The Ultimate Bridal Shower Checklist and Timeline to Plan an Amazing Event

For anyone involved in planning the bridal shower, here's a helpful checklist and timeline with all your to-dos.
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
Senior Editor
  • Kim writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in etiquette and planning advice
  • Kim manages freelance writers for The Knot Worldwide
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Kim was Associate Bridal Editor at Washingtonian magazine and Associate Fashion Editor at Conde Nast’s Brides Local magazines
Updated Jan 30, 2024
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A bridal shower (or couple's shower) typically takes place two to three months before the wedding day, but planning this event can take quite some time before that. Whether the celebration is hosted by the maid of honor, bridesmaids or other wedding party members, close family members or friends, coworkers or others, there are a lot of pieces involved with planning a successful bridal shower. Here's a handy bridal shower checklist to help you come up with shower ideas for the bride-to-be.

Printable Bridal Shower Checklist

To help keep you organized, download and pin our free printable bridal shower planning checklist.

Printable Bridal Shower Planning Checklist
Design: Tiana Crispino

Three (or More) Months Before

If you're wondering how to plan a bridal shower, here's exactly where to start. While three months doesn't seem like a ton of time, it's absolutely possible to put together an amazing shower—if you follow these simple steps.

Decide who's hosting.

Traditionally, the maid of honor spearheads the bridal shower planning process, with support from the rest of the bridal party. However, these days, showers can be hosted by a variety of loved ones, from family members (yes, including the mother of the bride or groom!), family friends and more. Make sure you've nailed down who's hosting before starting to plan the event.

Talk to the bride and/or couple about the type of shower desired.

While you may be the one planning the bridal shower, the bride and/or couple should be consulted to nail down some of the details. Do they want a shower at all (not everyone does!)? Are there particular dates or times that won't work? Do they prefer a big or small shower? Is there a particular bridal shower theme they have in mind? While most of the bridal shower details and decisions will be up to you, plan according to this input.

Pick a bridal shower theme.

Choosing a theme will set the tone for the entire bridal shower, from the decorations to the party favors, refreshments and more. The guest of honor may have some thoughts on the shower theme, or you can choose one based on their interests or hobbies. Also decide if the theme will affect gift giving (for example, a lingerie shower means that all guests should purchase lingerie for the bride). Note that a shower doesn't have to have a theme, but you may want to choose an activity or other central focus that will help inform the party planning process.

Set the date and time.

This is probably the trickiest task on the bridal shower planning checklist—finding a date that works for the bride, the wedding party and close family and friends. Typically, the shower takes place two or three months before the wedding, but can be closer to the big day if that's the only time that will work. You'll also want to decide if the bridal shower and bachelorette party will take place during the same weekend or spaced out. Talk to the guest of honor about any scheduling conflicts, and confirm potential dates with other VIPs.

Create a budget.

Between food, decor, favors and other details, bridal shower expenses can quickly add up. Work with any co-hosts to come up with a total budget you can refer to throughout the planning process so you won't overspend.

Choose and book a venue.

Bridal showers often are hosted at a loved one's home, but they can also take place at restaurants, bars, country clubs, event spaces, spas and more. Check out The Knot Vendor Marketplace to find bridal shower venues in your area that fit your event's size and budget, tour your favorites and put down a deposit to reserve your chosen space.

Create the guest list.

A bridal shower guest list typically includes members of the wedding party, close family, and close friends, depending on the desired size of the event and the venue's capacity. Just remember this one etiquette rule: Your bridal shower guests must also be invited to the wedding.

Hire any vendors.

If you're hiring pros, like a bridal shower planner, photographer, florist, caterer, rentals company, DJ or cake baker, to help out with the event, now's the time to research and book them.

Make sure the couple has finalized their wedding registry.

Guests will look to a couple's wedding registry to purchase bridal shower gifts. Make sure the couple has set up their registry and shared the information on their wedding website, so they'll receive their desired gifts.

Two Months Before

Now that you've figured out the most important parts of bridal shower planning, it's time to finalize the details and invite your guests.

Compile addresses for the guest list.

Whether you're sending out printed or online bridal shower invitations, it's important to gather guests' mailing or email addresses so you're not scrambling at the last minute. The Knot's free Guest List Tool can help you gather addresses and organize your guest list in minutes.

Select, purchase and mail invitations.

We recommend giving guests as much advance notice as possible so they can plan to attend the shower—especially if many loved ones will need to travel. Printed bridal shower invitations are the more traditional route (and who doesn't love receiving snail mail?), but online invitations are growing in popularity, too. Check out The Knot Invitations for affordable bridal shower invitation options. As you're creating shower invitations, don't forget to include information about the couple's registries. And, if it's a theme party, provide proper gift-giving instructions. RSVPs (via phone or email) should be due about two weeks before the celebration.

Finalize decisions on decor, activities, games etc.

Schedule a brainstorming session with fellow hosts to finalize decisions about table linens, flowers, menu, decorations, favors, music and activities.

Make a detailed to-do list and assign tasks.

