Shower Me With Love

When we first got engaged my father gave me Miss Manners: On Weddings (a book I’ve previously recommended as being indispensable). While the book is not, by and large, written for the bride, it does open with a list called “Things A Bride Need Not Trouble Her Pretty Head About.” Trust me, this list gets more hilarious and informative the farther into the planning process I get. The very first item on this list is this:

“Do not worry about who is going to give you a shower. The shower is a lighthearted nonessential element of and engagement (as opposed to, say, the fiancé, who is essential and whose heart should be fixed at this point). In any case, it is voluntary on the part of the bride’s friends. They either throw one or they don’t, but she can’t demand one.”

As soon as I read this, I thought to myself, “Oh, well, that’s some advice I can get on board with.” As far as I was concerned, the last thing I needed was other parties to stress about. So, I promptly forgot all about bridal showers. I’d never been to one anyway (have I mentioned that our rather avant-garde, overly-educated friends are not currently the marring types?) So, I had nothing much to obsess about.

It’s funny how the moment you (finally) totally let go of all our preconceptions in the wedding planning process* things just fall into place. So, as soon as I’d completely forgotten about bridal showers, I of course promptly had two. The first shower was this weekend, and it was thrown for a few of my east coast friends by a dear friend from college in New York City. When she decided to throw the party, she asked me what I wanted my “theme” to be for the gifts. My eyes went wide with panic. I’m not so good with registries, so the idea for picking a theme for gifts felt totally beyond me. My friend helped me sort through the options: Did I want gift cards? (No, I did not. It felt like asking for cash, and many of our friends are poor/in grad school) Did I want things from my registry? (No, I did not. We don’t really have a registry yet.) Did I want gifts themed by hours of the day? (No! Did I mention our friends are avant-garde artists?) So after much thought, we decided that what I did want was books – lots and lots of books. Books were perfect for me because 1) I can’t own enough of them 2) They come at lots of different price points and 3) My friend throwing the shower happens to be a super-talented book editor.

So. There we were. A book shower. I was pleased, but I still didn’t have much in the way of expectations. I bought plane tickets and a new shirt. The day of the shower I tried to get my hair to lie down nice and flat. Then, David and I rushed out of the party-throwers way, and ran off to a huge demonstration for gay marriage rights**.
By the time we got back to the apartment, I was shocked: a giant cheese-ball had been made from scratch, Deviled Eggs had taken over the counter space, a pink cake had been procured from Magnolia bakery, rose petals and tiny silver wedding bells had be-strewn every surface of the house, champagne was being handed out, and there were piles of craftily wrapped presents.

The shower itself was an absolute delight. Friends from every part of my New York life all showed up at one apartment. Almost no one knew each other, but everyone seemed delighted to be there. We all drank, we told stories, we admired the enormous cheese ball. Three or four people said they’d never been to a wedding shower before. We all pondered if we should do something silly or embarrassing. Should I sit on a big chair? Should we make something out of toilet paper? We decided no, maybe we should just have another drink and talk some more. Then we got to the presents. I’m not sure I’ve ever had more fun opening presents. Even though almost no one properly recorded their purchases in the registry, I didn’t get a single double book. Everyone bought something that reminded me particularly of them. Cookbooks, political science books, novels, coffee table books, all there. Then we had cake, and more champagne. And is if all that wasn’t enough, my dear friend passed on special candy bars to everyone with our initials, our engagement date, and our wedding date. And then we all trooped out into the fall night to meet all of David’s friends at a dive bar.

What’s the lesson of all this, other then showers can be loads of fun? Well for me it was, when you relax, and stop caring about what your style is, or what your wedding philosophy is, and just let people do what they want to do, they will help you celebrate your wedding in ways you never would have imagined. So just let it all go a little bit. Trust your friends and family, get rid of your expectations, and enjoy the ride. People love you more than you know.

*Desaray wrote an excellent post about just letting go in ceremony planning over at Dingmoonment.

**hint: start your wedding parties by doing something good for the world. It will make you feel grateful and happy.

Photos: The invite!, crafty present by my crafty friend Lauren who also took the photo, some of the books I received

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  • Anonymous

    Oh, I am so jealous! My shower is on Saturday, and I wish I had asked for a book shower…what a wonderful idea.

  • This is THE BEST shower idea I’ve ever heard!!! Lovelovelove… and jealous of your new stash of books. Also… hmmm… how fitting to receive loads of wonderful new books to take to a beach honeymoon (I will selfishly ask)?!

    ps: Junot Diaz will rock your world.

  • I love it, and am going to steal/borrow the idea.

  • This is one of the best shower ideas ever!

  • this is a fabulous idea! have fun reading all of your new books!

  • Two things:
    1. I LOVE that Miss Manner’s book – thanks to you :)

    2. What a fun idea, and so uniquely you! I love how girly and retro the party food sounded.

  • Your shower sounds spectacular and i think the advice you give is great. Sit back and Relax! Love it

  • That is such a cool shower idea.

