What is the appropriate bridal shower gift?

wrapped gift

If you have a bridal shower in your future, you might be struggling with gift ideas. Or specifically, whether bridal shower gifts have to come from the to-be-weds wish list. We know, we know—gifting a set of spatulas doesn't exactly say, "We're BFFs, and I'm so happy for you!" But at the same time, the couple put a lot of time into their registry, and it's important to respect that.

In case you find yourself in this conundrum, here's how we like to think about gifting off-registry: If there's a set of tumbler glasses on their wish list, it's a safe bet the couple would prefer that set over one you came across during Sunday afternoon errands. But what about extras like cocktail napkins to go with those tumblers? Or a cocktail book?

Appropriate. With that in mind, we rounded up the best wedding shower gift ideas—half of them for a classic couple and the other half for more contemporary to-be-weds. When it comes to what to bring to a bridal shower, this list is it. (And if you're a soonlywed currently building out your registry before the shower, consider these great ideas for that too.) 

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Bridal shower gift etiquette can be tricky. The pre-wedding event is just a teaser for the big day, so what do you do about a bridal shower gift vs. a wedding gift? Do you need to bring a present to both the pre-wedding events and the nuptials? The answer is yes, but we've got some proper wedding gift etiquette tips to help you along the way.

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What's A Bridal Shower?

Bridal showers started in the 1890s as female-only gift-giving parties for a bride-to-be and remains a popular tradition today. When the tradition was first started, a close friend of the bride always threw the party. This is because it was considered poor form for the bride's family to host a bridal shower or ask for gifts. Now anyone close to the bride, including her family members, can throw the bridal shower.

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Do You Bring A Gift To A Bridal Shower?

In short, yes. If you're attending a bridal shower, you should always bring a gift with you to congratulate the bride. This is considered a good bridal shower etiquette. Even if you're a part of the bridal party or wedding party, a gift is still necessary. The only time you don't have to prepare a bridal shower gift is if the bride has requested "no gifts." Also, keep in mind that your bridal shower gift is separate from your wedding gift.

How Much To Spend On A Bridal Shower Gift

The standard amount to spend on a bridal shower gift is around $50-$75. If you're invited to a bridal shower but not particularly close with the bride, expect to spend at least $25. Regular friends, co-workers, or distant family members should consider spending up to $75 if they have the budget to spare. Close friends or family members should consider spending anywhere between $75-$150 for a bridal shower gift.

Suppose you're attending the bridal shower and the wedding plan. Decide on gift amounts ahead of time for both occasions to stay within your overall budget.

What To Buy For A Bridal Shower Gift?

Choosing a bridal shower gift is fun when you know what you're looking for. Consider the type of shower you're attending. The theme or style of the bridal shower is often specified in the bridal shower invitation. Also, consider the needs and wants of the bride herself. Is there a registry she wants you to use? Would she prefer something more meaningful than practical? Consider all these factors before breaking your budget on something unwanted.

For A Traditional Bridal Shower

Gifts given at traditional bridal showers should have a focus on what the bride likes, wants, or needs. Common gift ideas include vases, cookware, champagne glasses, sleepwear, fine linens, picture frames, and home decor items. Any items specified on a bridal shower registry fall under this category.

Bridal Shower Gift Basket

Gift baskets are a great way to make your bridal shower gift stand out. They can also tie together a handful of smaller gifts and make them look larger than life. Consider using smaller gifts like customized tea towels, a nice teapot, and a recipe book. The options are as limitless as your imagination.

Personalized Bridal Shower Gifts

You can personalize your gift idea by giving the bride-to-be a custom bridal shower gift. This can be anything from custom wine glasses, his and hers mugs, or a personalized cutting board. You can customize these items with the bride-to-be's initials, a heartfelt love quote, or her upcoming wedding date to make her gift even more special.

Unique Bridal Shower Gifts

The best way to find a unique gift is to find out what's important to the bride. Is she worried she won't have enough time to grocery shop in the coming months? Consider gifting a subscription to a food delivery service. Or maybe the bride loves all thing wine and you happened to stumble upon a handmade wine holder at a local market. As long as it speaks to the personality of the bride-to-be, your gift is sure to impress.

Fun Bridal Shower Gifts

Brides usually appreciate all of their gifts, but some just stand out as oh-so-fun. What that varies from bride to bride, but who knows better than you? If your bride loves all things brewery, consider getting her a customized growler that she can take with her on a fun day out. Or maybe you know your jewellery loving bride would be thrilled to get a charm bracelet with all her best friends' names engraved.

