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Long before your wedding day, you’ll have several opportunities to celebrate your impending nuptials. In fact, there is a whole handful of pre-wedding events that you should take advantage of, starting with an engagement party and ending with a rehearsal dinner. Here are the pre-wedding events you shouldn’t skip and why! Plus, a checklist to help you ensure each event goes without a hitch.

Engagement Party

An engagement party is the first pre-wedding event that you will have the opportunity to host. It’s a casual gathering used to officially announce a couple’s engagement, usually celebrated with close friends and family. This event is often hosted at home, although you can also host at a venue. Food and drinks are served, which can range from a simple cook-out to a catered meal. You don’t have to host an engagement party, and they are not expected, but they are a great opportunity for those who plan to have a longer engagement.

  • Pick the date
  • Decide on a theme
  • Find a venue
  • Create a guest list
  • Plan a menu
  • Send invitations
  • Buy supplies & decor

Bachelorette Party

Considered a bride’s last outing, a bachelorette party is a casual way for a bride to celebrate her engagement with close friends. Guests typically consist of the bridal party along with a few chosen friends. They frequently consist of traveling to another location for a rowdy night out on the town - although this can vary largely depending on the bride’s wishes. Some may feature a theme, often based around the bride or groom’s interests. The trip can be as short or as long as the bride likes, but is planned and executed entirely by the maid of honor.

  • Designate a planner
  • Pick your guests
  • Create a group text
  • Set a budget
  • Choose a date & location
  • Send invitations
  • Secure travel & lodging
  • Book activities & dinner reservations
  • Finalize & share itinerary (& packing list)
  • Purchase decor & supplies

Bridal Shower

A bridal shower is a traditional pre-wedding event, reserved for female friends and family of the bride and groom. It is first and foremost an opportunity to shower the bride with gifts, but can also include games or activities. Food and drinks are expected to be served, although they can be as casual or as formal as the bride prefers. However, the shower is not hosted by the bride, but rather by her mother and/or aunts. Some brides may also choose to have a second bridal shower, for their younger friends, hosted by the maid of honor.

  • Choose a host
  • Pick a date
  • Create a guest list
  • Select a venue
  • Pick a theme
  • Send invitations (include your gift registry)
  • Create a menu 
  • Plan activities & games
  • Purchase decor

Rehearsal Dinner

The last pre-wedding event before the big day, the rehearsal dinner, is a formal event. It directly follows a run-through of the wedding hosted at the venue and usually takes place at a local restaurant. It is traditionally hosted and paid for by the parents of the groom, although the bride and groom still decide on the details. This includes the location, menu, and guests. Some couples may also use this time to make toasts, thanking family and friends in attendance who were integral during the wedding planning process.

  • Designate a host
  • Find a venue
  • Choose a menu
  • Create a guest list
  • Send invitations
  • Enlist people for toasts
  • Purchase decor
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