As a Bridesmaid, Do I Really Have to Pay for a Catered Bridal Shower for 100?

Am I a bridesmaid or a bank?!

woman wearing a flower crown and laughing

Q: One of my best friends is getting married and I am a bridesmaid. I expected the usual expenses: dress, gifts, etc. She has already asked us to chip in for hair and makeup, and we’re flying across the country for her four-day bachelorette party. This was all fine with me.

Then, a few days ago, the bridesmaids got an email from her aunt stating that she was booking a venue for the bridal shower and she would let us know what we each owed her, since we were hosting it. She said it was going to be a catered lunch for one hundred women (there are five bridesmaids) and that she would take care of the menu and centerpieces.

I have heard of bridesmaids being responsible for throwing a shower, but I have never seen anyone plan it and then give the bridesmaids the bill for a fully catered affair for one hundred. What is the proper way to confront the situation? Do I ask the bride if we can do something else for her, or do I confront the aunt directly saying this is just completely outside of our budget? Or am I completely in the wrong by not expecting to throw her a shower?

I thought I was a Bridesmaid not a Bank?

A: You have my full permission to close for business. I’m going to say a bunch of things, but honestly stop reading now, write her an email that says “No” and call it a day.

Bridesmaids’ responsibilities are a tricky thing. If you google them, you’ll find page after page of (completely absurd) duties. Here’s my take on a bridesmaid’s responsibilities when it comes to a shower. I think, as a bridesmaid, you have an obligation to consider helping host a shower for the bride. Customarily a bride does not ask for a shower; she only accepts it if one is offered, and it’s a nice thing to offer if you feel up to it.

You have been designated An Official Closest Friend For Wedding Purposes, so it’s your job to think about a shower. That thought process should go something like this: Can you afford it? Do you want to pay for it? Are the other bridesmaids planning something/down to help out? Where is everyone located? If you did want to throw one, what kind of event are you up for? Does the bride even want one? But, importantly, all you must do is consider it. It’s completely okay if your analysis is, “Nope! All tapped out on other wedding things emotionally/financially, I don’t even live near her, I love her but she’s real fancy and I don’t do fancy.” It’s also fine to decide to offer a low-key shower in your living room, because you love her a lot, but you don’t have a lot of cash to spend. (And remember, this IS the traditional kind of shower.)

After you’ve done all that, let the bride know what you’re thinking, whether it is, “Sorry I just can’t,” or “Do you know if anyone is planning a bridal shower? I can’t do much monetarily, but I am all in for baking and decorating,” or “A Paris theme, and puppies as the favor, obvi, right?”

Aunties (using the word to mean any woman closer to your mom’s age than yours, who loves you like a biological aunt) are also prime bridal shower host candidates. (Traditionally moms do not host showers. I’m totally here for rules and traditions, but I honestly cannot be bothered caring about this one. No one thinks your mom is hosting your shower to get out of filling your hope chest herself.) So Auntie here is partially doing good things! She’s stepping up! She’s organizing! She’s made a plan!

OH BUT WAIT. Her plan is you pay for it. And sorry Auntie, but helllllllll nope. For starters, rule number one is that we all spend our own money and let other people spend theirs. But also? If you are thinking someone else might want or expect to contribute to something you are planning, you ask them before you make a plan, and then collaborate on the plan.

So I return to my original answer. Tell this lady no. If her plan were something close to reasonable or something you kinda liked, sure, respond and negotiate. But it isn’t, so just say no. And reach out to the bride separately to touch base. “Hey, just wanted to let you know that your auntie reached out to us about the shower. Would love to have thrown you a shower, but honestly with everything else going on I’m just financially tapped out.” She supposed to be one of your closest friends right? She should get it.

And can I take a minute for the absolute nonsense that is a one-hundred-person shower? I know, I know, “My family is huge,” “I have thirteen aunties,” “Everyone does it.” But still. It’s a massive, massive ask for anyone to host a party for a hundred people. If your bridesmaids offer to host you a shower, you cannot tell them they need to invite a hundred people. It’s just unacceptable. This is the kinda thing that needs to be paid for by an aunt or grandmother or your mom (in secret, if she’s traditional like that). And honestly srsly? One hundred people all getting together to celebrate you is more commonly referred to as “a wedding.”  

Featured Sponsored Content

  • Annie

    It’s one thing for bridesmaids to plan and host a shower together, and split the costs. It’s totally another for a relative to say she’s planning and hosting, and then saying you all have to pay for it. If she wants to be the one to have all the say about time/place/location/venue/etc., she can pay for it.

    • Lisa

      Right. You don’t get to spend other people’s money for them.

    • CNA

      Totally agreed. I hope the bridesmaids coordinate a response. Otherwise, the crazy aunt may just sent the bill onto the people who don’t feel like they can nope out.

  • ART

    This makes my blood boil for you, LW. You are so not obligated to accommodate this aunt’s rude demand that you personally pay for 20 people to have a lunch of her choosing. Jeeeeeeze.

  • Just on the title I felt my head explode. ONE HUNDRED HUMAN PEOPLE AT A BRIDAL SHOWER? How many people are invited to the wedding?!??!?

    Also, super bad taste for the aunt to declare that the bridesmaids are hosting the shower. If the bridesmaids host, then they get to do all the planning and that includes NOT inviting 100 people to the shower and having it catered and whatnot. If the aunt wants all that, she and her wallet can host and leave the bridesmaids out of it.

    • sofar

      I mean… I’ve been to several bridal showers with 75-100 people. It’s common if the bride’s extended family and friends all stayed local and you can’t invite one person without inviting ALL of them. Also common in Indian circles, in my experience.

      But! the Auntie/Mom/grandma will usually foot the bill/host at their house, especially if most of the guest list is *her* people. And the bridesmaids then chip in for specific things (booze for cocktails, decorations, favors).

      • 100 seems like a huge shower to me, but I also didn’t even have 100 people at my wedding, so my scale may be off. But either way, it’s still really tacky and inappropriate for the Aunt to just declare that the bridesmaids are paying for this.

        • Sara

          Ha when my friends started getting married and most had under 100 people at their weddings, I was so confused because the family ones were always gigantic and overwhelming.
          My college roommate invited I think 220 to hers, and I told my grandma about her guest lists and details. She said “oh that sounds like a nice small wedding”.

        • sofar

          Agreed. Behavior is totally tacky, not the size. Weddings in my family tend to be big. So, 100 people at the shower, 300+ at the wedding. My SIL had more than 100 at her bridal shower. She has 10 aunts, a mess of female cousins and her husband has NINE sisters and I don’t even know how many aunts (Catholicism, yo).

        • Rose

          We also had fewer than 100 at our wedding, so 100 at a shower seems enormous to me too. But I guess I can see it, especially with large close families. Still. It is big.

        • Marcela

          My wedding was 75 people on the dot, but my sister’s recent baby shower had 85 attend. Baby’s first birthday is coming up and we’re looking at over a hundred person list because now the menfolk are included and kids. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

      • Katharine Parker

        If you’re from a family or marrying into a family where 100 person showers are the norm, you know it. Similarly, if you’re from a 20 person shower tradition, you know it. Either way, we can all agree that it’s rude to plan a shower and impose the cost on anyone else.

        • sofar

          Agreed. I was responding more to the “OMG 100 people WTF” comments. For me that’s normal. What’s NOT ok is handing the bridesmaids a bill, no matter the size of the guest list.

      • jem

        I am so curious about this because I’ve never been to a big bridal shower. What kind of gifts do people bring to 100+ guest showers? Like each person buys a fork? How does the poor bride haul home so much stuff??????

        • Lisa

          I was wondering something similar! I went to a bridal shower with 50 guests once, and the present opening for that was interminable (something like 1-1.5 hours). I can’t imagine doubling that!

          • Amy March

            I think a lot of people skip the present opening. Which, personally, if you can’t be bothered opening the gifts people were invited to shower you with, at that point just don’t have a shower.

          • Lisa

            I thought that it opening presents was the whole point of a shower? Isn’t a shower without presents just half an engagement party, really?

          • Amy March

            I’ve been to two recently where not only were presents not opened, there wasn’t even a table for them. We were just told to leave them in a corner on the floor. Felt so special.

