How to Plan and Host a Virtual Bridal Shower
Everything you need to create a meaningful online celebration for the guest of honor, from invites to gifts and more.
A bridal shower is one of those moments a bride looks forward to from the moment wedding planning begins, and with social distancing measures still in place, so many brides-to-be are devastated to have to cancel their showers. While a virtual bridal shower will never be the same as one held in person, it’s still possible to help the bride feel special by banding together friends and family from afar. In fact one major silver lining to hosting a shower online is that many more guests may be able to “attend” this way. So, where to begin? Here’s how to pull off the perfect virtual bridal shower, from invitations and decor to games, refreshments, and gifts.
Tie the Event Together With Something Special
The number one thing to think about is creating consistency—that’s how you can make guests feel like they’re celebrating the bride in person, says Allison Carter, founder of Allison Carter Celebrates based outside Seattle. Whether that consistency is established through an item for the party that everyone has, a common video call backdrop, or virtually sharing treats and cocktails, choose one item that everyone attending the virtual shower has.
Send Formal Invitations
You can opt to create pretty virtual invitations via services like Paperless Post, Greenvelope, or Evite, says Veronica Cole, a Washington, D.C.–based wedding planner and designer with Keep Calm And Wed On. Then, choose which video conferencing platform you’ll use. Zoom or Skype, for example, are great options that are easy to use and can accommodate a large guest list.
Alternatively, you may want to maintain the tradition of sending actual invitations by mail to help things feel more festive. “Couples whose wedding celebrations have been impacted by the coronavirus still deserve to feel as showered with attention and love as they would with in-person celebrations,” says Katie Brownstein, director of communications with Joy, a wedding planning website. That’s why she recommends sending printed shower invitations to the bride and guests, just as they would for an in-person shower, with the location being the virtual meeting link.
Consider adding a dress code to the invitation to create a more celebratory virtual atmosphere. For example, specify dressy casual or cocktail attire for a couple’s shower, or ask everyone to dress in the bride’s favorite color (and she in white), advises Brownstein. This will set the tone for the shower and help the virtual stream to look more unified.
Don't Forget the Decor
While you can’t actually all be in the same room, you can fake it by creating a pretty backdrop (like fringe garlands, clusters of balloons in the bride’s wedding colors, or a homemade banner), then taking a photo of it and emailing it to everyone ahead of time, suggests Carter. This way, each guest can upload their picture as their virtual backdrop (easy to do in platforms such as Zoom) so it appears everyone is together.
If you’d prefer to use a premade virtual backdrop, Minted launched a collection of free virtual backgrounds with bridal shower designs, all created by members of the company’s artist community.
Bridal shower hosts who want to get crafty, and have the time to plan ahead, could also send a care package to the bride and each guest prior to the shower filled with fun props, such as photobooth-style items or a bridal sash or veil to wear during the virtual shower, says Brownstein. There are also a lot of bridal shower decor packages you can order online, such as these from Party City, and have them delivered straight to the bride’s door.
Virtual Bridal Shower Games
Bridal shower games are quite easy to take virtual, and can still lead to a lot of fun and laughs. Try options such as Bridal Bingo, where the host creates digital bingo cards for each guest ahead of time (make it by adding registry items to each square, and as the bride opens gifts, guests mark off their cards until someone makes bingo), says Brownstein. Or make things even simpler by sending a Q&A to the bride ahead of time, asking questions such as her favorite movie, who usually does the dishes, where she and her fiancé met, etc. and then have guests jot down what they think her live answers will be during the shower. To keep everyone honest, you have them hold their responses up to the camera.
Other fun ideas for games to play, says Cole, virtually include “Name That Tune,” in which the hostess plays a snippets of well-known love songs and guests have to name the singer; or a scavenger hunt, during which the host calls out a random item (say, a pair of white socks), and all guests must run through their homes to retrieve the item.
Consider gifting winners a virtual gift card to a grocery delivery service, or to a local restaurant or small business to use when things reopen. You could also forfeit prizes and make a donation to a charity helping medical workers or those affected by coronavirus in the bride’s name, says Carter.
Enjoy the Same Food and Drinks From Afar
When you can’t clink glasses in person, try the next best thing, according to Carter: Send all guests a signature cocktail recipe, and ask everyone to prepare it at home and enjoy it during the shower. Or, you can make things even simpler and just ask everyone to pick up a split of Champagne that you can all open together on screen. Alternatively, if alcohol delivery services are available in your area, consider having wine or Champagne delivered to each guest’s home prior to the shower, advises Suzanne Halperin, who oversees weddings and events for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
You can do the same thing with food delivery, too: Arrange to send treats to each guest through a delivery service such as Goldbelly, DoorDash, Postmates, or Caviar, or check to see what your local bakeries offer (if all guests are in the same locale or if they deliver out of town).
Many bridal showers include a recipe-sharing element, and while a virtual shower can’t replicate the same impressive spread of delicious treats for guests, you can create a similar effect by having guests share their favorite hors d’oeuvres or dessert recipe in advance, says Christie Altendorf, senior event planner with D’Amico Catering in Minneapolis. These can be shared with the bride as well as all the guests virtually, and everyone can share the history of the recipe and how it came to them during the shower—giving everyone a tangible memory to hold on to. (Alternatively, you could collect recipes in advance and compile them in a thoughtful custom cookbook, such as these from Honey & Hive Creations.)
Still Send and Open Gifts
If the engaged couple created a wedding registry, it’s easy to order gifts online and have them sent directly to their home in advance of the shower (specify this on the invitation to ensure everyone’s package gets there on time). Then, all guests can watch the bride open them virtually, says Halperin. “This way, guests can still see her face when the bride opens their present,” she adds.
You can also think about gifting future travel, such as airline miles or hotel gift cards, for the couple who loves to travel and is already thinking about planning their honeymoon, says Elizabeth Tulipana, owner of Anticipation Events in Chicago. Going in on something as a group can help travel-related gifts go further, too.
For the bride who already has everything she needs, or if the group of bridal shower guests just wants to try something different, consider setting up a special gift such as Tribute.co. This company creates a (free!) video montage of friends and family sharing why they love and appreciate you—and has seen several thousand Tributes created already specifically for bridal showers.
Whether you make a virtual bridal shower simple or filled with advance preparation and lots of surprises, the important thing to remember is that you’re showering the bride-to-be with love.