Once the bells of engagement have been rung, many family members and friends will be responding with joy. One way that family and friends show their love and support for the bride and groom is by hosting an event in their honor. These events could be a brunch, dinner, cocktail party, coed shower or a traditional bridal shower. Since the wedding process inevitably triggers dormant emotions hidden deep within the psyche, let us offer respect to our psychological blue prints and those around us. Etiquette provides a compass to navigate through acceptable and appropriate behaviors that will in good faith carry good will amongst others. With this, we begin our exploration of the etiquette of the bridal shower.
According to legend, the wedding shower originated in Holland when a young Dutch girl fell in love with a poor miller. The young lady came from a very wealthy family and they did not approve of her decision. Her father refused to give her a dowry and hoped this would deter her from marrying this poor miller. This lady made a choice to marry for love and forsake money and status. News spread thought the town and the village people came together and showered the couple with all the necessities they would need to begin their lives together. From that occasion forward it became a tradition in that town and has spread world wide.
Etiquette of the bridal shower:
1) The maid or matron of honor traditionally hosts a bridal shower. This is her privilege. For many brides there are multiple showers and festivities, but the first consideration is to the bride and her maid or matron of honor. The maid/matron is responsible for the cost of the event. The bride and hostess should have a candid talk about the budget and what an appropriate number of guests will be. The bride needs to be respectful of this and it is the role of the hostess to set appropriate limits. If the family has expectations of an elaborate affair, then it is acceptable for the family to contribute financially to the event.
2) A bride does not host her own bridal shower.
3) It is appropriate for a bride embarking on a second marriage to have a bridal shower.
4) Wedding showers are intimate gatherings and should consist of 10-20 guests. Guests should include family members, bridesmaids and close friends. One does not invite everyone from their wedding list to each shower. It is also not polite to invite the same guests to multiple showers, unless these are family members, bridesmaids or the closest of friends. If you are planning on having multiple events, break up your lists and invite different people to specific events.
5) All people who are invited to a shower are also to be included in the wedding. The exceptions are when the wedding is a destination wedding or when a shower is hosted by your work. It is also very acceptable for family members to host a party separately for friends of the family who are not able to attend the wedding due to restrictions in the number of attendees allowed for the wedding.
6) All participants who attend a shower are expected to bring a gift.
7) The mother of the bride, mother of the groom, matron/maiden of honor, bridesmaids are only required to bring one gift to a shower, no matter how many events they are invited to. No one under the age of 16 is required to bring a gift.
8) If you are blessed to have a sister, she is invited to all events, but has the option of only attending one.
9) Do not forget to invite your groom’s family members.
10) When creating your guest lists do not forget out of town guests. They may not be able to attend, but will feel acknowledged and included by just receiving an invitation. A good rule of thumb, is when in doubt send an invitation.
11) Invitations are sent 4 to 6 weeks prior to the shower. The date and time of the shower should be consulted with the mother of the bride and or groom to confirm there are no conflicts. Plan the time and date of the shower when it is convenient for most people attending.
12) One invitation is sent per household. Hand address each invitation and make sure to use the guests formal name (ie: Mrs. Aimee Logan). The invitation should include the address of the event, when to RSVP, include phone number and or email along with directions. It is also appropriate for the hostess to include an insert or hand written information as to where the bride and groom have registered.
13) Themes are common for showers, such as a cooking shower. The party will involve food and gifts will center around the kitchen. A theme can make a shower fun as long as the hostess is organized and the event is well planned out.
14) Games are also common at showers. If you have a game, be prepared to provide the winners with a gift.
15) Each shower should have a greeter, someone to let people know where they should place their belongings and guide people to the basic lay of the land. The greeter will make introductions and ensure that the needs of attendees are met.
16) Designate one person to write down the full name of each person who has given a gift.
17) Avoid giving really intimate gifts, especially if the shower is in a public space.
18) Make sure you have plenty of beautiful stationary, as a thank you note is required for all gifts received.
19) When you write your thank you notes use your maiden name. A bride does not use her married name or initials until the day she is married.
20) If a wedding is canceled all shower gifts are returned.
There are many lessons in life that are learned through living. The trial and error process gives validation to knowledge and wisdom. The engagement window however, is small and shines with an incomparable intensity and vitality. It is not worth making social errors during this process, since for many it is a once in a lifetime experience. Take the high road and follow the wisdom of generations before us.
My advise is to stay in the moment, breathe and enjoy every second of every minute. The wedding process is glorious!
Should you have questions or situations that you would like etiquette advise on, please submit to [email protected]
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