Family Faux-Pas: Throwing a bridal shower for an immediate family member

by epi on September 12, 2012

Q: Is it proper etiquette for an immediate family member to throw a shower for a bride-to-be?

A: The traditional hosts are friends of the bride, the couple, or friends of the couple’s parents.  It has long been considered a breach of etiquette for immediate family members to host showers, because doing so gives the appearance of being self-serving. But it is becoming increasingly correct for family to host in certain situations, as when the bride is visiting her future in-laws and the groom’s mother or sister invites hometown friends to meet her. Also, more mothers and sisters of the bride are giving showers.  Today, people should be guided by individual circumstances when deciding if family members will host. It has always been correct for more distant family members to host, such as aunts and cousins.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill September 12, 2012 at 9:31 am

I don’t think i’ve been to a bridal shower where the Mother or Mother-in-law hasn’t hosted. I think the rule about immediate family not hosting is definitely outdated.

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Just Laura September 12, 2012 at 9:37 am

Usually the Maid-of-Honor hosts – none of the maid of honors have hosted showers in your area?

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Clara September 12, 2012 at 11:42 am

Jill, I am with you…every shower I’ve been to my entire life was hosted by the mother and/or sister(s) of the bride—because the maid of honor was a sister.

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Mary September 20, 2012 at 12:43 am

May I ask you for advice ladies? My father is getting married to a wonderful woman (she’s a widow 5 years and my father 3 years) but I feel I’m in an awkward position becuase I’d like to throw her a shower but I’ve been reading it may be bad etiquette, probably bcuz I should be a guest (and in the background sobbing?) and the bride’s sister is the maid of honor but she’s out of state and will arrive 3 days before the wedding. Do you think it would be all right if I called one of the bride’s girlfriends, who I know, and ask if she’s going to throw a shower and if so, offer any help or should I just sit back and wait and see if there’s a shower planned? The wedding is beginning of December and they’ve been engaged for 2 mos. I’m just concerned and ready to throw a party I guess!

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Elizabeth September 20, 2012 at 1:08 am

It’s lovely that you want to do something to help your father and his fiancée celebrate their upcoming nuptials, and I’m sure they appreciate your support. However, given that these are both well-established adults on their second marriages, do you think they need to be showered with more stuff? Is it not more likely that they will actually need to rid themselves of duplicates when combining households rather than need to acquire more? Why not host a “welcome to the family tea” party or ask if you can host a brunch on the morning following the wedding? Alternatively, you could invite the bride and her bridesmaid to get a mani-pedi when the MOH arrives. It is lovely to want to celebrate this union, but second marriages are often lower-key because people have already given these people wedding gifts and shower gifts the first time around. Do something that does not center around gift-giving, and everyone will be much more comfortable with it.

Mary September 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm

THAT is a great idea about the brunch! Thanks! I really wasn’t thinking about gifts, more about having a party for the bride so it does put it more inteo perspective to have a day-after party. I’m also envisioning a party every day several days before the wedding since all the family and hers are coming in (I have 4 bros & a sis n their kids and bride is from a huge family too(!) but since I live here a nice party after sounds really nice (hope I’m not hungover from the wedding but a mimosa is just the ticket! (^_^)

Chocobo September 12, 2012 at 9:46 am

I’ve been to showers where the Maid-of-Honor was quite young and unable to finance a party by herself, so an older adult paid even though the bridesmaids planned it (this was sometimes the Mother-of-the-Bride, if her sister was the Maid-of-Honor).

I’ve also been to showers where the entire guest list was composed of family members, which skirts around the issue of appearing self-serving, since the “shower” becomes a family party to bequeath family gifts to the new couple. Who can argue with that sentiment?

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Suzy Q September 12, 2012 at 10:16 am

I agree that this etiquette rule is outdated. I hosted a shower for my sister and she hosted mine. Frankly I would have felt very uncomfortable knowing that my bridesmaids, friends, or even distant relatives were laying out a significant amount of money for the venue and food. Close family members seem to me to be more appropriate for paying wedding-related costs (if they so choose, of course). Moreover it’s a little ridiculous to think that this will be perceived as any more of a “gift grab” if a family member hosts it, since of course the main purpose of a shower is for people to bring presents. I wish we could just put this particular etiquette “rule” to rest!

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Alicia September 12, 2012 at 10:21 am

I hostessed both of my sisters showers in conjunction with the other sister and nominal cooperation from the other bridesmaids. In my opinion family is only incorrect to hostess shower if it is a huge shower where a million people invited. When the guest list is small liek family and bridesmaids and maybe one or two other ladies I think it is reasonable. That way usually almost all teh people there are family.

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Lilli September 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I’m going to vote against the tide and say I like the old rule and would personally be HORRIFIED if a member of my family threw me a shower.

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Leann September 13, 2012 at 3:31 am

How “strict” is the rule on abbreviating the state on wedding invitations? Our daughter has addressed every invitation, complete with postage, and now we are faced with just mailing them as they are or reordering 220 invitations, purchasing more stamps and starting over! What do we do?

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Lilli September 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

I would just mail them as is. The purpose is to get the invitations to their intended receipients – I hardly think anyone would notice if you put “MA” instead of “Massachusetts”. Save the money for something more important!

