How Important is the Bridal Shower to the Bride?

I’ve been invited to a friend’s bridal shower. I am not sure if it is a surprise, but my suspicion is that it is.

I have a lot of issues with the concept of a bridal shower in the first place. From its history as a means to provide a dowry (unflattering and non-applicable), to the traditional kitchen items gifts (reinforcing married-woman-in-the-kitchen stereotypes), from the entire purpose of the party being the opening of gifts (potentially embarrassing for guests with less means as well as guests who overspent relative to the average gift value), to the fact that there should even be a separate gift-giving event when ultimately, there is one event, the marriage, just about everything about bridal showers rubs me the wrong way.

I embrace the concept of a female-only party where advice, encouragement, and blessings are shared with the bride and gifts are not exchanged (I guess this would be a called a gift-less shower?). I embrace the concept of a bachelorette party – bride having a fun night on the town with her girlfriends. But I just cannot find anything redeeming about a bridal shower.

I’ve been invited to a couple of showers in the past but never attended one due to geography and schedule logistics. This is the first shower that I’m able to go to, however, I really don’t want to.

However, this is a good friend and I’m concerned that the bridal shower might be important to her and it’ll be hurtful if I don’t go. I can’t ask her directly because the shower is probably a surprise, so I am posting here to get some input. How does the bride typically perceive her shower? Is it an important event for her? Should I just grit my teeth and go to the shower for her sake, or is it really not a big deal to skip it? It’s nothing personal – I would happily attend or co-organize a different type of party for my friend.

Jay Remer, The Etiquette Guy, International Protocol and Corporate & Social Etiquette

You are most certainly entitled to your opinions and feelings about bridal showers. You basically have two choices as I see it. One is to regret the invitation. The other is to accept it and take an appropriate gift. Try to keep in mind that this is not about you. Showers are important to brides for many reasons that you have not considered. They are not usually surprises, but there is no reason for them not to be. Perhaps being grateful that you have such a close friend to celebrate with is a good place to begin. Embrace the celebration even if it isn’t exactly to your liking.

Brandi Hamerstone,
Owner/Senior Wedding Planner All Events Planned

If the shower is being thrown and you have been invited then, yes, it will probably matter to the bride if you were there. If you have negative feelings about showers, consider that the shower isn’t for you, so you don’t have to worry about doing something you don’t believe in as you are just attending as a guest and are there to support your friend. Now is certainly not the time to get into your feelings and issues with a shower as it is a happy time for a bride to celebrate the upcoming marriage.

If you can bear it, for the sake of your friend, just go and bring whatever gift you can afford or you can even make something personalized for her (if you are crafty) and then you don’t have to worry about the pricing of the registry. I always appreciate personalized gifts more than the standard gifts anyhow.

If you really have a horrible time, you can excuse yourself early stating some conflict of schedule and head out before it becomes too much for your to stand.

Either way you should go for your friend and smile and allow her to enjoy herself without judgement against the concept of the shower in the first place.

Good luck!

Darlene Taylor, PBC

I also agree. You should go for your friend. You are supporting *her* and her new life, not her bridal shower. I’m reminded of an old phrase, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it,” and since you have never been to shower, I think you should go with an open mind as well. You obviously have some strong opinions about a bridal shower yet you’ve never been to one. Don’t read too much into them. They are a pre-wedding custom that started in Holland. Legend says that a disapproving father would not provide his daughter with a dowry so that she might marry a less-than-wealthy miller. Her friends provided her with the then-essential dowry by “showering” her with gifts. This obviously started a long time ago but the custom of showering the bride with gifts, along with many other wedding traditions, have been a part of weddings for centuries. So, yes, it is important to the bride – but more importantly to her friends and family who want to shower her with gifts to start her new life.

The whole reinforcing of the woman in the kitchen thing for a kitchen shower is a bit much. I mean, they gotta eat, right? So why not get stuff for the kitchen?? I have seen many brides (and even couples) have kitchen showers and they get some cool stuff – for him AND her. One bride was completely set up with dishes…I mean everything…flatware, stemware, glasses, all the plates. Another couple’s kitchen shower provided them with a fully stocked pantry…spices, jams, sauces, dry goods. They probably didn’t have to shop for staples for a month! The whole idea behind a bridal shower is to give the bride and groom something special. And you wouldn’t be giving them anything they haven’t asked for – your friend most likely has a registry somewhere. If she has a blender an her registry, she probably wants it! Shoot – her groom may want it. And it doesn’t matter how much money you spend – it’s not about that. It’s the thought that counts. If she has a $10 toaster on her registry, then get her the $10 toaster. It’s something she wants. And don’t’ worry if you only spent $10 vs. someone who bought the $250 stand mixer. Be happy for her!

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc

I’m not a big fan of the shower either, but I still think you should attend to support your friend.

I agree that many couples don’t need the gifts and many guests can’t afford them either. We’re seeing many more brides asking not to be “showered” or to at least have the giftless shower.

My daughter-in-law had a shower but that did not reinforce anything about her getting into the kitchen! My son does all the cooking! He was thrilled to receive some new tools. 😛