    It’s funny but the first shower I ever attended I had to plan. Boy was I freaking out a bit as I had no idea what I was getting in to but I had a slight fear of old ladies beating me upside the head with their large handbags.

    My second one by all typical standards failed miserably as no one showed up but the few of us who were there had a great time, got a little snickered, and laughed til it hurt.

    It just seems to work out better if you come in with no expectations for something beyond your control so you are sure to enjoy it regardless of what happens.

  • I love, love, love this idea! If/when I ever get married, I’d love a shower like this!! Such a great idea!

  • This was such a lovely post with a great message, it made me smile while reading it.

  • I think your shower was great!!! but you miss one really important thing! the stripper!!!

  • this is such a GREAT idea. I’ve been to some BAD showers, and this sounds so personal and lovely.

  • Ahh, a book shower sounds like heaven. Come to think of it, any party with a book theme is a good idea….

  • Cheryl ~ Truly Engaging

    As showers go, this one tops the list for unique ideas. Plus, your advice to just let your friends love you the way they want to….priceless!

  • what a great idea! and, total book score!

  • ok dumn question – what’s a giant cheese ball????

  • Oh, how lovely! I am also a fan of low-key, from-the-heart, grown-up wedding showers. Lucky gal!

    And thanks for the reminder – I need supress my inner control freak and just not worry!

  • Anonymous

    I am a bit torn on this post and actually have been very torn on this blog since you started featuring adds (and I presume getting paid for it).

    On one hand you write blogs about not buying into the the ring Olympics and you feature people who say, having monogrammed napkins really doesn’t matter and you feature registries with Goats on them.

    On the other hand you feature registries at all…you even said you don’t need stuff…but you registered anyway-doesn’t that = caving to the WIC? If you don’t need stuff, why register at all?

    If you aren’t into the WIC then why feature vendors. You may call them Wedding Elves, but to everyone but you, they call themselves vendors. A rose by any other name….is still a rose.

    On one hand it would have been rude to tell your friend, I don’t want your party. On the other hand, you once again registered. If you really just wanted to celebrate the fact that you were getting married and you didn’t really buy into the WIC, you would have said no gifts, or asked for friends to write out their faviourite love/friendship themed poem or thought or something.

    I think what you struggle with isn’t not buying into the WIC, but not wanting to spend the money that the WIC says you have to, and not being inclined to do everything yourself to make a WIC wedding without the cost.

    I think you’re a bit of fraud. Sorry. I suspect this comment will be removed, but it’s not an attack. I just mean to have you, and your readers really start to think about their views on the WIC and how far they are willing not to buy into the WIC. I think when many women get the chance, they will really take those things that the WIC says they should have.

  • Meg

    First, I never claimed to be the anti-wedding blog, I only claimed to be the find-a-way-to-do-it-that-works-for-you blog. I have not a problem in the world with letting people buy me gifts or throw me parties to help me celebrate. All within reason. Also, I never claimed not to need more books. One always needs more books. So letting ones friends by one a handful of books is perfectly reasonable, as far as I’m concerned. (and if you must know, half of the books in the picture were free as they were from my friend the editors publishing house).
    Do I get paid for ads? Yes. I spend a huge number of hours a week writing this blog. It’s hard work. That said, do I reject advertisers? Yes. All the time. Do I get paid very much? No, not really. Also, all of my ad’s and ad posts are very clearly posted as such. I’m not pulling anything over on anyone, and my sponsor policy is very clearly posted.
    That said, it sounds like you need to read a new blog. I’m not a fraud, but I’m not anti-wedding or anti-spending money. I’m pro what is practical for any given couple, and I’m anti conspicuous consumption.
    Also, I’m a real person, so coming here to tell me how my bridal shower makes you think I’m a fraud because I didn’t do it they way you wanted me to is both inappropriate and out of line.

    I’m leaving your comment, since it’s clearly an honest opinion. That said, reconsider how you speak to people publicly.

  • I loved this post, firstly because the book shower thing is such a great idea and secondly because your experience was so similar to mine of my hen do. Sometimes you just have to let go and trust your friends and what they come up with will be more wonderful than you could imagine yourself.

  • What a wonderful theme for a shower, and your invites are adorable!

  • wow. If someone wants to throw me a shower, I’ll have to pass along this fabulous idea. As a huge booknerd, this would be perfect. And makes me much happier than the idea of getting fancy undergarments from relatives. scary.

  • Amanda

    Okay so I know this is posted forever ago but I just linked back to it and Ah! Love it. Especially that last paragraph. I’m just learning this about letting go and how things fall into place and it’s hard but so worth it! I kinda like controlling things and having ideas :) But it’s not worth the stress it causes me and I know people love me and those people are usually pretty darn smart :)