Ask Team Practical: Are Showers Tacky?

Do we even care? (Spoiler: No.)

Q: I’m planning my wedding for next summer and am curious about your opinion on Bridal Showers. I’ve hosted friends’ Bridal Showers in the past. In short, my opinion is they seem tacky and burdensome (asking friends to host a party where people give you another wedding gift?). However, since I’ve sunk time and money into them for friends in the past (and happily did so), and will in the future for friends who want them (I have at least one more to plan in the near future), I’m worried I will feel short-changed if I don’t have one. This is a terrible reason, I know! I don’t want to stress out by planning my own shower on top of the wedding, and I feel like I shouldn’t burden others to plan it. I’ve lived with my BF for over three years, so we don’t need much in terms of household items. I just know that I may feel resentful down the line. What is your opinion on Bridal Showers? Why does everyone want one?! (Or why does it feel that way.)

–Modern Bride Problems

A: Dear MBP,
Showers are not tacky.

Part of the problem here is you’re thinking about this from the perspective of “asking” friends to throw you a shower, when it usually doesn’t work that way (or at least, it shouldn’t). Your traditional shower is thrown by friends who are just so excited for your marriage that they want to give you a party and presents. As it so happens, these people are usually your closest friends. And since your closest friends are usually asked into your wedding party, it’s become generally expected (though not mandatory) that the wedding party throws the wedding shower. But there’s no point at which this is demanded or requested. This isn’t a role you foist onto your reluctant and unwilling friends. That? That would be tacky.

You’re partially right, though. Throwing a shower can be burdensome. The frustration of wrangling the addresses for the invitations, the sting of setting aside your very scarce dollars for paper napkins, the awkwardness of making small talk with your friend’s distant relatives all could probably be deemed “burdensome.”

But who doesn’t occasionally enjoy doing something annoying and awkward because you love somebody? You bet it makes me squirm in my chair knowing that six of the ladies I love best had to shell out cash and time and effort planning a party just for me. But amid that squirming, I feel really loved, and really grateful, and completely aware that I would do the same for any of them in a heartbeat. In fact, I think I’d really enjoy the opportunity to do it (annoying bits and all).

If a bridal shower is burdensome, by that definition, there are a lot of other things I do for loved ones that could be considered “burden.” Changing my kid’s diapers is most certainly a burden. Making a meal that I don’t like and my husband does: burden. But, that small bit of discomfort, annoyance, whatever, is entirely and completely worth the opportunity to show my son, my husband, a dear friend who’s getting married that I love them. Your friends are making a small, meaningful trade of their cash or time or comfort in exchange for helping you to feel supported.

That’s the real core of what I want you to take away, here. A bridal shower is just a crepe paper draped rite of passage. It’s only minimally about the actual things, and more about what those things represent. You’re taking this giant, sometimes scary, often life-changing step into marriage, and the loved ones around you are all saying, “We’re here to support you in this big thing.” Only they’re saying it with oven mitts and watery mimosas. The enormity of this decision, the varying emotions it brings on, the possible cold feet or family frictionnot everyone can help with that. But they can wrap up some housewares and make a pasta salad.

Maybe after reading this, you still feel really uncomfortable with the idea of a shower. Just be frank (but polite) with friends that you really aren’t interested in having one, and they’ll hopefully respect your wishes. You already said it, so I won’t be delicate: tit-for-tat is a terrible reason to have a shower. If you’re worried you’ll be resentful somewhere down the line, don’t consider having a shower for that reason alone. But maybe step away from the parties you’re planning for other folks.

Team Practical, tell us about your wedding showers. Will you have one? Do you want one? What do you do when you’ve planned a bunch for friends but don’t want one for yourself?

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!

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  • Laura

    In my world the bridal shower will be an important piece for out-of-town friends to participate and give me a chance to celebrate with #allthepeople. The church community I grew up with is an incredible family but sadly I can’t invite them all (or expect them to travel to my new town).

  • Class of 1980

    DOES everyone want a bridal shower? I’d really like to know. I’m known for bringing cool gifts, but … I’ve always hated bridal showers with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns.

    The last shower I was invited to was so far away that I could just mail the gift … and I was happy. ;)

    I sound horrible. Is it just me?

    • Liz

      Definitely not just you.

      • Class of 1980

        Thank goodness. I thought I might be a Grade A Ogre.

        I was sent over the edge around age 20 attending a shower with a lingerie theme. Among the sexy nightgowns, there was a set of lollipops or “suckers”. One had a drawing of a clock on it, one had a crock on it, and the last one had a rooster (“cock”) on it with the words “The Real Thing”.

        The icing on the cake is that all our moms were there. And no one was drunk. Or laughing. I wanted to die.

        • Class of 1980

          And this was our church group. ;)

          • MisterEHolmes

            There is always one church lady who takes it there just to make everyone uncomfortable (of course, when THAT lady’s daughter got married, did anyone do something as crazy for the kid? Hell no–mom would have killed us with her death stare).

          • Class of 1980

            I think one of the girls my age did it. Those suckers were passed from guest to guest and everyone was silent. The person who passed them to me was MY MOM.

            Your mom handing you a “c*ck sucker” lollipop … Horrific any time. Even more horrific in 1979.

          • MisterEHolmes

            Gah, that is bad!

    • KEA1

      Nope, not just you. I loved helping to plan the showers before two different weddings in which I was a bridesmaid, and I suppose that if I could have a shower like the ones those ended up being, I’d be cool with having one of my own. But it would have to be with my input, otherwise I’d feel that the party wasn’t really for me even though people claimed that it was.

    • Another Meg

      The showers I enjoy the most are for family, not friends. In our circle it’s more of a family thing anyway. Is this typical?
      When I go to a friend’s shower I don’t know as many people so it’s not as much fun. I moved away from my hometown last year and since then have been mailing out gifts. Not gonna lie, while I was a little sad to miss them, I knew I wouldn’t have much fun if I’d gone.

      • Kat Robertson

        I think how many people I know well at a shower is what makes or breaks the experience for me as a guest. It’s definitely awkward to be the only “friend from college” in a room with someone’s aunts and cousins for a four hour party. That was why I liked my shower when they’re usually not my favorite – I knew and loved everyone in the room.

        • Sharon Gorbacz

          I think you just wrote the reason I actually had fun at MY shower even though I didn’t originally want one. “That was why I liked my shower when they’re usually not my favorite – I knew and loved everyone in the room.”

    • Emma Klues

      NOPE! :) I had NO desire to have any, but as Liz pointed out, they are about others being excited. So I graciously-yet-not-excitedly went to 4 while I was engaged. I think they are a weird thing, they stem from an awful dowry tradition that I do not like, and yes, they can feel tacky. BUT that’s not what they are to most other people; they are a way for them to get quality time with you during wedding planning and celebrate and give you a present because they are excited. If I had my way, I would have avoided them, but it wasn’t just about me and I could appreciate giving people my time and attention because they were just stoked.

      • Class of 1980

        It’s NOT that I think bridal showers are tacky. It’s just that I dread them. The ones I’ve been to have involved otherwise intelligent ladies having vapid conversations, playing boring silly games, and enduring an awkward atmosphere. I go only because I love the bride.

        No doubt there are better ways of throwing a shower, but I’ve NEVER been to one of those!

        • Emma Klues

          Oh I didn’t think you thought that, I was just quoting the word from the post. I dread them and I also think they can be slightly tacky :) My words! The tackiness is just that I feel they are an odd double-standard way of wrangling a second gift out of female friends. But showers can look like all kinds of things. One of my showers was fairly traditional, but came from a very genuinely excited place and was fun for me to meld worlds of friends together before they would do it again at the wedding. One was a co-ed shower for both of us for all of his parents’ friends and family, many of whom just wanted to meet me. There were no weird games, just a legit spread of food and gift opening and mingling. The third was a sleepover with some of my female cousins/aunts where we played games and did a few presents, and the 4th was a “sprinkle” where my mom’s friends that I grew up visiting around the midwest got together for a work party where they helped me make my centerpieces and gave me one joint gift together. So all in all, not bad. But the basic concept, like you described, makes me totally anxious. And, to a point, I think those showers can feel “tacky” to me, when they seem surface level and forced and not born out of genuine excitement, but obligation.

        • Sharon Gorbacz

          I asked for an afternoon tea, and that’s exactly what I got. It was lovely. We didn’t play any games, we just drank tea, ate sandwiches and scones, and I opened some presents at the end.

        • Charise

          When my bridesmaids and mom insisted I have one, I responded fine, but it’s going to be coed (after all, HE’S also getting married and the gifts are for him, too!). With no stupid games. And at a bar. It was basically like being at happy hour with all my favorite people, with 15 min of quickly opening gifts.

          • deelirium

            I asked for a coed bbq, so that’s what we’re doing. Chill, lots of friends and fam, outdoors under a pavilion. More like an engagement party.

      • Jules

        “Others being excited”. YES. This.

        The funny thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever been excited as a guest (as much as I love my friends, I then feel compelled to give a wedding gift and shower gift now). It always seems like the hosts are the ones that feel the need to have one. As a bride, I can imagine it would be awfully hard to decline them the opportunity to host something for you…I wish there were a please-all solution to this!

    • jhs

      I do not want one, and have turned down lots of requests to host one for me. I mean, it’s so nice that my family/friends all seem to want to throw something, but I’m just getting overwhelmed enough with the wedding that the thought of more and more parties in anticipation of the big party just freaks me out.

    • BD

      Don’t like them, and didn’t have one myself! I made it clear to everyone around me that I didn’t want a shower and thankfully they obliged.

    • Meg Keene

      No. Everyone does not want a bridal shower. Get me drunk sometime to discuss ;)

    • Alyssa M

      Definitely another vote for no. Throughout my life I’ve seen them as an unpleasant but required right of passage… but now that I’m actually getting married it seems like a big judgment on my social life too…

    • SarahG

      I think they work best when they happen in relatively tight-knit, already formed communities. Personally I don’t want one, and I’ve been to some awful ones, and also some ones that were nice. For me, what makes it worth it is when you can have more heartfelt, less polite interactions. Or, lacking the realness, if there’s another (non-gift) activity that can be focused on. I’ve always been a fan of having a bowling night for a combo bachelorette/bridal shower myself (also being someone who has enough stuff and doesn’t want presents). I’m weird that way though. Friends of mine did this and I totally had a blast with their random relatives and friends I’d never met. Bowling: it brings people together.

    • Emily

      YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I don’t hate them, but I really didn’t want to have one. I am so awkward opening gifts and bad at feigning excitement. And for whatever reason, showers are usually in inconvenient places, ie in the suburbs where parents live rather than in the city where we live. So for that reason I am annoyed about being invited to other people’s showers.

      But I am going to have one, because I realized it’s really for my mom and not me, so that she can get to throw a shower just like her friends did for their kids. I made it really clear to her that I am not inviting any of my friends from the city because I don’t want them to feel obligated to travel 4 hours in a day to go to my shower. So we are both fine with it being small, and I will just grin and bear it.

      Also, when I asked my mom what the purpose of showers are, she literally said it’s to milk a second gift out of people. Which just seems so … wrong! I suppose the way to get around that is to throw a themed one, like asking people to give cookbooks or recipes or lingerie or something.

    • ItsyBit

      No, not just you. I’ve been to just a few bridal shower and decided that I 1) HATE the idea of opening gifts in front of others and 2) LOVE the idea of my closest female friends and family all in the same room. So for me it’s a weird mix of wanting to have one because of the company and not wanting to get/deal with gifts.

