Pre-Wedding Party Q&As

It's your turn to be the guest — but the etiquette guidelines still apply. Here, answers about rehearsal dinners, engagement parties and other festivities.

Q: I’m a maid of honor for the first time. I plan the bridal shower, right? I don’t know a thing about giving a shower. What are the rules? 

A: Yes, the maid of honor traditionally plans the bridal shower, often with the help of the bridesmaids. While there are a few guidelines, showers today can be as unique as couples themselves, so you needn’t adhere to any strict formula. The three most important things you need to know:

  • Only guests who are invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower.
  • Don’t plan a shower for a holiday weekend, because many guests probably won’t be able to make it.
  • Try to choose a time that won’t be too hectic for the bride—at least a month before the wedding. Even two months isn’t unreasonable, especially if you want it to be a surprise.

Expect the shower to last three to four hours. Guests generally arrive a half hour or so before the bride, so everyone is there to welcome her or shout ’’surprise!’’ Then the bride makes her round of greetings and the food is served.

After everyone has finished eating, the bride heads for her seat of honor and begins opening her gifts. Bridesmaids should stand by to help with the unwrapping, and an attendant should record from whom each gift came. Cards should be placed in each box to make sure no gift giver goes unidentified.

Afterwards, cake and coffee are served, and the party begins to break up. As maid of honor, you’ll probably also want to see that arrangements are made for the bride to get all of her gifts home.

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Featured: David Tutera on How to Keep Your Reception Fun. See more Q&As with David