April Showers Bring May Flowers…Or Just Presents: Bridal Showers
At first I thought it would be silly to write a post about bridal showers, because it’s not like you throw one for yourself, but considering whoever may throw you one will probably ask you questions about what you want it to be like I figure it’s probably good to touch on.
First things first, you don’t throw yourself a shower. It sounds very gift grabby. Traditionally, for that same reason the mother of the bride was also forbidden from throwing the shower, but that rule seems to be falling to the wayside a little (afterall, it was originally a faux pas because the shower was meant to provide enough gifts for the dowry in the event the family couldn’t afford it themselves; the bride and groom didn’t actually get to keep the presents!). Because people are moving about the country more, sometimes for the sake of ease and location it makes more sense for the mothers or aunts to throw the shower, and it’s less frowned upon than back in the day. It still varies a bit by social circle, but Emily Post won’t spin in her grave over it.
If someone offers to throw you a shower, say thank you! As common as they are, they aren’t required, so the fact that someone wants to go through the effort of planning something like that for you in a testament to how much you mean to them. There are two schools of thought to planning showers: talk to the bride and don’t talk to the bride. Some people think that since the shower is for her, it should be what she wants, so they’ll ask for ideas or if you want a theme, so on and so forth. Other people think that since the shower is for her, she shouldn’t worry about it whatsoever, they’ll plan the whole thing, and she just needs to show up. You don’t really get a say in which way it goes. If they want your opinion, they’ll ask for it. The only involvement you need to have in that case is with the guest list, and here’s why…
With the exception of showers thrown by work, church, or other organized groups like that, only people who will be invited to the wedding can be invited to a shower (I’ll go over the exceptions in a minute). The point of a shower is to give the bride gifts, so inviting someone to the shower that won’t be invited to the wedding is like going up to them and saying “I like you enough that you can buy me stuff, but I don’t actually like you enough to have you actually see me get married”. I know some people really want small weddings and are keeping their guest lists small, but even if you would invite that person if you had more room at the wedding that still doesn’t mean you can ask them to come to a shower. It’s the tradeoff you make in having a small wedding.
The reason organized groups like work or church friends are excused is because those are planned by that group without absolutely any input from you as far as guest lists go. A group like that is aware they may not be coming to the wedding, but feel they want to have a shower for you as a beloved coworker/church member/etc. If you can invite them all, awesome, but this is the one area where it is not expected. If you are still uncomfortable with the idea, or afraid there may be confusion on the wedding/shower invitation front, talk to the person organizing the party. Of course, if it’s a total surprise and you didn’t even know they were planning one, then you’re off the hook completely. To reiterate: if the group is throwing you a shower, you don’t have to invite them to the wedding; if any of those people are invited to the “regular” shower, they do need to be invited to the wedding.
There’s a wide variety to the types of showers that are thrown. They range from full catered affairs in a hall to snack foods in someone’s living room. They can have themes, games, be a nice party where you wear dresses, or be a night-time gathering in your pajamas. What type of shower you want (if you get a choice) depends really on your social circle and personal preferences.
At the shower, have someone help you keep track of what gifts you receive and who they’re from. This is usually the MOH, but it can be anyone. Items should be written down as they’re opened, just to streamline the process and to make sure nothing is missed (I was at a shower once where the “oh I’m sure we’ll figure it out later” method was used…and it was not pretty when the bride tried to make the list later). Thank you notes should go out within 2 weeks (unless you’re within 2 weeks of the wedding, in which case the wedding thank you note time rules apply, but seriously try to get them out anyway). Thank you notes should also be signed only by you, unless you had a “non-traditional shower” where your fiancé was present. If your fiancé isn’t there, even though they are wedding presents, they are technically presents for you just by nature of the event, so you alone are responsible for thanking the gift giver. Of course, feel free to mention your spouse-to-be in the note (Tim and I can’t wait to break in the waffle iron!).
Any gifts you receive related to the wedding (shower, engagement, etc) should not be used until after the wedding, regardless of when they are received. The exception being if the gift is specifically intended for use with the wedding (like if you are gifted a veil). Outside of that, everything should be opened long enough to make sure it is not broken and contains all the necessary parts, then put aside until after your nuptials.
Has someone offered to throw you a shower? Are they asking for your input, sharing details, or are you in the dark? If you already had a shower, make those questions past tense 🙂