Yeah, getting lingerie from my future MIL wasn't awkward AT ALL.
Yeah, getting lingerie from my future MIL wasn't awkward AT ALL.

Ah, the “wedding shower” — A wonderful tradition rife with feminist solidarity and celebrations of love, marriage and family bonding?

Or, for some of us, torture in the form of humiliating games and awkward, voyeuristic present-opening rituals? If I were to answer this from my own experience (see the picture of me to the left, taken during my nightmare wedding shower), I'd have to say a little of the former and whole lot of the latter.

But fear not this same cruel fate! It doesn't have to go down like that! Unless, of course, you're INTO the traditional games and present-fare. If that's the case — more power to you, I wish you crates of toilet paper and all the “oohs and ahhs” of present openings a-plenty.

But for future brides, family members, bestest friends and future-in-laws, that are dreading the wedding shower and all it usually entails… put down those rolls of toilet paper and read this

Themed Wedding Showers:

(FYI, these could work for both “girls only” and “co-ed” wedding showers.)

The Red Queen's Crouquet
Wonderland themed bridal shower. Photo uploaded by Offbeat Bride reader Niamh.

“Garden Party”

“Let's all plant little things together and let them grow like Jane and Kimmy's lerv!” This theme can also work for “green” brides. You could help the bride and groom start a garden in their new home or go somewhere and all plant trees as gifts to the Earth conscious couple.

“Alice in Wonderland Shower”

This idea came from Offbeat Bride reader Aimee. Host an offbeat tea party complete with croquet game, funky tea pots and tea related gifts. Rabbit ears and funky hats are encouraged.

“Stock the Bar” party

For the the couple who lives to entertain. Guests bring bottles of alcohol, martini shakers, stirrers, shot glasses, fun cocktail napkins, wine & champagne, etc.

“The Recipe Shower”

For the bride or the couple that loves to cook. Have all the guests bring their favorite recipes on a pre-determined size of paper. At the end put all the recipes in a cool recipe book that the couple will have forever.

Hand painted jars
Hannah uploaded this to our Flickr pool and said, “These were painted at my craft party bridal shower and then used as cups so we didn't have to waster plastic and paper.”

Crafty Showers:

“Wedding Crafts Party”

Is the bride into DIY projects? Maybe you can have the guests help out on any of the projects that need to be completed for the wedding — Oragami flowers? Place-cards for the reception? It could be a way to get the projects done and make people feel like they participated somehow in the wedding.

“Pottery Party”

Several Offbeat Bride readers have hosted a party at a paint-your-own pottery shop. The guests could all paint bowls/dishes/mugs/whatever the newlyweds need for their home, and then give them as gifts at the end of the party! (Click on the photo to the left for more photos and descriptions of one such party.)

Group Outings:

“Adventure Shower”

Just because it's a bridal shower, it doesn't need to be about sitting in a circle and chatting and eating. If you're an adventurer, have it outdoors and around an organized physical activity. What about rock climbing or hiking and then celebrating with champagne at the top of the cliff?

“Wine Tasting Shower”

Get a group of friends, rent a limo and then spend the day traveling to different wineries. As the wine flows everyone will get more comfortable and get to know each other very well by the end of the trip. Plus for shower gifts, everyone could take turns buying the bride's favorite wines from each stop.

Tribe member Emily in the height of toilet paper wedding fashions.
Offbeat Bride reader Emily in the height of toilet paper wedding fashions.

Ironic Wedding Showers

“Embrace the Cheese” wedding shower

Just have fun playing as many cheesy games as possible — the toilet paper wedding dress, the clothespin game, wedding word scrambles, bingo, the purse game, and yes I am writing these all from memory… (horrible horrible memories). And there needs to be an abundance of “cheese platter” appetizers and other “cheesy” foods.

Ridiculous “Baby Shower” wedding shower

The absurdity of this idea is what appeals to me. Play all the horrible baby shower games instead of wedding shower games. This idea came from when Ariel, during a brain storming session, brought up the baby shower game where people smash chocolate candy into a diaper and then people have to smell the diaper and guess which candy bar it was.

So horribly disgustingly wrong at a wedding shower, which makes it so horribly disgustingly RIGHT in my world. Or what about a “baby bottle drink off” with bottles filled with liquor? Then after that play the “change the baby's diaper with one hand” game. Ah, drunken fun with poop jokes and fake babies. That spells fun to me!

So there ya go. We hope this helped to save some future brides-to-be from less-than-stellar bridal shower fate. Use any of of these ideas and we promise the bride will be more than just thanking you for the lovely toaster, she'll actually be having a good time!

And of course we'd love to hear more ideas from you if you've got 'em.

