Can we talk about consensual bridal showers?

Updated Jan 26 2017
Gina's bride cake
Photo by Danielle Walquist Lynch, used by CC license.
My future mother-in-law has decided that she is throwing me a bridal shower. My wording there is intentional — she did not ask if I wanted one, she did not ask if my bridespeeps were throwing me one (they're not, because they know I don't want one), she Just Decided.

For many reasons, I've tried to be polite and just say "no thanks," but she's insisting.

I have no interest in this event, although I realize that it is very nice of her to offer to throw me one. How do I get out of this? -Kimm

Oh man, there can be all kinds of pre-wedding party activities that people will offer to throw you. That's great… if those are the kinds of things you're interested in. But what if someone is throwing you a party against your will!? How can you be gracious and grateful, while also standing your ground? When is it worth just taking a deep breath and reminding yourself that different people have different ways of expressing their love for you, and putting on your best game face?

  1. I have two ideas from my own life, hopefully they may help:

    I've had some equal difficulty with my family. They are SUPER traditional and the idea that we didn't want an engagement party, bridal shower party, bachelor/bachelorette parties, through them for a loop. We tried to explain our reasoning for it, but it wasn't totally getting through. My sister who is my main lady aka maid of honor, was a huge ally because once she understood our reasoning for not wanting mass amounts of parties, she was able to convey that to the peeps who did.

    I guess tip number one is if you sitting with her and explaining why you don't want one isn't working, have somebody else talk to your mother-in-law about it, somebody you know she may listen to and you trust to explain your side well.

    The only other thing I could suggest is whether there is some other event she might throw you that you are interested in having? From our struggles: my father and his mother (the breadwinners so to speak) both wanted to give us money for stuffs, aka bridal showers/engagement parties/reception…basically if money was involved they wanted to paay. We (clay and I) knew we weren't interested in the things and made that all too clear, but both kept insisting to a point where we worried we'd wind up in a situation like yours or worse. So we put our heads together and decided that his mother could pay for our elvensies food, and my dad could pay for the family dinner we were planning to throw the night before in lieu of a rehearsal dinner. This way, the parents feel involved and like they are helping, but without us being in a situation we don't want.

    So long tip short, I think your mother-in-law to be is just wanting to feel involved, and thus perhaps find something else she could be involved with/fund/host etc.

    • I can't agree enough with the idea of getting someone *else* to talk to the person doing what you don't want if they won't listen to you. This goes for anything, really.

      I'm not married (we've decided that when I'm ready, I'll tell my boyfriend and then he'll find some way to semi-surprise me) but I occasionally have to have my boyfriend convey some idea to my father that he won't listen to if it's coming from me because he thinks he knows better. The beau is an outside force that he's more ready to listen to, though.

  2. I suppose it depends on your reasons for not wanting a shower in the first place.

    If you don't want a shower because you aren't comfortable receiving so much attention and gifts maybe you can ask guests to give donations to a charity you support in place of presents from a registry.

    If it's the dumb games and dainty sandwiches and all that stuff that makes you want to run for the hills, maybe you can suggest locations that make those things unneeded. One of my showers was at a pottery studio. My guests actually painted pieces we used at the wedding. There were some snacks and gift-opening, but no games or bow bouquets.

    If your reason is something like, "I really don't like my fiance's mom and aunts," maybe that's when you suck it up, smile, and just be glad they're doing something nice for you. And if nothing else just think of the presents. (And maybe suggest some delicious, theme-y, strong cocktails you can offer to make. Because you just wouldn't feel right if didn't bring SOMETHING. Please, it's the least you can do? You're so overwhelmed by people doing so much for you. You just want to help too.)

  3. Instead of saying no thanks, maybe offer an alternative. Explain to her why you really don't want a shower and maybe instead you can get a group together for a spa day, or go to a winery or bowling. Something fun that brings people together to celebrate your impending nuptials, as the purpose of a shower should be, but is not so much about gifts and games. I think instead of saying no, you should try to work out an agreeable compromise with her, especially since it sounds like her heart is in the right place.

  4. It took me a bit to talk my Mom, MIL, and bridal party around to not throwing me any kind of event, part of the ease was the fact that our wedding will be on the four year anniversary of us getting legally married. I feel very lucky that they've all listened and respected my wishes, thus far at least, in not having one.

    A couple of thoughts, could you let her throw you a party but set a strict no gifts rule? I know my MIL originally wanted to throw me a shower so that I could meet my husband's extended family, as it was, we ended up bending vacation plans one time to go meet them in a less formal situation.

    I would suggest getting to the root of why she wants to do this for you. If it's because she thinks you have to have a shower, then it's better to stand your ground as nicely as possible. There are no "have to" things with weddings anymore. It's not like you aren't legitimately married if you skip the shower.

    If it's because she wants you to meet people, I would see if you could offer an alternative that would make both of you happy. Perhaps a couple gathering, so that your significant other could be there with you, where you meet people and celebrate; but without the onus of gift opening.

    If you definitely don't want a pre-wedding event, I would recruit your partner to speak with their mother. They could, hopefully, help you express why you don't want a shower in a way that keeps from creating a rift.

