A bridal shower is a party at which the guests enjoy themselves while offering gifts and encouragement to the bride. We are so accustomed to the wedding event cycle of parties and other social events that we take this process for granted. But, let’s stop a moment and ask, “Where did the idea of a shower originate?” Probably, no one knows for sure, but there’s a legend that the bridal shower originated in Holland. According to the tale, a disapproving father refused to provide his daughter with the dowry she needed to marry a miller of modest income. Since a woman couldn’t marry without a dowry, townspeople sympathetic to the young couple’s plight decided to take matters into their own hands. They “showered” the bride with gifts to make up for the dowry her stingy father refused to provide. True or not, it makes a good story and highlights the fact that marriage is a community event, with important social implications.
Today’s bridal shower serves somewhat the same purpose as a dowry. It provides many of the items the couple will need to set up their household. To this end, it would be wise for the bride to complete her gift registry selection before any showers take place.
Anyone who is close to the bride can host her shower. This can be a close relative or a close friend of the bride and groom—or of just the bride. (The bride’s parents have already hosted the engagement party.) If no one else offers to host a shower, the maid of honor or one of the brides maids should step forward and offer to do it.
Unlike the engagement party at which gifts remained unopened, it’s customary at a shower to open the gifts for all to see. The bride should appoint someone to record the names of the givers and the gifts as they are opened. In the confusion of wrapping paper and conversation, it’s easy for gifts to become separated from their accompanying cards. Keeping a written record will ensure that “thank you” notes will go to the proper persons. It’s highly embarrassing to thank Aunt Martha for the beautiful toaster when her gift was actually a hand-knitted afghan. Someone should also take photos of the event to add to the collection of wedding-related photographs the couple will cherish in the years to come.
When all the guests at the shower will be women, gifts are usually of the type that would appeal mostly to the bride. They might include kitchen utensils and cooking items, lingerie, linens, cookbooks, linens for bed and bath, personal fitness and beauty items, and general household acces- sories and decorations, such as vases and show-piece crystal. Fortunately, we live in a socially “enlightened” age when showers are likely to in- clude both the bride-and groom-to-be. At these showers, it’s appropriate to expand the range of gift giving to appeal to the male as well. Suitable gifts might be patio furniture, kitchen appliances, and entertainment (a TV set, tickets to a special theatrical or sporting event). Let's take a look at some creative bridal shower themes.
Planning a shower around a theme isn’t necessary, but the benefit of having one is that it allows the host to select theme-based invitations and decorations. Even the menu may be dictated by the theme. Common themes include:
Major Holidays. The host can indicate on the invitations that gifts should relate in some way to the holiday.
Time of Day. A unique and entertaining way to theme a shower is to assign to each guest a time of the day and ask that gifts be related to those times.
Honeymoon. Find out where the couple intends to spend their honeymoon and use that destina- tion as the theme for the shower. Guests would be urged to give items that the couple might find useful on their honeymoon, including travel items, a still and video camera, or perhaps some sexy
nightwear or gift certificates for out-of-town restaurants.
Kitchen and recipe shower. In addition to helping the bride furnish her kitchen, each guest contributes a favorite recipe on a 3” x 5” card. After the bride opens her gifts, the host collects the recipes and places them in a small box for her to keep.
Personal shower. The idea of this theme is to add to the bride’s trousseau.
Hobby shower. Brides and grooms who are known to be enthusiasts of some special sport or activity will appreciate a shower that helps them to further their participation.
Honeymoon-at-Home shower. Not all newlyweds depart immediately on their honeymoon. Gifts for this couple might include maid service, gift certificates for romantic meals, and free babysitting for couples who already have children.
Thanks-for-the-Memories showers. Brides who are especially sentimental and family-oriented might appreciate gifts of old photographs from her childhood or teenage years. Those who know her well might write letters, poems, or essays about their memories of growing up with the bride (and/or groom). The host should be prepared to place all these personal gifts in an heirloom scrapbook for the bride to keep.
Gourmet shower. For brides and grooms who love to cook and entertain, gifts might include any items that would enhance their ability to create and serve culinary delights. Gift certificates, cookbooks, subscriptions to gourmet cooking magazines, as well as special occasion gadgets, such as coffee bean grinders and cappuccino machines would al- ways be welcome.
What to Do at a Shower
Often, not all the guests at a shower know each other well. To make everyone more comfortable and to create an atmosphere of warmth and camaraderie, it helps to start out with one or more ice-breakers. An icebreaker is a planned activity designed to get people talking to each other by encouraging conversation and interaction. The focus should be on getting acquainted and having fun.
When activities are in the form of games of some type, guests enjoy winning prizes. They don’t have to be expensive. The idea is more that the guests walk away from the party in an uplifted mood and that they carry away something in return for the gift they brought. Not that a gift is owed them; rather, prizes should be seen as tokens of the host and bride’s gratitude for their attendance, support, and good will.
Bridal Consulting Training Instructor