Bridal Shower Thoughts

04/27/2010

[Note: I know this may be a touchy subject, and I apologize if I offend anyone who may read this post.  My object is not to bash the idea of bridal showers, but to express my thoughts on the topic and ask questions.  As usual, please be constructive and polite when leaving a comment 🙂  Thanks in advance. –AM]

As a woman in my mid twenties, I have friends and colleagues around me who are getting married.  Recently, I got an invitation to a bridal shower for a colleague.

Although, I am very happy for the newly engaged couple, I do not like bridal showers.  (Or any kind of shower, really, but that’s another story.)  I know, I am a grinch /scrooge.  I will go as far to say that I find them generally distasteful.

The general etiquette for a bridal shower is that you invite your friends, family and/or colleagues for a get together where they are expected to bring gifts.  You play some games and eat pink cupcakes (hopefully!), and generally just sit around.  Is it just me, or is that idea not really rude?

I can understand a wedding gift as a gesture of happiness and celebration, as well as helping the couple get started on their live, but why is there a need for a bridal shower for more gifts?  To me, it’s just a commercialized money grabbing scheme.

I understand that there is a lot of money that goes into planning a wedding.  And there is a lot of money that goes into furnishing the house that the new couple will move into.  But isn’t that their responsibility as a newly wed couple to take care of?  If they can’t afford whatever it is, shouldn’t they save until they can?

Back in the day where dowry practices were of the norm, bridal showers were held by family and friends for a poor bride whose family may not have the money for dowry, or if her father refuses to provide a dowry because he did not approve of the marriage.  According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the earliest recorded occurrence was in the 1860’s in Brussels, Belgium, but could also be traced back to the 16th or 17th century in the Netherlands.

The history of the practice was not to provide stuff for the new household, but to provide goods and money so that the wedding may take place.  The practice has since evolved and spread to American in the 1890’s, and is today most common in the United States, Canada and Australia – starting in the urban areas and spreading to rural areas, as well.

However, we don’t live in an era where we need dowries anymore, so why do we still have bridal showers?  Why are brides still asking friends, family to use their hard earned money to buy them things that they should be saving for and buying as a couple?

This concept doesn’t make any sense to me.

Maybe I am being a scrooge, but I would never hold a shower and ask people to give me their hard earned money for things that myself and (future) hubby should be buying on our own.

At work, the women usually get together for a little party/shower before a wedding or a baby arrives.  It’s a nice time for a bunch of us to together and share stories of our experiences and eat yummy cake.  We all chip in a little (usually about $10 to cover food costs and a small gift), and I think this is great.

That, to me, is a group of women supporting each other on the path to the next step in our lives.  However, I don’t think this is the atmosphere or gift value expected at most showers.

What are your thoughts on bridals showers?  What do you think might be a another way to bond and share in the wonderful moment?

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9 Responses to “Bridal Shower Thoughts”


  1. I think most people will generally agree with your conclusion, however, most people also revel in tradition. Because everyone has done it (sine the 1890s…), then of course, they have to do it. My agreement with your conclusion extends to even weddings. Why have such a huge celebration for what ultimately should be a formality? If it is going to just be you and the hubby, then what sense does it make to spend $60/pp on flowers, place settings, and the like?

    Yet and still, I’m going to have all of these things, because, however vague this may sound, it wouldn’t be right without it. I won’t say that you won’t, but when it is your shower, I’m sure you’ll feel like it is the best day of your life.

  2. Jersey Mom Says:

    I actually agree with you. I didn’t have a bridle shower, baby shower, or whatever other shower there is. What matters for me are my own happiness and the health of my baby. If friends are happy for me, they’ll let me know by calling/writing.


  3. @ Investing Newbie:
    You have a great point of how we like to stick to traditions.

    Not that there are any plans of a wedding soon, but I admit that I had imagined a beautiful white dress and looking drop-dead gorgeous for my husband on our special day. I imagined how cool it would be to have a tea ceremony (from my Chinese background) and my red Chinese wedding Ki Pao.

    But then reality sets in, and I realize how much work and effort it is to plan a wedding. How my many many relatives will all want their two cents acknowledged, and how my wedding will inevitably become “our” wedding. “Our” meaning my whole extended family and their uncle’s dog. And I let that idea go because I don’t think the stress is worth it.