  5. I didn't want a typical shower either. I planned one myself. I decided a small group of friends and family would go to a museum, everyone would pay their own admission. BUT I picked a Saturday where if you had a Bank of America card could get in for free.

    The went to a tapas place where I told everyone to help chip in on the bill. It turned out my mom and MIL took care of the bill as a surprise.

    I also said no gifts and besides a few cards and a plant, everyone listened.

    It was a preemptive strike of sorts.

  6. Whatever you decide to do, I strongly recommend making sure that your future spouse is on your side. If his/her mom goes to him/her and complains that you're stepping on her toes or refusing to let her help you or whatever complaint she wants to make, you want your partner to have your back. That mean talking about this with him/her well before you talk to your future MIL.

  7. I often wonder about the word graciousness when I read stories like this. Someone from a different generation offers to gift someone with a traditional party that means something to them. Often it is their way of saying "you mean something to me" and they are looking to be part of the bride's excitement. It is their way of showing love. It is a kind offer of love and I am always surprised to hear a bride have so little etiquette or graciousness that they can choose not to be willing to be kind enough to allow someone to offer love in their own way.

    Typically, the bride is already insistent on everything about the wedding being about them, and it is their wedding – how beautiful to have a day all their own. But to have so little consideration for anyone else and to be selfish enough not to be willing to graciously accept the gift of someone who would love to throw a party on behalf of the bride is simply rude.

    If they want to throw you a shower, it is their party, they are paying for it, they are going to the trouble of putting it all together just for you. You are so insistent EVERYTHING in the universe be YOUR way that you cannot even give one evening to allow someone who loves you to show you their love THEIR way? This is a very sad thing to me.

    • And I feel a little bit opposite about this.

      If someone doesn't want a party and you throw one anyway, who's being selfish?

      That said, I agree that it might just be a nice gesture–unless you've explained this properly, your Future Mother-in-Law might think your wedding party is just being lazy by not throwing you a get-together by now! She might think your "no thank you" is you being modest! In that case, she's not being selfish at all–she's trying to take care of you.

      I agree with the folks above who suggest you come up with an alternative. I agree too that your MIL is probably coming from a place of love on this–try to see it as a good thing and a gesture of goodwill that she wants to be involved. Just find a way that's positive for both of you!

    • I think the opposite. Showing love the way you want to show love, and giving only what you want to give is selfish. I also don't think weddings should be bride centric, and I appreciate the change of this short lived tradition.

    • I don't agree that it's selfish. Some people don't like extra attention, and the actual wedding is going to be hard enough for them. Some people are uncomfortable getting gifts. Not wanting a shower, even if someone else is footing the bill, is perfectly okay. Not wanting an engagement party, or rehearsal dinner, or day after brunch, are all okay. I also think suggesting something alternative, be it another type of party or some other way that the mother in law could contribute, is a great idea, and something that could work for everyone (with the proper communication strategy).

      And for the record, not every bride wants the day to be all about them. My wedding was about the two of us. We planned everything as equal partners, and the day was a reflection of who we are as both individuals and a couple. It wasn't a day all my own. I wasn't the only one there. If I was, it wouldn't have been my wedding. Some,brides may be egocentric on their wedding planning, but you can't assume all are.

      • Is there anyway you can make it a couple's shower? That might lessen the amount of attention placed on you and the amount of possibly embarrassing games or gifts you would otherwise "traditionally" endure…I also like the idea of making it into something else. Someone above mentioned a spa day, maybe she would be willing to spring for something like that instead for just the close women in your family and maybe your bridal party?
        I Totally agree with RakishLass on a lot of her points. I have pretty severe anxiety when it comes to social situations. I do not like to be the center of attention, and I am terrified that I will have to fake-smile my way through uncomfortable bridal games. Unfortunately my Step Mother tends to be very "Traditional" and when she gets into these modes (Whatever her original intention may be) it becomes less about showing me she loves me and more about showing everyone else how nice a party she can throw.
        When our real wedding planning begins I plan on sitting all of the parental units down ahead of time and explain Our intentions for Our wedding. That if there is a tradition he and I are not all that in to but it means something to THEM then I will be willing to sit and talk with them and see if we can come up with a compromise (a Couple's Shower, or a different type of gathering for example) because it is a celebration of our families and community as well.

    • I respectfully, completely disagree with you.

      What is sad and selfish is someone having so little tact and concern about the person he/she is supposedly "supporting" that he/she decides to ignore that person's wishes and force that "love" on them. That's not love – it's attention-seeking.

      I didn't have or want a bridal shower. Both my bridesmaids and my mother-in-law offered to throw me one and I politely declined. Thankfully, they were not insistent or pushy. For me, not wanting a bridal shower had a lot to do with my introverted nature. I'm very shy around people I don't know too well, and even among friends, parties take a lot of emotional energy. Why would I want to spend my precious wedding-planning/wedding event energy on an event I didn't want in the first place? It would have made me stressed and nervous instead of grateful and joyful.

      So selfish? Maybe. I call it self-care. To the original poster, I say stand your ground and be polite but firm. "Thank you so much for your generosity, but I really don't feel comfortable with the idea of a bridal shower, so I'd rather not have one." If they give you any grief, become a broken record. "Yes, that does sound nice, but I wouldn't be comfortable. I'd rather not attend. Thanks anyway." And enlist the help of Future Spouse, definitely.

