Throwing a Bridal Shower

  1. Who is the most appropriate person to give a bridal shower if the bride has no bridesmaids? Would the bride or groom's mother do it? Are there any other people you would recommend?
  2. My son and his bride live in California and are having their wedding in Mexico. The bride's family is planning a post-wedding reception in their hometown. However, their guest list is short, while ours is long. The bride's father has made it very clear that it is their party and that they will foot the bill. They did not accept my offer to pay for half of the bill. Would it be appropriate to give my own post-wedding party so I can invite more guests?

    – U.C.

Anyone can throw a bridal shower. Typically it is the maid of honor, but if the bride has no bridesmaids, anyone is free to give one. From an etiquette point of view, it's considered poor taste for either of the mothers to host the bridal shower. It looks like "gift grab". However, the bride's sisters, relatives and friends all make excellent choices. The important thing is not who is throwing the party, but that someone cares enough host one in her honor. She will be happy regardless of whose idea it was.

The second question is a little more difficult to answer. From your message, it appears the bride's family considers the wedding "their" party. Unfortunately, in their desire to give their child the "perfect wedding" many parents lose sight of the true meaning of a wedding - the joining of two persons in marriage. It's not about throwing an extravagant party that displays your wealth and power; it's about the couple themselves. Has anyone asked the bride or groom if they even want a post-wedding party? What are their wishes? Is there any way to accommodate everyone's requests? Explain your concerns with the bride's parents. After all, your families are about to become one. You should all be at the same party, presenting a united front. Plus, if there are two parties, which one do the bride and groom attend? They don't want to hurt their loved ones by attending one and not the other. That's a terrible decision to force on a couple on the happiest day of the lives. If you can't come to a mutual decision regarding the post-wedding party, consider hosting a different event altogether. It could be a brunch the day after the wedding, or a "welcome home" party for the newlyweds when they return from their honeymoon. While I can appreciate you wanting to throw a party for the bride and groom, this is a matter of choosing your battles. And for the sake of the feelings of everyone involved, especially your son and daughter-in-law, this is a battle you may have to walk away from. Good luck!

Engagement Parties

Is there any "rules of thumb" regarding engagement parties? Who generally hosts one? Is an engagement party necessary and when are they usually given? This will be my son's third marriage and his bride's first. They live 3 hours away and live together. He has not lived in this town for 4 years. His bride-to-be has hinted that I should give some kind of engagement party. Also, our church does not recognize divorce and I would I feel uncomfortable inviting any church friends. What are your suggestions and ideas for an engagement party?

– M.B.

Traditionally, the bride or groom's parents host the engagement party. An engagement party is given shortly after the wedding is announced. While it's not mandatory, it's a celebration of the couple's relationship and their commitment to one another. Also, the couple is happy and excited to be engaged and want to share that excitement with their family and friends. Depending on where the guests live, it may be more appropriate to have the party in the couple's hometown. You can rent a local hall, reducing the distance guests have to drive.

An engagement party can be large or small, formal or informal. It depends on the couple and their preferences. An engagement party can be a dinner or brunch, held in the home or at a favorite restaurant. You may even choose to have a low-key barbecue with just the family. There are endless suggestions and there is no one "right" engagement party. Just do what you think the couple would enjoy the most. They're sure to appreciate it.

Fun Reception Ideas

  • We would like some ideas for fun activities at our reception without copying a recent wedding we attended. That couple had a "photo guestbook". A Polaroid photo was taken of each guest. The photo was placed in the guestbook, where the guest wrote a message below their photo to the bride and groom. It was great!

  • Also, instead of a traditional money dance, they did a game called "who's going to wear the pants in the family?" There were two hats for collecting money, one for each side of the family. If the bride's family donated more money, she'll be one who will "wear the pants" and vice versa if the groom's family collected the most. We would like ideas for similar quirky games.

    – Cathie

Receptions are becoming more unique, with a greater focus on fun! A "Mr. and Mrs. Quiz" is a one idea. Ask the bride and groom some questions. Then have them try and guess what their partner answered. The premise is similar to the old "The Newlywed Game" TV show. This game provides a lot of laughs as you try to prove to everyone how well (or not!) you know each other.

Another interesting game to try is "find your wife". The bride and a few of her friends (possibly her bridesmaids) sit in a row of chairs. The groom is then blindfolded. Using only his hands he has to guess which of the women is his wife. Again, this creates a lot of laughs and is very entertaining for guests. This game can just as easily be converted to "find your husband".

The last game is called "pen in the bottle". The groom is blindfolded and seated on a chair. He is given a long string, from which dangles a pen (pointing down). A wine bottle is placed upright before his chair. The purpose of the game is for the groom to place the pen in the bottle using directions given by the bride. She can only use words; she can't touch the pen. While this game seems innocent enough, it's quite entertaining. Why? Because the couple is going to bicker (they always do with this game), which greatly amuses everyone. You can also get other couples to participate and make it a race.
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