What is a Bridal Shower?

group of women sitting on the beach with arms linked behind and the bride wearing a hat backwards that says "bride'

A bridal shower is an opportunity to officially celebrate a bride-to-be on their upcoming marriage. This intimate gathering is traditionally hosted by the bridesmaids, and/or the mother of the bride, and is a time to sip some bubbly, share advice and stories, and shower this special someone with extra attention and thoughtful gifts. 

Where Do Bridal Showers Come From?

Historically, a bride’s dowry was money and property she brought to the marriage, making ladies with handsome dowries more desirable, and strategically arranged marriages befitting the social and financial stature of the bride and groom common practice. While the exact origin of bridal showers is unknown, many historians believe the tradition started in 16th century Belgium when a young girl’s father refused to provide a dowry to a marriage he disapproved of, so the town got together and “showered” her with small gifts when combined, were more valuable than her dowry.

Although the practice of providing a dowry is nonexistent in most modern cultures, the tradition of showing the bride-to-be with gifts gained a resurgence in popularity in America around the 20th century, predominantly by upper middle class families who threw gift giving parties for their well-to-do daughters. By the 1930s, the tradition had spread to middle and lower class couples and continues today. 

Traditionally bridal showers were special gatherings for ladies only, however, co-ed showers are quite common, especially if there are bridesmen in the bridal party. For a Jack and Jill style shower, all genders are invited, including close male friends, and both the groom and his dad may make a special appearance towards the end of the shower to mingle and thank everyone for their well wishes and gifts. Ultimately it’s up to the bride and couple how and with whom they’d like to celebrate their upcoming nuptials. 

Planning a Bridal Shower vs a Wedding Shower 

Bridal showers and wedding showers are both pre-wedding events. Traditionally bridal showers focus on the bride and attendees include female friends and family. Wedding showers are more inclusive, where family and friends gather to honor the couple. Simply put, a bridal shower is a party thrown for the bride, while a wedding shower is for the couple. A bridal shower can often be confused with a bachelorette party, but the two are very different, though they often take place on the same day for convenience. 

A couple can have both a wedding shower and a bridal shower, in which case the events should have different hosts, different guest lists, and be held in different locations. The general outline is usually the same for both a bridal shower or a wedding shower: food, drinks, games, mingling, and an opportunity for the bride or couple  to be showered with gifts and support. The first step is always to set a budget for your event, then you can look for a venue, choose a theme if you want, pick a date, and work on your guest list. 

You could also choose a venue that correlates to the theme, like a spa or a winery, restaurant, hotel, or rent an Airbnb. Once you have a sense of the venue, theme, date, and number of attendees, you can begin coordinating a menu and drinks, any games or activities you want to include, and the decor. Invitations are usually sent 4-6 weeks prior to the gathering, but your initial planning usually begins months before. 

Historic Acres sits along beautiful rolling hills of the Pennsylvania countryside and offers a variety of stunning settings indoors or out, for any event. If you’re looking for the perfect venue for your bridal shower in Hershey, PA, contact our team today to learn more about our event spaces, available dates, and more.