Can You Invite Someone to the Bridal Shower but Not the Wedding? Here's What You Need to Know.

Wedding pros weigh in.
Lauren Dana Ellman - The Knot Contributor.
Lauren Dana Ellman
Lauren Dana Ellman - The Knot Contributor.
Lauren Dana Ellman
The Knot Contributor
  • Lauren is a contributor for The Knot covering topics such as music, cakes, venues and speeches.
  • She has been published in a wide array of lifetsyle-oriented publications including SELF and Allure.
  • Lauren is a proud graduate of Syracuse University's SI Newhouse School of Public Communication.
Updated Nov 17, 2023

Bridal showers are among the most important events leading up to one's wedding day. The bride-to-be—and, in some cases, the to-be-wed couple—will be surrounded by close friends and family to celebrate their upcoming nuptials. Those who have been invited to a bridal shower but not the actual wedding may be confused, and rightfully so. To set the record straight on what this actually means and if it's rude (spoiler alert: yes, for the most part—but we'll dig into that further down), we tapped a team of wedding professionals to weigh in. Keep reading for the full rundown on this potentially puzzling situation and how to handle it accordingly.

In this article:

Can You Invite Someone to a Shower but Not the Wedding?

According to Sarah Anderson, a consultant at Twickenham House and Hall, etiquette calls for the bridal shower guests to also be invited to the wedding, and many of the wedding pros we spoke to agreed. Additionally, "having guests in the shower but not on the wedding list appears as the couple pandering for gifts." That said, those wanting to invite their bosses and coworkers to their shower, along with only certain family members, should also plan on extending these folks an invite to their wedding.

Is It Rude to Be Invited to a Shower but Not the Wedding?

In short, yes, it is rude to be invited to a shower but not the wedding. A few exceptions to this rule include elopements, micro weddings and destination weddings. For example, explains Jen Avey, VP of Marketing at Destination Weddings Travel Group, "In the case of a destination wedding, it's not uncommon to come across this scenario." Per the pro, "Guests should respect the couple's wishes of having an intimate guest list for their actual wedding celebration far away but realize they also want to celebrate with a larger group of loved ones at a pre-destination shower."

How to Handle if Someone Invited You to a Shower & Not the Wedding

This is, no doubt, a challenging situation, says Anderson. "Most simply," she explains, "those upset by the breach of etiquette should RSVP 'no' to the shower to avoid bitterness or passive-aggressive behavior. However, if the guest "can genuinely celebrate the to-be-wed individual without bitterness and wants to attend the event, they should participate and celebrate alongside the couple and shower host." Of course, this is a personal decision that will vary depending on the individual and circumstance at hand.

It's also important to consider another perspective. Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss, says that it's entirely possible that the guest "may not know when they are invited to a shower that they will not be at the wedding." Per the pro, "Typically, a wedding invite arrives two to three months prior, depending on the time of the pre-event." So, depending on when the shower takes place and when the invitations are sent out, the guests could have no idea that they're only invited to the shower and not the actual wedding.

How to Handle Inviting Someone to Your Shower & Not Your Wedding

As previously mentioned, asking someone to attend a bridal shower without extending them an invitation to the wedding is generally an etiquette faux pas. However, says Shells, "If the shower guest list must be extended to those not invited to the wedding for any nuanced reason, handling the invitation with care is essential." (More on this in a bit!)

Additionally, since the bridal shower host—traditionally the mother or the bride or the maid of honor—ultimately determines the guest list (with input from the to-be-wed, of course), "they should take the brunt of communication hurdles for the couple during the shower-planning process," says Anderson.

Bridal Shower Wording for Guests Not Invited to Wedding

We know we sound like a broken record, but again, inviting someone to the bridal shower and not the wedding is generally not recommended. That said, Anderson tells the Knot that couples who choose to elope or have a micro-wedding or destination wedding should ensure this is noted on the shower invitations to "avoid hurt feelings." Here are a few examples, according to the pros.

  1. "While our destination wedding ceremony will be an intimate gathering, we hope to celebrate our love with you at our wedding shower [or bridal shower] prior to the big day in [X place]!" —Avey
  2. "A bridal shower is the perfect way to celebrate! As our wedding space is limited, it means a lot to us that you come to the shower." —Joan Wyndrum, founder and owner of Blooms by the Box
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