Dear Wedding Maven,
My son's future bride lives out of town. Most of our relatives have not met her. I read someplace that in such a case it is OK for me to throw her a shower to introduce her to the family. Is that true? If so, do I need to word the invitations differently than normal?
Thanks for your help!
Mother of the Groom
Traditionally, close relatives of the bride and groom did not throw showers for the bride because it would seem like they were grubbing for gifts on the bride’s behalf.
It’s a lovely idea for you to have a party to introduce your new daughter-in-law to her new family. I would suggest though that instead of having a bridal shower you consider throwing an engagement party for the couple. At a bridal shower your daughter-in-law will be left more or less on her own to meet a lot of new people in a fairly intimate setting. At an engagement party though, she’ll have your son at her side, and it will probably be less intimate and less intimidating.
Before you make any decisions though, please talk to your daughter-in-law and get a sense of what would work for her. If she’s in the midst of wedding planning then taking a trip to your town for a party may be more stress than she can handle. In which case, having a “post-wedding” party may make more sense.
You also need to consider what would make your daughter comfortable. A lot of in-law trouble stems from the two sides not understanding or respecting the social norms of the other family. What seems fun and welcoming to one person may seem over-bearing and stressful to another, and what seems cold and aloof to one person may seem shy and reserved to another.
Finally, if you're worried about it seeming like you're asking for gifts for the new couple, simply put "No presents please" on the invitation.
As long as you remember that truly welcoming your new daughter means welcoming her as she is, you’ll be fine.
If you need wedding advice or help with a question about wedding etiquette, traditions, or relationships, write the Wedding Maven at firstname.lastname@example.org