      • Love this. I completely agree. This basically confirms all of my feelings about a bridal shower. I was feeling guilty that some family members want to throw one for me and that I do not want one at all for all the same reasons you mentioned. I felt like I should just let them throw one until I realized it's MY wedding and just as most women are not shy to discuss all the things they WANT, I should be able to say what I DON'T want, right?! 🙂

    • I agree, Pat. I have zero interest in having a bridal shower or bachelorette party. However, my mom lives in the Midwest and offered that if I can find a way home in February, she would like to throw me a bridal shower. I'm like, "What the hey. She really wants to do this for me, so why fight it?"

      I've come to understand that a child's marriage is a big event for the parents as well. My mom wants to be involved and wants to help. Not to mention, there are lots of folks that won't be able to make it to the wedding on the West Coast, so this is their chance to celebrate our union. She wants to celebrate and throw me a party, so I am invoking my "Yes, Mom" policy. (My fiance and I have made a "Yes, Mom, policy that prevents stupid arguments with our mothers. If our moms desperately want something involving the wedding, if they are willing to plan and pay for it–then we'll say yes.) I will let my friends know gifts are completely optional, because that is my biggest complaint about having a ton of parties surrounding my wedding: it financially exhausts friends that may not have the money to buy you things that you don't even really want or need. Most things revolving your wedding are about you and your partner. Other things are for your family and friends. It's not worth the argument and the gesture is certainly a sweet one, so I will be thankful and let the people who love me show me a little love.

      • I think a "Yes, Mom" policy may be the most brilliant idea evar. Not just when for wedding stuff, but for regular life stuff too. If your mom wants to do something for you, and it isn't going to cost you anything (mental costs count here) just let her.

    • Maybe we need to 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 bride making everything about her? You're selfish.

      Are you a Mom or MIL looking to show love only in one way? 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 these things.
      For the brides/grooms/celebrants of union, it's okay to be selfish. It's okay to say, I don't want money spent on me in this way, let's find an alternative.

      For the Moms/MILs/Bridal party members, it's okay to be selfish. It's okay to want to show love the way you know how.

      However, for both sets (B/G/COU/M/MIL/BPM) 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 Mom or MIL 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 compromise. But, some things aren't worth compromising on and the only person who can decide that, is the person in the situation.

      • Our wedding wasn't hosted by us. Our parents (both sets) took care of most things financially, so we considered them then hosts. Just as not everyone goes the traditional route and let's someone else pay, not every bride and groom host their own day. Selfish isn't on the he same plane as tacky in my opinion. I was forced to go to multiple events the day after our wedding when I was exhausted and worn down, risking my own health, all for the sake of not offending the new in laws. It was awful. Was it selfish to not want to jeopardize my health and well being the day before we left the country for two weeks? Nope. I wanted some down time to relax and recover with my husband, not spend a whole day haunting around to lunches and parties thrown by people who never asked if we wanted them, but expected us to show up.

        • I think you missed my point, which was that just like the label of tacky, the label of selfish can be applied to pretty much any situation in the wedding world. I'm saying that I don't think it's cool to discount someone not wanting to do something because it's selfish.

    • "I am always surprised to hear a bride have so little etiquette or graciousness that they can choose not to be willing to be kind enough to allow someone to offer love in their own way."
      — Because not wanting to puke all over some church basement when I'm forced, as the bride, to sit there listening to the sexist "advice" the women in my father's family give at every wedding shower I've ever attended while I open lingerie that's too small for me and then field comments about how easy it would be to lose weight and "make it fit" before the wedding so we can have babies before I turn 35 and get "too old to have any at all" once my Ativan wears off is Selfish on *my* part? Sometimes, some people have to choose their own health and safety over "etiquette". We don't know Kimm's reasons for this decision, but assuming that it's selfishness and rudeness is at the least unfair, and so far sounds a little hypocritical.

      "Typically, the bride is already insistent on everything about the wedding being about them, and it is their wedding – how beautiful to have a day all their own."
      — Welcome to Off-Beat Bride, some of the most equitable PEOPLE planning weddings on the Internet. Read around; you might be surprised at the amount of cooperation, compromise, and discussion a lot of us are already doing with our loved ones about our weddings. "It's Our Day" is a pretty common statement. People are encouraged in almost every post to talk to the partner about a problem, and it's not always assumed that "the bride" is the woman who "gets her way".

      "But to have so little consideration for anyone else and to be selfish enough not to be willing to graciously accept the gift of someone who would love to throw a party on behalf of the bride is simply rude."
      — Offering to host a party shows love and excitement; insisting that it be something the bride (or some of her family) isn't comfortable with is exercising control over them and/or "stealing thunder" while relying on "etiquette" or "tradition" to keep everyone quiet about it. For some of us, these bachelorette and shower scenarios cause a very high level of fear and anxiety. No one has to "be nice" if it's going to cause them physical illness or harm to do so. I'm sorry if you're from my mother's or a later generation that didn't teach you that, but attitudes toward genders and consent have changed, mostly for the better I think.