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A Note On Funny Bridal Gift Ideas

Avoid gifting the bride with inappropriate items at her bridal shower since a variety of family members will probably be attending. However, if you're familiar with the bride and her family's sense of humour, you can use your discretion. Keep in mind that some gifts are more suited for her bachelorette party.

DIY Bridal Shower Gifts

Whether it's because of budget concerns or love of custom made things, the DIY present is sometimes the perfect choice. However, prepare to spend a significant amount of time creating the right gift. If you choose to create something like a hand-knit throw or handmade serving dish, give yourself plenty of time. Giving yourself weeks to months or create your gift will enable you to fix the mistake and stay stress-free.

Wedding Shower Gift Ideas

If you're attending a couple's shower, stick to co-ed wedding gifts from the couple's registry. Gifts related to home decors such as an engraved glass vase with a custom quote or a personalized pillow, make the perfect couple gift. You can also consider kitchen and bath items, barware, or any honeymoon needs.

After you've selected a wedding shower gift, you can pair your selection with a thoughtful bridal shower card. Your card should include a heartfelt message to the bride, along with good wishes for her next chapter. Reference our guide on what to write in a bridal shower card to complete your note.

Art via a Gift Card from Minted

For couples that already live together and have a lot of essentials already, wall art is always something that can be updated to enhance their living space. With a gift card from minted, the couple can take advantage of the complimentary art styling service.

All they have to do is text a photo of the wall they want to decorate, and a designer will make recommendations for the perfect pieces that complement the rest of their decor.

Aquarian Thoughts Rose Gold Dainty Chain Bracelet

A grown-up version of the classic friendship bracelet, this delicate piece can be customized with your bestie's birthstone. It's the perfect accessory to wear alone or stacked with other bangles.

Mosser Glass Cake Stand

Give the bride an opportunity to showcase her wedding cake in style on the big day. These classic stands are made of glass and come in a variety of sizes and colours.

November and Mae Honeymoon Sweatshirt

Send the bride off to her honeymoon in style with this adorable sweatshirt that is perfect for the plane. Who knows—maybe it will even help score her and her new spouse an upgrade from the airline.

Just Married Cookbook

This eye-catching cookbook is the perfect gift to inspire lots of great date night dinners. With information on everything from grocery shopping to entertaining, this book is stocked with useful tips and recipes that are sure to be referred to for years.

Picture Frame

A sweet side-by-side frame is the perfect desk accessory or coffee table décor. After the wedding, the couple can slip an extra wedding invitation into one side and their favourite snapshot from the wedding day into the other.

Linen Napkins

They can never have too many sets of napkins, especially if the to-be-weds are avid dinner party hosts. No wonder they're such good bridal shower gifts.

Crystal Vase

A quality vase adds instant class to an entryway or dining table. The diamond cuts in this design create a gorgeous sparkle that'll make them feel like they're living the high life whenever they walk past it. 

Appetizer Plates

Appetizer plates are a great bridal shower gift. They're a nice little extra the couple might not have thought of, but are good to have on hand for casual cocktail nights or formal holiday parties.

Stand Mixer

Perfect for the couple who cooks together, a KitchenAid stand mixer is the holy grail of kitchen appliances. If they're tight on counter space, opt for the mini mixer (it has the same motor speed but in a smaller package).

Jewellery Box

Help her stash her wedding jewellery (and all the other baubles her partner's given her) with an elegant jewellery box. You can choose a standing chest that sits on her dresser or this more versatile, travel-ready zippered case she can take on the bachelorette party or honeymoon. 

Bridal shower gift vs. wedding shower gift?

Do I have to buy a bridal shower gift and a wedding gift?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Proper wedding gift etiquette states you need to bring a gift to both affairs, but that doesn't mean the two gifts have to be equal in value. When it comes to bridal shower gift vs. wedding gift, the bridal shower gift should be smaller. It all comes down to breaking down your wedding present budget.

Follow the 20-20-60 Rule.

Here's the key to bridal shower gift etiquette: Think of the 20-20-60 Rule. Start by creating an overall gift budget to celebrate the happy couple. Let's use $200 as an example. Sixty per cent of that budget ($120) should be reserved for the wedding gift — a check, that set of China they registered for, or a kitchen appliance. Then, twenty per cent ($40) — a set of champagne flutes, a beautiful picture frame—should be reserved for the engagement party and the other twenty per cent ($40) — their coffee mugs, the cake servers they want to use on the big day—for the shower. If you are only invited to one pre-wedding event, divide that extra twenty per cent between the shower ($50) and the wedding ($130). See: Proper wedding gift etiquette comes down to math!

