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Pre-wedding Parties

Bridal Shower Costs and Who Pays What

I am in the process of planning my sister's bridal shower (I am her MOH) and I was wondering if I could get some input on costs and who pays for what.  

Both families are fairly large and only a handful of friends are being invited - which still leaves us at about 80 women who will be invited to her shower.  That being said, we pretty much have to hold her shower at a restaurant or hall of some sort in order to accommodate everyone.

From past experience (I've been in quite a few weddings), $15-$20 per person seems normal for a bridal shower.  Which would bring us to about $1200-$1600.  Does that seem normal to you or am I way out of line with this pricing?  

Also, who pays for the shower?  From past experience, all of the bridesmaids, mother of the bride, and mother of the groom have split the costs.  In addition to myself, she has 3 other bridesmaids.  So we would split the costs 6 ways.  Am I correct in assuming this?  Is it not normal for the groom's mother to contribute?
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Re: Bridal Shower Costs and Who Pays What

  • edited December 2011
    If you are hosting, then you pay. 

    You can certainly call up the other BMs and ask if they want to help host the shower, which means you'll need to include them on the planning ideas and ask their budget beforehand. But if no one else can afford to cover the costs, then it's up to you as the host. 
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  • lls31lls31
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    edited December 2011
    Really?  This will be the 8th wedding I've been in - first time as MOH.  All 7 other weddings, we split the shower costs between the bridesmaids, mother of the bride, and mother of the groom.  I thought that was normal.  

    The four of us bridesmaids already decided that we will all host it, as well as my mother (mother of the bride).  The mother of the groom does not plan on contributing and one of the bridesmaids feels that the pricing is too high (although I mentioned the costs before she agreed to contribute).  Are the costs listed above too much?  What would you consider normal?
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  • edited December 2011
    It is never correct to assume that anyone is willing to split the costs for a party that you are planning. You may call each of the bms and ask them if they would like to co-host the shower and how much they would be willing to contribute. Add that amount to your contribution and you have the budget for the shower. The bms who contribute are co-hosts and get to help with determining the number of guests, location, refreshments, theme etc...

    In my area, large showers (30+guests) that include meals are the norm. The moms usually volunteer to cover a large share of the costs because they know it's unfair to place that financial  burden on the wedding party. The bms may be listed as hosts on the  invitations and act as hosts at the shower.

    Alternatively, you could ask the bms to each bring a dish to the shower, serve punch coffee and cake and cut the guest list to a manageable level.


  • lls31lls31
    1000 Comments Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011
    I spoke to all of the bridesmaids several months ago.  Everyone agreed to contribute and act as hosts - even after I mentioned that we could be looking at around $1500 for the shower.  I don't know what they expected when they agreed.  But, to me, when you agree to contribute, that means you are okay with splitting the costs.  Now, all of a sudden, one of the bridesmaids thinks it's too much.

    So, that being said, I guess the only assumption I really made was the groom's mother contributing.  Being that the grooms' mothers contributed for the last 7 showers I helped plan, I thought that was a normal thing for them to do. 

    Unfortunately, we can't cut the guest list, as it was provided to us by my sister and her fiance.  If $1600 for a bridal shower is way out of line, another thought would be to split the shower - one for the bride's family and one for the groom's family.  If we decide to do that (and everyone agrees to it), what's the normal etiquette and who pays for what?
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  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Bridal Shower Costs and Who Pays What:
    Really?  This will be the 8th wedding I've been in - first time as MOH.  All 7 other weddings, we split the shower costs between the bridesmaids, mother of the bride, and mother of the groom.  I thought that was normal.   The four of us bridesmaids already decided that we will all host it, as well as my mother (mother of the bride).  The mother of the groom does not plan on contributing and one of the bridesmaids feels that the pricing is too high (although I mentioned the costs before she agreed to contribute).  Are the costs listed above too much?  What would you consider normal?
    Posted by lls31
    It is not normal to expect the bms to throw the shower. Showers are a gift, not an entitlement. They should not be expected.  And anyone, except the bride or groom, may host the shower.

