Just Say No! To Bridal Showers

Invitation

Every year around February it starts. The invites begin to roll in. The elegantly scripted notes that remind you to “Save the date” or the carefully crafted Etsy birds perched on branches that chirp at you to “Join in the revelry”. One after another, they pile up, a virtual “cha-ching” sounding off as each is deposited into your mail box. Your mouth goes dry. You begin to sweat as the dollar signs start adding up in your head. And then there are more.

By June, you’ve attended a number of events, all costing an average of two hundred dollars each. Your bank account is being depleted by the second. By mid-August, women everywhere are in the throws of a financial crisis, not unlike the economic meltdown of 2008. I see it all around me; the panic, the desperation, the pure, unabashed anxiety – that is wedding season.

It’s never-ending. It starts with the engagement party. “Hey! We’re getting married! Come to our pre-pre-pre-wedding celebration!” Perhaps a small token is in order. Then there’s the bridal shower. “Yey! I’m a bride! Come to the pre-party for my pre-wedding party! Oh! and bring me a present.” The next step is the bachelorette extravaganza. “Hey guys. I’m almost married now. Can you come to a really expensive party like, right before the super expensive shindig I’m going to have in a month to celebrate my undying (or two year’s long) love for my partner?” Then finally the wedding itself. “OK, this is it for real guys. We’re getting married now and you should probably get a new dress and shoes for the occasion, oh and don’t forget the REAL gift because this is like the main party, alright?” See you in Aruba at the $300 a night, four star hotel!”

Don’t get me wrong. I love a party. I particularly love weddings. They’re usually a blast but by the time you actually attend them, you can easily be down a grand. Now multiply that by three or four if you’re a woman between the ages of twenty-five to thirty-five and have a number of friends who are of the marrying age. The amount of money you’re spending in one year on your friend’s nuptials can easily spiral into the thousands. It’s out of control.

This is why I’m proposing (puns all around) that we lighten the load a little bit by cutting out what is easily the most obnoxious of all of the wedding hoopla: the bridal shower.

I mean what the hell is a bridal shower really, if not just a party specifically tailored to extract as much crap from your friends and family as your mom can fit into her station wagon? It’s completely gratuitous. It used to be that bridal showers were intimate get-togethers in a friend’s apartment where the bride-to-be collected things like lingerie and weird sex shit, but those kinds of gifts are generally reserved for the bachelorette party now and things like housewares you’re going to get at the actual wedding. So why is it that a lot of bridal showers have evolved into one-hundred person affairs, held in fancy hotels or restaurants, with their own registry? At that point you’re basically having two weddings and frankly speaking, it’s just not fair to the people who are expected to attend.

But what about the social contract that’s implied? You know, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours?

Yeah, well that’s all aces if you’re in on the action but, and pardon me while I have a Carrie Bradshaw moment here (gross, just writing that gave me the chills) I’m not someone who ever plans to get married. So what’s in it for ladies like me? If I were to count up all of the money that I’ve spent on plane tickets and hotels at destination weddings, bachelorette parties at fancy spas and restaurants, limo rides, party vans, gifts, gifts and MORE GIFTS, I’m down about eight thousand dollars. That’s eight grand I will never see again, because I will most likely, never have a wedding.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to help you celebrate yours though. I’m happy to attend your engagement party, preferably if I’m not expected to chip in for it in any way. And when it comes to your bachelorette party, hell, it’s your last night as a single woman right? So I’ll throw in for whatever kind of nonsense interests you, all the while praying to the sweet baby Jesus that you’re not one of these girls who’s into condom veils and penis straws. And when it comes to the wedding itself, I’m totally down! I love to travel so set that shit up and I’ll meet you on the beach, at no extra cost to you. But as far as your bridal shower goes, which serves no other purpose than to pump the stock at Williams and Sonoma-

I’m just saying no.

I know it seems like it may be a small additional cost after mentioning all of the above, however if you’ve been invited to multiple showers in any given year, you could save hundreds of dollars by very respectfully, declining to attend. Cut them out over a lifetime, and you may be able to retire early. I’m sorry girlfriend, you know I love you but at the end of the day, my overall financial stability is more important than the pasta maker that you’ve registered for but will never use.

