As a bit of an Etiquette Snob, let me set the record straight… because this is one area where there is a lot of misinformation.
When it comes to Wedding Showers, as mypinkshoes: has said, Showers are ALWAYS organized / hosted by someone who is a friend or relative of the Bride… and NEVER by the Bride herself.
It can be a SURPRISE SHOWER… or the Bride can be consulted in regards to the Guest List.
A Shower is traditionally a small event, held within the timeframe of 2 weeks to 2 months prior to the Wedding Ceremony. And ONLY close friends & family are invited… and as others have mentioned, it is IMPERATIVE that those who receive a Shower Invite are INVITED TO THE WEDDING (as a gift at a Shower is the norm)
There is NO OBLIGATION that a Shower for the Bride is an event to be attended by ALL FEMALE GUESTS… infact this recent trend is in itself “Gift Grabby”
However, there are exceptions when a Shower can go beyond the general rule of thumb of being for those who are ONLY closest Friends & Family… (and therefore the size of the event as well can be larger)
One… When the Wedding Ceremony is very small… (restricted to family members only) and perhaps there is no Reception. In this case a Couple may be given a Shower to which a wider group of friends could be invited. In this instance, the Shower taking the place of a Reception. These types of Showers, can be traditional Bridal Showers (for the Bride), but more often they are “Couples Showers” and the gifts reflective of a theme that can be enjoyed by the Newlyweds together (ie Backyard Shower – Camping Shower – Wine Shower etc)
Or, Secondly… IF it is a local custom that a Shower is thrown by those who know the Bride, and want to wish her well, even though they may not be invited to the Wedding. Such as the case of Co-Workers throwing a Shower, the Ladies of her Church Congregation, or some other “social” group to which the Bride is a member.
Sooo… in regards to the Question that the OP asked…
In the case of a Traditional / True Elopement, where a couple goes off to get married unbeknownst to anyone else, there would obviously be NO SHOWERS.
In the case of a Modern Elopement where the couple is “eloping” to a Destination Wedding… to have a small intimate wedding (alone or with just a few Guests) … then Showers are totally acceptable for the most part (see below)
— — —
In the situation where a couple is Eloping to a Destination Wedding, and planning a Back Home Reception afterwards upon their return (such as I am doing)… the Bride / Couple should they get an inclination that there could be a shower, should politely decline the offer (“Honesty this isn’t necessary… we are planning an event ourselves for everyone afterwards”) … but then again, just like a regular wedding, if this is to be a SURPRISE SHOWER… little can be done.
Generally speaking… SURPRISE SHOWERS… seem to always be acceptable no matter what the circumstance… well meaning friends… (and polite society, will not chastise friends when they make an etiquette faux pas)
Hope this helps,
* ALL INFO ABOVE paraphrased from Peggy Post’s *Wedding Etiquette* book