Ask Team Practical: Bridal Shower Survival


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Bridal Shower Survival | A Practical Wedding

We receive (too) many emails about the horror that can be the bridal shower. In fact, a post on Bridal Shower Survival has been our number one request recently. Why? Well, in talking it over with Meg, I called the bridal shower a “festival of obligations.” I think that’s why they’re so fraught. The guests feel obligated, the host feels obligated, even the guest of honor (as many of you know) feels obligated. There’s a felt responsibility to be adequately surprised (if that’s the schtick), to open all of your endless gifts in front of your guests and continue to be excited after the twelfth spatula set, and to make sure that all of the guests are enjoying themselves after the twelfth spatula set (even though that’s beyond your control).

The other tough piece about bridal showers is one of the harder lessons of adulthood, period: learning how to be nice, without doing anything that makes you uncomfortable. That’s pretty much the sum of how I expect you to act at your bridal shower, ladies. Be grateful, be nice, even get a smile on your face. But don’t feel pressured to take part in rituals, jokes, or whatever else you find offensive. Practice the art of the polite, “No, thank you.”

Don’t get me wrong! They’re not all terrible. And even painful showers can be endearing. After all, even if you don’t enjoy strained party conversation and tea sandwiches, you can usually appreciate that all of these people that love you have gathered together to honor you. Even if you, as the friend of the bride, aren’t gunning to sit in a crowd of strangers and play party games, you’re probably still genuinely excited for your friends and happy to help give them things to start their lives. That’s sort of nice, right?

Here are just a few of the many emails you guys sent in on the topic:

****

My parents are divorced and live in the same town. I’m not psyched about having a bridal shower, but I know my family wants one. I talked to my mom and she happily agreed to throw a low-key jack and jill bbq for both sides of my family to attend on a weekend that I’m back in town.

I was happy with the compromise but recently heard through the grapevine that my dad’s side of the family didn’t think this plan was “nice” enough and are throwing me a second surprise shower on the same weekend and inviting ALL of the same guests. I feel like this is terribly inconvenient for guests and makes me look like a present grubber.

How do I turn down a shower I’m not even supposed to know about without offending half my family?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

That sounds terrible. My first question is, “How did you find out?!” because if you could relay that information back in the same way you heard it, it could save everyone some grief. You wouldn’t have to cop to finding out about the surprise, but you could let it pass back through the grapevine that this is a TERRIBLE idea. (Really? The same guest list, guys?) Chances are that flat out approaching your family with an, “I heard about this and I don’t like it,” means trouble in two ways. Not only do you risk outing your information source, but you of course end up insulting their grand vision. If you stealthily pass the information along, at least you don’t get your tipster in trouble.

There’s a good chance you won’t be able to stop this terrible shower from happening. It sucks. But, realize that in their weird, backward way, your family is trying to love on you. Sure, family drama being what it is, it’s very possible that they’re trying to one-up the other side of the family or show the guests how fancy and classy they are. But even that might be rooted in some deep, deep down root of love for you, way deep down there.

Luckily, most smart shower guests realize that what happens at a shower isn’t up to the guest of honor. Anyone who puts two and two together will know that you’re not throwing either of these showers, so don’t be concerned about anyone thinking that you’re just scouting for more gifts. Besides, if I was invited to two showers for the same person, I’d take my originally planned gift and split it in half. Or, just bring a card the second time. And that’s if I even went to the second one! Your friends and family want you to feel supported and loved as you get ready for marriage. Most of them will know that this doesn’t necessitate attending every event, nor bringing a big old gift each time. This falls under the heading of “trust people to be adults.”

Those few snide old ladies who whisper behind their gloves about how greedy you are really are just looking for something interesting to talk about, anyway. Canasta and bingo only go so far.

*****

A couple of people (close friends, family, etc.) want to throw me a shower. To clarify, these people are from different social groups, so there would be no overlap on the guest list. Honestly, I’m excited by the idea of some of these showers, and scared by the idea of others. Do I have to accept all the showers? If not, how do I turn them down? If I accept, can I weigh in on what happens at the showers? What do I do if the showers come with gender expectations I’m not comfortable with, or hosts I don’t like?

Not Open To Having Any Number (of) Kooky Showers

Dear NO THANKS,

Kind of a terrific problem, isn’t it? Too many friends want to throw you too many parties? I need friends like this.

You can graciously and gratefully turn down a few of the showers if it seems like there will be more than you can handle (and really, more than three is just sort of ostentatious).  The easiest way might be to let friends know off the bat, before any parties are even discussed, that you’re hoping to keep pre-wedding festivities to a minimum. Simply telling friends that you really appreciate the thought, but would rather save everyone the stress might do the trick. You can offer to connect friends so that all social circles are included in one mega shower, but even that is probably unnecessary since it’s likely that you’ll get to approve the guest list and add anyone who was mistakenly forgotten.

As far as other specific expectations, you can gently offer those. In fact, the hope is that whoever is throwing the shower knows you well enough to know what’s up (ha! A bunch of other brides just laughed along with me, I promise), or cares about you enough to maybe ask for some input. Otherwise, remember that requests are nice. Demands are not. Because the thing about showers (like gifts and other things) is that they’re an aspect of the wedding that’s not all about you. Sure, it’s a party in your honor! But, this is one piece of the wedding where you’re not calling the shots. You get to just sit back and (gulp) enjoy what everyone is doing to honor your marriage. Sometimes you’ll be asked what you’d like or you’ll have the room to voice preferences, but if those preferences are ignored, sorry pal. Tough luck. This may be a party for you, but it’s not about you.

That holds true for most of the shower planning details. The one exception would be setting boundaries about anything that would make you feel uncomfortable.  I’m not talking about, “I prefer my luncheons to be served before the eleven o’clock hour,” (that’s why I eat two lunches, sweetie) but instead, “Please no strippers at any party in my honor.” See the difference there? It seems like a fine line (and I’m sure you guys are gonna let me have it in the comments), but there is a real difference between, “There must be pink napkins!” and “No pig roasts at the bridal shower for the vegan couple.” We’re talking grand scheme decisions here, not the minute details.

You’re hosting the wedding—you get to make your own decisions, big and small, according to your own whims and preferences, choosing when and how to cater to the desires of others. The specifics of the shower just aren’t your call. We could debate about whether or not it’s rude for your host(ess) to ignore your request (it probably is), but there’s not too much we can do about that except figure out how to respond. Wedding-related or not, the most gracious way to react to something given from someone (even if it’s not something you want), is to accept it with a “thank you.” And, perhaps a gulp from a big old glass of champagne.

What are you are able to control is your own behavior at the shower. If there are gender roles that make you feel uncomfortable, you aren’t required to quietly slide into them. Don’t feel comfortable holding up a brand new set of lacy panties for the eyes of a roomful of your elderly in-laws? Discretely tuck them under your chair and signal a “thank you” to the giver. Brace yourself. That stuff can be awful and eye-roll inducing. But you don’t need to be a part of it (just enough to, you know, come back with juicy funny horror stories for us in the comments). You do, however, need to be nice.

*****

So, a family member threw me a shower. Let’s just sum the whole thing up by saying it was unpleasant and uncomfortable. People said things that hurt my feelings, I was forced to play at being someone I’m not (the girl who opens girly presents with bows on her head!) and I’m not over it. I know the easy answer is “water under the bridge, just move on” but I feel like it brought up some painful realities of what people want from me in my new job as “wife” and who I actually am. What do I do with all these feelings? How do I get these bows off my damn head?

In Horrible Anxiety, Taking Extra Breaths Over Wedding Stress

Dear I HATE BOWS,

Oh, sweetie! Don’t even give this a second thought. Yes, it’s possibly true that people expect you to slip into some ready-made mold for what a wife should be. But, the happy difference between a shower and, you know, marriage is that this room of thirty or forty people isn’t going to be there sitting on folding chairs balancing punch cups on their laps. They all gave you pots and pans and dishrags, right? And made jokes about how you’ll be cooking for and cleaning up after your spouse? They won’t know if you don’t, and even better, they don’t have any say in the matter.

There’s something about showers that encourage the most awkward, rude, assumptive, and sexist comments. All of these little old ladies suddenly become dirty male chauvinists. It’s something in the air or the macaroni salad, or maybe there’s a small-print line on every bridal shower invitation, but there always seems to be at least one question about when you’re going to get pregnant, a comment about wedding night sex, and/or encouragement to “get used to” some sort of terrible marriage trope.

Like getting your period or bra shopping, the bridal shower is a crude initiation into a weird club. Now we can all chat like girls! We all know how it is, now. The way your mom knowingly nods and smiles when you say you’re feeling crampy is probably the same way she’ll knowingly nod and smile if you ever complain about your spouse. You’re in the club! But being in this club doesn’t require any sort of participation grade. You don’t need to fit into a wife mold, you don’t need to join in with the round of partner complaints, and you certainly don’t need to wear dumbass bows on your head. But, like any other initiation into a club, they had to humiliate you somehow, right?

*****

Team Practical, how did you survive your bridal shower? Did you manage to make it something of your own, representative of your relationship?

Photo by APW sponsor Julie Randall Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • dysgrace

    For the prevention of future I HATE BOWS scenarios: have you considered wedding shower bingo? In which you prepare an index card, or a mental index card, listing:
    - Joke about cleaning up after one’s partner
    - Pregnancy joke
    - Wedding night sex reference
    - Other sexist comment
    - Spatula set(s 1 through 12)
    - Dishrag
    - Lacy underwear
    - Personal lubricant
    And then treat yourself to a large, stiff drink upon checking off one, three or all of these!

    • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

      Themed bingo is always the answer to everything.

      • KB

        I actually think this is a great idea for real – or at least to play with attendants or something. It makes people conscious of the ridiculous cliches they’re saying while “allowing” them to get it out of their system.

      • Hannah

        Ahahaha that comment made my day. <3

    • http://magpietrousseau.wordpress.com Magpie

      Even better if you can get the guests to play too. Then you’re all on the same side, mocking the weird shit together. Seriously, I did not have a shower, but if I did, I would have seriously considered this bingo to conventional shower games.

    • meg

      HAAAAAA. Brillant.

    • http://www.advancedlivingforbeginners.com Jen W

      I am on my way to the family shower tomorrow, so this post was well-timed. My sister and I will now covertly be playing shower bingo!

    • Anya

      Oh. My. Genius! I am sending this to my MOH as a “nudge nudge” for a shower game!

    • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

      I went to a baby shower where they had gift bingo – we checked off various things like diapers or pacifiers as the couple opened them. Made the gift opening much more pleasant.

      • Liz

        Similarly, everyone could place bets on how many you’ll receive of a certain item (dish cloth, bibs, whatever). I remember the groans and cheers as I opened yet *another* bib. Thereby making the redundant and “boring” gifts fun.

      • Ambi

        By the way, ya’ll, there are online bingo card generators where you can fill in the words that you want to use for the game, type in how many cards you want, and it will generate that many different bingo cards using those words, which you can just print and hand out at the party. I have done this for baby showers, using words related to the couple (pet’s names, the dad’s hometown, etc.), and then guests checked off the words on their cards if the mom (or dad) said that word during the shower. It actually gets pretty fun when guests get close to a bingo and try to prompt the couple to say the remaining word on their card. It all depends on your crowd, but this has worked well for us. And since you can put in any words you want, you could create endless variations on the theme – I LOVE the idea of doing a “wedding shower cliches” bingo game.

        • http://meditatingontherain.wordpress.com aine

          Ha, we had bingo at mine, British theme, because I was moving to the UK. Some (fairly mild) swear words ended up on it because my sister and bridesmaids didn’t know what they meant.

          The shower was actually the first part of wedding prep that let me see I might enjoy all this stuff- I don’t do well with big crowds or lots of noise and was terrified of the reception. The shower made me feel surrounded by love and support and i had that to call on in times of great stress and worry in the months leading up to the wedding.

    • http://ejsisme.blogspot.com Emily

      That’s it. I’m bringing a Bingo card to every event I go to from now on.

  • rys

    Bridal showers are one of the things I dread most about actually getting married (though that’s in no way imminent). One friend of mine came up with a great (I think!) plan: her mom’s friends wanted to give her a shower, she wasn’t all that excited about such things. But she wanted each table at her wedding to have homemade challah (bread used to sacralize Jewish events). So she got her mom’s friends aboard on a challah-making shower: they prepped the dough and braided it (which was then frozen and baked the day of by the caterer) and she endured a few presents afterwards. They felt they had feted her and she felt she got something she wanted accomplished with help in a meaningful (to her) way.

    So if there’s something you want to make for your wedding that can be entrusted to a group (recipes, with ingredients laid out, are handy but I think this could go for decorations or invitation prep or other such things), it’s one option for a less conventional but super helpful shower.

    • http://thriftyharper.blogspot.com Harper

      Fantastic idea. This way you don’t have to put up with as many of those silly “must do/have” shower traditions and you can get more out of it than a few sex toys and kitchenwares.

  • kara

    My bridal shower is tomorrow and I am NOT looking forward to it. I strongly dislike being the center of attention so sitting in a special chair while 30 some people stare at me as I open gifts is not my idea of a good time. I don’t think there’s any way to avoid it given that every single shower (bridal or baby) involves the ceremonial present opening.

    • One More Sara

      I would love to hear if anyone had non-present showers!! I’m not currently living in the States, so taking home/shipping gifts would get really expensive really fast. I am totally fine not having a shower, but my sister really wants to throw one for me. Problem is, we don’t really know what to do without the ceremonious gift-opening….

      • Liz

        Maybe if there’s a jar to place bits of advice or marriage stories or the like, guests could fill them in at the start of the party and later in the festivities you could open and read them aloud?

        • One More Sara

          @Liz: That could work… We would just need to warn people that the notes will be read aloud in front of everyone. Could you imagine writing a naughty piece of advice and then having your friend read it out loud in front of her grandma? GAH! But it does sound pretty fun.

          • Liz

            Whoops, yes! Ha!

          • http://fromasmallstep.blogspot.com Kinzie Kangaroo

            Um, my grandma was the one who MADE the naughty suggestion. I won’t force you into reading too many details about it, but it involved whipped cream… It’s now become the running joke in both of our families. :)

      • Kat

        I was invited to a recipe, pantry, wine cellar shower. It seriously was the best shower ever. Every guest was asked to bring a recipe, items for the couple’s pantry and a bottle of wine. Their dining room table was full of loads of awesome goodies and no one had to sit around watching the couple open reams of gifts.

        Also no awkward games were played, people just hung out, visited and snacked and drank.

        • http://magpietrousseau.wordpress.com Magpie

          This sounds like an awesome shower! If I weren’t moving right after the wedding, I would totally do something like this.

        • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

          Oh, I love the idea of a recipe shower because a) that’s easy to pack, and b) who doesn’t love getting new recipes?

          • http://shewearsboots.blogspot.com Megan

            I’m already married, but could we just have that shower, for, you know, the hell of it?

      • Jen

        My shower is in two weeks, and in lieu of gifts, I’ve asked guests (who are family or close friends only) to bring pictures of either their wedding day or a family wedding celebration. I’m going to use the photos to decorate book shelves at my wedding venue. I can’t wait to see pictures of my great grandparents’ weddings and the pictures people dust off.

        • One More Sara

          I HAVE SUCH A CRUSH ON YOUR SHOWER!!!

      • MDBethann

        Maybe a recipe shower if you like to cook?

        Or a photo shower – everyone brings an unframed photo of you and/or your fiance (maybe with them?) and a story behind the photo (if they have one). Maybe you could incorporate those photos into the reception in some way. And whether or not you use them at the reception, you have the makings of an awesome photo album!

        Liz’s idea of an advice or story shower is cool.

        They are things you can take with you on a plane very easily and may be more meaningful than something that people get from a store.

