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Just Said Yes July 2025

Asking Advice: Bridal Shower & Bachelorette Party Dilemma

marigold87, on May 29, 2024 at 11:51 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 1

Hi all, I'm confused on the proper etiquette regarding who pays for what in terms of the bridal shower and the bachelorette party. I'm newly engaged and living in CA. When I plan my events I want to do it right or as fair as possible - I admit I can be a bit of an overthinker. I've had friends and family members who have gotten engaged/married before me in different parts of the US and I've seen the process done in so many different ways including all their own dramas that come with it. I've googled questions which just lead to more questions. Different websites recommending different things. From my understanding, the bridal shower and the bachelorette party can be done in 1 of 2 ways: (1) BMs (bridal party) pay their own ways in addition to splitting the bill among themselves to help pay for the bride (2) everyone pays their own way including the bride. There is a third option that I rarely see but it is acceptable to me which is when the bride or the bride's family such as their mother or grandmother want to help pitch in or foot the entire bill. Any guests who are invited to these events and attend should only pay their own way and give a gift to the bride as a nice gesture. That is my "normal" as in that is the etiquette that I was taught growing up. I'll share what I've experienced so far below...

A year ago, I was invited to a bridal shower here in CA as a guest since I was a relatively close girlfriend of the bride (I was not a BM - not part of the bridal party). The bridal party members I knew were inexperienced and the shower was planned last minute. I heard through the grapevine that there were disputes between the BMs as there was no definitive MOH and planning was all over the place. I didn't even know the date of the shower until a week out. I wanted to make the event anyway so I did. The shower was at a BM's house. The BMs were decorating things throughout the shower which I thought was odd. What was stranger was their signal that the shower was over?? They just started taking down all the decorations without any sort of announcement. It was so strange to me. They just got up from our little chatty circle one by one and starting pulling down balloons, etc. I was a bit shocked, but I took as a sign to leave so I thanked the BMs, congratulated the bride, and left. A few days after the shower, I randomly got an itemized bill from the BM that invited me! It was a bill splitting all of the costs of the shower (balloons, posters, tableware, etc.)! I told her I was surprised since I wasn't told in advance that I would be footing any kind of bill and I was not part of the planning process. I already got the bride a present for the shower. I was invited just as a guest...?? She was persistent and asked if I could at least split the food and some decoration costs so she ended up charging me $70. I just paid and politely declined when the same BM eventually invited me to the bachelorette party "as a guest". This was my first bridal shower experience and it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Shortly after this ordeal, I was invited to a bridal shower weekend in FL for a cousin's wedding as a guest (again - not a BM, not bridal party). Our mutual friends and family were going so I went and paid my own way. We were all in the same hotel (same floor, but I paid for my own room as did others) with a few events sprinkled throughout the weekend. I volunteered to pitch in for the bride's ticket and tab one night when they planned for us to go to a downtown bar event. I also gave the bride a gift for the shower. After the shower, I was never approached to foot another bill. I was not charged for anything else. This was a "normal" bridal shower to me and a more seamless experience. I believe the bridal party paid for the bride among themselves. There was a MOH and the bridal party was more experienced. Things went without a hitch! I didn't end up attending the bachelorette party though as it was held back in FL. The only strange thing was that I was later told by a BM that all bachelorette party attendees even guests were expected to help pitch in to pay for the bride. That expectation supposedly came from the MOH and it's Southern (deep south?) etiquette which is where she's originally from. That was kind of a surprise considering the bridal shower. I have little knowledge of Southern etiquette but one of my aunts told me the bride's family is supposed to pay for the bridal shower? Not sure if I remember that correctly.

Coming up, I have 2 bachelorette parties to go to where they did not throw a shower. I feel obligated to go to the parties as I am close with both brides. I will be attending as a guest for both (again "as a guest" haha). One of them will be in about a month and the bridal party is again more inexperienced and things are being planned last minute. One day, a BM randomly added me to their "secret" group chat (bride not included) so now I can see the bridal party's group discussions. I was taken aback when I realized that they had counted me without my consent to pitch in for the bride on all bachelorette party expenses (decorations, dinners, events, etc.)! I had already paid a BM on an earlier date who had separately messaged me about the hotel and bar event fee that I'd have to pay in advance. I didn't know the total she had given me was including the bride's portion! This just doesn't sit right with me. Where is the transparency? Why am I being included in something I didn't consent to? I know I said yes to the invitation, but I didn't know that automatically included me in all expenses that were not laid out. The other bachelorette party I'm going to is in a few months and it is the more "normal" one. The bride is paying her own way and does not expect the bridal party or any guests to have to pay for her. I admire the bride for that because she made it clear from the get go that she didn't want to make her bridal party have to pay for her in these tough economic times. I appreciate the sentiment.

To be clear, all of the brides and the bridal party members are all doing decently financially. They are able to celebrate and throw these parties - some more elaborate than others. I'm also not opposed to paying a bit more when things come up, but I just don't appreciate being blind sighted or not told important details. It's the principle that bothers me. Honestly, I find it rude and tacky to charge someone without consent.

These are just my experiences that I wanted to share. This doesn't include the other stories I've heard from the other friends and family members who have gotten engaged/married. Dramarama! I know weddings and wedding events can be tricky with all the planning and whatnot. I'm trying to give as much grace as I can. I've discussed with friends and family members - everyone says something different. Hopefully I can get a better grasp at what the proper etiquette is from your responses as recent brides/wives. What is your view?

Maybe this is just a wild wild west scenario where there are no rules - completely up to how the "hosts" or bridal party wants to play it which can be frustrating especially if the planning is put in inexperienced hands. Southern etiquette, Northern etiquette, Eastern etiquette...?? It's hard to keep up. Makes my mind spin!

Anyway, thanks in advance for all responses!


Latest activity by Hannah, on June 2, 2024 at 9:40 AM
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    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
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    Big yikes for all of these. The bridal shower is usually a one afternoon event that can be hosted by anyone who offers in honor of the bride (the bride does not host her own shower, as the express purpose of a shower is to “shower the bride with gifts” and it is rude to host your own gift giving event). Traditional etiquette says that immediate family of the bride (such as mom, sister) should not host either, but that has become a bit more accepted. If someone (or a group of people) offer to host a shower, then they are responsible for the cost of the shower. That cost should absolutely under no circumstances fall into the guests in attendance. Bachelorette parties are usually hosted by whoever, typically the bridesmaids. If it is an elaborate destination event, then the bride should cover her own cost of the airfare and accommodations. Typically the bridesmaids (or whoever the hosts are) will pay for the bride’s portion of the dinner or some other activities, but it is ridiculous to expect others to foot the entire bill for the bride-to-be’s vacation. Usually those in attendance pay their own way regarding food, accommodations, and activities. Guests, who are not involved in the planning, should not be charged additional fees.

    A good rule of thumb is: if you have no say, you don’t pay. If you had no hand in planning things, you shouldn’t be expected to pay for them. The exception is if you are told ahead of time something like “we are going to restaurant A for the bachelorette party and then going to an escape room” and have the option to participate in whichever events and choose whatever you are ordering, then yes, you pay your share of those bills.
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