          • Lisa

            Ugh, they had to know there would be presents, right? That feels so thoughtless and designed to leave a bad taste in the guests’ mouths. I wouldn’t toss my coat on the floor, let alone a nicely-wrapped present.

          • AP

            So, a different perspective. My first wedding involved a very traditionally Southern church shower for me at my in-laws’ rural church. I did not know a soul there- everyone who came was there because it was their church culture for the “aunties” of the church to host showers for each other’s kids. My former-MIL had helped host dozens of showers for her friends’ kids and by God they were going to reciprocate for her son. Except their showers were a girls-only thing, no men allowed except at the end (to load the gifts in the car.) This meant that I opened 50 gifts in front of a room full of women I did not know. I was seated at the center of a large circle of chairs, opening gift after gift. I didn’t know whom to thank, with whom to even make eye contact as I opened their gift. My former-MIL introduced me to so many women I couldn’t keep them straight. I thanked the wrong people half the time.

            It was horrible. I wish I had either declined the shower, or not opened the gifts and insisted on games instead. In this particular situation, the shower wasn’t for me, it was for my MIL.

          • Ashlah

            That sounds like a nightmare. I hate opening presents in front of people I know (somehow even my genuine gratitude comes across as forced), and I am terrible in general at names/faces/new social interactions. Put those together? Shudder.

          • AP

            It. was. the. worst. (And I didn’t even mention the lime jello punch.)

          • Amy March

            Oh man you didn’t even get the good punch with the rainbow sherbet in it?

          • AP

            No, this was something I’d never seen before, punch literally made of un-solidified jello…I felt like I’d stepped back in time.

          • Lisa

            That sounds like a pretty awful experience. I’d still say that showers are for gift-opening, but with the benefit of hindsight, it might be better to insist on a different type of party/none at all if the gift-opening is going to be particularly painful. (And opening presents from 50 strangers for an hour sounds like it would qualify.)

          • AP

            One of my besties at the time had a similar situation. She was marrying into a high-society Southern family, and her MIL threw her a shower at their country club and invited a ton of women who were strangers to my friend. BUT the difference was that her MIL thought about it ahead of time that my friend wouldn’t know anyone there, so she specifically ruled that there would be no gift-opening at the shower. Brunch and socializing only. I was SO jealous.

            I agree that not opening gifts at a shower kind of…misses the point of the literal concept of a ‘shower.’ But I think the shower I had, as well as my friend’s shower, *also* missed the point of a shower. Our MILS were basically just showing us off to their friends. And the weirdest part was that it was totally normal thing to do in their circles.

          • Cellistec

            Noooooooooooooooooooooo.

          • Totch

            My husband works in a lady dominated field and was the only man in his old office. His coworkers are big on showers, and by God they were going to throw him one too. I was invited, and knew like 3 of the 30 women attending.

            It started with “Ok… This is raunchier than I get with coworkers but the boob cupcakes and butt cookies are cute?” Then it turned into us opening lingerie for me in front of 30 women I don’t know who ARE HIS COWORKERS NOT FRIENDS. Showers that are actually about the groom’s side are awkward!

          • Lexipedia

            Thank you for warning me about this! That must’ve been awful. FI’s 95% female coworkers are big on showers (public education) and I can bet that they are going to try and throw us one for our wedding. I pray that their good sense stops them from buying their male boss’s fiancée lingerie as a gift.

          • Totch

            Yeah, them not being my co-workers made it a bit easier just to shut my brain off and smile. It clearly wasn’t about me. I was cool through the dirty pastries, and the “we’re gonna make the groom wear a boa and a veil! because being emasculated is wrong and funny!”, and the game Nail Polish Color or Porno. It was harder to hold it together for ladies cackling and taking photos through us opening lingerie.

            After the fact a coworker I know apologized, and told us that the original plan was to make my fiance put it on during the party (again, men wearing feminine things is hilarious). She negotiated the ringleader down from there. Maybe just skip your fiance’s work shower.

          • ART

            Wow, I feel like I’d just want to blurt out “you know we’ve been having sex together for years, right?!” (well, that would be true in my case anyway)

          • AP

            You had me at boob cupcakes and butt cookies. WITH COWORKERS. I die.

          • CP2011

            Oh that’s horrible. I can’t imagine. I thought I had it bad at my old (very conservative) workplace where before my wedding they through me a shower including a word search for words including “fornication”.
            This is the same office where the “office ladies” warned me on my first day to never let the boss find out I lived in sin with my boyfriend…

          • Lisa

            What is up with co-workers giving out lingerie??? Someone else recently had colleagues who gave her and another bride lingerie at a business lunch, and the co-workers went so far as to point out that they’d tried to buy items that they thought would match the bride’s taste. I have NO desire to think about my co-workers or their spouses in a sexual way; that seems tailored to make everyone feel awkward.

          • Katharine Parker

            Yeah, the whole point is to be showered with gifts. If you don’t want to open gifts, don’t have a shower. You can do a bridesmaids lunch before the wedding as an alternate ladies’ party or an engagement party. Or do some kind of theme–favorite recipes instead of gifts or something.

          • zana

            They should call it a ‘bridal luncheon’ instead, if you’re not planning to open gifts.

          • Vanessa

            I disagree. As a shower attendee, my experience has been that opening presents/watching people open presents just turns into a status-y competition. Who brought the best present? Who spent the most? Who knows the bride the best and therefore went off registry? Who didn’t even bring something? etc etc

          • rg223

            I’m find this to be regional and cultural. I grew up in an area where gifts were always opened at the party (including birthdays), and now I’m in an area where gifts are RARELY opened (showers are the exception, but still, I’ve been to showers where no gifts were opened!). I can see both sides… but I do fall on the side of opening presents.

          • Vanessa

            That would make sense, although here in Colorado about half of the showers (including baby and bridal) people open gifts and at about half, people don’t. I’ve been in the position before of not being able to bring a gift, and I do not want my friends to feel awkward or bad if they can’t.

          • rg223

            Fair point – I wouldn’t want someone to feel awkward about not giving a gift. I never really thought about that, because I personally don’t care or keep track of who gave me a gift and who didn’t when I’m opening presents – but someone else might be.

          • Jennifer

            But isn’t the point of a shower to give gifts? I don’t think I’d go to a shower if I weren’t bringing a gift unless I were a bridesmaid.

          • Vanessa

            Traditionally, yes, that’s the origin of a shower. And I don’t mean to single you out as this reply is also to @amymarch:disqus, @disqus_ShkBoOhlEN:disqus, @rg223:disqus, @katharine_parker:disqus and really just a discussion item in general, but it’s weird to me that on APW there are so many elements of weddings that people are enthusiastic and supportive of doing nontraditionally, but it seems like a Shower Must Remain What It Has Always Been. No one here would say “but isn’t the point of a wedding having your union blessed by God, what’s the point if you’re not even doing it in a church?” We know we have the power to change the meaning of these experiences, so why not showers too?

            For me, the point of having an event like this is not the gifts, it’s the time spent together, with some of my closest girlfriends, women in my family, and women in my fiance’s family. It’s building the support network that I’ll need throughout my marriage. If people want to show their support by bringing a gift, that’s lovely and I will send them a great thank you note telling them how much I appreciate it. But some people don’t want to, or can’t bring a gift but still want to participate as a way to show me that they support my marriage, and I appreciate their presence and heartfelt participation as much as a tangible gift.

          • Katharine Parker

            For me, it isn’t about maintaining the tradition. It’s not actually a tradition for my family and our culture of origin. But a shower is about gifts–that’s the kind of party it is. In the same way that a birthday party needs a person who has grown one year older or a Fourth of July party is about the US, a shower is about showering a bride (or a pregnant woman or couple expecting a child) with gifts. As I said in my comment, if you don’t want gifts, there are other parties you can throw or that people can host in your honor. And that’s great! But by calling it a shower, it shapes what the party means and people will bring gifts and expect the gifts to be a focus of the event. It’s then rude to act like their gifts aren’t important.

          • Vanessa

            In that case is it ok for me to not open gifts at my “shower” because the invitation calls the event a “bridal brunch” and doesn’t actually include the word “shower”? Even though it’s a women-only event hosted by one of my bridesmaids a couple months before the wedding, where the host put the store where we’re registered on the invitation without my input?