        • Nora

          YES. On the recipe shower. I was living out of the state and consequently had my “shower” two days before the wedding. My mom and I both felt uncomfortable with gifts, but I had 2 second-mother-type figures who really wanted to have an event. I requested no gifts, and they decided on the brilliant recipe idea. They sent everyone a recipe card and asked them to bring a recipe they like instead of a present. The hosts gave me a recipe box that matched the cards, and I got handwritten recipes from my favorite people. It was incredible. A couple of people brought gifts because they really wanted too, but all the awkward obligation stuff was gone. I would highly recommend it – they went around and if people wanted to they gave the backstory of their recipe. We didn’t do games, just stories. It was so memorable and so fun.

        • Jamie

          I am totally and completely in love with a recipe/photo shower the more I think about it!

      • Laurel

        People can bring recipes or photos (of you together?). Or you can just have a party and call it a shower….

        • ElisabethJoanne

          Or have a “reception” or “tea” and call it such. I totally get wanting to throw a party for a sister. But if that’s the emotional need we’re fulfilling, why not just do that, and only obligate guests to show up and be polite? no recipes, no well-thought-out advice Just a ladies’ party.

          • Claire

            That’s what I had. My friends knew I hated the idea of sitting around opening presents in front of everyone. They arranged a Ladies Night Out with dinner and drinks. We all had a great time and there were no “activities”, just regular fun. I was so thankful.

      • DNA

        My future sister-in-law and aunt threw me and my partner a coed wedding shower where guests were encouraged to send or bring their favorite recipes so that all the recipes could be compiled in a binder. (My partner and I love cooking, and we got some amazing recipes.) It was absolutely wonderful and low-key. We spent most of the time eating, chatting, talking about recipes, and playing with dogs. (My partner’s cousin brought his dogs to the shower.) There weren’t any games, but there was a slideshow with some baby photos of me and my partner that were pretty funny.

        • Ambi

          Similar to the recipe shower, I’ve been to a Book Shower that was pretty awesome. The instructions simply asked guests to bring a book for the couple, but people thought way outside of the box. They got cookbooks and photo albums and relationship self-help books and beautiful coffee table books and even a few quirky fun gifts like a book of coupons to local restaurants for future date nights. It was fun, different, and fairly inexpensive for the guests. And it was perfectly fitting for the couple.

          • Maggie

            I love this idea! I would be willing to open book presents in front of a crowd, especially if the given also explained why they chose that book (why it’s their favorite, why it’s a good gift for the couple, etc).

      • Cara

        I had a recipe shower. It was great. I read the name of each recipe and people gave me tips, “…if you can’t find X ingredient, just use Y, no one will know…” My sister gave out fancy spices as favors.

        • Ambi

          What a brilliant (and really useful) favor idea! Seriously, I would have LOVED that shower!

      • Maggie

        We threw an explicitly non-present shower for a good friend/colleague of mine, and I think it worked pretty well. We did a “vaguely wedding-themed brunch,” mostly centered around hanging out eating fancy pancakes and quiches and drinking punch. We asked people to bring a favorite recipe on a nice card (which we compiled into a nice box), which I think worked as the “gift” expected to be given at a shower. We did have a few activities, though, to keep everyone occupied. We bought a bunch of boxes of tea, then asked people to write little notes on index cards and wrap the teabag & note up in a little baggie, so that whenever the couple has a cup of tea for the next 6 months they’ll have a nice little note (or a bizarre thought, or a random piece of information) from a friend to accompany it. We also got a bunch of pictures of their cat and had people write LOLcat captions :)

        I’m sure it helped that everyone in attendance was in their 20s and in the same grad program; obviously, some things would be different for a multigenerational actually-wedding-themed shower, but hopefully some things would translate.

    • Zoo

      Whether this works depends on the crowd, but I was at a baby shower where we turned present opening into a drinking game. One drink for anything that had ducks on it, one for anything they couldn’t use for six months, etc. Even if you can’t do it as a group, maybe you could get a like-minded friend in on it and exchange mischievous looks while your grandma wonders why spatulas make you so thirsty.

    • Jashshea

      I’m having three showers (thrown in my honor) one in my homeland, two where I live (family, Inlaws church people). If/when I get pregnant/procure a baby, the proverbial foot will be put down – no mas.

    • Ambi

      Toasts! I think East Side Bride brought this up yesterday as the solution to how you can make an after-the-fact wedding celebration feel special without having to actually say your vows in front of a group of people – just ask a few people to make toasts. It will give the party a focal point and make it feel special, but you aren’t actually having to speak or perform. And I completely understand where you are coming from. One of my best friends is fairly quiet and shy, and yet we threw her a very traditional (and large) baby shower recently – I am not sure why it didn’t dawn on us until she started opening the gifts, but it was so incredibly painful and awkward. She was bright red the whole time and was so quiet that no one in the room could hear anything she was saying about any of the gifts. We felt TERRIBLE for putting her in that position (I wish she would have said something beforehand about not wanting to do it, but I guess that also goes with being very shy and timid – she couldn’t tell us that she hated the idea). In fact, several of us ended up just swooping in and crowding in with her on the sofa and helping her open the gifts. She looked like she wanted to cry. People, PLEASE do not do this to your friends. If they aren’t comfortable opening the gifts in front of a crowd, just skip that part.

      • meg

        This is SO MUCH more lovely than the dreaded gift opening. I wonder if you could combine, if people really wanted gift opening. Like, while you are opening someone’s gift, they make a toast. More interesting, more meaningful, AND takes the focus off you.

    • Jess

      It can be done! A friend of mine had a baby shower where she avoided present opening completely! She lives in another city and flew in for the shower, so the invites explicitly said ‘no gifts please, she doesn’t have room in her luggage’ and instead asked people to bring stories, advice, etc. to share. After the snacks and chit chat, everyone gathered around and shared (if they wanted to).

      I think this could be adapted for a wedding shower – it removes the gift-opening, although of course not the potential for embarrassment and inappropriate comments/stories. My friend did end up with some gifts, but she staunchly refused to open them at the shower. The hosts knew what she wanted and backed her up (I think this is key).

    • Michelle

      A friend of mine went to a “display shower” where everyone brought their presents unwrapped with a card attached to it and placed them on a table. Everyone could see what the bride was getting, but she got to spend her time actually mingling and socializing rather than opening gifts with everyone staring at her.

      • http://caitlindentino.com caitlindentino

        I have also been to a shower where each of the guests opened a gift and went around the group saying who you were and what the gift is.

        Ex: I am Caitlin and I’ve known Jane since first grade. Her lovely Aunt Linda gave her a blender.

        This version seemed to appease the part of the crowd (often older) who felt opening gifts were a must, but kept the spotlight off the bridge solely, and engaged everyone — so they didn’t get terribly bored at the 4th set of wine glasses.

        Also note for couple’s showers … rarely are gifts opened at co-ed events.

        • Ambi

          Very clever idea to have guests open the gifts!

          Also, I guess everyone’s experiences vary a lot. Gifts have been opened at all the co-ed showers I’ve been to, but then again the showers have also had guy-friendly themes (stock the bar, tools and gadgets, tailgating supplies, etc.), so the guys actually got really excited about the gifts. (Yes, I realize that there are about 20 gender-biased assumptions in my statement, so of course take all of this with a grain of salt and think about what YOUR guy (or girl) would want).

    • Alyssa

      I had a couple of different showers thrown by different people in different social circles, and each time I was slightly panicked when it came time to parade presents and be in the center. However, my (brilliant) mother suggested at one shower that when I was opening a present, the giver told everyone where we met, and a little story of us. This was WONDERFUL. I could open the present without worry of spotlight, and when the afternoon was over, everyone had more of an awareness of personal connection. It was actually really nice.

    • Ambi

      To KARA, if you are still reading this – regarding your shower tomorrow, I would suggesting asking one or two outgoing friends (very close friends, probably, or sisters or bridesmaids) to sit with you on the sofa while you open the gifts. Ask them to help you keep the momentum going by reading the cards aloud, oohing and aahing over the gifts, holding things up to show, etc. – all you have to do is physically open the gift and say thank you. Maybe even ask another friend to sit nearby and write down all gifts and the names of the giver (in case the cards get lost or mixed up). Explicitly tell the girls, “I hate being the center of attention – y’all, please help me by keeping the conversation going and taking the pressure off of me to talk.” They’ll get it, and they’ll be happy to do it, and no one in attendance will either notice or care. Good luck, and I really hope you have fun.

      • Ambi

        I doubt anyone is still reading this, but KARA, if you are out there, how did your shower go?

    • Jamie

      I am the same way. I hate being the center of attention. I luckily don’t have to think about a shower until next year at some point, but I love the recipe idea. My cousin’s bridal shower was so awkward with all the games etc etc of a “traditional” shower, and I just had to show up! Thanks everyone for good ideas for when my shower comes around.

  • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

    We were thrown a “jack and jill” picnic shower, and it circumvented so many of these problems! Having my fiance there just took so much of the pressure off. We got to share the awkward/horrified looks when people asked about our plans for kids and just natrually deflect a lot of the worst stuff just by being together. I think this is a really good solution for anyone who is dreading the shower circuit.

    • AnotherCourtney

      We had one of those, too, and it was so much fun! First of all, I could invite my guy friends and they actually CAME, and second because I didn’t have to be the sole center of attention – I had my favorite person by my side the entire time.

      Also, our hosts had secretly asked everyone to bring us gag gifts in addition to (or, I suppose, instead of) real gifts, so for every spatula set we opened, we then opened a jar of playdough, or a Justin Bieber CD. It was awesome!

  • Julia

    I have to say that coming from the UK the whole concept of the bridal shower just seems so odd to me! But then it seems that a lot of you guys feel the same way…

    • Moz

      Seconded. Showers in Australia aren’t quite on steroids so much, and it’s customary for brides to have a lot of input. It’s usually just a get together to include older members of the bride’s support network who aren’t on the hens (bachelorette) night list. The presents thing isn’t front and centre and gifts are much more low key and less expensive, if there are gifts at all.

      As the risk of doing what I did in this column’s comments last week, this is a lot like what Meg was saying on Monday: we can’t control what people think. If we’re gracious and kind and considerate that’s the best we can manage. Haters gonna hate and all that.

    • Audrey

      Even here in the US I had no idea how strong the “bridal shower” thing was. No one offered to give me a shower (a lot of my friends are cross country and so is my mom) and I quickly realized I didn’t mind. It blows my mind to think of multiple friends suggesting bridal showers!

  • Jennifer

    I am dreading my Wedding Shower. I already got angry enough about announcing my engagement and hearing all the girls asking how excited I was and if I had any plans for the wedding yet. It was insulting because I didn’t want to have a wedding, I rather save the money for a house. A wedding was purely for my HUSBAND and family. Not me. Point is, I have heard plenty of sexist comments already, so at least I feel like I have a little practice already.

  • Rasheeda

    I actually loved my bridal shower, but I had a strong hand in that. We had a wine tasting and mingled all day long, the only game was taking each others wine charms if someone mentioned pre-conceived “wife” notions. There was the awkward gift portion of the evening but I did it fast and we got through it rather painlessly. The BEST part of my shower is that we went around the room and everyone gave me advise/well wishes/thoughts of love. I felt so completely surrounded by love by all the women in my life. So basically, if you want to avoid certain parts of showers, be clear, tell your maid of honor or hostess, let it be their job to be the bad guy.

    • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

      Um…I love that you actually sort of turned things on their head and mocked the stereotypical “wife” notions at your shower. Awesome way to confront a weird issue head on. Love.

    • Liz

      That sounds lovely! I’ve already heard from a bunch of other ladies about really awesome bridal showers they’ve attended (or thrown themselves) and I’m excited to hear any others in the comments today. Let’s hear em, guys!

      • Marbella

        I’m a Brit (live in the US though) so I find showers awkward. My own was sweet but awkward.
        I went to one recently where it was a bridal luncheon. ‘No gifts’ were requested, and instead the host asked each person to share a story about a ‘holiday tradition’ in their family growing up. It was good fun, everyone had a funny story or two and ended up getting to know each other much better than if you had just sat around.
        I have also been to a jack and jill baby shower which was fun, but still awkward with the whole sit around and watch you open presents. At least it was in a bar :)

    • meg

      That sounds so nice. The trick is being in a shower situation where someone can play bad cop for you… and possibly politely declining showers where you realize that’s not going to happen, and you’re going to feel very on your own. Maybe. I could be wrong, but that’s my suspicion.

  • Katie

    I have had three showers leading up to my wedding next month. Some of the awkward moments were prevented by a pre-emptive strike. All the bakeware that opened, “J will totally love this!” (He does all the baking at home anyway). I found the hardest part of the showers to be how they made my fiancee feel. It seemed that everyone I knew was gathering around trying to support me through this life transition. This felt amazing to me, but my fiancee felt very left out. Has anyone else run into this?

    • meg

      Yeah, I find this very interesting. David dodged the wedding showers (because he saw the awkwardness coming, something I shouldn’t have let him do ;) BUT. I think about this a lot with baby showers. YES, it’s only one partner that’s pregnant, and that person needs a different kind of support and feting (pregnancy is no cake walk, y’all). But it’s so strange that there is so much effort (some good, some not so good) put into the mom to be, and SO little put into the father or partner to be. Showers for her… but NOTHING for him. Same with weddings.

      It’s this cultural thing we have with life transitions: all the attention is on the woman (which can be awful in a you-become-public-property-way) but all the support is for them too. It’s assumed guys somehow have no feelings about the situation, and should be left alone in the corner.

      Anyway, obviously it can be managed (co-ed showers) to some extent, but it’s something really worth talking about.

      • Ambi

        Wow, I can’t believe it, but I have never realized that about baby showers until this moment. I think we need to all crusade to change the world one tiny little bit by having and hosting co-ed baby showers!

        • Liz

          There are lots of clever and cute ways to involve the partner, too. I had a female-only shower, but mu husband was there and was central to a lot of the games and things.

      • Anya

        My feeling about this is kind of along the lines of “every day is a Man’s day, so give me one for women.”

        I grew up with a very close, inter-generational circle of friends in which, after dinner, all of the women would go to the kitchen to wash dishes and chat and the men would eat all the dessert in the dining room. Despite the obvious sexism, I LOVED the kitchen time with the women. This is where I learned so much as a child – pregnancy, death, gossip, old age. The hardest thing for me about being in “post-sexist” (irony intended) circles now is that these spaces don’t exist. The reason I want a women-only shower is to get some of that back – to have the hens tell me all about what to expect, in an honest way that doesn’t whitewash the shitty, sexist details that women so often don’t mention when men are in the room.

        In the end, I think so many of the sexist comments made at showers are meant to prepare the bride for the subtle, endless humiliations of marriage in a sexist world. Even if we don’t have to make the sacrifices the women before us have made – don’t we owe it to these women who have come to bear witness on our transition to bear witness to their own experiences – if only so we don’t have to repeat the past?

        Why don’t we encourage men to have their own groom showers and fatherhood showers, instead of turning everything into a co-ed space? We need time alone – to discuss, to mourn, to laugh, and to remind ourselves of the women who have made sacrifices so that we may live better lives. We owe the history of sexism, and the ways in which we as women have supported each other through that history both deference and humility. A shower is part of that history (though not in its present form, of course). That’s why I want an all-female shower. I want to bear witness to the female stories of marriage, which are so often ignored.

        • Rasheeda

          “I want to bear witness to the female stories of marriage, which are so often ignored” YES, THIS!! I totally agree with everything you said. Gather women from ages 25-85 sauced up on wine and see what stories/advice you get from them (this happened at my bridal shower). It will blow you away what women will say when they are in the comfort of “just the gals”.

        • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

          YES! I found this especially true at my female only baby showers. There were no game played, just several hours of talking and sharing and stories. I found it so so valuable, on the eve of the birth of my baby. (Literally, as it turned out. My water broke a few hours after the shower ended. Surprise!)

          The birth of our baby DID change things more for me than it did for me, for a lot of reasons. I did need more preparation and support that he did. I got a lot more out of a gathering of women (and mothers) than he would have got from a similar gathering of men. (Not that he didn’t have the same kind of discussions. Just that he has them one on one, not in a big group.)

          Yes, I found opening presents weird and a little uncomfortable. But the gathering of my friends and family all together to talk and eat and tell stories? That part was excellent.

