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Tying the Knot? Bridal Showers 101

Jun 01, 2015 11:30AM ● Published by Jennifer Monahan

Katie Thompson with her husband

Thanks to websites like www.TheKnot.com, www.RealSimple.com and www.DIYnetwork.com, today’s bridesmaids have access to tons of creative ideas for bridal shower planning. A quick search on Pinterest yields everything from “Bridal Shower Games that are Cute and Classy—Not Cheesy!” to “50 Bridal Shower Theme Ideas.” Etiquette guidelines, gift ideas and party planning checklists abound.

While the traditional shower format—reserved for women only; held in the late morning or early afternoon; offering finger foods, punch and cake; and hosted by the bridesmaids in someone’s home—is still popular, recent trends show that the rules have relaxed tremendously. “The mother of the bride will often host a bridal shower,” said Erin Thomas of Shadyside. “My mom told me that was kind of taboo in her day, but it seems fairly common now.”

Thomas was engaged in March 2015 at Disneyworld and observed that brides today often have at least two showers—one hosted by the mother of the bride for family and local friends in the bride’s hometown, and a second one hosted by the bridesmaids in a fun location such as a spa, restaurant or bar.

Katie Thompson of Point Breeze was married in November of 2014. She explained that Jack-and-Jill showers (also known as couples’ showers) are increasingly popular, and that even if the guest list is all-female, the groom will often make a cameo appearance toward the end of the party to open gifts with the bride or to say hello to the guests. Thomas agreed that couples’ showers are common, though she sees it as a trend among older, more established couples who have a lot of friends who are already married.

TheKnot.com lists destination showers as a major trend. Bride-to-be Danielle Robinson of Tulsa, OK, said that the destination factor is often a matter of convenience, rather than the hostess seeking an exotic location. She explained, “I was in a wedding recently where the bride flew from Tulsa to Chicago for her shower because the groom’s family all lived there.”

Thomas agreed, “My bridal shower technically will be a destination shower because Columbus, OH, is the most accessible location for everyone. I went to school at Ohio State. My maid of honor, one of my bridesmaids, and some of my aunts and cousins live in that area, and it’s centrally located for the rest of us who will be traveling.”

While shower gifts still generally focus on items for the kitchen, bath and bedroom, Thompson explained that registries today often have more gift options specific to the groom. For instance, her husband added an electric razor and Bose speaker system to their registry. “You’ll see people registering at Lowe’s or Home Depot for things like lawnmowers or other yard equipment,” she added.

Thomas observed that most showers today have a theme—ranging from something as simple and classic as a tea party to more elaborate endeavors such as wine tasting parties or cooking school lessons which offer guests something more than the typical shower experience. She added that it is also common for the bridesmaids to wear the wedding colors to the shower, and for the theme of the shower to be complementary to the wedding.

Additionally, “Bridesmaids will often pool their resources to splurge on one large gift, like a spa package, for the bride,” Thompson said, rather than purchasing individual gifts.

Whether in New York or New Castle, at a spa or Aunt Susan’s, today’s bridal showers can be tailored to fit the style of every bride.  

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