      "You are so insistent EVERYTHING in the universe be YOUR way that you cannot even give one evening to allow someone who loves you to show you their love THEIR way? This is a very sad thing to me."
      — The saddest thing about wedding showers and bachelorette parties is how often they're used to take consent away from the couple. Note I didn't say "control" which is where A LOT of people go off the rails when it comes to weddings. I said "consent" so the bride(s) don't get a say in what happens to their bodies. According to "family tradition", I'm supposed to be okay with a half naked stranger rubbing a g-string in my lap? NO! They can't respond appropriately to what people say to them, such as my aunt declaring to a room full of people that "I hope you haven't been giving the milk away for free yet or he might not show up at the altar! Hahaha!" because it's "impolite". I'm sorry, but comparing me to a cow and assuming my future husband would just leave because we've had sex is *far* more impolite than asking that an event go a certain way.

      Insisting that everyone celebrate what you want your way if the honorees have concerns or requests ultimately amounts to telling her to be a good girl and do what she's told. Forget that shit! Weddings are about compromise, and that should include the family and wedding party *offering* to host the events. There is no law that says we must accept "a gift" that could cause us physical or emotional harm. Too many people are cultured to do it anyway.

      • "Insisting that everyone celebrate what you want your way if the honorees have concerns or requests ultimately amounts to telling her to be a good girl and do what she's told. Forget that shit! Weddings are about compromise, and that should include the family and wedding party *offering* to host the events."

        I agree that weddings are about compromise, and I think it's important that this is a two way street, especially when it comes to family. I think your comment implies that everyone should compromise their own traditions and desires to accommodate the bride's wishes – and I say "wishes" because no where in the OP did she imply that she would suffer "physical or emotional harm" because of a bridal shower. That is a huge assumption. She simply said she "didn't want one," and "wasn't interested."

        This situation, IMO, sounds like a good opportunity for both sides to compromise in order to understand each other better. Why does the mother in law want to throw a shower so badly? Why is the bride so opposed to one? When both parties know what the other one truly wants to accomplish, they should be able to agree upon something that satisfies them both.

      • OMG!!!!!! I would totally agree! I don't want a Bridal Shower because I am uncomfortable with the attention, gift opening etc. I told my mom I wanted a "Wedding Shower" or "Couples Shower". She is now mad because its not what she wants and is so used to me just giving in to what she wants all the time. So when I want something for myself she gets mad. How fair is that? It is the Couple's day and everyone else just needs to understand that, not the other way around.

    • "If they want to throw you a shower, it is their party, they are paying for it, they are going to the trouble of putting it all together just for you."

      I have to wonder about this. Over at Etiquette Hell, the Dame has a question: Who is being served by this? If you insist upon throwing a party for someone who doesn't want one, who is really being served?

      Yes, there's something to be said for letting other people love you the way they know the best. But there's also something to be said for understanding that what you see as love may be something that takes the other person so far out of their comfort zone they won't feel your love. They'll just feel their own discomfort. Whatever the reason, the letter-writer hates the idea of having a bridal shower. The MIL's insistence upon throwing one means she's not planning a party with the bride's personality and comfort in mind. So is the party really for the bride? Or is it for the MIL?

      I know a bit of what I'm talking about. I lost my apartment and nearly all of my personal possessions in a disaster that could've cost me my life as well. Afterward, my sister wanted to throw me a "clothing shower" to replace my lost wardrobe. Fortunately, she ran it by me first. I cringed. Part of it was that I was still recovering mentally from the disaster, and part of it was my own introverted personality. I just couldn't imagine having an event like that. The very idea made me want to curl up in a little ball. I knew that my sister and my friends were trying to help me and love me. I understood that. But I just could not do it.

      My sister, fortunately, understood completely that her idea, which sounded great to her, was a little horrifying to me. She didn't insist upon doing something I was uncomfortable with. That's the other side of love–when you understand that it's not just about your need to express love, but the other person's ability to receive that expression as love.

    • If it were really "their party" then it wouldn't be required for the bride to show up. It's a party centered on the bride, and if the bride doesn't feel comfortable with it, it shouldn't be thrust upon her. If the party were about the person throwing it, it wouldn't be a "bridal shower," it would be a… future mother-in-law-al shower. Or something.

    • I disagree.

      A bridal shower host is usually asking the guests who are also invited to the wedding to bring gifts and this can put the bride and groom in an uncomfortable place with their invited guests for the sake of a family member's public announcement of affection.

      Most of our wedding guests live very far away and having them spend the money to be there for our big day is a huge gift in itself.

      I personally feel very uncomfortable with gift showers and showers by mail because it is asking way too much of our wedding guests.

      If someone wants to throw a party and have a nice lunch with anyone who happens to be in town, that is fine, but I think it is inappropriate to invite out of town guests to a shower too in expectation of gifts or, God forbid, a shower by mail!

    • There are many of us out there who are extremely uncomfortable (to say the least) when placed in such social situations. I certainly don't think that makes us selfish or ungrateful. I do think it is selfish for one, no matter what their generation, not to attempt to understand that and just assume they can just insist on one to fill their own needs.
      In my case, the wedding consisted of myself, my husband, the preacher and one witness. I certainly don't think I insisted on a day all about me, having everything my way. My husband actually made all the plans and arrangements. My MIL did feel that it was okay to just plan a wedding shower for us, without bothering to even ask, and even went so far as to choose the stores to which I would register and pick which dishes would be placed on our registry. 23 years later I realize that all she was telling me was "saying" to me was that I was an individual whose boundaries and feelings were not what she approved of and, therefore, were of no real import. So before you decide to snot nose others, maybe you should take a moment to consider why they feel the way they do. Judgmentalism is so unbecoming, no matter the generation.