          • Katharine Parker

            For me, bridal brunch does not equal shower. I would probably be a little confused at the registry info being on the invitation, but if no one is calling it a shower I don’t think you need to open gifts. In my experience, though, when people bring gifts they like to see them opened. So, it probably depends on your crowd and their expectations.

            That said, it’s really between you and the host. Did she offer a shower or a bridal lunch? Does she think you’re going to open presents? That’s who needs to be on board–otherwise it’s super awkward when she says at the party, time to open presents!

          • Amy March

            I would say yes, if not for the registry information. Because that sends a confusing message that you’re totally fine asking people to bring you gifts, but don’t value those gifts enough to show appreciation for them in the way it is traditionally done at showers.

            That’s why I’m hurt when my gift isn’t opened at a shower. You care enough about gifts that you’re attending a party designed to get me to bring you a gift, whether that’s by calling it a shower or listing a registry on the invite, but then you treat my gift like an afterthought.

          • Lisa

            This. If you’re having a shower, it’s about showering the person with presents. You can have a lovely any other kind of party to gather your closest friends and family together to celebrate an impending marriage without gifts being the focus of it.

          • CA

            Thanks for this – I agree. I’ve somehow gotten wrangled into 2 showers next month (one at an extended reunion of my family, and one couple’s shower with fiance’s family and the wedding party). We are pretty minimalist and live in a small apartment across the country from where both showers will take place. We’ve been struggling to communicate that we’d really be just as happy or happier without the gifts. We’ve more or less explained that to both hosts, but I’m not sure the point was really absorbed by one of them. Our registry is small and heavily weighted towards cash gifts and charities, so at this point we’re just hoping people take their cues from that, and aren’t too offended or weirded out. For us the ‘shower(s)’ are a nice extra reason to bring people together and celebrate with family (who again, live across the country from us so we don’t get to do that too often). And relatives are expecting some version of a ‘shower’ (even if it’s somewhat nontraditional given our values and circumstances), whereas they wouldn’t necessarily know what to make of an invitation to a smaller pre-wedding party with some other name.

          • Vanessa

            As with so many things surrounding weddings, and frankly surround the experience of being a woman, you’re damned if you do & damned if you don’t.

            Maybe some people will interpret me not opening their gifts as ungrateful, just like some people would have interpreted a party where I opened gifts as an example of a materialistic bride who has lost sight of what’s really important about getting married.

            In the end, whether the party my bridesmaid is throwing is a shower or a brunch or some other name event, it doesn’t reflect my values to spend the time opening gifts. If people are offended by that, well, it’s a consequence I’m willing to endure.

          • Amy March

            People who interpret opening gifts at a shower as a bride who is materialistic and has lost sight of the meaning of marriage are being unreasonable, unkind, rude, and out of touch with reality though. If it doesn’t reflect your values to have a shower, don’t. But it’s a community event, and it’s bizarre to me to individually rewrite the rules for it. I just don’t get the need to call it a shower if that’s not what you want, when you could easily call it a brunch.

          • Amy March

            I think that’s the problem with ignoring traditions around showers. You redefine them at your peril. If you really don’t want physical gifts having two showers is a terrible way to accomplish that. Of course people will bring physical gifts. That’s the entire purpose of a shower. You not wanting it to be doesn’t change that for your guests. So yes, an invitation to a bridal tea party might be confusing. But that confusion is good, because it helps clue people into the fact that you aren’t having a shower and this party is not about gifts.

          • CA

            Well, maybe that was a whoops. We’ll see!
            I think it does vary depending on region and family culture – e.g., I’m not worried at all about the one with my family, because they all know me well and are pretty chill and nontraditional. It’s just going to be an excuse to drink cocktails and wave toilet paper around.
            And, if the concept were actually so immutable, I don’t think we would have had so many people (it was actually more than 2) in our home state offering to host us a shower. The fact that we live an airplane ride away is abundantly clear to them.

          • Vita

            I also come from a circle where gifts are the done thing. I love the idea of bottle parties. Basically everyone brings a bottle of something- wine, farmers’ market jam, fancy olive oil etc- to help stock the newlyweds’ pantry. No fuss, no clutter of casserole dishes and random gifts you don’t have space for, keeps it in budget for the guests and pleases a food-loving couple.

          • Sara

            I LOVE this idea, even moreso because it is not just limited to alcohol like a “stock the bar” party.

          • Lisa

            I went to a “stock the bar” bridal shower, and based on the comments the bride and the hostess were making, I think they had thought that we would bring bottles to stock the WEDDING bar. (I caught a ride home with some of the other guests after the shower, and I was not the only one who was left with this impression.)

            It was bizarre, and she only got one or two presents that could have realistically been used at the wedding.

          • Sara

            I’d personally be totally OK with that shower concept (a fantasy, as someone doing a DIY wedding bar myself), but it’s something that should have been stated with absolute clarity on the invite!

          • Lisa

            I think it would be a really difficult concept to pull off without dictating exactly what type of gift everyone must bring. (Do you tell everyone to bring only beer and wine? What do you do with random mixers/bottles of hard alcohol? Do you tell people to bring the ingredients for a specific drink? How difficult will it be for the bartender if he has to run down a list of seven different types of red wine with each guest?)

            If this was indeed what was happening though, it would definitely need to be very clearly stated on the invite!

          • Her Lindsayship

            Yeah, this is exactly why I don’t want to have a bridal shower. I don’t want to sit and open gifts in front of people for an hour – but I also really don’t want to tell them all to bring me gifts and then sneak away with them practically unacknowledged! Grateful that our families are too spread out to make it happen!

          • Colleen

            I’ve been to quite a few showers with suggestions that gifts be presented in see-thru wrapping. Basically, you buy cellophane and a big bow and call it a day. Nothing has to be opened but the recipient can still ooh and ahh over things, as she sees fit. It’s usually worded nicely on the invite – “Please feel free to wrap your gifts in cellophane so Sally can spend more time enjoying your company!” or something along those lines. I have to say, I love it. I had a super small shower but there’s nothing I hate more than having people watch me open presents.

          • Cellistec

            Interesting tactic! Can we roll that out for non-wedding events too? Plsthx.

          • accidental_diva

            My sister-in-law’s shower was big (like 60 people) and for presents we pulled/opened the card and opened all but the last bit of the present – handed it to her- she read the card out loud (at least who it was from) opened the last of the present showed it off and handed it to the other side who had the list going of who got her what and then put it on a table for everyone to look over. We did all the presents in maybe 35 minutes (and were complemented on the efficiency – we got it from my cousin’s wife’s{big NJ} shower).

        • sofar

          Usually, people bring gifts from the registry, but, like, smaller ones? Honestly, I’ve seen the pricey blender given as a shower gift, so the smaller-gift thing is not universal. I usually bring a $20 item to the shower and give a more pricey item for the wedding.

          And, yes, they usually still do the unwrapping. It takes 2 hours. The MoH flutters around with a notepad, documenting the gifts so the bride knows who gave what, for thank-you notes.

          The father of the bride usually shows up with his truck/SUV/van at the end of the shower to help load all the gifts so they can be hauled to the couple’s house. I’ve helped pack many a van with shower gifts.

          When my MIL said her friend wanted to throw me a giant shower that was NOT in the city in which I lived, I demurred, saying I didn’t have any weekends free because I did NOT want to try to fit a bunch of crap in my tiny car and drive four hours after a shower.

          • jem

            thanks! that makes sense. i’m assuming this is more common in parts of the country where people live in houses (vs. tiny apartments)? i just feel very worried about the mass of gifts!

          • sofar

            … or in places where people’s parents have big houses. Most of my friends are still storing their wedding gifts in their parents’ basements because they’re still in little apartments. They’ll get those gifts when they buy a house … someday.

          • Lisa

            Ha, that’s what happened to my friend with the 50 person shower. I knew she was moving into a two bedroom apartment after the wedding, and when she received a Keurig, French press, pour over, and traditional coffeemaker (all of which were on her registry), I asked if she had lied to me about the two bedroom or if her entire apartment was kitchen. All of it went into storage at her parents’ house, and she’s only used one of them so far.

          • zana

            Storage Unit FTW…although, we knew we’d be moving to a larger place in less than 2 years.

            But when you have a small place, replacing/upgrading stuff you already have works well. Silverware, coffee maker, office chair, monitor, lamps, tablecloths, etc. etc. Some new things can just take the place of old things.