        • Laura G

          I think this is a real and valuable role of women-only showers and other women-only spaces, and is why I feel so strongly about not having thrown for me or attending such events. For many people, life and relationships are still highly gendered and sexist and they need the gendered space for retreat and resistance. But as a butch queer woman who did not receive traditional female socialization, I have a different experience of life than women who are read as gender-conforming and straight. I feel like an intruder in spaces where there’s an assumption of shared experience based on biological sex and I feel violated when people assume that my experience is like their’s because of my sex. And although I’m marrying a guy, our relationship is not traditionally gendered, partly because he was raised as a girl and subjected to more traditional gender expectations (learning to cook, having high standards in terms of home cleanliness, etc) than I was as a child. That doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes struggle with our own and others’ conscious and unconscious gender expectations, but it’s a lighter load than many couples who are trying to have egalitarian relationships face.

      • http://shewearsboots.blogspot.com Megan

        This really made me start thinking about throwing a baby shower for my husband. It’s tricky, though, right, because he doesn’t have a TON of friends who are fathers, but on the other hand, honoring that transition is a big deal, I think. His extended family lives further away, and he doesn’t have a lot of folks for whom fathering is a part of their lives.

        That said, he has a variety of communities of friends that might enjoy help launching him into fatherhood. Would it end up like a bachelor party, with guys partying crazily? I can’t see him getting into the whole “share fatherly advice”, touchy-feely kind of party, a la the classic “blessingway” that is sometimes proposed as an alternative to showers for women.

        If you were to throw your male partners a “fatherhood” shower, what would you do? I’d love to hear reflections on this.

        • Ambi

          I think this is a really wonderful idea. My idea is based on my particular partner, but I’d probably throw a fairly casual outdoor barbecue or pizza party or something like that. Invite your friends (both men and women) and family members, and serve plenty of cold beer and good food. I’d make sure the invitation makes it clear that this a party for him, and maybe you could list yourself as the host and put some wording on there about how you have been overwhelmed by love and support you have recieved as a mother-to-be, and you’d be thrilled if your guests would join you in celebrating your wonderful husband.

          My party-planning brain is going into overdrive here, but you also have options as far as theme:

          Advice shower – kind of like the recipe shower or memory shower talked about above. Rather than gifts, ask people to simple come and share their advice and insight and stories about fatherhood. It could still work with friends who aren’t dads, if they are willing to talk about their own dads or father figures. A fun spin on this, if your friends aren’t the type to share their deepest memories at a cookout, is to ask people to share their favorite TV or movie dad and what they learned about parenting from watching them. That can get pretty funny.

          Hobby shower – if your guy happens to have one big well-known hobby or interest, you can create a shower around that. For example, my guy is a huge fan of our local football team and would love a “Razorback Dad” or “Razorback Baby” shower, and guests could easily bring gifts associated with the team. Or, if he loves to camp or cycle or is a film buff, have a shower that focuses on that and asks people to bring hobby-centric gifts for dad and baby (cycling stroller as a group gift? a collection of not-terrible children’s movies so he won’t have to suffer through Disney?). I think that the key may be to make it about HIM – women’s showers are so often all about the baby, and rarely focus on the actual daily life and interests of the mom. Having a shower that specifically recognizes the unique influence he will have as a dad who happens to love, say, cooking, would be thoughtful and special.

          • Jashshea

            Ambi – If I didn’t already have a wedding planner, I’d hire you. Sight unseen.

          • Ambi

            Ha! Thanks! I absolutely LOVE parties and planning and showers and pretty paper stuff and cooking for large groups, so I think I was pretty much made for hosting showers. I love it. I’ve joked before that, if this whole law career thing doesn’t work out, I’ll become some sort of wedding or party planner. It’s a joke, but I really do enjoy doing it for friends and family.

      • Crayfish Kate

        I’m totally loving the idea of a Groom’s Shower or something along those lines. I agree, it seems like there is very little support for the groom/father during life’s big moments. It’s a big change for him too! My fiance & I are of the “sexes are equal” mentality (I gave him a ring too when we got engaged, that sort of thing), and it would be so neat for him to get to have a party too.

        We live in my hometown, so he doesn’t have the established friends & family base that I do. I recognize that ‘time with the guys’ is so important, & what better way to do that than a groom/father’s shower?

        There are a lot of fun things you could do. Is there an old-fashioned barbershop nearby where the guys could get shaves? Is there a craft brewery to have drinks afterwards? Maybe a round of golf (my guy doesn’t play golf, but loves disc golf)? Do a fishing charter or day on the boat? I really feel for the guys when wedding/baby shower stuff comes up.

        • Ambi

          These are really great ideas! In fact, actually, I think I want a bridal shower where we charter a fishing trip for the day then drink at a craft brewery that night, and maybe throw a little bit of wedding advice into the mix. So awesome.

          But I completely and whole-heartedly agree that the men should get feted too. If only we could reach the point where their guy friends would spontaneously think of this idea and do it for them instead of their fiances and wives having to orchestrate it. :)

          But seriously, you ladies are AMAZING partners for even thinking about the fact that your men need an awesome party too.

      • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

        This has always really bothered me about bridal showers, but especially baby showers. The baby is just as much the man’s as it is the woman’s, even if he’s not actually carrying the child. I think our society needs more emphasis on fathers and fathering. Why not start with the shower?

    • Leslie

      My family traditionally is very conscious of this. To the point that I have asked the bride if there was anything on the registry the groom really wanted, and purchased that as a shower gift so he had something to look foward to during the shower process. When my parents were married, they used some of the cash they were given to buy a table saw, a tradition that has continued with my cousins and brother. My fiance is hoping for a compound mitar saw (and so am I).

  • Caroline

    I have to say that I sort of dreaded my (first) bridal shower, very traditional shower thrown by my future mother in law, with a bunch of women I didn’t know there. In the end it was really nice, and far less awkward than I expected. The present opening was still awkward, and I would recommend to other women that if they want to wear a skirt or dress to make sure it is long enough that while sitting facing a room full of people that you don’t have to think every moment about not exposing yourself to them. No one said anything about babies, we didn’t play any games, and there was no lacy underwear to open up in front of fiance’s grandmother. So to people who are dreading a shower that they have no choice but attend, don’t worry, it might just be fun.

    • Liz

      Yes! This is very true, of course! My shower DID involve the games, the lacy underwear, and the awkward comments and it still was an awesome time.

      Everyone be sure to read Caroline’s comment!

    • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

      Do people really do the underwear thing? I’ve given lingerie to brides-to-be, but only at their bachelorette parties. If my grandmother gave me lingerie in front of all of my family members, I would be horrified.

      • MDBethann

        My sister (aka my MOH) gave me a nighty, but it was a casual one from Gap Body (she said she just couldn’t bring herself to get me anything racy). She gave it to me at the shower that my friends threw (and my mom) and it actually led to the funniest thing at the party. My one friend brought her 2 adorable little girls, and the one thought the nighty was a perfectly sized dress for her and the other cried out “underwear!!!” when she saw what was in the box. I turned beat red, but it was hilarious and we all had a big laugh about it.

      • Ambi

        In my own experience, I have only ever seen lingerie or anything like it given at a specific lingerie shower (usually something that happens at the bachelorette party). I have, thankfully, never witnesses a bride-to-be opening a gift of lingerie in front of her MIL, grandmother, etc. – I can’t even imagine! That would be mortifying.

        BUT, lingerie showers can be a lot of fun!

      • Liz

        Interestingly, I was JUST having this conversation this week! Some folks are spared the lacy things, others have entire parties dedicated to lacy things (which can either make it better or worse, depending on the guest list). I did get lacy things. And …marital items more embarrassing and suggestive than that. I did the open and hide and move on before anyone notices.

        • Ashley

          Um, I was asked to “hold it up!!” when I opened lingerie at showers where moms, aunts, grandmothers, and every other older female in my life were present. Yes, I was seated between my mother and my mother-in-law. Awkwarddd.

          • Liz

            You should’ve offered to model it. ;)

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I give lingerie at women-only showers. It’s traditional (as in right there in Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette, 1958, and my copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette from before that). I’m considering stopping because no one seems to like it (no one = no strangers online, my friends haven’t said anything). I prefer giving cookware from registries, but sometimes that’s not convenient or I don’t like the registry.

        • Ambi

          I think lingerie can be a beautiful and really welcome gift, but it can understandably be embarrassing for the bride to open in front of a crowd if she isn’t expecting it. I’d say, if that’s your go-to gift, maybe just give the bride a little heads-up before the gift opening. Quietly and casually hand her your gift and say, “I wanted to give you something beautiful that you and your husband can enjoy on the honeymoon, but if you aren’t comfortable opening it in public I completely understand.” Would that work?

          • Mallory

            At her bridal shower, my mother was given all sorts of the usual gifts, several nice, modest nightgowns, and one piece of lingerie. I’ve been spared the specifics of it, but I do know that it was from the mail-order Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog and there was spandex involved. Who on earth would do such a thing, given the very conservative nature of all attending? Why, my paternal grandmother with a very quirky sense of humor, of course! To make matters worse – she signed it “your future father-in-law.”

        • suzanna

          I don’t think there’s anything wrong with lingerie gifts, personally. At the least, it gives everyone a chance to giggle. Say “oo la la” and move on if it makes you uncomfortable, you know?

  • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

    My shower is violating the only invite people to the shower that you’re inviting to the wedding rule. I wasn’t consulted about the guest list (it’s all family in varying degrees of immediate and extended) but I found that this is one of the Times It’s Good to Break the Rules (ie. when your mom is unspokenly, but not so secretly, disappointed you’re having a destination wedding that a) a lot of your invited guests won’t be able to make it to and b) a small guest list to start with).

    I’m excited to have a chance to celebrate with some people who wouldn’t otherwise get to celebrate our marriage.

    • Jashshea

      Two prongs off this (1) my hometown shower is happening b/c my mother’s friend said “oh, it’ll be so weird to not meet your daughter before her wedding.” When my mom relayed this to me, I said, “I think that’s why you normally don’t invite people who don’t know the bride or groom.” I’m not subtle/gentle/tactful.

      (2) We were consulted on the local shower GL. Then they added someone anyway. It was like 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon explaining to us who these people were. So there went my “bride or groom need to know the invitees” rule.

    • meg

      We actually had a bit of a problem with this being out of our control in BAD ways. Which is something to think about discuss, I guess.

  • Stephanie

    I think it’s perfectly ok to say no thank you (nicely) to people who want to throw a shower for you. I turned down four that people wanted to throw for me. And I had none :). I think the key is to remember that the people who want to throw you a shower are doing it out of love and to celebrate this time in your life with you. But if it’s not for you (for whatever reason), there is no need to have one.

    • KEA1

      You are my hero. May I ask how you were able to make your message clear and still do it nicely? I’m a long way off from worrying about this, but I would LOVE to have some ideas on how to be nice but firm.

      • ECD

        I’ve just gone for letting folks see my completely real, anti-shower gut reaction followed by backpedaling niceties:

        “So, we were thinking about a wedding shower for you…”
        “Oh god no! [Clear throat, reign emotions back in.] What I mean is, that’s not something I’d be comfortable with. But a lovely thought, thank you for considering it.” Change subject.

        Worked twice so far.

      • Stephanie

        I just sincerely explained that while I really and truly appreciated the extremely kind gesture/thought (because really, I did), I just wasn’t interested because it wasn’t something for me. And then explained why, which varied according to whom I was talking to people who knew me well vs. people who didn’t (friends, sister, future mother-in-law). And I followed-up with making sure we each had a nice lunch or dinner to celebrate together. That way no one was terribly offended and we could still spend time together.

        And I’m not sure about hero… my mom was a little ticked off at me. :)

        • KEA1

          Actually, to me, the fact that you were able to stand your ground so kindly even against mom’s opposition is even more impressive! %)

    • Julia

      I’m not having a shower, either, but I didn’t have to say no. Both of our families have been pretty hands-off, despite both contributing financially to the wedding. I feel like we’ve been lucky that way. We do not have a bridal party, so no maid of honor feeling obligated to do something.

      I did have to say no to an engagement party my mother in law wanted to throw. We are very busy this summer/early fall and our wedding is in September, so I used the line of not wanting to have to travel yet another weekend. The advice is correct that people want to do things out of love for you, so you should not feel too bad about saying no nicely.

  • Shelly

    I was thrown a bridal shower by my husband’s aunts. While he & I had been dating for a number of years and had met his whole extended family, they used the shower as an opportunity to get to know me a bit better by playing a little trivia game about me. Nothing too personal was asked or revealed, but I thought it was a nice gesture on their behalf to extend not only their kind wishes, but to make an effort to get to know me better.

    • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

      I think that this can be one of the huge advantages of having a shower. If you’re in a situation where you do not know your fiance’s family that well (or, in our case, your random parent’s friends), a shower is a really nice way to get to know those people a bit better before you see them at your wedding. I was stressed about having “strangers” around for such a personal moment (like our ceremony), but felt much better after getting to know them a bit.

  • http://www.caseyandterrence.com Casey

    I made it perfectly clear I did not want or expect a shower because I had far too much stuff already as a 31 year old grown woman who has been living with her 30 yo fiance for 2+ years. It is after all OUR union. Thankfully, my friends and family respected my wishes. I think it worked because I was very clear even before being engaged that I did not want a wedding shower, ever.

    My bridesmaids and girlfriends did a mini kind of shower at the bachelorette party and everyone gave me fun underwear. Not awkward (no parents present), totally fun.

    Good luck, ladies, with your showers! As a frequent [reluctant] attendee, I feel your pain…

    • Ambi

      I think I am the flip side of your coin. I kind of love showers (hosting, attending, and maybe one day being the honoree), but I feel very strange about having one because I am in my thirties and my guy and I have lived together for so long. We have basically already set up our home. And while I wouldn’t mind trading in our mishmash collection of college dishware for a nice matching set and getting some monogramed bath towels, I feel a bit silly having a bridal shower at my age (since we are not even engaged yet, I’m actually thinking about how old I’ll be when these hypothetical showers ever happen). So, honestly, I am a tiny bit bummed out that I feel too old and too established in my life to engage in what I consider to by “young bride” activities like having big bridal showers and a crazy blow-out bachelorette party (that idea just seems insane to me now – my friends and I much prefer sharing a few bottles of wine on the porch to doing out drinking and dancing til the wee hours). I know that in the end I’ll make the choices that I am comfortable with in this stage in my life, but I have a tiny little ping of regret about missing out on some of those bridal experiences that my friends all had when they got married ten years ago.

      By the way, I am FULLY aware that my views are warped by the fact that I was raised and live in a small, somewhat backwards, Southern town where everyone gets married at 22 and brides all wear poufy white dresses and consider their wedding day to be the day they became a woman. I’ve been a woman for a while, thank you. And I’ve lived in a big East Coast city for a few years which taught me that, surprise, people do get married after thirty (and forty!). So I am okay where I am in my life right now. This was the path for us. But when confronted with all these wedding expectations and cliches, I’m suddenly brought back to my small town mindset about being an “old” bride and how certain things aren’t really appropriate for me now.

      And, now that this has become a dissertation on my Southern upbringing, I have to say, I know I could just say fuck it, abandon all those silly and judgmental ideas, who cares what’s “appropriate” – but honestly, it his hard to describe, but I am oddly attached to this element of my culture. I love the pearls and tea sandwiches and the formality. I love the fact that we celebrate marraiges and births by getting all dressed up, putting out the fine china, and sending out adorable pastel invitations printed on heavy paper. As weird as it is, I have always enjoyed the sense of order and propriety and decorum associated with the type of Southern sorority-and-debutante culture that is direcetly associated with bridal showers. It is just hard now that my own circumstances put me at odds with that.

      • Megan

        Maybe I’ve done something inappropriate by being one of these 30 somethings who has had a shower and asked for kitchenware to replace my college plates & other items. I hope not! What I do know is that my family and friends were gracious and still excited to help me “set up our kitchen” even when my partner and I have lived together for over a decade. There is something about getting married, regardless of how long you’ve been together, that people seem to want to be part of celebrating (even if not everyone is excited about showers). I don’t think that you should not have a shower because you don’t feel like a “young bride”. It sounds like you like traditions and I personally don’t see anything wrong with celebrating your upcoming marriage if that is something that is important to you.