  8. I really didn't want a bridal shower, and ended up with 2. Both my mom and MIL were pretty insistent, so I tried to put some ground rules (please no games, please no lingerie). One respected my wishes, the other didn't, but I had the mindset that I was going to enjoy myself either way. They both approached it from a place of love, and as long as you approach your "rebuttal" with respect, I think it will all turn out ok.

  9. Based on the question posed by the OP, it seems like the shower is on, regardless of the fact she doesn't want it, so hemming and hawing over ways to continue declining sounds like a waste of time and energy to me. Like most things in life we don't always want to do or enjoy, I'd suggest making the best of it. I'd also consider the potential fallout with the mother in law over this. Is it worth creating angst before the wedding? Is this the hill you're willing to die on, or is it just going to be a passing moment that won't really matter in the long run? I think that sometimes a compromise is worth it.

    A couple of ways you could make the best of it, since it sounds like the event is "on" whether you want it or not are talking to your mother in law about what you do and don't want at the shower – if you don't want games, you could just tell her that you'd prefer to not have games. For the gifts, you could register at Amazon, where people could get you pretty much anything under the sun. That way you wouldn't be pigeonholed into receiving stereotypical Pottery Barn stuff that you don't want in the first place! You could register for books, games, DVD sets, etc. that you could enjoy with your husband after your wedding.

    Also, who knows? You might end up having fun and meeting lots of nice people. You didn't say anything about the family in law…maybe they're all horrible, in which case…eek! Drink your way through that unwanted party, girl. Or, maybe not. Chances are it is just an opportunity for his side of the family to meet you and spend some time with you.

  10. since the OP didnt say why she didnt want one, or why her MIL is doing it anyway we are left with too many variables to offer solid advice. I had a shower and a party with my friends right before (not a bachelorette sine its my 2nd wedding) but people who know you and love you generally try thier hardest to make you happy. a blanket "i dont want one" in regards to a shower could be for so many reasons, a little context would have been very helpful here.

    • I agree 100% – it is very unclear as to why the OP doesn't want a wedding shower, which has led to the majority of commenters (myself included) making assumptions which are most likely influenced by our own experiences. Some of us are assuming that the mother in law is just trying to be good natured and express her love in the only way she's used to doing, some are assuming she's being pushy and inconsiderate of the bride's wishes, some are assuming the bride just doesn't enjoy wedding showers, some are assuming she may have a physical/health condition that is being ignored, and so on and so forth – definitely a situation where more context would make this whole discussion more productive.

  11. My wonderful friends offered to host a shower and didn't understand the concept of a feminist, gift-less pre-wedding party. So I sized up my priorities and asked if we could do a book shower — each person brought a book that reminded them of their relationship with me. We played one tasteful game, too. It was a nice way to meet them halfway.

    • Where was the book shower idea when I was getting married?! Holy crap, that's brilliant! I think I know what my next birthday party will be.

    • I fucking love this idea! All our friends are writers/editors/bookworms too! Damn it why didnt I think of this!

  12. I'm Australian and I realise the "wedding shower" is a different beast if you're American.
    I was having an interstate wedding and wasn't really fussed about a big shower, but as some people couldn't make it to the ceremony, I suggested to my bridesmaid that we have a "kitchen tea" 0r "high tea" at a cafe. I didn't want the high tea to be ridiculously expensive as some of the guests were also attending the wedding & would be spending a lot to attend from interstate. My friend organised with the cafe to put on a selection of cakes and a coffee or tea each for about $15 a head.
    The high tea idea also got taken on board by my inlaws and my husband's extended family who baked up a storm a few days before my wedding.
    At both events it was just genuine conversation and a couple of toasts. No games or strippers.
    I agree with the above posters who have suggested you speak to your MIL to be and get your fiancee on side (hopefully he will do most of the talking). Be willing to compromise. I love the idea of the book party above too.

  13. I'm keeping my reply short-and-sweet – the MIL, to me, should respect the bride's wishes! Perhaps you could perhaps compromise a bit and have a family meal instead?

  14. I have no wise words, but I want to wish you good luck! That happened to me, too. I really like my mother in law, but she announced she was going to throw it and then kept getting me involved in the planning when I wanted her to just make the decisions. Especially since both of my grandmothers had just passed away, I was planning the wedding from 11 hours away from where it was going to be, I was in an extremely high stress job I hated, and I lived 11 hours away from her. She then decided not to throw it a few months before the wedding, but luckily my aunt decided to throw me one when she heard and then took care of everything.

    It created a lot of stress and a decent amount of tension, so if you don't want one let her know in some polite way. I did want one if someone wanted to throw one for me, but all I wanted was to show up the day of.

  15. I thought, if we're going by etiquette rules here, that a family member can't host the bridal shower anyway? This includes the mother in law. It's supposed to be hosted by friends of the bride, and if they don't host then you simply don't have one.
    Isn't a wedding enough of a celebration already? If someone doesn't want yet another party hosted in their honor, that's their choice and loved ones should respect that choice.