    It doesn't matter if you or I think the cost is reasonable. If you have a bm telling you she can't contribute $200 -$275 for the shower, you have to take her at her word. She can't do it. You should graciously accept whatever each bm is willing to contribute. You can either lower the cost accordingly or cover the difference yourself.
  • edited December 2011
    To me contribution does not necessarily equal splitting. Did you tell them ahead of time how many ways it would be split?$15-20 per person is fine, as long as all those contributing are fine with it. But no one (including the groom's mother) is required to contribute to anything having to do with the wedding. Perhaps the groom's mother is uncomfortable defending her financial decisions

    Maybe you should split the guestlist into smaller showers. Or rent a firehall or throw it in a park and those who want to help can bake stuff. I realize you may have done things differently, but none of my friends have had bridal showers with meals, it's not a big deal to forego them.

    If the couple expects you to throw an expensive shower that's not fair of them.
  • edited December 2011
    The hosts or the shower, not the bride and groom, get to decide on the number of guests they would like to invite.

    Dividing the shower into two, one for the bride's side and one for the groom's side is a very good option. You, your mom, and the bms would plan and pay for the shower that you are hosting, for the bride's family. Let the groom's family handle the shower for his side.

    Don't forget the MOG, MOB, sisters of the B&G, wedding party and probably the grandmothers should receive invitations to all showers. They are not required to attend all of the showers, though.

    How does that work for you?
  • lls31lls31
    1000 Comments Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011
    I feel like I'm not being clear, so I apologize.  I didn't expect anything from anyone.  I thought there was a normal process for a bridal shower since that's always how it was for me in the ones I was a part of in the past.  Apparently there is not.

    I did ask the other bridesmaids if they wanted to contribute and what they could contribute.  They were all gung ho to help out, but no one could come up with a figure that they felt comfortable contributing.  I suggested a budget of $1500 and everyone was fine with that.  

    Now that we're actually calling places to book the shower, one of the bridesmaids has a problem with the budget.  She claims that the shower we're planning is too "lavish."

    I also thought it was odd that the groom's mother told us that she would not contribute.  I didn't expect her to, but I thought she would regardless.

    Basically, I'm just coming on here to find out the normal process on how to handle shower costs and what pricing is reasonable to pay for a shower (regardless of who pays for it).  The last shower I helped plan was 5 years ago and I thought things may have changed since then (especially pricing).
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  • edited December 2011
    Did you ask them all separately or as a group? That one BM may have felt pressured to say it was okay if you asked as a group and she didn't want to look cheap. Or her financial situation changed between now and then. Either way you need to adjust your plans to the budget you have, not the one that everyone agreed on. 

    Normal procedure for a shower would be to ask who wants to host, then you all come together with a budget based on what everyone can contribute, then you plan accordingly. 

    If you can't afford what you could before you have to make changes. Do what MariePoppy said and split the shower to the bride's side of the family. Find a cheaper place to host, plan at a non-meal time and host with finger food, cake and punch. 
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  • lls31lls31
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Bridal Shower Costs and Who Pays What:
    The hosts or the shower, not the bride and groom, get to decide on the number of guests they would like to invite. Dividing the shower into two, one for the bride's side and one for the groom's side is a very good option. You, your mom, and the bms would plan and pay for the shower that you are hosting, for the bride's family. Let the groom's family handle the shower for his side. Don't forget the MOG, MOB, sisters of the B&G, wedding party and probably the grandmothers should receive invitations to all showers. They are not required to attend all of the showers, though. How does that work for you?
    Posted by MairePoppy
    Thank you!  I will discuss the separate shower option with everyone and see if that works.  I think this may definitely appeal to everyone and significantly cut costs.  
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  • lls31lls31
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Bridal Shower Costs and Who Pays What:
    To me contribution does not necessarily equal splitting. Did you tell them ahead of time how many ways it would be split?$15-20 per person is fine, as long as all those contributing are fine with it. But no one (including the groom's mother) is required to contribute to anything having to do with the wedding. Perhaps the groom's mother is uncomfortable defending her financial decisions Maybe you should split the guestlist into smaller showers. Or rent a firehall or throw it in a park and those who want to help can bake stuff. I realize you may have done things differently, but none of my friends have had bridal showers with meals, it's not a big deal to forego them. If the couple expects you to throw an expensive shower that's not fair of them.
    Posted by sister2groom
    If the contribution isn't equal, do you think it will cause problems?  I thought of trying something like that, but I'm worried that we'll end up with an argument because one BM contributed more than another.  

