Let’s talk about bridal shower games. In theory, they’re fun. You’re drinking mimosas, celebrating love, and you probably have an excuse to wear some super-extra, lacy “The Ladies Who Lunch” ensemble, which, honestly, we don’t get enough in this day and age. Win-win-win, right?
Then why do I find myself trying to hide out under the punch table whenever it strikes bridal shower game-time o’clock?
The problem isn’t that I’m an anti-bridal shower game Scrooge, but more that I—and mostly everyone else—can’t quite manage to muster up a huge surge of excitement for, like, wrapping my friends in toilet paper “wedding dresses”. Or playing innuendo-laced word games about the honeymoon. Or participating in some torturous “relay race” that involves grabbing marshmallows out of trail mix with chopsticks. (It’s a thing. And it’s terrible.)
But we can do better. So we asked around, for some of the best advice and actual games out there. According to Stacy Davidowitz, author, teacher, and former director at Tyler Hill Camp who has lead hundreds of games in the course of her career, it’s best to “keep it simple. Large groups and too many rules are a recipe for disaster. Be prepared to adjust the game and its length in the moment depending on the crowd and their energy. And prizes are always a fun incentive!”
Jess Rutherford of Sentimental Fools, an event design and planning firm in Baltimore advises to know your crowd: “Bridal shower games can be a blast or a tedious chore depending on the bride or the game.” So don’t feel too much pressure to play games! As Jess says, “We LOVE the trend of performers or an activity replacing the need for games. Having a manicurist, drag queens, yoga instructors, or even a braid bar are such a fun way to keep your guests entertained.” So don’t be afraid to consider alternatives.
But maybe you are planning a shower, and bridal shower games have been requested, but you don’t want… you know… awful ones. Well, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few bridal shower game ideas we’ll all actually get excited about playing. Consider these games worthy of that “The Ladies Who Lunch” dress you finally got an excuse to wear.
Games You’ll Actually Want To Play
What it is: Okay, so the first of the bridal shower games requires a bit of prep, but if you’re a fellow lover of Taboo (everyone, right?), it’ll be worth it. It’s a bit like charades, but with words instead of actions, which means lots of shouting and a fast pace. Our twists? Creating your own cue cards that relate to the couple so the game has an element of how much players know the couple. If you know that the couple had their first date at the movies seeing Mad Max: Fury Road, you’ll know to look for it in the cue cards.
Rules: A team member will draw a card with a word or phrase on it, and then try to get their teammate to shout out the word without saying the word/phrase or any of the common “no-go” words also listed on the card. For example: The phrase is Mad Max: Fury Road and the no-go words are Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Australia, Science Fiction, or Apocalyptic.
Prep: You’ll have to make up some cue cards and print them out, but it’s easy, we promise. Try favorite restaurants, a honeymoon destination, or past date spots.
Pros: It’s lively enough to get the energy flowing, but it’s also not a huge commitment. You can stop any time it starts to feel tedious.
Couple or Celeb, Baby Picture Version
What it is: Photo games in which players guess the age of the couple in old baby pictures are big bridal shower game go-to, but we think we can jazz things up a bit. Instead of guessing ages, pick infant-aged photos of the couple and wedding party members and pair them up with infant photos of celebrities they resemble. And, voila, you have: The “Celeb or Wedding Party Member?” game. Another twist: Use a bunch of kid pics of the couple’s favorite celebs and have players guess who they are, again making it into a “how well do you know the couple” type of premise.
Prep: Okay, this will mean you need to spend time asking the couple’s parents for baby pics and digging up celebrity baby pics on the internet—which actually sounds like a great time, though, so score?
Pros: It’s a reason to hunt down baby pictures of Beyoncé, talk about how much the bride loves Alanis Morissette, point out the groom’s eerie resemblance to a young Clark Gable, or a chance to show off the couple’s obsession with Ali Wong’s stand-up.
