What is the difference between a bridal shower and a wedding shower?

What is the difference between a bridal shower and a wedding shower?

A bridal shower or wedding shower is a popular event for the months leading up to a wedding. Though some highly enthusiastic groups of friends and family may try to have both events for the couple, it's typically best to choose one or the other. Gifts are expected at these parties, so it can put a strain on the guests if you throw too many events of this type. If you're wondering which way to go, here are the key differences between a bridal shower and a wedding shower.

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A bridal shower is traditionally an all-girl gathering to celebrate the bride. The bride takes center stage for the event as friends and family gather to congratulate her on the engagement and offer gifts. The groom and male guests are usually excluded.

A wedding shower is a co-ed event where both men and women are invited. The bride and groom both attend and the party celebrates the couple as a whole rather than just the bride. A wedding shower is a more modern and inclusive take on the time-honored shower for the bride. Wedding showers are also more appropriate for same-sex marriages where there is no traditional "bride."


The bridal shower is traditionally hosted by the maid of honor. The bridesmaids may assist with the event planning as well. This event centers around the women in the wedding. If the event is particularly large or elaborate, the mother of the bride or mother of the groom might help out as well. 

A wedding shower is often co-hosted by the maid of honor and best man. These two may enlist the help of others in the wedding party including both bridesmaids and groomsmen. A wedding shower may also be hosted by the parents of the bride and/or groom or even a group of friends who want to celebrate the couple.


Gifts are traditionally given at both wedding showers and bridal showers. However, if you have a traditional bridal shower that's just for women, you'll often find that the gifts are more for the bride than the groom. She may receive beauty products, lingerie, or heirlooms like "something old" to wear to the wedding. It's less likely that there will be gifts that cater exclusively to the groom, though many guests will give gifts that both can enjoy, such as housewares.

At a wedding shower where both the bride and groom are present, both individuals are pampered equally. If the bride gets a gift that's just for her, the groom is likely to receive something comparable. Nearly all the gifts will be items that the couple can use together or enjoy equally.


At a traditional bridal shower, the ladies will often play a variety of games, similar to what you experience at a baby shower only with a different theme. Popular activities include making wedding dresses out of toilet paper and putting on a fashion show or dividing into teams to tackle trivia about the bride. However, there are no rules that say you're limited to these types of games, particularly if they're not suited to the bride's personality and her idea of fun.

You may also find games at a wedding shower, but they will be more inclusive in nature. For example, a trivia game will include questions about both the bride and groom. The two may even face off to answer trivia about each other. Wedding showers are also more likely to take an alternative route to fun and entertainment, such as corn hole, beach volleyball, kickball, bowling, or mini-golf.


Bridal showers often take place over brunch, lunch, or an afternoon tea party. The host may choose a nice restaurant, garden, or the home of the maid of honor or a bridesmaid. Other great destinations for a bridal shower include a tea room, winery, or cafe.

A wedding shower will often take place in a more inclusive and casual location. Wedding showers can take the form of a cookout, potluck, or dinner event. You might choose a park pavilion, brewery, or restaurant.


The idea of the bridal shower dates back to the 16th century in Holland. This shower emerged as a way for the bride to build her dowry when she wasn't otherwise provided for. Historically, a bride's dowry was the money and property that she brought to the marriage. In wealthy families, the dowry would come from the family's estate. Women with a handsome dowry were more desirable. Parents would typically arrange marriages at this time and make matches befitting of the social and financial stature of both the bride and groom.

The Dutch have a folk tale that tells of a wealthy woman who fell in love with a pig farmer. Her disapproving father threatened to withhold her dowry, so her friends and family showered her with gifts instead, so that she still had something to take into the marriage. The concept of the bridal shower is born from the idea that the bride needs to have something to take into her wedding as an offering to the groom.

In the Victorian era, the bridal shower included a literal shower of gifts with the tradition of placing small items in a parasol and tossing them over the bride. Gift-giving is tied closely to the origins of the bridal shower, so gifts are nearly always a central part of the event.

Wedding showers are a more modern invention, born of the desire for equality and joint events that the bride and groom attend with guests that include both men and women. There are fewer traditions associated with this type of party, but gifts often emerge as a central theme nonetheless.

However you choose to approach your shower, it's worth noting that there are no hard and fast rules about bridal showers or wedding showers. Communicate with your guests and the couple and let everyone know what type of event to expect. If you're thinking ahead to your shower but still need an engagement ring, schedule an appointment to explore our collection at Martin Busch Jewelers now.