The days leading up to the wedding are packed full of planning, details, and parties. One of the festivities on the agenda can be the bridesmaids' luncheon. Figure out the basics, set your day's agenda, and follow bridesmaids' luncheon etiquette to ensure a successful event.
Basics of Bridesmaids' Luncheons
The host of the event can swing either way. The bride can host the luncheon in honor of her bridesmaids. On the flip side, the bridesmaids can choose to host the luncheon in honor of the bride.
No matter who is doing the hosting, however, a few basics must be decided before the fun can be had by all.
When to Hold the Luncheon
A bridesmaids' luncheon is an event typically held prior to the wedding day. It is an optional, not required event. It is a luncheon that allows the bride and her bridesmaids to enjoy a quiet lunch together during the whirlwind of everything else that is happening the week of the wedding.
Generally, the luncheon is held the week of the wedding - the most popular day being the day before the wedding. You can, however, host the event earlier, if you choose. Additionally, the luncheon doesn't have to be a luncheon at all. It can be a brunch or even a dinner, held during whatever time of day you desire.
Guests to Invite
The obvious guests are the bride and the bridesmaids. The bride's mother and future mother-in-law are also invited. The flower girl and junior bridesmaids can also be in attendance with their mothers. Special "girls" of honor, like the groom's sister, grandmother, or other VIPs in your wedding party can also be invited guests.
Although modern traditions might allow for the "boys" to attend the event, traditionally, it is a "girls only" event.
Invitations and Formality
Invited guests should receive a luncheon invitation. You can coordinate the theme of the invitation and its level of formality (or informality) with that of the luncheon.
How formal or informal the event is up to the host(s). Just because the wedding is formal does not dictate that the luncheon has to be formal, or vice versa. The luncheon is its own event, so can carry its own formality and theme that is similar to or different from the wedding.
Venues for bridal luncheons can really run the gamut, depending on formality, budget, and desires of the bride and bridesmaids.
- You can host it at your own home or rent an estate home for the event.
- You can host it at a restaurant or café.
- You can rent a room at a banquet hall or hotel.
The venue you choose should coordinate with how formal or casual the theme of the event is, which is totally up to you.
The Luncheon Agenda
The primary item on the agenda is to eat, drink, and have fun. Typically, a meal is served-be it lunch or dinner. Cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks can be enjoyed while the "girls" chat, laugh, and have a good time.
It is tradition for the bride to give a speech at the luncheon. She should thank her bridesmaids and to her guests of honor for their hard work and support during the planning process.
Gifts to Give and Receive
Gifts are also on the agenda. The bride can use the opportunity to present her bridesmaids with their bridesmaids' gifts. The bridesmaids may chip in on a gift to present to the bride on the day of the luncheon too.
Details for the Day
While get-togethers can be simple events, there are a few details to consider when it comes to food, decorations, and favors.
- Traditional lunch fare - You can opt for finger sandwiches, fresh fruit, salad, and pastries.
- Full meal - Opt for chicken, beef, or fish with sides, and green or pasta salads served prior to the main meal. You can also opt for appetizers prior to the salad course.
Cake or other desserts can round out the luncheon, regardless of the main course and side dishes.
Decorations can depend on the venue and the theme of the event. A restaurant affair or one in a hotel banquet room might not require more than the tables, chairs, and linens. If the event has a theme, such as spring garden or tea time, then you can decorate accordingly.
- A spring mix of flowers in a vase can make for the perfect centerpiece.
- Lace doilies below the flowers can add elegance.
- Flower garlands can adorn tables and the perimeters of the room.
- Use matching tea cups and teapots set onto serving trays to decorate the tables and double as the tableware necessary for "tea time."
Send guests home with a trinket from the day. These can be similar to bridal shower favors. For a garden party, send them home with a packet of seeds and small garden tools. For a tea time party, send them home with their tea cup, saucer, and tea bag.
Bridesmaids' Luncheon Etiquette
Etiquette is something that covers all areas of the luncheon.
Host and Payments
Generally, according to etiquette expert Emily Post, the host and who pays for the event depends on the part of the country where the event is taking place. In some areas, it is the bride and her family that hosts and pays for the event for her bridesmaids. Traditionally, however, she states that it is the maid of honor, along with the bridesmaids, who host and pay for the event.
Post also states the luncheon is a good time for the bride to give her attendants their gifts for being part of the bridal party, but it is not required. According to etiquette, other gift exchanges are not required or expected.
The bride, however, may wish to gift a special gift to other attendees, such as the mothers and grandmothers, if they are in attendance.
Guest List Etiquette
Post shares that etiquette only requires that the bridesmaids, mothers, and flower girl, along with the flower girl's mother are invited to the luncheon. Modern brides, however, can choose to add additional women to the celebration.
If for some reason, a bridesmaid or member of the bridal party is not in town and cannot attend, it is fine. Luncheons are not one of the wedding's mandatory events, according to Martha Stewart. Otherwise, it is one of the duties of the bridesmaids and female bridal party members to attend if possible.
Ladies Who Lunch
The bridesmaids' luncheon is a nice way for the bride to spend time with her gal pals in the days leading up to her big day. It's also one of the few events that the bride has to show her appreciation for her bridesmaids during the wedding planning process.