    • LN

      I did not want one and did not have one. It seems like double dipping.

      • KC to KE

        A coworker threw a shower for me a few years ago. What I discovered was that the people who gave gifts at the shower did not feel the need to bring a gift to the wedding.

        • Kelsey

          That sounds wonderful logistically, and I’m now hoping all of my shower gifts do that… So much easier to transport gifts back home on a random Sunday than on your first day of marriage.

    • HannahESmith

      I didn’t have one, and I don’t regret it. I did have a bachelorette party, though, and it was fantastic.

    • Mezza

      Nope. I don’t think I could have survived another day of everyone’s attention being on me. Fortunately, no one offered!

    • Ingrid

      At the beginning of our engagement, I emphatically did not want a bridal shower. The whole idea struck me as tacky, not to mention I hated the thought of someone going through all that trouble for me. Plus opening presents in front of people – just the idea gives me the willies! But as we got closer to the wedding date, my best friend’s mom, whom I consider a second mother, really, REALLY wanted to throw me a bridal shower in my hometown. I fought it at first, but soon realized that I am the closest she has to a daughter (my best friend is a dude), she loves to throw a party (and is amazing at it), and this would probably be the only time she would get a chance to throw a bridal shower for a loved one. I conceded, with a couple of guidelines–no theme, no opening presents, both men and women invited… I even tried to get her to put “no presents please” on the invitation but that proved too much for her southern sensibilities.

      You know what? I had an AMAZING time. It was a chance to see friends and family who weren’t able to come to the wedding (or weren’t invited – we had a small ceremony and reception), and I quite unexpectedly had so much fun catching up with old friends and hanging out with loved ones, eating awesome food and drinking champagne. I really felt the love and I never once felt awkward. It was the first “event” of our wedding, and it got me excited for the actual wedding in a way I never expected!

      This ended up being the first lesson for me in how important it is to let the people close to you show their love – really, the entire wedding planning process was a lesson in it.

    • MDBethann

      I understand not everyone wanting one, but I actually really liked the ones my family & friends threw for me 2 years ago. My bridesmaids threw me a lovely intimate tea at one of their homes for my friends who live near me in MD – it was a nice, relaxing afternoon with yummy food & fun with my friends, one of whom brought her 2 little girls with her and they were the life of the party.

      Our mothers & sisters (aka MOH and Best Woman) threw us a lovely family shower in the town where I grew up. Yes, it was “traditional” and everyone watched me open the gifts, but they livened it up with Bingo & there was a wine & chocolate theme, and my cousin’s wife made the MOST AWESOME CAKES – one was a wine bottle in a crate & the other was a cheese wheel. Yes, it was traditional, but it was filled with love from people I don’t see very often and I enjoyed it (I’m also an extrovert, so that may have something to do with it). Yes, there were a number of things from my registry, but there were some lovely surprises too, like a beautiful hand-knitted afghan made just for us.

      That said, I have been to some HUGE showers over the years (I have a large family with a number of older cousins) and they aren’t a lot of fun if the bride opens all of the presents. But I also have some very creative relatives who have thrown some awesome themed showers (my favorite was the one which involved a bathtub set from the local HS drama dept, complete with shower curtain, & my cousin sat in it to open her presents)

      If/when the time comes for a baby shower for us (a different topic, I know), I do want a co-ed shower, if my husband is open to it. He’s going to be one of the parents too so a baby shower should be as much about the dad as the mom.

  • Chiara M

    I’m excited for my bridal shower, and a couple of my brides women have stepped up to plan it for me! I wouldn’t have had one if they hadn’t volunteered and it wouldn’t have bothered me. When I was planning my friend’s shower I had such a hard time with what it represented (a group of women getting together to tell the future wife household secrets?). But now that it’s mine, I’m so excited to see all of the amazing women in my life in one place!

    I felt weird about the presents, too. My mom said when she had her shower (35 years ago), everyone brought her a tea towel, so that’s what I’ve asked for. I’ve heard other people used to do tea cup showers where each person would bring a fancy china tea cup. Both of these ideas appeal to me, because a lot of my friends are young and I don’t want to ask them to bring a present if they can’t afford one.

    • Winny the Elephant

      LOVE the tea towel idea. You can never have too many

    • Shari

      I’ll throw in another suggestion if you have a lot of stuff already: ask people to bring a bottle of wine instead. You can build yourself a cellar, and a bottle of wine isn’t much for the price of admission. The tea towel idea is stellar though – Chiara, I love that both you’re making a tradition there.

    • I love this idea!

    • EAL

      I asked for recipes. My sister assembled an awesome book in which everyone submitted a vegetarian recipe for me and a more meat-and-potatoes one for my fiance.

      • MC

        I love this idea!!

    • jashshea

      One of my showers was a recipe shower where the gift givers also gave an ingredient (and most gave a casserole dish or pie dish as well). In lieu of thank you notes, I had to provide a compilation of the recipes back to them.

  • Laura C

    I may have only been to one shower ever, which was a lingerie shower I hosted. I was thrilled to host for my friend, and one of her friends who couldn’t make it so wanted to do something for it that she had flowers delivered. And even though there were various disasters associated with it which laid the groundwork for the end of my friendship with the person who’d been supposed to be my co-host, it’s a fond memory.

    That said, I’m not having a shower because NOPE. Just not me. And all my people are out of town, pretty much, and if they’re coming into town for one thing besides the wedding I don’t want it to be that.

  • Winny the Elephant

    I’m looking at my shower as a way to celebrate with the friends that I won’t be able to invite to the wedding. My mom is throwing it for me and I’ve asked that gifts be small if people are going to bring them at all

  • Just sayin’

    I had VERY similar feelings about the whole bridal shower deal. I didn’t want to burden my bridal party (a couple of which had babies). I know some people don’t always enjoy them. I really didn’t want to register for lots of things (or really, any) and I definitely didn’t want my loved ones to feel compelled to purchase items I didn’t really even want to register for in the first place (since my now husband and I already lived together and had enough kitchen stuff to make food on a daily basis). So, my mom and dad threw us an engagement party where we asked for donations to a cause we care about instead of gifts (I know this is sometimes viewed as tacky, but it was much preferred over gifts). We invited family, close friends and the bridal party / groomsmen. It was casual, on a Sunday afternoon. It was simple and lovely. There was no long gift-opening session. Then, when anyone asked my bridal party or my mom about a shower, she said, “oh, the engagement party was all they wanted!” or something along those lines. If you aren’t really comfortable at your own shower, it means others might not either! So, don’t feel pressured if you don’t want to have one – and go with what works for you.

  • Eh

    I wasn’t keen on having a shower because I don’t like being the centre of attention (the wedding was going to be bad enough for me). I was told by many people that I would feel jibbed or that I would be missing out on gifts (the latter is not a good reason to have one in my opinion). I had no expectation that my friends or my sister (who was MOH) throw one since most of them don’t live near me (and my sister lives on the other side of the country). I did broach the subject with my MIL. She threw one for my SIL the year before so I just wanted to check if she was planning one for me. She said she was. I mentioned that she didn’t have to. She said that she wanted to. (Since it was important to her and not on my deal breaker list I conceded to her.) My husband’s cousin and I are friends (she set us up) and she agreed to help my MIL. We discussed aspects of showers that I’m not comfortable with that are negotiable (gift opening was non-negotiable), for example, theme parties (the last one I was invited to was “naughty or nice”) and typical shower games. She convinced my MIL to not have a theme and she came up with games where I wasn’t the centre of attention (and they were less tacky than typical shower games). In the end it was a very nice event hosted by three women (my MIL, my husband’s grandmother and my husband’s cousin) who love me and have welcomed me into their family.

    I find the concept of opening gifts in front of other people to be weird. Especially when you are the only person opening gifts. Since my family lives so far away I wanted to spend as much time with them that I could the weekend of our wedding. My in-laws graciously hosted our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding and a brunch the morning after. The brunch included opening our wedding presents. On my way from the hotel to my in-laws’ house I ran into my aunt who told me to think of it like Christmas. I pointed out that at Christmas other people open presents too. The gift opening wasn’t as bad for me because my husband opened the gifts and I read the cards (we agreed to this arrangement because I had opened all of the shower gifts).

    • A.

      This is very similar to my situation. My family and friends are very spread out and we’re having a very small wedding, so it’s not practical to expect people to travel twice and the small guest list would mean a very small party. Because of these logistics, my mom and sister are not throwing me a shower, which is great by me. But my future sister-in-law seemed to feel sorry for me when I said I wasn’t having a shower (or a bachelorette party) and really wanted to do something for me (I also suspect that part of this is that I will be my husband’s second wife, so the “welcome to family” part was important, but so is the feeling that they need to do for me what they did for her.) She suggested planning something the day before the wedding so my family members could attend, but I thought that would just be way too stressful for everyone involved, so my counter-offer was a “bridal tea” a month or so AFTER the wedding. No gifts, no games, just a nice quiet get-together with his female family members, and I’m hoping to bring the wedding and/or honeymoon albums as a conversation starter. I think this solves the dilemma nicely; they get to welcome me into the family and I get to get to know them better, but I don’t have to play embarrassing games or open presents in front of anyone. I haven’t heard anything about it in awhile though, so maybe it won’t even happen, which is fine too!

      • Eh

        Because my family is so spread out and because our wedding was the first time our parents met it was important for me to have a rehearsal supper the day before with our immediate families and some other important people. It was really important for me that my dad met my in-laws before our wedding, especially since I live close to my in-laws (we live an hour from my in-laws and 8 hours from my dad). Specific members of my husband’s family have caused me a lot of stress (including dragging a family feud into our wedding) and I wanted my dad to know that my in-laws do support me/us and have accepted me as part of their family. Family is super important to me and I know it’s super important to my dad so it was reassuring for him that I have that support here.

        With all of the family drama in my husband’s family it was really important for me to feel welcomed into the family (having people drag a family feud into your wedding isn’t very welcoming). My shower was planned before most of the drama occurred but it was scheduled for just when the drama started to intensify (the people involved in the drama didn’t come to my shower or any other wedding related event or even our wedding). Looking back at it, the shower really made me feel welcomed into the family (which is what my MIL wanted to do) and I needed that at that time. That said, I’m not saying that the event had to be a “shower”. A bridal tea (e.g., something without gifts and without games) or a similar even would have done the same thing.

  • Sarah

    I find the idea of bridal showers a little tacky because like OP said, it feels like your asking people to buy you yet another gift… and in this day and age, so many newly weds already have a lot of stuff. That said, I’m totally on board with celebrating my friend getting married. So I don’t think the gift issue should stop you from letting people who love you throw you a fun party (cos seriously, how often does that happen?!). And if you’re still uncomfortable about the extra gifts, just ask them to specify that on the invitation (I have often seen, “No presents, just your presence” on invites).
    I also love the recipe card idea, where each guest brings a recipe to be made into a book for the bride. It means the guests are still able to give their friend a gift that is probably more meaningful than anything they could have purchased, and without the extra expense.

  • emilyg25

    If it’s the gift thing that’s bugging you, you can still have a gathering and just not call it a shower. My best friend planned an afternoon of tea, scones and crafting for me, and called it a bachelorette so people knew not to bring gifts. It was lovely to spend time with so many of my friends.

