Ever a bridal shower, never a groom shower.
Photo by Casey Chae on Unsplash
American wedding traditions are bonkers.
Yes, that’s a technical term. Bonkers. Absolutely bananas. As a spinster of twenty-six, I’m just now starting to discover wedding preparations firsthand, through liberal use of my more successful friends.
And speaking as a member of the millennial generation, I think sometimes we take for granted how rapidly traditions are changing. Mostly to our benefit too. We’re often one of the first, maybe second generation to live with a significant other before marrying them, or even agreeing to marry them. More and more we care less and less about what gender those significant others are, or what household chores that means they should do.
Wedding traditions are one of the exceptions, stubbornly remaining unchanged despite the times.
I don’t think I’ve been in a room with that many adult women before. Not when it’s solely adults, and only those who identify as women. It shouldn’t have been a strange experience, I know, but I kept wondering —
Why couldn’t the bride’s father or uncles, or grandfather be there?
Excuse my crassness for a moment, but did this tradition start as a way to prep young women on how to “please a man”? One of the gifts the bride opened did have a terribly short nightgown in it. Everyone giggled, and the bride did blush.
But this is a woman who has a lease with her soon-to-be-husband. She blushed because she hates being the center of attention, and because we were in a church. Not because of some outdated notion of having her hymen broken the night after the wedding.
No, what she really got was either travel items (their honeymoon was out of the country), jewelry (which is always a good gift), or kitchen supplies.
Honestly, what she got the most of was silverware. Two packs, one with forty-odd pieces, and one with seventy-six.
(side note: I wish I had gotten a better look at what was in that pack. Even with two types of forks and two types of spoons, that’s 15 of each piece, plus one other item of an unknown type. It doesn’t make any sense.)
I started apartment living when I was in college, choosing to live away from campus in my junior year. I (and my roommates) was lucky that my mother had been saving up extra pieces of cookware in her attic for just such an occasion. We needed everything. Pots, pans, plates, silverware, glasses — the list just went on and on. I was well over childhood at that point, but it was still my first “adult” Christmas, as I asked for a set of pots and pans. We had scrounged up a mismatched set of plastic plates from clearance bins (some holiday themed or with cartoon animals on them) and our silverware was definitely all stolen from somewhere. The nicest items in the apartment were mismatching wine and champagne glasses that cost seventy-five cents at Goodwill. When I broke up with my ex last year I gave him the silverware (a hand-me-down collection from various apartments and roommates through the years). I worded it as a kindness, but honestly I wanted to own a set that matched for the first time in my life.
My grandparents talk all the time about the set of china they got as a wedding gift. They got two in fact — one for every day and one fancy set that gets used only at Christmas. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated with the idea that they store a whole twenty-person set of dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, fruit cups, forks, salad forks, spoons, soup spoons, and butter knives somewhere in their home all year without using it.
But that was traditional. You left home when you got married, and started your own home. Friends and family outfitted you with every item off a list of things you’d need for your own home. Almost everything except furniture would come from either a wedding gift to both of you, or a gift to the bride at her shower. Women were the homemakers after all. So the wooden spoon grandma whacked you with when you annoyed her in the kitchen probably came from her bridal shower. The women in her life prepared her with items to help her either cook or make babies.
Well, I can’t speak for everyone of my generation, but I really needed items to help me cook and not make babies, and I needed them almost a decade before I’ll probably be married. And so did all my male counterparts.
When we move out of our parent’s homes earlier in life, what becomes the purpose of a bridal shower? Sure, there’s always something a home needs, or a fancy new kitchen utensil. The bride-to-be got a fancy new air fryer at the shower, in fact. But it was given to both her and the groom, knowing full well this was something the groom wanted, and would be using. So why couldn’t it be given to directly to him?
And that’s not even touching the accessibility of it all. I think the groom was a little disappointed, felt a little left out. Why couldn’t he have a party of some kind with his side of the family that day? And even more concerning, what do you do if the wedding isn’t for a heterosexual couple?
What do you do for a lesbian wedding? Are there two bridal showers, or does every woman attend one, including both brides? If there are two bridal showers, and you’re invited to both, do you end up purchasing three gifts? How do gay men own any utensils?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the bridal shower immensely. We played a lot of games about how well the bride and groom know each other, and how well we knew them. There was a potluck of baked goods, and party favors. It was great to see the outpouring of love for the bride from both sides of the family. I love her too, and she greatly deserves it.
I just wish more people could be included in the fun.