bridal shower invitations
Cheers & ChampagneHannah Ruth Photography

Many couples today have a bridal or wedding shower, or a pre-wedding celebration where the bride or couple’s closest friends and relatives gather together in excitement to “shower” the couple with gifts, support and love. “The tradition usually involves fun games, trivia and hands-on activities, but modern couples are leaning towards more casual, daytime events with food and drink,” says Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events in Long Island City, New York. “It’s nice to do because it’s a less stressful environment for the future married couple to interact with some of their guests and it gives the friends and family of the couple to get to know each other before the actual wedding.”

But how do you know when to throw a bridal shower? Does your length of engagement determine how far away or close to your wedding date your bridal shower falls? “In the mythical olden days, weddings happened shortly after the engagement, even within a few weeks, so showers would be scheduled quickly,” explains Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “Nowadays things are quite different—wedding couples may be finishing graduate degrees, deployed overseas or simply saving up for a lavish affair, which means there can be years between an engagement and wedding.”

On average, wedding showers are typically planned for anywhere from three weeks to three months prior to the wedding date as a lead up to the big day, but it can very much depend on the situation, according to Weinberg.

Here are some ways to figure out when to throw a bridal shower and to make sure your wedding shower date isn’t too soon, but rather just right in terms of timing.

Solidify your wedding guest list first.

“The wedding shower is an event for the wedding guests, so if you send out shower invitations too early, without the wedding guest list nailed down, you may end up between a rock and a hard place,” Weinberg says. “You might end up sending a wedding invitation to someone you weren't planning to, because they received a shower invitation or risk having the faux pas of inviting someone to the shower and not the wedding, which can make you look greedy for extra presents.”

Start planning early on.

Perhaps even right after you get engaged, start scouting out potential dates for your wedding shower. “This gives the shower planner enough time to find a venue that feels appropriate—large enough, the right atmosphere, and price point,” says Weinberg. “Also, for anyone that may need to travel or take time off, receiving the invitation as early as possible gives them time to ask for vacation days, book flights and all related concerns.”

Find a sweet spot in terms of timing.

When it comes to deciding when to throw a bridal shower, you don’t want to have the shower too far away that the introductions made amongst your wedding guests are near-forgotten by the time your wedding day roles around, however, Weinberg warns not to  pick a date for the shower that's too close either. “The wedding shower is often when the two families are spending time together for the first time, putting names to faces,” she says. “Those introductions and interactions can be stressful!” She recommends having the shower at least two weeks before the wedding to ensure that the stresses of the wedding shower don’t get intermingled with the social stresses of the wedding day!”

Consider two showers.

When location is an issue, for example one side of the family is located far from the other, it is possible to have two different showers. “A friends-only shower in the big city and then family-only shower where each person was raised is not uncommon,” says Smith. “When there are multiple showers, the wedding couple, their parents and siblings should be included on the guest list regardless of their ability to attend.”