          • sofar

            Exactly. Most of our registry stuff was “upgrades for things we already have.”

          • quiet000001

            At a couple of the big showers I’ve been to, some of the guests got together to buy big gifts for the house (new washing machine and dryer, that sort of thing) and wrapped a stand-in gift to be opened at the shower. So like a new dishwasher, the gift to open might be a package of dishwasher detergent with a note taped to it. So even though there were a lot of guests, there wasn’t one item per guest to be unwrapped.

            I imagine these days people could do something similar but with money for the honeymoon or other ‘experience’ gifts (gift certificates for a nice dinner and a movie so the newlyweds have an excuse to keep going on dates) if the host spread the word to guests appropriately. The actual gifts to open would just be cards or maybe small relevant items (bottle of sunscreen for a honeymoon contribution if the honeymoon is on a beach, etc.) rather than boxes of household Stuff, but I think the general thought is still there, for people who really don’t have space for Stuff?

            (Of course you run the risk of being overloaded with sunscreen or similar that way, but much of that stuff, if unopened, can be donated to a local group pretty easily, like a women’s shelter.)

        • Courtkay

          In my husband’s family, people bring registry gifts and it is a crazy amount of stuff. Registering for china is super common, so it’s not unusual for a guest to give one or two place settings or, like, a gravy boat. Same goes for fancy flatware – not one individual fork, but one place setting. We didn’t register for either, and it really threw my in-laws for a loop.

          It’s becoming more common to ask guests to wrap gifts in clear wrapping in order to expedite the gift opening part of the shower. The bride just opens the card and oohs and ahhs over the contents of the package without having to open it. Sometimes they just put the gifts on display and don’t open them and all. Otherwise, the bridesmaids run around like crazy people, pre-opening gifts so that the bride just has to rip off the last piece of paper or something. It usually takes over an hour, so a lot of times the hosts will break up the gift-opening with some games here and there.

          I’ve seen people rent a uhaul to bring all the stuff home. It makes me twitch too.

    • Sara

      I have a very large extended family – I don’t think 100 people is too much of a stretch when you’re adding aunts, cousins, second cousins. But my family wouldn’t expect my friends to cover that kind of event. That’s just cruel.

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        Yeah, I found out that my baby shower is going to have ~85 people there. I don’t even feel like I *know* 85 people, but apparently I do and it’s what’s happening.

        My mom is totally stealth paying for it.

      • Amy March

        Second cousins?!? In my family I’d classify those people as “strangers I would not recognize on the street.”

        I think there is a real divide in definitions between 1) a shower is a small intimate gathering where the bride gets to socialize with people she is particularly close to and open gifts from them and 2) a shower is a family reunion for every female relation on both sides.

        • Sara

          Ha, I think it depends on your family! My grandpa was one of 14 and 13 of them had upwards of 7 kids ( and one was a priest). So I have a lot of second cousins that are close members of the extended family. I also have a lot that I could not pick out of a picture. Basically one of my relatives is probably around about 50 yards from everyone on this thread.
          Also a ‘casual brunch’ with my mom’s family is like 20 people easy. We take up a lot of space.

          • lamarsh

            This is my family too. If there are less than 20 people at Christmas or Thanksgiving it is considered “small.” I love the chaos though!

          • Sara

            I do too. Its a fun chaos (for me at least!).

          • Gaby

            I was going to write a short description of how similar my dad’s family is but I lost track and got confused hahaha. A lot of the family still lives in Mexico or is spread out in the US, though, so we just have “small” reunions of 75 or so whenever we visit with whoever is available.

        • sofar

          Yeah, I’m more of a fan of the intimate, “Let’s sip drinks and relax and have breakfast and open some gifts” (which as you point out IS the traditional shower). Not sure when they became giant family affairs, but that’s become the norm for lots of folks I know. Even if the bridemaids do throw a separate tiny shower, some auntie (probably bankrolled by Mother of the Bride) is going to throw a giant family reunion because “people expect it, people will feel left out.”

        • Eh

          “strangers I would not recognize on the street.” – My MIL wanted us to invite her cousins and their children (i.e., my husband’s second cousins) to our wedding. A few months before our wedding (after our guest list was set) we were at a friend’s party hosted at a local bar (she had rented a private party room). One of my husband’s second cousins works at this bar (and he knew this). His second cousin was serving us drinks and my husband did not say “hi” to her and she did not acknowledge him as someone she knew. The next day my husband sent her a message on FB to confirm that she was the bartender that was serving us the night before. I was pretty happy that I didn’t cave and let my MIL invite second-cousins.

          • Totch

            We live in the same town as my husband’s estranged aunt and uncle, and every few years my husband will come home and say “I think I saw my cousin?” They never acknowledge each other!

          • Eh

            I just asked my husband if he could identify his eldest uncle’s daughters. This uncle has three daughters. None came to our wedding (one came to my bridal shower, and the same one I think came to my baby shower), and they rarely go to family events because their father kept his distance from my husband’s family for many years (because of a family feud – family drama is very common in his family). The uncle and aunt now attend family events but have no expectation that their daughters attend.

            Anyways, my husband said that he would be able to identify two of the three. I asked him which two. He said the two that he knew the names of (so he doesn’t even know the name of the cousin he wouldn’t be able to identify). He actually said that he recently saw them at a restaurant (with his uncle and aunt) and he said ‘hi’.

        • Jane

          And, hopefully, the bride gets some say in which she’s going to have. I know, I know, the bride isn’t throwing the shower, and there are lots of good reasons to let the hosts plan what they want to throw, but I would feel really stressed out about a 100+ guest shower. Especially because showers do often tend to put the bride on the spot (in a way that weddings don’t) by having her open everyone’s gifts in front of them, play silly games, etc.

        • Yet another Meg

          I think it really depends on the family though. I’m from a large family where yes,second cousins are close. Also I grew up with all 9 of my grandmother’s sisters. It would have been hurtful to leave my great aunts out when planning our wedding. All of that being said, my shower was maybe 50 people and held at my parents house.

        • Sara

          Amy, your last paragraph is spot on. I am from one kind of family (#1, like yours) and my fiance is from another kind of family (#2). It has been quite the eye-opening experience going through the process of getting engaged and planning a wedding trying to balance these two.

          –a different Sara

        • ART

          Oh, second cousins. Because of weird divorce and other family dynamics that led to some generation-skipping, having kids at way different times stuff, I am oddly close to like, an ex-step-grandmother and a second- and third-cousin-in-law, and we had a little bit of “but so-and-so is the same level of cousin as such-and-such and you invited HER to the wedding!” even though my husband hadn’t seen the one in YEARS and never had a relationship, vs the other second cousin he’d actually grown up with. We had to be strict about using our own definitions of “close family” in wedding planning and not letting others guilt us into inviting near total strangers who just happened to also be the great-grandkids of the same now-deceased patriarch. Ugh.

    • Courtkay

      Chiming in, as I often have when this is the topic, to say that shower size totally varies by geography and culture. I live in NJ and my husband is from NYC and I have been to several large showers of 100+ people people on his side of the family. Typically these are very large weddings (think 250-300 people) where most of the guests are local, where it’s customary to invite second and even third cousins, etc. My own shower was small by their standards at 50 people, which I know still seems large to many people around here. It seems to be common on APW to act like these large parties are obscene, but there is absolutely a cultural element at play.

      Expecting the bridesmaids to pay for a large party they didn’t plan is absolutely not OK, but large parties aren’t in and of themselves inappropriate.

      • AP

        This. My perspective is less from the large family side of things and more from the close-knit church culture side of things, but generally I agree. I went to a baby shower last year thrown by my friend’s church, and the whole church was invited. It was open-house style, and there were probably 100 people who stopped by. My friend just sat at the front of the room opening gifts while some people watched, some chatted at their tables, some left. At my parents’ church, it’s common for my mom to be invited to a shower for a friend’s daughter, but not invited to the actual wedding. (Which, the first time I heard that, it weirded me out, but it’s totally normal in their church.)

        • Jane

          That sounds awesome and totally different than the vibe of a 100 person catered event. So much lower-key and so much more chance to visit with all the people individually.

          • AP

            Yeah, it was a pretty cool baby shower. Eat, chat, leave when you want. I liked it better than some of the smaller ones I’ve been to where there’s lots of forced interaction with strangers involving baby food and toilet paper.

