Bridal Shower vs Bachelorette Party vs Wedding Shower

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A bridal shower vs a bachelorette party vs a wedding shower (don’t forget the engagement party and couples shower), and what is the difference between them?

If there is one great thing about a wedding besides marrying the love of your life, it’s that you get to have a ton of awesome parties before your big day!

So where do we start with all of the pre-wedding events?

Don’t worry, we’ve got the answers to all of your questions. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.

Here is what we will cover:

A group og women at a bridal shower posing. This is for the artice called bridal shower vs bachelorette party vs wedding shower
A gorgeous backyard bridal shower by Jane Alexandra Events (Photos by Katrina Jayne)

Bridal Showers, Bachelorette Parties, Wedding Showers, Bachelor Parties, and Engagement Parties

After the couple gets engaged, there are a lot of fun parties to plan.

You don’t have to do them all, but in our opinion, you only get married once so why not use every excuse in the book to throw multiple parties celebrating your engagement and upcoming wedding?

Here is the basic info for each style of party:

The bridal shower

  • Typically an all-female party that is hosted by the maid of honor, bridesmaids, and/or the mother-of-the-bride or mother-of-the-groom
  • Normally happens 2 weeks to 2 months before the wedding date
  • Close friends and family of the bride-to-be
  • The average guest count is 15-50 guests
  • They generally last 2-4 hours
  • Activities include gift opening, games, and food/drinks
  • A bridal shower invitation is typically sent to guests (you can also do a digital invite)

For more info on planning or hosting a bridal shower, check out this article: How to plan and host a bridal shower.

The bachelorette party

  • Normally a weekend trip for the bride, bridal party, and close friends of the bride-to-be (local or destination)
  • Typically happens 2 months to 6 months prior to the wedding date
  • Usually 8-15 girls
  • Activities can be whatever fits the bride’s style (concerts, nice restaurants, camping, bar hopping, clubs, the beach, spa day, etc.)

The wedding shower (also called the couples shower or jack and jill party)

  • A coed party for the couple and their closest family and friends
  • Typically happens 2 weeks to 2 months before the wedding day
  • Since both sides are included the guest count is typically 25-50 people (sometimes more)
  • All genders welcome
  • They normally last 3-5 hours
  • Fun activities include games, opening gifts, great food/drinks, etc.

The bachelor party

  • Typically a night out or weekend trip with the groom, best man, groomsmen, and close friends
  • Typically happens 2 months to 6 months before the wedding day
  • Usually 8-15 guys
  • Activities can be anything that fits the groom’s style (bar hopping, camping, concerts, road trips, the beach, etc.)

The engagement party

  • A party to celebrate the newly engaged couple
  • Normally happens within the first couple of months after getting engaged
  • The average guest count is 25-50 people
  • Great food and drinks
  • Simply a great way to celebrate the couple
  • If the couple is from different parts of the country, it is common to throw two separate engagement parties (one in each location)
A group of girls at a pool themed bachelorette party
Awesome photos by Davista Photography

What is the difference between a bridal shower and a bachelorette party?

The main difference between the bridal shower and the bachelorette party is the bridal shower is typically for the bride’s family and friends to shower the bride-to-be with gifts, while the bachelorette party is normally for the bride and her close friends to have a fun weekend together before the wedding day.

When is the bridal shower and bachelorette party?

You can plan either party whenever you like but the majority of them happen at the following times:

  • The bridal shower typically happens between 2 weeks and 2 months before the wedding day.
  • Bachelorette parties are normally planned to take place 2 months and 6 months before the wedding day.

Who pays for the bridal shower and bachelorette party?

Typically the bridal shower is paid for by one or a combination of the following people:

  • The maid of honor or matron of honor
  • All of the bridesmaids
  • The bride’s best friend
  • The mother-of-the-bride
  • Mother-of-the-groom

Normally the bachelorette party is paid for by the maid of honor and bridesmaids.

Typically everyone covers their own cost and then each member of the bridal party covers an equal amount of the bride’s bachelorette party expenses.

There are no set rules for any of this, but this is normal bridal shower etiquette.

If you want more awesome tips for planning or hosting a bridal shower, check out this article that we put together: The ultimate guide to planning and hosting a bridal shower.

