I attended my sister-in-law’s bridal shower this past weekend. It was lovely. She was lovely. The hostesses were exceedingly lovely. It was a great bridal shower. What I am about to say is not a reflection of the shower in any way. It would by highly hypocritical of me to say bad things about people who have bridal showers in any case, given that no less than four of them were thrown in my honour. I was grateful for them, and the generosity that people expressed on my behalf.
And yet, attending the shower this weekend left me thinking about bridal showers in general. These days, I see women opting for alternatives to traditional baby showers. Blessingways are becoming increasingly popular, for example. A lot of the people who seek alternatives are looking for something more meaningful, that speaks to who they are. I think that’s great. Traditions are meant to evolve right along with society.
The hostesses thoughtfully bought markers and colouring books for Hannah, so she had a blast at the shower
I haven’t seen a similar evolution in bridal showers, though. Historically, as I understand it, men had bachelor parties and women had showers. And then, sometime between the time my mother was first married in 1971 and when I was married 30 years later, bachelorette parties became common. I had a bachelorette party (just one) in addition to my four showers. Most everyone does, now. The bridal showers typically involve older female relatives or work colleagues, and the bachelorette is a chance to let off some steam with your close friends.
Now women have two kinds of parties, and the shower feels like the outdated one. Even if you don’t live together before marriage (and many couples do – CNN says it’s 70%), very few of us are living at home when we marry. Jon and I didn’t live together before we were married, but I’d lived on my own for years, and so had he (though he moved back home during our engagement). My point is that we’re not setting up house when we get married. It’s lovely to get some nice gifts, and especially the big-ticket items we might not spring for ourselves, but it’s not the necessity it was for brides-to-be during my grandmother’s era.
Plus, let’s be honest. Isn’t it just a little weird to pass around someone’s tea towels and ooh and aah over them? Even at my own showers, I found that a little strange. And let’s not talk about when my grandmother and great aunt checked out the lingerie my sister bought me as a joke. Eep! I still shudder just thinking about it.
I asked what people thought of bridal showers on Twitter and Facebook, and got a range of responses. The people who were pro-shower generally put a different spin on things. They had a pedicure party, or visited a hot dog stand, or created a blessing ritual. They personalized it and updated it. But many people were anti-shower, and more specifically, anti-shower-game. It’s clear to me that many of us are just not huge fans of the bridal shower in general, much as we may love the bride-to-be and want to wish her all the best.
My gorgeous sister-in-law, cutting her cake
Like I said, I went to a bridal shower this weekend. It was lovely. I was happy to have the chance to celebrate my sister-in-law, and her upcoming marriage. And the cake was delicious. But I wonder how many more showers I will go to. I don’t know if my daughter will play toilet paper bride as she prepares for her big day, or whether there will be a new kind of event to mark the transition. Or maybe marriage rates will decline even further from their all-time low, and there won’t be much call for showers at all. I suppose that only time will tell.
In the meantime, I will attend bridal showers. I will ooh and aah over tea towels, and play games, and eat cake. I will celebrate and I will probably even enjoy myself, mostly. And I will continue to wonder what the future holds for this tradition.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are bridal showers outdated, or are they just the right party for our times? Did you have a traditional bridal shower (or four) of your own? Do you think that the shower can be updated to better reflect the way our society works today? Tell me all about it!