What does the modern-day bride want at a shower?

I’ve been invited to a bridal shower/bachelorette party for a 30-something friend getting married this fall.

I haven’t been to a bridal shower since the 1990s, and I’ve only been to showers in the South, so I’m not sure what to expect at one in 2013 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Showers in the South in the 1990s involved your mother’s friends and neighbors sitting around a living room in pastel suits and floral dresses serving petite fours and sherbet punch. (If you grew up in the South, you know the punch I am talking about!)

You played silly games and opened presents – generally recipe books or maybe a nightgown from Victoria’s Secret – nothing super racy.

I have been advised that now it’s all about sex toys but I can’t imagine that’s true. Would I be made fun of if I show up with a Julia Child cookbook? What about a nightgown from Macy’s or a photo album for their first year of marriage photos? Is that too old school? Or should I just go with a gift card to Home Depot?

So what should I be expecting at a modern bridal shower/bachelorette party? What do I wear? (No floral sundress?) What gift does the modern bride in her 30s want?

43 comments Add your comment

Mother of 2

August 20th, 2013
6:39 am

I know the punch and I didn’t grow up in the south. I’ve honestly never heard of sex toys as shower gifts. We used to give them out as gag gifts, but never as shower gifts. Why not buy a cookbook with beautiful pictures that can be kept on the counter. You can also buy a pretty stand to display it. You can be the guest who brought the tasteful gift that will be appreciated for years.

Aunt Shell

August 20th, 2013
6:44 am

I’ve been in the south my whole life (43 years) and have never been to a shower like you describe – pastel suites and floral dresses. Sounds stuffy…please don’t spill anything on the plastic slipcovers. ugh Showers are for the bride and her friends, not her mom’s friends and neighboors. If mom feels the need to have a shower for herself, then she can throw one separate from the main shower.

derp.

August 20th, 2013
6:45 am

if only there were some sort of online list of exactly what the bride wanted/needed. man, that would be really convenient. someone should get on that…

i LOVE...

August 20th, 2013
7:08 am

oh, i know those types of showers! they’re still held in small town southern churches!! you’ll get some really “cute” handmade stuff from the church matrons and some other equally as conservative items from the younger group.

but then you have one with your girlfriends in which you get the good stuff…toys, lingerie, etc.

Me

August 20th, 2013
7:08 am

I’m thinking she wouldn’t mind having a tall, dark, and handsome man in that shower with her!
But, seriously, I’m from the south and, by virture of being male, have never actually attended a shower for a bride although I’ve heard stories and have seen some pictures. Seemingly there was always one shower with the theme you describe – all stuffy, etc. But there were ususally others, at least one or two more, that were comprised of the Bride’s friends and those “not so stuffy” family members. I also don’t recall a bridal shower also being a bachelorette party as, from what info I have been provided, these are drastically different. And I’ve never heard of the sex toys being presented at the bridal showers but have certainly known of this to occur at the bachelorette parties.
Although the cookbook idea isn’t what my wife would choose to give there is certainly nothing at all wrong with it. My wife often takes a gift comprised of either wine or champagne glasses with the initials of the bride and groom etched on them.

motherjanegoose

August 20th, 2013
7:14 am

Ditto on the punch! I have not been to a wedding shower in YEARS,

But this is a topic I am interested in, as we just attended an out of state wedding of a relative. The invitation took you to an online site that specified:” we would like $$$ for our honeymoon” . I thought this was kind of odd and inquired. I was told that the couple did not have time to have a registry. That annoyed me since we had time to fly, stay in a hotel, rent a car and get there. I went to Amazon and ordered them three things I thought they would like and they did. They thanked me as soon as they saw me. We visited their house, after the wedding to help, and while it was nice ( I would have been thrilled to move into it as a newlywed) they did not have much in it. I did see my things as they were out Why not register? Do people register for furniture? That seemed like an idea that would have been good. Their honeymoon destination would have been comparable to going to Tampa, if you lived here. So that was not a big expense. They both have jobs too. Odd to me.

Gretchen

August 20th, 2013
7:24 am

Surely the bride is registered somewhere. That should tell you what she wants.

Sex toys are for the bachelorette party.

motherjanegoose

August 20th, 2013
7:30 am

I have heard of couples showers. Has anyone been to one? The groom might register at Home Depot or Lowes?

