Shower is usually a mix of family and friends including older family members, where usually you get gifts. Bachelorette is a fun night out, usually with your friends, and is sometimes a little more wild. As for if you need to do both...it's up to you. I've known girls who do both, neither, or one and not the other.
You don't need to have both, but why not???!!! My showers were thrown by Aunts of FH and my mom's friends from the community. We received gifts from our registry there. I had those 2-3 months before the wedding. My BP is being thrown by my 2 sister's (and MOH's) and will be a day of boating, games (probably inappropriate games), drinks, dinner, and bars. IF any gifts are given here they are usually more targeted to the honeymoon and wedding night. This is going to be closer to the wedding. I'm so excited!!
Thanks Everyone! My Fiance and I had an engagement party a couple of weeks ago for friends and family. I'm not a believer in the "going wild" before your wedding night party, but I don't want anything stuffy and boring either. I think this party is driving me more crazy than the actual wedding is!
I'm a little late with this response, but wanted to share my experience. I didn't really know there was a difference between a bridal shower and bachelorette party until one of my bridesmaids was talking to me about some of the ideas. I ended up only having a bridal shower, but didn't mind this at all. It would've been nice to have something with just my bridal party & sisters, but it definitely wasn't a necessity. I don't feel like I missed out.
Finally, I really stressed to my bridal party that I DID NOT WANT THE TRADITIONAL BRIDAL SHOWER AKA BORING SHOWER! :-) TThey came up with an awesome idea and booked a local comedy club. The club & comedian were respectful of my values and kept it clean, but hilarious. Everyone loved it, most said it was the best bridal shower they'd ever been to. It was great!