5 Alternatives to a Wedding Shower for Engaged Couples

wedding shower bridal shower alternatives

Photo by Laura Dee Photography

Wedding showers (or, more traditionally, bridal showers) are one of those very conservative holdovers from wedding cultures past, when most couples weren’t already living together and special time needed to be carved out for lingerie gifting. While lots of couples are still heartily in favor of this pre-wedding gathering, it’s not a required or even ubiquitous event. Our study of nearly 1,500 couples revealed that not even 30 percent of lesbian couples had a wedding shower while less than 10 percent of gay couples reported hosting a shower.

There are lots of reasons why same-sex couples are much more likely to opt out of this tradition—LGBTQ couples tend to be less traditional overall; grooms in particular might be unsure how to handle a wedding shower; etc. Still, pre-wedding events can take on nearly any form, and are infinitely customizable to suit the couple and their desires.

Here are just a few ideas for how to adapt the spirit of a wedding shower for your wedding:

1. Spring for a “Bro-dal” Shower

This cheekily named trend was coined by the bros of Buzzfeed, who threw two such showers for male members of their staff. The concept is identical to a bridal shower, but the themes are allowed to go beyond the usual tea party fare and into less gendered territory. (Insert a huge sigh of relief.) The planning of a “bro-dal” shower won’t really differ from a bridal shower, so you (or someone in your wedding party) would select a theme that means something to you. This could be your favorite movie, graphic novel, color or beverage. The sky’s the limit and just about anything could be adapted for this get-together. Then, create invitations, decorations, food choices and games centered around this fitting theme. As with any wedding event, the invite list would include your closest and most-supportive posse members.

2. Try a Couples Shower

So, this is cheating just a bit, as any wedding shower, could, actually become a couples shower. But, unlike wedding or bridal showers of the past, a couples shower celebrates both partners—regardless of their gender—and invites friends and family from both sides to take part in the event. Think of this as throwing a nice lunch or intimate dinner party for close, close friends and family. You don’t really need a theme, unless you’re just bursting to explore one, and you don’t even really need games or the usual shower activities. Make this as low-key or as high-maintenance as you and your partner would like, but keep the focus on celebrating with your inner circle in a no-pressure atmosphere.

3. Host a Girls, Guys or Folks Day Out

At its core, a wedding shower is an opportunity for generations of important people to come together and offer up support, advice and gifts to the soon-to-be wedded. So grab your best buds and your closest family members for an afternoon out doing the sorts of things you (or you and your partner) really enjoy. This could mean a BBQ lunch with a gift exchange, or a grabbing a low-key baseball game with lots of beer and snacks. Channel the spirit of the Kentucky Derby and take in a horse racing event with a fancy lunch to follow. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you will enjoy and only invite the people who have been loving and supportive to you and your partner.

4. Plan a Good, Old-Fashioned Pre-Wedding Party

One reason couples might want to think about a shower (or shower alternative) is that while your peers might enjoy a night of carousing at a bachelor or bachelorette party, your parents, aunts and uncles and older friends and family members might not particularly want to see what happens when you and your friends get near a yard of beer. Your pre-wedding party (and, maybe you can think of a cooler name) can be kind of an engagement party part two, with as many or as few friends and family members as your venue can accommodate along with beverages (alcoholic or not), snacks and fun music. Don’t feel pressure to open gifts or plan games, although those can certainly be a part of this gathering if you want.

wedding shower bridal shower alternatives

Photo by Laura Dee Photography; Invitations by AvantGarde Design

5. Consider a Cocktail Reception

Everyone loves a great cocktail and, unfortunately, traditional wedding showers do not include them. Think of your cocktail reception as a fun chance to create a signature cocktail or two, dress up like an adult and hang out with your wedding crew plus your parents, future in-laws and anyone else you’d like to invite. You don’t have to feel tied to “cocktails,” either, as this party could just as easily be a craft beer celebration or a wine night.

There are lots of other ways to celebrate your future nuptials with the people you love most, so the most important idea is to not feel stifled by the usual wedding shower routine. Just like with your wedding planning, feel free to get creative, showcase your personality and passions and spend quality time with your beloveds.

Although I've spent the last decade riffing on everything from suburban politics to race in media, documenting love stories as content manager of GayWeddings.com definitely takes the cake. A proud alumna of Howard University's journalism program, I've written for Parents.com, The Huffington Post, xoJane and Essence magazine. When I'm not writing, I'm debating the merits of Drake, obsessing over frozen yogurt or plotting my next international adventure. I want to feature you on GayWeddings.com! Always feel free to drop me a line at community [at] gayweddings.com to share your engagement, wedding and love stories.