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Winifred Rosenburg September 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Both abbreviations and written out states are correct. As others have stated, the purpose of the address is for the invitation to get to the intended recipient so it makes no difference if abbreviations are used or not. Most people will not read the envelope past the name anyway.

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Marcy September 19, 2012 at 10:51 am

Is it proper or acceptable to be invited to the bridal shower, but not the wedding? I was invited to the shower, but realized that while other people I knew had already received wedding invites, I did not. So, I did not attend the shower. Should I have been offended, because I was.

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Just Laura September 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

The only time where it is acceptable to invite people to the shower who aren’t invited to the wedding is for a coworker-shower/workplace shower. If this was your coworker, then don’t worry about it. If this is your friend or relative, then yes, I’d be curious to know the whereabouts of my wedding invitation.

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Country Girl September 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Although I know it is generally considered appropriate, I still don’t know what to make of workplace showers. It’s a bit strange being obligated to buy a gift for someone with whom you are not close enough to be invited to the wedding. (And not participating makes you look like a scrooge.) As a bride I would feel terribly uncomfortable having a shower thrown for me by coworkers who were not invited to my wedding. I would feel I now owed them an invitation. A workplace celebration sans gifts always seems more appropriate to me.

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Just Laura September 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Well, I certainly understand how you feel. I don’t like them (I tend to schedule meetings during workplace showers as my legitimate excuse), and I didn’t have one myself. But they are a reality, and most people seem to like them.

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Mary September 20, 2012 at 1:16 am

I understand about workplace celebrations, ugh. But I’ve been working 30 years in offices so please know, it’s not hard to be sweet, it’s worth the little effort to celebrate the person’s joy (even if she’s not a friend even an enemy do this) it is proper etiquette to at least show up for the party, sign the darn card, give $2 or $20 toward the gift or just a card. Her pix will have you in them as long as she’s married and who knows, in 5 years you just might be best friends like me and my buddy Diane. Whenever you have a chance to celebrate someone’s joy, offer a hug and then be off to your work. Also, one more thing, if you EVER see anyone crying at work, give them a big hug – then ask whats wrong or just wait to let them talk. I don’t care what the situation is no girl should be crying at work unless she needs some buddies. My Aunt taught me this and it’s sure that the person will always remember your hug!

Chris October 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Is it wrong to have a friend throw a tea, without gifts, if none of the people are invited to the actual wedding.

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Elizabeth October 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Not at all. If the tea is to be held after the wedding, the host could frame the event as a “congratulatory tea” or an “introducing the mr. and mrs. tea.” If it is held before the wedding, there is more of a chance that people will read it as a gift grab, so it is probably better to wait until afterwards.

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Alicia October 10, 2012 at 4:17 am

Pre wedding events are limited to those on the wedding guest list. Post wedding events are not limited to the wedding guest list.

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Martha December 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm

If you go to a bridal shower and give a gift, do you still need to give a wedding present also?

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Winifred Rosenburg December 17, 2012 at 1:40 am

If you go to the wedding, yes you must give a gift. They are two separate events.

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Carol October 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

Myself and my daughters hosted a bridal shower for one of my daughters. It was very last minute, as I nor her siblings, thought about doing so (I know, I’m a bad mother) because initially, it started out being just a small, simple, insignificant ceremony, with no bells, nor whistles. AND, she and her fiance’ have lived together for over 5 years. Now, we did give her a shower. However, her future mother-in-law and sisters in law, did not attend, citing that they felt “left out”. The reason is because I didn’t solicit their help in the planning. It never occurred to me to do so. Usually, it’s the bride’s mother or sisters or maid of honor/bridesmaid who host these events. Since it was so last minute, I just hurridly planned it and went with it. Of course, they were invited but since feelings were hurt, they didn’t attend. My take on it is, if they felt insulted, then why did they not think to give her one either? Should I have solicited their help? I didn’t purposely not include them in the planning. It was just so fast and I felt it was my obligation, as the bride’s mother, to host it. What’s your view?

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Just Laura October 21, 2013 at 11:05 am

My view echos that of the Emily Post Institute in that someone else should have thrown the shower (the maid of honor, for instance, or a cousin). I also feel that the future-m-i-l cut off her proverbial nose to spite her face. You didn’t leave them out – you invited them! If they wanted to assist with planning it or funding it, they could have offered to do this. Evidently they didn’t. Carol, if they bring it up again, say something to the effect of, “I hadn’t realized you offered to help, and I didn’t want to trouble you by asking. I’m sorry about the miscommunication, and I assure you no offense was intended.” Then move on to wedding planning. :)

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Just Laura September 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

I always sign the card (and believe it is the correct thing to do), but I fail to see how it is proper workplace etiquette to stop the work for which I’m being paid and be forced to wander over to a party for a coworker. Work is for work. Parties are for times when we aren’t at work (lunch, after work, weekends). Also, I do not hug coworkers at work, ever, and I would be very uncomfortable if one wanted to hug me. Certainly I wouldn’t dare tell you how to run your office, but I’ve worked in 4 different states, and none were “hugging” atmospheres.
I’m uncertain how we got on the subject of crying.

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