The bridal shower is a celebration of the movement away from the single life and towards married life. Even today, when many couples have lived together for some time, acknowledging and celebrating the changes in lifestyle that come with marriage, getting advice from other married women, and spending time with friends is a wonderful way to ease into your new life.
Who hosts the shower is a hot topic for debate among wedding planners. Tradition calls for the maid-of-honor to host, with help from bridesmaids, and many wedding planners consider it rude to expect family members to host since they are doing so much for the wedding already. A social group or religious community might also choose to throw the bride a shower.
The bridal shower, as the word “bride” implies, is typically a female only event held on a weekend afternoon or early evening. The party should take place four to six weeks before the wedding, but the timing is flexible and can be moved around to accommodate your schedule. Often the groom will show up for the end of the party to open gifts and say a quick thank you to guests. Today, couples host joint showers with guests of both genders and same sex couples might also choose a similar style.
Groups of friends may offer to throw you multiple parties; a more formal event hosted by your mother in law, a girly tea party with the ladies at work, or a traditional affair with your bridal party and close friends. Don’t burden your guests by inviting them to more than one party; use social circles as a guide to craft each guest list and make sure everyone feels like they only have to attend one event.
Bridal showers usually look like an at home cocktail party with snacks, drinks, and plenty of space for chatting and catching up. The overall look will greatly depend upon who is hosting the event. Remember, no one likes a crazy bride so avoid micromanaging, be grateful for the effort your host is putting forth, relax, and enjoy! But, if there are any major do not’s let your host know well in advance.
Who to invite?
The bride will typically decide the guest list, although there are a few mandatory invitees: your soon-to-be mother in law and other female family members such as aunts, sisters, and grandmothers. Help your host out and give them a detailed guest list, with working phone numbers and addresses. All guests invited to the bridal shower will expect to be invited to the wedding, so check this list against your overall wedding guest list before sending anything out. A five percent response of regret is expected.
There are many traditional bridal shower games to help loosen up your guests. Sometimes people need to get a bit silly in order to relax! A few favorites include making a toilet paper wedding gown, bridal bingo, and recipes for marriage.
The most traditional event at a bridal shower is the Ribbon Bouquet; the host uses a pre-cut cardboard circle or a present box top with holes poked in it, then the ribbons from each gift are threaded through the cardboard to fashion a “bouquet,” which is then used at the wedding rehearsal in place of real flowers.
The bridal shower’s origins go all the way back to the day when women still entered into marriage with a dowry. If the bride’s family was too poor to provide a dowry or if a father refused to give his daughter her dowry because he did not approve of the marriage, the bride’s friends would gather and bring gifts for her dowry. Thus, allowing her to marry the man of her choice. While women today don’t typically enter into a marriage with a dowry, they do still need the support of their friends and family. We think gifts should follow a new tradition, supporting the bride as she enters her wedded life. This can be a personal gift or something more home oriented which both the bride and groom will enjoy.
The bride often chooses to open the gifts in front of guests, to celebrate with friends, and make the ribbon bouquet. Make sure there is someone close at hand to write down each gift and who it came from for your thank you cards!
What to Wear
How you dress will entirely depend upon the location, season, and time of day in which the event is held. In general, show your host respect and dress up a little.
Thank you notes! Hand written thank you notes to each person who gave you a gift are an absolute requirement.
A gift for your host! Flowers and a nice note will suffice, but try to get a bit more personal. A gift certificate to a spa is always a great idea.