Me

August 20th, 2013
7:38 am

@MJG – I have heard of couples showers also but perhaps in a context in which Home Depot doesn’t apply — Sorry, just kidding around. Yes, I have heard of this but don’t personally know of anyone who has held such.

DB

August 20th, 2013
7:42 am

I went to one last June for a bride, and it was about as traditionally Southern as you could imagine. No petit fours, but some nice hors d’ouvres, mimosas, peach bellinis, wine and lemonade. It was a kitchen shower, and the bride received everything from a Kitchenaid mixer (from all her bridesmaids) to mundane things like cookie sheets. Each present was accompanied by a recipe, which was collected into a cute monogrammed recipe box. Sex toys? Goodness, gracious, NO. Bring the Julia Child book, and hold your head up high! If they laugh at you, then they are ill-mannered heathens. Screw ‘em. :-) And wear what you’d wear to church or any party — I’d err towards a dress/skirt, or dressy pants and a nice top.

The older brides sometimes have a lot of that stuff that they have collected over the years. In that case, if the shower doesn’t have a theme, then it’s a little harder. But a Julia Child cookbook is a classic.

Young Lady

August 20th, 2013
7:49 am

I’ve taken cookbooks and other household items as gifts and I’m in my late 20s so this isn’t a trend I’ve seen. The bachlorette parties can get that way with gag gifts and more racy things but that’s more of an optional thing I’ve noticed. No one is required to do that at least in my social circle.

woodsesq

August 20th, 2013
7:54 am

1) Nice bar set (martini shaker, etc. + couple of martini glasses);
2) As someone else mentioned, a nice cookbook with beautiful photographs and a pretty cook book stand – If you know where they are going on their honeymoon and there is a particular cuisine the area is known for, perhaps locate a related cookbook;
3) If the couple is the outdoor type, a picnic basket, picnic blanket, a couple of nice tervis tumbler type wine glasses and a bottle of wine; or
4) A simple, elegant picture frame suitable for a wedding photo.

And in MHO, please, do not take a gift card of any sort to a shower…you are certainly creative enough to come up with something better than that.

Techmom

August 20th, 2013
7:58 am

I would err on the side of something you wouldn’t mind discussing in front of your children. I did buy my SIL lingerie for her bachelorette party but certainly not for the wedding shower. For one of my close cousins who I was not able to attend her wedding shower, I have her some kitchen gadgets that were on her registry and then stuck a gift card for Victoria Secrets in an envelope with her soon-to-be-husband’s name on it. That got lots of giggles of course.

Real Life

August 20th, 2013
7:58 am

I have been to so many Southern bridal showers that I have lost count. I have never been served that punch at any of them. That seemed to have been reserved for baby showers. And never been to one with the pastel suit brigade.
Money is the most requested item these days, but I decline invitations to fund raisers disguised as showers. Same with weddings where the couple flat out ask for money. Call me old fashioned but it is rude. I think a good cookbook is a wonderful idea. One of the best wedding gifts I received was a cookbook from a friend. She wrote a wonderful message to us in the front of the book and marked favorite recipes she thought we might enjoy. I know that times have changed since I married 30 years ago, but I usually give a gift that relates to what the couple enjoys together. Through the years I have given cookbooks, pairs of martini glasses, tools (a couple I know met helping a mutual friend with a car repair) and so on. So bring something that honors the couple and that they might be using as they celebrate milestones in their upcoming years together.

z

August 20th, 2013
8:06 am

You are confusing bachelorette and bridal showers. Brides should be registered so there is really no reason to wonder what to buy. A simple excuse so that you don’t have to go might serve you better, you seem overmatched.

K's Mom

August 20th, 2013
8:14 am

I got married in my 30s and had most household items, but we still registered and got some really nice things from very gracious friends. I cannot stand it when people ask for money for the honeymoon. I think it is rude. We used points for ours to cut costs, but had we not had the money to go, we would have gone somewhere we could afford.

I would have been horrified if someone had brought sex toys to a shower since my mother was at most of my showers. Stick with a good cookbook or find a registry.

Stacey

August 20th, 2013
8:29 am

I attended a shower a few years ago (30 something couple, each with teens from previous marriage) and the theme was sex. All of the food and party favors were shaped like sexual organs and the games were raunchy. Only the immediate family and best friend of the bride knew to expect so they gave gifts like toys, handcuffs, edible undies, etc. My gift was tasteful lingere and the other guests gave things like stemware, platters and small appliances. I will admit that I had a lot of fun and would use some of the food ideas for a bachelor/bachelorette party or even an adults only birthday party for the “right” crowd.

