How to Plan a Non-Traditional Bridal Shower

Fun and memorable non-traditional bridal shower ideas

a costume bridal shower

 Stocksy / Sean Locke

For some people, sitting around in a circle playing cheesy games and watching someone open gifts for an hour sounds like a grand old time. But if you're among the many for whom that sounds like a total nightmare, don't worry. The non-traditional bridal shower is here to save you.

Reasons to Have a Non-Traditional Bridal Shower

A bridal shower is a centuries-old tradition that was meant to help a bride set up her new home. But nowadays, many brides are older and have already set up a home. Their cupboards are already full of pots, pans, and dishes, but they still want to be celebrated by their friends. And it seems that the older a bride gets, the less she—or her friends—wants to play bridal shower games.

So if you fall into the camps of "the bride already has enough stuff" and "bridal shower games are dumb," a non-traditional shower is probably the way to go. Another reason to break with tradition? If you want to celebrate someone who's already having another shower thrown for her. For example, if she's having a standard tea, cake, and games bash given by her female relatives, you could host a non-traditional shower for her college friends. Or, she might be having a shower in her hometown, but you're a friend in the place she lives now.

Bridal Shower Themes

Every great party has some great ideas behind it. When you're planning your bridal shower, think about what you'll want your guests to be remembering and talking about the next day. Of course, you'll want to prioritize your guest or guests of honor, focusing on what will make them happy.

A Honeymoon Shower

If the couple has a honeymoon registry, throw them a bridal shower that's all about their future fun. Whether they'll be lying on the beach or swooshing down the slopes, tie in the decorations, invitations, and music to their big trip. Make invitations that look like boarding passes, and ask guests to dress in vacation-appropriate clothing. Cocktails and fun food are key to this theme since they'll help guests get in the spirit.

Sample Invitation Wording

A Honeymoon Shower for Jane Smith
Come celebrate Jane's soon-to-be marriage to John Doe.
After they tie-the-knot, they're honeymooning in Hawaii!
Let's help her get in the mood with a Hawaiian Luau.
Please bring a gift that John and Jane can enjoy on their honeymoon.

They are also registered at The Honeymoon Registry and Crate and Barrel. 

Rather than playing games, plan activities that somewhat reflect what the couple will be doing on their honeymoon: a mixology lesson, spa treatments, luau dancers or belly dancers, or just beautiful food and drinks from their destination. As a nod to the games-loving-people, you could also offer a trivia contest about the country, mixed with a few questions about the couple's past travels.

Buying a House Bridal Shower

Buying a new house is a good reason to be hoping for some cash wedding gifts. But since it's tacky to ask for money, it's a better idea for your bridesmaids to throw you a New House Bridal Shower. Register at your local hardware store or a chain like Home Depot for the paint and tools you'll need to make your new house a home. You can also register for some new furniture, and some mortgage companies even offer down payment registries.

Sample Invitation Wording

A Bridal Shower for Lisa Jones
Lisa and Fred are getting hitched! Let's shower Lisa with gifts for their new home. They've already got plates and towels, they just need a place to put them!
Please bring a gift that will help Fred and Lisa with their down payment or help them make that house a home.
Come ready to have some fun crafting, enjoy good food and drinks, and of course, share great company.
Lisa and Fred are registered at Sister's Hardware Store, Pier 1, and Target.

Use new and never been used paint cans for food serving dishes on your buffet. Decorate with paint stir sticks and other hardware supplies. If you use real tools as decorations, you can give them to the bride as an additional gift. Instead of games, plan a home crafting activity like making custom chalkboards or painting pottery.

Stock-The-Bar Shower

You might call this using a bridal shower as an excuse to drink, but we call it great fun. It's like throwing a cocktail party but with gifts. Put together an awesome playlist and some pitchers of cocktails or perhaps a champagne punch. Of course, you'll also want some chic hors-d'oeuvres for nibbling.

Sample Invitation Wording

Before Chris and Jordan head up the aisle
Let's help them stock their bar in style!
Below are some ideas, just for a start,
Be creative, have fun, choose a gift from the heart.
Ice buckets, a shaker, or an opener for wine
Some napkins, a mixer, or a whiskey that's fine.
We'll gather to cheers these two formidable hosts
And give them a bar that's worthy of boasts.
A stock-the-bar coed shower
Please bring something fun for Chris and Jordan's bar
Saturday, March 18th, 8 p.m.
At the home of Casey Barnes

Instead of bridal shower games, you can have a wine tasting, a mixology lesson, or just and relaxed mingling. Send guests home with some fun recipes for new drinks, a pretty martini glass, or other fun drink-themed favor.

​Battle of the Sexes Wedding Shower

If your friends are competitive types, you know they'll have fun with a friendly trivia contest or athletic games. You can use some of the games from the TV show "Minute to Win It", have a softball game, or do classic field day games like a three-legged race or balloon toss. You could even have a Pictionary party, bake-off or dance-off. Just make sure you are clear in the invites about what's going to happen so that your guests are prepared. Having a same-sex wedding? Make this theme be a battle between the friends, rather than of the sexes.

Decorate in pink and blue, featuring the men's symbol and the women's symbol prominently. You could also decorate with famous couples like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, or Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith. For foods, look for things that come in pairs like cheese and crackers, peas and carrots, chips and dip, cake and ice cream, or milk and cookies.

Sample Invitation Wording

When they wed, Michel and Julie will join as one,
but until then, we say, "game on!"
Let's have a battle of the sexes wedding shower,
friendly games will show who has the power.

You'll want to think about your guests, their level of fitness, and their comfort levels when planning this event. It works best with a tight group of friends, and when people are pretty evenly matched. This type of shower is usually in addition to—rather than instead of—a more traditional shower.

Any of these non-traditional showers work well as coed or single-sex events. When you're planning them, throw out ideas of what you "should" do or even what you want to do. Instead, focus on what will help your guests have the most fun.