        • MDBethann

          Megan & Ambi, that’s what we did. And I am not ashamed one iota to be a 30-something who wants some nice china and pots and pans. We cook A LOT and as Meg and Liz have said over and over again, people are happy for you and want to give you nice stuff, no matter what age you are!!!

        • Ambi

          Oh, I really really really didn’t mean to imply that other people were doing anything wrong by having (and enjoying) big, wonderful, traditional bridal showers at any age. My own personal issues stem from very very specific cultural expectations in my particular community – and this isn’t even entirely about geography; it is also based on the fact that, my future in-laws, and to a lesser extent, some parts of my extended family, are very much tied into that Southern, debutante, sorority, country club society where there are definitely very strict expectatations about these things. For better or worse, and don’t hate me for it please, but I am emotionally attached to that world. But I have also rejected it on many levels and I’m living my life on my own terms. I accepted many aspects of that a long time ago, but weddings bring on a whole new landslide of societal expectations and having to come to terms with the fact that you don’t exactly fit that mold. I love my life. I wouldn’t trade my years on the East Coast pursuing my career for anything, and I don’t regret the fact that I am getting married a lot later because of it. BUT, just as we have to give up the childhood idea of a big princess wedding when reality hits, I also have to come to terms with the fact that I, basically, love a culture that I don’t exactly fit into anymore. A lot of the “appropriateness” concerns are very specific to me – our families are embarrassed that we have been living together, I am not anywhere close to the size or shape I’d imagined I would be as a bride, and there is a bit of conflict between our two families because my guy’s family is MUCH wealthier than my family. Given all of that, and the fact that I am in my thirties, and the overwhelming cultural pressure here to be a young, beautiful, virginal bride – yeah, it is hard to reconcile that with my love of showers. :)

          Oh, and I should add that I am bringing additional baggage into this because I also love baby showers and I have a bit of sadness at the fact that I will probably never get one, since we plan to go the foster-parenting to adoption route.

          Anyway, these are all really just musings. I am SO overjoyed that my guy and I are getting closer and closer to marraige and to our future lives together that any sadness over showers will NOT bring me down! I just find it satisfying to analyze these conflicting emotions and get y’alls feedback!

          • CW

            I think you can totally still have a baby shower if/when you go the fostering/adoption route. I’m going to a co-ed baby shower cookout in a few weeks for some friends who adopted a baby, now almost 2 months old. If your state requires foster parent certification- you could maybe have a “stock the kids room” party to celebrate when you’re certified and set-up your house/new room.

          • Ambi

            I am IN LOVE with the stock the kids room party. Brings tears to my eyes, actually. Now that is the kind of baby shower I would be very very happy to have. LOVE y’all, APW. You really area amazing people.

          • Sasha

            I’m an east coast city girl getting married after 30 and after having lived together for years and owning more kitchen things than is reasonable in a city. And I have no background of this upbringing. But if you were one of my friends and you wanted the tea sandwich shower I would be thrilled to give you one, even though it isn’t my background.And maybe some of that Southern family will feel relieved to have one to attend? So maybe just talk to an eats coast friend about what you want, and see if it is something she wants to throw, if she is that kind of a friend–either your bestest friend or maybe just the friend who throws awesome parties.

            Or talk to your sister/best friend from growing up/the cousin who really gets you and see how she feels about throwing you one. And then those who will be in can come, and those who don’t approve can stay away or suck it up and deal. You are the perfect kind of bride, the happy kind. You do not deserve a shower any less. And so maybe you can find a way to incorporate what you love about how you grew up with the confident you and great life you have now, at least for one afternoon.

        • Liz

          Not inappropriate at all. Glad you have fancy new things!

      • MDBethann

        Ambi, I’m with you on liking showers as a way to celebrate a big event like marriage or a baby.

        I absolutely LOVED my showers. The one my friends held for me was small, but it was an intimate tea party at my one bridesmaid’s house and we had a lovely time. My bridesmaids made amazing tea sandwiches and desserts, including a teapot-shaped sheet cake. I opened presents, they had a few games (complete the famous couple, how well do you know the bride, and a wedding word search) and then we had fun just hanging out and chatting. It was also right before my birthday, so it was just an all around great way to spend a Saturday.

        A few weeks later, my mom, sister, and my future in-laws hosted a shower for all of our family in my hometown. It was bigger and less intimate, but again they hit the theme on the head – local wines and chocolates were the prizes for the games and my one cousin made fabulous cakes in the shapes of a cheesewheel and a wine bottle. And there was yummy food. Yes, I got loads of kitchen stuff, but it was all stuff I had on my registry so fortunately I didn’t get 12 spatulas! :-)

        I’m from PA originally, and where I grew up, we’ll take any excuse we can get to get together and eat! I have a friend’s shower to go to this weekend and I’m really looking forward to it.

      • meg

        Oh HONEY. You can have a shower at any age. You’re getting MARRIED, don’t let anyone take that away from you. Also, you’re totally not old even a little bit. (Here in an urban area, to give you perspective, I feel like a total baby having a kid at 32. Most of our friends are not even close, and I think I’ll be younger than most of the other moms by 10 years. So you know, age with life events is very relative.)

        • Ambi

          Absolutely! And living in D.C., with siblings that moved to New York and Boston, has given me the huge blessing of perspective. I know, rationally, that it is all relative, but emotionally it is still a bit of pill to swallow. Interestingly, you and I are around the same age, I think, Meg. And while you are one of the younger moms, the vast majority (really really vast majority) or my friends have had babies, and many of them have two or three already. It really IS crazy from a broader perspective, but that is the norm here. The girls that would be my bridesmaids, if I were having any, are in very different stages in their lives than I am now – they have all been married for about ten years, have multiple kids, and are in full-blown overworked-mommy mode. PTA, sports, work, etc. – it just really changes the dynamic. While I am not complaining, the fact is, it really is just different for me now than it would have been had I gotten married younger. What I have to keep reminding myself is that different doesn’t mean better or worse, just different.

          I’ll quit my circular ramblings on this topic now, because I know that we will have wonderful showers and parties that are perfect for us, just as we are now, and I know that I will be able to let go of the regret and comparison about what might have been. I’m was allowing myself a teensy tiny little pity party for one moment to reflect on the idea that I had one vision in my head, basically for life, about what my engagement and wedding would be like, and boy was that way off. But that is the entire story, in a nut shell, of most people’s wedding planning experience, I think. Pity party is over – let the real parties commence!

          • meg

            Oh, I mean, trust me. I’m honorary Aunt to friends kids from home who are in Junior High now. But, here, where we live, I’m super young to be a parent. Hence, all relative.

  • Allison

    To Anonymous – Sounds like a sticky situation. I agree with Liz that most guests will understand what is going on, esp if they know the second shower is a surprise but if you are still uncomfortable with that maybe you could make the Jack & Jill party a no-gifting event? Good luck!

  • Lynn

    I had a great time at our shower…but then again, it was just like any other party thrown at Gumbo Acres except we didn’t have to do any of the cooking. His parents’ home is party central (and where our wedding was held) and because it’s large and nice, that was the easiest place for our friends, some of whom don’t have much at all, to congregate. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we sat on the back porch and talked…just like we do every time we’re there.

    No games played, no terrible references. We got some lovely gifts, some awful gifts, and some things we needed. (one of the the things that I learned at our shower, which I didn’t know previously was that if someone gives you a gift at the shower, they don’t give you a gift for the wedding. Which to me was odd but not because I expected more loot from folks. Not the way I was raised, not the way I’ve ever done things, which is explains why the husband and I have had some differences of opinions when we’ve been purchasing presents for friends who are getting married…and there have been a ton of them in the last year. Two more weddings to go)

    I think it’s important to remember that people host and come to a shower (and bring you gifts!!) because they love you and want to celebrate with you. They do, for the most part, mean well and have good intentions. We can let them know what we’re uncomfortable while being gracious and honoring their intentions.

    • MDBethann

      The whole “gift at the shower, no gift at the wedding” idea is new to me as well. I had a couple of people do that, but we got a little something from nearly everyone at both the showers and the wedding. Rather it was more of “each to his/her own means” kind of thing. In some cases, $20 from one person was just as generous as the $200 from someone else and I appreciated it all. Honestly, I was thrilled that some of the people were even able to be there since they work in the service industry and our wedding was a Saturday afternoon/evening.

      Like you, I was taught and raised that you bring a gift to each of the parties to which you are invited because they are stand-alone events. Needless to say, I was very relieved financially when I was in grad school and had 4 weddings within 3 months and missed all of the showers because of scheduling conflicts. THAT would have been rough on my pocketbook!

      • Ambi

        I agree that this is news to me, too, but I think it is just fine. Actually, when I have been invited to multiple showers for the same couple (and then usually the bachelorette and then the wedding), I generally don’t brings gifts to each shower. It just gets to be too much. And the brides completely understand. I have been told so many times, “oh my gosh, PLEASE don’t get me another gift, you’ve already gotten us more than enough, I feel so bad that you’re spending so much money on gifts for us.” So now I take that at face value. My own personal rule of thumb is that I bring gifts to the smaller events where they make the biggest difference – so for example, I’ll always bring lingerie to a small lingerie shower but if I have already given a shower gift and am invited to another big, formal, generic shower where people shop directly from the registry, I don’t feel bad about not bringing a gift. Most people don’t even notice, and the bride really won’t hold it against you. This may not be proper etiquitte, but it is my own personal rule that has saved me some sanity.

  • K8899

    I’ve dodged this by living somewhere that doesn’t do showers; I know there’d be some people who would make the sexist comments. I’ll still probably have to do the ‘polite no’ thing about the far off future Hen’s night though (pre-engaged here).

  • Daynya

    I did not want any sort of shower thrown for me, and at best, I was hoping for a picnic type shower for the both of us. No one has asked about it, and no one has offered, so I guess we’re in the clear. It’s a relief, but simultaneously, I feel kind of sad and lonely that no one even offered. As selfish and horrible as that sounds! I’ve not ever been to a good shower, so I have no frame of reference for that, but this advice all seems spot on. I think it’s just like the many family birthday parties when I was growing up. I did not want everyone to chat with me, and watch me eat cake, and sing to me, and witness present opening, but I lived through it, and we have lots of great memories of things like that.

    • KB

      I’m in the same boat – we’re a ways off from the wedding, but I don’t think any of my friends/family may actually throw one for me. And I didn’t think I’d want them to anyways because of the weird gender connotations. But then someone said something to me – RIGHT after we got engaged, I might add – about how she thinks it’s stupid that she’s invited to all of these wedding events for one person because it’s such a waste of time and money. I understand her point, but did she have to phrase it that way…?

  • Alexis

    Yeah, showers are kind of weird… I had 2; the first in my home state hosted by my mother and the second hosted by my future mother-in-law (FMIL) in my FH’s home state. Generally, both were fairly pleasant and provided a really nice opportunity to spend some time with friends and family I may not get to see often (and the opportunity to practice being nice :). I didn’t have or want much say in planning either shower because I was already overwhelmed planning our wedding and I trust both my mom and my FMIL (they both know me pretty well!).

    However, there were a couple things I was uncomfortable with regarding the first shower that could have been avoided with better communication beforehand. 1) I didn’t find out my mom decided to invite people that were not invited to the wedding (and that I didn’t know) until after they were already invited and 2) my mom thought I might not want to open presents in front of everyone, but never asked until the guests started to get antsy so people started to leave halfway through gifts… In the end, no one seemed too offended and I was still very grateful to my mother for the shower, but there were definitely some very awkward and avoidable moments.

    So, guestlist and general schedule may be aspects of showers where boundaries should be set.

  • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

    My shower is coming up in a few weeks, and I’m actually really looking forward to it. It’s a couples shower for both my fiancé and me at my aunt’s house. The guest list includes all of my aunts AND uncles, as well as male and female cousins and their kids. My aunt has a pool, so all guests have been instructed to bring their swimsuits. It makes me feel better knowing that the presence of my fiancé and other men will hopefully make the wife tropes and pregnancy comments less prevalent. I really wish that more people would do this. The kitchen isn’t just the wife’s domain anymore. There’s a good chance her husband (or wife) will be helping out with the cooking and cleaning, so why shouldn’t he get to help open the pots and pans?

    Good luck, ladies! Just try to remember people are doing this out of love.

    • Catherine B

      Oh man, I feel like such a creeper, since I recognized this shower from the weddingbee… You’re my favorite over there and I love the APW mentality you bring to it. Good luck on the bar!

      • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

        aww Thanks! I definitely try to spread the APW Gospel as much as I can. haha

    • Ambi

      I absolutely love this shower idea. I like showers in general, but I think having a couples shower that includes our extended family (rather than just friends our age) is just a wonderful alternative. My mom and aunts have recently thrown several showers for my aunt, cousin, and sister-in-law, and while they were great, they were of the sort that will make me a bit uncomfortable as an older bride (see my post above). This is a really really good compromise. And I think my dad would be very happy to be included in something!

      • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

        Yes! Because the whole thing is much more sensible if you think of it as an opportunity for families to get to know eachother. Gentlemen are part of that too. This shower is really similar to the one we were thrown, and it was very low key, fun and a great chance for us to all enjoy each other. Also, the embarrasing gift opening part is sooooo much easier when your fiance is pantomiming how he will use each of the gifts the whole time.

  • Christine

    I think it’s important to emphasize that these parties, although thrown in your honor and celebrating your union, are sometime more important to the people throwing them. Show up, wear something nice, grit your teeth through the uncomfortable parts, and realize how great it is to have people who want to do something generous for you! Sure there are exceptions, when people try to make it about themselves, but most of the time everyone is happy to give you gifts and get to spend time with you. Besides, this is the part of the wedding that we don’t have to do anything more than show up and smile. Maybe we should all be thanking them for focusing their party-planning energy on a shower and not trying to use it “helping” us with the wedding :)

    • katieprue

      YES! I love this comment so much. My sisters hosted a shower and while I was anxious about the whole deal, showing up and seeing the smiles on their faces was worth it all. They were just so proud and happy to do it! It was truly amazing. So seriously guys. Do it for your friends/sisters/moms/aunts/grandmas. It’s usually just an afternoon anyway.

    • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

      Maybe we should all be thanking them for focusing their party-planning energy on a shower and not trying to use it “helping” us with the wedding :)

      You speak the truth.

  • Lisa

    How do you all have so many people who want to throw showers for you? I’m not totally sure I want a shower, but I don’t think anyone would throw one for me, so it’s probably a moot point. I don’t have many intimate girlfriends where I live, and my family isn’t nearby either. Judging by what happened when we announced our engagement (nothing), I just don’t see anyone stepping up and wanting to throw me/us a shower. Which is especially frustrating because I am the kind of friend who would organize an engagement party or bridal shower for my friends.

    • Lynn

      We had this problem. I’m not from here (even though technically I’ve been here since 2004). My close friends aren’t from here, my maid-of-honor, who wanted to plan and organize something lives 1800 miles away, my mother was even further away. Particularly as we’d had four couples get married before us, each with multiple showers or parties, it felt a lot like we were certainly missing something. I chalked some of it up to the fact that I’m older and I do in fact have most of the stuff that people typically buy for showers. (except good towels. How did we not get a single towel?)

      My awesome mother-in-law stepped in, though, and called the husband’s two best female friends…who then said, well we were wondering who was going to do it and we thought it was odd that we haven’t heard anything and yes we’d love to do it. My MIL wanted to do it herself, but a friend of hers from church told her that families aren’t supposed to host showers and she didn’t want to do anything out of line. From there things fell in to place.

      • Lisa

        That’s great that your MIL did something about it! I wish my MIL would do that, but she’s not super excited about our marriage, so that seems unlikely.

    • Mary

      No one offered to throw us a shower or engagement party either. We have plenty of friends where we live, and large families in our respective home towns, but nope. Its not a big deal or anything, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a tiny pang of sadness when I hear about other people’s showers/engagement parties. I’ve attended and thrown them for others, and (as long as there was booze) I always had a good time.