I wasn’t invited to the bachelorette party but a mutual friend who attended said the shower was like Sunday school compared to the bachelorette party. The wedding and reception were very nice and “normal” since kids were invited.

Stacey

August 20th, 2013
8:44 am

BTW…The bride’s parents hosted and catered the shower that I attended. It was summer so I wore slacks and a short sleeve blouse. I remember feeling over dressed because nearly everyone else (including the bride) had on shorts and flip flops.

FCM

August 20th, 2013
8:48 am

Towels, a nice bath wash, and lotion. (someboday needed to be a smart@$$ about the question)

Bride is probably registered. Get something from of the list. Or in all seriousness plain bath towel sets in a solid color are a safe bet. Get a gift receipt if you’re worried.

What is wrong with a floral dress is she goth or something? Nothing wrong with a solid color or a pant suit either.

motherjanegoose

August 20th, 2013
9:02 am

I agree about gift cards and cash for the honeymoon and I am being told that I am old fashioned.

I sent a Lenox silver picture frame, a nice grill set and a really thick front door mat with their initial on it. I was thinking that those gifts covered both the bride and the groom. I debated about a picnic set but did not know if this was something they would use.

Re $$$ for the honeymoon, I was thinking they might have planned an extravagant honeymoon but it was a car drive away and a nice place I have been on a regular vacation. Friends are telling me that when couples marry and are older, they do not need anything and thus they want the $$$. Anyone? As my kids are getting older, I know I will be debating about what to do with their friends and cousins. Help!

motherjanegoose

August 20th, 2013
9:11 am

Another question…if you go to the wedding, do you send a gift that is in proportion to the type of reception? As in, if it is REALLY nice you spend more? I am asking because we just met some parents in Sedona, who were heading to CA to meet their future son in law. Really nice couple who sat near us in an outside dining area. The discussion came up about the wedding/ reception. Her daugher had booked a place that was billed at $60,000 for 125 people including food and bar. I was shocked. They were too :). They lived in Wisconsin before retiring to FL. Daughter is in her 30’s and was set on the place, as it is perfect. They said that she told them that the customary gift is $300.00, near LA. I know I have never spent that on a wedding gift but I may be clueless. I spent $200.00 for a close friend but $300.00?

Malt Liquor = Liquid Stupidity

August 20th, 2013
9:29 am

Teresa,

From many of the bachelorette parties I’ve seen lately, a tub gummy peni$es appears to be mandatory for the gals here in the 21st Century.

Malt Liquor = Liquid Stupidity

August 20th, 2013
9:30 am

Sorry.

THERESA (not Teresa)

My bad.

Young Lady

August 20th, 2013
9:32 am

FCM- Nothing wrong but showers range from pretty casual to formal in my experience. Most of the ones I have been to lately have been extremely casual. A pant suit would be overdressing those showers. A nice dress should be fine.

Stacey

August 20th, 2013
9:55 am

MJG…I recently read an article/blog online where a bride trashed one of her coworkers on a social media site because (1) he gave a gift instead of money and (2) the value of the gift was significantly less than the cost of the meal at the reception. Most of the people commenting seemed to side with the bride that the gift should be reflective of the cost of the reception. The majority also felt that it is tacky to give a gift instead of cash.

I had actually never heard of matching the gift to the cost. I wonder how you would know how much is being spent on your meal (surely no one is tacky enough to tell their guests that).I thought a wedding/reception was a chance for the bride and groom to share their day with the people they love and not a fundraiser (as someone else called it).

I rarely give cash nor gift cards unless it’s $10 in a kid’s birthday card. I’m a bargain shopper so even though my gift is really nice, it came from Tuesday Morning or a Marshall’s type store. I’m from a small country town so my family expects and appreciates gifts like towels, crockpots, or cookware. We aren’t a china/crystal/sterling silver classes of folks. :-D

Uh, z...what part of...

August 20th, 2013
10:05 am

…”I’ve been invited to a bridal shower/bachelorette party” did you not understand? No confusion as far as I can tell, except that to have a “bridal shower/bachelorette party” is not quite normal, as I truly believe that the two are NOT interchangeable nor mixable UNLESS it is only for CLOSE, really CLOSE friends of the bride and EVERYONE knows what kind of bachelorette gifts are usually given….