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Comments on Torture-free wedding showers

  1. you guys are VERY VERY WELCOME! I’ll be super happy if I can at least save just ONE bride from a horribly painful wedding shower fate with this little article. And I love that so many of you are forwarding this to your moms. That makes me smile. 🙂

  2. My sister hosted a super cool wedding shower for me and my fiance. All guests were asked to bring a ‘date in a bag.’ Everyone had to write step by step instructions for us to follow on our date on an index card and read them outloud at the party. The dates were incredible, one person created a scavanger hunt all around our city with clues to figure out and lunch, another was a step by step breakfast in bed extravaganza, a letter boxing picnic, a massage lesson for two, etc. We are making a scrapbook and have been taking pictures each time we go out on one of our dates.

  3. We are doing the recipe cards already- we included recipe cards in the invitations for my cousin’s shower. We are doing a word scramble, as that is an easy and non-embarassing game. We are also doing a “dice game” which is sort of like a white elephant gift game except the gifts are cute home good items/fun clearance items from Target, TJ Maxx, etc. and if you roll doubles, you pick out a gift from the pile in the middle, once all the gifts are taken, everyone opens them, and then round two starts, so if you roll doubles then, you get to “steal” the gift you like from the person who has it, and you just set a timer. The other fun game is having someone email the groom funny questions to answer about the bride (her least favorite household chore, favorite food, where was their first date, anything) and then have the bride and everyone else at the shower answer the questions, (use the bride’s answers as the correct ones) and see how everyone else answers. This can be pretty hilarious and the questions can be adjusted depending on your crowd. I’ve been to a shower with the “purse” game and it was akward when the bridesmaid asked “who has condems in their purse for 5 points??” and the bride raised her hand and starts blushing in front of her mom and MIL. . .
    There definately is an added cost to having a shower but if you have a few bridesmaids and aunts to help out, its not too bad. It unfortunate but being in almost any wedding party sets you back about $500 when its all said and done (dress, jewelry, shoes, hair, hotel room, shower gift, bachelorette party, wedding gift)… maybe that’s why I only had one bridesmaid in my own wedding.

    • I live in a very affluent area where all of the showers have 50 guests, no games & no cake, no punch, just tea party foods, quiet conversation, and watching the bride to be open presents. SO boring!!!

      I am throwing a shower for my little sister. She’s 11 years younger than me, she’s 26. She is up for games and cake and all, which I am happy about! SO I am looking for games that you can play with younger ladies as well as older ladies from her church. I think the game you mentioned with “questions answered by her finance” sounds great!

      The only showers I have been to that weren’t boring as could be, played a game where someone writes down each response the bride-to-be says as each present is opened, then they are read back after saying, “This is what was said on her Honeymoon night…” Some typical responses were, “I hope this fits,” “Oh, it’s black…” “What do you do with this?” We had my sister-in-law literally rolling on the floor. Obviously not a game to play at a shower with the nice old ladies from church. Or IS IT??

  4. Oh my goodness, thank you for this post! My FMIL suggested a lingerie party for me and I could have died of awkwardness. 🙁 These ideas are about a bazillion times better! I love the “date in a bag” idea as well – that sounds like so much fun!

  5. Thank you! You have saved me the purgatory that is the bridal shower! I’ve been hesitant to agree to one and now I have some alternatives to offer the eager girlfriends. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  6. As an Australian, my experiences echo those of the New Zealander and the UK person mentioned above. I’ve never really heard of anyone having a shower. We typically have a hens night, but if you’re not into a big night out, people usually have a kitchen tea, which I suppose is pretty close to a shower.

    I had a hens night, despite being quite shy and not into nights out – I just gathered close friends and we went to see Dirty Dancing at an outdoor cinema. It helped that most of the girls loved Dirty Dancing and had never been able to see it on the big screen, but it was just really nice to be able to sit and chat over a picnic before the movie started.

    I don’t think we mentioned presents on the invites at all, but some of the girls brought some. The point of the night for me was really to consciously appreciate the women in my life, and spend some relaxing time with them before the big day. Goal achieved!

  7. Another idea that I did for my sister was a picture scavenger hunt. I went out and bought a bunch of props from the dollar store and had each group take certain pictures with them an example would be:

    bucket w/ shovel: Get a stranger to wear the bucket as a helmet and brandish the shovel in a threatening manner

    my favorite was-
    “bling glasses”: ask a cop for directions while wearing the bling glasses

    it ended up being a lot of fun, I’d love to see it done with a larger group!

  8. My best friend is throwing my shower in June. I’m fairly certain there will be no avoiding toilet paper games, but it’s good to know there are some game-free showers going on out there.

    Oh well, I guess I’ll just rely on my brother’s wife to help me live up to our family bridal and baby shower motto: “If they make you play–WIN BIG!!”

  9. Me and my girls are going camping for the weekend. I love Camping and so do they. Im sure that ill have to have some sort of weird dinner thing with all the old ladies in the family or something but my grandmother is crazy and so is his so ill probably be highly entertain but the clucking.

  10. i had a recipe shower and it was great! every guest also brought me a utensil to use with the recipe they gave me and i got almost all kitchen gear as my gifts!

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