Baby Shower Invitation Etiquette
Traditionally, a baby shower is a "women only" affair held
in honor of the mother-to-be. Today, however, baby showers for the expectant
couple are gaining popularity and it is quite acceptable to include the father
and his male friends.
So who should host the shower? The answer to that
question has evolved as well. Etiquette used to dictate that the "proper"
host(s) for a shower be a female friend or a group of female friends who
weren't immediately related to the couple. Today, it has become more common and
acceptable for sisters, mothers, mother-in-laws, or other family members
– anyone besides the couple themselves - to hold a baby shower.
The first thing you should do as a host is set a date and
time for the shower. Begin by asking the guest(s) of honor at least two to
three months before the baby's due date about available dates. Because the
weeks prior to and immediately after the baby's birth are often hectic and
because some people are superstitious about accepting gifts before birth, ask
her whether she'd prefer a shower before or after the baby's born. If the
mother-to-be prefers a shower before birth, target a date four to six weeks
before the baby is due. This time frame provides a good cushion in case the
baby arrives early and allows her sufficient time before the baby comes to shop
for items she didn't receive at the shower.
If the guest of honor prefers a post-partum shower
(sometimes called a "welcoming shower"), target a date one to two months after
the birth. The advantage of this timing is that it allows guests to buy
gender-specific gifts since some parents may choose not to learn or make public
the baby's sex before the baby arrives. This option also allows out-of-towners
to meet the newborn as well as shower the parents with gifts in one single trip.
Speaking of guests, who should actually be invited? It's
best to consult with the mother-to-be to make sure no one is left out. If the
shower is for a second or subsequent baby (every baby should be celebrated!),
you may want to invite only close friends and family members or those who have
not attended previous showers. If you're planning a surprise shower, the
couple's parents or close friends can usually furnish a list of appropriate
The size of the guest list, along with the theme of the shower
and your budget, will influence the location for the baby shower. While showers
are normally held in the home of the hostess, some other venues to consider are
restaurants, clubs, banquet halls, day spas, and bed-and-breakfasts. Find a
place that creates the right ambiance for the celebration or that offers
activities your guests will enjoy.
With the date, time, location, and guest list completed,
it's now time to spread the word with custom printed invitations.
If you have a small guest list, you can invite guests via phone or email, but custom invites are still the preferred way to kick off a shower. Custom invitations allow you to set the tone and theme for the party. They also serve
as a nice keepsake for the baby's scrapbook, not to mention a handy reminder
for the guests to keep on their refrigerators. Ideally, the invitations should
be mailed three weeks (two weeks at the minimum) before the shower date.
Wording for a baby shower invite can take many
forms, but they essentially contain the same basic information: date, time,
location (including directions and map) of the shower; name(s) of the expectant
parent(s); your name, address, and phone number; theme information; and
R.S.V.P. information. How the information is composed on the invitation depends
on how formal you want the shower to be. An invitation with a formal
composition is presented below, followed by the same invitation with an
informal composition. However, you should not feel restricted to these wordings
or formats. Additional examples can be seen in our Wording Ideas for Baby Shower Invitations.
Susan Marie Nelson
requests the pleasure
of your company
at a baby shower in
Rebecca Seymour Quinn
Tuesday, the seventh of
at two o'clock in the
145 Park Street
You're invited to a
baby shower for
145 Park Street
Abbreviations should be avoided for invitations with a
formal composition. The date and time, in particular, should be spelled out. For invitations with an informal composition, the format is looser allowing for
numeric forms of the day and time, although the month is usually written out.
You may add "a.m." or "p.m." to the time if there might be confusion as to the
time of day. It is also acceptable to specify an end time (e.g., "2:00 –
4:00 p.m.") if time is an issue. With either a formal or informal invitation, the year can be left
out unless it falls on New Year's Day.
Formal shower invitations usually use the full
names of the host(s) and expectant parent(s). Informal invitations may use only
the first and last names unless all the guests know each other by first names.
If there is more than one host, list the names alphabetically. If the shower is
being held at the home of one of the hosts, her name appears first followed by the
others in alphabetical order.
How an address appears on an invitation is
usually determine by how familiar the guests are to the location of the shower. If all the guests are from the same city, the invitation need only
include the street. The city can be added if some guests will be coming from
other cities. The state can be excluded unless there are out-of-state guests.
Zip codes can be safely omitted.
Maps and directions to the shower location can be printed on
the back side (or front side if there is room) of informal invitations. They
can also be included as inserts on more formal invitations. If maps and
directions are provided, it is not necessary to include the address in the main
body of the invitation.
It is recommended, but not mandatory, to have R.S.V.P.
information on the invitation. "R.S.V.P." is short for the French
"respondez s'il vous plait" which translates to "please respond".
Specify "R.S.V.P." if you want the guests to notify you whether they'll be
attending. Use "Regrets only" when you want guests to respond only if they
won't be attending, which may be an appropriate request for larger parties. You
should also give a deadline for the response (e.g., "R.S.V.P. by [date]"). If
you feel some guests may be unfamiliar with the terms "R.S.V.P." or "Regrets
only", then by all means use more direct language such as "Please reply" or
"The favor of your reply is requested". The R.S.V.P. line usually appears at
the bottom of the invitation.
Lastly, if the expectant couple has a gift registry, it's
fine to mention it (e.g., "Rebecca has completed a registry at [place]")
since a baby shower implies "showering with gifts". However, it is often more
tasteful to offer that information when, and if, the guests ask.
Please note that all content on this website is copyrighted and cannot be reprinted or posted without written permission.