Everything you should know before planning pre-wedding parties.
Traditionally, bridal showers are given by the maid/matron of honor, or close friend of the bride. It is not proper for an immediate family member of the couple to host the shower . To do so, would appear they were asking for gifts and is not in good taste. The party itself may be scheduled at any time convenient for the bride and her hostess, although the last week before the wedding is considered poor planning. There are so many last minute details, that a shower would likely be more stressful than joyful.
Showers are known as parties with a purpose. The purpose of a shower is to assist the couple in equipping their new home or for the bride to assemble a trousseau. Showers today, often surround a particular party theme. Recipe showers, kitchen showers, bath showers, lingerie, linen and garden or camping showers...the possibilities are endless. As might well be expected, kitchen showers have long been the most popular shower theme,
because of the endless range of paraphernalia every newlywed couple needs to set up housekeeping. Novice cooks, especially those who have never kept house before, need everything from pots and pans to mops and brooms. One variation of the kitchen theme has each guest including their favorite recipe, along with an item needed to prepare that recipe. As an example, a flour sifter or hand mixer with a cake recipe. Muffin tins alongside a recipe for pop overs. Rock salt, when giving an ice cream maker. Use your imagination. When requesting favorite recipes as part of the shower planning, it is a good idea for the hostess to send uniform, ready to use, recipe cards in the invitation. A recipe box is then given to the bride during the shower, to begin assembling her favorite recipes.
Lingerie showers are a favorite of the bride, especially when she is honored with more than one party. Long, frilly, sexy nighties, baby doll pajamas, lacy bra's and panties, one piece body huggers, are all terrific ideas for gift giving. Sewing accessories, closet or drawer organizers, certificates for special services, such as beauty treatments, hair care products or nail enhancement are also perfect gifts given at a lingerie shower.
It is the job of the hostess to plan a party that compliments both the theme and her guests. Be sure when several showers are planned, the guest list is different for each one so no one ends up feeling obligated to attend and buy several shower gifts, as well as a wedding gift. When the bride lives in a small town or community it is considerate to suggest people join together to host one shower, rather than several small ones.
Showers are almost always informal gatherings with a simple menu and often only include cake, mints and punch. The hostess issues invitations by telephone, mail, or in person. It is considered in poor taste to invite people who do not personally know the bride, although, they may be friends of her family or fiancé. However, etiquette for the 90's allows exceptions to every rule. A shower may be the time, chosen by the mother of the groom, for instance, to bring family and close friends to meet her prospective daughter-in-law. Showers are not times to call in social obligations.
During the shower, games are played for fun and entertainment. You can find notebook style, pads of games to play at your local card shop or dream up your own. Ideas include, a small basket of kitchen utensils with 15 to 20 items, shown to the guests for 30 seconds, then removing the basket and asking them to write down everything they remember seeing. Writing the full, soon to be married name of the bride, across the top of a page, and seeing how many words can be made from the name in four or five minutes is another popular choice. Of course, in both instances, the person with the highest number wins the prize. Be sure to have a couple extra gifts on hand for those times when two or more are the winners. It is also fun to give each guest a clothes pin, to clip on their lapel, with instructions they are not to cross their legs during the party. If caught crossing their legs, the person catching them, gets their clothes pin. The one left holding the most pins at the end of the party, wins a prize.
One further point needs to be made concerning the guest list for a shower invitation. The thoughtful bride, who has planned a formal wedding, also sees to it, if possible, that people not invited to the wedding, are not put in the position of being invited to a shower. Every guest will bring a gift. It would be in very poor taste to ask someone to bring a gift for a bride who has not chosen to invite that individual to her wedding.
Traditionally, shower gifts are smaller and rather less expensive than wedding gifts. As a courtesy to family and friends, it is a good idea for the couple to register their preferences in the gift registry department of their favorite store. If you have ever tried to decide on just the perfect gift for someone, and didn't have a clue as to their likes and dislike, you will understand the thoughtfulness of a gift registry. Be sure to include small, inexpensive items, such as kitchen towels, wooden spoons, or hot pads, as well as larger items, such as blenders, toasters, bread makers, and coffee machines. Elderly guests may be on a fixed income, and a very limited budget, but also appreciate knowing the gift they buy is something truly desired and appreciated. Thus, the purpose of registering small, inexpensive items.
And last, but hardly least, a mention of sending thank you cards, (also see "How to Write a Thank You Card") must be included in our discussion of bridal showers. At one time, notes were not considered necessary when you thanked someone in person. Today, with showers being larger and guests busier, a personal note is the only way to make sure sincere appreciation is expressed. A unique idea for sending thank you cards begins as the guests arrive and register for a door prize by filling out her name and mailing address on "thank you" envelopes. The door prize winner is drawn at the end of the shower from the envelopes which are then given to the bride. This enables the bride to more quickly send out her thank you cards, and eliminates returns due to incorrect addresses.