PasS the Present: Love Songs
What it is: As a kid, we had a rotating repertoire of games at our birthday parties, but one was always on the itinerary, no matter the theme or age: Pass the present. You can make it bridal shower game-worthy by playing funny or upbeat love songs, or songs the couple has loved or loves, and will make players giggle. (Britney always kills it.)
Rules: Players pass a wrapped gift around a circle while music plays. When the music stops suddenly, whoever has the present, gets to open it. Within each wrapping, they’ll find a small gift—and another wrapped present, which gets passed around to music until the last round, which holds the best gift.
Prep: You’ll need to source presents of varying sizes and then wrap them up within each other, matryoshka style. Then, make a playlist of songs. Assign someone to music-stopping duty and you’re done.
Pros: First of all, presents are always fun. Second, sometimes you need a break from all that competition and hard work and want a game that’s a bit more chill.
Wedding Human Bingo
What it is: Does a bridal shower even exist without some type of bingo? This human version of bingo is an oft-used option at team-building workshops, which sounds maybe awful, but actually—honestly!—is a great way to get people who may not know each other mingling and breaking the ice.
Rules: Instead of filling your bingo sheet with numbers, fill it with characteristics of other party members—that relate to the bride, or the wedding, of course. Guests need to get signatures of people who have those characteristics. They could be anything from “someone who speaks French” when the honeymoon is in Paris, to “the bride’s family member” to “someone who loves corn dogs,” the groom’s favorite food.
Prep: You’ll need to create and print the bingo cards, and do a little research on how to tie things back to the couple. Don’t forget enough pens for everyone to have one!
Pros: This one is pretty easy to explain, since everyone has played some sort of bingo before. And the prep is pretty minimal!
Sonnet scavenger hunt
What is it: We’re a sucker for quests, so this is one of those bridal shower games that holds a special place in our hearts. Make a custom scavenger hunt, with clues relating to the couple or weddings, all written in verse. (Bonus points if they’re all sonnets.)
Rules: Divide the group into two teams, and give them the first rhyme or clue, which will lead to a spot where they’ll find the next clue, and so on. Whoever gets to the end “prize” (we suggest Ring Pops) wins. For example: perhaps the clue alludes to wedding cakes and where they come from, making references to the bride’s flavor choice. The next clue will be found in the oven.
Prep: Okay, kind of a lot. You’ll need to write the rhymes and come up with the hiding places and final object, which is a lot of work but will seriously impress the crap out of your guests.
What it is: This is a wedding twist on the game Mafia, which isn’t yet a thing (call me, Hasbro), but I’m making it one now because Mafia is hella fun and I’ll take any excuse to play it. This role play game (read: no prep needed) of deception, mystery, and revelations (!) normally involves a moderator who designates part of the group to be mafiosos and part of the group to be innocents. Instead, we go with The Betrothed and Wedding Crashers. So clever, we know!
Rules: First, select a moderator. Then, everyone gets their designation as either Wedding Crasher or Betrothed by drawing cards (or straws, or however is easiest) secretly. Everyone closes their eyes. The officiant alerts all the Crashers to identify themselves to each other silently, and to pick a Betrothed’s wedding to crash. Then, everyone opens their eyes and the moderator announces whose wedding has been crashed. Players can then accuse anyone of being a Crasher and a vote is put to the group as whether or not to “throw out” that person. Rounds continue until the Crashers are eliminated or until they take over the party by majority.
Pros: No prep needed for this game, plus suspicion and mystery make for great game play.
Bridal Shower Grog
What it is: This is less a game and more an excuse to get silly and tipsy. Real story: I had a grog-inspired activity at my wedding, and it was great.
