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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!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Alicia reply

    I have to disagree. My husband and I both grew up in Tennessee. Our home churches BOTH gave us bridal teas/showers before our wedding. Very few of the people who came to the tea/shower were invited to the wedding. They were both the kind of event where it was announced in the Sunday bulletin as an open invitation for whoever wanted to come and it was a come and go type of thing. It’s just an accepted practice here that the churches give a shower/tea and that all are invited (whether by formal invitation or a group one in a bulletin). I will say though that there were more invited to the wedding from my church than my husbands….just because the wedding was at my church and my husbands home church was almost 2 hours away.

  2. avatar Hayley reply

    I ran into this exact same problem! My fiance is from a very small Tennessee town and the town basically raised him! While I would love to invite all of his townsfolk to the wedding- it would be close to 300 people and we want to keep our wedding relatively small. We have decided to do an evening themed “party” which will be more of a cookout to meet everyone and celebrate our upcoming nutials! I am so glad to hear it isn’t just me with this problem! :)

  3. avatar Maggie Goodell reply

    A polite “thank you” with a decline seems the most appropriate. I too believe that weddings should reflect what the bride and groom prefer. Inviting extra people the couple doesn’t know, or don’t know well, can be awkward and distracting.

  4. avatar Dee Shore reply

    I agree 200% with you Emily. Inviting everyone and their mother is not financially smart. I’m from NYC so I know first hand that the average per plate here is about $150-$200. I’m sure in the South, though cheaper, I don’t think it differs by much. Also, keep in mind that not everyone gives a monetary gift, and it’s rare to get back every cent you’re spending. Now as per the shower, since they all seem to be eager to help, let them and do a ladies pot luck brunch at the church. This way all feelings are spared and everyone takes part of the union some way.

  5. avatar Liz reply

    I just got married a little over a month ago and had this same scenario pop up during our engagement. Both my husband and I are from small towns with sweet churches that we grew up in. For us, we knew it was poor etiquette since not everyone was invited to the wedding and went ahead with home church showers anyways. I think a “simple thank you” would’ve offended the women trying to host the shower, as well as more of the church members. Sometimes, even though things are “proper” etiquette, you just have to go with Southern rules and send nice thank you cards!

  6. avatar Maddison reply

    Maybe have the shower after the wedding.

  7. avatar Lauren reply

    I guess I’m definitely a southern girl. I loved the fact that my small church wanted to throw me a shower. In my mind, this is their way of celebrating with us since most won’t be invited to the wedding. Same goes for my office. Although I’ve recently accepted a new position elsewhere, they insisted on hosting a wedding shower before my last day.

  8. avatar lisa reply

    I am recently married and we ran into the same problem. We have large extended families and many friends, however we wanted a small wedding, mostly due to finances and not wanting to go into debt. However, we had two engagement parties that our parents hosted and invited all of our friends and family. Therefore, we invited them to our showers. Several of my MIL’s friends wanted to host and attend b/c they care for her and her family.
    Southern Weddings have changed. They used to be simple and receptions held in church fellowship halls or sometimes at someone’s home, therefore they were not expensive and everyone could attend.
    If you have had a wedding in the last 10 years, I believe people are more understanding b/c they know the cost.

  9. avatar Fletcher reply

    I think that this happens more often than not. I love the idea of having a luncheon or afternoon tea- the hostesses are pleased that they are giving the party but there is no pressure for gifts!

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Welcome back to our current “Sit a Spell” series, where we Southern Weddings gals have been taking turns designing bridal showers for each other! Currently, only Miss Emily is engaged, but I am leaning toward throwing this shower anyway!

After a brief hiatus, I’m back with the final post in our Sit a Spell: Dream Bridal Showers series! As you may know, our dear sweet Nicole loves the colors orange. So against my ‘Bama judgement, I am putting my dislike for anything Auburn or Tennessee-ish and imagining a bright, and completely orange, citrus soiree for my girl.

Imagine, if you will, a slow Southern Saturday afternoon filled with best friends chatting, peach mojitos (um, yes please!), and of course a fabulous desert bar! I’d set the stage by sending out adorable letterpress and polka dot invitations from The Lettered Olive (2) to all of Nicole’s friends. Then, when the girls arrive, they’d be greeted with a cool drink (4) and the sweet smell of fresh citrus on the lush lawn of a fabulous home. I might arrange for this home to back up to a lake or the ocean – this is, after all, a dream shower!

We’d spend the afternoon gushing over how Nicole will be going on a month-long European adventure with her beau and playing cornhole (on custom orange monogram boards, of course!). I’d also love to have some kind of DIY craft project, like stenciling individual monograms onto colorful totes (5). Totally doable, right? Anyone else want to make this shower a reality ASAP? I sure do!


1) Custom cornhole board photo by Kellie Kano; 2) Letterpress amazingness form The Lettered Olive; 3) Seating area photo by Elizabeth Messina; 4) Peach mojitos photo by Lisa Lefkowitz; 5) Custom storage totes from Swoozies; 6) Tablescape photo by Meg Smith via Snippet & Ink; 7) Sweets table photo by Adrienne Bonafede; 8) Citrus love photo by Nancy Neil; 9) Ladybug earrings from J. Crew; 10) Adorable pug-baby photo by Meredith Perdue

I’d also love to gift these ridiculously adorable J. Crew ladybug earrings to bring Nicole good luck with her marriage! And, I might be known for going over board, so I was thinking of throwing in a baby pug for all the party-goers, a la Bridesmaids! Nicole, you’d be fine with this, right?

What do you think about a monochromatic bridal shower?

Meredith Perdue is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Nicole reply

    Marissa, I LOVE this!! I need those J.Crew earrings now. (And of course, more pug babies!)