      • Ambi

        Mary, I am so sorry to hear that. I know I would be a bit upset if no one offered to throw us a shower. Not because I need a party where I get gifts, but because it means something when your loved ones want to celebrate your marraige. Big hugs to you. And maybe while we are discussing how bad showers can be, we should take a minute and reflect on how lucky we are if friends and family want to do this for us.

        But I hope that you can take a step back try not to take this personally. I have a very good friend who is as social and friendly and outcoming and loving as they come. She has hosted and attended more showers and weddings and engagement parties than anyone, and always with a huge smile on, a thoughtful gift in hand, and a few nice words for the couple. And yet, when she got married, no one threw her a shower. No one gave her a party. She and I worked together, and with her wedding date fast approaching, I asked what she was doing for a bachelorette party, if she was having one. She kind of shrugged it off and said that she wasn’t having one, as far as she knew. So I (not a bridesmaid or even very close friend) planned on for her and it was a blast. It turns out, her younger sisters and friends had basically just dropped the ball. They loved her and would have happily attended showers, but no one realized that they needed to step up and make one happen. They just weren’t leader/organizer/planner type people, and so she ended up not having any showers. BUT THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HER! It was in no way a reflection on her or how they felt about her or her marraige – it was just that, put bluntly, in this tiny little aspect of life, her friends kind of sucked and didn’t get organized enough to make things happen, so she missed out.

        HUGS and support. If your friends ever mention the fact that they regret not throwing you a shower (and I doubt they will, but IF), you can just smile and say, “no big deal, you can throw me a kick ass anniversary party.”

        • ElisabethJoanne

          It had nothing to do with her morally, but I’ve been musing on the related issue of the wedding stage-manager, that “super-organized friend who secretly loves being in charge.” I am that friend and family member in a lot of my circles. Because of that, my friends and family don’t have to be.

          Because this friend is the party-planner for her circle, her friends don’t have to think about planning parties. Because they’re out of the habit, they dropped the ball.

          • Ambi

            Yes, exactly! I feel so ashamed to realized this, but we have one friend who is absolutely the party planner, leader, organizer, social butterfly, cruise director for all of us. And you know what, I just realized that she usually organizes drinks or dinner or something around the time of each friend’s birthday, just so we can have a nice evening together and celebrate. And fuck it if we haven’t forgotten to do that for her. I feel like crap, but we WILL remedy this situation!

        • Mary

          You are so sweet, and I think you have it just right. We throw a lot of the dinners/parties in our social circle, so I think it just never occurred to anyone. I only had one bridesmaid, a cousin from home who had just lost her job. We told her the only thing she needed to worry about was showing up the day of to be with me, and that we would pay for that if we had to.

          We are married now, so its kind of a moot point, but like I said, there’s just this little tiny pang whenever the topic comes up.

        • Alexandra

          To be completely honest, until I started reading about weddings (which I practically refused to do until I was engaged) I had absolutely no idea that showers and bachelorettes weren’t planned/hosted by the bride. Or at least, that the bride traditionally doesn’t ask someone to host these for her. I actually told my sister/MOH this little fact, because I knew that if I had no idea, she probably had no idea either.

          The fact that someone else traditionally hosts these parties isn’t necessarily common knowledge.

      • Lisa

        Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one! It’s not like I’m entitled enough to feel like people SHOULD throw me a party, but it does make me a little sad.

        • Elsie

          I was in the same boat too. I didn’t care about the presents, but getting a bridal shower just seems like one of those rites of passage– it’s not something you’ll ever get a chance at again, and I just wanted the experience, even if it was a bit awkward. However, my bridesmaids were in other cities and had never been involved in a wedding before, and likewise all my family is spread out. Thanks to AMBI for pointing out that friends’ personal styles/assumptions probably have more to do with the party or lack thereof than how much they care about the person… I hope that’s the case anyway, but it’s hard not to have doubts.

      • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

        Oh dear! Is there a chance they don’t know you’d enjoy a little party? I know that my cousins put the word out that there would be “No silly showers for little feminist Emily” almost as soon as we were engaged. I was feeling sad too, but mentioned casually that it would have been fun to celebrate with everyone beforehand and two people immediately stepped up and said they had wanted to but thought I wouldn’t want one.
        Obviously, it’s a touchy subject, but it seems like it would be fine to mention maybe doing a “no-gifts brunch” with family or friends to a maid of honor or close relaitive. I feel like the conversation about showers (with so many of us feeling uncomfortable with them) can just be really confusing for those who want to throw them sometimes. Worst case scenario, you just end up having brunch with some aunts and everyone pays for themselves….

      • MDBethann

        Mary, do the members of your bridal party (if you are having one) know that it often falls in their laps to throw you a shower? I was in a friend’s wedding 3 years ago and the MOH had never been in a wedding before nor been to many, so she really didn’t know what we were supposed to do and relied on the other bridesmaids who had been in weddings to guide her. My bridesmaids had all been in weddings and half were married, so they all knew. They also all knew each other in some fashion, so they were able to organize something and communicate with each other. If your girls/guys don’t know each other and each are assuming someone else is throwing a party for you so they don’t have to, it may be why nothing seems to be happening.

        I do recognize that it hurts a bit, even if you don’t really want one. It is nice to know that people care and think of you. I hope you are in for a pleasant surprise!

    • meg

      PS You’re totally allowed to pull someone you love aside, and ask them if they’d be comfortable throwing you a shower, that you really want one, and that it can be easy. I mean, yes, it’s not TECHNICALLY the rule. But sometimes, in the nicest possible way, we do need to ask for what we want, or people will never know.

      • Ambi

        Good advice, which hopefully I will one day take when/if we adopt. I know the foster-to-adopt process will make a traditional baby shower a bit weird to plan (and hey, the child probably won’t be a baby anyway), but fuck it, I know I’ll want a shower. I have a small group of very good girlfriends, and now that you suggested it, I think I’d be perfectly comfortable asking them. And they would be extremely happy to do it.

        • meg

          You can have a baby shower AFTER the baby arrives, FYI. I personally think those are the best kind.

          • Ambi

            Yes, I agree. The fact that we want to do it through the foster system, though, is what gives me pause. We may foster several children before being placed with one that we will eventually be able to adopt. And even then, it can take quite a long time before you even know that the child will become adoption available at all, let alone the time it takes to make an adoption permanent. And, honestly, a fact of fostering is that, even in the late stages of trying to adopt, it can fall through and you can lose the child. In my own heart, I don’t think I could have a shower celebrating our adoption of that child until it was final, at which point we would probably have had the child for at least a year already (pretty much negating a whole lot of the traditional reasoning behind the shower – we definitely wouldn’t want to register and recieve gifts in that situation, I wouldn’t think, since it isn’t like we would be “getting ready for baby). Oh, and it is very likely that this child wouldn’t be a baby at all.

            Sooo . . . I love the idea, mentioned above, about having a shower when we get our foster care certification, but prior to our first placement. That way, we could stock the child’s room in preparation and just celebrate what we are doing without it being explicitly about the fact that we some day hope to adopt. Then, when the adoption is final, I would love to have a giant party to celebrate that. No traditional baby shower, but I have to get over my negativity about that – I really really believe that, for us, this route could be even better.

    • Liz

      Agreeing with Meg and adding on, some folks are the tradition-honoring, party-throwing type and others really really care about you, but just don’t think to express it in that way. Or they assume someone else will be doing it already.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I’m with Lisa and Lynn, but I saw it coming before I even met my future husband, and so had years to work on my expectations.

      I have very few female peer-friends in the area, and we’re not very close. My bridesmaids, my sisters, are much younger. My future mother-in-law, the only woman relative on my future husband’s side of things, is an immigrant and clueless about these things, and I’m not comfortable asking or hinting.

  • Stephanie

    I’m not having a bridal shower. We’re not having attendants, so perhaps that made it easier to pull off. I did have three friends ask if they could throw me a shower, and I politely declined each time. This is a second marriage for me and my fiance, and we have so many household items. We also have a fair bit of family drama on both sides, so we decided that one gathering – the wedding – was enough.

  • http://blog.halfacregoods.com Erin

    My husband’s grandmother threw us a joint shower that was all family. Bridesmaids were invited but neither could make it and the groomsmen both lived on opposite ends of the country so they wouldn’t be close enough to attend. It was wonderful and sweet and we left the whole experience just feeling very loved by our families. I kind of wish everyone could have that experience. :) My dad even called in during the shower to send his best wishes while traveling on a business trip.

  • katieprue

    WHY oh why must we open every.single.present in front of everyone? I’d love to hear more about who has done something different. I was glad I let the shower deal go on just to have the experience, but it was definitely about 1 part overwhelming gratitude to 1 part what the hell is going on here awkwardness. Though for someone like me, who loathes being the center of attention, it was a good exercise in ALL EYES ON YOU. By the time the wedding rolled around I was just that much more comfortable and accepting of people being all up in my business.

    • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

      Ugh yes! The worst part about it is that you registered for the gifts, so you (for the most part) already know what you’re going to get. It’s not really a surprise when you open up the china that you picked out, but you’re expected to act surprised.

      My future mother-in-law wants us to open our wedding gifts the morning after the wedding in front of everyone. As if a shower isn’t torture enough.

      • meg

        Oh yes. You can TOTALLY turn down the wedding gift opening thing, by the way, even if you can’t turn down the shower gift opening thing. Nicely.

        • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

          I plan to, but haven’t yet. At her wedding, she and future father-in-law had a day-after gift-opening, so I don’t want to make it seem like I’m insulting her choices. She tends to take things very personally. Any advice on how to break the news gently?

          • KEA1

            Can you make a “very important” appointment for, say, 1pm on the day after? It could end up being to go see a movie, even, but it would make you too pressed for time to open gifts. Or you could point out that most people sent you their gifts directly from the registry and that you don’t want to make anyone (those who brought gifts in person OR those who didn’t) feel awkward!

      • Ltaz

        We opened our gifts the 2 days after our wedding in our homes, by ourselves, with glasses of wine in hand! I didn’t know opening the wedding gifts in front of others was a thing?

        But I think you can politely decline by saying, “I think myself and my spouse would like to open these together, just the two of us, as newlyweds.We’re really excited to do it just the two of us! But, we can leave them out for you to look at what we got, later, if you’d like!”?

        Just a thought! :) We had so much fun opening them at our own pace– I think we even paused and watched a movie in between. And possibly over a couple of days to draw it out.

        • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

          Just saw your advice after I posted my solicitation for advice. Thank you! I really am looking forward to sharing some of our wedding moments with just the two of us. Meg’s talked a lot recently about engaged women being treated as public property, and there are some things I want to reserve for just the two of us to enjoy together.

    • Amy March

      To avoid hurting the feelings of the people who brought them. One lovely option I have seen for a couple shy brides is putting them on a couch with two enthusiastic gushy people on either side, who can help unwrap, display, exclaim over etc, letting the bride just mouth a thank you and keeping things moving. A good pushy cousin with a plan can get through 30 gifts in under half an hour. Also- bring the good scissors.

      • katieprue

        Hmm, I disagree. I can’t speak for everyone, but I wouldn’t expect someone to open a gift from me right in front of me. Maybe I have horrific etiquette? Completely possible. A nice thank you note afterwards is truly enough, in my opinion. I really like the spread ‘em out and get help opening idea!

        • Amy March

          I only expect it at showers, which are specifically designed for the guests to bring the honoree gifts.

        • Daynya

          I agree…I don’t want to watch people open presents. Really. I’m glad you got stuff, and I’d love a thank you note. If it’s some amazing, earth-shattering gift that will change their lives? I can see pleading with someone to open it. There is nothing more awkward to me than opening gifts in front of people, or watching others do the same.

        • Liz

          Opening presents is boring for me as the opener or as the guest watching (definitely one of the major things I was thinking of when I said it’s an obligation for all sides). But I’m assuming there are those who love it, or else the tradition would’ve died off.

          • KEA1

            While I want to agree with that logic, I have the impression that traditions can actually survive despite mass loathing/scoffing. Why else, for example, do so many receptions still include a bouquet toss? %)

    • Jashshea

      My friend is the youngest by far of 4 and has a large brood of cousins. Her family (and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this) does assembly line gifts – BMs hand presents off to MOH who is standing beside the bride. MOH opens the gift 80% of the way and loudly announces who gave it. People can pretty much carry on conversations while all of this is going on, but it moves pretty quickly.

      I’m not having a bridal party, but I’m asking her to play this role at my home shower.

    • MDBethann

      I agree that opening presents at wedding showers can get a bit old. Though sometimes there are surprises – I got a lovely handmade afghan from one of my dad’s cousins. It was soooo beautiful and I loved that I got to share her handiwork with everyone.

      HOWEVER, I LOVE watching expectant moms open presents at baby showers. Sooooo many cute things to squeal and ooh and ah over and often there are some beautiful handmade items.

      • Liz

        Your afghan reminds me of my own surprise! There was a vintage quilt I fell in love with and my mom secretly bought without my knowledge. When I went back to buy it, it was gone and I was heartbroken and I called and cried to her, and she didn’t let the secret slip a bit. Everyone at the shower knew the story of the quilt, and waited expectantly for me to open it. Opening it in front of everyone, the rush of surprise and tears and happies- it was lovely.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I’m one of those who enjoys the look of happiness and gratitude when someone opens a gift I gave them.

      I’ve been primed for this since birth. My family does very specific wish-lists for Christmas and birthdays, so those gifts aren’t surprises, either. We spend 6 or more hours opening presents on Christmas morning. Every birthday is celebrated by opening about a dozen gifts with the family.

      We even have these things called “un-birthday presents” that our small presents for the non-birthday siblings, so they don’t feel left out. It’s rather silly now that the youngest is about to turn 17, but we just have so much ceremony with presents, the un-birthday presents aren’t going away.

      So, by the time I get married, I will basically have attended over 50 (if you count Christmas) mini-showers for myself, and close about 40 more for my sisters.

      • Ambi

        I too tend to enjoy the gift opening ceremony. Part of it is that I get ridiculously giddy about all things related to weddings and babies, and seeing the items that my friend got to set up her house is just kinda nice. But, I have to admit that I am very very big on putting a LOT of thought into my gifts, and I enjoy the excitement when they are opened. I have been this way my whole life, but I honestly can think of almost nothing more fun than trying to imagine and then execute the perfect gift for someone. I (now) always start with something on the registry (since I’ve grown up and figured out that, hey, that’s actually what people want), but I almost always pair it with off-registry items to make a whole gift. You know, like if the mom-to-be registers for baby bath soap and washcloths, I’ll get those and add a couple of baby bath toys and a waterproof disposable camera with a homemade card that includes a picture of a baby playing in the bath. If the bride-to-be registered for a pasta pot, I might get that and pair it with italian cooking lessons and a bottle of red wine. I know this is Martha-Stewart-crazy, but it’s just my thing. I love it. So, yeah, I get a kick out of having my gifts opened at the shower. Maybe I should be more mature than this, but having people get genuinely excited about the gift that I spent so much time on makes me feel good.

  • Jashshea

    Touched on this in a comment above, but I’m having three – one in my hometown, one thrown by his fam, one recipe shower thrown by his parents church. I’m not the cook in the relationship.
    Showers (baby/bridal) are not my cup of tea at all – I’d rather be watching baseball or playing video games (or getting a root canal, if we’re being honest). However, all of these groups wanted to do something and I’m going to be as gracious as possible.

    Oddly, I’m not that worried about it being assumed that because I’m female, I must be the “lady of the house.” When I open a 12 inch skillet/pan/fryer (I honestly don’t have any idea what he registered for or how it’s used), I’ll say “he’s going to love cooking me dinner using this here thing!” It’s a) true and b) gently f*cks with everyone’s gender role BS.

    I am worried that someone will make me a bow bouquet. I just…don’t get it. Bows are trash once presents are opened. I feel oddly strongly about this.

    Side note: I like presents and I don’t mind being the center of attention. I cannot begin to imagine what this whole situation would be like if I were shy/socially anxious/etc. That adds a layer of complexity and my heart goes out to those of you who hate the spotlight.