          • Courtkay

            Can we please just retire all games involving toilet paper?

          • Bsquillo

            Can we please just retire all forced games at parties, period? Food, drink, and conversation really and truly is enough for a room full of adults.

          • Courtkay

            Agreed!!

          • scoobles

            Maybe if you’re an extrovert. Having to converse with a room full of strangers I only tangentially know through the bride sounds like a nightmare to this introvert. Forced games aren’t cool, but games where people can opt in, or activities that people can complete throughout the mingling are a total GODSEND to people with social anxiety.

          • Alexa

            Yes! As much as games can go badly, I am such a fan of structured social interaction, especially in ontexts where a bunch of disparate social groups are mixing.

          • Michelle

            I went to my cousin’s fianceé’s shower and I agree about the no games thing. They were optional, but also super lame. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy the format at all. Watching someone open thousands of dollars worth of baby-related gifts when I am not nor do I plan to be a parent was almost as boring as attending our family dinners where the only form of entertainment since the babies came along is “Look how cute the babies are! Let’s take pictures of them for the entire night and not talk about anything else.” I wish I’d been able to leave early. The only people I knew there were my grandma, my cousin’s fianceé, and my cousin’s sister (my other cousin), but she sat in a separate room with her baby the whole time. Altogether a boring, uncomfortable party with bad cake (in August with broken air conditioning), but not necessarily completely to blame on the games.

          • I would give anything to never see that plunger/toilet paper game that I was forced to play with my MIL’s family at my shower ever again.

        • Natalie

          “it’s common for my mom to be invited to a shower for a friend’s daughter, but not invited to the actual wedding.” This happened all the time in the church I grew up in and in my parents’ current church. ALL the women in the church are invited to bridal showers, typically hosted by the super active retired/elderly ladies who manage to run the world between aquatic aerobics classes. Invitations are in the church bulletin & often announced during the service.

          • AP

            EXACTLY. You get it:)

        • Amie Melnychuk

          Totally the norm where I grew up, too!

          It was always the Ladies’ Guild that scanned the announcements in the paper and threw Community Showers in the local hall or church basement for wedding and baby showers. It was foreign to me when I attended my SIL’s bridal and later baby shower, in a living room! Never mind that the baby shower was BEFORE the baby was born, so different than what I was used to growing up.

    • emilyg25

      And does 100 people = 100 actual gifts?? As a reverse-hoarder, that makes my eye twitch.

      • lamarsh

        As a person who just finished writing the thank you notes for my 30+ person shower, I cannot imagine a 100 person/gift shower. Wuf.

      • Her Lindsayship

        Reverse-hoarder is the perfect way to describe my fiancé and I too! We have a few more hoarder-ish friends who couldn’t understand why we didn’t want a shower, because who doesn’t want more stuff?? US, stuff makes us antsy.

        • sofar

          I wrote downthread about how I nicely turned down my in-laws’ offer of a shower. Because they’d thrown us an engagement party (and apparently, in their circle, people bring gifts to that). So we got 50+ gifts for the engagement party, were already buried in gifts for the actual wedding AND our in-laws had already announced they were throwing us a 400-person reception a month after the wedding. And they were shocked (!) that we didn’t want a shower because, MOAR GIFTS YAY.

          We just got a house, but we’ve spend the past year living in box-land in our apartment from all those gifts (and that’s after returning/donating a TON of stuff). And thank-you-note mountain was pretty much Everest.

          • jem

            you must be SO GOOD at writing thank you notes now!!!!

      • Cellistec

        Yeah, having lived exclusively in small apartments for the past few years, the thought of all those registry gifts makes my stomach hurt a little. Because people don’t give cash for showers as often as they do for weddings…so with 100 guests at a shower, the happy couple is gonna be swimming in casserole dishes and flatware like Scrooge McDuck.

        • Vanessa

          hehheh scrooge mcduck :)

        • jem

          yeah!!! and how do you even THINK of that many things you need? unless you are literally replacing every single thing in your apartment.

          • Amy March

            Which I would dearly love to do! #allmythingssparkjoy #maximalist

          • quiet000001

            Register for stupidly expensive stuff so each person can only afford a single fork/spoon/knife and combined you only have one full set of flatware to deal with? :D

      • Sara

        THIS! Thinking of 100 items of “stuff” I have to find a way to accommodate in my home… gives me hives. If someone insisted on throwing me a 100 person shower, I’d insist “no gifts” be written on the invite, set out a cash jar with a charity’s name on it and call it a day.

  • CMT

    100 people?! Geez! I wonder if the aunt has made sure they’re all invited to the wedding.

  • Sarah M

    I was invited to one of these showers! It was literally me, the bride’s best friend from high school, bride’s sister, and sister’s best friend who were under the age of 40. I spent half the shower at a table with women in their 60s because I befriended a sweet grandma type lady before the bride saw me and pulled me to her table. It was allllll the female older relatives, parents’ coworkers, and parents’ friends. It wasn’t a bad shower, but it was definitely not what I was expecting and I can’t imagine how much it must have cost. I doubt I could have made any kind of significant financial contribution to an event like that if I’d been a bridesmaid.

  • SJ

    Wow. I nope-d so hard I might have sprained my spleen.

  • Emma

    I would also add that if you were already planning to host some type of shower, you could respond to the aunt and say something like “Unfortunately the shower that is planned now is a bit out of line with my budget, but I’d be happy to contribute by X (pay [specific amount of money that you can afford], bake, set up, record gifts, etc.)

  • Jane

    Rage at this totally crazy BS (for bridal shower;)) aside, that “you spend your money and let other people spend theirs” rule is golden and useful for so many parts of wedding planning. Every time it comes up I wish I could come up with non-passive aggressive ways to tell certain family members about it.
    Of course, the caveat is, you can’t force someone to do X with a promise to pay the extra. Like when a friend of my mom’s wanted to bring her adult son (whom I’ve met once) to my wedding and kept responding to all my, “no, we have our guest list pretty set comments,” with, “oh, but I’ll pay for him!!”

    • idkmybffjill

      Ugh what is WITH this idea. Also happened at my wedding on a larger scale. Not about the money.

    • Not Sarah

      My mom says that one of her friends if invited would bring her adult child to my wedding instead of her husband. I’m failing at explaining to her that that’s not how it works…

      • Jane

        Right? My FMIL was like, oh, if these people can’t come, they’ll probably send their children instead. And I’m just like, no, they won’t do that.

  • Sara

    There is no way you should send that aunt money. You had no hand in planning and therefore could not give any budgetary limitation. Its absurd she would think that this is ok or that you could magically afford a catered affair.

    I was a MOH and my BFF gave me an invite list for her shower that was about 65 people. But the difference is that I cut costs where I could (mostly by roping in my family members to help me) and ASKED the other bridesmaids IF they could contribute (most made a dish to serve). I would never have straight up billed them.

    • Jane

      Also, since you were in on the planning from the start, you could have told the bride that you just weren’t able to afford a shower that big. So, you got to make the choice whether to do it or not, not just how to do it in a cost-effective way.

  • K. is skittish about disqus

    What also sucks about this is that you’re now likely dragged into some family dynamic BS that you never, ever should have been dragged into. Of course you should say no to this whack-a-doo auntie, but in my experience? People with these nutso expectations don’t always take kindly to being told no. Maybe I’m wrong and she’ll be like, “Oh you know what, I didn’t even think of how that would be unfair to you and I’m so sorry!” but…just be prepared for some level of intense pushback and with a plan to counter it, especially in the moment – ideally something along the lines of how she’ll have to talk to Bride about that and oops, gotta go, bye.

    I really, really hope your friend will be your advocate here (and you should absolutely tell her as part of damage control) and that she knows how to proverbially spray Auntie with a water bottle to get her to back off. Dealing with Auntie or Auntie’s reactions shouldn’t be your responsibility at all and your friend will hopefully be mortified that this was even suggested, and proactively defend you.

    • Jane

      Exactly!

    • I had a similar reaction reading this– The person who hands you a ridiculous party bill is not usually person who has a lot of chill about being told “no.”

  • Kelly

    Yeah that’s a hard no. 100 person catered event could be the cost of a wedding…that is not your own. But I will say that I have been in a similar situation, so not sure if it’s a generational thing?

