Is it too presumptive to tell my bridesmaids that I don't want a bachelorette party OR a bridal shower? All of my bridesmaids live out of my state and I've been with my fiance for seven years, and just don't feel the need to collect any more lingerie or eat a penis cake. Is it alright for me to just propose to my bridesmaids exactly what I want — us to get together on the morning of the wedding for coffee and to have a morning of beauty: hair, makeup, and manicures.
Courtney, in a word: YES. In fact, your bridesmaids will likely be hugely relieved to have you tell them A) you don't want them to organize additional parties or showers and that B) instead you'd like to pamper them the morning of the wedding. I'd wager that there are many bridesmaids out there who would heave a huge sigh of relief at the news that you don't want a penis cake.
This is something I cover in my book — really, when it comes to wedding parties, it's just about making sure your priorities are matched and your expectations are clear. You can send a quick message saying, "I don't know what you guys have experienced with bridesmaiding, but I want things to be fun and easy — no shower necessary! I've got no need for a penis cake bachelorette party! Really, all I want is for the group of us to gather the morning of the wedding for some pampering and loving ladytime."
Phrase it carefully — note the language recognizing that your wedding may differ from their previous experiences. This is your way around sounding presumptuous — you avoid assuming they're planning showers or parties but recognize that some brides do expect these things. Also, note the phrasing around "no shower necessary" and "no need" for a party. Don't slam either tradition (for all you know, one of your bridesmaids may looooove bridal showers) but simply to make it clear that you want to keep things simple and easy for them — but that you DO have one thing you want: the morning pampering together. Make it about them, not you — this isn't about your demands. It's about respecting and honoring the ladies you love.
Really, if you're careful about how you say it, the sky's the limit for wedding party activities. I talked to one couple who went spelunking instead of having a wedding shower. There are others who've had bachelorette parties revolve around shopping flea markets for vintage supplies for the wedding. The key is just making sure your wedding party is on the same page as you — which is as easy as a respectful conversation early-on in the engagement to let them know you love them, you're so excited to have them involved, and really: no penis cake necessary.
For more about offbeat wedding parties and bridesmaids, check out these links: