Southern Etiquette posts remain some of our most popular to date, so after a brief hiatus, I’m happy to say they’re back! You can expect one a month from here on out. By far the most common query I get is about bridal showers and the etiquette surrounding them. It seems like the basic etiquette is understood, but there are an endless number of slightly different “situations” hosts and honorees find themselves in (and like to email me about). Let’s take a look at one recent note from a mother of the bride, Dea:
My daughter is newly engaged to a boy who grew up in the small town to which we moved about four years ago. His parents grew up here as well. The moment their engagement was made public, several women at our mutual church volunteered to be shower hostesses, which is a part of the local generous Southern tradition.
Between the couple, they have over 80 family members who will be invited to the wedding. This includes siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They want to limit the wedding to that group and a dozen or so close friends, most of whom will be members of the wedding party.
Should my daughter decline the offers of these women to host a shower, since they will not be invited to the wedding? The groom’s mother feels that the appropriate solution is to have a 300 – 400 person guest list, including people neither the bride nor groom really know, but this is not only outside the limits of our financial ability, it is also not what the bride and groom want for their special day.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this matter!
Photo by Amy Moss
I think the situation Dea is describing is extremely common in the South. (Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments!) I am with Dea that the appropriate solution is not to invite 300-400 people to the wedding if that’s not what the couple wants or what is in the cards financially. There is never an excuse to go into debt for a wedding, and while family opinions should be given considerate weight by the bride and groom, they should never be pressured into an event with which they’re not comfortable.
I think the first step is to offer the gracious potential hostesses an effusive thank you. Then, make it clear to them that the couple is planning a small wedding and that a traditional shower might not be the most appropriate choice. If they still insist on hosting, I actually think that’s just fine and a lovely gesture, but I would consider calling the event something like a “luncheon in honor of the bride” or a “meet the bride breakfast” instead of a shower, and I would insist on no gifts.
In lieu of gifts, you could ask each guest to bring a favorite recipe for the bride. Or, since it sounds like most guests have known the groom for most of his life, they could each write out a favorite or funny memory from his childhood, a volume I’m sure any bride would cherish!
Belles, what do you think? What would you advise in this situation? Any other ideas for a non-gift shower?
P.S. Have your own etiquette conundrum? Feel free to email me!