The Basics of Wedding Showers

Weddings are an event many spend the entire first part of their life planning in some sort or fashion. In today’s Pinterest age, this is done more easily than ever before. So, it’s a good idea to get prepared for the big day ahead of time. Even if saying “I do” isn’t on your immediate agenda, it is likely you’ll attend weddings for family or friends in the future.

This is an area of etiquette many people eventually become interested in. Even if they could not have cared less before, when they anticipate being front row and center in their own wedding, sudden urges of perfectionism creep out. I’m here to happily help you prepare, etiquette-wise, for what to anticipate.

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This post will primarily cover wedding showers. First things first: who hosts the shower? As I mentioned in the Baby Shower post, the hostess should be a friend, not a family member. While it may not be as standard today, it is still assumed that your family will help you out, even if only emotionally, when you get married, so having an immediate family member host a shower makes it appear like you are only asking for gifts. The exception is if your bridesmaids co-host your shower, and your sister is also your bridesmaid. The rule of thumb, though, is that it is friends only. As with any party where you are the guest of honor, you should have a token hostess gift as a thank you for the time and effort (not to mention money) your hostesses made for you. Hostesses: I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again…if you are the hostess, no one attending the party should pay anything, other than any co-hostess. Therefore, you are responsible for the bill if you host at a restaurant. Please no “we’ll provide appetizer, meals are on you” type invitations. They make people resent the bride. Host a shower you can afford. If you cannot afford to host, be honest about it. No one should ever make you feel guilty for not being able to host. To anyone who has ever made someone feel guilty for not being able to afford to host: Stop.

Okay, now that that’s settled, let’s cover some “trends” I wish would make their way out (along with the Nae Nae song. I’m over it). Hostesses, PLEASE do not have guests address their own envelopes, which the bride will use to send thank you notes. Everyone knows what you’re doing. A guest book is timeless. Seriously, I’m 29, and I’m getting one for our home My husband doesn’t know this, yet, so ssshhh. A guestbook is also a forever keepsake that she can look back on to remember who attended her shower. Once those cards are mailed, there is no getting those babies back. While we’re on the subject of thank yous, this is an area that is not debated among the EE’s (etiquette experts) of the world: regardless of the “If you say thank you for a gift in person, you do not have to send a thank you note” rule, when it comes to weddings, you do. They are considered a formal affair, even if you plan for your guests to sit on hay bales.

To back up just a bit – you should send the invitation around one month before the shower date, which should be held between two weeks and two months from the actual wedding. Unless it is a work shower or the couple is having a destination wedding with immediate family only, you should only invite those to the shower who are also invited to the wedding.

A fun tradition: When the bride-to-be is opening her gifts, attach the bows and ribbon to a paper plate for her to use as the bouquet for the wedding rehearsal. Many of you may already know of this tradition, but if you don’t, I’d love to see it make a comeback. Also, in the South, we are fairly superstitious. Every ribbon the bride-to-be breaks when opening her gifts means she’ll have one child. That can add up quickly. Don’t ask me how I know.

While people can, per etiquette, send wedding gifts up to one year post-wedding, you should send thank you notes as immediately as possible, at least within one month of receiving said gift.

That’s it for now! I’ll continue with the wedding etiquette soon, venturing towards sitting at the rehearsal dinner, the reception and on!

What are your favorite shower traditions?

2 thoughts on “The Basics of Wedding Showers

  1. One question regarding wedding showers, or showers in general.

    Is it customary for the groom (wedding shower) or husband (hopefully husband in a baby shower) attend the shower?

    1. Traditionally grooms did not attend showers of either kind. However, the trend has shifted, as it is now common for household and child duties to be more evenly split between the spouses. Frequently now the husband will attend the shower, particularly wedding showers. Also, a trend growing in popularity is a couples shower, where both men and women attend. Thank you for the question!

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