Rules: In the military, there is a gag tradition at dinners and events called a grog ceremony, where liquors are ceremoniously added to a punch bowl, with each liquor representing something about the unit or troop (“Red wine for our time in France in World War II!” “Sake for our service in the Pacific Theatre!”) and then everyone toasts with it. It often gets a bit gross—but that’s the fun of it. At ours, the members of our wedding party each added one ingredient to the bowl, and gave a mini speech as to how that ingredient represented love, marriage, or their relationship with us, the couple. While we cheated, using a predetermined punch recipe for our wedding and asking people to make the metaphor work, you could also stick with the hodgepodge juice approach for the bridal shower.
Prep: Ask all the guests at the party to bring a lil something to contribute to the punch bowl, along with an explanation as to how it represents their relationship to the couple. (Note: A very little something, depending on how many guests you have.) Then, everyone toasts the couple! Some ingredient ideas: Champagne, because the bride’s got a bubbly personality. Aperol, because the honeymoon is in Milan. Kombucha, because the couple brews their own. Strawberries, because they’re an aphrodisiac.
Pros: Shared hardships, like drinking from a tub of unidentifiable booze together, bonds people. Also, who doesn’t like to play with their food (and drink!)? This puts a whole new twist on bridal shower games, for sure.
Bridal Shower… craft-A-Thon
What it is: It’s not quite a game, but we like to live on the edge… on the edge of a craft store, that is! Tapping into those creative juices with your people is a really fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Bonus points: Guests may end up leaving the event with a little something they shaped from their own two hands. It could be anything from decoupaging teacups with brightly colored tissue paper, to indigo-dying tea towels, to decorating cookies (surprisingly relaxing!!), to making (of course) flower crowns, which I’m always trying to find an excuse to do.
Prep: The best part about craft parties is definitely having all the tools and materials at your fingertips so you’re free to let your creativity blossom—and sip champagne. (No hunting through hodgepodge drawers for your pair of scissors or that damn glitter glue you bought last summer.) Make sure everyone has a base (whether that be a teacup, blank tea towel, cookie, or wire for their flower crown base) and tools (frosting tips, glue, gloves, floral tape), then provide a variety of different crafting options that will ensure each guest’s creation is different—such as many colors of sprinkles or frosting, many shades and patterns of tissue paper, or many types of greens or flowers. You don’t want every guest’s masterpiece to end up looking the same due to limited resources!
Pros: You’re making something together, which is, like, beautiful, guys. Also, it’s fun, and you don’t have to worry about about a) everyone getting bored halfway through, and b) cousin Linda getting into one of her crazy, scary-ass competitive fits during a game. Typical Linda.
Shower Games from APW Readers
Plus, because the gaming never ends (cue “woooo!”s) here are some ideas we couldn’t resist, culled from our comments section. Because for real, y’all are a good ideas goldmine.
Photo reveal: Do You Get The Groom or Idris Elba?
“One of the really cheesy games we played was to have every guest pick a random envelope. Each envelope had a picture of either a celebrity, royalty, my mom’s dog etc., or of the groom. Whoever got the groom got a small prize. Everyone got a kick out of being able to take home pics of Humphrey Bogart, Idris Elba, or Prince Harry. Easy to set up and really funny.”
Who named the cat fluffernutter?
“We planned just one game—it was that one where you have a bunch of statements and people circle either the bride or groom. We came up goofy questions. For example, who ends up with more food on their face at the end of meal? Who named the cat Fluffernutter?”
not a game, but—scrapbooking!—so, win
“My favorite shower activity is a scrapbook. I saw it at a friend’s shower, borrowed the idea for a shower I was hosting, and someone from that shower told me she did it at one she hosted! Set up a scrapbook station, with pages (that can be made separately and then inserted into one book), pens, and other scrapbooking things (stickers, washi tape, etc.). Instax cameras are great, because people can take pictures at the shower and include them in the book. But it can really be as simple or complicated as you want! It’s a good way for people who don’t know others or don’t want to socialize to sneak away for a moment, or it can be a fun group activity for all the cousins to make a page together. Plus the bride gets a really nice keepsake!”
Lay it on us. What are your favorite Bridal Shower Games, and what are the actual worst?