When we first got engaged my father gave me Miss Manners: On Weddings (a book I’ve previously recommended as being indispensable). While the book is not, by and large, written for the bride, it does open with a list called “Things A Bride Need Not Trouble Her Pretty Head About.” Trust me, this list gets more hilarious and informative the farther into the planning process I get. The very first item on this list is this:
“Do not worry about who is going to give you a shower. The shower is a lighthearted nonessential element of and engagement (as opposed to, say, the fiancé, who is essential and whose heart should be fixed at this point). In any case, it is voluntary on the part of the bride’s friends. They either throw one or they don’t, but she can’t demand one.”
As soon as I read this, I thought to myself, “Oh, well, that’s some advice I can get on board with.” As far as I was concerned, the last thing I needed was other parties to stress about. So, I promptly forgot all about bridal showers. I’d never been to one anyway (have I mentioned that our rather avant-garde, overly-educated friends are not currently the marring types?) So, I had nothing much to obsess about.
It’s funny how the moment you (finally) totally let go of all our preconceptions in the wedding planning process* things just fall into place. So, as soon as I’d completely forgotten about bridal showers, I of course promptly had two. The first shower was this weekend, and it was thrown for a few of my east coast friends by a dear friend from college in New York City. When she decided to throw the party, she asked me what I wanted my “theme” to be for the gifts. My eyes went wide with panic. I’m not so good with registries, so the idea for picking a theme for gifts felt totally beyond me. My friend helped me sort through the options: Did I want gift cards? (No, I did not. It felt like asking for cash, and many of our friends are poor/in grad school) Did I want things from my registry? (No, I did not. We don’t really have a registry yet.) Did I want gifts themed by hours of the day? (No! Did I mention our friends are avant-garde artists?) So after much thought, we decided that what I did want was books – lots and lots of books. Books were perfect for me because 1) I can’t own enough of them 2) They come at lots of different price points and 3) My friend throwing the shower happens to be a super-talented book editor.
So. There we were. A book shower. I was pleased, but I still didn’t have much in the way of expectations. I bought plane tickets and a new shirt. The day of the shower I tried to get my hair to lie down nice and flat. Then, David and I rushed out of the party-throwers way, and ran off to a huge demonstration for gay marriage rights**.
By the time we got back to the apartment, I was shocked: a giant cheese-ball had been made from scratch, Deviled Eggs had taken over the counter space, a pink cake had been procured from Magnolia bakery, rose petals and tiny silver wedding bells had be-strewn every surface of the house, champagne was being handed out, and there were piles of craftily wrapped presents.
The shower itself was an absolute delight. Friends from every part of my New York life all showed up at one apartment. Almost no one knew each other, but everyone seemed delighted to be there. We all drank, we told stories, we admired the enormous cheese ball. Three or four people said they’d never been to a wedding shower before. We all pondered if we should do something silly or embarrassing. Should I sit on a big chair? Should we make something out of toilet paper? We decided no, maybe we should just have another drink and talk some more. Then we got to the presents. I’m not sure I’ve ever had more fun opening presents. Even though almost no one properly recorded their purchases in the registry, I didn’t get a single double book. Everyone bought something that reminded me particularly of them. Cookbooks, political science books, novels, coffee table books, all there. Then we had cake, and more champagne. And is if all that wasn’t enough, my dear friend passed on special candy bars to everyone with our initials, our engagement date, and our wedding date. And then we all trooped out into the fall night to meet all of David’s friends at a dive bar.
What’s the lesson of all this, other then showers can be loads of fun? Well for me it was, when you relax, and stop caring about what your style is, or what your wedding philosophy is, and just let people do what they want to do, they will help you celebrate your wedding in ways you never would have imagined. So just let it all go a little bit. Trust your friends and family, get rid of your expectations, and enjoy the ride. People love you more than you know.
*Desaray wrote an excellent post about just letting go in ceremony planning over at Dingmoonment.
**hint: start your wedding parties by doing something good for the world. It will make you feel grateful and happy.
Photos: The invite!, crafty present by my crafty friend Lauren who also took the photo, some of the books I received