By Debbie Miller with Sunshine Events by Debbie

Before your big day, there will be many opportunities to celebrate. But don’t get overwhelmed! Stay focused on your wedding day and let your friends and family take the lead on all the other events. Of course, you can guide them, but save the stress for the wedding day planning!

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Engagement Party
This is usually held once a date has been selected and is a great opportunity for your families to come together and start getting acquainted. Traditionally this can be a smaller intimate party thrown by the parents of the bride or groom. However, this can also be thrown by another family member or friends. Guests usually consist of the wedding party, families, and close friends of the couple. Although personal gifts can be received at these functions, it is less common.

The Bridal Shower
Traditionally it can be done 2-6 months before your wedding and is hosted by a friend or relative. Your guests usually consist of close female family members and friends. Although proper etiquette states that the bride’s immediate family is not a host, this rule is often overlooked. It is becoming acceptable for moms, sisters or other close family members to throw these parties. It is also not uncommon to have multiple showers. In addition to the traditional bridal shower, you could also have a couple’s shower where both the bride and groom are celebrated by both male and female attendees. Work colleagues are also getting into the festivities and throwing showers.

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The Bachelorette Party
The best time to have this party is 1-3 months prior to the wedding, and it is thrown by the Maid/Matron of Honor. All bridesmaids are expected to contribute and attend. Only the closest of friends attend this event and it can be a dinner, cocktail party, or a weekend getaway. Use this as a time to have fun and forget the stress of wedding planning. This party is designed around the bride and should reflect her. Keep in mind that some brides are completely happy with a simple girls’ night out and some want the wild Vegas weekend!

Bachelor Party
This is typically done 1-3 months prior to the wedding and hosted by the Best Man. All groomsmen are expected to contribute and attend. Only the closest of friends attend this event. Bachelor parties have come a long way! It is very common and acceptable to have a respectful celebration of the groom without demeaning festivities. Many choose a sporting event, camping, or fishing trip opposed to the Hollywood version of the bachelor party. Whatever you decide, this event is designed around the groom and should reflect him.

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The rehearsal is usually held the night before the wedding but can be a couple of days sooner than that. It is attended by all family members and friends that have a role in the wedding and gives them the opportunity to practice their roles. Most important, turn off social media! Make sure everyone is aware that this is a no camera zone!

Rehearsal Dinner
The rehearsal dinner is typically hosted by the parents of the groom and is attended by everyone from the rehearsal and is held directly after. It is also common to invite any guest that has come from out of town. This can be as simple as a backyard cookout, catered meal in your clubhouse or a fancy night out at your favorite restaurant. Keep in mind that the party should reflect the couple. During the dinner, the couple gives the wedding party and parents a gift to thank them for all their help. This is also a great time for speeches and toasts.

Sunshine Events by Debbie Engaged Richmond Weddings
Virginia Ashley Photography

Wedding Day Breakfast and Lunch
This is something the bride or groom should plan. Your wedding will be a long day and although you may not be hungry, your bridesmaids and groomsmen will want to eat! Be prepared to feed your bridal party throughout the day. Make sure you have several options from light offerings such as fruit and veggies to a heavier option such as subs. You can also go a step further and meet for a sit-down breakfast at your favorite morning spot or have lunch catered while everyone is getting ready. You don’t want to get too full, but you will want to eat. Enjoy this final party with your closest family and friends prior to your walk down the aisle.

You have a lot of celebrating to do leading up to your wedding day! Keep in mind that you do not invite guests to any of these festivities unless they are invited to the wedding. Of course, this does not apply to a shower thrown by your colleagues at work. Also, be sure to send a personalized thank you note to anyone that brings you a gift to any of these events.

Debbie Miller is the Owner of Sunshine Events by Debbie, a full-service wedding and event planning company. To learn more, please visit