    We’ll see down the road, right? 😉

    @ Jersey Mom:
    I completely agree: a healthy baby and a happy relationship are the most important things. Unfortunately, no bridal/baby/wedding shower can guarantee either. Life would be way too easy that way, right? 🙂

  4. buttonjar Says:

    I agree with wholeheartedly you on the showers – but this is coming from someone who had a registry wedding with 6 attendees! We took them out for dinner afterward. But then, we have the luxury of living a whole ocean away from both of our families – it makes bucking tradition a whole lot easier! I’ve been to a handful of truly enjoyable, beautiful weddings and only 1 really great shower – it was a co-ed shower where we all sat down to a banquet of Thai food. Each gave the parents-to-be a copy of our favourite children’s book. I reckon the important thing about these events is that the heart isn’t lost in all the hoopla.

  5. SassyGirl Says:

    I’ve only been to one bridal shower so I haven’t felt the pinch in my pockets (yet). I know they’re coming though, as I enter my mid-twenties, also known as the race to get married.
    I think the points you presented in this entry are definitely valid. If those were the original intentions of a bridal shower, they certainly seem outdated now. I think perhaps we can lower the bar a bit for our friends. I mean, my last bridal shower/wedding, the bride knew some of her friends wouldn’t be able to afford expensive gifts, so she registered for things as cheap as a $3 pizza cutter. I think giving household gifts within $10 (which is not hard) would be in the same spirit of your getting-together-and-eating-cake.

  6. Hasina Says:

    I totally agree. I think it’s a North American (or anglosaxon?) thing. Bridal/baby/wedding showers don’t exist in France (where I grew up). They have something similar to the bridal shower but it’s a celebration of the bride’s last days as a single woman: no gifts are usually expected before the wedding actually takes place.

    It may sound rude but I recently turned down an invitation to a baby shower from a woman I hardly know. I didn’t even know she was pregnant! I almost went anyway but then I saw the link to the baby gift registry and thought it was very inappropriate. I felt like I had been invited just so that she could get all the gifts she had registered.


  7. @ Buttonjar:
    I think that a shower could be a great time to get together and share our experiences. Sharing your favourite childhood books sounds like such an event where the heart is not lost in this consumerist culture. 🙂

    @ Sassy Girl:
    Totally agree that small, thoughtful gifts, and time together is the spirit that I enjoy as such showers. These are usually fun and intimate where everyone can share their stories and experiences.

    Yikes. I’m in my mid twenties, and it does feel like a big race to get married and settle down. That’s probably also why I feel this way about showers! 😛

    @ Hasina:
    I don’t think that is rude at all – to turn down an invitation to what I think should be a fairly intimate gathering. That’s how I felt when I got my last two invitations to showers (bridal and baby).

    I also recently turned down an invitation to a friend’s sister’s baby shower. I didn’t even know her sister was pregnant, and I haven’t seen my friend since she got married (almost 2 years ago!).

    Where’s the spirit of just celebrating the next step in our lives (sans gifts)?

  8. Kristy Bruce Says:

    I enjoyed reading your post and have thought about this problem, but I have several different views.

    At our church, we give showers to help the couple set up their new house. The idea is that every new couple gets a shower within their community and then they pay the favor back to others as they start out their lives. This is so helpful for couples who start out on a tight budget and barely have enough money for the wedding. They receive towels, dishes and other items to set up their new home. Then later when they are making more money they return the favor to other couples just starting out with low budgets. It’s a celebration of marriage and a loving thing that anyone can chose to attend or not attend.

    I like this idea, but hate what showers have become. I have been invited to showers of people I barely know or that have registries full of overpriced items that I would never buy for myself. This is part of our commercialized, selfish society.

    This system also doesn’t work well for singles who don’t know if they ever will get married and don’t have a lot of cash. One lady I know in her fifties who has never married has been complaining about all of the showers she has been invited to over the years and she will most likely never have a wedding or baby shower. This is very sad!

    Some people show their love by giving gifts and other do not. I don’t like to give or receive gifts at all unless they have some special significance or if it is something that I need. Many people are not like this and want to show their affection through giving.

    So if I ever get married, my church will give me a shower and I will go to that and any shower that other friends want to give me, because this is the way my community is set up and I have participated for years. But I choose not to register or at least only register for practical items so the towels they give me match. For the most part, I would much prefer to buy my own towels and other items myself, but have no money to set up a house and will welcome any help others lovingly chose to give me.


    • Kristy,

      Thanks for reading, and for your thoughtful input.

      I think the community aspect of your church giving bridal showers is great and I am glad you have such a great support system. I agree that helping people out is always good, especially at such a special point in their lives.

      Society has definitely commercialized it, and it is unfortunate. We are told by society (ie. the use of registries) that in order to support each other, we need to give each other stuff, and I don’t agree with that.


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