“Showers are friendly gatherings held in honor of a bride-to-be or in welcome of a new clergyman or in expectation of the arrival of the stork – for almost anything, in fact, that the imagination can invent. So, too, the setting for a shower can be almost anything – a luncheon, a dinner, an afternoon tea, an evening party, or even a morning coffee. The only distinguishing characteristic of the shower is the giving of presents to the guest of honor.” – Emily Post in her 1922 seminal book, Etiquette
While we’ve begun to move away from some of the most traditional etiquette practices (pretentiously kissing a lady’s hand, anyone?), there are still some suggestions that are good to follow. A tricky area around etiquette can be who should or shouldn’t host showers. Thankfully, there are people who figure these kinds of things out for a living! Here are some current guidelines for hosting showers.
In previous times, it was seen as inappropriate for a member of the bride’s family to host a bridal or wedding shower. Why? The Emily Post Institute, considered to be the end-all, be-all of etiquette knowledge, says, “Because the main point of a shower is to give gifts to the bride and it could seem as if her family was asking for gifts.” While it’s still considered a faux pas for an engaged couple to throw their own shower, it’s fine for anyone else to host. And, while they certainly are welcome to, bridesmaids and maids of honors are not required to host a shower.
While on the topic, it’s also good to know that “encore” bridal showers – or bridal showers for subsequent marriages – are absolutely fine to have, even if you had a shower for your first marriage. The main etiquette recommendation for these showers is to only invite close friends and family, with an exception being friends who were not invited to your first shower.
If you’re a bride-to-be, you might be wondering if it’s appropriate to have more than one shower. The short answer? Yes! Just stick to the same invite rules as encore showers: only close friends and family are invited to multiple showers.
The Emily Post Institute says, “Traditionally, close friends, cousins, aunts, sisters-in-law, or co-workers of the mother-to-be hosted baby showers. Because gifts are central to showers, having a member of the honoree’s (or husband’s) immediate family host appeared self-serving. Today it is appropriate for anyone to host a baby shower, as long as there’s a legitimate reason. For example, some parents-to-be live far from their hometowns, and their mothers and siblings want to host a shower so that long-time friends can attend.” This advice falls right in line with bridal shower advice, making it easier to remember the “rules.”
What about showers for second or third children? Similar to encore bridal or wedding showers, baby showers for subsequent children are totally fine. Stick to the same invite rules – only close friends and family and those who weren’t invited to the first shower – and you’ll be fine.
If you’re planning on hosting a shower, you might be wondering when the “best” time to host a soiree is. It’s always safe to send out invitations 3-4 weeks before the event, and follow these guidelines for scheduling:
Bridal Showers: Typically hosted two months before the wedding date
Baby Showers: Typically hosted six weeks before the due date
These dates can be moved around slightly, according to the honoree’s needs and whether or not there are multiple showers being hosted or extenuating circumstances (such as travel, bed rest, or other unforeseen events).
The good news? Anyone but the honoree can host any kind of shower, so get to planning!