    • kara

      Even worse than the bow bouquet: all the married ladies telling you the number of children you’ll have based on the number of bows you break. Is it bad that I just want to break them all just because?

    • MDBethann

      My bows will all come in handy on future gifts – now I don’t have to buy bags of bows myself!

  • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

    Really glad to hear so many people felt weird about their bridal showers/bridal showers in general. For me, this is where the objection of “But you have to! It’s tradition!” came out. Years ago, I told my mom “We’re not doing that weird thing where everyone watches you open up the presents. No one wants to see that, and it’s so awkward. I’m not five-years-old.” And my mom said “But it’s tradition!” Then we had an argument about whether my now-husband had to show up (meaning he had to travel 4 hours total to “show up” at the very end). Of course we ended up doing it. At least during the present part, most people were chatting any not really paying attention, but I still felt awkward. People gave lovely presents and I wanted to thank them properly, but it’s odd doing it when everyone is watching you open up a pile of gifts like you’re five-years-old at a birthday party.

    I don’t mean to sound whiny or ungrateful. It was a lovely afternoon; I’m glad I got to see family and friends. But I’m also glad that other people had weird feelings about the experience as well.

  • Marissa

    Oh man, I needed this post today. I only got engaged a few months ago, and my grandmother is already pressuring (HARD) for bridal showers. She/my family wants to throw me six. Six bridal showers. IsweartoGawd SIX BRIDAL SHOWERS.

    When I told her that was lovely, but perhaps too many showers, she had a fit. She literally told me that I’ll miss out on lots of gifts (as if that’s why you have bridal showers?!?!) and that I don’t get a choice, it’s happening even if they have to “surprise” me. That irked me, so then I REALLY put my foot down and told her I wanted not a single shower. That went over like a ton of bricks. She publicly chastised me and told me she wouldn’t accept a decision until I talked it over with fiance’s mom. Like I can’t decide for myself. (Sorry, still pretty mad about this.)

    After reading today’s post, I’ll probably agree to one big shower, but I simply cannot handle six. Like other posters mentioned, I hate parties, I loathe those stupid little games, I start to shake when opening gifts in front of people, we’ve been living together for years and already have most of this stuff, etc. I just boggled my mind that she expects the norm is 6 showers, and that I don’t get a say in any of this. Is anybody else facing a similar situation?

    • Jashshea

      6 is quite a few. Especially if everyone is in the same geographical region. Just my opinion, but yikes. I thought 3 was rough.

      • Ambi

        Where I am from, six isn’t unheard of – BUT they aren’t all really “showers.” Here, the couple could easily have six or eight parties, but that would include an engagement party or two (no gifts expected, just a fun party for friends and family to eat, drink, and congratulate the couple), a couple of actual traditional bridal showers, maybe a stock the bar party or “honey-do” shower for tools and household gadgets (these are usually couples showers), and a bachelorette party/lingerie shower. Yes, it is a lot, and it gets expensive, and it can be a bit much if you invite the same people to each one. But, at least here, it is fairly normal. And we generally don’t invite the same people. For example, your fiance’s family may throw you a shower in his home town with their friends and relatives, your family may do the same in your town, your friends might throw a couple’s shower, your office may throw you a work shower, and your bridesmaids would do the bachelorette/lingerie shower.

        All of this is to say that, while six is a lot and you can absolutely put your foot down, you also shouldn’t automatically assume that this will be a burden on your guests or be something to dread. I have seen it work pretty well where the bride agrees to several showers but communicates to each group of hosts about the other showers she is having so that there aren’t too many guest overlapping and so that the types/themes of the showers vary.

        Do only what you are comfortable with, but keep an open mind – showers can be fun. They are really just parties . . .

        • Marissa

          Thanks for the input. The way you describe it makes sense. I can definitely see that working for a large group of people, or for very social brides. I just don’t fit into either one of those categories, so I’m afraid most of the same people would be invited to most of the parties or the parties would be only 3 or 4 people each. Or my grandmother will dig up old friends that I (intentionally) haven’t spoken to in years and the whole thing will just be awkward as hell.

          The thought of just ONE bridal shower gives me some anxiety, so six was just plain overwhelming. And yes, the six parties are all supposed to be bridal showers, just for different social groups. Bachelorette parties, engagement parties, bridal luncheons, etc. are all additional in my grandmother’s plan.

          Looking back, this is more of a symptom than a problem. My grandmother is getting WAY too involved, but it’s hard to bring her down a notch, as my mother isn’t involved at all (talk about emotionally distant mothers) and grandmother is trying to make up for that. Sigh. But really, thanks for your input- it’s much appreciated.

      • Marissa

        Thanks for the validation :) It’s needed, dear internet stranger.

        And yes, they’re all semi-local. Here’s how she broke it down:

        1. My family
        2. His family (who lives 6 hours away but is expected to travel)
        3. My friends
        4. His friends
        5. My work friends
        6. His work friends

        Problem is, our friends overlap by a large margin, and I don’t have more than 1 or 2 female friends I’d feel comfortable inviting (that includes work friends). I tried to explain that, she told me it was nonsense, we’ll just invite everyone I’ve ever known.

        At this point, I’m more than ready to just throw my hands into the air and elope, but I know that’s not right. Why does family have to make things so difficult?

        • Ambi

          Please do whatever YOU feel the most comfortable with, and take my advice with a grain of salt, but if you would like unsolicited advice from a total stranger, here is what I would do:

          1) Your family
          2) His family,but offer to travel to them – say that you are really uncomfortable asking them all to travel and that you’d prefer to get a chance to visit his home town.
          3) A join “friends” shower – ask your two groups of hosts to join forces. Frame it as practical (since the guest list will overlap so much) and a chance for an awesome epic shower. Plus, twice the hosts means that each host has to pay less . . .
          4) Depending on how your particular group of friends overlaps, you could either just invite work friends to the one “friends” shower and not have seperate work showers, or have very small seperate work showers – maybe just happy hour after work at a favorite bar, where the hosts buy a round of appetizers for everyone?

          Unfortunately, while eloping may save some wedding drama, you will probably still have to deal with showers/parties. :)

          And, I know this may be unpopular advice, but I have been to a lot of showers where they basically invited everyone the bride has ever known, and they worked out just fine. They were great. People caught up with friends they hadn’t seen in a while, and it was fun. Your guests do not have to be your nearest and dearest and very best friends.

          And finally, please remember that the invited guests are (for the most part) grown ass people, and if they get invited to two or three showers and that is too much, they’ll polititely decline to a few of them. Or come, enjoy the party, and not bring a gift (which I have done when I was attending the second or third shower for the same bride, and it is JUST FINE not to bring a gift).

          Whatever you do, make your decision, communicate it clearly but kindly, recognize and try to accomodate your friends and relatives desire to be a host (this is about them, not you), and try to find a way to let them do that for you without making you uncomfortable (maybe suggest that some of these groups host a brunch the day after the wedding instead of a shower or ask if one of your “friends” showers can be turned into your bachelorette party instead). GOOD LUCK!

          • Marissa

            You. You are awesome. When I posted, it was really only to get this stuff off my chest; I certainly didn’t expect somebody to respond.

            I think you’re right about combining/re-classifying the parties, and the happy hour thing actually sounds like fun! Holy crap I might actually be excited about a pre-wedding party. Stop the presses.

            But really, thank you for all your kind words and good advice. Meg talks a lot about how this is a safe place and a caring community, and I’m starting to see exactly what she means. You’ve made me feel much better about the whole issue without invalidating my feelings, and that’s a hard thing to do. Hopefully I can channel a little of that into future talks with my grandmother. :)

            Thank you, again.

          • Ambi

            You are very welcome, so glad I could help. I agree with Meg, the idea of six formal, traditional showers would be overwhelming. To me, the key is to combine parties where possible and then to vary the format so that they aren’t all “showers.”

            I really hope your friends are receptive to joining forces to host one big shower rather than several – just approach them with the idea in a super positive, excited way, rather than by framing it as a favor you are asking for that they may not like. So, as someone who has hosted a bajillion showers, I would ALWAYS be excited to hear the bride say, “Great news! I have a few more friends who would love to join in as hosts of the shower – that way, you’ll have even more help and money and resources to throw the party, and it will be so much easier on me to have one awesome shower instead of trying to schedule several! Yay, I am so excited to have one big party with all my friends. This is going to be so much fun. Thank y’all so much for doing this for me!”

            If they still resist, lay down the law – they can join forces or host other events like the bachelorette, but you are putting your foot down on the number of showers. Stay strong! And try to have fun.

        • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

          Eloping may not stop people from trying to throw you showers though! In fact, some people will look at eloping as all the MORE reason to throw a shower.

    • meg

      Six. Bridal. Showers. OMG.

      Lady, you’re dead right to think that is too many, and you will possibly maybe have a nervous breakdown by the end :) You’re well within your rights to limit it to one or two, and combine them in ways that make sense to your particular social circles (or to one big shower) and put your foot down nicely. There is no reason friends and family can’t all play nicely together. (Now I’m going to go have a nervous breakdown just thinking about it…)

    • MDBethann

      Wow. I felt extravagant with 2!!

      • Ambi

        Yet something else that may be regional/relative? I know it seems insane, but it is pretty common where I am from to have a whole boat load of wedding-related parties, although they aren’t all showers. Like I said above, engagement parties, bridal showers, couples showers, stock the bar parties, football tailgating parties that are also parties in honor of the engaged couple (yes, this happens – and it is awesome), lingerie showers, bachelor/bachelorette, etc. – Clearly it can get a bit excessive, but what can I say, I guess we make the most of any excuse to have a party!

        • Lynn

          I had to laugh recently when I sent out a sorta save-the-date for my husband’s 30th birthday party (I might be older than he is). His birthday is actually right before one of his female best friends gets married, and I wanted to make sure that everyone realized this birthday party was going to be a big deal to him as we’ve moved and he’s missing his friends.

          About-to-be married female bff responded and said, “Oh I’m glad you let me know! The last of my bridal luncheons was set for that date.” When I asked her how many bridal luncheons she was having (wtf is a bridal luncheon? Seriously…what is it?), she responded with five. On top of her showers.

          I have clearly missed the boat on all of this stuff.

          • Ambi

            A bridal luncheon is like the most formal of traditional all-female showers, except there is no expectation that anyone will bring gifts. It is basically an excuse for everyone to get all dressed up and have a very prim and fancy lunch and get drunk on mimosas in the middle of the day . . . or maybe that’s just my friends. :)

        • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

          OMG I now officially want to have a football tailgating party in my honor! My fiancé and I met at a BIG football school and go back to almost every game. We’re getting married on the only bye weekend of the season for this exact reason. We registered for tailgating supplies. Why are football tailgating showers not a Midwestern thing?!?

    • Ltaz

      I was anti-shower as well — not my thing!

      My Husband has a friend who died in the war. Friend’s Mom likes to be involved, and really wanted to throw a shower, so I let her. BUT — I asked for a few things — we threw a co-ed family and friends shower, and let everyone know through speaking with them that gifts were entirely optional —

      It worked great! Friend’s Mom had a big, open garden, and everyone had a nice relaxed afternoon in a quiet space! And — NO GAMES — I talked to my MOH and made it clear how much I DO NOT like or enjoy party games. She made sure to give that input (more than once) to family involved in planning the shower.

      I’d put your foot down about 6 — But maybe instead of just saying No, maybe saying, “OK — I don’t want 6 seperate showers, but maybe we could do this instead?” — That way there’s alternatives — Just a thought! :) And then, if you know they’re trying for games/tons of gifts, etc… start circulating your wishes yourself to people a little more outside-the-situation, and they can try to help, too….

      I’m sure it will all work out though! :)

  • kt in kc

    This article has PERFECT timing! I actually have not given an ounce of thought about my bridal shower until just this week, when my MoH and my two attendants mentioned it to me (in separate conversations).

    Last weekend, my fiance and I recently had a really good conversation about our bridal register. Because we’ve been living together for the past couple years, we don’t need more dish towels or another set of pots and pans (nor do we have room for anything like that!). What we would truly appreciate would be gift contributions toward a savings account for a downpayment on our first family home. Thanks to http://www.hatchmyhouse.com, we built our registry, and we feel great about asking for gifts that will keep on giving, rather than some appliance stuck way back in a cabinet somewhere, never to see the light of day.

    However, that completely removes any need for the gift-opening tradition at a bridal shower, considering there won’t be any tangible gifts. So when my MoH and two attendants asked me about any bridal shower presents, told them the truth: I hadn’t thought about it seriously, but now that they’re asking…I have some guidelines:

    (1) They should work together on one large bridal shower, with both friends and family, rather than separate showers for separate social groups. All those guests are going to be invited to the wedding, so they’re all going to be together at the wedding, so they might as well be together for the shower, and start having fun together.

    (2) With no traditional bridal registry, I’d rather have the shower be about fun and games, cocktails and good treats, and sharing matrimonial war stories. To me, the shower is about everyone I love being together and celebrating all our weddings, marriages, family and friends – not about me getting gifts.

    (3) The bachelorette party should be that evening of the bridal shower, so that anyone who’s out of town can attend both the shower and the bachelorette party, or one or the other.

    That’s all the major guidelines I have, and that’s what I told my MoH and attendants when they asked. I don’t think the little details about shower napkins, shower venue, caterer, etc. are my place to dictate. As the bride, I consider my job is focusing on planning the wedding! My MoH and attendants can have their fun planning the shower. (It helps that I completely trust them – they’re a great group of friends.)

    Sorry for the long post – I hope all this helps other brides!

    • Jashshea

      I’m 1000 miles from my family and I asked for limited physical presents at that shower. There are millions of ways to make that happen (have everyone take a picture of what they bought, string them up in the room;

      I doubt this is actually rude per etiquette standards/baselines, but I feel like it’s odd? rude? to buy someone a physical present that they then have to ship to themselves. I always ship them something from the registry and include a note in the card I give at the shower about why I did it that way.

    • One More Sara

      I could basically copy and paste this and send it to my sister as guidelines for my shower/bachelorette party! AWESOME!

  • CarolineEr

    Here’s my best piece of wedding shower advice: wear something breathable and loose-fitting. Why? Because having everybody intensely paying attention to you can create a very sweaty experience.

    I learned this the hard way at my first shower and was more appropriately clothed the following week at my second shower. :)

  • Lynn

    I totally agree that the bride and a lot of times, even the guests at showers, don’t really find them that fun. Particularly the cheesy games. But the commenters above are right–they are based on love. One game I usually employ when helping to throw a shower is to print out the couple’s names at the top of a piece of paper and then ask guests to come up with as many words as they can using the letters in their names. Only give them a few minutes and then declare the winner to be the person who came up with the most words. Games along this line are at least for the guests and don’t revolve embarassing the bride, like wrapping her in toilet paper or making her wear bows on her head.

    I recently got engaged and one of my awesome bridesmaids is planning my shower to be a “Bridesmaids” (the movie) themed shower. Her husband will be handing out pink lemonade as people enter, she is making me a ginormous cookie that I have been promised I can destroy as an awesome photo op, and she is currently researching an alternative favor to puppies with pink berets. For those of us in the younger crowd who know the movie, I think it will make the day a lot funnier and more bearable.

    • One More Sara

      At my baby shower, people had to come up with baby names using only the letters in our names, which gave everyone a whopping 5 letters to choose from. (A,O,S,R,N) it was so hard!!!

      • Ambi

        I am filing this idea away to use at the next baby shower I host!

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    Mine is in a couple of weeks and while I’m looking forward to seeing everyone (I live in a different state from my family and many of my close friends) I am nervous about being the center of attention. What helps me out is that my three and four year-old nieces will be there and they LOVE to help open presents. So I’m quite sure that during the present opening portion, they’ll be the real centers of attention and they don’t mind one bit.

  • KW

    I’m getting around having a bridal shower by not letting people know we are getting married in the 1st place. ;-) Heck, we aren’t even publicly engaged and my only ring will be my wedding ring. I wouldn’t be surprised if missing out on the shower is going to be as disappointing for at least one of my sisters as missing out on the actual wedding will be.