Just think of all the stress that could be avoided if we all, in unison and with conviction, declared “No more bridal showers!” Your wedding party would thank you and there would be a lot more room in your closet minus all of the extra junk that you probably don’t need anyway.

So whad’ya say?

Wanna just say no?

P.S. On a more personal note, I’ve gotten into some trouble over the last couple of weeks for a number of things that I’ve written which have been taken out of context. Many people who are very close to me are recently engaged. This is in no way a dig at anyone personally, it’s a subject that I’ve wanted to comment on for some time now and this just happens to be it. I love you all and can’t wait to get sauced and embarrassing at your soirees. See you there!

(Hopefully?)

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  • Lisa

    Since chicks are allowed to marry chicks now.. I say you and I get married and register for tons of stuff we always wanted but never wanted to pay for! I’m in need of a kurig coffee thingy that I can’t afford. May as well start making good on all that dough we’ve put out. Time to pay up folks!

  • http://damiengaleone.com/blog/ Damien

    People often ask me what the biggest advantage to living in Europe is. They assume it’s the lifestyle, women, travel, etc. But it’s actually the fact that I don’t have to put up with the Pickett’s Charge that is the American wedding tradition. I don’t have to deal with bridal showers – well, when I was a stripper Kermit The Flog, but that’s another story… – but still, it’s a major pain in the ass and I couldn’t agree with you more.

    That said, I think people have the right to continue to do it with glee, as it is their big day, but they shouldn’t be pissed if you decide to keep out of one of their gimme gimme parties.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephanidavis Steph

    From another 30-something female who has no plans of ever getting married, I say…AMEN.

    • Kelly

      I feel like more and more women are going in this direction so I feel like Damien said it best, let them have it their day but ask that they respect our wish to stay out of it if funds runs low.

  • http://terrellhappy.blogspot.com Terrell

    Agreed!!

    I was married last year and I did not have an engagement party, shower or bachelorette shindig. I got married late-ish in life (age 37) and honestly never thought I would, so when the time came, I was like…how do we do this?! I honestly had no clue what I was doing and had little help because my entire family and best friend live 10 states away. I did have a few girlfriends offer to throw me a party, but instead we all went out for dinner and split the tab. Even registering for presents was a pain in the ass because I am an adult and already have everything I need.

    Now that most of my friends are married, they are all having babies. I find baby showers even more excruciating than bridal showers, especially since I’m childless and plan on staying that way. Oh, and just wait until your friends start inviting you to their kids’ birthday parties! It never ends.

    • http://www.amateurvagrant.com Rae

      I was in the same boat! I was 31 and my husband was 36 and we had a super tiny wedding, just a notch about actually eloping. We decided we wanted to be married more than we wanted to have a wedding, and yeah, we already had everything we needed and didn’t want a bunch more stuff. Some family members were generous enough to send money anyway, and we just put it in our savings account. But actually, since my non-wedding, I feel a lot more comfortable just saying not to celebrations and parties that I am not ever going to have for myself. I can skip bridal showers and baby showers without guilt because I know I have not and am not going to ask anyone to come to my own. It’s been kind of liberating, and I have certainly saved money. I try to be a good friend and sibling in other ways, so I don’t think anyone minds if I skip the party if I help them move later. :)

      • Kelly

        I would place a way bigger value on someone helping me move than get me linen napkins at a party where I have to answer weird trivia about me and my future husband. And I think that so many people like the idea of having a huge party better than the actual idea of being in a marriage so good for you for keeping in mind what’s really important.

        • risa

          Absolutely agreed on the “helping me move” statement. We focus so much on stuff and it’s ludicrous after a certain age – Jon and I had to give away half our kitchen items when we moved in together, and we *still* have too much. 😉

          That said, people ingrained expectations for rituals are complicated!! Having no registry means we have to *specify* no gifts, or gifts in kind, when we send out the announcement, or else we’ll get random things people think of as appropriate for the event. It’s to the point where I’m saying the only object I want would be heirloom alcohol!