  • One More Sara

    I wasn’t sure about having a bridal shower either, but my sister loves throwing parties, so I let her do her thing. I live a long way from home/wedding location, so I was really worried about people being confused about my lack of registry. We had lunch and drinks and a small round of small gifts, and the party ended up being more about hanging out with each other than playing embarrassing or awkward games. Your friends probably know you well enough to know what kind of party you would like, and if you aren’t sure, just let them know what kind of typical shower things bother you. I also LOVE the idea of the tea towel shower someone had, and am kind of jealous that I hadn’t heard of that for my shower.

  • AG

    I just had my bridal shower last weekend! It was lovely, but I did feel weird about it. For one thing, my future MIL and SIL threw it for me, and though they did a fabulous job, they did many things to let me know how much work they’d put into it, to the point where I felt a little guilt-tripped. I took a little effort, but I did try to accept that they have their way of doing things, and that maybe showing me how much work they did was their way of showing me love.

    A few practical things about showers that I’ve learned from hosting them and then having my own. People will offer to host, and you have to let them host their way. If you are really uncomfortable with games, let them know, but don’t try to dictate everything. I personally think it’s nice to open gifts at the shower, since it gives you a chance to thank people in person. One thing my friend did at her shower, and that I loved and copied, was to take a moment when opening each gift to say how you know the person who’d given it to you. I thought this was a lovely way to get to the heart of what’s so great about a shower (and many wedding festivities) – having your people all in one place. I did request that registry information NOT be included on the invitation – I felt like it would cut back on the expectation for a gift/ certain type of gift.

    Basically, I think a shower is just another example of weddings creating this funny space for people to show their love through weird old traditions. It may not always feel quite right, but it usually comes from a good place.

    • KEA1

      You’re far more gracious about that kind of thing than I would be. Granted, this is a hangup of mine, but if you’re throwing a party in someone’s honor, I think it’s critical that you honor the wishes of the guest of honor *above* the wishes of the host. Otherwise the party isn’t actually about the guest of honor.

      • AG

        Ha, not gracious, so much as I’ve thrown a few showers myself and I know how it feels to have someone tell you how to host a party (a dear friend once nitpicked the invites I selected for her shower, at which point I told her to chill). Obviously, the host should respect any deeply-felt feelings the bride has about, for example, being the center of attention, but the bride also has to give up some control. For me, that meant realizing that the shower isn’t about me, so much as it’s about my nearest and dearest supporting me. Also, as weird as it was participating in something that didn’t feel 100% me, the lasting feeling I had was of being once again awestruck by the distances my friends and family will travel and the effort they’ll put into something as seemingly silly as a shower.

        Also, with two months before the wedding, I am officially at decision fatigue and probably couldn’t have mustered up the energy to care even if they had forced me to play ridiculous games. :)

        • Eh

          I think you have it right “For me, that meant realizing that the shower isn’t about me, so much as it’s about my nearest and dearest supporting me.” Of all of the wedding events my shower was’t about me – my MIL wanted to show me how much she loves me and wanted to welcome me into the family and this is the way she wanted to do it. And I agree, it was nice to not have to make decisions about something.

        • KEA1

          HAHAHA fair point on the decision fatigue as a game-changer, possibly literally. ;) And yeah, there’s such thing as too much control; nitpicking invites = not very kind at all.

    • Erin E

      I really like the part about your friend taking a moment to mention who each gift giver was and what her connection was with them. You’re right – that highlights the best reason people gather for a shower in the first place.

  • Molly P

    I don’t necessarily think they’re tacky. I personally am probably not having one because no one can afford to throw me one and I live 300 miles from my family, but I’m okay with that. I’m pretty indifferent to the whole bridal shower idea anyway… heck, even having to register for gifts feels weird to me. I don’t think any of that is tacky, though, because people want to show support for your upcoming marriage any way they can, and showers and registries are a traditional way to do so. If you don’t want one, though, that’s your prerogative.

    • Eh

      I just want to say that registering for gifts saved me a huge headache. My in-laws requested that we register. My BIL and his wife did not register when they were married the year before us. They asked for money which is not traditionally given by my husband’s family. And worse they asked for money in a way that was deemed rude by many guests. When asked what they wanted/needed they more or less said “we already have a house full of junk so we’d prefer cash” (a few years earlier a family member requested money but said something like “Anything you get us will be greatly appreciated. But if you don’t know what to get us, we are saving for a house and we will be having a wishing well.”)

      A number of my friends said, as guests, that they like registries because when people have been living on their own for a while it’s hard to know what they want/need. That changed my perspective on registries from asking for gifts to providing suggestions of gifts for people that didn’t know what to get us. I also saw it as an opportunity to replace some things I’ve had since university. Most of it is still in good condition so we are giving some of the stuff to my husband’s cousin who is going to college in the fall and the rest to a home for teen moms. The registry also helped out of town guests who attended our wedding and relatives who were unable to make it to our wedding since the gifts could be purchased online and were sent to a store close to us.

      • Molly P

        Oh yes, we’re still having a traditional registry because I know it’s expected and welcomed. We also don’t live together or have very much stuff. When I go to a wedding, it’s nice knowing I can get the bride and groom something I am sure they need. Asking for money (unless it’s done really tactfully, like your family member did) often comes off the wrong way. I think my family would react badly to anything other than a traditional registry.

  • Rachael

    The shower thing is really a matter of opinion and what you personally want – to have or not have, gifts or no gifts. I had no interest in one. I didn’t have a bridal party, per se, just my siblings (brother and a sister), both of whom are broke and live far away from me and we all live far away from our hometown. My sister offered to help plan something with my mom, as did my cousin, whose bridal and baby showers I helped throw. I had a few aunts offer to help throw me a shower as well, which was sweet.

    But really it came down to me really, really not wanting to have one. I have a real aversion to being the center of attention for an event – I didn’t even want a wedding. I also really hated the idea of people buying me shower gifts. I’ve been to showers for my friends, help plan a couple of them, bought them gifts, etc., and it was all fine and enjoyable enough. I lean more towards hating showers than liking them, but I don’t judge if someone wants to have one. For me, though, it was really too much to ask of myself to concede to having one.

  • Ella

    A complicated issue for feminist brides.

    But, can I tell you that my bridal shower was amazing? And it’s not because the food was good or the decorations were pretty or the gifts were nice (though all that is true) — it’s because so many of the people I love were in the same room at the same time together. Yes, that happens at the wedding, too, but this was on a smaller level and I actually got to speak and interact with everyone. It was magical.

    Part of getting married, I found, was just letting people love you. It’s so hard! But just let it happen. :)

    • Another Meg

      This is exactly it. I had a civil ceremony last June and we’re having the big wedding this June, so I told my bridal party no shower. But I currently live far from them and right by my husband’s family, and they are throwing me a shower. One of my husband’s cousins offered to throw it, and I gladly accepted- what better way to get to know them better? And I was really, truly touched that she offered. I think it’s going to be a really nice way to spend some time with the women in my new family in a more intimate setting. I’m really looking forward to it.

      So, as Class of 1980 said, it’s just letting people love you. Which, like marriage, can be difficult and amazing all at once.

  • I think whether or not you “like” bridal showers is entirely dependent upon your previous experience. My family is huge, so I’ve been to a bunch of them and they’re a blast. They’re relatively low-key and just fun times all around. We generally don’t play silly games, we drink, and we eat tastey non-snotty food (i.e. we had sloppy joes and red-beat eggs at my shower at my request).

    That being said, I have been to showers with everyone and their mother where we’re forced to play silly games that even the bride finds lame. I loved my shower – for me, living so far from close friends and family, it was a great way for me to see all those people I love and feel loved in return. Normally I would see some of them more regularly if I lived closer. So trust your close friends or mother to throw you a shower you will love. It could surprise you!

  • Jen

    I was more nervous for my shower than any other part of my wedding. I knew the date but nothing else and my fiance was charged with getting me to the venue. He definitely saw a different side of me on that drive. Phew, I was so anxious! And I generally like to be the center of attention! Showers are hard because, like all things wedding related, there are a million expectations to balance, from family, friends, and your own. Since my Mom, the expert event planner was planning it, I had this vision that my shower would be like the shower from Bridesmaids. Of course it wasn’t. Rather, it matched my tastes perfectly. I have no idea why i doubted the people who know me best so much.

    All I can say is that, in the end, I am so happy that my family and friends threw me a shower. To spend a day with the women I love most in the world, knowing that they were supporting me in this major life decision, is something I hope every bride can experience. Although my marriage will look different than other marriages, I still, in the end, felt like the shower welcomed me into the institution by women who have taken this step before. And, it just happened to be that I really enjoy spending time with those women (Well, most of them, there is always those relatives)!. And now, when I plan showers, I feel like I am continuing this tradition. A Liz said, its more than just crepe paper, mimosas and casseroles. It gives a sense of connection to the past and to the future.

    On a practical note, I wasn’t a huge fan of opening presents either. My family and bridal brigade knew this so they threw a “green shower” (no paper) and displayed the presents on a big table. I looked at each one and acknowledged the person, but it took far less time than opening each gift.

    • jashshea

      Calling it a green shower is genius. It’s essentially a display shower, but environmental as well.

      …Says the girls who hates unwrapping things and then awkwardly knifing open boxes with all eyes on me.

  • Katelyn

    Wow, what perfect timing! My bridesmaids are planning my shower right now and I told them I would love a display shower (no gift wrap, gifts are displayed, no long drawn out process of opening the gifts). To get more inspiration for the display shower idea, I googled it and was faced with unending comments of “OMG THAT’S SO TACKY WAAH WAAH WAAAAH”. I’m a little bummed out because I thought it was an amazing idea, but now the message boards on the Knot (of all places…) are giving me doubts. What to do?

    • Claire

      A friend of mine had a display shower, she thought the same thing (so much less focus on gifts). However, she found some of her older relatives like aunts and grandmothers found this upsetting, because they liked the idea of seeing their present opened and being thanked on the spot, and the idea of “please leave your present over here” seemed a touch impersonal. So maybe it’s a know your crowd thing? I think friends who have been to a bunch of showers would like it, but more traditional relatives maybe not. Maybe still open cards and acknowledge the gifts, so people know you saw it and are excited about it?

    • Amy March

      I’d be really insulted if I took the time to shop for a gift for you and attend your shower, and you couldn’t be bothered opening it and oohing and ahhhing for a minute. To my mind a shower works as a bit of a social contract- you get gifts and togetherness time and wedding fun, and I get to show off my mad gift-wrapping skills and gossip about the cousins.

      • Katelyn

        I think that’s the issue I was having reading the other comments, the perception that I “can’t be bothered” which isn’t the case at all. I am hoping to be able to spend more time to admire the generosity that each guest has shown and thank them one on one instead of a generic shout to the crowd. As for the mad gift-wrapping skills, I loooove pretty wrapping paper, but I have been to so many showers where the bridesmaids form an assembly line and it becomes this sort of soulless unwrapping machine. I have also been to many lovely showers where the bride handled the unwrapping with care and everything was fine and dandy, but I just wanted to try something different and my bridesmaids are obliging. I guess it all comes down to perceptions and attitudes.

      • enfp

        Reading through this thread and all of the strong and varied opinions of showers has made me realize how culturally specific showers seem to be! Sounds like the ‘know your crowd’ advice is key. Personally I would be happy to be invited to a display shower because I love parties and socializing and am happy to have the opportunity to celebrate a friend, but I find present opening boring and inhibits conversation. Especially when there’s a registry and the gifts are no surprise to anyone.

