Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wedding and Baby Shower Etiquette
I remember growing up and going to bridal and baby showers.  They were mostly the same when I was a little girl.  I'd go with my mom and I'd always look up at the guest of honor and think about being the center of attention like that one day.  I loved seeing all the pretty presents wrapped in themed paper and the ladies chatting and eating tiny food.  My favorite part was always the sherbet punch.  I liked lime the best.

Then when I got older, I learned that there were some showers to which only big girls get invited.  These showers were much more...entertaining.  :)

The one thing that I've noticed recently--maybe within the last 5-10 years--is that people are throwing etiquette out the window when it comes to shower planning.  There are some basic rules that I've found people breaking right and left for both baby showers and bridal showers alike.

The #1 faux pas in shower planning is when a family member, or even a bride or mom-to-be, throws the shower themselves.  Etiquette tells us that its rude to ask for presents.  That becomes more and more difficult as the gift registry becomes more and more popular, but there are still ways to throw a proper shower and follow the social rules of etiquette.  Hence, rule #1:
  • Bridal showers are supposed to be thrown by friends, coworkers, or extended family members.  That means all you brides and mothers-to-be out there can't throw your own shower.  Your mom can't do it either.  You're on the fence if its thrown by a sister, but you're safe if its your cousin or your aunt.  Traditionally a bride gets several showers during the time leading up to her wedding.  An expectant mother may get 2 or 3.  A bride's "friends shower" is usually thrown by the maid of honor or by the bridesmaids as a group.  The "family" shower is thrown by an extended family member.  Baby showers are thrown by the best friend, the future Godparent, or a close, but not immediately related, member of the family.
Another thing that I've noticed is the size of showers these days.  I can't express the level of boredom everyone goes through watching someone else open 180 presents and then passing them around the room to oooh and aahh with Aunt Vera on one side of you and the 11 year old boy who's mother couldn't find a sitter on the other.  If you have to give the guest of honor a break from opening presents to grab a quick piece of cake, your shower is too big. This leads me to Rule #2:
  • Keep showers small.  As I mentioned in Rule #1, the honoree should have several showers throughout the process of getting ready for the big day.  Typically, a bride, for example, will have a shower with her girl friends (this is usually a lingerie shower or something fun like that), a family shower (this can be one where a general registry, kitchen shower, etc works best).  She could also have a work shower.  I'll touch on that again in Rule #3, but this type of shower usually calls for a group gift. Its during lunch, so very brief, and often just has some finger foods and punch on the break room table.  A "couples shower" is another possibility.  This is usually for a bride and groom or soon-to-be parents who have known each other long enough that they have the same friends.  In this case, both men and women are invited.  Each of these showers should be no more than 40 guests (with the exception of the office party, which should include all of the female employees).  A shower should not require a rental space.  Hold it in a private home or a pretty back yard.  Limit it to a couple of hours.  Bridesmaids and families spend a small fortune on your day. Don't make them chip in on a Reception Hall too!  If you absolutely cannot avoid having one large shower with everyone invited, have people bring unwrapped gifts.  Assign someone to creatively display the gifts at the party so everyone can view them at their leisure.  Then you can treat the event more like a reception, with a focus on the guest of honor.  Still keep it brief.  Two hours is plenty of time.
Speaking of bridesmaids, each maid is not required to buy a gift.  They are buying the dress, the shoes, the hair, the makeup, the nails, the time, and sometimes the flight and hotel.  That is very generous.  They may be invited to all of the showers.  But they are there to share the time and mingle with your guests--maybe help run the show--but that's it.  If they decide to do a group gift, that is a very sweet gesture.  You should thank them profusely.

Now that we've touched on guests, I'll introduce Rule #3:
  • Only those that are invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower.  The only exception is the office shower.  Don't even think of inviting your Granny's neighbor to the shower because you know she'll give you a great gift unless you're inviting her to the wedding, too.  Hey...maybe you'll get two great gifts!
And speaking of gifts...
  • For weddings, your shower invitation is the only printed item that can include the gift registry information.  You can also include it in your website, but by no means can you include gift registries in your save the dates or wedding invitations!  Most stores can provide you with a little card that you can include in the shower invitation or you can just print the registry codes, websites, and store names in the invitation verbiage.  But only the shower invitations!  And please, please, please....if you're going to rent a trailer or some sort of over sized vehicle to transport the gifts after the event, don't park it in front of the entrance.  A little decorum, people!
I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at Shower Etiquette.  If you've liked what you've read, please subscribe to this blog to read more entries like this one.  And if you know anyone who is planning a shower, pass this article along.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  I'll try to make sure your questions get answered and your comments get posted.  Thanks for reading!

:) Carolyn

"Life is an occasion...rise to it!"
--Mr. Magorium

Carolyn Arthurs is the owner of All About Events, LLC.  Find her and her work at

1 comment:

  1. Lots of good info here! I look forward to following your posts.