Originally, bridal showers were arranged to present gifts to the bride-to-be to help provide a dowry for her if her family was unable to do so, or just to give her a good start with household items since housekeeping was the main role of the wife in those times.
As we noted in our post, Bridal Shower 101, there is even a legend that says that the first bridal shower took place in Europe after a well-to-do girl fell in love with a poor man and her father refused to help pay for their wedding. So, friends and neighbors gathered and offered gifts to the young couple to help them build their new home. By the late 1800s, the bridal shower had evolved into a more common practice for less wealthy brides, who couldn’t afford a dowry, to set up their new home.
Over the decades the purpose of bridal showers has evolved, of course, as the role of women and wives has evolved. Today, bridal showers have morphed again into a rather festive way for the bride’s female family and friends to grab some girl time before the Big Day.
Guests still “shower” the bride with gifts, often for her new household, but there are also bridal showers that have more specific themes, from lingerie parties to cooking classes together, or a sophisticated high tea, a swanky champagne brunch, or a casual and hilarious afternoon get-together.
Bridal shower etiquette has also evolved. For example, an etiquette guide from the 1920s suggested that bridal showers should be “purely spontaneous and informal,” with guests arriving unannounced at the bride-to-be’s home, while a planning guide from the 1950s suggests more complex themes and games.
So what is currently considered “proper etiquette” for bridal showers? Here are 5 bridal shower faux pas to avoid, from savvy deets bridal:
Your big day is coming up soon, and you’re knee-deep in wedding magazines, photographer business cards, websites filled with restaurant reviews for your rehearsal dinner and brochures for wedding venues. While you’re distracted with the minutiae of details that surround your wedding day, your bridesmaids and friends are working on your bridal shower. In all of the excitement, you may miss out on a few important etiquette details concerning the bridal shower. You don’t want to upset the people who have spent a considerable amount of time, money and energy setting up something special for you. After all, a recent American Express survey indicates the average wedding guest forks out $539 for a wedding. Avoid turning their experience into one worthy of Bridezilla by keeping major etiquette faux pas in mind.
Stay on Top of Your Registries
Traditionally, a bridal shower involves the guests bringing presents for the bride. Keep all of the gift giving organized, so you don’t end up with guests bringing the same presents for the bridal shower and the wedding. A wide range of gifts available stops financially strapped friends from feeling left out of the gift giving. Register at several stores instead of keeping your list to one single location. For example, you could register at home goods stores such as Wayfair.com for just about anything you need for your home, along with specialty stores such as Best Buy and Williams-Sonoma. Real Simple recommends giving out three registries to bridal shower attendees.
Answer Bridal Shower Questions Promptly
Your friends go through a great deal of time and effort to throw a bridal shower. Don’t disrespect them by failing to answer essential questions, such as who to invite to the shower and what kind of food you’d like to have. Keep your shower on track and your friends happy by answering any inquiries as soon as possible. Martha Stewart Weddings recommends nailing down the guest list between four to six weeks before the shower.
Second Marriage Showers
It’s not particularly tacky to have a bridal shower for a second marriage, but keep it more low-key in terms of gifts requested. After all, a bridal shower is intended to get you gifts for your start in life. If you’ve already been through one marriage, it’s likely that you have many of the items you need for your household already.
Bring Your Partner Around
If you have friends and family spread throughout the country, it’s possible that they haven’t met your partner yet. Make sure that your spouse-to-be shows up at the bridal shower so everyone gets a chance to say hello. One common tradition is having your partner show up before you begin opening gifts, with flowers in hand.
When to Open Presents
If you’re worried about risqué gifts or you’re shy, you may not want to open up your presents in front of everyone. However, it’s one of those requirements that come with a bridal shower. You might be a bit embarrassed when the wedding night lingerie comes out of the gift box, but you’re surrounded by loving friends and family who support your marriage.