      • Liz

        I get the sentiment here, but also understand the opposite point of view. I think it depends on if you’re coming from the perspective of, “Ugh, then I won’t have to sit there and do all that godawful unwrapping.” (Similar example- I think it’s super rude when I’m asked to fill out my own thank you card [?!?!])

        But, I also think many folks are coming from an opposite perspective, entirely differently motivated- like, “Whew, then I won’t force my guests to endure watching this spectacle.”

        • MDBethann

          I don’t think you should fill out your own thank you CARD, but addressing the envelope doesn’t bother me, especially if people might have moved or if the wedding invitations haven’t gone out yet (I’ve been to some very early showers) & the address ensures that the couple has the correct addy for your invitation.

      • thefluter

        Same here — if it’s too much to unwrap presents, please don’t have a shower. Have a celebration tea, or barbeque, or party, but don’t expect presents. But I love giving and receiving gifts, so the clear wrap seems to take some of the specialness out of the giving.

    • Lindsay Rae

      I mentioned this on a comment above but with such a hot topic I’m not sure you’ll see it – I went to a shower where the invitation said “be a dear, wrap in clear” – all the gifts were displayed BUT the bride-to-be opened all the cards attached to the gift to acknowledge what the gift was and who it was from. I’m hoping my shower will be like this too. Some of the older traditional ladies in the room do like to see the gift-opening, but this seems like a compromise to me.

  • Cara

    Call me old fashioned, but I love bridal showers. I think part of the problem is that the WIC has completely overtaken them and turned them into stuffy pastel brunches, instead of an intimate gatherings where women from both sides of the family come together and share stories about love and marriage. I mean, how often these days do women of all generations spend time together like that? It’s an opportunity to soak in the wisdom of the ages. If a shower aims to be photo-perfect, then yes, it will probably suck. But an afternoon get-together in someone’s living room without all the fuss? It’s really special.

    • swarmofbees

      I would love a shower with the women in my family where we talk about love and marriage! But, all my family are at least a 5 hour flight away, so it would just be the few friends that I have in town. That really changes the dynamic for me and makes me want it less. I would rather just go to brunch with my friends than have some sort of a themed party. But, if I had family around, I would love to hang out in a living room for a few hours with some tea.

    • Class of 1980

      They were stuffy pastel brunches way back when I first started going to them around 1978-79. There was no “wisdom of the ages” back then either. ;)

      I think the problem with showers is that they haven’t evolved enough. We didn’t like them way back then either!

    • Katriel

      I have been to some perfectly lovely non-traditional showers that really were about marriage, family history and friends. One of my favorites was a shower where young friends of the bride modeled the wedding dresses of the bride and grooms family, surrounded by photos of the original couples on their wedding days. There were so many people who had saved but never used their dresses and we got to see/model the MOB and MOG’s dresses as well as the dresses of grandmothers, aunts, great aunts, etc. And then each person whose dress was modeled stood up and said a few words about their own wedding and marriage. It was really moving, enlightening, and fun.

      • Kat Robertson

        That sounds SO FUN!

      • Lindsay Rae

        That sounds so fun!!!

      • enfp

        This is an amazing idea!

      • LOVE!

    • ItsyBit

      “But an afternoon get-together in someone’s living room without all the fuss? It’s really special.” Yes!

      I’ve been to a few showers and the only ones I really enjoyed were those that felt like intimate gatherings of women chatting it up. No games, not a lot of focus on gifts, just wonderful women being welcoming to each other.

  • macrain

    I actually do want one, and I feel really grateful that my bridesmaids are excited to throw me one. The best part about it is that I don’t have to be involved in planning it! They keep asking me if I want some input and I’m like NOPE.

    • AG

      I SO feel you! I said this below, but wedding planning is giving me utter decision fatigue and at this point I’m like, “I will agree to anything you want as long as you don’t make me choose a calligraphy style or ceremony music.”

  • Anon

    Re: asking for a shower- my sister has an awful habit of doing this and it drives me nuts. For her bachelorette party she demanded a lingerie shower. I told her we had already thrown her a bridal shower and I didn’t feel comfortable asking for more gifts from the 20 plus friends she invited to the bachelorette. She pushed and pushed and eventually got her way. She also offered to throw me a bridal shower and in the same email asked me to throw her a baby shower. OMG STOP ASKING. As Liz said above- tacky.

  • Meg

    So you’ve thrown several bridal showers for people in the past and no one is jumping up to offer to throw yours? Sounds like some crappy friends honestly.

    • Amy March

      If I’m reading the letter right, this is a summer 2015 wedding, so a little too soon to conclude no one will offer.

      • Meg

        oh that’s good!! too soon to worry too :)

  • Annie

    I can be on board with the “let people love you” approach. In my community, though, showers have gone a bit overboard. For some recent weddings, I’ve been invited to at least two showers, and I wasn’t even in the wedding party. I’m okay with the idea of a shower, but only one. Two different groups have already mentioned hosting showers for us, and there may be a 3rd out there (I know this is an embarrassment of riches, which adds to the awkwardness). I’ve let them know we’d prefer only one shower, so maybe they can coordinate, but that wasn’t warmly received. Any other ideas of how to gracefully redirect shower-hosting energy?

    • Kat Robertson

      I knew I would probably end up having multiple showers thrown for us, and the way I handled this was by sending a group e-mail to the friends most likely to get invited to more than one of them. I said that I definitely didn’t expect them to get multiple gifts (or any gifts), and that I didn’t want them to feel obligated to attend every event, but that they were welcome at all of them because I love them so much. Then I accepted the hosts’ requests to throw me showers with a little less discomfort about those expectations.

      • KC

        This! Sometimes if all the groups are combined, it would just be so large of a shower that it would practically be on the organization level of a small wedding, plus, in general, most attendees enjoy a shower more when they know more people there. So multiple smaller showers hosted by different people but letting people know that really, they don’t need to come or bring a gift: a great way to go. :-)

    • thefluter

      Maybe you can keep each shower to only inviting the people in that group. So, if your local friends want to throw one, and your in-laws want to throw one, friends get invited to one, family to the other. I think it’s fine to have multiple showers if they’re for different groups.

  • I agree with those who have said we really need to re-imagine how a bridal shower looks! I think the idea of getting together with your people for a gathering before the wedding sounds lovely, as does a fun co-ed shower. And it doesn’t have to be about gifts! (Personally — and I say this as someone who LOVES giving and receiving gifts — I don’t think that one person opening gifts should ever be the main activity/source of entertainment at an event. Especially with the popularity of the registry, it just seems to me like there are better ways to structure a party.) So skip doing gifts altogether and do a fun activity instead, do a display shower (I love this idea and think it needs to make a comeback), or mix things up a little by doing something something more personal and specific — i.e. bring your favorite cookbook for the couple, or something antique/vintage, or something to stock the newlyweds’ bar, or make the theme for gifts “as seen on tv” (MY DREAM WEDDING SHOWER), or whatever. I think showers have a bad rap now because of what they have become, but there are a lot of ways to improve on this tradition and make it something really cool and fun, and more comfortable for both the guests and the guest of honor.

    • Katelyn

      Oh my god, if YOU say display showers are okay, then you have banished all of my doubts. You are my favorite writer on APW. Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

    • Lauren from NH

      Some how there is just this WIC stereotypical shower where all your friends are 26-28, dressed in perfect j crew, there is pink lemonade, those perfect little colored desert cookie sandwiches (really I have no idea what these are, but they are EVERYWHERE), trite semi-sexist marriage advice, a few very sentiment gifts/heirlooms from family or future in-laws and everyone’s laughter tinkles like bells. It’s just kind of nauseating. **shudders** To be fair I have never been to a shower, but this is the nightmare in my head. It all feels very contrived, like an induction ceremony into the Stepford wives club and not at all in line with the real friends an family in my life.

      • Alyssa M

        Macaroons, is what I believe you’re referring to?

      • They’re called macarons. :) You can buy them at French pastry stores or at Whole Foods. Oh, and some Korean pastry stores have them!

      • Class of 1980

        You just described every bridal shower I’ve ever been to over the last 30 years.

        • Lauren from NH

          Nooo! The nightmare is real! In which case, like Rachel said this tradition is in bad need of some re imagining. That or to fade into the past. Really how many wedding related parties can one have? For me a little engagement get together with friends and one with family, some bachelor/ette revised thing (MAYBE), rehearsal, wedding, BOOM, DONE! Just me…

          • Class of 1980

            I can’t even. For at least two decades now, there’s been talk of coed showers and doing more fun stuff. So people have been trying to change it for a long time.

            But have I ever witnessed this elusive unicorn of showers? Hell NO!

      • Alyssa M

        All the ones I’ve been to involved women from infants to great grandmas… usually in stuffy church dresses… however the rest of that sounds spot on.

      • “those perfect little colored desert cookie sandwiches (really I have no idea what these are, but they are EVERYWHERE)”
        Probably macaron (French, almond-based meringue sandwich cookies, that can be a total pain to make and upwards of $2 per cookie). NOT macaroons (tasty coconut globby things).

        • ediblesprysky

          Dude, I love me some macarons. I would have a bridal shower for the macarons alone. (But probably not for any other reason, cause the image in my head is about the same as yours, and, well, ick.)

      • ralish

        I’ve only been to a few showers, but they’ve never been like that! In real life, people aren’t picture-perfect (and neither is our food!) I think a shower is a sweet idea, and while I’m a little nervous about mine (I’m not so good at being in the spotlight!) I’m excited to spend some downtime with close friends and family members, and introduce them to each other. My friends and family know that I don’t need perfectly matching drinks and napkins, and I’d prefer it if they continued to swear and tell dirty jokes, and make fun of my taste in towels (or whatever!)

      • Ally

        Totally not my experience, but then all the showers I’ve ever been to (being an out of town guest for all my friends weddings and thus not at/invited to any showers) were in the fellowship hall of the church I grew up in and had probably every woman in the congregation from age 13 to 100! Cake squares and mints and nuts and some kind of punch, and none of this modern craziness you see on Pinterest… (And lots and lots of white wrapping paper from Belks as it was the only department store in the town…)

        Because of this I actually kinda want the shower experience when the time comes, but I fear it will never happen for a wide variety of reasons. I told my mother this and she’s like “we’ll make sure you have one” and I’m like, “you do remember that no one related to me can be at all involved in hosting one, right?” Anyway… I have china thanks to my late grandmother (who worked at Belks) and part of my one set she bought me I still keep stored in its original box – if I have to I will go buy some wrapping paper and a ribbon an bow from Belks (if they even still have wrapping paper) and wrap my dishes up to myself as being from my grandmother… (Honestly the “I want the shower” thing probably is more of a “I want my grandmother” thing… Huh – I hadn’t figured that out before… That’s good to recognize…well maybe this rambling comment actually did some good!)

    • Jenna

      What are display showers? I think I might have suggested one for myself!

      I asked my fiance’s family if, when we have our couples shower with my future b-i-l & s-i-l, we could just put all the gifts, not wrapped, on tables with labels on them so everyone can see who got each couple what. I thought that would be a nice, eco-friendlier alternative to gobs of wrapping paper and 4 painstaking and boring hours of individual gift-opening. Not sure how well it was received, as it really bucks family tradition.

    • Lindsay Rae

      I’ve been to a few showers where the invitation said “Be a dear, wrap in
      clear.” which completely eliminates the need to open every present.
      (YAY!) However, at my close friend’s shower, although everything was
      wrapped in clear, she opened the cards without completely opening the
      gift which allowed her to say “Ooooh my new Keurig, thanks Aunt Linda!”
      and still took up way less time/awkwardness. She had resisted doing this to her mother, but her mother insisted, and
      it made me realize that this is an important tradition to some of the
      older women in the room. They love to see the items that are going in
      your new home and be acknowledged for the little piece they are
      contributing to it.

