Wedding celebrations normally follow a particular order. Engagement party, showers, rehearsal dinner, wedding. But nothing about 2020 has been normal so far. With many couples rescheduling and re-imagining their wedding day as a smaller celebration, there’s a knock-on effect on other pre-wedding events, like the bridal shower. And while postponing your wedding will probably simply mean postponing your shower, what about those couples who opt to have a micro wedding or elopement on their original date? Can you have a bridal shower after the wedding?
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. A bridal shower is, by its definition, for a bride. That is, a single gal. And if you’ve already said “I do” – whatever the circumstances – you don’t really fit the profile anymore. Of course, extreme situations allow us to bend the rules but the problem, from an etiquette perspective, is two-fold.
The biggest issue is around gifts. Showers are traditionally an occasion where gifts are given, so having a bridal shower after the wedding can come across as solicitous. Guests may have already chosen something extra for you off your registry, or spent more on your wedding gift because a shower didn’t take place. Inviting them to a bridal shower after the wedding may seem a little tacky.
Another problem is that not everyone at the shower may have been at the wedding. One of the firm rules of bridal shower etiquette is that everyone who is invited to the shower must be invited to the wedding. This may not have been in your control, but it can still rub salt in the wound for those who had to be excluded. Although if you’re still planning a big post-wedding reception this year or next, this may be less of an issue.
So where does that leave you? Do you really have to miss out on yet another tradition?
The good news is that there are alternatives. It’s all in what you call it! Having a brunch or ladies luncheon after your wedding is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it’s a wonderful way for your friends to be able to celebrate with you (when that’s something we can do safely again!). Just don’t call it a shower. Call it a celebration of your new marriage, or a post-wedding breakfast, or whatever you like. You could also combine it with the groom, so that you have a joint party, or make it a housewarming if you’re moving into a new home.
Most importantly, don’t include any registry details on the invitation. Some guests will want to bring a little something in lieu of a shower gift. Let them know where you are registered, but only if they ask. And don’t make opening gifts part of the occasion. Save that for a private moment.
Another option, of course, is to have a virtual shower before the big day. Video conferencing has become the new normal for socializing, and there’s no reason why you can’t do the same for your bridal shower. Plus, it’s sure to be one that nobody will forget! Guests can easily send gifts online for you to open on Zoom.
Ultimately, as with all traditions, you have to do what feels right to you. If you strongly feel you want a bridal shower after the wedding, and your guests are on board, go for it! But mostly, it’s a good idea to fall back on traditional etiquette, whatever the challenges of our modern times.
Image by Elizabeth Messina