How to Plan a Memorable Bridal Luncheon

What better way to show your bridesmaids some love than with a delicious celebration?
Sarah Title - Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert.
Sarah Title
Sarah Title - Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert.
Sarah Title
Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert
  • Sarah writes a variety of content for The Knot and WeddingWire, including bridal fashion advice and product recommendations.
  • Sarah’s work has also been featured in Brides, Nicki Swift, Betches and Style Me Pretty.
  • Sarah lives in Alexandria, VA with her (new) husband and golden retriever named Brady.
Updated Apr 17, 2023

Your bridesmaids have been there for you through it all. They threw you an awesome bachelorette party, planned a memorable bridal shower and now they're coming from all over to watch you walk down the aisle. How can you ever thank them?

We've got an idea. A bridal luncheon is the perfect way to say thank you to your biggest supporters. This is not required by any means, but it's an optional gathering for you to show your bridesmaids and any other supportive women in your life that you're thankful for them. Before you decide if this is something that's right for you, read below so you can learn about this tradition.

What Is a Bridal Luncheon?

A bridal luncheon, or a bridesmaid luncheon, is a Southern wedding tradition. While its origin isn't clear, it typically takes place the day before the wedding day. It gives you an opportunity to spend time with your friends, family and bridesmaids. It's also a great opportunity to give your bridesmaids gifts and thank them for standing by your side.

While a bridal luncheon usually takes place the day before the wedding, a bridesmaid brunch can happen at any time. You can host a bridesmaid brunch to pop the question to your besties, as a "thank-you" for throwing you an amazing bachelorette party, or for any other reason you desire. There's no hard-and-fast rule for a bridal brunch.

The major difference between a bridal luncheon vs. a bridal shower is that the bridal shower is typically thrown by the bride's family or bridesmaids. The purpose of the bridal shower is to honor the bride and celebrate her upcoming nuptials. All the guests bring gifts and it's all about the bride-to-be. When it comes to the bridal luncheon, the bride is the one taking the opportunity to thank her bridesmaids and spend time with them. The tables are turned in this situation and she is showering them.

When Do You Have a Bridal Luncheon?

Traditionally, a bridal luncheon is held on the day of or on the day before the wedding. Usually the menu was filled with lighter fare such as fruit, finger sandwiches and maybe cake for dessert. However, in recent years the bridal luncheon has been reinvented. Many brides are opting for a dinner at a nice restaurant, or even a day of pampering at a spa. There's no formality that has to be followed, so if tacos and margaritas are more your speed, there's no reason to hold back. While the day before the wedding is still a popular time to host a bridal luncheon, many people are deviating from the norm, so feel free to do what works best for you.

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Bridal Luncheon Etiquette

While a bridal luncheon is supposed to be a relaxing fun time, there are some etiquette "rules" you'll want to consider during the planning process.

Who hosts a bridal luncheon?

Typically a bridal luncheon is hosted by the bride to thank her bridesmaids for being her wedding MVPs. They've been there throughout the entire planning process, thrown an awesome bachelorette party and shower and it's their time to shine.

Who do you invite to a bridal luncheon?

At a bridesmaid/bridal luncheon, bridesmaids don't have to be the only people on the guest list. Your mother, sister, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and other female family members can all receive an invitation to the bridal luncheon. The "no boys" rule has even loosened up in recent years. Whoever you want there, should be there.

Who pays for the bridal luncheon?

Like anything else when it comes to your wedding festivities, whoever hosts the event should cover the cost. If you're hosting it for her bridesmaids, you'd be the one to foot the bill. If your mom or other family members are the hosts, they'd also pitch in some money.

Where to Have a Bridal Luncheon

Again, there's no hard-and-fast rule about where a bridal luncheon should take place. It could be a home-cooked or catered meal at your home or your family's home. It could take place at a restaurant or anywhere else you can think of that would make you and your bridesmaids happy.

Do you bring a gift to a bridal luncheon?

The bridal luncheon provides a great opportunity for the bride to give her bridesmaids their gifts. The bridesmaids do not need to give a gift to the bride as they've likely already gotten her one for her shower and her wedding.

What to Serve at a Bridal Luncheon

The short answer is: it's up to the host! Is there a special meal you and your bridesmaids love to eat together? Think of serving that. Is there a restaurant that holds a lot of special memories? Go there. While traditionally the fare was light, many brides are opting for a more personalized approach to the Southern bridal luncheon.

Bridal Luncheon Ideas

Below are a few ideas for your bridal luncheon.

Brunch at Home

If you have the space and your wedding is near your home or your family's home, an at-home brunch is a very intimate and meaningful way to thank your bridesmaids for everything they've done. You could create a mimosa station, provide delicious pastries and offer an array of breakfast foods for your guests to choose from. Hosting it at home means you can let your hair down a little more and stay as long as you'd like. You can also make a theme out of it and decorate accordingly.

Dinner at a Restaurant

If you don't want to go through the effort of hosting, cooking and decorating — a restaurant luncheon might be your best bet. If you still want the intimate vibe, you could reserve a private room at a restaurant and even personalize the menu to your and your bridesmaids' liking. Whether it's brunch, lunch or dinner, no clean-up = one happy bride.

Happy Hour

If a sit-down meal feels a little too formal for you, why not opt for a happy hour instead? Reserve an area of your favorite bar or pick somewhere with a gorgeous rooftop view to make it extra special. You can snack on appetizers and drink delicious cocktails. This casual and informal event makes it easy to connect with everyone, especially if you have a larger group.

High Tea

Do as the British do and opt for a tea luncheon if you want something a little special and fancy. It gives you the opportunity to get all dressed up and enjoy a refined and special afternoon. Don't forget to include the champagne to make it a true English tea.

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