Dear Wedding Maven,
My daughter’s friend is hosting a bridal shower for my daughter. The shower is scheduled to be at the friend’s house. Invitations have gone out. We have just learned that this friend’s mother is dying – she’s been given four weeks to live (which is right around the same day as the bridal shower). My daughter thought this was a horrible imposition on the family to have this shower planning going on – when they have been thrown into this very difficult time for them all. So my daughter has spoken to the friend and suggested she relieve her of this burden and pass the hosting of the bridal shower to one of the bridesmaids. However, the friend has been very insistent on continuing to host the shower.
1. What to do now – without hurting this friend’s feelings?
2. What to do if the worst happens and the mother dies on or close to the date of the planned shower?
Assuming that your daughter has expressed her condolences, and offered help (not related to the shower), I think she’s done all she can for now. Your daughter’s friend is either in denial, or she’s looking to the shower as a welcome escape hatch from her own troubles.
Either way, having said that she still wants to host it, there’s no way to take it away from her without being cruel.
Your daughter should answer any questions from the host promptly, and try to make the answers as stress-free as possible. For example, if the host asks about the menu, your daughter could say, “You know, I’ve always had a secret thing for those deli trays you get at the grocery store, why don’t we just pick up a couple of those? I also love the ice-cream cakes you get at the ice-cream store down the street from my mom’s house, she could just bring it with her.” Questions about decorations should be answered with “My cousin Jamie is thinking about changing careers and becoming a florist, would it be ok if she took care of the flowers?” I recommend these answers even if your daughter is a lactose-intolerant vegetarian, and cousin Jamie is severely allergic to any and all flowers. The point is to let the host feel like she’s hosting the party of your daughter’s dreams, while having her do as little work as possible.
You and your daughter should also prepare PLAN B. The steps are:
1) Talk to one or two of her bridesmaids and ask if they can be prepared to step in and host the party at the last minute. Remember, it doesn’t have to be exactly the way the first shower was planned. Everyone will know that this was put together at the last minute and no one will mind if they eat off paper plates, there aren’t decorations, etc.
2) Make sure to have a phone number for everyone invited. Divide up the guest list among the other bridesmaids, or close family members and make sure everyone knows who they are responsible for contacting in case the plans change.
3) You may want to have a few backup dates in mind as well. If her friends’ mother dies the day of the party, it would be in poor taste to just move the party elsewhere.
4) If at any point the friend says, “You know, I really don’t think I can do this.” Your daughter should reassure her that she doesn’t have to worry about it. She’ll work something else out. She should try not to let her know that she’s gone ahead and made Plan B.
You may need to help prepare your daughter for the reality that her bridal shower will not be the way she thought it would be. A change in date/time/place may mean some people can’t come, and the death of a friends’ mother certainly doesn’t put people in a partying mood. It’s disappointing, but the way your daughter handles this situation ultimately says more about her, and the kind of person she is, than a traditional bridal shower would have.
If your daughter’s reaction is less than admirable, try and be patient with her, she is under stress, and a death when you're undergoing your own life cycle event can be very troubling. Help her see how lucky she is that the two of you have each other at this important time in her life.
Do you need wedding advice? Have a question about wedding traditions, wedding etiquette, or relationships? Write The Wedding Maven at firstname.lastname@example.org.