Welp, that really is the point for us. Everyone is different though.
I’m having one, but not a full-blown bridal shower big to-do. I’m an out-of-state bride, so I’ll be coming a week early so we can have a shower the weekend before. Yes there is gift giving at the shower, but the women in my family are very close. I’m talking moms, aunts, great aunts, cousins, female in-laws, literally every female, blood or otherwise. We are like a tribe of matriarchal figures, and the bridal shower is a party for all the women and girls of any age. We get together for a light lunch, play games, talk about married life and the wedding, complete any last wedding projects, and the older women share with the bride any special family recipes.
It is a ritual that I personally did not want to do without. When we were trying to decide whether to even have one, I told them I don’t want the presents, it should just be for the fun and getting together with them all one last time before I’m a married woman, and there need not be any decorating or special stuff, just our usual get-together, but with a theme, which is not uncommon for us to do anyway. I know it’s sentimental. I don’t believe tradition should exist for its own sake, but it serves its purpose in my family, where the women enjoy all getting together like this on a semi-regular basis. Seriously, sometimes we rent a big cabin for all the ladies to have a weekend away together. We have makeover night, board game night, margarita night…you name it! If we didn’t get together for our 25+ female pow-wow to celebrating the coming marriage (especially with me having lived in another state for a couple of years), you’d have to wonder if something is seriously wrong to keep us from one another. That said, I realize many (most?) families probably aren’t like this. I’ve never met anyone who had the kind of multi-generational female bond that exists in my family.
As for the bachelorette party, only the younger/un-married/recently married/no children women attend (due to the others’ obligations, not any rule), so in my family, anyone from the ages of 21-30 or so, and my bridesmaids and any other friends I’d like to hang out with.