      Also, instead of a “wishing well” where you get little trinkets you might not ever use, the invitation also said “Bring a bottle of cheer for the newlywed’s first year” – which was AWESOME.

      • MisterEHolmes

        Can you explain the “wishing well”? I’ve never heard of it before.

        • Lindsay Rae

          Sure! To be 100% honest I have no idea where it comes from or what it’s purpose is, but many of the showers I’ve been to have had it – I’m in NYC / Staten Island. Some people rent a wooden “well” (like the kind you would get water from… see still no idea what the heck…) and in it you put small unwrapped gifts, for example, measuring spoons, a dish towel, etc.

          I just did a quick google search and I guess it’s just a tradition – in the old days people used to put coins in it to make a wish for the newlyweds. I think now it’s just a giant card box for household-gift items.

          Hope that helps, I’m a little baffled by it myself and I don’t think my mother will be including it at my shower. It’s fun to see the traditions that happen at showers across the country and how they are different!

        • Eh

          In my circle of friends/family it refers to requesting cash gifts without having to ask for cash gifts.

      • SimpleMarine

        I’m really confused by this. Why wrap in clear at all? Why not just leave the gift unwrapped?

  • macrain

    I think it’s also really, really tough to not feel as if you are “owed” something when you’ve sunk so much time and money into planning these events for your friends. I feel that way 100% even though I’m aware it’s a little beastly and unfair. (I legit had to get an extra part time job once to pay for my friend’s wedding events. Bonkers.) I guess I think it’s really important to set boundaries with what you are comfortable with when you do this for others so that resentment doesn’t pop up later. I know that’s easier said than done!
    You just can’t look at it that way and not be miserable- I’m doing this for you because you’ll do it for me. You should do it because you want to. And hopefully your friends aren’t just doing it for you because you’ll return the favor.

    • Eh

      WOW an extra part time job. That’s insane. People really need to control their expectations. My husband was the Best Man in a wedding where there were six people in the wedding party. This included three students (two in college living out of town and away from home, and one in high school) and three new parents (including a single mother). And one person coming from out of country (who was one of the new parents). (My husband was a college student at the time so his parents and I helped him out.) This couple wanted the wedding party to go all out. Their expectations were unreasonable for the people they had asked. In the end they were disappointed with their wedding-related events/wedding and were upset with members of their wedding party.

  • K.

    Does this change at all when your bridesmaids all live in different states and one even lives internationally? AND they all already have to fly in for your wedding? I feel like it’s one thing when everyone lives relatively locally, but those small burdensome items might become truly burdensome when travel and accommodations come into play. Obviously if they still wanted to throw me a shower, I’d be grateful, but I feel like maybe I need to make it clearer than usual that I don’t expect it.

    • AG

      I chose to invite only local (or within easy driving distance) friends and family to my shower. I invited my out-of-state bridesmaids (so they had the option) but let them know that I didn’t expect them to come, and they didn’t, and that was fine. I don’t think bridesmaids have to be the ones to throw you a shower, so you may have local friends who want to step up and help out.

    • Liz

      Exactly what you said- I’d just make sure they know you really, really don’t expect them to move mountains to get there.

      • This is rarely communicated but should be. Someone put this in a book!

      • K.

        Figured as much! I guess I’m worried they will think it’s lip service. Not that I’m in any way a “lip service” kind of gal (far from it) but to modify a Buffy quote, weddings make people think the wacky.

    • MDBethann

      A friend of mine had a shower thrown for her the day before her wedding (“destination” wedding in the college town where she met her husband, though their families aren’t from there & neither of them live there anymore). From the way she describes it, it was mostly just family & a bridal tea of sorts, but she said it was a lovely & simple surprise for her. So it’s doable if you have time the weekend of your wedding.

  • MisterEHolmes

    Fascinating to see these answers from all over the country (world?). Because in my experience, the shower is NOT thrown by the bridal party, and definitely absolutely not by the bride, but is thrown by the friends of the brides’ mother (Texas). Basically my mom’s Ya-Ya Sisterhood is in charge. I have little to no say in it, and it most certainly will not be what I would have thrown for myself, and I don’t really get a vote in whether or not we play tacky games etc. I’m expected to show up, put up with mild embarrassment (oooh, you broke another bow, you’ll have 13 children now, teehee!), and be gracious. That’s pretty much it.
    So no, I don’t really like showers, but I’ll show up and play my part.

    Oh, story: One thing you should not ever ever ever do at a shower? Tell a rambling and tangential story about how you used to know one couple that was married for ten years and seemed to get along great, but when you last heard from them the husband had murdered his wife. Yeah. That happened at a shower I attended. And no amount of horrified stares got the speaker to shut up. Super.

    • Class of 1980

      Well, that got my attention. Ha!

    • OMG. I just spit out my soup.

  • Fay

    I had two bridal showers due to a 4 hour travel distance between one set of family/friends and another set of family/friends. My sister, who was my matron-of-honor, planned both of them wonderfully. One was at our mother’s house and the other was at my grandmother’s house. She did a wine theme at both since our wedding was taking place at a winery, which kept the showers on the classier side since I had elderly family members and family friends at the showers. Not to say that some of the older ladies didn’t get tipsy on the wine though! It was stressful worrying about how different factions of friends would get along with each other and that some family members might not behave themselves at one of the showers due to family issues. But everyone behaved themselves and had a nice time. Opening tons of gifts in front of everyone can be daunting but I made it a point to talk/joke with my guests throughout to keep it from going quiet and awkward.

    I’ve planned a few bridal & baby showers myself and I tend to go for the make it fun and interesting for everyone route, especially when the lady of the hour isn’t too keen on being the center of attention. My two favorite showers were a bridal shower where we got the bride Georgetown Cupcakes, took her to the Smithsonian Natural History Muesum on the National Mall in DC, saw an awesome 3D IMAX show, and went thru a butterfly exhibit full of live tropical butterflies. Afterwards we went to an awesome 20 course dinner at Rogue 24 to a great deal on Gilt. This worked out great since there was only 4 of us including the bride and she loved it. My other favorite was a baby shower where said friend’s other girlfriend who had offered to throw her a shower flaked out and I offered to step in an make it happen. Found an awesome English Tea House that had a room for large groups and booked it for 15 ladies. The food was awesome, the tea was delightful, I was able to compliment the tea room decor with a few inexpensive baby shower themed items from the party store, and I didn’t have to set-up or clean-up a single thing! The momma-to-be had a great time and so did the other guests. So sometimes thinking outside the box for showers totally works out.

  • I’ve never liked them. I went to one that was an 8-hour drive away, and it turned out that there were about 30 of us there. I think the bride’s sister (organizer) invited all of the women the bride chose to invite to the wedding, plus her family, which made it seem less special and more like a random party. She didn’t open any gifts, there were no toasts made, there were no games or anything signifying that this was anything other than a casual get-together. For those of us that came from pretty far out of town, it didn’t seem worth it, particularly because very few details were provided about how short it was actually going to be. And some of the bride’s “closer” friends were actually staying the weekend in the house where the party was held. So for those of us that WEREN’T invited to stay yet had traveled a far distance (not just me), it was a pretty shitty feeling. I went to the wedding, which was lovely. I wish I hadn’t gone to the shower.

    Obviously, they won’t all be like this, but in this era of modern weddings where you can do just about anything you want, tradition be damned, it’s sometimes helpful to let guests know what they’re in for.

  • Bee

    Among my many, many friends who have gotten married over the past ~10 years, only one had a shower. Honestly, showers seem very outdated, old-fashioned, and kind of tacky to me, too. And yet…. if a friend asked me to host one, I would be happy to do it for them, for exactly the reason Meg said: because I love them.

  • Sharon Gorbacz

    Are Showers Tacky? For me, yes, especially since I’d been living with my fiance for nearly 5 years

    Do you have one anyway? Yes, even though I really didn’t want one and I really didn’t want to have to set up a registry but a lot of the women on his side of the family insisted that there be GIFT BOXES to open up, I did anyway.
    Do you enjoy it? Actually yes, I had a lovely afternoon tea and got a bunch of stuff that was on my Amazon Wish List, and quite a few Home Depot gift cards to help fund some of the DIY projects we’ve been tackling in our house. I also got monogrammed towels and some lingeree that I had no interest in…

  • Erin E

    I think showers are one of the old school wedding traditions that should be on their way out. Just by reading the comments here today, it’s clear that a good portion of people feel uncomfortable with the whole concept. They definitely are a relic from an older time, and it seems like there’s a big generational gap between the people that want to create new shower traditions (I thought Rachel’s ideas were cool) and the (seemingly) grandma’s who want the gift opening pageantry to remain intact.

    If your guests and family live nearby and want to spend the time with you, great. But showers are totally impractical if you and your friends live in different places – I definitely think it’s asking a lot to invite people to an out of town shower AND wedding. And getting gifts home with you from an out of town shower is problematic. Since people right and left are eschewing bridesmaids altogether and re-defining what weddings should look like in general, I don’t think we need to cling to a tradition just because it’s been around a while. I’m in favor of kicking this one to the curb. Or, to put it nicely: let’s reexamine this part of the wedding ritual.

  • MerlyBird

    I… I kinda want a party of some sort (be it engagement party or bridal shower), because I’d love a little pre-“wee-this-so-great-and-we’re-all-here-for-you” celebration — but I’m not really sure how/if I’ll get one. See, I transplant places and all of my closest friends and family have ended up far away. I’m in Texas now, but by the end of June we’ll move to SF, and my nearest and dearest are in Ohio, New York, Georgia, London, Germany, and Montana. Oof. What do people do when *everyone* is far away, and/or you’ve recently moved?

    • Caroline

      If they’re coming to the wedding you can do it the day before or when everyone is in town. My cousin did that, had the shower the day before the wedding.

    • Liz

      I’m sort of in your boat, although I moved a long time ago (10ish years). But all the close friends and ladies and second moms I grew up with I haven’t seen since we left! As I get to this point in my life where both my sister and I are getting married, I’m sad we have fallen out of touch with so many of the people who were important to me in my formative years, but that is what happens when you move across the country, I guess.

      My mom and sister will probably throw a shower for me with my local friends. I’ll be lucky if my only aunt and two (only) cousins show up. We weren’t even invited to my cousin’s bridal or baby shower, and they’re not coming to my sister’s which is tomorrow, though they were invited. It’s a bit of a long drive, but when they’re the only family we have, it makes me sad that they won’t show up. My sister is marrying into a huge family–her MIL, two SILs, and her fiance’s 4! aunts are throwing hers tomorrow! I’m jealous of the tradition that’s embedded in their family with these kinds of celebrations–it’s really special and she’s very lucky. I’m not unlucky, I just feel a little sad that I don’t have that kind of group to do something like that for me.