    They don't expect an expensive shower.  It just happens to be expensive due to the number of guests (although splitting into two smaller showers could definitely work).  The venues we're looking at are not lavish by any means.  They are nice and reasonably priced.  
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  • edited December 2011
    If you keep what each person is contributing confidential, you shouldn't have  a problem. There's no need to tell the others that the bm is not contributing the same amount of $$.

    Good luck with the planning.



  • jemmini6jemmini6
    5000 Comments 25 Love Its Second Anniversary Name Dropper
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Bridal Shower Costs and Who Pays What:
    I feel like I'm not being clear, so I apologize.  I didn't expect anything from anyone.  I thought there was a normal process for a bridal shower since that's always how it was for me in the ones I was a part of in the past.  Apparently there is not.
    There is a difference between 'traditional' and 'etiquette correct'.  What you seem to have explained is the tradition for your social circle, which is fine.  However, PP's have been explaining the etiquette side of it, which seems to be mostly in line with your tradition.

    I did ask the other bridesmaids if they wanted to contribute and what they could contribute.  They were all gung ho to help out, but no one could come up with a figure that they felt comfortable contributing.  I suggested a budget of $1500 and everyone was fine with that.  
    As a PP mentioned, did you ask them together or privately?  Some people might be pressured into saying they can contribute, even if they can't, when you ask in front of everyone else.  IMO, $1500 is really high for a shower, but that's also because I am used to seeing very laid back showers here (at someone's home, a couple of snack trays and a cake, that's it).

    Now that we're actually calling places to book the shower, one of the bridesmaids has a problem with the budget.  She claims that the shower we're planning is too "lavish."
    You never know what could have happened between the time that she agreed to now.  Perhaps she has encountered some financial difficulty and instead of admitting that, has thrown the term 'lavish' to convey that it's more than she can afford.  Or she could have just decided that that's more than she is comfortable spending for the event (even if she can afford it) and there's nothing wrong with that either.  If the other BM's had no say in the actual planning, but were merely consulted on the budget, she has the right to change her mind and as the host, you should be picking up the financial difference or altering your plans.

    I also thought it was odd that the groom's mother told us that she would not contribute.  I didn't expect her to, but I thought she would regardless.
    I've never heard of the MOG contributing to the shower.  I'm sure it happens sometimes, but as far as I know, it's not the norm.

    Basically, I'm just coming on here to find out the normal process on how to handle shower costs and what pricing is reasonable to pay for a shower (regardless of who pays for it).  The last shower I helped plan was 5 years ago and I thought things may have changed since then (especially pricing).
    Again, I think that $1500 is pretty high, so you could probably alter your plans to save some money and have that fit in everyone's budgets.
    Posted by lls31
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  • lls31lls31
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Bridal Shower Costs and Who Pays What:
    SHOWERS 101:  they are an optional party that a bride may or may not have, depending entirely upon an offer from her friends to host one. They're a gift, not a right, so she can't ask for, or assign, someone to host it. Usually someone close to the bride hosts. This is where the notion that the bridesmaids or MOH host.....since those closest to the bride are usually in the wedding party.  Again, this is not a requirement, since the party is a gift. The bride gets whatever the hostess chooses to offer. Her input is limited to providing a guest list if asked, although she can offer suggestions as to what she'd like if the hostess wants to offer this as an option. The hostess can ask others to contribute, but if they do, they then become co-hosts, and have an equal vote in the planning. What the co-hostesses choose to contribute is up to them. The shares need not be equal, since people's circumstances aren't always the same. The hostess can't plan a party, and then try to invoice others for it. This is tremendously presumptous. Traditionally, family members did not host showers for other family members, because a shower is a solicitation for gifts, and that shouldn't be done on behalf of another relative. An exception was made for an MOH who was a sister, such as yourself.  This rule has fallen by the wayside in many social circles (but is still in effect in mine). Showers are usually held in the final six-week window before the wedding, after the invitations have gone out. This is to ensure that no one who is not invited to the wedding is invited to the shower. It's become more acceptable to host showers in the "last trimester" before the wedding. Your bio says the wedding is in November 2012. Why are you planning a shower THIS far out? Circumstances can change tremendously in that time. $1500 is a lot to ask of bridesmaids who are already buying attire and paying for the other expenses of the wedding. I suggest scaling back the guest list." You also say that "$20 per person is common for a shower."  Please tell me that you aren't expecting each guest to shell out for the shower? The guests shouldn't be asked to pay for anything. Their participation should be limited to attending and bringing their gift. This is a huge faux pas. I understand that you've seen other people do this, but unfortunately much of society has ceased to read up on formal etiquette, or teach it to their children. Other people do it, but it's really not right.  I highly recommend the excellent works of Judith Martin (aka "Miss Manners"), Emily Post, and Amy Vanderbilt.  (Avoid Sharon Naylor).
    Posted by RetreadBride

