The long-standing tradition of the bridal shower takes its roots in 16th-century Holland. Back in the day, a bridal shower was held in lieu of providing a dowry. Guests would “shower” the bride-to-be with gifts to take into the marriage, thus providing her with assets to bring into her union. This practice was common when the couple in question had been deemed unfavourable in the eyes of the bride’s parents, thus leaving the bride without any equity to bring into her marriage.
Fast forward to the present day when many things have changed. For one, the couple is unlikely to be residing with their own families before getting married and may already be cohabiting, therefore having acquired assets of their own: a healthy bounty of kitchen appliances, bed linens and the like.
Does that mean that couples should forego a bridal shower, or in today’s world – a wedding shower (that is, a party that celebrates the couple together and includes men at the event)? Au contraire! A wedding shower might be a really great way to involve friends and family members in celebrating the bride, or couple, who might otherwise have missed out on other related festivities. After all, perhaps not everyone needs to be invited to the bachelorette party…
So how does one host a bridal or wedding shower? As a starting point, it’s important to establish who hosts (and pays) for the bridal or wedding shower. Tradition says this usually falls on the maid of honour and bridesmaids, but today it’s perfectly acceptable for some close friends or family to volunteer for this. It may be possible that several parties are hosted for different groups of friends, such as having a separate shower amongst colleagues from work.
Who attends? While more traditional affairs kept the invite list strictly to the ladies, more modern affairs are extending invitations to the men as well -be they brothers, groomsmen or the plus one of a female friend. And while today’s bridal shower guest lists tend to be a more open-ended affair, one piece of etiquette still rings true: every guest invited to the bridal shower should also be invited to the wedding.
When is the right time to host a bridal shower? Following tradition, this can take place anywhere from two months to two weeks before the big wedding day. However, there’s a general understanding that life has become considerably more complex -there’s certainly a lot of flexibility around when to host a shower. The simple rule is that so long as there are concrete plans in place for when and where the wedding is taking place, it’s perfectly acceptable to host a shower.
What do you do at a bridal shower? Many common iterations of shower activities include a series of games, such as creating a wedding dress out of toilet paper or asking the bride to answer a series of pre-set questions on behalf of her fiancé to see if she guesses correctly. The bridal showers of today are much more relaxed and catered to the bride’s exclusive tastes. Getting together over high tea, participating in a wine tasting and even getting the group together for a VIP yoga class are all great ways of getting the gang together but also paying tribute to our favourite bride-to-be.
Finally, how to address the question around gifts? Whether or not you choose to have a gift registry, it’s likely that your guests will still want to bring something along to the bridal shower. Since you know, people are going to want to give tangible goods so it may be worth creating a small registry just for this purpose. Otherwise, you may come to realize that you and your guests have VERY different tastes in style and decor.
The key to having a successful bridal shower is to be open with the loved ones who are helping to organize one and communicate your preferences, any hard and fast no’s and overall expectations around the event. The beauty around this is that it takes out any of the guess work for the hosts, makes the event even more memorable and guests can appreciate the uniqueness of the guest of honour. After all, what is the point of traditions if we are not able to put our own spin on them?