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A bridal shower is a party to outfit the engaged couple's new home. It also allows friends and family a chance to spend time with the bride before she starts her married life.

WHO MAY HOST?
Friends of the bride who are in the wedding party, another couple, or even a male friend may host the shower. The bride's mother, sisters, or close relatives of the groom's usually don't do the hosting, to avoid the appearance of asking for gifts. They may help finance or help organize, however.

WHO IS INVITED?
Usually, only those who will be invited to the wedding, with the exception of office or club showers. Traditional all-women showers include guests from the bride's and groom's families, but co-ed showers are becoming more popular as well.

WHEN IS IT HELD?
At least two weeks before the wedding. Mail invitations or call guests at least two weeks in advance of the shower date. A post-wedding shower may even be more convenient for some, and is also acceptable.

WHAT HAPPENS?
Gifts are the primary focus. Be sure to have someone on hand to help record gifts (for thank you notes). Ribbons and bows may be collected for practice bouquets for the rehearsal ceremony. Themes make the party special, and can vary from a honeymoon theme, gardening, cooking, movies, patio party, picnic, or hobby themes.