Monday, June 9, 2008

In which I attend a bridal shower (and drop hints in boldface)

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I recently attended the bridal shower of a distant relative. She's a very nice woman, though I should say I don't know her especially well. There were perfectly valid reasons for me going that I won't get into here; my invitation was not a point of complaint.

This was a stereotypical shower, though. And I may not be a very nice person for saying so, but I find stereotypical showers to be inane displays of conspicuous consumerism for the sake of conspicuous consumerism.

Now, don't get me wrong. I really like the idea of having a day that's jsut about you (more so than the wedding, which is -- officially, if not in practice -- equally about him, and -- in practice, if not officially -- almost as much about the respective families). You're surrounded by the people who care most about you, who are showing they care about you by taking care of you. This I have no problem with.

But let's be both honest and blunt. A wedding shower is a gift grab. That's why, traditionally, it was considered inappropriate for a member of either immediate family to host the shower (this is no longer the case in most circles). It's one thing if your best friend arranges a party to make sure you have everything you need to start off your new life. It's another thing if your mother is doing it. Yes, it's important to think the best of people, but sadly, the mother's motives are more suspect.

Honestly, I don't expect to have a shower at all. The entire bridal party (myself included, of course) is male. I'm having "bridesmen." Unless one of them decides to throw a co-ed shower -- unless it occurs to one of them to throw a co-ed shower -- I won't be seeing one from them. Which is maybe for the best, because I'm not keen on a Eagles[link] theme, even if the team colors do match the wedding colors.

That leaves the two moms. I don't know if my mother will -- she doesn't love the gift-grab thing -- but if she does, it'll probably be low-key, which I like. If Chris's mom does it, the instinct would be to have it in New York. If it was up to me, though, I'd want it in Philadelphia. My side of the family deserves something on our turf.

Back to the shower I attended. The bride was apparently surprised, which is nice but not a deal-breaker: it's not unusual to ask a bride what she likes and who she wants invited, whcih means she'd be expecting it eventually.

She was then adorned with a plastic tiara and fake veil, which she seemed to get a kick out of but which would embarass me terribly. Not my style, plus what do I do with it afterwards? I'm all out of room for clutter.

There were games. The famous couples and "what's in your purse" games just took up time that, in a smaller group, would be spent on conversation. There was a Newlyweds Game type thing where the bride had to guess the answers the groom gave to an emailed survey, which would have been really cute except for the fact that the bride had to stuff a marshmallow in her mouth every time she got one wrong. I'm not big on showing affection through humiliation. I'm told that means I have no sense of humor. What can I say?

On game I did think was fun was Bridal Bingo. You fill a bingo grid with the presents you expect the bride will get, then mark them off when she opens them. This keeps the guests interested in the presents, so they don't get bored. That would be less practical, and less necessary, in a smaller shower, wouldn't it? Still fun, though.

And I know this is a tradition, but I've also been to showers where it wasn't done and it lacked nothing: the bridal bonnet made of gift wrap and bows. I don't want one made, and I'm not wearing one. Feel free to say, once again, that I have no sense of humor, but I'm not budging.

I also don't need a full meal, although if a lot of people are travelling, it's not the worst idea. There's nothing wrong with sandwiches, though.

As for favors, they gave out really nice ones at the shower. Frankly, though, I don't plan on paying as much for my actual wedding favors as they must have for the shower favors. Your gift is not there to pay for your plate, and your favor is not there to compensate for your gift.

The good

I got a good sense of what I might want for a shower of my own, and felt better about the prospect of not getting one. I certainly didn't have a bad time, and the food and company were 95% pleasant (and can you really expect more than that?).
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