          • Kelly

            I don’t mind a registry for the wedding. I think they are very helpful to the couple and the people who want to give a gift. I just don’t like the idea of bridal showers because all they really are at this stage is one big gift giving party and we’re going to give presents at the bachelorette and the wedding. So the bridal shower seems a little greedy. Cash always works too if you don’t specify what you need.

  • pete

    dont forget the burden on the men! I mean, all these events for you ladies to attend and all the rage, tears and depression involved in finding something to wear to them. We absorb that blow! “hey honey, want to go out for lunch?” “are you asking me because i look so awful in EvErYtHiNg?? You just want me to be fatter??? grrrrrr”
    Compounded by stupid facbook where all of a girls dipshit friends and families upload a gazillion photos of everyone from every possible angle so you cant get away with wearing the same or similar amongst not only friends but almost to any other event. “Oh great the dress i wore to so-and-sos funeral and got tagged in at the after party is the dress i wore to other so-and-so’s quincenara and now they all show up in my news feed and its such a nice summer dress i wanted to wear it to XYZ’s picnic themed shower and now I cant”
    And wedding showers were always a girls only event, before the wedding to give the girl a gift so when she moved out of her parents house into the new place with her husband as Mr & Mrs. Matchingflatware she could cook a decent post-coital consumation fried egg. It made sense, if you and I moved in together we would have to throw out duplicate spatulas and frying pans.
    As a side note, dont forget the housewarming party AFTER the wedding where I can give the bride and groom; whom have lived together for the last 6 years, a toaster oven that will be used once then fought over in the divorce. And by fight the groom will say “i have to move back into my old bedroom at my parents house, can you at least give me the dignity to heat up a pop-tart before work instead of sharing a kitchen with my mother?”

    • Kelly

      A lot of people have mentioned how many married couples lived together before they tied the knot and as such, really aren’t in need of a whole cache of kitchen supplies. Something I overlooked in my post. But true.

  • Jana

    I was COMPLETELY thinking the same thing about a Carrie Bradshaw marrying yourself moment!

  • http://www.velvetlists.blogspot.com Velvet

    This! This is what they should start teaching young women in high school and college. You are thinking of resting your financial future on a set of china for a friend you will probably stop hanging out with in a few years? That she will throw at the wall when she misses her husband’s head after finding out on facebook that he is cheating with an old girlfriend? NO! I could not agree more. I got married less than 2 years ago and I hesitatingly participated in the Bridal Shower ritual, made all the more strange by being in a small room in a restaurant with my Mother in Law and her mother, several women I felt obliged to invite, and a lot of weird decorations. We went through the motions, but honestly I would rather have just stayed home. I didn’t get it either- aren’t these the kinds of gifts people will get for us at the wedding? Why these strange games asking how well you know me? I’m intensely private anyways. No one even got me awesome lingerie since they didn’t know the makeup of the party group. All around, I got hosed and so did everyone else. We didn’t do a bachelor or bachelorette party, we went out to dinner and a movie with my brother and sister and had an awesome time. We had a small wedding and did not have bridesmaids/groomsment or anyone of honor/best of anything. The bridal shower was our one tiny dip into the wedding industrial complex of insanity and I felt like we did that to make other people happy. Isn’t the whole point of the celebration to be about joy? Screw the crazy spending, let your friends get their own stuff. If they are good friends, hopefully they read your blog and know that asking people to come to multiple events (and bring more gifts) is just good old fashioned gift squeezing and its high time we went back to cake and punch anyway! Love this post!

  • Antonine Amisial

    I agree!

  • http://www.greentea-smiles.blogspot.com Green Tea & Smiles

    You’ve gotten in trouble over the things you’ve written? Hm, that sounds like a sticky situation. :( Well, I found this blog post to be spot on. My sister recently got engaged and the horror of the bridal shower stressed out her best friend so much that I took over, ha! Luckily, I love throwing parties, but it sure would be interesting to get rid of them. I mean, you have the engagement party, the bridal shower and then the bachelorette party. Do we really need three parties for one occasion?

  • risa

    Well aren’t you lucky I’m not even having a *registry,* let alone a bridal shower or an engagement party 😉 thus why this doesn’t offend me at all! I’ve been in the same boat and am not about to inflict the same.

