Q: Throughout my wedding planning process so far, I’ve wrestled with so many traditions and their convoluted histories, and come up with solutions that work for my modern bisexual feminist taste. But I’m stuck on the bridal shower. Now, I know that I can easily have a mixed gender shower because it’s 2018 and I can live my damn life how I damn well please. But then, how do I decide who is and isn’t invited? The nice thing about having a single gender party is that it narrows down your invite list for you. But once I open that up to all genders, it seems to just open up all questions for the party:
- We’re having a wedding of about eighty people, so how do I invite about twenty of them to a private party without feeling like I’m just excluding sixty people?
- If I let the guest list get bigger, where do I draw the line so it’s not just the whole wedding guest list?
- How do I justify a mixed gender party being a shower for me and not a joint shower for me and my fiancé?
- If I limit the list to just women, how is it okay to invite two of my fiancé’s groomspeople (because they’re women), but not his best man?
- If I make an exception and invite the best man, do I make an exception and invite my dad?
- How do I exclude my dad from a party celebrating me?
Do you see the rabbit hole I’m going down? Help!
—Drowning in Options
A: Dear DIO,
You’re overthinking this. It’s a party! Who do you want there? Who would want to come? Who lives nearby? Who can you afford and fit? Ta-da, that’s your guest list.
Yeah, it can seem like ditching the rules means dropping all sense of limits and standards, but it’s really not. Let’s reel it back for a second and focus on the really important thing to remember about showers: no one wants to be there except the old ladies and your very closest friends. Truly. Everyone loves you, everyone wants you to have a happy marriage. Very few people will be upset about being excluded.
So, to set some guidelines for yourself, let’s start with some of the basic expectations of this tradition. It sounds like you know this, but just to make sure: don’t invite anyone who isn’t invited to the wedding. That’s an easy one.
From there, you’ll want to stick with who’s local. If someone is long distance, it doesn’t make sense to invite them to your shower (possibly with the exception of some older female family members. They often expect an invitation, and your parents will be a good gauge on who falls in that camp).
Also, the reason this party has always been for “just the ladies” is because it’s for preparing your little cozy home, obviously a strictly female thing since only wimminz eat or sleep or care about how they eat and sleep. Ignore the sexist part, and (if that’s the kind of party you’re having) ask yourself, “Who among my friends gets really excited about housewarming type stuff? Who’s going to get a kick out of picking out spatulas and oohing over table linens?” Chances are, those are the folks who will enjoy a bridal shower. Or, if your shower is just mimosas and chat, who would want to come to that one? Or, who is just always down to party no matter what?
There’s nothing anti-feminist about having a women-only bridal shower. The roots are sexist, sure, Suzy Homemaker. But a time to celebrate that’s just all women? Nothing wrong with that. But if you’re doing mixed gender, go mixed gender all the way. That means, yeah, if you’re inviting guys, the party is for both of you, not just the bride.
If you feel like anyone will feel excluded, I mean, invite them! Beyond space and finances, there’s no reason you can’t have an eighty-person bridal shower. But seriously, when it comes to things like showers, intimate is usually better. Your shower is not an obligation, it’s not an imposition, but most folks won’t be bummed to be left out.