    I do like some of the ideas here, like the wine tasting, recipe shower, and such. I expect to be called upon to do some of this stuff for others in the future so I am tucking away these ideas for when the time comes.

  • Mara

    As a feminist, I’m not a fan of traditional bridal showers, and I’ve felt so uncomfortable at the few I’ve attended. I’m also not the best at being the center of attention. Luckily, I was asked by my future sisters-in-law what kind of celebration I wanted: shower, night on the town, etc. So nine of us are going out for Mexican (with plenty of margaritas) and then piling into a private room for Japanese-style karaoke. I requested no penis accessories, and hopefully my friends know me well enough not to get dishtowels or gravy boats. :) My FH and I have lived together for two years and own our own house, so we have a honeymoon registry, yay!

    • Lynn

      My best friend reminded me that I had the right to refuse to wear a plastic penis. I mostly stuck to that. ;)

  • Laurel

    I have to disagree with Liz’s advice to I HATE BOWS. Maybe it was just a one-off, but I don’t think I’d experience it that way. It’s really disconcerting to realize that members of your community have gendered expectations that you don’t want to meet. Those 30 people won’t be in the room with you, but they *will* talk smack about your grooming, the cleanliness of your house, and your decisions about child-bearing and raising. The shower just concentrates the stuff that’s usually more diffuse.

    Which is not to say you shouldn’t just say EFF THAT and blow it off. Just that it’s worth considering whether the shower helped you see dynamics that you want to get out of in general. If (say) your mom is making you put bows on your head and be THE GIRLIEST GIRL, do you need to figure out how to draw boundaries? How to tell her that’s not you? Now is a good time. Don’t just sweep it under the rug.

    • Liz

      This is fair.

      My answer was probably rooted in my own experience. The way people treated me at my bridal shower bore no reflection on how I was treated after.

      Anyone else have a different experience?

      • Laurel

        I mean, I’m not having a bridal shower and I wouldn’t call myself a bride. But so far, every single relationship dynamic involved in the wedding has also been present in our regular lives.

        • http://theblogwhisperer.tumblr.com HeatherG

          Yes and No, in my experience.

          Yes, I could see personalities play out at both showers and certain family members and friends have differing opinions about my role in my marriage. But, No, I agree with Liz here, these people and their opinions do not play a central role in my marriage.
          I think you learn how to respond politely and assertively to people with differing opinions and you set up your own way of doing things. There will ALWAYS be people who have opinions about you and how you do things.

          Now, if there is a person or two in that 30-odd group of people whose opinion truly matters to you, I would take the opportunity to talk it over and say exactly what you said here. “I’m concerned that my view of marriage doesn’t line up with your expectations and I like/love you and am wondering if we can discuss this.” The bottom line is though, you cannot control what people say and how people perceive you. For the people who are essential in helping support the marriage, I would have frank conversations. For everyone else, I would do say eff it (kind of like what Meg was saying about having a baby).

      • Ambi

        Maybe this is one of those situations where weddings/engagements/showers just magnify the gendered expectations? I’d say that all of the showers I’ve been to recently have shown each guest acting and being and expressing herself to be the person that I’ve always known (they aren’t suddenly different), but it just created a venue in which it is deemed okay (and even expected) for them to comment to parts of your life that are generally off limits. When else is anyone ever allowed to ask you about your plans having children, to joke about your sex life, to comment on your figure or body? My guess is, the thoughts expressed at these events aren’t really outliers or one offs – they reflect how the guest really thinks. BUT thankfully, in our day to day lives, people have enough sense to keep these thoughts to themselves. Maybe? I really don’t know. But it is an issue. I haven’t had to cross that bridge yet, as we are in the very early stages, but I kind of dread all the wedding shower questions about kids because we know that we want to adopt, and will probably do it domestically through the foster care system. This isn’t a decision I have felt the need to share with my mom or my future MIL, let alone all my distant relatives. Emotions will bubble. But at the same time, I don’t feel comfortable passively allowing talk of biological children and jokes about the honeymoon leading to a pregnancy, when my fiance and I know that probably isn’t the way it will happen for us . . .

        Anyway, I don’t have any advice, but I do sympathize with you. It definitely IS an issue.

      • http://twitter.com/irisira irisira

        Well, my MIL insisted on the stupid bow hat, but that was because my MIL and her sisters are a wee bit snarky, and they were having their own fun with it. We were all half in the bag by the time the bow hat got put on me, so there’s that. :) (MIL also got me a Martha Stewart cookbook, which got a HUGE laugh out of everyone, since his whole family knows he’s the cook, not me!)

        Mind you, they did lovely, wonderful things for my shower, too. I feel like this makes it sound heinous and it was not. If I was going to be truly humiliated by it, they NEVER would have insisted on that.

    • meg

      I think I agree with this. Liz’s point is well made, and well taken, but I think it can be painful because it exposes a bunch of real issues you’re going to have to deal with for a really long time, and stuff you’re going to have to learn how to draw boundaries with, which is tough.

  • Kristi

    I also feel uncomfortable with the idea of being center of attention, opening gifts, getting risqué accessories that will go right in the trash. Though, I love the idea of getting together with my girls, enjoying a nice meal and (YES, i’ll admit it) getting to use the scanner gun to pick out some cute new houswares–and finally throw out the $12.99 Ikea dinnerware set that was a hand me down from who knows. Let’s face it: my fiance and I could use some new things

    My best friend had the idea of setting up a simple brunch at one of my favorite spots and in leiu of opening gifts, each person would wrap their gift in clear cellophane. That way, I could see what it was and thank them gererously and appropratiately. I love this idea. That way I can sit back, relax, EAT, and spend the time we have enjoying my family and friends company. Not opening gifts and making every sit there and oogle over them. Eric and I can do that later! ;)

    I also love the idea of setting up a honeymoon registry, since we are paying for the wedding ourselves. We probably won’t be able to afford both.

  • MDBethann

    So I’m curious about something. We’ve talked here today about wedding showers for bride/groom weddings, but what about 2 brides or 2 grooms? Do you have joint showers? Separate showers? No showers for 2 grooms? They may need to set up a house too.

    • Liz

      My inexperienced assumption would be the shower would be thrown for the couple rather than one partner or the other, but I’m interested to see if that’s how it’s played out in practice.

      Any LGBTQ couples want to share their experience?

      • Mara

        We had a couples’ shower. It was the best way we could think of to avoid really uncomfortable gender-role situations. We actually got the idea from two grooms about a year ago who were writing for soyoureengayed. They called it a thunderstorm, to up the manliness factor.

        The couple’s shower turned out to be a nice way to kind of spin the whole gender roles thing. Since I’m more traditionally feminine than my partner, most people assumed I would be “the bride.” We countered it by having the shower at my partner’s parents’ home, so the ball would be more in her court.

        Bonus: It’s the only party we’ve attended to date without someone having too many drinks and asking how lesbians have sex. WIN.

        • Ambi

          THUNDERSTORM! I love it!!! I totally want a bridal thunderstorm now!

      • http://www.alacartealbums.com jeliza

        It’s been couples parties for me both times, when I was in a bride/groom situation and then in my current more queer incarnation.

    • Kristi

      Good call on this! I think it really depends on the couples social circles. If two brides have the same friends, they could do one shower. If their groups of friends are mostly separate, they could each have one…the possibilities are endless.

      I don’t think there are any rules on who could have a shower. Two grooms should have showers, too! :)

      • Ambi

        In my fairly limited personal experience, both partners were invited to the showers, and the showers always tended to be co-ed. That it just how it has played out in our social circle.

    • meg

      I’ve been invited to joint showers (at least for baby showers), but again, I don’t think it has to be that way. Like with mixed-gender couples, it depends on the couple, their friends and family, and their personal needs.

  • Jen

    Oh how I wish this post ran a few months ago! My bridal shower was planned by my dearest friend who understood my apprehensions of having a shower for my second wedding. I felt obligated by family to have one and my friend planned what we thought would be the least uncomfortable type of party possible. A good chunk of family members were unable to make it and offered to throw a second shower, thankfully I was able to defer their wishes by saying, I really just wanted one, where both sides of the family could get to know each other.

    But boy did I underestimate my apprehensions. My bridal shower literally sent me into therapy. Not even kidding. But talk about a blessing in disguise. So many past emotions and concerns about doing “this” all again came up on that day, and I even had a mild anxiety attack opening presents–eek!

    Despite the really tough day–I’m thankful I got to give those who loved me a chance to shower me, and it opened my eyes to do something for myself–talk to a counselor about all my issues about having a second shower, wedding..the whole shebang. I’ve come a long way thanks to that fateful shower, and now feel fully excited about my wedding celebration—in exactly 8 days!

    • Ambi

      It is a really lovely coincidence that I (after posting above about how weird I feel about showers as a slightly older bride) am the one to respond to this, but I just really really really REALLY want to give you a huge hug and then look you in the eye and say “people showered you with gifts and love and happiness because they love you so much and are so happy for you.” I know it is hard to see on the outside, but I can tell you from experience that I recently attended several weddings that were second marraiges for at least one of the partners, and they were so moving and touching and lovely. I don’t usually cry at weddings, but when my boyfriend’s cousin (whose wife left him unexpectedly) exchanged vows with a wonderful woman and mom of four kids whose husband had also walked out on them, I cryed like a baby. When they said those vows, and both of them really really knew and understood exactly how hard marraige could be, but they loved each other enough to form a family with those four beautiful kids . . . wow, I completely lost it. Every single person in the room was filled with so much love and joy. Every wedding is beautiful, but sometimes the hard path that brings you to this current place makes everything even sweeter and more poignant.

      All of that is to say that, I am so glad you are in therapy and I hope it is helping, but if I have any advice at all, it is please listen to your family and friends and believe them when they tell you that they are so utterly overjoyed by your newfound happiness. I understand your hesitation – I really really do. I feel some of it myself about being an older bride who has lived with my boyfriend for a long time. I think what I really needed was to hear you talk about your feelings, because it made me realize how unnecessary both of our stress is about these issues. Our family and friends love us and are happy for us and we both have a right to be completely and utterly happy about our upcoming marraiges. Wow. I am really amazed at how your question helped me see how wrong my previous thinking was . . .

      Congratulations to you. Seriously – deepest love and support and hugs from all of us here.

  • Michelle

    I just want to add my experience to the conversation. I absolutely put my foot down and said “NO SHOWER.” Period. At all. I hate being the center of attention and I don’t generally like the “obligation” to bring another gift, etc. When I told my mom this, you would have thought I ripped her still-beating heart out of her chest. I told her and my sister (MOH), that if they REALLY wanted to plan something, make it a nice lunch or brunch, get mani/pedis, something like that. No gifts, no awkward games, etc. My sister ended up planning me the perfect pseudo-shower. They surprised me at one of those paint your own pottery places, and instead of gifts, everyone painted me a piece of pottery! They had food and sangria and everyone got to sit and mingle and paint. Totally up my crafty alley, and no one was staring at me, plus all my different groups of friends got to meet each other and talk (it was such a great icebreaker for this!). Some people did still bring gifts (one of the things I learned here on APW is that people want to be nice to you during this time…let them!) but I was not expected to open them right then and there. So it is possible to come to a happy medium where people are able to plan a party to celebrate YOU, which they want to do, but you are being celebrated in a way that doesn’t make you uncomfortable. I had multiple compliments from guests on how fun it was, what a great idea it was, and how they wish they had “been able” to do something similar for THEIR showers. My answer to that is, you can! Don’t feel obligated or pressured to do something that makes you that uncomfortable just because someone tells you it’s tradition! :)

    • Ambi

      I want to second the paint your own pottery idea. I have a good friend (somehow all my APW comments start with I have a good friend . . .) who was pregnant during her engagement and wedding. She was a bit bummed about missing out on a traditional bachelorette party, but it just didn’t work with a bride who can’t drink, several very young siblings as bridesmaids, and a destination wedding with guests and wedding party from across the country. So what we did was have a really fun girls night at the hotel suite where she was staying for the wedding – we held it after the rehearsal dinner, and had desserts and sweets and brought in a “party box” from one of those pottery places. It contained a set of ceramic plates, brushes, and about 5 paints in colors that matched her kitchen and her other dishes. Every person there painted her a plate, and then we packed them all back up as instructed and dropped them off at the pottery studio the next morning. A few weeks later, she recieved a pretty set of personal and unique dishes that have wonderful memories attached. This may sound really cheesy, but I can’t tell you how perfect it was. The younger girls loved it, the grandmothers loved it, and the bride had a great time without ever feeling like she was missing out on a drunken night out on the town.

      This particular pottery place had very reasonable prices for the party kit. I don’t remember how much it was, but I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t break the bank.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        A typical bachelorette party didn’t make sense to me, for me. Go out drinking with my girlfriends? I can do that after I’m married, no problem, as Meg’s written about.

        BUT camping with my family (of origin)? Much trickier, as my future husband doesn’t like camping, it’s overnight, etc. So, my “bachelorette party” is a camping trip with my father, mother, sisters, and uncle.

        It’s about doing what makes sense to you, for you.

        • Jennifer

          Much agreed. “Bachelorette” parties is all about what you can’t do when you get married. I never drank all night with my friends anyways. So why would I do it now?

          What do I WANT to do for my bachelorette party? Don’t know. But I just want it to be something fun to do with my friends. I know my brother in law did white water rafting. When my sister got married we went to a fondue bar.

          Plus, I use to live in a city. I HATED bachelorette parties. I hated seeing drunk skinny girls with their one fat friend in mini skirts going around town screaming. Maybe for my bachelorette party I should get drunk with my friends in housing developments knocking on everyone’s doors screaming “I’m GETTING MARRIED!”

    • meg

      YES.

  • SarahCruz

    We threw a mini shower for a friend the day before her wedding, it was just the lady attendants and the bride. We went for a gorgeous hike, brought hard lemonade, cheese, and crackers, and then at the top of the mountain we each broke out the gift we had brought: a book for the reader bride, along with a love letter from us to her explaining the intention of the gift. There was some “opening of gifts” but we were each reading our letters to her aloud while she opened our gifts, and since it was a small and fascinating group of women it was really awesome to see what each of us had selected and why. The books themselves were also relatively easy to pack home again, and we know they’ll be used. Each was different: children’s books (the couple had been very clear that kids were a priority right away), a cookbook, poetry, comics, and relationship advice. It was really amazing how each book reflected the giver, yet interested the bride.

    It seems like the theme I’m collecting from the comments, is that a shower (bridal, baby, or other) really needs to focus on the guest of honor, and pretty much never be based on nebulous traditions that have little or no connection to the person being celebrated. Maybe the way around is to jump on it early and get your very best friend to throw you a shower you know you’ll enjoy?

    I hate being the center of attention when I’m uncomfortable, and can’t imagine anyone actually wants to put someone else in that position. I’m so sorry to all of you who have had to endure that. Solidarity, ladies! No more crappy showers!

    • meg

      I love this shower.

      I also really love your comment. My problem with showers over the years is that they often DON’T really honor the person being honored, because they’re about other stuff: the people throwing it, tradition, who everyone wishes the honoree was/ was going to become after this life transition. So yes, I say solidarity and no more crappy showers. Turn down offers of them! Stop throwing them! I think it’s possible we can try to do this :)

  • Ambi

    Good lord, I’ve posted a lot on here today! I guess I just really love showers. I am attending one tomorrow and I’m hosting one at our house later this month. And I’m genuinely excited about both. I realized when I posted earlier about my hesitations about having my own bridal showers that a whole lot of the stress and worry and uncomfortableness seems to come into play only for the bride. What I mean is, I almost always enjoy getting a shower invitation and look forward to going and tend to have at least a blandly nice time. Most of the time, I actually enjoy myself. But when I thought about being the bride a shower, a whole different range of emotions came over me. This is overly simplistic, but maybe part of the solution is to try to get back to the mindset of thinking about showers as parties, and parties are generally a good thing. Think about your best friends. Your sisters. If they were getting married and you were invited to a shower for them, wouldn’t you be happy about it and at least somewhat excited to celebrate with them? Maybe that is how we need to try to look at our own showers.