A wine themed bridal shower. The bride is standing at a table with all of the guests sitting. They are doing a toast.
Photo source: Jessica Hennessey Weddings (photo by Rachel Buckley Weddings)

Who is invited to the bridal shower and bachelorette party?

For the bridal shower, here are the people who are usually invited:

  • The bridal party
  • Close female family members
  • Female friends or coworkers that the bride-to-be is close with

Do not feel obligated to invite every sings person that bride knows.

For the bachelorette party, the normal invitation list is the bridal party and any other close friends of the bride.

You want to make sure that you are inviting people that you would love to spend the entire weekend with without drama.

Pre-wedding parties at a glance (the main stuff you need to know)

The important info you need for the pre-wedding celebrations:

When is it?Who pays for it?Who gets invited?Should you bring Gifts?How many guests?
Bridal shower2 weeks to 2 months before the wedding.Maid of honor, bridesmaids, mother-of-the-bride, or mother-of-the-groom (or a combination of those people)Female family members and friends who are close to the bride-to-beYesNormally 15-50 guests
Bachelorette party2 months to 6 months before the wedding.The maid of honor and the bridesmaidsThe bridal party and any other close friends of the brideSometimes (if the bride loves gifts, bring a gift)Normally between 8-15 guests
Wedding shower2 weeks to 2 months before the wedding.Parents of the couple or the wedding party (or a combination).The bride and groom (or the couple) plus friends and family who are close to the couple (male and female)YesNormally 25-50 guests
Bridal shower vs bachelorette party vs wedding shower (what is the difference?)

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

The main difference between the bridal shower and wedding shower is the bridal shower is often an all-female party where the bride’s family and friends shower her with gifts. A wedding shower is typically both the bride and groom (or both partners) and a mix of their family and friends (male and female).

Wedding showers are becoming more common with younger generations. Many couples nowadays want all of the celebrations and parties to be a big mix of all of their favorite people.

Many same-sex couples choose a wedding shower over a bridal shower or groom shower.

The bottom line is to do whatever makes you the happiest.

This article is here to give you the basic info about each style of party, but you should make your own rules and throw a party that puts a smile on your face.

A few more frequently asked questions about bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and wedding showers

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about the pre-wedding parties:

Is a bridal shower and bachelorette party the same thing?

No, the purpose of the bridal shower is to “shower” the bride-to-be with gifts before the wedding day.

The bachelorette party is a chance for the bride and her bridal party to spend a few fun, stress-free days together before the bride gets married.

Do you have a bachelorette party and a bridal shower?

Yes, most brides have a bridal shower (or wedding shower) and a bachelorette party.

This does not mean you have to have both, but most brides love another excuse to get together with their closest family and friends. We personally love the idea of having both.

Who throws the bridal shower and bachelorette party?

Typically the bridal shower is planned/hosted by the maid of honor, bridesmaids, mother-of-the-bride, or mother-of-the-groom. Many times it’s a combination of many of those people.

This is not a set rule. Anyone can throw the bride-to-be a bridal shower (friends, coworkers, grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc.)

An engagement party for a couple who just got engaged. They are doing cheers at a table.
Having an engagement party shortly after getting engaged is the perfect way to kick off your wedding planning journey!

What is the difference between an engagement party and a bridal shower?

A bridal shower is a pre-wedding party for the bride-to-be where she is “showered” with gifts from her closest female family members and friends.

An engagement party is a chance to celebrate the newly engaged couple. This party typically happens a month or two after the couple gets engaged. The guest list is a mix of family and friends from both sides of the family.

Do you do the bridal shower or the bachelorette party first?

Typically the bachelorette party happens first (2-6 months prior to the wedding day), and the bridal shower happens last (2 week-2 months before the wedding day).

Can you have an engagement party instead of a bridal shower?

Of course! There are no set rules with any of this stuff.

If you would rather have a fun party right after you get engaged with both sides of the family, and skip the bridal shower, that is perfectly fine. Do what makes you happy.

In our opinion, we think you should have as many parties as possible. You only go through this stage of life once. Enjoy it (and get lots of photos and videos).

What is a kitchen tea?

A kitchen tea is very similar to a bridal shower.

Bridal kitchen teas are common in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

A kitchen tea is a tea party for the bride-to-be where female guests bring the bride gifts that are meant for the kitchen only.

More Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party Planning Tips and Resources

Here are a few more articles that you might find helpful when planning or hosting a bridal shower:

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