There are typically five special events held before the Wedding day. These events include the Engagement party, the Bridal shower, the Bachelor/Bachelorette party, the Bridesmaid luncheon, and the Rehearsal dinner. Not every couple will want to have all of these events, however, most will have at least two or three of these. No matter how many of these events you decide to have, there are some general ‘need to know’ basics for each type of event that are very important to follow. Keeping these in mind for each event will help prevent any drama, and keep everyone happy and organized.

Engagement Party:

This should take place a few weeks, to no longer than 5 months, after the engagement. Typically it is about 3 months after the engagement, to allow plenty of planning time. This event is traditionally hosted by the bride’s parents. Many couples will host the party on their own if they are having a destination wedding, or if they just moved in together and want to do a joint engagement-housewarming party. For this event, no gifts should be required, or expected, as bridal showers and the actual wedding will follow, and guests will bring gifts to those events instead. This event can be as large or small as the host would like, however, it is important that all guests invited to the engagement party are also invited to the wedding.

Bridal Shower:

This event is typically held about 2 to 4 months before the wedding. The Bridal shower can be hosted by the bride’s mother, sister, maid of honor, an aunt, or even the mother of the groom. The number one rule for this event is that whoever hosts the event, pays for the event. Bridesmaids, or other guests, should not be expected to chip in, unless they are also assisting with hosting. Due to this, the event is usually hosted in someone’s home, however a casual brunch can be a great alternative. If the location is a restaurant, be sure to let guests know ahead of time if they are expected to pay for their meal, or if it will be taken care of by the host. Gifts are definitely expected at a shower, however, they are typically much smaller, or less expensive, than the actual wedding gift. Gift cards are sometimes considered a tacky gift, however, for this occasion they can be a great option. A favorite restaurant, a favorite clothing store, or a massage, are all examples of appropriate gift cards for the bride. Keep in mind when inviting guests to this event, that they should also be invited to the wedding. A typical guest list includes mothers of the bride and groom, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, close friends, personal attendants, and bridesmaids. Avoid over inviting for this event, as the best bridal showers tend to be small gatherings, with only the closest friends and family.

Bachelor/Bachelorette Party:

The great thing about this pre-wedding event, is that there is not really a specific time you need have it completed. It can be planned based on whenever the most bridesmaids or groomsmen, and other guests are available to attend, or simply whenever the bride or groom likes the weather. The most important rule when deciding when to have this event, is to NOT schedule this for the night before the wedding. Traditionally, this party was the night before the wedding, but unless you want to be horribly tired and hung-over on your big day, plan it for another time. The planning and hosting of this event is typically left to the maid of honor, the best man, or a personal attendant. It is usually paid for by guests chipping in to cover costs, as this is not something the bride or groom should spend money on. Keep in mind when planning, that this event is for the bride or groom. Stick to themes or places that they will love, and not just something that the planner loves. Also, be sure to have transportation planned ahead of time, as well as deciding how it will be paid for. Invitees typically include bridesmaids/groomsmen, personal attendants, close friends not in the bridal party, and siblings. All guests invited to this also need to be invited to the wedding. Keep in mind the age of anyone being invited, as you will want to make sure the party is age appropriate for everyone attending. For example, if you want to go bar hopping, inviting your 19 year old sibling is probably a bad idea. These events are usually kept to a small group, so it is very important for the planner to confirm attendance from each invitee before the set date. This will ensure the bride, or groom, is not left with an empty party bus and a bill to pay. Gifts can be a fun addition to this event, but be sure to let guests know if they are expected. For this event, gifts tend to be more gag-gifts, or various items that would be inappropriate to open at a bridal shower in front of grandma.

Bridesmaid Luncheon: 

This wonderful, yet often overlooked event, usually takes place a few days, or weeks, before the wedding. However, if bridesmaids have to travel, it may be best to have a brunch the day before the wedding. This event is usually hosted by the bride as a way to say “thank you” to all the bridesmaids and any personal attendants for all of their help and support throughout the planning process. The guest list should include bridesmaids, and personal attendants. Mothers, and sisters are sometimes invited to this event as well, but it is not required. Gifts are not given to the bride, as this is the time for the bride to present a gift to each bridesmaid. Traditionally these gifts are items such as earrings, or necklaces, for each bridesmaid to wear for the wedding. A charm cake is a fun and festive part of this luncheon, but just make sure you have enough charms for each guest!

Rehearsal Dinner:

This is the dinner the night before the wedding, and the groom’s parents are traditionally in charge of hosting this event. In recent years, it has become more common for both sets of parents to share in the responsibility. The planning should start at least 3-6 months before, and the location should be a convenient place for all invited guests. Who is invited is typically based on the available budget for this event. It should include immediate family members and the bridal party. Some hosts will choose to invite any guest coming in from out of town, or even everyone attending the wedding, but again, this is all based on budget. Guests should not be expected to bring gifts for the bride and groom, nor should they be expected to pay for their meal. If the bride and groom have not given their bridal party their gifts, this is the time.

Hopefully, all of this information will help with the basic planning of any pre-wedding events. So as always, thanks for reading and happy wedding planning!