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 friction—not 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!