    • Yes to the everyone living far apart and having recently moved before the wedding. I got together with my girlfriends the evening before the wedding for a low-key party/shower at a friend’s house, since everyone coming to the wedding would already be in town then. It worked out well…

  • Alyssa M

    Man I am feeling super awkward about a shower. My family is Southern Baptist, from Oklahoma, so it’s kinda just expected to have one. Usually thrown by church members or by older family friends/relatives and you invite EVERYONE(female). My strongest memory associated with the word “shower” was being 7 years old in a stiff lace dress eating pastel candies and dry white cake in the church social hall at a baby shower for some random church lady. But, as I’ve said on here before, I don’t really have a large community. I certainly don’t expect my best woman to throw anything where I live, but my mom is considering throwing one and inviting all of her friends… who aren’t invited to the wedding… to give ME gifts? eehhhggh…

    • jbryant6

      Ah, the Oklahoma church showers. One of my friends at a shower at her former church in our hometown, a shower at her current church, as well as a shower from her now husband’s family friends. She was about showered out, but I wanted to do something for her, so we did a Stock the Bar couple’s shower with a Mad Men theme which was super fun and such a great contrast to the stuffy church showers she had.
      Now that it’s my turn, she threw me (along with my other MOH) a lovely tea party shower in our hometown, and is throwing another lowkey BBQ couples shower in the town I now live with some of my fiance’s friends. All the people that would’ve attend a stuffy church shower came to the first one; all the people I can relax and drink with are coming to the other one :)

  • Emily

    I DID NOT WANT A BRIDAL SHOWER. I allowed one to be planned by my sister because I heard comments from people like, “We’ll throw her a surprise shower,” or my favorite, “You’re being selfish: the bridal shower isn’t all about YOU, you know. People like to get together and chat.” heheh WOW okay. As if refusing a shower would prevent you from seeking your apparently much-needed socializing!

    I dragged my feet on it so much that invites didn’t get sent out til about two weeks before. Most could not make it. I happily decided to let it be canceled. My mom felt bad for me and ended up planning one, in which those who could make it met together on the rooftop of a restaurant in downtown Madison WI. We had an outdoor lunch and cake from Whole Foods and drinks and we all dressed up like Audrey Hepburn and it was kind of sweet.

    I am glad I did that because I don’t have to feel like I got jipped when the years roll by and I have to go to more and more showers. Yet, I did not make a big deal out of mine, which is always what I hate about showers. Showers are a bit attention-seeking for me, which is completely fine, and it doesn’t speak less of a bride, but there it is. It’s a day that’s all about you. When you get that opp, most ladies aren’t going to turn it down, but I definitely wanted to just because I didn’t want to send the message that I needed that kind of thing. I really don’t. There were no gifts, just a couple quickie toasts from my mom to me and me to my mom, and food+cake. It was relaxing. Just ladies getting together for lunch. Makes it feel far, far, far less burdensome.

    Sorry for possible negativity not toned down enough here, I’m writing this while fangry and I’m also just pretty anti-bridal showers. I hate getting invitations to them. They’re just a THING for me. Don’t like them at all. If that makes me a bad person, okay. I’m bad.

    • jashshea

      I don’t like them, either. I don’t use the word burden or burdensome because that seems too mean, but they are definitely an obligation.

      I didn’t want one, but had 3 thrown for me. They were all good exercise of my “sitting still like an adult and being gracious” muscles, I guess?

      • jashshea

        Should add that I would, oddly, be THRILLED to host a shower for any of my friends. I’m better at fete’ing other people than being feted.

      • Emily

        I would have had to have been the same. I also am opposed to opening gifts in front of others, and since that is the whole point of a shower, I think the entire basis of the occasion is tacky but is sugarcoated with the fact that people are getting together and socializing, which is never a bad thing I guess. But I’m also anti-social. So I got a lot going against me, ha. Just do not care for these things at all. They’re about as awesome as tupperware parties. People forced to buy shit and then people forced to get together over said forced buying of shit. Ugh, sorry I am so negative but these things make me explode inside!!!!!

  • Lisa

    Slightly off-topic, but here’s my question regarding showers: I’m going to be my sister’s matron of honor at her wedding (she’s getting married six months after me), and she recently cut the wedding guest list down to essentially immediate family only. Do my other sister and I still throw her a shower and invite extended family members and friends who won’t be invited to the main event? (There may or may not be a reception held several months later in our hometown for extended family.)

    • MisterEHolmes

      Tricky! In my social circle, you aren’t supposed to invite anyone not invited to the wedding.

      HOWEVER, against my and my mother’s wishes, my mom’s friend is planning a shower for me–and one of the “cohosts” isn’t even invited to the wedding. In fact, I’ve never met the woman, but she’s a friend of my mom. Awkward. Who knows what is going to happen on the guest list for that one! (I’m trying to convince them to just throw a party for *my mom* since she’s the one who knows them anyway!)

      • Caroline

        I think it is socially acceptable in many circles for a mom’s friends to co e to a shower and not the wedding. It depends on your mom’s friends, but I think it’s not uncommon. The shower is also a chance for them to celebrate with her. That said, important to be clear going into the shower that they aren’t invited to the wedding. But if they know they aren’t invited an want to throw you a shower anyways? Well that’s kind and sweet of them, and if you want. Shower, why not let them.

        • MisterEHolmes

          Because it makes me uncomfortable to be in a room full of strangers giving me gifts? I mean, I AM going to let them, but I wish they wouldn’t put me in this awkward situation.

          • Caroline

            What I meant was, if you want a shower, why not let them. If you’re uncomfortable with the opening presents thing that’s totally valid and an okay reason to turn it down if you want (or ask for a ladies brunch to celebrate with no gifts). I just meant, if you want one, I think mom’s friends are the exception to the rule of shower guests must be wedding guests. So sorry it read like I was saying you had to let them trow you one! You don’t. I just don’t think it is in bad taste to let them.

          • MisterEHolmes

            I just hope they don’t assume they’re invited, since that IS customary. It’s just a sticky wicket of a social situation for me, and I’m sort of stuck with it.

          • Liz

            Make sure your mom communicates to them that they’re not invited to the wedding. She’s their friend, she can do it in a way that isn’t rude (since she isn’t you), and you mentioned that she’s already protested the idea. (She could frame it that way- here’s why I was against it before, I don’t want you guys to be disappointed or insulted…)

            In my experience, usually friends-of-mom and the like are just so excited about weddings and love and happiness that they want to throw parties and give gifts, regardless of guest list status.

    • Alyssa M

      Also questioning this… my mother wants to throw one for a bunch of her friends that aren’t invited to the wedding…

    • Shelly VW

      Agree that etiquette-wise, it is most appropriate to only invite those to the shower who are invited to the wedding. However, when my close friend got married in a tiny ceremony, her whole family and friend group who weren’t invited decided that they really wanted to throw her a shower and/or attend just the same. I think it really just depends on the dynamics and personalities of the non-wedding invitees.

    • Liz

      Only folks invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower.

      BUT. There are often many cases where friends who know that they won’t be invited (think, like, an office shower, or a shower thrown by the ladies at church) and still want to wish you well anyway. It depends on your social group and just making sure that everyone knows what’s up.

  • Ausgust

    I like the idea of an activity shower. My SIL had a tea party and they painted a china tea cup (I couldn’t go, I was a broke college student halfway across the country). I’m not engaged, so this is just daydreams, but I was picturing a shower at the beading shop just down the street with the women in his family and mine.

  • Karen

    NOT having one, DON’T want one. No one I know who’s getting married right now is having one. They are tacky and passé.

    • Meghan

      I certainly understand the personal distaste for showers, but this kind of judgmental comment is what I come to APW to avoid.

      • Karen

        APW is judgmental… it judges the WIC, the Kn*t, etc. It’s just a different kind of community. The question was “are showers tacky,” I just happen to think “yes.”

      • Karen

        I would actually say that what APW stands for is that there is nothing about a wedding that you “have to have.” Embracing not having something (particularly something random and traditional) is what APW is what is all about.

        • Meghan

          There’s a difference between “embracing not having something” and making a comment that dismisses those who have/want a shower “tacky and passe”. I think there are ways you could have gotten across the same message with a more discussion-oriented tone.

  • Karen

    I don’t even understand the purpose of a shower! Why would anyone have ever thought of them in the first place? You’re about to get a ton of wedding gifts!

    • Alyssa M

      I’m probably totally wrong, but I had the impression they were the female equivalent to a bachelor party? Back before bachelorette parties were an acceptable thing… you know, men get to go party with their friends, women get tea towels and advice from grandma about always keeping your kitchen floor clean.

      • Karen

        Ah, well I am having a bachelorette party… or at least, some of my friends and I will go to some fun bars in the summer. This makes sense. Bachelorette parties (if wanted) have replaced showers, yet people persist in having showers.

      • Meg Keene

        Nope! Bachelor parties are far newer. The Bridal Shower has it’s roots in the 1890s, and was about providing the necessary goods to set up a household, when you were just starting out and had no money, and hence needed community support.

        • Alyssa M

          Yeeah, figured I was wrong. Just always the impression I got.

    • enfp

      Ha, I totally agree! I don’t get the double-gifting aspect at all. I understand that people want to love and support your marriage by giving material goods, but that happens at the wedding right? Also, maybe I am a bad person with a short attention span but watching people open gifts is quite boring, and tends to inhibit socializing since everyone feels they have to watch the bride open gifts.

      That said, I am down with spending time with loved ones, and this passing on of wisdom aspect, but I do not think this needs to happen in a shower context. Friend/family bonding time can happen in a bachelorette, but if older family members also want to be involved in can also happen in shower-like events that don’t involve gifting. For example, the aunt of a friend of mine hosted a lunch with the bride’s special female friends and family (though of course mixed gender would be great too), and where the only gifting was a book she assembled from photos of us with the bride, and letters we wrote for the bride. These events weren’t called a shower, since most people assume a shower involves gifts, but they were lovely ways to honour the person getting married.

    • Meg Keene

      So, the original purposes of the bridal shower was to provide the household goods you’d need setting up a house of your own for the very first time, as a couple just starting out with no money. Now, the logic is a little more blurry. For most of us, the moment when we’re setting up home for the very first time with no money is pretty roundly ignored, leaving a lot of us to struggle. And then a Bridal Shower is provided well past the point we really need one.

      So. There is iron clad logic and necessity at it’s root. But these days, people often still like to do them to honor a loved one, but because they’re no longer perfectly logical, we’re all struggling a bit on what’s the best way to do them. Gifts? No gifts? Emotional gifts instead of useful gifts? Booze as gifts? No shower at all? Etc. Hence the question.

      • Karen

        Yes, I get the getting married = must need household goods thing, but isn’t that what the wedding presents are for? Or did people not use to get gifts for the wedding? Why shower gifts for the bride only, *plus* wedding gifts for the couple?

        • Meg Keene

          I think the idea generally was that setting up house for the first time you need a LOT. (Truth, man. When we got our first apartment together it was a disaster.) So the bridal shower was a way to get the bride very domestic stuff, that you wouldn’t give as a wedding gift to the couple.

          That’s my logical extrapolation, from knowing the general history. It honestly makes a lot of sense in a gendered way. I just keep flashing back to not being able to afford curtains we needed on huge windows to block out enough light to sleep, and rugs we were mandated by lease to have… and plates.

  • MC

    I hadn’t given any thought to a bridal shower because I don’t live in the same place as either of my bridesmaids or any of the female relatives on my side, but now after reading the comments I see that many people’s MILs take this on, and the idea of having a party with just me and my fiance’s female relatives does not sound great. Hopefully she would ask me before planning something, right?

  • Lindsey d.

    I loved my bridal shower (two weeks ago)…. My two best friends (Maid of Honor and Officiant) and my aunt hosted. My MOH decided on a tea theme and learned to make scones! I invited local friends, family and my mother’s friends. Turnout was my mom, FH’s mom, my aunt and my friends — about 14 in total. We had a grand time chatting and laughing. At one point, the party turned into a naughty YA fiction book club (a question of literature appropriate for a 10-year-old turned into what is NOT appropriate, but which we had loved anyway).

