Do You Have To Open Gifts at a Bridal Shower? Here's What the Experts Say

If you're not into faking delight at a pair of regifted oven mitts, this one's for you.
Bride opening presents at shower
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Elizabeth Ayoola
elizabeth ayoola headshot
Elizabeth Ayoola
The Knot Contributor
  • Elizabeth contributes a range of lifestyle content to The Knot.
  • She also works as a full-time writer at NerdWallet and contributing writer at ESSENCE and POPSUGAR.
  • Elizabeth has a degree in Environment, Politics, and Globalization from King's College London.
Updated Jun 27, 2023

Bridal showers can be a fun and intimate way to share your final moments as a single person with your loved ones. A common ritual that happens at bridal showers is the person preparing for marriage opening their gifts in front of guests. While this can be a fun activity, do you have to open gifts at a bridal shower? Considering there are so many other things that happen at showers like playing games and sharing words of encouragement, maybe opening gifts isn't a must.

We spoke to Haley Fitch, owner & principal planner at Hitched by Haley in California to help us answer that question.

In this article:

Do You Open Gifts at a Bridal Shower?

A bridal shower usually has a program created by the person getting married or the person planning the shower. The good thing about these events is they can be personalized and tailored to the values or interests of the guest of honor. While opening gifts may be one activity on the program it doesn't have to be if it's not your thing.

"We are firm believers that your wedding and wedding celebrations should reflect your personality and desires as the guest of honor," says Fitch, who has been in the wedding industry for over a decade. "So if being the center of attention while you open gifts you quite literally requested on your registry makes your skin crawl, skip it, and plan to send a thoughtful personalized thank you note mentioning how excited you are about the gift."

Is It Rude to Not Open Gifts at a Bridal Shower?

Some reasons guests may look forward to the guest of honor opening gifts at a bridal shower are to see their reaction or share their excitement about their gift with others. That said, not opening gifts at a bridal shower could make some of your guests feel disappointed. Disappointment is understandable, but is not opening gifts at a bridal shower rude? Not particularly, says Fitch.

"We don't consider it downright rude if you aren't wanting to open gifts in front of guests, but we suggest finding a way to set a warm and comfortable environment at the event by addressing it," she says.

Fitch then goes on to explain not opening gifts at a bridal shower etiquette so people who took the time to buy you gifts still feel appreciated.

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"For example, take a moment to give a group thank you either from you or your shower hosts. "I'm so grateful for you all joining today and being a part of our wedding celebration and making me feel so loved and celebrated. More than anything, your presence here today is the best gift I could ask for. I will be opening gifts following the event so I can soak up more one on one time with you all today!"' she says.

Fitch adds that it's good etiquette to send a thank you note to guests within a few weeks of your bridal shower.

How to Make Opening Gifts at a Shower Less Awkward

If you want to open gifts but would like to avoid the awkwardness that can come when opening surprises in front of in-laws or parents, there are strategies you can implement. They include things like controlling the types of gifts you receive, fast tracking the gift-opening process, and making them visible by using cellophane.

Create a gift registry.

A gift registry is one way to control the types of gifts you end up opening at your shower, says Fitch.

"If you are worried about opening an awkward gag gift in front of your mother-in-law, get the word out to guests that sticking to your registry is their best bet," she advises. "Nobody likes the idea of opening sexy lingerie in front of their partner's grandmother."

If you need ideas on gift registries, The Knot has a free registry that's super easy to use. Gift registries can also be a good way to avoid getting the same gift twice, which can also be awkward if you decide to open gifts at the shower.

Give your shower a gift theme.

One of our favorite bridal shower ideas is hosting an event with a gift-giving theme. For example, everyone buys the guest of honor gifts for the kitchen, relaxation gifts like plush robes, travel-themed items or, yes, lingerie. Having a general idea of the types of gifts you'll receive may make the gift-opening experience less stressful.

Ask for help.

Another tip Fitch offers is getting friends to help you navigate the gift-opening process. This can look like getting two or three friends to make the gift-opening segment of the event move faster. How, you ask? By passing gifts to you, getting rid of trash immediately, and jotting names down for the thank you list you'll use later.

She adds that you can delegate one friend to ensuring guests are comfortable and their glasses are refilled while you're opening gifts.

Use cellophane for your gifts.

This would be a very specific ask for the guests, but consider asking them to wrap their gifts in cellophane. "You can have a beautifully displayed gift table where everyone can showcase their gifts, and have the opportunity to thank guests individually for what they've gifted you," Fitch suggests.

"Whichever way you choose, a personal toast addressing the group and expressing a sincere token of your gratitude is always a classy way to go," she adds.

Another option is to get someone to unwrap all gifts before the gift-opening segment and have them displayed on a table to speed up the process. You may even choose to display them and skip discussing the gifts all together.

Alternatives to Not Opening Gifts at a Bridal Shower

For people who have decided opening gifts at a shower is not their thing, there are alternatives to consider.

Include more group games.

Games can be tons of fun, so adding one or two more to fill the time won't hurt. Some popular bridal shower games you can include if you haven't already are bridal jeopardy, bridal bingo, and wedding movie charade for a good laugh.

Musical chairs to popular bridal songs could also be an enjoyable game for guests.

Get guests to donate to charity.

While most people enjoy and appreciate receiving gifts, perhaps you want to scrap the idea totally. Fitch says you can simply find a cause you care about and ask guests to donate there instead.

"If you and your honey already live together and have your household relatively arranged, or requesting & receiving gifts just makes you feel simply uncomfortable, pick a favorite charity you both love for guests to donate to alternatively," she suggests.

Have a display shower.

Similar to the cellophane suggestion above, you could do a display shower to avoid gift opening. This is where you have guests bring unwrapped gifts that include tags with their name so you know who gave it to you and can thank them accordingly.

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