    Of course, all of this is coming from someone who loves throwing parties so much that I concoct events to have dinner parties and cookouts for, complete with invitations and cupcakes and a themed playlist, so there is the distinct possibility that I am just a little bit nuts in really liking showers . . .

  • Lauren

    We invited 24 people to our wedding (4 friends, the rest family.) I did not want a shower and made it known. We did not register for gifts and there was no shower, which I was very happy about.

  • Hannah

    I really didn’t want the traditional bridal shower because it often comes with a set of gendered norms that I’m not comfortable with. But some lovely ladies from the choir that my then-fiance and I sing in offered to host a shower with our choir friends for the both of us. Which got us out of the “games” that would have freaked me out. And they asked how we felt about the guests contributing to a fund to buy new choir music because we have a stocked house as it is. So that was absolutely PERFECT and it meant not having to go through the gift-opening ritual.

  • http://badassurl.blogspot.com Amanda

    (I realized after the fact that I’m using a lot of ‘we’ in this, so please excuse any assumptions. I hope some find meaning in my comment, but know that each person’s experience is different)

    I think a huge reason that bridal showers are so fraught–and the same goes for weddings–is that women are conditioned to be care-givers, and that we shouldn’t be the center of attention. And then here’s this whole party dedicated to literally showering you with gifts and attention–it’s right there in the damn name for eff sakes! So right there, boom, we’re guilty about getting so much attention.

    Plus now we’re feminist and post-feminist and all that. So adding to the basic center-of-attention, the fact that this party has traditionally been part of the whole becoming-an-adult-by-marrying, wedding-is-biggest-goal-in-a-woman’s-life, echoes-of-dowry bullshit makes it worse.

    And as if that isn’t enough, in this modern world of getting married later, and where we learn about sex sooner, the whole point of the shower starts to feel cheap. This goes beyond the not feeling like we are worth it and not wanting to put people out, because so much of the gift expectation is driven by the WIC these days.

    So rather than a chance to have a place to just celebrate an important time in the life of a close friend, it’s this mess of traditions we’re not entirely confortable with, and being stuck with the baggage of how we’re taught to be women, and trying desperately to not continue terrible traditions but also not wanting to say no when somebody does want to give us something wonderful.

    Yes. Fraught.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I totally agree. I also think we’ll see the traditions change. We’re seeing the traditions change.

      We recognize that spouses share housework, and that women have men friends, and vice versa, so we see co-ed showers.

      Slowly, we recognize that most people getting married have already “set up house,” and household goods are relatively inexpensive. [That is, the percentage of household purchasing power that goes to pots, pans, towels, etc. is less than it was in past generations.] So, slowly, we take the emphasis off the gifts. Lots of parties like that have been described.

    • Jashshea

      Yes. The 2nd to last paragraph.

      I’m 34. I’ve lived on my own for years and have tons of stuff. Fiance is the same. We make decent money and live in a relatively cheap city. We both own a home and are planning to buy a 3rd house-home soon. But people want to buy me spatulas and expect that I’ll tell them exactly which spatulas I’d like and from what store. And they’d also like it if the spatula wasn’t terribly expensive (whatever that means to them) or too cheap, lest they look cheap.

      Instead of trying to make sense of all of the traditions, what they mean as a modern independent woman, I decided to act like a child (stay with me): I’ve had to attend showers and buy spatulas for years, simply because I’m a female with heterosexual female friends – Now it’s my damn turn to stand on top of spatula mountain and wield the spatula scepter with authority.

      • Ambi

        I freaking LOVE that mental image. WOW!

        I have noticed more and more of my friends (and more recently, younger siblings and cousins) using the wedding registry to register for other things. I’m not talking about registering for cash for a honeymoon or registering for donations to a particular charity (although that is a great option), but instead registering for things that they really want and will use in their lives together, such as camping and outdoors equipment for a nature-loving couple. They got all the gear they need for a lifetime of camping trips, and it is so much more meaningful than generic kitchen items that they already have at home. Board games, movies, video games, etc. for a couple that I know that loves nothing more than to spend their evenings at home alone with each other. They aren’t very social and they definitely aren’t the type of people to entertain large groups or have formal dinner parties, so there was no need for fancy china and big serving platters and all that. They registered for gifts that fit their lives. So think outside the norm – almost every store has wedding registries now. You can register for pet supplies if your dogs are your babies. You can register for plants and gardening supplies if you spend every spare moment of daylight working on your lawn or vegetable garden. I know a couple that didn’t register, but instead spread the word that they would cherish artwork to put in their new home. They now have an amazing and eclectic art collection that ranges from framed personal snapshots to giant oil paintings. I personally love this trend. My guy and I are completely nuts about old vintage-y items that have great stories, especially anything related to our families or this geographic region. In additon to registering for some standard stuff, we plan to spread the word through the grapevine that we would be beyond thrilled to get any family heirloom or old quilt or antique item that has a bit of history and will remind us of the gift giver.

        • Ambi

          Oh, and tools! Especially if you own or plan to buy a house, tools come in really really handy, and generally guys get more excited about registering for them and getting them as gifts than they do about china and flatware. I know quite a few people who accumulated significant amounts of money in home improvement store gift cards and were actually able to use them towards appliances. Not that I am advocating for anyone to ask for gift cards or money, but seriously – appliances are expensive! While fine china has sentimental value, when we talk about people “setting up their home together,” I can’t imagine anything more appreciated and useful than things like a lawn mower or vacuum cleaner or even washer and dryer or fridge. It sounds extreme, but if you register for tools, you will get gift cards. And if you save them up, you can really help yourself pay for those big ticket items. Just something to think about . . .

        • Jennifer

          Not to sound like someone who plugs other buisnesses, but there are even registry sites that let you put ANY item from ANY website on one registry. So you can go nuts. Add whatever you feel like.

          Or you can ask for something else. On invitations you could ask for a donation to a charity you support? I know it is considered rude to put on cards to “not bring a gift” because it assumes that you are expecting gifts.

          That said, you will still have someone who will buy you a millions spoons, crap you don’t want, or will go out and buy you art you didn’t want in the first place (I work at an art glass gallery, there are MANY people who come in buying gift for grandchildren because they want something “different”)

  • mortified bride

    Oh god. Showers. Help me out.

    I was adamantly against showers for myself. The people who know me best know of my serious generalised anxiety disorder, and how I don’t even celebrate my own birthday. My idea of a bachelorette was to stay in a beachhouse my parents own with girlfriends, where we all chipped in to buy wine and pizza and sit around gossiping. But a coworker was insistent. I had to have a shower. There were even a number of conversations like this:

    COWORKER: But what about a nice girl’s afternoon?
    ME: Thank you, but I would prefer not to.
    COWORKER: Why not? People want to give you gifts! It’s expected!
    ME: No thank you. I don’t enjoy parties held in my honour.
    COWORKER: But it’s *tradition!* It’ll be a fun afternoon!

    Sigh. She went ahead and organised an afternoon tea, telling all of my other female colleagues (including those who I hadn’t invited to the wedding – very, VERY uncomfortable about that!) that it was to celebrate all of the women in the office getting married.

    Come the day of the shower, held at a very upmarket hotel/restaurant, where I learned that I was the only person out of the group to not have to pay $45 for the honour.

    I still feel extremely uncomfortable about it. I wrote very effusive thank you notes to everyone who attended but I am upset that people were expected to pay quite a lot of money, especially the ones who were not invited to the wedding. I was repeatedly and clearly insistent that I did not want an event like this and it still went ahead, and I can only think that it served the ego of the host more than it did the supposed guest of honour.

    What the hell does one do in this situation?

    • Liz

      Exactly what you did, and leave it at that. Honestly, many folks who go to “office” showers realize they aren’t invited to the wedding. And my assumption (okay, okay, my HOPE) would be that these folks knew they were coughing up $45 to come.

      You didn’t make these terrible decisions, and you’ve done everything you can to be grateful and courteous! I hereby let you off the hook. ;)

      • hereandnow

        I second what Liz said! :)

  • hereandnow

    Long-time lurker, first-time commenter (because apparently I have Feelings about this). I’m Australian, and we tend not to do bridal showers so much … but the hen’s party is HUGE here. I’ve been to quite a few of both and felt hugely uncomfortable, both because they seemed so aimed at reinforcing gender norms that don’t apply to me and my relationship, and also because I’m averse to Mandatory Fun. (‘Here is an embarrassing game that’s hard to avoid without making a big deal of it!’ ‘A penis straw! How transgressive and hilarious!’ Fine for other people, but not my thing.)

    That said, the hens’ parties and showers that I’ve been to have allowed people from different parts of the couple’s life to meet each other, and I think that’s made the wedding day much more enjoyable for everyone. They also help solidify the sense of a community around the couple, which is part of the reason we’re getting married rather than continuing happily in a committed de facto relationship.

    So, from early on I knew I wanted to have some kind of gathering that wouldn’t be a ‘traditional’ hen’s party (often translated here as ‘excuse to get massively drunk’), but I’m not having attendants and it wasn’t until reading APW and some etiquette books that I realised most people don’t organise their own. Eventually I used my words and asked my brother’s girlfriend if she would organise a high tea/ladies’ afternoon at one of the hotels nearby for me. I gave her some guidelines: no gifts, no penis straws, no games, just ladies hanging out.

    I’m also unable to invite some friends I see less often to the wedding because of venue limits and the number of family members we’re inviting, so I’m doing something a bit unusual and inviting them to the ladies’ afternoon but not the wedding. I talked to them about it beforehand, though, and they’re cool with it – I think it also helps that it’s clear this is about hanging out and connecting, rather than inviting everyone I know to maximise potential gifts. (I reckon some of the people in my mum’s generation are going to give gifts anyway, and I’ll accept them gracefully, but I wanted to make it really clear to everyone that this isn’t expected.)

    The other problem I have with hen’s parties and showers is that they can become *so* expensive; I’ve been to some that cost more than $200. I want to try to keep things as affordable as possible, while also not imposing on someone to host the actual event. (A bring-a-plate afternoon at home would probably have been even less financially burdensome for most guests, but inner-city apartments, not enough space!) I even worry that the high tea is too expensive, but I keep reminding myself that all of the guests are adults and they can set their own boundaries.

    I really hate feeling social obligation and pressure, and I’m perhaps overthinking in trying to spare my guests those same feelings. But at this point, the wedding itself? No problem. :)

  • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com KA

    Yay, thanks for tackling showers ladies–bookmarked!

  • anonymous

    I don’t understand this : You’re supposed to find a sneaky way to turn down a party that you don’t want or need that taxes you, insults the people planning the first party, and puts your guests in an awkward position? You’re supposed to be happy that you have so many friends who want to throw you so many parties and you’re supposed to try to find really nice ways to say, “no thanks”? You’re supposed to sit through a hurtful party and then just get over it, don’t even worry about it, who cares?

    None of this advice makes sense. All I see are different ways to play games and to feed into rude behavior. As much as this blog is about standing on your own and being your own person and doing whatever is right for you, no matter what conventional tradition is, posts like these make me feel like you’re not encouraging that behavior.

    How about person #1 calls up the surprise party throwers and tells them not to do it, that it’s rude, that there is already a party they should attend, and that person #1 won’t attend their party for all of the reasons stated? How about person #2 says, “No thank you, I don’t want any showers thrown for me,” to each and every person who thinks they’ll throw one and leaves it at that? Or person #2 could throw one big party and mix all of her awesome friends together. And how about person #3 talks to the people who forced her to be someone else and tells them how she feels so that those relationships can come to a better understanding?

    I mean, really? How about the advice is NOT to play games, not tobe sneaky, and not to pretend and instead to be honest, to be direct, and to be truthful?

    • Liz

      Nope, not sneaky. Someone shared with you a secret, and it would be disrespectful to them to out that they gave you that information. That’s not sneaky. That’s polite.

      I’m confused about your suggestions to the second author, as they are the same suggestions I provided. Regarding the third author, there is some discussion as to how to respond. In my own personal and also indirect experience, the expectations of a bridal shower do not carry over to any other day. Though your friends expect you to wear a hat of a bows, this doesn’t mean they do not know who you are or that they expect you to change. It bears no reflection on their perceptions of you as a person. Others have disagreed. It’s a worthwhile discussion, when handled appropriately.

      And my advice was to be honest, but honest, while maintaining your polite gratitude that loved ones care enough about you to throw a party in your honor. Standing your ground is important, as I thought I made clear. The difficulty is deciding how to do so lovingly and with care and concern for those around you.

    • Rosie

      For me, I think this sums up the advice really:

      ‘The other tough piece about bridal showers is one of the harder lessons of adulthood, period: learning how to be nice, without doing anything that makes you uncomfortable. That’s pretty much the sum of how I expect you to act at your bridal shower, ladies. Be grateful, be nice, even get a smile on your face. But don’t feel pressured to take part in rituals, jokes, or whatever else you find offensive. Practice the art of the polite, “No, thank you.”‘

    • Ambi

      I personally think a nice point to remember, which has been mentioned throughout this post and the comments, is that showers are not really all about the bride. Yes, she is the centerpiece around which the party revolves, but many times there are many other people whose wishes and expectations and feelings are also involved. In my personal experience, bridal showers can mean a lot to the hosts, to the mother and family members of the bride, to her friends, to the groom, and to the many other people who hardly ever get to see the bride and are sincerely looking forward to an opportunity to catch up. I’m just saying, and this is based on my personality and my own views, but I think it is completely fair to counsel brides to keep all of these other people’s feelings in mind too. Yes, of course everyone should have their own limits and should never allow themselves to be pressured into doing something they are uncomfortable with. But at the same time, it is my opinion that you have to choose your battles, and sometimes the right thing to do is to be sensitive of other people’s feelings. That is just part of being a mature adult, I think. So, basically, yes brides should decide for themselves what they are comfortable with and stick to that, but at the same time I am a bit frustrated with the whole bridal culture that focuses on ONLY what the bride wants. We hear all about how it is “her day,” but in reality it is so much more complicated than that.

      Liz, I think you did a great job in giving advice and in creating one of the best discussions we’ve seen on APW. Anonymous, I think you’re comment is valuable as an alternative perspective suggesting a different approach. But I guess, as a reader, I usually prefer it when we can just offer alternatives rather than suggest that one is better than another. I don’t think it’s really fair to say that Liz’s advice doesn’t make sense (clearly, for a whole lot of us who read and commented, it DID make sense).

  • Rosie

    I thought I’d put a word in about bachelor parties, or stag nights as they’re known in the UK. My FH doesn’t want a bachelor party, but lots of people, including his mum and sister, have said he ought to have one. It’s strongly tied up with ideas of your ‘last night of freedom’ and it’s customary to play nasty pranks on the groom (not sure if it’s the same in the US) and my FH isn’t comfortable with carrying on that tradition! Anything he’d want to do to celebrate with his friends he can do quite happily after we’re married, when there would be fewer expectations. Have any other women here found that the pressure is actually on their other half, if they are a man, to be laddish? I’m having a hen party (bridal shower), but where I live I’ve found there is much less pressure on me to do anything in particular than there is on my other half!

  • Sharon

    I don’t want a shower. Not only do I hate attending other peoples’ showers (BORING), I already have everything I could conceivably need for our home, considering that we’ve been living together for nearly three years.

    I don’t really want a bachelorette party either – at least definitely no strippers.

  • Megan

    We should have a post about the bachelorette party. I had a couple of bridal showers and it was fine. But I put my foot down and said NO to a bachelorette party. People reacted like Vicki did when Brianna told her she got married at a drive-thru window in Vegas. People (read female relatives and friends) were shocked. They kept berating me about it until finally I agreed to a “spa day”. Which would have been lovely but it was like trying to herd cats. It ended up being me, the mob, the moh, and my cousin at a nail shop getting pedicures and then going for margaritas afterwards. On a weeknight when everyone had to work the next day. It felt forced, and I sucked it up and put a smile on my face, but I would rather have been curled up at home in my sweatpants.