Bridal Shower vs. Bachelorette Party – 6 Major Differences & How to Plan

Congratulations, you’re engaged! While wedding planning can be stressful, it can also be a time to celebrate. Some pre-wedding celebrations focus on you, the bride, including your bridal shower and bachelorette party. But what’s the difference between these two parties? 

In this article, we’ll cover all things bridal shower vs. bachelorette party: who throws them, when they’re thrown, who attends them (and why), what happens at each party (hint: there are some similarities!), plus so much more!

Your Bridal Shower – The Basics

Usually, the bridal shower is thrown by the bride’s friends and family. It’s an opportunity for loved ones, friends and sometimes even coworkers to get together with the bride and spend some time celebrating her upcoming marriage. 

The bridal shower party might include games, food and gifts purchased on or off a registry for the bride-to-be, as well as lots of laughing and talking about how much fun she will have when she gets married! 

Your Bachelorette Party – The Basics

As its name suggests, a bachelorette party is usually thrown by the bride’s friends (not family), although if the bride has sisters or aunts that are close to her in age, they might attend or help throw the party as well. 

These parties are often held on an evening or night before the wedding; they’re also sometimes called “hen parties,” which comes from an old English term — funny, right?

The goal of bachelorette parties is usually to celebrate being single while you still can. In other words, drinking lots of alcohol while wearing ridiculous outfits!

Many bachelorette parties go for an entire weekend, where friends and sometimes close family members of the bride rent out an Airbnb, stay at a hotel or go to a resort to party! 

When Are the Parties Thrown for the Bride? 

A bridal shower is usually thrown two months before the wedding with formal invitations, either printed or digital, sent to family and friends with an RSVP link or card. 

A bachelorette party was historically thrown within a week of the wedding, but in recent times has been known to be held anywhere from one week to six months before the wedding — typically whenever is most convenient for all of the bride’s friends to gather together. This is due to the rise in popularity of a destination bachelorette party style, where friends gather from across the country at a central location — usually somewhere warm and tropical — for a long weekend.

What Happens at Each Party?

The Bridal Shower: 

If you’ve ever been invited to a bridal shower, then you know how much fun they can be. Since a bridal shower is typically thrown by the bride’s family and close friends to celebrate her upcoming marriage, these parties are usually pretty tame. 

The bride’s mother is usually the host. That being said, having a co-host in addition to the bride’s mother is a good idea. You may also plan it yourself or ask other friends and family to help, but either way, the bride should be involved in planning the bridal shower details, such as the theme, time, location and guest list.

The bride receives gifts and enjoys time with loved ones. These parties are often held in a brunch style at a country club, fancy restaurant or family home. The most important thing is that the space selected is large enough to accommodate all of your guests comfortably and has enough space for easy movement so they don’t feel crowded. 

The guests shuffle around, eat, drink and chat for a while, but this is not your time to be shy — make sure to say hello to your guests! Unless you’re busy opening gifts, it’s essential to be engaged in conversation with friends and family during the entire event. 

The best part about the bridal shower is that it’s not just for the bride. It’s also a chance to introduce your closest friends and family to the new family you are marrying into. Having your spouse’s mother, sisters and other influential women in their life present will give you and your family a chance to interact before the wedding. 

For an epic bridal shower event, check out these top posts:

The Bachelorette Party:

A bachelorette party is hosted by the bride’s friends. This night is about the bride having fun with her besties before becoming a wife! These parties are often more informal than bridal showers, but both can be elegant if you want them to be.

Typically, new clothes and a fun destination are involved in a bachelorette party. In addition to the bride-to-be’s new outfit, other party members will also wear something special. Often, it’s a tiara for the bride-to-be and sashes for everyone else. You may also see veils, rings on fingers or arms (usually from temporary tattoos) and sashes that say “bride”. These are all fun and help set the tone for your night out!

It’s not uncommon for a bride and her friends to hop in a limo or fancy car and be driven around town to a restaurant or bars. Drinking games are played, but only the ones that require a lot of alcohol, like “never have I ever” or variations of drinking games like flip cup.

The bride-to-be will determine the entertainment for the bachelorette party. There are many options, including adult-only entertainment, concerts, shows and other performances. 

The bride should be the center of attention at her bachelorette party, so she should get to choose what happens and when with the help of her maid-of-honor and other bridesmaids.

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Bridal Shower Inspiration

Bridal showers are fun but can also be stressful — especially if you’re trying to organize one on top of everything else you have going on, like work, school and other wedding preparations. So here are some tips for making your bridal shower easier:

  • Check out Pinterest. You’ll find a ton of inspiration there!
  • Check wedding blogs and magazines for ideas about how other people have done their bridal showers.
  • Ask friends, family and coworkers what they think would be fun activities at a bridal shower (and ask them if they can help).

Many brides wonder what to put on their registry for bridal showers. There are many options for this category of gifts: a nice set of pots and pans, a pretty coffee table book about wine country tours for newlyweds who love to travel or even some beautiful kitchen towels personalized with their initials. Whatever you choose should be something you will enjoy having in your new home with your spouse.

Fun Bachelorette Party Ideas

Here are some fun things to do for a bachelorette party:

Get the girls together for a night out. If you have the means, consider booking a private room at an upscale restaurant and ordering drinks. Or, if you’re looking to save money, invite your guests over and make dinner together before heading out on the town.

