(Closed) bridal shower w/elopement? Looong please help

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: Can we have a shower under these circumstances?
    Yes : (14 votes)
    47 %
    No : (7 votes)
    23 %
    Yes but a date must be set for the "real" wedding before we send invites for the shower : (9 votes)
    30 %
  • Post # 3
    3697 posts
    Sugar bee

    @Magdalena:  I would try the following: since you’ve already been through a wedding, tell her that you wanted to let her know a couple of things based on your own experiences, namely, that inviting guests to a party and calling it a “shower” raises certain expectations in their minds. Suggest that if she wants to have an “engagement party” (one that people would be free to bring a gift to if they want, but that wouldn’t carry the same expectation of a gift that a “shower” has), that might be the better way to go under these circumstances …?

    I’m sorry you’re in this sticky spot, but you are doing the right thing looking out for the potential guests’ expectations and trying to protect both them and, by extension, the bride from a lot of unnecessary upset if it ends up being an elopement.

    Post # 4
    1722 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: July 2015

    @Magdalena:  This is a really tough situation, I think you should just go ahead with the bridal shower and if they do end up eloping then maybe try to get her to throw a an informal reception afterwards at someone’s house or something where you can invite these women and other guests.  They can celebrate their wedding with friends but can still do a formal wedding ceremony in the future if they choose.  If people ask why no date has been set then explain their situation and then explain that the bride is really excited and even though they are in a tough situation with the army she still wants to celebrate her wedding and a bridal shower is the easiest way to celebrate without the groom present.

    Post # 5
    835 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: May 2012

    This is just my personal opinion but if I were her friend and Maid/Matron of Honor, I would throw her a shower regardless. This is a new chapter in her life! I was fortunate to have the women in my family and friends to throw me a shower and bachelorette party even though NONE of them were invited to my Destination Wedding. My husband and I wanted something really small so we just had our parents, siblings, and 1 friend each there at our Destination Wedding. They respected that and wanted to do something special for me anyways because they loved me. My suggestion would be to let people invited to the shower know that there is not set date yet but that she might possible elope due to her circumstances. That way they are  not “disappointed”. Good luck!

    Post # 6
    1676 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2011

    @mrs.folks:  I agree. 

    Darling Husband and I had a courthouse ceremony, and everyone in our lives was well aware of our plans months before we were married. Still, friends and family through us a shower because, like mrs.folks.to.be said, we were turning a new chapter in our lives. In the words of my grandmother “We attended their showers (and their children/grandchildren’s showers) whether or not we attended (or were invited to) the wedding, so we fully expect them to reciprocate.” Most of my friends and family shared this sentiment, and I tend to agree.

    Frankly, I think it would be hateful for her friends/family to begrudge her a shower (especially if she tends to attend and bring gifts to theirs) simply because her circumstances are unusual. No one mentioned being offended by ours, and, trust me, many of the attendees are the types who make their feelings known. I don’t think your friends should have to commit to having “wedding” later or eloping at this point. I would just suggest that she be honest about the fact that plans are up in the air and will be determined when they get more information from the military (if/when people ask). If her friends and family are mean-spirited about this, they aren’t great friends/family IMO. 

    Post # 7
    10572 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: January 2011

    I would probably go over her guest list with her and make sure it’s only really close friends and family.  The ones who if they think it’s bad taste might roll their eyes in private, but who still want to support the bride.

    Post # 8
    942 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: July 2012

    I am not really sure what a bridal shower is, we don’t do them here in Aus, but we are eloping and still had a big engagement party and hens/bucks nights. This is because we ar getting married, regardless of where and who is invited. I think perhaps the brides intentions should be worded carefully on the invites and then people can decide for themselves if they want to bring a gift based on the situation.

    Post # 9
    3697 posts
    Sugar bee

    @KellyLouise:  In the US, a “shower” is a party intended to shower the bride-to-be with gifts. It started back in the day as a way of helping brides acquire all the little odds-and-ends they needed to set up housekeeping, and so typical gifts would be kitchen tools, smallish housewares, etc. The custom continues, although the gifts vary a lot more nowadays, but the general rules of thumb are still:

    a) the shower is the only part of the wedding-related festivities where gifts are (from an etiquette standpoint) seen as obligatory.

    b) people usually do still give a gift for the wedding, and typically the shower gift will be something smaller/less expensive, while the wedding gift is usually a little more elaborate

    c) anyone who gets a shower invite (and therefore feels obligated to give a gift) by default just about has to get a wedding invite. It’d be seen as a big faux pas in some more traditional circles to have a shower but not an actual wedding.

