Post # 1
Long time reader, still new at posting, and back again for another bridal shower question!
Short Version: What is the proper etiquette and who picks up the check when it comes to hosting a bridal shower at a restaurant (in this case Tea Room) for ~15 people? Can you ask guests to pay for their own meal? I understand there might be different customs throughout the country, but in this case the bride is from the midwest and the mother in law is from Texas and they’re both very traditional.
Longer Version: I am in charge of co-planning a bridal shower with the other Maid/Matron of Honor. When I asked what would be an acceptable price range and budget, the co-MOH responded with “I don’t think it’s reasonable to request more than $30 per person especially since people are traveling.” I was under the impression that it wasn’t right to ask guests to pay for their seat when invited to a shower, period, and that the cost is usually split between the hosts. What has been you guys’ experience, and how would you respond to her message?
If it was at a house, I have no problem asking the bridesmaids to provide a dish and help decorate, but hosting a shower at a venue/restaurant is unchartered territory! I mean, that would definitely save me some money by requesting people to pay for their meal, but is that proper etiquette? How do I tell the other Maid/Matron of Honor in a nice way that I feel that it’s not appropriate thing to do? If it IS alright to do, what is a proper way to communicate this in the invitation? I dont feel right about it and I’m really embarassed to even ask, but I really want to get along with the other Maid/Matron of Honor and not step on anyone’s toes, while also just planning a really great afternoon for our best friend before her special day!
Thank you for your help, I definitely need it!!
Post # 2
You are correct. The host pays. It would exceptionally inappropriate to ask invited guests to cover their own costs. The one and only exception would have been if a larger group was co-hosting and planning together, which is not the case here.
This is true for any invitation, and certainly for an event that is by definition about giving gifts.
There’s nothing regional about this, By The Way. The principles of hospitality are universal. Host what you can afford.
ETA Showers are optional and hosting one is totally voluntary. You can’t invoice the rest of the bridal party no matter where the event is held.
Post # 3
I firmly think that if they are invited to a hosted event, guests shouldn’t be expected to pay anything more than their personal travel expenses. Especially in the context of a gift-giving event, I don’t think guests should have to shell out even more.
Post # 4
What weddingmaven said.
Have you and the other Maid/Matron of Honor asked the bridesmaids if they are interetsed in hosting the shower with the two of you? If so, you would be able to share the costs, but you would also need to let them have input into the planning.
If the two MOH’s are hosting, the two of you cover all expenses related to the shower. If you can’t afford to have it at a tea room, have it at an airbnb.
Post # 5
Yeah I believe since the etiquette is for guests to provide a gift, they shouldn’t be asked to pay for anything else.
A tea party would actually be VERY easy to do at someone’s house. Is it possible to host the event at her mother’s house, or her FMIL’s? If not I second the PP’s advice of renting an Airbnb and hosting the event there. All you need is a bunch of finger sandwiches, doilies, several types of tea, and cute china cups/plates. You’re set!
In all honesty, there are loads of blog entries or articles about high tea bridal showers hosted at home. Plenty of places to get inspiration.
Post # 6
The hosts pay, the guests do not.
Post # 7
I think it would not be wise to ask for guests to pay towards their meal. I also think that you should host what you and the other Maid/Matron of Honor can afford. If the bride wants something in particular that is over budget then they can take their expectations down a notch or put in from their own pocket.
Have you thought if hosting a high tea at someone’s home or at a pavilion in a park. A few nice decorations and some finger sandwiches, scones, tea cakes etc on lovely platters and some cheap old fashioned floral tea cups from a second hand/antiques store could be a lovely but cheaper option.
If you do decide to go the pay your own way route for guests…
With hens nights/bachelorettes in Australia it is common to put the cost on the invites along with bank details. The guests transfer the cash into the nominated account, for the nominated activity. If you don’t pay, your place isn’t booked.
However the above method is generally never done for showers/kitchen teas here in Australia. These are always hosted by the brides family or bridesmaids. They are also home parties. The hens/bachelorette is the only time money is requested to pay for activities as a guest. The general rule is if you are expected to bring a gift to celebrate the event, you shouldn’t have to pay to attend….
Post # 8
I agree with PP’s-the hosts pay.
What if you did the shower on “off” hours? Like 1pm-4pm? As long as it’s not over a meal time, you could save costs by just providing appetizers instead of a whole meal. Just make sure the shower ends well before dinner time!!
Post # 9
Thank you all for your quick responses! I cannot tell you how grateful I am. It just didn’t feel right even considering the idea of having guests pay, so I was confused when she suggested the idea in the first place. Now to find a tactful way to communicate this to the co-MOH!
Post # 10
I do not think it’s right to ask a guest at a party to cover their own food. I feel if you’re hosting you’re resposible for picking up the tab.
I understand the bride wants a tea theme, so if you can’t afford to cover for everyone I wsould suggest trying to have it at someones homes. As a bride I would not want my BMs spending a ton of money on something like this. I think you could put together a lovely high tea at someones home, or even a small banquet hall(like at a church, hotel, or community center) for much less. Tea and finger foods are easy to DIY.
I think it really all boils down to what you and th other host are willing to spend. If somewhere is too expensive or you feel the price is unreasonable you have the right say so. Bridal showers are not required events, so I feel the price point should be on your terms.
Post # 11
Hosts pay, guests do not. This is why so many showers are held at home, with the hosts paying for catering, etc. You can’t ask the guests to pay for their meal. Tacky tacky tacky.
Post # 12
I have never been to a shower where the host(s) did not pay. I find it so bizarre that the other Maid/Matron of Honor thinks asking guests to pay is in any way appropriate. It sounds like she has never hosted an event like this before!
Post # 13
I have paid for hens functions but never for bridal or baby showers, because the expectation is that you bring a gift. I do not usually gift for hens nights, maybe something very small, but would not be offended at being asked to contribute to costs as they are usually held at restaurants or bars. I think hosting the bridal shower at someone’s home, setting a budget and working within that budget is the best idea.
Post # 14
Agreed with the others. However your OP reads like you and the other Maid/Matron of Honor are planning this party and then planning to basically tell the rest of the BMs, “hey you owe us $XXX” which is very inappropriate as well. If you want them to help host ask if they’d be interested in doing so. If they say yes ask them how much they can afford to contribute and plan something with that budget in mind.
Post # 15
sorry if it wasn’t clear. I am co hosting with the other maid of honor and had no intentions of asking the bridesmaids to contribute $$. When I asked the co host what a good budget was, her response was basically suggesting to have each person pay for their meal, which pretty much threw me for a loop, and made me question what is normal and appropriate – leading me to reach out to this community for help on how to approach this situation.