Do I have to buy off the registry?

There are differing opinions on this when it comes to bridal shower gift vs. wedding gift, but by standard etiquette, bridal shower gifts should typically come from the registry. Of course, if you are super close to the bride or groom, a small, highly personalized gift, like a gift card to their favourite restaurant or a family recipe book you create, can be just as appropriate for a shower. By the time you get to the wedding, sometimes the registry is already bought up. If that's the case, it's okay to go off registry, just look at what they did add to their wishlist and try to match their style and taste. If you really can't think of something to buy, it's okay to give money as a wedding gift — or to buy them a fun experience, like a date night at a new hip restaurant, or a night at their honeymoon hotel. Some couples even create honeymoon funds, cash funds, or a combination of traditional and experiential registries on sites like WeddingWire Registry.

How much should I spend on a bridal shower gift?

Keeping the 20-20-60 Rule in mind, a bridal shower gift should be about one-third the price of your wedding gift. However, what you spend comes down to your relationship with the bride or groom, and your budget. Typically, shower gifts should be between $25 to $75. If you are closer to the person of honour, consider the higher end of the registry.

How much should I spend on a wedding gift?

Wedding gift etiquette says a guest should spend about $50-$150 on a wedding if they're going solo. Again, it comes down to relationship and budget—and what you've allocated in the 20-20-60 Rule. If you're going to a wedding with a date, expect to spend $75-$200 on the gift. And keep in mind, while there is no maximum on a gift, don't spend less than $50.

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Can I give one big gift for a bridal shower and a wedding?

While it's uncommon to show up to a shower empty-handed or to forgo a gift on the big day, some guests like to give the happy couple one big-ticket gift for all the celebrating, rather than break the gifts into pieces. That's okay — but make sure the couple knows. If you're waiting for the big day to give them their larger gift, at a minimum bring a card to the bridal shower, with a note that a gift is on the way. If you want to get it over with, ship the couple the gift before the shower, and mention both events, in a simple way — "Can't wait to shower you with love and celebrate your big day" — on the card.

Even though many brides currently have to change their wedding plans, it's still a great time to celebrate the brides-to-be in your life. Truthfully, when it comes to wedding and bridal shower gifts, we always suggest sticking to the registry, which is just good wedding etiquette. There's a reason the bride spent time putting it together, after all, and odds are, she'd prefer you pick something she specifically asked for. So you might be wondering why we even bothered to compile a list of the best bridal shower gifts in the first place. After all, our picks are sure to depart from the said registry, and they're not entirely conventional either.

Well, there are a few exceptions to that age-old Rule about straying from her wish list: What if you're a little late to the game and everything on the list is already spoken for? More perplexing yet, what are you to do if the bride didn't register in time for the bridal shower (or at all)? Either way, the last thing you want to do is show up empty-handed. Instead, take the lead and select a thoughtful option from our picks, which are perfect for country weddings (and all types of weddings!) and brides who have everything and have registered for nothing. Your goal: Give her a present so good, she'll wish she had registered for it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bridal Shower

What is supposed to happen at a bridal shower?
It's a pre-wedding party to gather the bride's closest family members and friends for an afternoon in her honor. Guests will enjoy food and drink together, bring gifts, play games, and socialize before she ties the knot.
Who pays for a bridal shower?
Today it's the maid of honor and bridal party or the bride or groom's mother who throws the bridal shower. Typically, whoever throws the event is the one must cover the costs. Often, the maid of honor and her fellow bridesmaids throw the bridal shower and pay for it, and the mother of the bride contributes.
Why do they call it bridal shower?
According to this history behind bridal showers, ladies in the Victorian days would gather to wish the bride well. They would then spoil her by bringing small gifts, notes, and home goods. These gifts were put in an open parasol and they would then “shower” them over her.
Whats the difference between bridal shower and wedding shower?
bridal shower is a party just for the bride with her closest female friends and family, while a wedding shower is a party for both the bride and the groom and both sexes can be invited. Basically, both events are a party that revolves around gifts.
How long before wedding is bridal shower?
Tradition (and Emily Post) states that the bridal shower should take place between two weeks and two months before the wedding.
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