall.
No matter where the party is held, items such as tables, chairs, and maybe even tablecloths. Usually rental companies have these items at reasonable prices.
Make sure that someone is going to be responsible for transporting your crowd of crazed partygoers to and from their destination. Renting a Limousine is nice but it can be expensive. Renting a large passenger van is usually not very expensive and they can carry as many as 15 people in this case, be sure to appoint a designated driver. This might make a rental van a good alternative. Make sure you have a responsible driver that can handle staying out until everyone is dropped off safely at home.
The bridesmaids' party is a chance for the bride to thank her attendants for the time and effort they spent on helping with the wedding preparations and festivities. The form of this party is up to the bride but typically a luncheon the day of the wedding or a breakfast is appropriate. This is a great time to present the bridesmaids with a small gift of appreciation. Many brides invite additional ladies who have helped with the wedding preparations, their mother and mother-in-law and maybe aunts or special friends.
Traditionally, the groom's family gives the rehearsal dinner but it can of course be hosted by anyone. If it's financially possible, some brides and grooms invite out of town relatives so that they may spend some time with them before the hectic wedding day and the entire wedding party is usually invited to attend the dinner. The rehearsal dinner is traditionally held the night prior to the wedding and following the wedding rehearsal.
The Wedding Day