And, MJG, I have been to a couples bridal shower, and you are correct that the bride received stuff for the kitchen/bath/pictures/etc., and the groom received gift cards to Lowes’, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc…

Becky

August 20th, 2013
10:06 am

I am 51 and have lived all of my life in GA and I have never been to a shower like Theresa describes..

I would say what you wear would be dependant (sp) on where the shower is being held..I have always worn nice shorts or slacks to them..If it’s a bridal shower/bachelorette, I would expect that some people might take sex toys..I have never given one as a bridal gift and don’ t forsee ever doing that..

That being said, my nephew (36) got married in July, his first, her second..On the website for their wedding, they said that they already had a home full of lovely furniture and that they needed no register..Most of us traveled over 200 miles to be at this wedding and stayed overnight..So they said that any money that would of been spent on a gift for them, use to cover the cost of coming to the wedding..If and only if, you really wanted to give them a gift, please donate toward the cost of the wedding pictures..Don’t know of anyone that was offended over that suggestion..

And...

August 20th, 2013
10:09 am

…$480 ($60,000 divided by 125 guests) is quite a large “expected” gift cost – what a bunch of hooey (yeah, I am from the south)…

Uh, Becky....

August 20th, 2013
10:12 am

…I have read your description of some of your relatives over the years on this site, and this guy sounds like a prince…I knew the whole family couldn’t be as dysfunctional as you have made them out to be, though I do not doubt that many of them are just as you describe…you are a star in my book (not that you should care – I just wanted to thank you for sharing a great idea)…

HB

August 20th, 2013
10:19 am

Sounds like you need to figure out if it’s a bridal shower or a bachelorette party — two very different events! If it’s the latter, I’d recommend finding something a little on the racy side but that you’re comfortable giving — maybe lingerie or a VS gift card. I wouldn’t give a cookbook, album, or Home Depot card at a bachelorette party, but those would be good gifts for a wedding shower.

Becky

August 20th, 2013
10:39 am

@Uh Becky..Thank you..I do care that you think that about me, it really makes me feel good..I also thought that is was a great idea..Of course, me being me gave them a wedding package..New pendant light for the kitchen, lazy susan that she can pust family pics in, an “our honeymoon” picture frame and lots of candles..

I do have a few in my family that aren’t dysfunctional, just not that many..This nephew is that rare one..He is only the only nephew that I have that supports his child and hasn’t ever been in jail..That in itself is a major feat for the rest of them, as at this moment, I have five relatives (male) in jail and most of them will be in there for at least 4-5 more years..None of them seem to be able to stay out more than 2-3 months.. LOL..OK, off my soap box..

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 20th, 2013
11:45 am

I think the problem for me is it is a mix of of the two events — I think starting at a house and moving to bars — everything is very casual out here, even church (flip flops everywhere!) — I wrote to the groom to inquire and he said dress like you’re 27 and spa gift card — so spa time I can definitely give but the 27 part is long, long gone!!!! I think I will be the oldest person there.

Denise

August 20th, 2013
12:08 pm

Does the shower have a theme? Most of the ones I have gone to have had a theme. That has helped when deciding on a gift. My fave was “pots and panties”. Kitchen and bedroom! If you felt uncomfortable buying lingerie you could buy a cookbook.

A cookbook, lingerie, or nice photo album or frame are nice go-to gifts if you just don’t know what to get. If this is a personal friend, get her something special that reflects your relationship. It wasn’t for her shower but for her wedding I gave my best friend a picture from the year we met (9th grade), a framed copy of a poem she wrote in the 10th grade (we’re both pack rats), and a letter with song lyrics and titles like we used to write. I gave it to her privately and we had our “moment”. For her shower I gave her something that was an inside joke but was still okay for public viewing. We laughed but no one knew why.

Techmom

August 20th, 2013
12:22 pm

I find it incredibly tacky for people to ask for money. Yes a lot of people do give it and I’m sure it’s appreciated when received, however it’s NEVER appropriate IMO to ask for it. I have heard the recommendation that your gift should be appropriate to the type of wedding but I don’t follow that either. If we’re close and I go to your wedding, I will buy you something nice because I want to and value our friendship, not because I think you spent $50 or $100 per person. I also don’t always stick to a registry. I figure some of the best gifts we received at our wedding were not on our registry so no big deal.

