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Some Ideas for Your Bridal Shower


What is a Bridal Shower, Anyway?

Legend has it that the first bridal shower dates back to Holland, where a poor Dutch couple were denied the bride’s dowry because the groom was only a miller and deemed unworthy of the marriage. In an act of protest and solidarity, the miller’s friends “showered” gifts upon the bride to help the young couple set up a household.

Today’s showers—whether bridal or baby—run the gamut in terms of how they’re given, who attends, and how formal they are, or aren’t! In fact, not all modern showers even include gifts, or at least not always for the household.

But no matter what a shower is or is not, one thing seems constant: bridal showers are a festive way for a woman’s friends and relatives to celebrate her transition to married life. And yes, in most cases, guests do still shower the new bride with practical (and not so practical) gifts for her future life.

The party atmosphere of a bridal shower also offers the perfect opportunity for guests to enjoy delicious food together, to share stories and memories, to laugh and play silly party games, and most of all, to lavish the new bride with love and attention.


Who Should Host?
In this day and age, the old rules about the shower being thrown by the maid of honor just don’t apply in most cases. Nor does the old taboo against the shower being thrown by a member of the bride’s family. At one time, showers given by the bride’s family were thought to be in poor taste, likely to be been seen as grabbing for gifts, but not any more.


The fact is that with today’s shifting family structures along with our highly mobile society, the most appropriate host for the shower is usually the person with the means (and the blessing of the bride) to organize the event.

The same rules go for deciding who should pay the tab, which is to say that the old etiquette about the maid of honor automatically footing the bill has mostly fallen by the wayside. In the case of a small, casual shower, the host will probably cover the costs. If the shower is to be a grander, more costly affair, the host may want to talk to the bridesmaids and/or a few of the bride’s friends or family members about splitting some of the bill, and maybe even helping with preparation and clean-up.


But be careful: any cost-sharing or division of work arrangements should definitely be communicated and agreed on at the very beginning of the planning. Misunderstandings and last-minute (unpleasant) surprises over who’s paying cause the sorts of snafus and hard feelings that can ruin what should only be a wonderful party.

Best Spots for a Shower

Here again, almost anything goes. What works best for one bride may be very different from what would be perfect for another. Small gatherings in a bridesmaid home are cost-effective and cozy. But in good weather, a picnic area in a park or at a public beach may offer even better amenities for little or no cost. Many restaurants provide patrons the chance to reserve private rooms for larger groups, an option that saves the host the hassle of planning, preparing, and cleaning up the food and refreshments.


More elaborate ideas can include a themed activity of some sort, from manicures or facials at a favorite spa to an evening at the comedy club or even a riverboat tour or train ride. Costs can climb quickly for these kinds of plans, and it’s perfectly acceptable to share the tab if you make sure the plans for payment are crystal clear from the very beginning. An invitation to a shower on the local paddleboat may read: Please join us for a celebratory afternoon on the Jonathon Paddleford, tickets $25. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided.”

Perfect Timing

Talk to the bride and see what she prefers. Anywhere from six months ahead of the wedding to a few days beforehand are just fine. And the day of the week and time of day for the party should be based on what kind of party you’re planning. Sunday afternoon works well for a tea party in the garden; Friday night is perfect for a night on the town. Let common sense and the availability of your venue and your guests be your guide.

The Guest List

It may seem obvious, but the first and most important guest is the bride-to-be herself. Make sure she wants a shower. Not all brides are comfortable with the attention they’re going to receive at this kind of event. If you’re planning a surprise shower, only you can be sure whether you know the bride well enough to be absolutely certain she’ll be glad, not mortified. Once you’re convinced a shower is a good idea, have the bride provide the guest list based on her preferences.


Her mom or her husband-to-be might be able to help with this in the case of a surprise shower, or her sister or best friend. Don’t make the mistake of inviting anyone who’s not going to be on the wedding guest list. Just ask the bride or her family outright about this if necessary. Try to include guests from both sides of the wedding aisle, and don’t feel a shower has to be all women. Like most wedding traditions, the female-only bridal shower is no longer considered an absolute. Today’s brides and grooms are making their own traditions for their weddings. Being part of the process is an honor, so enjoy it!




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