    Thanks for the info!

    MY wedding is in November 2012.  My sister's wedding is in July 2012 (btw, TONS of fun acting as a MOH and bride at the same time!).  We decided to have her shower in March due to other events happening within our family over the next year.  We have to book a venue soon, because places around here seem to book up fast.

    We cannot cut the guest list.  How would we decide which family members should be invited and which shouldn't?  If it were friends, that would be a different story.

    I was saying that $15-$20 per person would be what WE would pay.  I would never in a million years ask guests to pay!

    Since my last post, my mom actually offered to pay for the bulk of the shower and ask for $200 from each bridesmaid (which I personally think is very reasonable - I have spent MUCH more for showers I've been a part of in the past).  So I think it will all work out!  :o)

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  • divaMOHdivaMOH
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    edited December 2011
    I spoke to all of the bridesmaids several months ago.  Everyone agreed to contribute and act as hosts - even after I mentioned that we could be looking at around $1500 for the shower.  I don't know what they expected when they agreed.  But, to me, when you agree to contribute, that means you are okay with splitting the costs.  Now, all of a sudden, one of the bridesmaids thinks it's too much. --------> NEVER assume that because someone is WILLING to contribute that means splitting the costs equally.  They said they were willing to contribute, but everyone's financial situation is different and thus a BM might be able to contribute whatever she can budget for, and then the rest would be split accordingly. 

    I also thought it was odd that the groom's mother told us that she would not contribute.  I didn't expect her to, but I thought she would regardless.
    It is not unusual/odd that the groom's mother isn't contributing.  The shower is usually something for the bride, even though the gifts will be used mutually. The grooms family might usually pays for the rehearsal dinner.  

    Now that we're actually calling places to book the shower, one of the bridesmaids has a problem with the budget.  She claims that the shower we're planning is too "lavish." ------> That's always going to happen when you have a bunch of opinions.  Everyone is different and there will always be that one or two odd balls. Plan according to what the rest of you can budget for. If that one BM is the same one with a smaller budget, then graciously accept her contribution and leave it at that. 


    In the end, I'm sure everything will work out just fine and you will plan a wonderful shower! Smile
    Mysticlanding
  • mcskatcatmcskatcat
    500 Comments Third Anniversary
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    edited December 2011
    I think you sort of planned backwards.  I know you mentioned throwing a random number out there and everyone agreeing, but I would have had each girl say "I can contribute this much" (in private, obv.) and then going from that total figure, rather than saying $1500 and everyone splits it. 

    If you haven't booked anything or have anything down pat, I would start over from there.  Ask the girl who can't afford as much what she can contribute, if she'd still like to help host.  From there, you'll have a total budget.  Once you have your total budget, and guest list, you can figure out what you can afford to host.  That might not be $15-20 per person.  It might be more or less, but then you'll have a much better idea of what's appropriate to spend on food, favors, etc. 
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