The Bridesmaid Luncheon
In appreciation and gratitude for their participation in her wedding, it is traditional for the bride to treat her maids to a party. It may be an elegant afternoon tea, dinner out at the finest restaurant, or a pizza extravaganza held in a private home. It doesn't so much matter, the formality of the affair, but the importance is in making everyone feel comfortable and that they have a good time.
The luncheon is a perfect time for introducing out-of-town attendants, schedule final dress fittings, display wedding gifts, and distribute presents to the maids. Items of jewelry, chosen especially to be worn as accessories during the wedding, make popular gift items given to attendants today.
A delightful tradition, bringing old world customs into the wedding, includes baking a ring, coin or thimble inside a pink cake for desert. Strawberry cake is perfect for this occasion when decorated with fluffy pink frosting. Legend says that the fair maiden whose slice of cake contains the trinket will be the next to wed. Another rendition suggests the one, whose slice of cake contains the trinket, will be "blessed in affairs of the heart." (also see "Old Word Customs and Traditions") Sentimental verses or fortunes, written on pink paper and carefully wrapped in and protected by tin foil, then baked in the cake, is another great idea. Want to be sure everyone receives a token? Carefully place each trinket between two layers of cake, after baking, while marking where the tokens reside. Later when cutting the cake, follow the markings to know where to cut, giving each person their own surprise.
Bridesmaid luncheons are held between one and two weeks prior to the wedding. Last minute luncheons are generally scheduled late, on purposes, allowing out-of-town attendants to arrive and participate in some of the festivities surrounding the wedding.
The Bachelor Party
The bachelor dinner or party is another one of those optional customs and has long held a reputation as the last chance for the groom and his attendants to release their pre-wedding jitters.
The dinner may be hosted by the groom's friends or by the groom himself, in much the same way the bride hosts the bridesmaid luncheon. It is the perfect time for him to pass out gifts of appreciation to his best man, ushers and groomsmen. Unlike the custom of giving gifts which can be worn during the wedding, as in the case of the brides attendants, the gifts received by the grooms attendants are more likely not to be worn or used in the wedding. Gifts often include engraved money clips, steins, or knives, but the ideas are endless.
At some point during the festivities, usually immediately following dinner, the groom proposes a champagne toast to his bride, as she is not in attendance. Traditionally, each man then smashes his glass so it many never again be used for a less worthy purpose. If drinking follows, it is wise for the bachelor party be scheduled a few days before the actual ceremony, instead of following the rehearsal dinner on the night before the wedding.
The Wedding Breakfast
The wedding breakfast is most often hosted by a friend or neighbor of the bride, in honor of all those who have come from out-of-town for the occasion. This breakfast is a wonderful way to occupy and entertain guests who may feel in need of a warm welcome.
Neither the bride, nor her groom and families are expected to attend the wedding breakfast, although it is certainly proper, if they chose to do so. The menu may be as simple as quiche, coffee and juice or as extravagant as a full scale breakfast buffet. Whatever is served is secondary to the feeling of being part of the festivities.
This is a good time to give a run down of scheduled events which surround the day. Proper arrival time at the church for photographs, transportation arrangements, childcare concerns and any number of other questions can be answered at this time, leaving no room for misunderstandings later.
The Bridal Brunch
The bridal brunch gives the bride an opportunity to spend quality time with members of her family who have come from far and wide to be with her on this special day. It is not a time for her to visit with, or entertain aunt Mary down the street, or cousin Debbie across town. However, if the bride chooses to invite close members of the local family, it is not improper.
Needless to say, the bride who is so thoughtful to take this time out of her wedding day, to make others feel welcome and appreciated, will be remembered forever for her kindness.
Mothers, around the world, are well known for sharing the tears, joys, and triumphs of their children's lives, with both family and friends. It is likely that all the correspondence has been left to mom in the preceding years. The bridal brunch provides an opportunity to renew family bonds, become reacquainted, and begin building bridges to the future.
Another excellent reason for hosting a bridal brunch is many of these guests will arrive the day before the wedding, and the bride may not have another opportunity, for years, to visit with them, as they will likely have returned home before she and the groom come back from their honeymoon.
The Rehearsal Dinner
The wedding rehearsal is followed by a dinner for members of the wedding party. The grooms parents traditionally are responsible for the financial obligation of the rehearsal dinner, however any other close relative or friend may do the honor.
All attendants, the bride and her fiancé's immediate families, the officiate and spouse, as well as any out-of-town guests are included in the guest list. Family and friends of the bride or the host may also be invited. It is considerate to invite the spouse or significant other of each attendant.
The rehearsal dinner is usually held in a private home or a restaurant and is as formal or informal as the host would like, just so long as the wedding remains the main attraction. At some point during the evening, the best man offers a toast to the bride and groom. The groom then follows with a toast to his bride and her parents. The bride may follow with a toast her groom and his family.
If the attendants gifts have not already been passed out, now is the time to do so. An early evening is suggested as the events of the following day will be exhausting. The bride and her attendants will appreciate their beauty sleep.