This Is Exactly Who You Should Invite to a Bridal Shower

I'm the matron of honor in my sister's upcoming wedding, which means I'm responsible for planning her bridal shower. I've been a guest at many other showers, but never did I put too much thought into how potentially tricky the invite list can be. And since I began planning, friends have shared horror stories about offending people who either were or weren't invited to a bridal shower. For instance, a bride's mom included a bunch of guests who ultimately weren't invited to the wedding. That's a "no no," according to, well, common sense, but also rules of etiquette. In another bridal shower gone wrong tale, the groom's mom held a shower and forgot to invite the bride's mom. Oops.

Certain dos and don'ts of putting together a bridal shower invite list are black and white, but there are some gray areas, too. Like, should you invite out-of-town friends and family? If you know they won't be able to make the trip, due to either budget constraints or work or family commitments, they may end up feeling pressured to send a gift. While there are no hard and fast rules here, what I've found is that simply asking my aunt or a friend of my sister's who lives across the country if they think they could make it is the best way to avoid hurting anyone's feelings or bank accounts.

Here are the people you should be sure to invite to a bridal shower:

  1. Close family members of the bride. This one is pretty obvious. Invite the mother of the bride, sisters, aunts, and female cousins, as long as they live fairly close. Otherwise, as suggested above, you may just want to confirm they are up for making the trip.
  2. The mother-in-law. Invite the mother of the bride's partner, whether the bride loves her or, um, doesn't.
  3. Close family members on the bride's partner's side. Their partner's sisters, aunts, and female cousins should be on your invite list.
  4. The mother of the bride's friends. If the mother of the bride has a few friends she wants to include, that's pretty standard. Plus, they'll probably be great gift givers!
  5. Close friends of the mother-in-law. If she wants to include certain people, definitely be open to that, too. Just make sure both her and the mother of the bride's lists aren't too out of control.
  6. The bridal party. This one's a given. Also, ask the bride if she wants any kids who are in her wedding party to attend, like a junior bridesmaid or flower girl. It should be up to her if the shower will include children.
  7. Friends and coworkers of the bride. When it comes to coworkers and friends who aren't super close to the bride, it's always best to check with her to see who she's comfortable with inviting.
  8. The bride's partner — maybe. Ask the bride if she wants her partner to attend the shower. Many brides like for their main squeeze to show up at the end of the shower for a kiss and introductions.
  9. Is it a coed shower? If the bride has any close friends of the opposite sex, ask if they should be included on the special day. Having a couple's shower is a big trend, too, so perhaps you want to go that route.

In the end, how many people you can afford to host for the shower may play a role as well in formulating the invite list. Just make sure you and the bride are on the same page.