As an etiquette specialist, I receive a myriad of wedding planning questions. Most of these are about the bridal shower, as there are many misconceptions about this party. Although still considered a gift-giving event by many, the main purpose of a bridal shower is to bring people together, thus generating excitement of the upcoming nuptials. Due to the gift-giving aspect of the party, it is vitally important to host it correctly. If not, it could appear as a huge gift-grabbing event.
What follows are my never-to-break bridal shower rules.
Mothers do not host
Since most people still host bridal showers as gift-giving events, it is best if mothers and other close family members bow out of hosting duties. It is truly simple common sense. Naturally, mothers would try to garner the most gifts possible, as our judgment is impaired when it comes to our children.
For example, one mother of the bride contacted me because she was extremely embarrassed about the actions of the mother of the groom. The MOG had invited all of her out of town friends — without asking the host — whom she knew could not attend. Her reasoning was that these friends would ship an expensive gift. Worse yet, none knew her son, and they were not invited to the wedding.
Only invite wedding guests
Since showers help create excitement for the upcoming nuptials, only those invited to the wedding may be invited to the shower. It is very poor manners and hurtful to have non-wedding guests in attendance. They could feel left out, especially when other guests mention wedding events.
Consider if you really need a gift-giving shower
In the past, couples needed extra help setting up their home, which was the purpose of wedding related gifts in the first place. Most commonly, these gifts were towels, sheets, kitchen items and the like.
Today, it is common for couples to bombard loved ones with wedding related gift expectations– engagement, bridal shower, and wedding gifts. Routinely, couples register for items such as honeymoons, high-end electronics, and riding lawnmowers. Far from being pleased with these expensive gift options, wedding guests ask me about the necessity of multiple wedding gifts. Gift fatigue often strains relationships well before the wedding. Therefore, it might be best to consider how these gift expectations affect loved ones. Does the couple even need a shower gift? If not, a gift-less shower may be more appealing and fair to guests.
Never ask guests to pay for the party
The basic rule for hosting any type of party is that the host provides the entire party. He or she never asks guests to bring their wallets. This is especially true of the bridal shower since many still consider this a gift-giving event. It is impolite to expect guests to bring a gift and pay for the party. Unfortunately, many do not know this rule.
Case in point, one mother of a bride needed advice about hosting her daughter’s bridal shower. She wanted to sell tickets to guests to cover the cost of their meals with the remainder going to her daughter for the cost of her honeymoon. Her issue was that she was unsure how to phrase this request in an evite. Gasp!
Naturally, her focus was to gain the most for her daughter, which makes this a prime example of why mothers should not host. More than that though, this example illustrates a party guests will find impolite and distasteful.
Cash is not a shower gift
Even though cash is the typical wedding gift for many cultures, it is not a proper bridal shower gift. Opening and sharing gifts with guests is an indispensible part of the gift-giving shower. Therefore, it is logical that cash and gift cards would not be appropriate. After all, there is no polite manner of opening an envelope to reveal the cash amount. Additionally, shower gifts are supposed to be inexpensive household items.
More articles by Rebecca:
Wedding Etiquette 101: How to Say, “You’re Not Invited to the Wedding”
Wedding Guest Etiquette–What to Wear and What Gifts to Give
Etiquette 101: How-to Tone Down Gift Expectations and Why