As any girl who grew up watching Cinderella, Barbie adaptations, and other Disney classic princess fairytales would tell you, nearly every little girls’ dream includes a lavish wedding. I know I can tell you because I was and still am one of those girls. I and many others spend most of our adult life dreaming of that someday wedding.
For the lucky some who have finally found their Prince Charming, the dream is starting to be a reality. You, lucky brides-to-be, are now faced with the daunting task of planning every little detail of the start of your happily ever after.
But wait! Before you walk on that beautiful aisle, you will soon realize that planning a wedding isn’t a walk in the park. You’ve got to think not only about the actual wedding schedule but also the important events leading up to it. What events, you ask? Well, off the top of my head, your bridal shower and bachelorette party.
I know, I know, questions are popping up in your minds right now, whether you are the bride, maid of honor, wedding hostess, or just, you know, planning for the unforeseeable future. Aren’t bachelorette parties and bridal showers the same? What’s the difference between the two? Do I have to plan it all by myself? When can I have those? What are the activities involved? Well, hold on to your knickers, ladies. Let’s dig deep and explore these two major bridal events. Here is everything you need to know to achieve that bridal shower and bachelorette party to remember.
What is a Bridal Shower?
A bridal shower is a party held for a bride-to-be in anticipation of her wedding. Showers are hosted parties that typically include food and decoration. It is considered as a gift-giving party where guests traditionally give gifts to the future wife. It is widespread and often expected that guests will arrive with gifts related to the home or the life between the soon-to-be newlyweds.
Bridal shower custom has evolved from earlier dowry practices (payment paid by the bride’s family to the groom or his family at the time of the marriage) when the woman’s family might not have money or property to provide. Thus friends of the woman would gather together and bring gifts that would compensate for the dowry, hence, allowing her to marry the man of her choice.
Even though different cultures and regions celebrate bridal showers differently, the basic format has been fairly the same. This ritual usually emphasizes the future role of the bride-to-be as a homemaker, mother, cook, and sexual partner. This is evident with the recurrent theme of the gifts given during the event.
What is a Bachelorette Party?
A bachelorette party is a party given in honor of a future bride. It is sometimes referred to as a hen night, hen party, hen do, or stagette. It is modeled after and is considered a counterpart of a bachelor party or stag night. Bachelorette party gifts are usually not given, and the focus is on ensuring that the bride-to-be has fun and enjoys herself.
The practice of bachelorette parties goes back for centuries. However, variations have evolved in different regions and certain American customs. These parties involve debauchery and sexual freedom. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that all bachelorette parties involve such displays of licentiousness. Some variations celebrate a combined stag and doe party for both the bride and groom-to-be and are quite low-key.
Bridal Shower vs Bachelorette Party Differences
Do not be overwhelmed about planning and pulling off these two events. They generally happen at separate times, giving you enough freedom to plan and celebrate each event properly. Traditionally, bridal showers are often held in the afternoon or the evening, while beach parties are held in the evening. In recent times, the lengths of both events may differ, though. Some extravagant bachelorette parties might span a whole night or whole weekend (destination getaways), while bridal showers will likely be a few hours long.
Is the bridal shower before or after the bachelorette party?
Typically, a bridal shower is held a couple of weeks or maybe a month before the big day. A bachelorette party, on the other hand, happens about a week or at least a few days before the wedding.
Can you have a bridal shower and bachelorette party together?
Some planners and brides-to-be avoid the confusion on what should be celebrated first by throwing the bridal shower and the bachelorette party on the same day. That way, guests with limited free time can enjoy a full day of festivities and merriment. The best thing? Out-of-towners won’t need to make two separate trips which can be quite costly and tedious.
The timing of these parties in relation to the actual wedding date follows no golden rule. Bridal showers and bachelorette parties may be held within three weeks or three months before the wedding. If I should say, try not to plan it for too early or too late. Why? If it’s too far out from the main event, the guests or even the bride may lose some of the pent-up energy and anticipation. If it’s too close to the big day, the bride or the planner will be too preoccupied with the last-minute wedding preparations to really enjoy herself at both parties.
However, this timing is not always black and white. There is no right or wrong way to do it, as it will all depend on the bride’s preferences, scheduling issues, and venue availability.
Formally, both of these parties are never hosted by the bride-to-be herself, although she may participate in its planning. All the planning and hosting will not fall solely on the bride-to-be’s shoulders, thankfully. Well, if it’s not the bride, who hosts these pre-wedding parties?
If we are to follow tradition, the hosting of the bridal shower falls to one or more close friends of the bride, typically the maid of honor and/or the bridesmaids. Some close family members such as mothers or the bride or groom may also host or contribute to the event. Even social clubs or religious groups host bridal showers for members.
A bachelorette party is typically hosted by one or more members of the wedding party or any close friend. Usually, the maid-of-honor and bridal party focus more on the planning of a bachelorette party.
