How To Survive a Bridal Shower

If you are female and someone close to you has gotten married or will be getting married soon, you've been to a bridal shower. 
If, by some miracle, you've managed to avoid attending a standard shower, here's a quick synopsis: women (usually just women) gather, the bride opens gifts that those women have brought for her, games are played, food/cake/drinks are consumed. 

Apparently the tradition dates back to the 15th century in Holland, a fabulous country we now know as the Netherlands.

As the story goes, a woman from a wealthy family wanted to marry a man from a poor family, and her father tried to prevent it by withholding her dowry. 
The woman's friends banded together to "shower" her with gifts so that she would be able to marry the man she loved. 
Here's what I love about this origin story: essentially, a group of Dutch women got together to support another woman and to help empower her to autonomously make her own decisions. #GirlPower #SmashThePatriarchy

Today there are all kinds of showers (men can be showered too!) and all kinds of bridal shower etiquette questions surrounding them. The Emily Post Institute has a quick list of some shower questions and answers that I really like here. 
What it all boils down to for me is one simple question: does every element of the event honor the individuality of the bride? 
A Bridal Shower is about showering someone you care about with affection and joy- if you get so mired down in "tradition" or things that "have" to be done or "should" be done, it's easy to lose sight of that. 

There are a million articles out there on how to throw a bridal shower, but this post is going to focus on how to survive a bridal shower. 
I recently attended two showers in the space of six days and it was a LOT. 
For one wedding I'm reading in the ceremony and essentially day-of coordinating, and for the other I'm a bridesmaid.

The brides are also in each other's weddings and both showers were complete surprises for the honorees, so it was pretty delightful to watch them be surprised and showered with love. 

Here are my top tips on how to survive your next Bridal Shower:

For the Guest:

1. If there is wine, drink it.

2. Choose a gift that you've found particularly useful and write about that in the card. If you want to make a gift, make sure that it's very personalized and nicely presented. If you're unsure about what to bring, stick to the registry or ask the host.

3. If you feel awkward because you don't know many other shower attendees, revert to the one topic of conversation you definitely have in common: the couple getting married. Participate in the events and games with patience- sometimes these things drag a bit. Roll with it and eat some cake.

For the Bridesmaid:

1. If there is wine, drink it.

2. Follow the lead of the MOH or main host of the shower, but don't be afraid to step up if you see something that needs fixing. Be proactive. Ask for specific tasks. Is someone already writing down who gave which gift? Is someone collecting the bows from the gifts for later use? Do they need help breaking down after the shower is over? During the planning process, help guide the host to focus on things that the bride will actually like. Does she hate surprises? Make sure she isn't caught off guard.

3. Remember that this event, as with all wedding events, is not your time to be the center of attention. It it your time to vie for a "best supporting friend" award. Look at this as practice for the wedding day: your job is to focus on the bride.  Don't wear white or cream or something outrageous. Remember why you're there: someone you love is getting married.
If you can't set aside your need to be the center of attention maybe you shouldn't be in the wedding party at all. 

For the Bride:

1. If there is wine, drink it.

2. As you open your gifts, remember that each of them was chosen with love. Smile and be so grateful for everything, even if you *know* you're never going to use Aunt Suzie's gravy boat. Find something to genuinely compliment about each gift

3. Bask in the love you're being showered with. Maybe you love being the center of attention, maybe you don't. Regardless, focus on the fact that these people love you and want to share in your joy.

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