    • Kelly

      Somehow I didn’t think I would have to worry about a bridal shower from you. Definitely looking forward to the wedding or ritual or however you plan on commemorating your affections!

  • Amanda

    Anyone going broke over their friends weddings only has themselves to blame. I set a budget on how much I plan on spending based on my financial situation and relationship with the bride and all gifts total to that number – no shower means more for the wedding gift. You can also just give a gift at the shower and not bring one to the wedding if you want. A real friend should have a general idea of you situation and wouldn’t want a gift you had to suffer financially to buy. Also, your friends wedding doesn’t mean you need a new outfit, totally your choice. The older I’ve gotten the more I value these invitations and the honor of being there as my friend starts a wonderful journey and I’m happy to spend a little to help her celebrate.

  • http://www.chimerikal.com Erika

    As a broke broke grad student who is about to be in a wedding, I appreciate this. The bride has done a lot to keep costs down, but it still can add up and make a difference if you’re pinching pennies! But it’s one of those things that if you don’t participate or get gifts, you feel really bad or guilty. I’m trying to find a middle ground of not breaking the bank, but still participating and celebrating this once and a lifetime event. It does have me thinking about my own possible wedding someday, and I’m thinking: no bridesmaids (maybe one), small amount of people (no more than 100), no showers, and just a good time. :)

    • Kelly

      I like it.

  • http://ashleybrooke24.wordpress.com/ HGSE2014

    Thank you for this. It won’t matter and the chaos of weddings won’t stop. But as someone who is doing on one income (and that was before I took out loans to go to graduate school) what my friends are now doing on two… WHY AM I BUYING YOU PRESENTS????? I NEED PRESENTS. I mean, seriously. Why do you need plates? I need plates. I need bedding. I have a home. I have a kitchen. This isn’t 1945. I have my own things, that I bought, and need to buy, on my own. Without a husband. I’m happy you have love in your life. I don’t understand why that means my broke ass should be supporting it. Either way, I keep making it perfectly clear that all of my good friends owe me at least a grand (and that’s on the WAY cheap end of weddings I’ve stood up in) and a damn good party one day regardless of whether some guy and I decide to spend our lives together.

    • RheelDaze

      I have four weddings this year, however due to this post I’ve been told I will not be receiving invitations to any of the showers. Problem solved :)

  • Meghen Matta

    I am the MOH – was planning a budget friendly bridal shower and the Bride booked a weekend stay in another state without discussing it with me first, now I am obligated to pay a ton of money for hotel, travel, etc? What do I do? How do I say no? I am a student and I cannot, literally CANNOT afford this. Someone help!!!! I have tried contacting Bride about it but as soon as she heard I couldn’t afford she has not responded to me.
    !!!!
    WHat do I do?!

    • http://www.therheeldaze.com/ RheelDaze

      Seriously? She hasn’t responded? That’s pretty lame. Here’s what I honestly think. If you’re the type of woman who is into all of the many celebrations that go along with either yourself or a friend getting married then that’s fine. Knock yourself out. But don’t expect that everyone will be able to afford or want to participate. The fact that your friends and family may not have the funds or interest to attend all of your events is also fine. This spring/summer I was invited to five weddings, two bridal showers and a bachelorette party. Currently I am not working very much so I simply cannot afford to attend all of these parties. I skipped the two bridal showers and am giving modest gifts at all but one of the weddings. One wedding is in Bermuda where the hotel is $324/night. Sorry, but my gift is me being there at that point. No one was upset with me for missing the showers and if your friend is the type to really let your absence at her over the top bridal shower get to her then that’s her problem. You’ll be at the wedding where you’ll be expected to give a gift anyway. As far as I’m concerned one gift and one party is plenty to celebrate your love for your partner. Good luck!

      • Meghen Matta

        Thank you for your advice! This is generally what everyone is telling me. I can’t back out of the part she has planned but I let her know my tight budget. The “gift” i will bring to this expensive weekend trip will be crafts and other fun things for us ladies to do that night. (thank you, pintrest) and have also decided (with another poor bridesmaid) to help create the center pieces and some additional things for the wedding (making favor bags) and that is my “gift” for the wedding. Next time though, I will learn to say NO to being in the bridal party!