    Edit : Ahh, someone else lurks on Etiquette Hell! *highfive*

    • *high fives*

      I don't agree with all the Dame says, but I love her maxim. "I went to all this trouble FOR YOU!" has been the source of some fine emotional blackmail over the years. Did they ask? Was it wanted? If not, who were you actually going to "all this trouble" for?

    • It might depend on where you live because where I'm from, it's most common for an aunt to throw the shower.

  16. My grandmother was ALL OVER the bridal shower idea. The thing is, I don't have a lot of female friends, and I'm not close to many of my female family members. On top of that, I have social anxiety, and one major party event within a few months is pretty much my limit. At the time when she decided that she was throwing me a shower, she was in the hospital, and I was warned to go along with the idea and not cause more stress for her – but what about the amount of stress this idea was causing me? What I ended up doing was speaking to one of my aunts and explaining to her that I was really uncomfortable with the idea of a bridal shower and definitely didn't want to have one. She agreed to act as my intermediary with my grandmother, and was able to explain my feelings to my grandmother way more tactfully than I could have. In the end, Grandma understood that while I appreciated the thoughtful gesture of her wanting to throw a shower for me, I felt more comfortable skipping the extra party entirely. She didn't get her feelings hurt, and I didn't have to suffer through a painful several-hour gathering with relative strangers. Maybe you can find someone who can help you out by acting as a liaison between you and your future mother-in-law, if you don't feel like you're able to explain to her directly that you're not okay with having a bridal shower?

  17. I got railroaded into a shower by my MIL, too, despite my anxiety and my ongoing protests. In the end, I got it to be bearable by gently imposing some conditions:

    -No gendered bullshit. My husband attended, as did a large number of our male friends. No "girl's night", no lingerie, no stereotypical games.
    -Gifts were not required. I didn't want my friends, starving artist/student types, to feel obligated.
    -I had the freedom to disappear as I needed to collect myself. This mostly came in the form of my bridesmaid/officiant shuffling me out of the room periodically when I laughed just a little too loud or was starting to shuffle back and forth in discomfort. My husband's family is all faaaaaar more traditional than I am, and this periodic sequestration ensured that they neither made me cry nor rage. Obviously, I did not communicate this to her, but the built in safety made it easier.

    My social anxiety may not be an apt comparison for your wishes not to have a shower, but in this case, by talking openly and frankly with my MIL about why I couldn't handle certain aspects of showers opened up a line of dialogue which ended in a compromise which worked for the both of us. I knew she wanted to throw this because she was genuinely excited about our marriage and loooves event planning. Sometimes, it's less about that and more about attention-grabbing, or sometimes it's both, or sometimes it's just a more rigid system of ettiquette. In that case, if she won't listen to you or is unwilling to meet in the middle, I say that it's fine to tell her firmly but politely, "Thank you so much for thinking of me and wanting to throw me a party, but I really can't see myself being comfortable with attending." Best of luck, and hope this helped.

  18. Sincerely, good luck! I'd love to hear what others may have done. I wish I would have planned a "decoy" shower/party/something. My mother in law, even after knowing that I didn't want anything, gave me a surprise shower, under the guise of coming over to do yardwork. We dressed the part. I know it was very well intentioned, even though we didn't have a registry (we had already been living together for several years) so we ended up getting a lot of stuff that we didn't need/want. However, that wasn't what I had a problem with, like I said, I recognized the intentions. It was just that I spent the entire first hour in the bathroom on the phone with my mom (who lives 9 hours away) having a panic attack. There was a reason I didn't want a party, and I didn't necessarily want to have to explain to her, "It's because I flip out in front of large groups giving me presents!"

    As well intentioned as she is, she still finds ways to do this now. I'd love to hear about what others are doing to head off "surprises."

  19. I'm also getting a shower I don't really want. I'm pretty laidback about it and my aunt is really stubborn once she decides something, so I've given up on trying to stop it.

    I don't mind the attention or gifts or even stupid games, but I do have weirdly specific anxieties that would make me really uncomfortable having it at the place my aunt suggested, so I offered to find a venue (she's from out of state so this is under the guise that I know the area better; I've lived here my whole life). This way, I'll be WAY more comfortable. I also have a weird schedule so I got to choose the date, which made me feel better, too.

    Maybe some of you other brides in the Unwanted Shower Situation might feel better about the whole ordeal if you could be put in charge of some facet of it? (It's like a reverse of the situation where a loved one wants to be involved in part of your wedding so you give them a project to make them happy!)

    I know this won't help everyone, but it put me at peace with my shower.

  20. We went through this same situation!

    Our solution was very simple. We had a very small wedding (18 guests), we didn't have a gift registry, we made it very clear to friends and family that we weren't interested in a shower.

    Our reasoning was also pretty simple. Neither one of us likes the limelight and we were getting married to share our lives together, not to receive a pile of gifts from people.

    As simple as we tried to make it, some people were still offended, confused, or continued to insist. We did our best to keep the communication polite and friendly and insisted that we wouldn't be going to any showers.

