Jan. 1, 2013 at 1:00 PM ET
The best reason ever not to have a surprise bridal shower: You can ask the bride which women she does and doesn't want at her shower! As if drawing up the wedding guest list isn't tough enough, creating the bridal shower guest list brings its own set of potential conflicts and complications. That's why, whether you're the bride or the generous shower hostess, it helps to have some guest list guidelines to follow when you start jotting down names. The Wedding Women have teamed up with us to offer you some helpful bridal shower hints for easy inviting.
Opt for Intimacy
Although everyone who is invited to the shower should also be invited to the wedding, the reverse is not the case. As Kosilly points out, you're not required to invite all of the women who are invited to the wedding to the shower. Kmesser99 kept her bridal shower cozy by helping her maid of honor put together a guest list that included only those females closest to her—plus the relatives her mother made her invite!
There's nothing wrong with keeping a shower small and intimate, say the Wedding Women. Otherwise, it may begin to feel like the wedding itself. However, the bride and the hostess may want to consider adding some of the wives or girlfriends of the groom's good friends, advise the Wedding Women. The bride will no doubt be spending a good deal of time with these women in the future, and if she's not close with them already, her shower is a good opportunity to begin building friendships.
Be Group Savvy
The all or none rule applies to the bridal shower guest list just as it does to the wedding guest list: To avoid offending anyone, it's best to invite everyone who is part of a specific group instead of singling out just a few of them, say the Wedding Women. For example, if you invite a group of women from the bride's office or a group of her mother's friends, you have to invite all of them or some will feel left out, explains Kosilly. One exception: The boss. You can invite the bride's boss without inviting her co-workers, but never vice versa - inviting co-workers and omitting the boss!
Also known as a Jack and Jill shower, co-ed showers (a shower for both the bride and the groom) are growing in popularity, say the Wedding Women. The guest list is co-ed, and gifts are chosen with both the bride and groom in mind. If the bride is a true traditionalist, a co-ed shower is probably not the way to go. Most co-ed showers feel more like regular parties because they tend to lose that just-the-girls-sitting-around-gossiping feeling. On the positive side, many brides and their friends as well as the men involved get a real kick out of co-ed showers. Bethk99 says her husband would definitely like a co-ed shower, since he hates the way everything about wedding is geared to the women. The co-ed shower she attended was the best one she had ever been too. "It wasn't stuffy, it was very relaxed and the games and interaction with the other couples was fun!" Kilkea's bridal shower was coed, and she says it was brilliant: "My sisters had silly gifts that we had to open and wear in front of everybody. One thing I had to wear was a baseball cap that had hot dogs hanging from it. My husband was given a very sexy black bra to wear!"
Some brides have friends and family in different, faraway states, and trying to plan one shower to accommodate everyone can be a logistical nightmare, warn the Wedding Women. Fortunately, having two or more showers is perfectly fine. If there is more than one person ready and willing to throw the bride a shower, great! In fact, as Kosilly points out, having more than one shower is definitely a good way for everyone to be covered. "If the bride's mom is having one and the bride's workplace is organizing another, everyone can be included." Plus, as J.a.c. adds, if there will be a shower in a location far from where the wedding will take place (for example, a shower in the bride's hometown when the wedding is being held elsewhere), guests who may not be able to make the wedding because they live too far away will be able to join in the shower festivities.
Having more than one shower is also a great way to avoid any personality conflicts. For example, if the bride has a mother and a stepmother and the two don't get along, inviting them to different showers will make for more enjoyable parties.
By the way, some guests should be included on more than one shower guest list, say the Wedding Women. The female members of the bride's and groom's immediate families plus the bride's attendants should be invited to any and all showers. Don't worry, they're only expected to give a gift once.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.