  2. avatar Elizabeth reply

    Gorgeous concept, Marissa! I am loving orange this season, and I’d love this shower for Nicole! :)

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I had a lot of help from Miss Emily! And I agree, I think we need to throw this party anyways!

  3. avatar Ash V reply

    I absolutely love orange! I also happen to be a big UT fan, so it works out nicely. ;) Those flowers are gorgeous, and as a former pug owner, I just can’t get enough of those little guys!

  4. avatar Wedding Invitations reply

    Beautiful colours. This inspiration board has so many elements that i wanna snag. I love the font on that stationery!

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It’s spring time, which means it’s time for some Southern bridal showers! (I should know – I’m currently planning one for my future sister-in-law, which is taking place in two weeks!) Over the last few weeks we’ve provided you with some dream shower inspiration, but we thought y’all might enjoy seeing a real life shower planned by a real gal for her best friend. Doable, sweet, and oh so Southern inspiration!

Kelsey (on the left) just so happens to be one of our Southern Bride Bloggers, and when her friend Meredith sent in her monogram-themed shower, we just knew y’all would love it.

From Meredith:

“If I had to pick one thing that Kelsey loves, other than her fiance Brandon of course, it would have to be monograms! So, when the rest of her bridesmaids and I began planning her bridal shower, we thought it would be so perfect to throw her a monogram themed bridal shower. Kelsey loves collecting monogrammed items and we knew it would be really fun to help start her new collection of monogrammed pieces with her new married monogram!

We worked with a seller on Etsy to design an invitation that tied in the feminine pink and gray color scheme with the monogram that I designed for the event. We also included an insert card detailing Kelsey’s monogram preferences so that everything would be just right, and tied everything with a silver bow.”

“On the day of the shower, a monogram K wreath made out of tissue paper flowers, in the script from the event’s monogram, greeted guests at the front door.”

“Guests were led to their tables via escort cards that hung from ribbon with clothespins on a silver mirror. At their place setting, guests found a place card favor box of pink candy tied with a tag that had their own personal monogram on it. Monogramming each place setting was a fun way to tie in the monogram theme!”

“The china on the tables was collected from members of my family and was different at each table. We created the lush low centerpieces using hydrangea, roses, and other pink and white flowers. Each centerpiece had a ribbon band with the shower monogram placed in the center. Table numbers were painted pink and inserted into the middle of each floral arrangement.” The rentals were sourced from Party Reflections in Raleigh!

“We served a lunch with lots of delicious food, including cucumber tea sandwiches and homemade pimento cheese sandwiches, quiche, strawberry spinach salad, and miniature ham biscuits. The menu was written on a chalkboard nearby. A dessert bar was placed under a board with a sign that said “Love is Sweet” surrounded by pictures of Kelsey and Brandon throughout their years together. The desserts were wonderful, including cake balls, lemon raspberry mason jar desserts, French macarons, red velvet cupcakes and a custom monogrammed cake from Sweet Memories Bakery.”

“Sweet tea and strawberry lemonade were served in large mason jar dispensers, with gray and white paper straws to drink from, of course! We also had a super fun Bellini Bar, where guests could create their own Bellini by selecting one of 6 different fruit purees or juices and then mixing in prosecco. Drink flags with the shower monogram were perfect for stirring it all together.”

We played a number of games throughout the event and they went over really well. When guests first arrived, they had the chance to play a “What’s in your purse?” game, and the person with the most points won a prize. This turned out to be a wonderful icebreaker, and it was fun to play while everyone got a drink and mingled!

“To keep everyone involved while gifts were being opened, we played gift bingo! Each person created their own bingo card by filling in the spaces with items that they thought Kelsey might receive, for example: sheets, silverware, cake stand, towels, serving spoon, etc. As Kelsey opened her gifts, people crossed off their spaces and the first person to get five in a row won!

Lastly, we played a game similar to the newlywed game, where Kelsey had to answer 20 questions that her fiance Brandon had already answered. We had to guess how many she would actually get correct. Before we played this game, Brandon showed up, so he was able to see Kelsey try to guess all of the answers he had given!”

Thank you so much for sending over all of these details, Meredith! Belles, I hope you enjoyed this peek at such a thoughtful (and Southern!) bridal shower! Best wishes to Kelsey and Brandon, and best of luck finishing up your wedding plans! We can’t wait to see the photos!

P.S. More bridal shower inspiration:
A honey bee bridal shower
A Southern tea bridal shower
Southern Etiquette: Who’s invited to the shower?

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Kelsey reply

    Thank you so much for featuring my shower! Meredith and all of my bridesmaids did such an amazing job! I’m so lucky to have such wonderful women stand beside me on Brandon and my special day!

    • avatar MacKenzie reply

      So excited to see Kelsey’s sweet face on your blog today! We get to film her wedding next month and couldn’t be more thrilled! Kelsey, your friends are so creative and sweet. Thanks for sharing this on your blog today!

  2. avatar Ashley reply

    Kelsey, that was beautiful! Your bridesmaids did amazing. I’m so glad it turned out so lovely! Congrats girl! ~AshnRobo

  3. avatar Sharon @ Red Poppy | Pink Peony reply

    This is such a pretty and sweet bridal shower! I love how the monogram theme carried through in all the details.

  4. avatar Monogram-Themed Bridal Shower · DIY Weddings | reply

    […] a chic bridal shower with a monogram theme using lovely ideas from Southern Weddings! Love this pretty seating chart! You may also […]

  5. avatar Stephanie reply

    Love this! Very beautiful and elegant! I am throwing a monogram shower for my best friend, where did you get those monogrammed tags made for the favor and the bottles?


Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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