    We chose to have all these conversations ourselves, not ask other people to say it on our behalf. We wanted to own our decision, and we wanted to have the opportunity to be able to explain our reasoning if necessary.

    Eventually people seemed to understand that we weren't being rude or ungrateful.

    It worked for us!

  21. I have been having this same issue with my mom and my sister. They insist I MUST have a shower, and therefore MUST have a registry with lots and lots of things my FH and I don't want or need.

    I've never liked showers. I don't like being invited to them. I don't like parties where the entire premise is gifts.

    But my mom insists that she has thrown so many showers for her friends' kids that it is her turn.

    So, I agreed that I would have a shower under a few conditions: 1. It would be my mom's friends and my FH's mom's friends only (old lady shower.) I did not want my friends to be invited because I don't want them to be obligated to buy gifts. 2. It will be a garden theme, so the old ladies can get me plants or seeds or soil or books on gardening or whatever. We will have it in the spring so I can plant the things immediately.

    The thing I've realized about my wedding is that it's not just for me. It's not just me that has been thinking about it and has hopes and dreams for it. My mom and my family does too. They have been waiting for this too. And so I try to compromise on the things I can compromise on, and stand firm in the things that I can't.

    So I will spend an afternoon with my mom's friends (many of whom I do not know or like especially well) and graciously accept their gifts as part of a tradition or rite of passage or whatever a wedding shower is. And I'm doing it because it's what my mom wants.

  22. Ditto to what several people said above about not wanting a shower: I don't have very many female friends (ah…friends at all) and the ones I have don't know each other because they come from different circles. I don't like opening presents in front of people. I have enough social anxiety that I avoid being the center of attention at parties. I don't really like parties, and I really, really, don't like showers (and for the record, I don't think most people do). Here's how I handled it. I didn't have any bridesmaids to worry about, for what it's worth. I knew that my aunt was going to offer to throw me one, because she had thrown one the previous year for my brother's wife. I pre-emptively told her that I did not want to have a shower, and gave some reasons that I said above, plus I mentioned that the couple of friends who I might invite were really poor (this was 2011, and all my friends were unemployed, except me) and I would feel weird having them bring me presents when I was the one with a job. I just really made it clear that I was not interested in it, and thankfully, she listened. Roll the tape forward to two months after our wedding. My mom and dad have four couples from their church who they are friends with and have dinner together 1-2 times per month. Many of these folks had pitched it to help with little things on our wedding day (putting out the cookie trays, setting up punch, etc [we had a very short church-basement-punch-and-cookies reception – and loved it.]). Plus, I've known a lot of them since I was a little girl, and they are pretty cool. My mom mentioned that the group wanted to invite us to their next dinner and have a game night/bbq. It was at the beginning of summer, so the weather was nice. We went over, had some wine and food, played some outdoor games, and then came inside to play some board games and they surprised us with a couple of small, mostly unwrapped presents around the theme of "herbs and spices" — a couple nice potted herb plants, some dish towels, a little cookbook, handwritten recipes and jars of spices. One couple gave us a giant basket of rhubarb from their garden with a recipe written on an index card for rhubarb crisp. Ultimately, it was really sweet. I think it was important for them to have a chance to celebrate with us, get to know my husband and to wish us well. The gifting part took about 15 minutes (most of the things were not wrapped, so it was more receiving than unwrapping) and then we played a hilarious round of Celebrities. It wasn't a shower, but it filled the need for that (for my mom's friends at least). For the record, it also meant a lot to my husband to be there and participate in it.

    Back to the original poster: I completely hear you about not wanting anything to do with a shower. But, can you work together with your mother-in-law to come up with ideas for a consensual, non-shower activity that will fulfill her desire to celebrate you and your marriage? Ladies day out to a spa with just the girls from your family? Co-ed beach day? A recipe book that the whole family can contribute to and present to you at a family meal? Craft-a-thon to work on wedding crafts (or, just you know, crafts)? Low-pressure, small party after the wedding with your spouse there?

  23. I didn't say it above, but I think that as a rule, showers ought to include both (/all) the people getting married. I told my husband, after recently attending a really boring shower, that guys would never put up with traditional wedding showers because they don't like wasting their time at parties where literally no one is having fun. Truth is, neither do women. Joint showers at least operate more like regular parties.

  24. When I read this, I realized that myself and my mom may have done exactly what the FMIL in this question did when my brother's girlfriend got pregnant. We immediately assumed we would be throwing a baby shower, and I'm pretty sure if she disagreed, we would have just had it without her. I was seriously that excited, and it never occurred to me that she might not want to have one. I don't think that was the case, but it very easily could have turned out that way.

    My suggestion would be to tell her that you are grateful for her support and glad she is so excited, but you want to make sure the celebration is something you will both enjoy, so be honest about why you do not want a shower and be prepared to offer an alternative that you might both like, and be prepared to make a few concessions even after you provide an alternative.

