March 16, 2011

The Bridal Shower

No matter how many of these I go to, I still get twitchy and uncomfortable every time I receive an invitation to one.  I just can't get used to them.  I've been to several, and I spent approximately the same amount of time and energy deciding what gift to get, what to wear, how early to show up, how late to stay and bracing myself for small-talk for each of them.  Somehow, I never get any better at any of it.  Until recently, I had attributed this awkwardness and discomfort to my complete lack of sociability, which seemed reasonable, and looked no further into the issue.  I counted myself lucky that I wasn't expected to have a shower of my own, mostly because I don't really have anyone to throw one for me, and I don't like being the centre of attention anyway.  But yesterday my aunt insisted that she will be hosting one.

Naturally, I'm oodles of grateful to her, because as horrified as I am by the idea of sitting in a room wearing a silly hat with everyone staring at me, I'm also touched that she would offer - and who doesn't love being showered with gifts?  Now that my bridal shower is suddenly back in the proverbial game, I've had to actually think about how I feel about it, and I find myself faced with the reality that my vexatious relationship with bridal showers can't be entirely blamed on my own social ineptitude.  It seems that I have somewhat of an issue with the showers themselves.  Imagine that.

I'm getting married.  To me, that meant buying a dress and walking down an aisle one day.  ONE day.  One.  I'm realizing that weddings are not one, but MANY days, and I'm having difficulty reconciling with it.  Why does a bride need a shower?  Think about it seriously for a second.  Gifts, you get at the wedding.  A pre-wedding party with all your girls?  That's what the bachelorette party is for.  What purpose, exactly, does the shower itself serve?  Why is every female guest in attendance expected to purchase two gifts and give up at least two (if not three) separate days to celebrate with you?  The groom doesn't get a shower, and he usually takes it pretty well.  So what's the deal with showers?

I looked it up on wikipedia: "The history of the custom is rooted not necessarily for the provision of goods for the upcoming matrimonial home, but to provide goods and financial assistance to ensure the wedding may take place." I'm not sure I've heard of people giving monetary gifts at a bridal shower, and I don't think a toaster or sheet set will help the wedding, so I'm not sure this really applies. I guess you could use your new towels as chair covers and dress your bridesmaids in gifted lingerie... but I probably won't go that route, myself.

Wikipedia also has this to say: "Sociologists like Beth Montemurro write that the ritual of the bridal shower "socializes women into the hyper-feminized traditional wife role," with its emphasis on the future role of the bride-to-be as family cook, homemaker, and sexual partner."  Now that sounds a little more realistic to me, but I don't really expect to be socialized into June Cleaver at my bridal shower.  Unless "shower" is code for "intervention" and my family has finally conceived of a way to forcibly cure me of my decidedly undomestic ways.

When I really think about it, I suppose it comes down to brides and their loved ones just needing to make the wedding a little more special.  That little bit of extra attention that makes a bride feel like she's on top of the world.  Spending some time with friends and family before she's gone forever into matrimonial bliss, gossiping about her husband-to-be, giving and receiving advice about the future, or simply reliving the past.  

Or maybe the point is to just enjoy a pre-wedding girls' day that won't give grandma a coronary. 


  1. We had three co-ed showers (they were in different areas of the country) and everyone just got drunk and ate a lot of food at each one. I was TOTALLY AGAINST games, dressing up the bride in toilet paper, or not having my now-husband present. Numerous ladies told us that we had the best shower they had ever been to. Um yeah, our showers were just parties. Most of our friends gave us very generous shower gifts and didn't get us wedding gifts which made sense.

    And let me be a little overly confident--our showers WERE the best =D

  2. I totally believe you, and hope I get lucky enough to have a shower like yours (though I doubt it). The shower I just went to involved toilet-paper wedding dresses. Hysterical, but awkward. I won a prize, though. Bonus.