It’s not only the season for weddings, but for bridal showers, too, which makes today’s Southern Etiquette question particularly relevant.
“To frame my main question, I should first provide some backstory. A friend of mine recently got engaged very unexpectedly, after only knowing her now-fiance for a few months. They sent out their save the dates in early April for a Labor Day weekend wedding. Mid-May comes, and I receive a mass text message informing me that they will instead be doing a family-only beach ceremony in July, due to cost and her father’s unexpected unemployment a year prior. Supposedly there were plans in the works to mail out some sort of an update on the family-only decision, but nothing has been mailed yet.
No big deal, but then the buzz starts to circulate that “family only” also includes a few friends from college and sorority.
This past weekend, I opened the mailbox to find an invitation to a bridal shower for her, about two weeks before the “family-only” beach wedding in July. My question to you is whether it’s appropriate (or best Southern etiquette practice) to invite people to a shower for a wedding they are not invited to attend. Essentially, opting for a smaller, cost-effective wedding says, “I can’t afford/choose not to pay for you to be a guest at our wedding,” and my understanding of wedding etiquette is that if someone is not a wedding guest, they should not be a shower invitee also. I, along with a few others, feel that it’s sending a message of “I’m not inviting you to my wedding, but please shower me anyway.”
I have gone back and forth with whether or not I should/want to attend her upcoming shower, and I really am stuck. As a friend and former wedding/potential shower guest, I find it hurtful to have learned that non-family guests have been invited to their “family-only” wedding, and I do not feel that inviting non-guests to a shower is a best bride practice.
Am I being petty? Would you go? Deep down, I do want happiness and love for her marriage, but I feel that making the decision to have a cost-effective, exclusive wedding comes with the understanding that most likely there will not be the traditional string of showers given.”
A happy couple, shot by Phindy Studios :)
GREAT question, Grace! Often in etiquette I feel like there’s some gray area, but in this case, I came down firmly on one side — and I’m guessing most of our readers will, too. To confirm my suspicions, I checked with Emily Post:
“Who is invited to a shower? Normally, anyone invited to a shower should be invited to the wedding. The one exception is a workplace shower to which a large number of coworkers contribute. Showers are intimate gatherings for people you know very well– not excuses to haul in more gifts.”
If you are not invited to the wedding, you should not be invited to the shower. If the bride is having an intimate wedding, she should have an intimate shower — or none at all. That might sound harsh, but in my opinion, it’s the only way to do things in good taste. If kind friends or relatives would like to give a gift when they hear the good news, regardless of their invitation status, that is their prerogative and certainly fine.
Now in Grace’s case, since the bride has already issued the invitation for the shower, it is now up to Grace and the other non-wedding guests whether they choose to a) attend or b) bring or send a gift.
Grace specifically asked what I would do, so here you go: If the shower were local, I would attend and bring a lovely, handwritten card expressing my best wishes for the couple. I would not bring a gift. If the shower were not local, I would not attend, but would still send a handwritten card.
Readers, I would love to hear your thoughts! Would YOU attend? Would you bring a gift? Am I being too black-and-white, or is this an issue where there is clearly an etiquette precedent for a reason? Let me know what you think!
As always, if you would like to submit your own etiquette query, just shoot me an email!
If you liked this post, you might want to check out past etiquette columns:
Tuxedos with Navy Dresses?
Who Gets a Save the Date?