    We played two games — a how well do you know the bride game and a what’s the bride thinking game. For the how well do you know the bride, I ended up turning over answering duties to the people who I knew would have the right answer (the friend who’s party we met at answered where did bride and groom meet, for instance).

    I opened gifts with delight and mostly loved telling the stories of why we put things on the registry, including throwing my fiance under the bus for not having a comforter or quilt of any kind for his king size bed. I think the party worked because everyone knew each other, it was relaxed, not over the top, there was a copious amount of champagne punch and wine and it was just a chance for the girls to chat and socialize and then some gift opening. I gave people who love me the chance to do just that and it was wonderful.

  • Lindsey d.

    One question about gift etiquette at showers — When I attend a bridal shower and give a gift, I DO NOT bring an additional gift to the wedding. I do not expect anyone who attended my shower to bring an additional gift to the wedding. Am I correct on this, or have I unintentionally been slighting people for years?

    • laddibugg

      Depends. People used to give the bride gifts well, for her at traditional bridal showers (lingerie and stuff). So yeah, you’re expected to give the COUPLE a home building gift for the wedding.

      But now that more folks are having wedding showers I think one gift is ok as long as it’s something for both of them.

      • Lindsey d.

        Yes, these haven’t been bride-specific gifts (stuff from the registry for both parties).

        I think that is why I don’t mind showers as much as other commenters. For me, they aren’t a gift grab, but instead a way to thank the giver in person since you otherwise wouldn’t open the wedding gift in front of them.

    • Liz

      They’re two separate events, so many folks bring gifts to both events. (Though, it’s always so different depending on geography.) In my area, people usually bring a household item type gift to the shower, and then cash to the wedding.

      Don’t fret about past weddings, though. Gifts are never mandatory.

      • Kelly

        This has been my experience as well – gifts to both events, often a registry-type item to the shower and cash at the wedding.

    • Marcela

      I always do a smaller gift ($20 range) for the shower and then a bigger gift for the wedding. It depends on what kind of shower you are having. Mine was pretty focused on kitchen items and the gifts I received there were mostly smaller things like serving bowls or baking dishes. The wedding gifts tended to the china and flatware and kitchen appliances.

  • Sarah E

    I’m really surprised by the overwhelming majority of commenters who dislike showers. Not to say that I like them myself, particularly. My reason being, suddenly my raucous family members seem to think we all need to act lady-like or something. If we just had a party where everyone was *themselves,* I think I’d be more okay with it. I expect it to be largely a moot point for my partner and I, as we live so far away, so won’t be available much to our families for such an event. If the question comes up, I think I’d ask for an engagement party, or ask for photos or books instead of gifts from the registry, especially since we’ll need to travel so far with everything.

    And Liz’s advice is spot-on, both on the why of showers and how to avoid being tacky. I know family members and well-meaning friends don’t always listen when they have their wedding-glasses on, but I’m all for the open communication as far as “Thanks so much for the offer! I’d really like the day to be about love and support. Could we do that by having/not having this particular thing?”

  • Caroline

    I know there is a lot of bridal shower hate, but I really like showers. Now, most of my friends were married when we met so I haven’t been to hordes and hordes of them but a few. They strike me as often lovely chances for te ladies in yor life to rally around you and love on you fiercely. I’ve been to everything from a mimosas, oiler paper dress games and lingerie presents shower to a let’s all paint the bride a mug and give her small honeymoon gifts (a tote for the beach filled with a sarong, a book, and a water bottle, or a book for the honeymoon, etc). I really enjoy them, and I haven’t felt pressure to spend more than I can reasonably afford.

    And yet, I’m nervous about inviting my friends to one. My aunt generously offered to throw me a shower (she asked 2x if she could!) and I was happy to say yes, because I really wanted the experience of friends and lady relatives (who are more easy-going than some of my lape relatives) rallying around me and celebrating my getting married. Because my friends were married when I met them mostly (and older than me), I’m not sure what the shower etiquette is in our group. (Not sure there is one). I feel awkward asking them for gifts, especially registry gifts. But maybe I would feel better about one of Rachel’s ideas, like a cookbook shower. Or really, I’m kind of hoping we can do what we did for my mom’s second marriage (the pottery place). Hand painted mugs and a platter with everyone’s names would be such an awesome gift. Most of all though, I hope my aunt asks for a guest list and does ALL the rest. And whatever she plans will be great. (And as much as I’m anxious about inviting friends, I suspect they will be happy to attend because they seem to want to celebrate us and give us huge gifts so much. It’s like instead of the cultural norm of bad-talking marriage, they are like “marriage is amazing and we are so glad you are joining us in married land because it’s freaking awesome here”).

  • anon

    I definitely have some Feels related to showers/ what people’s expectations of you are/what you can reasonably expect of them- and then proceeded to rant about it for a long paragraph, whoops. My previous experiences have been more that wedding showers are more for family/hosted by family or family-in law. Right now I’m planning my own wedding and Maid of Honor for two of my best friends, and showers have come up with one of them, since her mom has been emailing the brisdes ladies about shower plans, which have evolved from a family/friends shower that she’s hosting to, hey, I’m going to have one for the family (huge family), and you guys should have one for the friends (to be fair, she has also offered to have it at her house if it’s small). If I lived there, I’d be all over doing something for her, but I’m a plane ride away, and can’t really afford to come home for any additional trips, since I’m already coming in for a bachelorette party weekend and the wedding, but I feel like I’m being a bad friend by opting out (I also have similar trips that will need to be made for the friend I’m a MOH for, who is also out of town and we’ll be doing a Vegas trip for her bach). My friens are great people, and I don’t think they would hold it against me if I don’t do certain “expected” things, since they know I’m out of town/finishing grad school/make the money of a graduate student, but I also want to be there for them, supporting and celebrating.

    On the other hand, I have no expectations for a shower for our wedding (future Step-MIL strongly dislikes me and is unlikely to even attend the wedding, we’re out of town for both our families, mother passed away and the person most likely to host a shower for me is planning to host a brunch for our out of town guest the day after the wedding- which is amazing, and definitely preferred to a shower). I also planning on only having a low key bachelorette party two nights before the wedding to be considerate of my bridal party (all out of town except SIL). Dont’ get me wrong, I’m excited for my friends and really excited to get to see them and spend time with them more than just the weddings, but its becoming hard for me to balance that with the knowledge of how much this going to cost and that I’m going to be traveling out of town and spending somewhere between $500-1000 each month between May and September. So then adding on expectations of hosting/attending an out of town shower? Whatever I decide to do makes me feel a little like crawling into the fetal position. But, even though not having a shower and not making my close friends do an extra trip for a bachelorette party make sense for me, it can be hard to not feel like I’m missing out, or that I’ll feel like I’m missing out if I’m not doing something bigger, especially when put up against what I feel like is expected of me (times two).

  • jbryant6

    I have a question: I know you are supposed to invite everyone who is invited to a bridal shower to the wedding, but what if your coworkers throw you a shower at work? I didn’t invite anyone from the office to my wedding, and haven’t invited them to any wedding related event, but I know they are planning a shower for me during work hours…

    • Liz

      Usually in that case, people know they’re not invited and are just being nice/using a good excuse to take a half hour off from their desk to eat cake. Don’t stress.

      • jbryant6

        Perfect, thanks!

    • Lindsey d.

      A work wedding shower is the one thing I really, really hope my co-workers aren’t doing. I only invited three of them and, as much as I loved my friends and family bridal shower, I would HATE a work shower. However, I think work baby showers are generally okay since that is something more shared (the visibility of pregnancy and all). In fact, I need to let two of my work guests whom I supervisor know that they should not buy us a gift. I really don’t want people who I am responsible for evaluating and giving directions to to do that… I just want them to enjoy the party.

      • jbryant6

        Yeah, I don’t necessarily want one, but I can’t really say no either. I didn’t invite anyone from the office to the wedding because I was already engaged when I started here, and I don’t really talk to anyone outside of the office setting. But I think they just like to throw events during work hours. I’ve been to one baby shower (the guy started after me and quit like three weeks later!), but several major milestone birthday celebrations (30, 40, 50). So if they do, I’ll just enjoy the cake and write lots of thank you notes :)

        • Eh

          My coworkers threw me a surprise shower (that I found out about). I didn’t really want any shower but I knew that my coworkers like any reason to celebrate so it bothered me less (a hour off work and cake sounds like a good time to me).

    • emilyg25

      Work showers are one of the exceptions to that rule.

  • AnonyMouse

    I’ve been to (and planned) multiple couples showers, most of which (but not all) were without gifts. They were really wonderful ways to get to know the other partner’s closest people, before the wedding, and in a low key setting (brunch at a house, or bbq, or picnic, or whatever). Also, those were with friends, not family, no one traveled far for them, etc.

    • Kat Robertson

      Couples showers are an interesting idea, and it’s neat to read that people have had them and they’ve gone well! I’ve gone to a few and they were even more awkward than traditional church lady showers. Only two or three guys showed up and they all looked miserable and like they were dragged there. :-( I’d love to go to one that was actually fun!

      • AnonyMouse

        I think that’s where it is important to be in equal communication with both partners. If (in a hetero couple) the woman is the one sending the guest list, the invite is floofy, and its called a bridal shower, then our gender norms pretty much mean it will be awkward. But if both partners invite their friends (and their +1s as appropriate), and the invite is sent from “Jane, friend of the couple”, then it should just feel like a normal party. The boring showers I’ve been at have been boring regardless of the gender of the attendees.

      • One idea I have for making it really fun for couples and making it clear that it’s for both sexes is to call it a “patio party” — so have essentially a BBQ with lawn games and beer, and ask that the gifts be themed around the backyard/patio. Because hello that’s an awesome party that most people can be excited about, and shopping for things like grill tools, stuff for entertaining, useful shit from Lowe’s, or even plants and flowers is a fun activity that both sexes can get into!

  • Kelly

    I’m having a bridal shower back home, and I can’t wait. Largely because it is the only time I will see any of bridesmaids before the wedding besides one-day-last-summer, and because I’m excited to celebrate love and marriage with all of my ladies, both friends and family. (Many aren’t able to attend the wedding, and even if they do, I won’t be able to spend much one-on-one time with them) My mom is being very sweet and making it not-tacky, although we eventually nixed our plans for a bridal shower cooking class. Attention-grabbing has always been a huge pet peeve of mine so I avoid the spotlight, but lets be honest, I love being the center of attention. I feel like this gives me an excuse.

    I’m not having a shower where I live, despite all of my fiance’s family being local. I wouldn’t want one (they wouldn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t enjoy it). But.. I’m sort of hurt that no one has asked. I probably would have politely declined, but it would have been a really nice “welcome to the family, now we all take care of each other” from my fairly traditional future MIL or sisters-in-law. I’ll own that this is coming from a larger “why is no one offering to help?” “don’t they want me as part of the family?” insecurity issue. I recognize how unjustified this whining is… but I still feel a little hurt.

  • Lizzie C.

    I’m a severe introvert and barely wanted a wedding, much less a bridal shower. So when people asked, I told them that. I think my mom, mother-in-law and sisters were let down, but I sure wasn’t.

    That said, I was sad not to have engagement or bachelorette parties (my sisters dropped the ball on those and I didn’t have the heart to nag them). So even if someone doesn’t want one kind of party, she may want another. And even if the bride isn’t into a party, maybe the groom wants a “groomal shower!”

