Weddings are generally an expensive affair for everyone involved. Guests are responsible for several presents, and the couple will tend to spend a lot on the event. Originally, the tradition of bridal showers started as a means for a couple to get married without a dowry. If the bride’s father didn’t approve of the match, he would forbid the union and withhold the dowry. We have come a long way from that, but the gesture has stuck around. Don’t give gifts just because you feel like you have to; give them to celebrate the union and support the couple’s new lives together.
Since it’s pretty much expected that you bring something (even if it’s a small token), who should get what? It all depends on several things. To start with, what’s your relationship with the bride? Is she your best friend, daughter, family friend, or someone you just met? Bridal shower gifts should be more personal and thoughtful than a typical present. Definitely try to put some thought into it so that it tells the story of your relationship with the bride. Hosts should also give something to the bride even though they took care of the party.It doesn’t have to be much, just make the gesture.
That being said, you probably already picked out an actual wedding gift you know the couple will love (even if your wallet doesn’t!). Your shower gift should be much less expensive. A great way to do that is by “dressing” the present up with things you can do yourself. Include a heartwarming note, or make the card your self! There are lots of easy ways to make a simple gift stand out. If you feel a big purchase is necessary, then team up with the other ladies and split the cost.
Another factor to consider is the brides registry. Should you pick out her shower gift from it? Does she even have a registry? Go with your gut on this one. Registry gifts are much less personal, but at the same time you know the bride will like it. It really depends on who you’re buying for, and how much you can spend. If there are only big ticket items, then it’s probably best to find something else.
Sometimes it’s not clear if the present should also be useful for the groom as well. While going with a typical kitchen type item will probably ensure they both get to use it, bridal showers are generally just for the bride. Many showers will have a theme to follow anyway. If the gift you pick out works for them both, then great; but don’t worry about it otherwise.
So what happens if your invitation has a theme written on it? Hopefully it’s a broad subject, but in some cases you may have to ask the maid-of-honor for some guidance. Some common themes are colors, around-the-clock, spa, lingerie, and kitchen. There are literally thousands of other possible themes, so just use your imagination. It’s supposed to be fun, not stressful!
On the flip side, will the bride be giving out gifts too? It really all depends on the bride. Some like to give something small as a thank you. Others may just write a simple thank you note, or even give you a hug. It’s always a good idea for the bride to give the host something though. A nice bottle of wine and a note is perfect and simple.
It’s important not to get too hung up on bridal shower gift etiquette though. Keep in mind that this is a celebration! The most important thing is to let the bride-to-be know how much you care and treasure your friendship; let her know how happy you are for her!