    As PPs have pointed out, though, even rules of thumb are not set in stone, and, depending on how close the friends are that get invited and how well everyone understands the circumstances, it may not be a huge problem. I can understand OP’s qualms, though, and she knows the context and the people involved best. If she’s worried about people’s reactions, it may just be that she has good reason to be.

    Post # 10
    1375 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: September 2012

    People elope for many different reasons. But eloping also means you give up pre wedding parties, since you cannot include people in a shower that ae not invited to the wedding. There are plenty of military brides who have adhered to this rule of thumb.

    I do think you should gently explain your discomfort. Ultimately, it would reflect poorly on her and her groom if people attend a showers and then realize they never got to see a wedding.

    Post # 11
    1828 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: December 2013

    For my first wedding there were 4 separate showers given. Two were at our respective churches and almost every women from each church attended. The majority of them were not invited to the wedding. They were all there and happy to be involved in helping us set of our home whether they got an invite or not. I was not the person that invited them to the shower and was not going to invite them to the wedding just based on that…I barely knew some of them.

    I guess I just don’t understand all the issues with this. I have been to plenty of wedding showers without getting an invite to the wedding. I completely understand that not everyone can afford it…plain and simple. I honestly think that the WIC has managed to sneak this in at an etiquette issue just to make more money.

    Give your friend a shower. If anything they deserve it even more for the sacrifice that they are making for their country!

    Post # 12
    2067 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: September 2011

    In general, I say no shower if the couple is eloping… I think this is a totally different situation, though… She should totally still get a shower! One option is maybe doing it before the “real” wedding, so after the courthouse wedding… Like in a more normal timeframe before the large ceremony… But, either way, I think it is okay in this situation

    Post # 14
    692 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: March 2013

    don’t throw the shower until the couple has made up their mind about eloping w/o a wedding or not.

    Post # 15
    1697 posts
    Bumble bee

    This is the kind of dilemma that flows directly from “made-up” etiquette: the same kind of inconsistent and arbitrary “rules” that  inspire @SherylAA‘s humor and frustrate @fresitachulita‘s mama — with whom, by the way, I feel tremendous sympathy: who wants to have the worldly social wisdom of a lifetime challenged by a handful of ingenue know-it-alls from The Knot and recourse to the Post Institute’s latest inventions?

    Here is the great good news for everybody in your quandary: traditional etiquette actually has no rule that says every one invited to any “pre-wedding event” needs to be invited to the wedding. Here is the great bad news: traditional etiquette does not discount the reality of a wedding that has real legal force and pursuant to which the couple enjoy real cohabitation with all its real benefits, just because that wedding lacked expensive pageantry or a big party.

    And, if that’s not enough bad news, there’s more. You see, what seems to motivate the “pre-wedding event rule” is a kind of thinking that goes “you can hold self-honouring gift-grubbing parties and it’s all okay as long as you pay all the donors back with an invitation to that big extravagant wedding party.” Unh-unh. There is no justifying payback for that kind of selfishness. So the same traditional etiquette that gives you flexibility in the guest lists for all your pre-wedding events also requires tha twhoever hosts these events arranges them in such away that the guests are honored and entertained and not milked for donations — so that their “payback” for attending the event is the good hospitality that they enjoy at the event itself.

    Which brings us to your friend, her shower, and showers in general. 

    Traditional showers are small informal parities co-hosted by a bride’s closest friends for the express purpose of “showering” her with the small everyday items a bride needs to set up housekeeping, as a way that they can share in her excitement and joy. The guest list must be limited to ONLY those people who actively WANT to provide such gifts and who will get their full “payback” just from sharing in that joy and excitement. Frankly, getting suddenly married and moving across the continent to take up the duties of a military wife is the sort of huge exciting life-change that many friends will want to share in and support. Just make sure that the date for the real wedding — that would be the legally binding one that results in the army providing married quarters where they will cohabit — is set, and that you take responsibility to limit the guest list to people you are SURE will not resent being asked to provide a shower gift.

    Post # 16
    336 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2012

    It’s not unheard of to have a shower for people that are eloping. I just think, as a guest, I would be concerned, like what if they never get married at all? Whether or not they have the big wedding is not the issue for me. It’s her uncertainty.

    And don’t feel like you have to put all the fires out for her. She just needs to up front and honest about what is happening. If the answer is “we are eloping when he is done with training”-that’s the situation. Maybe you can spread the word by word- of-mouth through her family? I really, really do not think people will have an issue. You are a great friend to this girl!! You seem like you really care, thats awesome!

    The topic ‘bridal shower w/elopement? Looong please help’ is closed to new replies.

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