Reader Question: I've been doing some thinking lately about how much I don't care for . First and foremost, I'm not a fan of being the center of attention and I think it's really strange to sit in the middle of the room while people oooh and ahh over measuring cups and hand towels (and the whole "personal" shower bit horrifies me). I prefer to be the person making snide comments in the corner, capitalizing on the free mimosas but I fear that will be tough to pull off as the bride.
What's more I don't really feel like we need all the stuff. I've lived with my fiance for two years and though it's humble, our home is pretty well furnished. We're hoping to move around some more before we officially settle in somewhere and aren't looking to tie ourselves down with a lot of housewares. What's more, it doesn't make much sense to me environmentally replace perfectly good items and I am sympathetic to the financial burden the shower circuit puts on our twenty-something friends.
I'm wondering if you (or anyone out there) has any ideas for alternatives to showers? I've contemplated something like walking in a relay for a good cause or volunteering as a group but I'm not sure how the older women in my life would handle such a radical notion.
A huge part of planning a wedding is sifting through what our families/friends/TV shows/magazines/The Wedding Industrial Complex/etc. say we have to do versus what is meaningful and memorable for us.
I don't like feeling pressured to do things, especially when those "things" usually involve spending lots of money (which isn't good for the bank account and usually isn't good for the environment).
When Matt and I approached our wedding, we put almost every aspect of a "traditional wedding" under a microscope and asked ourselves:
- What do we want to keep?
- What do we want to modify?
- What do we want to invent?
- What do we want to throw out?
Of course not everyone in our circle of friends or family agreed with every decision we made. My best friend, Andy, was initially very, very skeptical of the self-catering thing. In fact, I finally asked him to step down from his role as Lead Salsa Maker because I didn't want to cook alongside naysayers on our wedding day (at that point, he relented and said he really did want to be part of it).
My grandfather rejected the opportunity to be one of the speakers in our outside, non-religious wedding ceremony.
My mom didn't understand why we wanted to use the cake cutting ceremony as a time to thank our nearest and dearest rather than feed each other cake.
Luckily, none of the little things were deal-breakers for anyone. They all came to the wedding and realized that most of our decisions made sense within the larger fabric of the kind of wedding we weaved together. They realized, "Oh, I get it. Matt and Sara wanted to plan a wedding that represents their relationship because they want to share their values, love, and commitment with their closest friends and family. I'm here because I'm part of that circle."
When I read about your situation, I understand your urge to create experiences that reflect you and your partner, rather than try to mold yourself into the people everyone thinks you and your partner should be. Some people want a traditional bridal shower; others don't.
I also hear your concern about the effect your decisions will have on your friends and family, and I think we have to divide those decisions and effects into two categories:
- Decisions that will make your friends and family uncomfortable because they don't align with their tastes and preferences or their visions about what a wedding should be and what a bride should do
- Decisions that will literally make your friends and family uncomfortable and hinder their ability to feel connected to your celebration of community, commitment, connection, and fun
Examples of the second kind of decisions include things like asking your friends and family to hike five miles uphill to the ceremony site and not providing any alternatives for individuals who cannot physically handle the challenge. Or holding your wedding on a remote island that only offers primitive camping for accommodation. These decisions literally prevent your nearest and dearest from being part of your celebration. They undermine the real purpose of trying to bring friends and family together in the first place.
I think distinguishing between these two types of decisions is essential.
I also think it's essential to get to the real purpose behind a tradition when deciding how to alter it. So, what is the real purpose of a bridal shower? I'm actually afraid to google that answer. I'm afraid it goes something like this: "The Wedding Industrial Complex invented the 'bridal shower' as a way to increase the number of goods that had to be purchased for the 'wedding experience'."
But what can a bridal shower be? An amazing opportunity to connect with your friends and family (and give them more opportunities to meet each other), share your interests and values with those you love, and have fun(!). So, to figure out the best kind of bridal shower for you, I suppose it would help for you to answer these questions:
- Whom do you want to surround yourself with at your pre-wedding party?
- Once you have all those people in mind, think about what kind of experience would be enjoyable to all of you (or as many people as possible!). The tricky part of this question is remembering that people might enjoy something in the end that they didn't think they would enjoy at the beginning (like volunteering).
- Going on a random acts of kindness scavenger hunt
- Taking a cooking class together
- Eating a picnic lunch on blankets and playing bocce ball
- Organizing a private craft class at some place like Sew Crafty
- Bowling! I think old-school bowling parties are hilarious.
- Ugh...I'm already running out of ideas! 2000dollarwedding kindred spirits, please help!