  • Liz

    I am engaged, and I had trouble turning people down to host showers (friends, coworkers, aunts, on both sides, etc). We ended up just combining them and having two. One was a back yard BBQ with lawn games and volleyball with everyone (co-ed) invited. It was so much fun and went late into the night – way better than the traditional bridal shower! The other was very traditional, and lovely, but I felt super awkward almost the whole time. Best of both world’s.

  • A lot of shower games are tacky. So I told them none of those. Instead they got our belly dance teacher to come give us all, including my mom and future mother-in-law, a private lesson. It was a great girls night, and I’m not usually one for the girls night thing.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    The church ladies threw me a shower. (We had invited the whole church to the wedding, so no issues there.) It was just extra-special coffee hour food and opening presents in the church hall. I think people liked having a reason or a chance to celebrate. APW has had pieces before about turning showers into a time to share positive marriage advice, and I would have liked more of that, but I know the church ladies are there for me as a newlywed.

    Most households that gave a shower gift also gave a wedding gift. (I think.) Most wedding gifts were mailed before the wedding. The shower was in a pretty good date slot after the wedding invitations went out but before most of the wedding gifts arrived, so people who wanted to give gifts in both contexts could budget accordingly. Most of the shower guests were those older, established people who want to celebrate by gift-giving that Meg often talks about.

    • TeaforTwo

      This is beautiful! I remember my mom hosting showers when I was a kid where every guest was asked to give the bride a piece of marriage advice. At my own shower there was nothing like that, but I wanted to kind of stop everyone “WAIT! WAIT! TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW WHILE WE SIT IN A CIRCLE!”

  • ASzMc

    When my best friend got engaged during senior year of college I took my co-maid of honor duties seriously enough to know that I should throw her a wedding shower, but not seriously enough to learn the first thing about wedding showers… And since we were all young and broke, and not all of our college friends would be able to attend her wedding, we threw her a co-ed, surprise, BBQ/kegger shower where everyone’s ‘presents’ were well-wishes and messages written on cards that all of us attendants collected and put in an album. It was very fun – and the album came in handy when applying for green card status a year later (if you marry a non-American you have to prove it’s a real love match)!

    I’ve only been to one ‘traditional’ shower since then and found it extremely awkward and rather unsettling. Two other very close friends were getting married and even though they’d compiled their registry together (him adding cooking things, her adding camping things as their tastes dictated) on the day of the shower he was shoved out of the house for her to open (and thank the gift-er for) presents he’d registered them for… like I said, it felt awkward, there was a generation chasm running down the center of that room!

    This one experience made me firmly anti-shower. Several people offered to throw me one, but I was much happier to ask my nearest and dearest to put time and money into a bachelorette weekend – which felt like a much more important way to celebrate this life changing event with all the people who had supported me through my single days, and all the steps that lead up to my marriage. So yes – I am firmly on the side of ‘shower related activity which does not in any way look like the traditional wedding shower’. And I think the more the ‘shower’ looks like a gathering of friends and family and celebration of a life event, and less like you sitting in the middle of a room opening presents, then the less it will feel like an imposition!

  • nikki kovach

    This may or may not help – but we’re actually thinking of doing a “build the bar” shower. I’ve lived on my own for over ten years so I also didn’t agree with wanting any gifts, specifically. But to help offset the cost of the wedding, we’re asking people to bring a bottle or two of their favorite spirits.

  • Amber

    Is it true that who ever is invited to the Shower MUST also be invited to the wedding?

    I’ve always thought the shower was a great way to share/celebrate with the people who aren’t invited to the wedding -like if you’re trying to keep the wedding small

    • TeaforTwo

      I think it has to be a pretty hard and fast rule…the tricky part of showers is that they are often so focussed on gifts. You wouldn’t want to look like you are asking someone for a gift who (for whatever reason) didn’t make the “cut” on your guest list.

      We were only able to invite very few friends to the wedding because of the size of our families, but a friend is throwing us a small reception (casual house party) three months after the wedding to celebrate with those who couldn’t be included. But it’s a no gifts situation.

    • Marcela

      Know your people. We had several people at the shower who weren’t invited to the wedding. They understood budget constraints, family dramas, etc… but really just wanted to be there for me. I couldn’t tell them they couldn’t come to the shower when they were insisting on coming and giving gifts.

  • Anonymous

    My friend is having a bridal shower and it is an expectation that we (the bridesmaids) participate (not an option). I feel like the decision-making on the shower is being run by her family (location, catering, theme, etc) and I am basically just there to pay my share of the costs and give a gift. I am thrilled for her and happy to give a gift to the couple to celebrate them getting married…but since this is in addition to the wedding gift and on top of all of the other associated expenses (of which there are many), I am feeling a little bit resentful (to be totally honest).

  • Emma

    I didn’t want a shower- getting married at 40 (my first marriage), I already had everything I need. However, my mom absolutely INSISTED that I have a shower, so I insisted that she let people know that they did not need to bring a gift. The day of the shower, I felt kind of… embarrassed, and uncomfortable, but I ended up having a blast. Surprisingly almost everyone who came still brought a gift… when people love you and are happy for you, they genuinely want to give a gift.

    • TeaforTwo

      YEP…some people are just gifters. I read too much Jezebel in my formative years, and assumed that everyone hated bridal showers and PARTICULARLY hated the gift-giving part of bridal showers.

      And probably some people do. But when it was gift-opening time at my shower, I was surprised by which indie-loving progressive feminists squealed “this is the best part!!!”

      And whether it’s stuff we needed or not, the “stuff” of our wedding has an almost alchemical quality, because those aren’t just mixing bowls, they are ceramic LOVE from the wonderful ladies in my life, and I think of my sister in law every time I put on my oilcloth apron and my mom’s university roommate every time I pull dinner out of the oven in the corningware she bought me. I had baking dishes before, but these ones are better, and not because they’re fancier.

  • Allin

    I was just recently talking about this with my significant other. I think the core of the bridal shower is: your people get together to celebrate with you, maybe give you some advice and perspective (especially those who’ve been married/long term for a while), and spend time together. But! I think it’s totally wack that traditionally this is something just the bride does. We are thinking, either each of us gets one (so we get our own bonding time with our people) or we do one together. And gifts? I think just bringing advice or stories or favorite recipes or any of that would be more fun.

  • Guest


  • Kara Davies

    My aussie bridal shower was WAY more fun than my american bridal shower. At my aussie shower -hosted and thrown by my Mum (mother in law)- we had the usual silly games, and yummy nibblies to dive into, and we also had a fun activity. Every single lady there helped to make a page for my wedding scrapbook album. Every single one. Some a pretty darn impressive, some were completely out of their depth, yet everybody there did a page. The idea being that after I got my images on CD from my photographers -Gerald and Airika Pope, that I could print them and stick down onto the predone pages. I loved it! The shower invitation specifically asked that guests bring a gift of cash to go towards said album. We were so blessed at our engagement party that we had a fully stocked kitchen by the end of it! Everyone complied and I got something that I really wanted out of it. I didn’t know many of the ladies there (mostly mum’s friends, and the girls from youth group that know my husband) but I do now.

    My american shower was a week later (international travel between showers is not recommended). My mom hosted it along with several dear church aunties. I had no idea what was happening. No idea who was coming, no idea of the timeline, no idea of the theme, the decorations, the activities, nothing. I do not handle surprise situations very well. I like to have *some* inkling of what’s going on before it happens!

    Both showers were lovely and the gifts were gorgeous. Sitting in a room of 50+ ladies and opening a stack of gifts is not my idea of a good time though when I’ve been left out of the planning process. Everyone meant well, they all wanted to bless me and my new marriage and my new home, some went about the involvement of the Bride better than others. ;)

  • Kara Davies

    First two are my aussie shower, last two are my american shower. :p

  • C

    Didn’t want one, didn’t have one. My best man insisted on a bachelorette party and I’m happy I had that night with my friends. Maybe if I had more traditional relationships with women who all lived in the same place, I would have had a shower.

  • Elizabear

    I loved, loved my shower. My mom’s two friends from church helped my sister, maid of honor, host it. My sister is an outdoor educator at a Y camp–so she is on an extremely tight budget and they wanted to help her out. It was beautiful. I let them do whatever they wanted–no input. It was easy-peasy. One of the church ladies handmade all the invitations and an album for guests to write marriage advice. She also asked for a bunch of important dates from our relationship so that she could have a raffle during the gift opening part. So I opened a couple gifts and then someone read off their date and people guessed what it was and then that person got a small gift. Everyone got a gift. It broke up the gift opening. The thing that really struck me was that the church ladies just kept thanking me for allowing them to be a part of that time in my life. They were seriously constantly thanking…me. It was overwhelming in a good way. I get a little weepy now just thinking about all that love and support. So–showers aren’t tacky and sometimes the people around you want to show their love by throwing a party.

  • Agreed! The way I always explain it to brides (or remind them) if your family and friends want to throw you a shower let them! Chances are you won’t do a wedding again (and if you do they won’t throw you showers the second time, etiquette rules and all) so enjoy being spoiled a little. If you have concerns with consumerism give them different ideas like getting them to give you one of their fav items, or make you something, or go in on a group gift and get gift cards for other things. There are a lot of ways to make it more of a party and less about the gifts, and after all they are going to the shower to support you so most people are open to doing whatever the host (the person throwing the shower) wants them to do.

  • Jules

    My favorite wedding shower memories: sending in a recipe for the bride-to-be, who was presented with a collection of recipes from her friends’ kitchens. And….well, that’s about it.

    Other shower memories: little finger sandwiches, awkward “shower games”, sitting around watching the bride open stuff like a birthday party from 4th grade, Pinterest mimosa bars, lots of burlap, feeling judged for only giving the $35 bakeware set instead of a $75 item despite having just graduated from college and having a grand total of aboud $3k in pocket. The feeling that the shower-throwers MUST present a certain image and that the shower-goers must GIFT a certain amount/item/theme or have severe FOMO and be a jealous friend. Unpleasant.

    I don’t think showers are necessarily “tacky”. Explore your motives for having one; explore who you want to invite and why. Is it to get a bunch of barware you’d never justify buying yourself and therefore it’s okay to have 3 showers and even invite some of the same people to both? (Seen it happen. Don’t have one.) Is it because your aunts absolutely won’t hear of not honoring you with one? (Seen that happen too.) However, I don’t like them. I don’t want one. I feel awkward attending them – even among the most gracious friends who would “understand” if I just brought myself and no gift, or splurged on the shower gift and no wedding gift – and I feel awkward declining them, and I’ve nearly almost felt it’s a lose-lose situation.

    Oh, one other plus: you get to spend some time with the bride in what is otherwise a hectic season in her life. Weddings don’t usually allow that.

  • Sarah

    Can this awesome re-imagining please please please bleed over to baby showers too? I never had a wedding shower. I had a gathering of about 7 women and we had wine and cheese and alternatives for my pregnant friends. It was lovely and I got nice and drunk. The gift was the expensive contribution of the food and drink. It was plenty. We had a small wedding too. So now that we’re expecting people are asking if we are having a shower or if we are registered. What I would like to throw is a big party. But how do you say, “We really want you to come and celebrate the arrival of the new member of your family/friend circle. Come or don’t come, stay as long as you want, bring a gift or don’t, we really don’t care, we just want to see you and have some fun while I’m carrying the kid on in the inside and we don’t have to leave to feed or change it while you’re there”?