My daughter-in-law won't let me throw a bridal shower for her!


Guest post by KendraD
…but does Angela WANT this bridal shower? (Bridal shower backdrop available here)

Hi! I'm a mother of the groom, and I've been so excited to throw my future daughter-in-law a bridal shower! I'm so excited to introduce her to my friends in a quieter environment, and just have some good old fashioned fun. But she says she wants no bridal shower… I think she's being really selfish. What should I do? -FMIL

We've heard this a lot from brides who don't want a bridal shower, it's a new twist to hear from a mother who wants to throw one!

So, let's start off here: can we agree that the word selfish is a lot like the word tacky: it can be applied to pretty much everything.

Are you a bride who doesn't want a big fuss and thus wants to turn down a shower? You're selfish for not letting your family love you the way they want.

Are you a mom or mother-in-law looking to shower the bride with love, but in the way that YOU want to, and not the way the bride is interested in? You're selfish.

It's all selfish in the long run. It's a party, thrown by the hosts (bride and groom) to the benefit of the hosts. It's all selfish.

Now that we can agree that all of it is selfish, let's look at how best to navigate when someone wants no bridal shower

For the brides/grooms/celebrants of union, it's okay to be selfish and decline a bridal shower. It's okay to say, I don't want money spent on me in this way, let's find an alternative.

For the Moms/mother-in-laws/bridal party members, it's okay to be selfish. It's okay to want to show love the way you know how.

However, for all parties, it's even better to meet in the middle… To find something that can make everyone happy, without giving up key things.

Maybe you're a mother who's always dreamed of throwing this awesome shower, only to end up with a child or child's partner who doesn't want a shower…. so maybe throw that awesome party some other time! Or, throw that awesome shower for someone else. Make it a couple's shower, find a friend who needs to have a shower thrown for them, or turn the party into a celebration all its own.

Maybe you're a bride or groom or celebrant of union that hates being the center of attention, maybe you can find a way to share the spotlight, or not be in it. Maybe you do it by making your partner the center of attention, maybe you do it by not opening gifts, or having the gifts brought unwrapped so they don't have to be opened. Maybe you stand your ground and ask your MIL/Mom/Bridal Party Member to help somewhere else, like cake tasting, or rehearsal dinner, or post-wedding brunch planning.

In the long run, everything we do in life is pretty selfish. Insisting that someone love us in one way is selfish. Insisting on loving someone in a certain way is selfish. The best way to beat that is a compromise.

 

  1. I never wanted a Bridal shower and that was 25 years ago. My coworkers wanted to take me out to clubs/bars. I don't drink and hate being around that environment. I sound like a party pooper. But I really was not interested in that.

    As far as the Bridal shower. I did not need anything and I hated to ask for gifts on a registry that I really did not need. My niece had one and she mentioned later the same reason I mentioned. They asked for stuff that they could have lived without (stand mixers, other expensive stuff and a few cheaper stuff. She felt strange asking for stuff. As same reason I did. Alot of people now already have crock pots, towels, blankets, etc.

    So I think "showers" are sorta out of date)

  2. I didn't have a bridal shower either. To me, it felt like having yet another party where I was supposed to be on display and I was obligating people to bring me more gifts. It felt very greedy and just not who I am.

    I understand the FMIL who wrote in the question has always dreamed of throwing a bridal shower, but that dream was for some imagined FDIL and not for the person who is actually about to be her DIL. It's the same issue when someone dreams of their wedding day their whole life and then can't let go of or change that vision to honor who they and their fiance really are. If your FDIL doesn't want a shower, then honor that.

    And I agree, maybe there can be a compromise. Ask her if she'd be OK with just going to a casual lunch with some of your friends. If the true purpose is to introduce her to your friends in a low key environment, then do that but don't call it a shower. Don't have people bring gifts, don't do the games, don't do any of the traditional shower stuff. Just have your friends meet her since the important part of a wedding is the people and the relationships anyway.

  3. The letter doesn't say whether the mother-in-law has spoken to the bride about the reasons she wants to throw this party. Just saying "Can I throw you a bridal shower?" can be interpreted so many ways depending on what the bride knows of bridal showers! She might be saying no because she thinks the party will be a certain way, while the mother-in-law has a completely different plan.

    It's very important that the mother-in-law explains to the bride exactly what's on her mind – that she sees this as an opportunity for socialising in a quiet environment to build intimacy and social bonds, not a raucous event with extravagant presents and embarrassing jokes. And I agree with Jenn's suggestion: frame it as a low-key get-together rather than a traditional bridal shower, to try to remove any baggage or problematic expectations, and be prepared to compromise on what is and isn't acceptable. If the bride still says no, that must be respected however disappointing it may be.

    Another important point is COVID-19. I don't know if this is an old letter just recently published or if it's for an event planned for this year. No mention of the pandemic was made, which seems odd if it's a recent letter, but if it's an old letter why publish it now since it's no longer relevant? The bride may be refusing a bridal shower because she wants to limit her contact with people, especially strangers. The couple may have had to pare their wedding guestlist right down and have the headache of tests, quarantining, distancing etc to deal with and not want yet another social event and all that brings. The mother-in-law or her friends may be in a vulnerable group so the bride may not be comfortable potentially putting them at risk. It's odd that the letter addressed none of this.

  4. The bride is a grown woman, and this is her wedding. Her wishes should be respected, especially because they aren't unreasonable wishes. This particular DIL doesn't want that, and that's okay. She is an adult who is allowed to make her own choices, particularly regarding an event that is for and ABOUT her. We all have to understand that, of course, sometimes we want to show someone we love and support them in our own way, like throwing them a shower or party…but that we also need to adjust those personal desires to respect other people's boundaries. Sounds like a MIL who doesn't want to respect the boundaries of the bride, which is a terrible way to start a relationship with her DIL. Support and celebrate the bride in ways that make her feel supported and celebrated, otherwise leave her be. I would not want to be around my MIL if she was this controlling and judgemental, especially about something so small. If you don't respect the choices and autonomy of your adult children and their partners, you could damage your relationship with them.

  5. Looooong story short, my spouse and I decided to marry right before the pandemic hit/quarantining became our new way of life. The timing of our wedding prevented anyone–my father, colleagues, in-laws, friends, other family members–from throwing us any kind of parties whatsoever. Honestly, that was a HUGE relief, especially to my spouse.

    We're grateful that we're loved and liked well enough by our parents that they wanted to throw us bridal or wedding showers, but those kinds of celebrations are…anti-us. We're not social. We struggle with mental health issues that disincline us toward mingling with groups of strangers, especially in situations where we're the center of attention. Actually, we'd been putting off marriage for years for fear of parental expectations surrounding all of the social events that typically accompany a wedding. When we finally processed that fear and anxiety and instead focused on what we wanted, we married right away and are SO happy with our choices.

    All that to say: Yes, it's selfish that your future DIL wants to do what's best for her. But your desires are also selfish. You may be giving your DIL a GREAT gift by listening to her preferences. She may feel acknowledged and respected and safe because you granted her wish. This may strengthen your relationship!

    I wonder why it's so important to you to throw a bridal shower? That's a question to consider honestly & carefully. If it's simply about introducing her to your friends, Jenn's suggestion for a casual lunch may be best. If it's something else…let that guide you to a different compromise.

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