  25. I didn't want a typical bridal shower and I told my future MIL that. I tend to be very shy and prone to panic attacks, especially when I am the center of attention. I said that if I did have one, I wanted a cocktail type evening, just have a few drinks and laughs with friends. It has recently come to light that her and my future sister in law have gone and planned me one anyway. They went and bought a whole array of penis shaped objects (a bit cringe worthy, but expected I guess), invited my fiance's 87 year old Irish Catholic grandmother (that should be interesting with all the penises around) and intend to dress me as a giant baby… diaper, bib and pacifier included…. WHY!? I thought it was sweet of them to be throwing me a shower but the dressing me as a baby is a bit too much for me… It is tomorrow night and I have been having anxiety attacks and thinking about just drinking a lot to hide how humiliated I am to be dressed as a baby with a crown of penises on my head…

    • That sounds like a nightmare… Don't feel like you have to wear that stuff, though. You could take them quietly aside before the shower and tell them how uncomfortable that makes you, especially in front of a crowd, so you won't be wearing those things. If they choose to take offense to that, it's their problem and don't fret about it if they do. They'll get over that one small thing. You need to feel as comfortable as possible in a situation that already makes you uncomfortable!

      When I had my girl's night out, I told them no penis stuff because that kind of thing makes me uncomfortable. Instead they bought me a veil and a couple other things and only brought penis straws for us to carry around, so we were all happy!

  26. My fiance's family really wanted to throw us a bridal shower. But I don't know most of his extended family well and didn't want to be by myself. We're having a dual-gendered wedding cocktail party. Male and female family will be invited. We're wearing formal attire and having cocktails and finger food. Instead of gifts, we gave the hostess (his aunt) a list of places we like to shop and the guests are making us a gift card tree.

    My mom is being SUPER traditional with the bridal shower and I'm not really cool with it but I'm dealing with it. It's not a huge deal but I'm not very close with my family.

  27. My advise is to just suck it up and let her have a shower. You may be able to say to her that you want it to me family only (if you want to spare your friends). Be a good future daughter-in-law and indulge her. Let her do her thing. I'm sure she will be receptive to some of your ideas/concerns. Just go with it.

  28. Easy, remind her how thankful you are and how much you appreciate what she is trying to do for you. But, you don't want one and never intended on having a bridal shower. If she can't understand that or respect your feelings, then that's for her to workout herself. Don't let people run you over with their ideas.

  29. My husband was horrified by the idea of having a stag party, so he spent the months before the wedding joking that "everyone who wanted to organize or attend his stag party, would not be welcome at the wedding". It might not have been the most subtle way, but everyone got the point and it worked like a charm: there was no stag party.

  30. I don't get the impression you registered, so unless you did, there isn't a point. She is doing it because she wants to throw a shower. This kind of behaviour may continue if not stopped now. Especially if you plan on having kids, she will have ideas on how things should be in your life and just do as she pleases. She doesn't know it's unacceptable , so let her know in a assertive and firm manor that it isn't what you want, you appreciate that she wants to do something for you, but you don't want it.

  31. Wow, I wish I read this a year ago when I first got engaged. I wouldn't have felt so 'wrong' when I came across this scenario.

    My FMIL went against my wishes and is throwing me a shower. Nobody I know will be at this shower and it's highly unlikely she'll be inviting my family.

    I tried to be polite. I tried to kindly turn it down. That didn't work. I tried to explain my reasons and that these reasons meant a lot to me. She said it didn't matter if I didn't want more stuff, all my stuff is "junky" and it's time for me to get "nice" stuff. (for the record, my "junky" stuff is mid-century teak that I've collected over the years and cherish). Besides, she's been to so many showers of other people that she's owed a shower.

    I tried to enlist my fiancé to tell her my reasons, but he didn't see the point in fighting, especially if he was getting free stuff out of it.

    Then things got ugly. When things get ugly between a bride to be and a FMIL, and the groom happens to be the only child of a very possessive and controlling woman, guess which side he'll take? Not yours.

    When I finally came around to ending the fight and told her "Weddings are not about the bride. They are about bringing families together and I'd be honoured if you threw me a shower," she cut me off and said she was going to throw me one anyway.

    This is when I had a big realization. Yes, it is my day. But these fights will exist no matter how hard you try. Some of these fights will never go away no matter how steadfast you are in your reasons. But it's better to make compromises on the things surrounding your wedding so that you don't have to make compromises for the things on your wedding day that greatly matter to you. If controlling energy is part of the equation, direct it to where it will do the least damage.

    Yes, showers to me are wasteful acts of consumerism, carried on by obsolete tradition, but there are ways to work these politics into the compromise.

    My solution was to agree, but only on the condition that the shower guests have to pool together to get me three things on my registry. A vitamix, a dyson, and le creuset cookware. Otherwise, cash in the honey fund.

    I'm not saying always agree to the shower, but if you can turn it into something positive while redirecting that energy – and a shower is that place to do it – then there might be no harm in reworking the idea of the shower.

    Pick your battles. There will be many along the way.

  32. My MIL and mom are throwing my shower, but my MIL is really taking control of the thing, which is out of character for her. She's living vicariously through me because she didn't get the fancy wedding she wanted when she was married, and her other son's wedding was nothing like what she wanted (destination wedding, shower was a potluck at a community hall). I told her if she's paying for it, she can do whatever she wants, but my mother is paying for it too, and I don't feel like her budget was respected. Also, I didn't want it to upstage my wedding reception, but it just might. The location is much fancier. I'm just doing my best to be laid back, appreciative, and not concerning myself with what I can't control.

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