You should definitely do as the future bride, though, not forget to thank your hosts.
This is where the difference between the bachelorette party and the bridal shower is loud and clear. A bridal shower is usually a gentler, sophisticated affair. With a more inclusive guest list including older and conservative family members, the event’s tone is more appropriate. A bachelorette bash, on the other hand, will likely be a little more raunchy, intimate, and fun event that is attended mainly by the future bride’s social circle.
What happens at each party?
The bridal shower’s focus is more on celebrating the future bride’s new life as part of a married couple. The event will center more around gift-giving and opening gifts by the bride-to-be, yummy food, champagne, and family-friendly shower games. Here are some classic bridal games and activities that will definitely entertain everyone.
Best Bridal Shower Activities
Guests come with their best recipes for the future lovebirds to make together, and the future bride’s favorite dish wins.
Pin the Veil
This wedding version of the popular parlor game is straightforward to set up. Just prepare some pins, veils/fabric, a photo or illustration of the bride, and you’re all good to go.
Pass the Bouquet
Involves passing a bouquet around as tunes play intermittently.
Time to check who will likely be the most prepared to help the bride on her big day! Guests get points for every item that they have in their handbags which are checked off a list.
Send the ladies in search of treasures either prepared by the hostess or gathered from nature. This should be fun!
In this version, cards with the names of the likely gifts the bride-to-be may receive will be given to guests. As the future wife opens her presents, guests mark the appropriate spots. Guests will never be bored again.
Who doesn’t want a day of pampering and luxurious treatments? Treat your guests to get manicures or massages. At-home facials, braiding, and nail painting also do the trick. If these services are not within your budget, worry not.
Give guests the chance to capture candid moments by hiring or setting up a dedicated photo corner complete with backdrop, camera with tripod, and goofy or romantic costumes.
Take or hire a local class or have a Youtube tutorial viewing party for custom jewelry making. Everyone will have the chance to create custom accessories that will be a pretty good party favor or even wear to the wedding.
Bachelorette parties, on the other hand, encourage attendees to let loose and have fun. They are usually not suited for friends or family that are not part of the bride-to-be’s close social circle because it incorporates activities that might be a little raunchy or intimate compared to the bridal shower. Bach parties are considered as the last shoutout of the future bride and her closest besties before she enters a new chapter in her life as a married woman. Common bachelorette party fares are night outs with a good amount of drinking and partying, destination or hotel parties, dress-ups, and some silly or inappropriate games.
Best Bachelorette Party Ideas
The future bride and her close gals can sing their hearts out with karaoke with a playlist of love songs or popular bangers. Drinking liquor from penis straws is always an option.
Stripper or Two
The quintessential modern bachelorette party staple. Just make sure not to offend any guest or, better yet, limit the guest list. What works for the bride might be the wrong thing for another group of friends.
Club or Pub Crawls
What better way to spend the bride’s last days as a single girl than going clubbing and dancing or drinking your hearts out.
For the spirit-loving bride and her equally boozy friends. Have everyone bring a bottle and let guests pick their favorite.
Roller Blading or Skating
A day at the rink will surely bring out the carefree and fun personality in everyone.
Las Vegas, Baby!
If you want to splurge, bring your bachelorette guests to Sin City. Many kinds of adult entertainment can be found in Las Vegas, and guests will be sure to enjoy themselves.
Travel Anywhere But Here
Bridal parties can travel to a different city or destination not only for the new sights and sounds but also for the freedom to behave differently than they normally would without having to deal with the social repercussions that might arise should conservative friends, families, business acquaintances, and colleagues saw them doing those.
Though bachelorette parties are often associated with rowdy behavior and drunkenness, there is no right or wrong way to do it. The bride and her guests can always make up new traditions or create new ways to celebrate these parties. Some prefer low-key activities while others want to have traditional ones. It is not unusual to celebrate sober bachelorette parties that are usually favored by brides and guests staying sober for various reasons such as recovery from alcoholism, pregnancy or health issues, religious reasons, or personal choice.
Although some guests will be attending both, a bachelorette party and a bridal shower’s guests list may contain a different list of names. Both events usually focus on the future bride’s female friends and relatives, but male friends and relatives can also be invited. Gone are the days of rigid gender lines among friends.
For a bridal shower, one might invite the whole wedding party, the bride’s mother, future in-laws, aunts, grandmothers, and any other close family and friends. A bridal shower usually has a larger guests list, while a bach bash may be fewer.
A bachelorette party, on the other hand, has a smaller guest list. Attendees are usually the future bride’s best friends and maybe a few close friends of the future groom. Hosts do not have to include relatives of both sides, though. If the party’s theme is on the mature and PG-13 side, make sure to keep it an adult-only party, so, no pressure to invite great-grandma or little niece Priscilla!