Once the above decisions are made, you'll also want to nail down who is responsible for obtaining or creating supplies, setting up, organizing games, recording gifts, making the ribbon bouquet, etc. Create a to-do list that outlines assigned tasks, so everyone knows what to do and when.

One Month Before

With a month to go, you'll want to start shopping for all the shower necessities and create a timeline to ensure your event runs smoothly.

Shop for bridal shower decorations, paper goods, signage and other party props.

Time to start purchasing all of your bridal shower necessities! Check out The Knot Shop for lots of affordable options.

Purchase bridal shower favors.

There are lots of budget-friendly bridal shower favor ideas, from edible treats to personalized keepsakes. The Knot Shop has tons of favor ideas at reasonable price points.

Confirm vendors.

As the bridal shower day nears, you'll want to reach out to any vendors you've hired to confirm details, timing and more. If you've hired a planner to help out, they can handle this task (and many others!) for you.

Create a day-of timeline.

A bridal shower timeline is a must to ensure that everything is set up and everyone arrives on time. This timeline should get down to the nitty-gritty, scheduling everything from arrivals to gift opening, games, food service, speeches and more, to make sure enough time allotted for each activity.

Two (or More) Weeks Before

At the two-week mark, it's all about the details—decorations, gifts, food, music and more.

Gather decorations.

Make sure you've purchased and received all decor items for the shower. Take some time to organize everything, and purchase anything that's missing.

Buy gifts.

Yes, even the hosts have to purchase a bridal shower gift! Keep it simple by purchasing something from the couple's wedding registry, or choose a meaningful gift that reflects your relationship with the bride.

Make a shopping list for the food and drinks.

If you're purchasing food and drink for the shower, now's the time to make a list of what you'll need. Of course, hosting the shower at a restaurant or hiring a caterer means you can forgo this step!

Purchase spirits, if you're having cocktails.

If you're serving alcohol, buying your own spirits can be a big money-saver (if the venue allows it, that is!). Note that if liquor is being served at a venue that isn't a private home, a professional and licensed bartender will need to be on hand to serve the booze.

Create a music playlist.

Music can really set the tone for your event, so creating a playlist in advance is an important step on the bridal shower checklist. Upbeat songs that focus on romance are always a good way to go.

Pick up any important items.

Whether you're using an heirloom cake topper or showcasing family photos, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need on hand with enough time before the shower date.

One Week Before

Yes, there's a lot to do in the week before the shower. Don't be afraid to delegate responsibilities to other members of the wedding party, family or friends.

Confirm reservations, orders and delivery times.

In the week prior to the bridal shower, spend some time confirming details with the venue, vendors and anyone else who's contributing items or services to the event.

Confirm RSVPs.

Now's the time to follow up with any guests who haven't RSVP'd to confirm if they're attending the shower or not. It's also a nice idea to send an email or text (read: friendly reminder) to guests to let them know you're looking forward to seeing them at the event.

Assemble favors.

Set aside some time to DIY or assemble the bridal shower favors, if you're going that route. Enlist the help of other hosts if needed.

Create a mental floor plan to facilitate decorating and setting up.

Whether you're hosting the shower at an event space or someone's home, it's important to have an idea of how the room will be set up so you can plan and decorate accordingly. While assigned seating isn't the norm at bridal showers, if you're going that route, it's time to create your seating chart, make place cards, etc.

Organize shower games and activities.

From the newlywed game to couple's trivia, toilet paper wedding dress to count the candies, there are a lot of bridal shower games to choose from. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies to ensure these games go off without a hitch.

One Day Before

It's the final countdown, and time to tie up any loose ends. The goal here is to have as much ready to go the night before the shower as possible so you're not scrambling the morning of.

Prepare food (if applicable).

If you're responsible for preparing any menu items, you'll want to make sure that everything is prepped the day before the event.

Receive and set up equipment, assemble decorations and favors and set table(s).

When it comes to setting up for a bridal shower, the sooner the better! If you're able to access your venue the day before the event, If you aren't able to start setting up until the day of the shower, do as much as you can at home, whether that's creating centerpieces, organizing game supplies, or putting together the cupcake tower.

Touch base with other hosts.

Your text chain with the other shower hosts is probably blowing up right about now—make sure everyone has a copy of the timeline and knows what time to arrive on the big day!

Run any last-minute errands.

Handling any to-dos the day or night before means less scrambling on the day of. Don't forget to bring items like scissors, garbage bags, paper plates (for the ribbon bouquet), paper and a pen. Make sure your car is all packed up and ready to go before going to bed the night before the shower.

Day-of Bridal Shower Checklist

It's party time! Hopefully using our bridal shower planning checklist paid off, and you're able to relax and enjoy the celebration.

  • Prep any food that needs to be made the same day.
  • Pick up cake or other desserts.
  • Arrive to the venue early.
  • Bring supplies to the venue, if you haven't already.
  • Decorate the space.
  • Set up signage and favors.
  • Arrange food and beverages.
  • Greet guests.
  • Make sure to record gifts as they are received.
  • Create the ribbon bouquet/hat.
  • Host and play games.
  • Have the best time celebrating the bride- or couple-to-be!
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