One of our first wedding related “arguments” happened when we were deciding whether or not we should have a bridal shower. I was on the side of “No, we’re not inviting anyone to the wedding so why should we send them an invitation that says ‘please buy us a present even though you’re not invited to the ceremony'” and Kyle was on the side of “My mom wants to throw us a bridal shower, so just let her?”
“What would we even register for?” I asked him. “We’re almost thirty years old and have been living on our own together for three years. We already have everything that most couples register for, we don’t need a bridal shower.”
He wasn’t buying it. “What’s the big deal?” He asked. “So we’ll get some new stuff. We can upgrade our old stuff.”
“But we’re not inviting most of these people to the wedding. How tacky is it asking someone to buy us a panini maker when we’re not inviting them to the wedding?”
Eloping can be a tricky thing. Not to say that we totally eloped – often times when I think of “eloping”, I imagine two people romantically running off into the night to secretly get hitched by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas. But these days, “eloping” (according to Martha Stewart) can also mean “having a very small wedding that isn’t a secret and includes the couples closest friends and family” (AKA: what we did. Surprisingly there was still a ton of planning to do.)
With that being said – it is completely your call on whether or not you want to have a bridal shower. If you’re truly not comfortable with the idea, or feel that certain members of your family might be a little hesitant on buying you a gift when they know they won’t be asked to be a part of your big day, then don’t do it. It’s just going to make everything weird and cause unnecessary tension.
On the flip side – if your family (or his, whoever wants to throw the shower) is game and suggested the idea, it’s okay to let them follow through as long as you’re comfortable with it. To quote Martha herself, “Whether or not the elopement is a secret, it’s perfectly fine to have a bridal shower”.
Here’s how to do it right:
Let Someone Else Throw The Shower
Do this anyway, even if you aren’t eloping. It’s just tacky (and more stress on you) to plan your own bridal shower. Let your mom, or your sister, or your bridesmaids, or basically anyone other than you plan that party. The whole idea is supposed to be about celebrating YOU and the fact that you’ve found love! Similar to throwing yourself a birthday party as an adult and sending out invitations – you don’t want to make it seem like you’re just doing it for the gifts.
If you’re truly uncomfortable with the idea of a formal bridal shower, but your mom/sister/mother-in-law/whoever is itching to throw you a celebration – suggest something like a brunch or luncheon instead. You’re still getting everyone together to celebrate without the awkwardness of “asking” for gifts by proposing the event as a ‘bridal shower’. WIth an event like this, some may still bring gifts, but at least this way it’s their own idea and not necessarily “expected”. (And this way you can have mimosas!)
Don’t Include Registry Information On The Invite
So, we registered. I wasn’t overly jazzed about the idea, but I agreed on one condition – we would only give out the registry information if someone asked for it. According to both of our mothers, everyone and their brother was asking where we were registered and the moms said they “didn’t know how to respond”. To make things easier, Kyle and I created a registry, gave our moms the information, and told them to feel free to let anyone know who specifically asked. By not including the information on any invitations, it made it seem less like we were “asking for a gift” and more about just wanting to celebrate our marriage with our friends and family.
Invite Everyone To The Post-Elopement Reception
This only works if you’re having a post-elopement reception. We got married in Big Sur, but then had a reception when we got home. This way everyone was still able to celebrate with us even if they weren’t technically at the ceremony. If you’re having a reception, send an invite to everyone that you’ve invited to the bridal shower.
Written by Jennifer Kosatka of Chicago, IL. Jennifer is a contributing Vow, Bella bride who was married October of 2019. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and their two puppies. Follow her on Twitter at @JennKosatka.