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Bridal Shower Traditions


There are numerous traditions surrounding North American weddings—there are traditions about what the bride should wear, what the guests should wear, how to properly congratulate the lucky couple, and whose name should appear first on the envelope. But perhaps one of the most celebrated traditions is the celebration before the wedding—the bridal shower.

How did this tradition begin? There have been many different theories about its beginnings, including one that began in Belgium. But the most popular story is that of a Dutch bride and groom dating back to between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

A young Dutch girl fell in love with a young man, but the girl’s father didn’t approve because he wanted her to marry a wealthy man of higher stature. Although the girl wanted to marry the man, it couldn’t be done with her father’s approval. In the end, she decided to marry the man she loved—to her, the love of her life was worth accepting poverty!


The girl’s father, angry that she had chosen against his desires, would not grant the couple the dowry that was customary in that time, and although they were now happily married, they could not afford the things they needed to live.


When the groom’s friends realized what had happened, they brought gifts to help the couple adjust to their new life and new home together. This custom of bringing gifts to help a new couple furnish their home has become a long-lasting tradition and, although it has evolved with the times, the tradition is still going strong today.

The United States started to follow this trend around the 1890s, when it was mostly popular for the upper-class citizens—mostly the couple’s female family members—to participate. Throughout the years, it has become more traditionalized for the party to include not only family, but also the bride’s friends.

The bridal shower tradition comes with some customs of its own. Generally, it is frowned upon for a family member to host a bridal shower for the bride, since the purpose is for the guests to bring gifts. Traditionally, the maid or matron of honor hosts the shower. If she is not available, a close friend might decide to take on the event.


Bridal showers are often held in the host’s home, but as the events become more and more contemporary, many hosts are opting to hold bridal showers at other locations, such as a hotel, a restaurant, or a resort. Bridal shower themes vary widely—the chosen theme could match the theme of the wedding, follow a color, symbol, or other scheme.


While the traditional bridal shower in the past was intended to help a couple furnish their new home, it is becoming more and more a celebration based on tradition alone that offers the bride a fun and memorable day with friends and family before her wedding.

Although the plans and traditions surrounding a wedding can become overwhelming, they are meant to be happy, exciting, and encouraging. Plan ahead and try to have fun!

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