    • Sara

      This is what I kept saying in response to every pre-wedding event I refused to have – “If it’s a 100 person event, we might as well just have the actual wedding then. This doesn’t make sense to me.”

  • sofar

    I’ve been in this situation as a maid of honor and broke recent graduate. Here’s how I handled it:

    Bridesmaids and I were planning on a small-ish (15 people shower with friends) — brunch at one of the bridesmaids’ condo, basically.

    MoB and MoG emailed us and were like, “OK here’s our combined guest list! It’s 80 people! Let’s book a party room and talk catering! We priced it out and if we all chip in Xhundred dollars, we can host at [venue] and cater from [restaurant]!”

    I had read Miss Manners’s wedding book cover to cover and knew about a very important loophole — it’s TOTALLY OK for one bride to have multiple showers. So, I conferred with the bridesmaids and emailed back and was like, “Bride is obviously well-loved! The bridesmaids were thinking of throwing a smaller shower that’s more in our budget — we’ve agreed on $50 a person. What day were you thinking for your shower, so we can plan our shower around it?”

    Aaaaand then we got an (obviously embarrassed) email back saying basically, “Oh that’s fine! I think we can make a joint shower happen and include everyone! Party venue lets us self-cater, so we’ll take care of the venue fee and bring in a bunch of casseroles. Would the bridesmaids like to take care of decor and ingredients for mimosas?”

    You need to be up front with your budget and say you’re throwing your own shower. If Auntie wants to compromise, she can. If not, she can throw *her* shower and you can throw *yours.*

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      Nicely done!

    • Alyssa

      Brilliant!

    • Katharine Parker

      Replying that you’re planning a separate shower is a beautiful, etiquette-appropriate power move. Well done.

      • sofar

        At the time, it was more a “Shit, can’t afford that, need a way out” move. Glad I had read Miss Manners.

    • K. is skittish about disqus

      Damn, that’s masterful!

    • Liz

      That is some serious diplomacy and I am IMPRESSED. Nicely done.

    • Shirley Schmidt

      Serious diplomacy skills there – nicely done!

    • Jane

      Yes! Multiple showers solve lots of problems. And that email is perfect. Also loved that you conferred with the other bridesmaids.

    • Zomg, that is a masterclass in wedding diplomacy right there.

    • AmandaBee

      This is the classiest version of “hell no” I have ever seen. Nicely done!

    • Emily

      This response is everything. I got conned once into paying for a bunch of stuff I couldn’t really afford at the time and I wish I had had your script as I was 23 at the time and had no idea how to handle this.

  • Kaitlyn

    I’ve actually never been apart of a bridal shower that wasn’t paid for by the mother. I know my mom is planning on covering mine, with my MOH doing the heavy lifting of planning the logistics. When I was MOH for my MOH (haha), her mom covered pretty much everything. Since it was a Jack and Jill, the bridal party created a basket to be raffled off and I bought a bunch of decorations that she offered to pay me back for, but I wouldn’t let her haha

    Definitely push back. I think your friend would also be horrified that you’re being asked to pay for something you didn’t originally agree to. Maybe frame it as, “I can’t afford to contribute financially, but I’m happy to help set-up/breakdown the event” or something else equally free.

    • volley10

      Agree, and, even if she had the financial ability to contribute to this 100 person catered event, this is extremely outsides the bounds of what is required for a bridesmaid. I’m in my late 20s, so have weddings happening every year for family or friends, and it just seems like the trend is to treat these women you have chosen to honor as your bridesmaid like workhorses. My boyfriend has been a groomsmen 6 times now and has not ever had any issues with crazy requests, pop-up expenses, or pushy family members. So much of this nonsense is the WIC idolization of the bride over the groom and the iron grip on the fact that showers are women-only events.

      Okay, rant over. I just can’t with these demanding brides (and, in this case, families)!

  • Anon

    As an aside, can I say that you’re totally already a saint for doing a four day bachelorette party that involves a major flight?! That’s above and beyond bridesmaid-ing!

    I know it’s more common now because friends are spread out all over, but I still think that kind of thing is worthy of serious props when bridesmaids can make it work (and ZERO shaming if they can’t)

    • Sara

      I planned my own 4-day bachelorette trip, but I also covered lodging for everyone. So they just need to book their flights and pay for food/activities. And of course there is zero pressure to attend if they can’t. I just knew what I wanted so I planned it and tried to make it as easy as possible for everyone.

  • Dana East

    Everyone’s advice is spot on, and yeah, this is crazy. But I just wanted to give big ups to whoever on the APW team picked that banner photo. Never have I seem a lovelier “hahahaha NOPE” facial expression–I’m going to work on emulating it in the mirror, flower crown and all.

    • Kalë

      This is what I came here to say! Spot on

  • Fiona

    MY mom hosted my bridal/groomal shower, along with my aunt, and it was really low key and lovely – hosted in my mom’s back yard with maybe 30 people? I didn’t even realize this wasn’t expressly permitted. It was a surprise for both my husband and myself, and he nearly wet himself with shock because he’s not American and didn’t know what a bridal shower was. At any rate, I’m eternally grateful to my mother and aunt for pulling it together and it was the least bit odd host-wise. I didn’t even realize that mothers weren’t supposed to host!

    • Jane

      The great thing about a surprise shower is that it is 100% out of your hands. And with all the other planning, that’s great. Your shower sounds like a dream come true.

      But can you imagine if the LW’s shower was supposed to be a surprise? She would not be able to say anything to the bride. Yikes.

  • theteenygirl

    Wow.. a 100 women bridal shower sounds like my second worst bridal nightmare (actually my worst bridal nightmare is being forced to open lingerie in front of my mother). I hope that if auntie goes ahead with this, it’s what the bride wants.. because if this were me I’d be physically ill.

    • Totch

      My godmother showed up a my shower with a Victoria’s Secret bag and I was mortified! When I opened it and it was fairly sweet/tame, the literal words that came out of my mouth were “Oh, that’s not scary at all! Thank you!”

      • quiet000001

        I totally admit when I’m the older ‘auntie’ type I will be super tempted to troll at showers by giving gifts in VS bags or similar and then have it be something chill like nice pjs or loungewear rather than racy lingerie.

        Only people I don’t think would be too upset, though.

  • BSM

    THAT FLOWER CROWN!!!!

    Ok, now to read the post :)

  • nyc_to_ma

    THIS HAPPENED TO ME! It was so, so very uncomfortable. Where I’m from, the “aunties” usually plan and pay for the shower – but the bride’s aunts and mom’s friends didn’t even consider planning the shower – though they did all come to the shower. The bride’s mom just assumed the bridesmaids would pay for a 50 person seated brunch, with alcohol, at a specific trendy restaurant in Boston, even after I sent her the quote from the restaurant for $5,000! Luckily the bride’s parents ended up paying for it, but it was NOT fun to manage those conversations.

    • Jane

      If someone in my family were putting that on my best friends, I would be so angry. Which makes me wonder, at what point do you bring in the bride at those situations? Especially since bridesmaids don’t necessarily know the MOB (or whoever is throwing the party) that well.

      It’d be way harder to know the best approach to take with a stranger than with your close friend.

      • Alli

        Right? This thread is making me panic a bit about my shower. I like to think my mom wouldn’t make my girls pay but WHO KNOWS weddings make people do dumb things. I may text her.

        • Jane

          Yeah, my mom and friend are co-hosting one for me, but it’s very small and laid back and I am up on all the details so I know my mom isn’t being crazy.

          And then my FMIL is throwing one with like all her side of the family, so I don’t think she’s expecting anything from my people. But, yeah, could even really stressful.

          • Alli

            PHEW it turns out my mom isn’t really planning it. She’s offered her house and some financial assistance to my bridesmaids they’re the ones planning the shower. Which seems pretty reasonable to me.

            I wish I knew all the details of mine! I told them I had to at least know the day of the shower because I don’t handle complete surprises well – I won’t realize it’s a surprise or what’s going on for an uncomfortably long amount of time!

          • Jane

            Ha. Lol.
            My mom and friend are letting me help because it’s at my parents’ house and I’m living with my parents right now. Also because they decided to give it a theme and I LOVE helping plan themed parties.

      • idkmybffjill

        Oooh this should be a whole post. “When do you talk to the bride?”