Personally I have an issue with people having engagement parties, wedding showers, and bachelorette parties and then expecting a wedding gift on top of it (oh and don’t forget the baby shower next year!). I’m not stingy person but I think it’s a bit much.

joe

August 20th, 2013
1:19 pm

I’d say hot water, soap, shampoo and conditioner.

lakerat

August 20th, 2013
1:22 pm

When my son married recently we hosted an engagement party (no gifts, just a get together as a “formal announcement”; the parents his friends who had married in the past couple of years had hosted them, too, so we did not think that to be too tacky on our part – he asked, so we basically could not say no, even though we disagreed a little bit as to etiquette.

However, IMHO, for a parent of either the bride or groom to host a bridal shower is the epitome of tacky; it is, to me, just another REQUEST to “give” to the couple, and from what my mama taught me, showers are to be given by friends or relatives ONLY. But, live and learn, and be aghast, at what some people do.

Kate

August 20th, 2013
2:19 pm

I think the nicest gifts are ones that show you’ve given some thought to the individual. A cookbook can work well, but only if she’s a cook. OTOH, if she’s more into home renovation, something like a cordless screwdriver might be better – you get the idea. I once gave a modern design tea kettle to a friend who drank tea every day and had modern decor. She loved it and used it daily. I think a gift card can be impersonal, except when it’s for a very specific experience the recipient enjoys. My go-to outfit for warm weather is a long flow-y casual skirt with flat shoes – manages to look either casual or dressy.

At the risk of sounding like Miss Manners, for the record, a wedding (or any) gift is not supposed to somehow match the per-person cost of the event. That’s a horribly crude and low class concept that apparently has somehow recently taken hold among brides and grooms eager to be repaid for throwing overly extravagant events they can’t otherwise afford. Gifts are optional and freely given, matching the ability and willingness of the giver to provide them – not payment of an invoice.

FCM

August 20th, 2013
2:41 pm

@ lakerat I was taught it was tacky for the parents of the couple getting married to host a shower too. Baby shower too. My sister-in-law and God-mother hosted mine. Also my boss gave me a baby shower.

One job I worked at, I was the only female in the office. We took up a collection at the office and got them tools at Sears. He LOVED it. He had said he had worked on the car over the weekend but found it frustrating he did not have the right tools. When he took it home that night his bride was very happy for him. She said it was appropriate because most everyone else had gotten them house stuff (blender, etc). Then she told him that FCM must have thought of that. I got a special thank you note. Turns out he had been claiming all the stuff He had mentioned that everything they had been given seemed more for (bride) than him. So she figured I must have heard it at the office too and made sure we got something HE would like. She was right.

FCM

August 20th, 2013
3:26 pm

I have known a few brides who made sure to tell the guests how much the “per head” cost was and that a gift comprable to that was expected…now that is tacky! I do think it is more recent.

AJC ran an article during the recession (about 2010???) that talked about brides and grooms asking for money for the wedding or honeymoon in lieu of presents. What a crock! You invite people then ask them to pay for it? Why not just potluck in your yard with a JP on tap?

catlady

August 20th, 2013
5:15 pm

I do not attend affairs where I am expected to pay for my invitation. I send regrets.

What is being described sounds like a “tea” honoring the bride. Teas gave Mama a chance to invite some of her friends for a genteel celebration. No sex toys, no undies. The shower I had was of,mixed ages. Again, nothing risqué. Then there was the bridesmaids’ luncheon. No bachelorette party, but, heck, I was only 20.

Denise

August 20th, 2013
6:49 pm

@FCM – my cousin (47) tried to pull that “potluck” bull. I think she was told no before the idea made the rounds. Have the kind of wedding you can afford. I don’t think I had more fun at weddings that cost $25K vs those that cost $10K. As long as the couple looks happy and the DJ is good, I’m happy. And if I don’t have to be in the wedding I’m even happier. (For a while being a bridesmaid was like my second job!)

So, Denise...

August 20th, 2013
7:05 pm

…are you saying that the movie “27 Dresses” was based on your life?

justmy2cents

August 21st, 2013
9:41 am

The easiest party/shower is the “stock the bar” one. You just bring alcohol, drink glasses, mixers, etc. Otherwise, what they really want, especially if they are older- is cash.