Make it fun but not too wild. Remember that this is still part of your wedding celebrations — a time when you should feel relaxed and comfortable with your friends! 

Try not to go overboard with partying (this isn’t only because you’ll be hungover at the wedding if your bachelorette party is the night before your wedding). 

You can still have fun while keeping things classy. One suggestion is doing activities that are just crazy enough without being too crazy (like playing games such as Cards Against Humanity or Exploding Kittens). Everyone can still enjoy themselves without getting too drunk in public places.

20 Fun Bachelorette Party Ideas

You can have a memorable bachelorette party because…  why not? Plenty of fun activities exist that will beyond doubt keep the group entertained. It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling adventurous and planning a wild night out or a relaxing weekend away. 

Here are several fun things to do at a bachelorette party.

Take a dance class – Get the party started with a dance class! From salsa to pole dancing, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Go wine tasting – Spend the day sipping on delicious wines and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Have a spa day – Relax and unwind with massages, facials, and other luxurious treatments.

Take a cooking class – Learn how to make your favorite dishes or try something new.

Rent a boat – Spend the day cruising on the water and soaking up the sun.

Go on a scavenger hunt – Divide into teams and race around town completing challenges and solving clues.

Have a beach day – Pack a cooler and spend the day lounging on the beach.

Take a yoga class – Find your zen with a group yoga session.

Go on a brewery tour – Sample local beers and learn about the brewing process.

Have a game night – Break out the board games and have some friendly competition.

Take a painting class – Get creative with a painting class and take home your masterpiece as a souvenir.

Go to a concert or show – Check out what’s playing in town and enjoy some live entertainment.

Have a karaoke night – Sing your hearts out at a karaoke bar or rent your own machine for some at-home fun.

Go on a shopping spree – Hit up your favorite stores and treat yourselves to some new outfits.

Rent an Airbnb – Get away from it all with a weekend in a cozy cabin or beach house.

Have a movie night – Set up a projector and screen and have a movie marathon under the stars.

Go on a hike – Get some fresh air and exercise with a scenic hike.

Have a DIY craft day – Get crafty with a DIY project like making your own jewelry or creating custom t-shirts.

Take a pole dancing class – Learn some sexy moves and have fun with your girlfriends.

Go to a theme park – Spend the day riding roller coasters and eating cotton candy.

No matter what you choose to do, the most important thing is to have fun and celebrate the bride-to-be!

What Are the Main Differences?

Here is an overview of what happens at each event leading up to your wedding day!

Who is Invited:

  • Bridal Shower: This event is for friends, family, new family members on your spouse’s side and even coworkers.
  • Bachelorette Party: This event is more private, and typically, you will only invite your super close friends, bridal party or siblings if you have a close relationship. 

Where the Event is Held:

  • Bridal Shower: This event is more sophisticated and formal, taking place in a nice restaurant, golf course, event center or family home if the space allows. 
  • Bachelorette Party: Your imagination is the limit with a bachelorette party! You can plan a weekend getaway in Cabo, a night out on the town, a quiet night at home with your closest friends, a bottle of wine and a chick flick — the choice is yours alone!

What Happens at Each Party:

  • Bridal Shower: You spend time with your friends and family, playing friendly games, eating good food and opening presents from the gift registry that guests have brought you.
  • Bachelorette Party: Often a wild night out on the town with your closest friends, drinking, eating at restaurants and enjoying one another’s company.

The Dress Code:

  • Bridal Shower: Typically, you will want to wear something more formal, like a white dress with nice heels or a suit to your bridal shower. Think timeless, classy and elegant. 
  • Bachelorette Party: You should wear all-white so that when you go out, everyone knows you’re celebrating. Your friends should dress in a theme – typically, they wear black to mourn your single life. 

Try Not to Get Overwhelmed When Planning Bridal Showers or Bachelorette Parties – They’re Supposed to be Fun!

Planning a wedding and the parties associated with them is no small feat.

 It can be stressful as you try to ensure that every detail is perfect and fits into your wedding theme, but don’t let the pressure get to you! Instead of focusing on all the things you have to do, take some time out for yourself too. Make sure you eat well and exercise so that your energy levels are high and your stress levels are low. Make sure your partner gets enough rest as well — they’ll need their strength when it’s their turn!

As much as possible, try not to forget about taking care of yourself throughout this process. It may be easy for you (and even helpful) if someone else helps plan everything from start to finish so that it doesn’t overwhelm anyone involved with any particular task or event. A good person to ask to help plan your wedding festivities is your mother, sisters, maid-of-honor or other bridesmaids. 

Final Thoughts on Bridal Shower vs. Bachelorette Party

If you’re the bride-to-be, don’t feel pressured to do things the way other people do. You do you, girl! Think outside the box, get creative and have fun with it – your wedding is all about you, your personality and your love for your future spouse!

We hope this guide has helped answer some of your questions about bridal showers and bachelorette parties and how they differ. Your friends and family will be excited to celebrate this special time with you, so don’t stress over planning every little detail. Try to enjoy yourself as much as possible because we know one thing for sure: it’s going to be a wild ride!

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