        A brides sister once emailed me and another bridesmaid to tell us we needed to come up with a song medley for the bride AND we’d need to have 2 in person rehearsals prior to the wedding (we lived in the north east, the midwest, and the southwest). Luckily we were both comfortable being like, “no thank you.” but I def had a panic about “I AM PRETTY SURE THE BRIDE WOULD WANT TO KNOW THIS.”

        • K. is skittish about disqus

          One of my husband’s poor groomsmen sent us a panicked email about the flash dance my SIL was insisting on them doing for the reception, complete with a full-blown rehearsal schedule for them to learn the dance to some hip-hop song.

          They didn’t know how to say no since they didn’t know her very well and wanted to be respectful of my husband’s sister, plus she insisted that we would LOVE it (hint: *she* would love it at her future wedding, but it’s not even remotely our thing). My husband shut it down. SIL was pissed, but got over it. And we were the only ones who could have said to her, “SIL, we appreciate where you’re coming from, but no, this isn’t happening.”

          • idkmybffjill

            Verrrrrry similar dynamics at play in this situation. Very stressful. Luckily the sister was SUPER flaky, so my response of “while I’d be happy to rehearse the week of the wedding or weekend of the shower, I can’t do any more traveling.” Ended up tiding is over long enough until she forgot about it. Lol

        • Jane

          She wanted you and someone you don’t even know well to come up with a performance? That’s why it’s good you have APW, so in the future you can ask us if that’s crazy, and we can be like, yeah. . . It is.

          • idkmybffjill

            Hahaha – we all went to school for performance majors so that bit wasn’t out of the question so much as the “travel twice to rehearse prior to the wedding.”

        • Nell

          Yes! I want to read that post! I think it’s always a good plan to have a one-on-one convo as soon as the couple picks their bridal party where you are like “hey! who else is in this bridal party with me? tell me about them! tell me about your hopes and dreams for who will do what!” Sometimes, that shakes loose all the issues with the sister/bestie from high school/whoever. Like, “I love Shaina, but don’t let her bring strippers to the bachelorette party.”

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        As soon as Auntie is unreasonable in response to the reasonable “No,” unless you happen to be close to another family member (ideally, a peer of Auntie’s, such as mom of the bride). Then loop them in first.

        But if everyone is being unreasonable or acting entitled to bridemaids’ cash? Bride’s gotta be told to come in and (hopefully) put her foot down.

        • Totch

          This exactly. Try to settle it first. Remind everyone that the goal is to make the bride feel loved and you might have different ideas about how, but that asking her to squash drama definitely isn’t it. Pull in a mom or a fiance(e) or form a union with other bridesmaids. Then go to bride as a tiebreaker once adult communication has failed.

          It’s fine if the bride knows this is happening, but there’s a difference between being aware and being asked to get involved.

  • Pingback: As a Bridesmaid, Do I Really Have to Pay for a Catered Bridal Shower for 100? – Jewelry Finder 4 U()

  • Totch

    I’ve been the bride in this situation… ish. Please try to limit the bride’s involvement.

    Someone offered to throw me a shower, and then when she sent invites to the 15 guests it included a $60 price tag. For all guests. This was pretty scandalous to my relatives, and one of them called me right away to make sure it got fixed.

    Her offer was to quietly pay for our side’s guests, and ask the host to send emails to them saying the price was included in error. But then it became an issue for my fiance, because that meant his side was still expected to pay for themselves and he didn’t think that was acceptable. On top of the cost issue, we found out the host didn’t clear the time with a key guest and they couldn’t come. Since there were multiple people with issues, it left me waaaay in the middle of things when my goal was to have nothing to do with my shower until I arrived at it.

    So I ended up communicating all these things to the host. She noped out and (at my family’s request) I planned a replacement shower that my family could afford to pay for.

    I’m still learning fun new ways that it’s damaged my relationship with the host, and it cast a big shadow over the event. I honestly wish we’d just cancelled. I understand that sometimes you need to loop the bride in, but it would have been a huge kindness if these folks had spoken to each other in addition to speaking to me (and not asked me to step in).

    • Amy March

      But what would you have people do? All just RSVP no because the invite was hideously rude and then you’re left sitting there wondering why you don’t have friends? I think it is a hard spot for a bride but sometimes stuff is just hard.

      • Totch

        Yeah! Absolutely refuse the invite. I would if I was invited to that shower.

        But what I’m trying to say is I wish my family member replied to the host’s email herself, exactly as you suggested, and then read me in only as much as necessary.

        Instead, my family member (who knows the host) asked me to contact the host with the offer, and my fiance said “as long as you’re doing that, tell her about these other two issues.” I take responsibility for agreeing to do it, but I was put in a position where I knew people weren’t happy about attending my shower and expected me to take responsibility.

        You’re not supposed to throw your own shower, so can’t the corollary be “don’t ask the bride to get involved in shower throwing?”

        • Katharine Parker

          I’m sympathetic to both sides on this–nothing on this level happened with my own shower, but there some mixups on the invitations that meant people were coming to me with questions that I couldn’t answer and it was frustrating. At the same time, had I been a guest, I probably would have gone to the bride, too–she’s the person I know, I know she’s in communication with the host, she probably isn’t aware of the problem, she will want to fix this, etc. Going around the bride, unless I know the host super well, seems like an overstep.

          It puts you in an awkward position as the bride, yes, but replying no to the invite and explaining to her why you’re not attending the shower seems more awkward. There’s no good solution.

          • idkmybffjill

            Totally agree – were I in this same situation I’d be upset if people didn’t tell me. Although, I also understand the feeling of – these aren’t my choices why am I having to deal??

            Showers are tricky business sometimes!

          • Totch

            To be clear, I’m not saying never tell the bride anything. I’m saying try to avoid asking the bride to get involved. This isn’t just coming from my shower, I’ve planned and attended plenty. If I was hosting and found out about an issue from the bride, I’d feel like people went around me and didn’t give me a chance to fix the issue before escalating it. Presumably the host is hosting out of love and wants to get things right.

            But I’m probably extra Team The Bride Has Enough Going On. When I’m planning, the first thing I do is email the partner and find out how involved they’re willing to be. Some fill in whatever shower game quiz I sent and leave it at that. But even with grooms I didn’t know beforehand, I’ve found most enjoy being in on the plan (one spent months emailing tidbits like “she just said she’s sad she never has anyone to go to karaoke with!”). I’ve also totally gone to a (willing) groom and said “this is the problem, does your fiancee​ need to know?”

        • Amy March

          I like it as a general rule, and it may have worked in your situation, but realistically this is a party thrown in your honor where many people may only be connected to the bride, and since they are also theoretically people who are close to the bride, it just seems a bit extreme to expect them to handle any issues without involving the bride.

          • Totch

            I get what you’re saying, but I think there’s space to remind people that it is a party thrown in the bride’s honor. It’s worth asking yourself how to respond to drama in a way that puts the responsibility on the person who offered to be responsible rather than on the person who’s supposed to be celebrated. In this case, I agree with you that the Auntie made herself responsible and the bridesmaid should speak with her first.

          • idkmybffjill

            I think this is a good reminder – I think some people assume that the bride has alot of input in some circles (I certainly didn’t at all!!), and can sometimes think that she’s really planning it even though there’s a host.

          • Totch

            Right, if auntie replied saying “this is all coming from the bride,” absolutely loop her in in a decision making capacity. Also, WTF bride.

            But if not, I think you should make an effort make sure any problems you tell her about are followed by “but X is handling it, we’ll keep you updated.”

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            To me, it depends on how Auntie responds when told no. If she flips out, tries to tell the bridesmaids that they’re wrong, or in any way tries to force her way to getting the money, then, yeah, I *do* think the bride has to deal with it and shut down her own relative. Otherwise, these women will be bulldozed for the sake of their friend, and presumably, friend would never want that.

            It’s similar to in-law situations, I think. Of course it’s good to be able to talk to your MIL directly and even do some conflict resolution, but the minute it gets too personal or intense, then the actual blood relative has to step in as the diplomat so that the natural outsider doesn’t get irrevocable damage.

          • Totch

            Absolutely! But that’s escalating it to the bride once you’ve tried to be adults and not trouble her. That’s all I’m advocating for. Either tell her as it’s happening and say “heads up, we’re working through something and will update you” or tell her once you’re at an impasse and say “no one wanted this to be a problem, but it is. what do you think?”

