Everything You Need To Know About Bridal Shower Gift Etiquette

All those questions you're too nervous to ask—answered here.

Opening Gifts at Bridal Shower
Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images

With wedding season right around the corner, we're in the midst of wedding-preparation season, which means bridal showers are popping up on our calendars left and right. Bridal showers are a fun occasion to celebrate the bride-to-be with a small, close group of family and friends. And anyone who's attended a shower knows gifts are a major part of the event.

When it comes to weddings and gifts, folks tend to get a little nervous about what's appropriate and what's the "right" thing to do—and they often come to us with their etiquette woes looking for guidance. After all, it's a lot more comfortable to ask a friend what they're wearing to a shower than what they're bringing as a gift—but both will become quite obvious once everyone has arrived.

Rest assured that many people have the same etiquette-related questions as you, so we answered them all in one place, including everything from Will the bride open my gift in front of everyone? to Do I have to spend the same amount on a shower present as the wedding gift? Read on for everything you need to know.

Are separate gifts required for the bridal shower and the wedding?

Yes, if you are invited to a shower in addition to the wedding, you're expected to bring a gift to the shower as well as send a wedding gift. You shouldn't spend more than you're comfortable with, however (see the next answer), and can split your budget between both gifts. One notable exception: If you are invited to a bridal tea or luncheon, it is more than likely that gifts are not expected. If you're unsure, you could politely ask the hostess to share the bride's registry information when you RSVP. If she's been instructed to dissuade guests from bringing gifts, she will do just that.

How much should I spend on a bridal shower present?

Bridal shower gifts are almost always smaller and less expensive than what you'll give as a wedding gift, though the exact amount you choose to spend is up to you. If you've set your total budget for doting on the couple of honor at $150, we'd suggest spending $30 to $50 on the shower present, and leaving the remainder for the wedding gift.

Do bridal showers call for specific types of gifts?

Some bridal showers are themed (such as a linen shower or a stock-the-bar couples shower), and if so, the invitation will indicate that. Try your best to have your gift fit the theme. Hostesses will also commonly include the bride's registry information on the invitation so you know where to shop. Even more than wedding gifts, it makes sense for shower gifts to come off the registry. There's no need to get creative and no one will be confused why your gift includes a single dinner plate.

Should I bring the bridal shower gift with me or send it via the registry?

As opposed to the actual wedding, it's appropriate to bring shower gifts with you. After all, a portion of the party will likely be dedicated to the bride opening her gifts. If you're unable to travel with your gift or waited too long to order something, having it sent directly to the bride is fine, but since she probably won't bring it with her, arrive at the shower with a card that hints at the present so she knows or can be reminded that you've sent it separately.

Wait, so will the bride open my gift in front of everyone?

This is likely, yes! So steer clear of any presents you or she would be embarrassed to be seen opening in front of everyone in attendance (save any lingerie for the bachelorette). Not every bride will want to be the center of attention while opening gifts, so she may slowly open them without getting everyone's attention, or may ask her hostesses to open gifts as guests arrive and put them on display. All that said: Be prepared for the bride to overtly gush over you and your gift in front of the entire party, and also be prepared to not actually see her open your gift. Either way, you should receive a graciously written thank-you.

If I'm hosting a bridal shower, am I also required to buy the bride a present?

Traditionally, hosts of the bridal shower will also give the bride a gift. If you're hosting a shower alone (which is quite rare), a small, personal gift would be more than appropriate. More commonly, the hostesses (which could include up to 10 or 12 women) will all pitch in for a large gift off of the registry for the bride.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should I give gifts specifically to the bride?

    If the gift you purchase is specifically for the bride, present it at the bridal shower instead of the wedding, which is traditionally a gift for the couple. However, many bridal shower registries include items intended for the couple.  

  • Is there a separate registry for the bridal shower and wedding?

    It depends. Often the bridal shower registry is the same as the wedding registry.

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