          • quiet000001

            I’d probably go to the bride first just to get tips on how to approach Auntie. “What’s the best way to respond to this, I have no clue what to say and don’t want to say the wrong thing and cause extra drama.” Still making clear I didn’t expect her to deal with it, but recognizing that people get weird about weddings, especially family, and wanting to know about any potential land mines before addressing things.

            But that is partly because this particular situation is very far from what I’d consider reasonable, which would make me think there might be family dynamics involved.

  • Anna

    Caveat: I have 35 first cousins, many of whom are married. Irish Catholics who marry other Irish Catholics lead to LARGE family events.

    For one of my cousin’s weddings, I was a bridesmaid, her (younger) sister was her MOH, and the other two bridesmaids were her FSIL and our younger cousin. Her mom’s friend threw the shower and I had little to no involvement, except to bring the bride’s grandmother (as she lived near me). For another cousin, her MOH (and bestie) threw one shower, for which I did contribute financially and helped with set up/breakdown, organizing, etc. Our aunts threw her another shower, which I just had to show up for. None of these had 100 people, however, but that’s because both sides of my family are spread out all over and you can’t get them all in one place at one time except for a wedding or a funeral.

    AT NO TIME for any wedding that I’ve participated in was I ever handed the plans and a bill for a shower. That strikes me as wildly inappropriate. Someone downthread had the PERFECT diplomatic response. I’d send that and see what Auntie says.

  • S

    For the record, I’ve never been to a shower that wasn’t held in someone’s living room where the food wasn’t finger food, homemade cupcakes and chips/crisps out of the packet. NEVER. I just thought that’s what a shower was. (I’m not American if that matters – maybe it’s a regional thing.) So if I received an email like that from my friend’s Aunt, I would probably faint.

  • Sarah

    When I was about 25 offered to throw my SIL a baby shower. I had been to a few really low key affairs and didn’t really know any better. I figured I’d use my parents house and invite folks over and offer some snack and drinks and cheesy games. Then my SIL said her mom and sister had also offered to help- and I thought, great, splitting the cost in 3 is going to be even easier! Then talking to mom and sister, they wanted to have it at a bar and have food and drinks, and it was going to be A LOT more than I had budgeted. I ended up having to sheepishly go to SIL and tell her as much as I’d love to host a shower for her, the new one was out of my budget. In the end, I ended up buying a fancy bakery cake and did decorations for their shower.

  • Leah

    Ok question because I don’t really have anything to add in addition to what’s been said.

    In Australia we’re not as into the bridal shower thing as the US. For a friend, we’re organising a swanky high tea for 30ish ladies at a nice hotel in the city everyone lives in. Is it ok to ask the guests to cover the cost for their attendance? I.e. there is a price per head. It’s not a bridal shower per se and gifts definitely aren’t expected, it’s more to get all of the important women in her life together pre-wedding.

    • Greta

      I think it’s fine as long as you are up front about the cost, allow people to make a fully informed decision and specifically say no gifts. Traditional bridal showers in my circle are parties with wrapped gifts and I think it’s uncool to ask people to pay their own way, especially for something that would cost more than 20$ a person, and expect them to bring a gift. Instead of saying gifts aren’t expected, make sure you say, please, no gifts!

      • Leah

        Thanks for the response. We are being upfront about the cost and communicating the no gift sentiment.
        In our circle, bridal showers just aren’t the done thing and it would be confusing for people to even refer to it as a bridal shower. She has a some older female relatives who would probably think any kind of shower was gift grabby and have no problem with paying their own way at the hotel but that’s the difference in etiquette/culture for you!

    • This question, and the comments, are making me so very grateful showers aren’t a thing in the UK either! A whole party just for the sake of opening presents in front of people is just so… not our culture. A get together is lovely, and certainly over here guests would expect to pay their own way at almost any hotel/restaurant/venue regardless of event. Don’t call it a shower, and then no one will google showers and get their knickers in a twist about expectations!

      • Leah

        I think some people have them here, but none of our friends have!

        Yeah the idea of a party specifically for the purpose of giving gifts seems weird to me. Also the idea of opening them in front of everyone…no.

        Thank you for the advice. We’re going to go ahead and just call it what it is: a high tea!

      • anon

        Agreed. All that consumerism gives me the heebie jeebies.

        • It’s not even the consumerism, really. It’s the fact that UK culture views money and emotions as things you keep private (which is often to our own detriment, I absolutely acknowledge) and public gift giving encapsulates both of those. It’s the same sort of squeamishness as if instead of giving gifts you all took it in turns to graphically described STDs to the bride to be – there’s a time and a place and a group of people you’re more than happy to have that conversation with, but sending invites out to it just seems weird!

    • Kat

      I’m in New Zealand and I would find this perfectly normal, assuming the cost was given up front and wasn’t horrifically expensive. Obviously expensive is different to everyone but as long as it’s in the region of what you’d normally pay for a nice meal out I think you’re all good.

    • anon

      I’m in Australia and I think that is perfectly acceptable and normal – much nicer than a bridal shower which (sorry American friends, cultural bias here) I just can’t help finding tacky and gift grabby. The guests are spending money on having a lovely time with the bride which, presumably, they will enjoy themselves.

      • Leah

        Thank you! I agree, but was freaking out a bit given the responses on this thread. I think it may be that a lot of our wedding etiquette stems from English traditions as opposed to American. Not to say one or the other is superior, the differences are interesting!

  • Pingback: As a Bridesmaid, Do I Really Have to Pay for a Catered Bridal Shower for 100? | Wedding Adviser()

  • Amanda

    My mom is low-key planning my shower because none of my bridesmaids are being helpful at all. She found the venue (at a budget discount barn in her town) and paid for it, and she asked if anyone would be willing to make food and my bridesmaids all said they don’t cook. My mom found an affordable caterer who will do everything for $1000 for 40 people and I feel like my bridesmaids are upset they have to pay for this. My grandma and MIL are also helping to split the costs as well. So I feel very conflicted after reading all these responses to this article!

    • ART

      I think it depends on how it’s communicated. Did your mom just tell your bridesmaids “I’m planning a shower and you must chip in somehow, and if you don’t cook something then it’s $200”? Or was there a discussion and agreement up front about how it would be handled and what the budget was? I think Amy’s advice that you can’t spend other people’s money for them is the main thing here, including in the comments – the size, price, and number of ways split are relative, but asking (or god forbid, demanding) that someone pay for a plan they didn’t have a say in doesn’t fly. That said, I’m sorry your bridesmaids don’t seem to be more helpful about coming up with ideas that would work for them, or at least being upfront about being unable to contribute to your mom’s plan for the shower so there’s no lingering question about it, and I’m sorry you might feel in the middle of it. Distillation of the comments here would suggest, though, that there’s really no right way that someone can tell your ‘maids they have to pay for a shower. If there’s anything I learned from my wedding, it’s that nothing good comes of not communicating when you see a need! Maybe some frank conversations are in order?

      • Amanda

        I think she asked if it was ok with the bridesmaids for the amount and no one responded so she just moved ahead because she has a timeline. So it wasn’t demanded but my bridesmaids are just being lazy I think. It sucks being in the middle! I just want everyone to be happy.

        • quick reply

          I would take no response as an “No, I’m not up for this.” Asking people to pay for that kind of thing amazes me… there’s no way I could do it.

    • Amy March

      But your bridesmaids don’t have to pay for this. It sounds like they have given no indication they want to throw you a shower, and your mom can’t just assume they are going to contribute and move ahead with her plans. That she made. Without their in put.

    • zana

      Yeah, I’m sorry your bridesmaids don’t want to plan anything…but maybe it’s possible with your mother taking over this stuff, they don’t really feel they have the opportunity to contribute in the ways most meaningful to them? Or maybe it’s just social loafing, who knows.

      Either way, your mom is in the wrong here. She should not expect the bridesmaids to pay for her plans, if she did not get their approval/input beforehand. It’s a sucky position to be in, but your mom put you into it (with the best of intentions, sure, but sometimes it isn’t just the thought that counts, it’s the execution as well).

  • Pingback: How to Pick Your Wedding Party | Wedding Warriors TC | Wedding Planner | Kennewick, Richland, Pasco()

  • Pingback: This Is Your Official Bridesmaid Bill of Rights | Wedding Warriors TC | Wedding Planner | Kennewick, Richland, Pasco()