Shaking Up The Bridal Shower

January 08, 1995|By Joe Surkiewicz

Legend has it that the first bridal shower was held in Holland when a maiden fell in love with a poor miller -- and was denied a dowry by her father. So her friends "showered" her with gifts to help her set up a new home.

Today, dowries are a thing of the past in most places, and the bridal shower is being redefined. No wonder: In the 1990s, a third of all marriages are remarriages, the average age of first-time brides is nearly 24, and many couples tying the knot are already sharing living quarters.

Does that mean bridal showers are passe?

Not at all, reports one New York-based editor who has a national perspective on nuptial trends. "People love pre-wedding parties, and at a shower the gift is not as important as at a wedding. We're talking fun," says Barbara Tober, editor-in-chief of Bride's magazine. "It's nice to be able [to mark] a couple's particular interest by giving a shower that caters to that interest."

For example, to help the bride and groom build a home from the bottom up, consider giving a wine shower to help them start a wine cellar. "It's also a good theme because you can invite both men and women to the shower," says Clare Stewart of Upsy Daisy, a Baltimore floral arrangement firm. "I went to a wine shower where the couple hosting the party gave the newlyweds-to-be a wine rack. The hosts also used wine corks and old wine bottles as a centerpiece, and served wine and cheese to the guests."

If you plan to hold a wine shower, carry the theme through from the invitations to the gifts. Invitations that resemble a wine label will help make the shower irresistible. Send them inside an empty bottle or along with a cork to add a touch of whimsy.

Another shower idea for a culinary-minded couple is a gourmet kitchen shower. "Today, a bride is more independent, she usually has a career, and she probably has a frying pan," notes Ms. Tober. "But does she have a paella pan?"

Send blank recipe cards along with the invitation. Guests can write down a favorite recipe and select a gift that will encourage the newlyweds to try out the recipe. Before the shower, the hosts can assemble the recipes in a scrapbook to be presented to the couple.

"I once gave a heart-shaped basket that included the ingredients for my favorite pasta sauce, different kinds of pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, special Parmesan cheese, a wooden pasta fork and dried herbs," Ms. Stewart recalls.

Are the newlyweds-to-be handy with tools? Then consider a do-it-yourself-mania shower. Guests may need suggestions for the types of gifts that would be suitable. Don't think in terms of expensive items, such as a lathe or a power saw; wrenches, screwdrivers and hammers will do.

For a couple setting up new digs, an around-the-house shower may be appropriate. For gift ideas, the hosts can assign a room to each guest. "It's also fun to have the guest write something clever to explain why they chose their gift," says Ellen Frank of Celebrations Unlimited, a Pikesville party and wedding planning service. "For example, you could give a breakfast tray for the bedroom with a note explaining that a husband should serve his wife breakfast in bed on Sundays."

Couples who enjoy a night on the town will appreciate a special-event shower. Instead of traditional gifts, guests can bring tickets to a baseball game, concert or show.

How about a wedding shower with a holiday theme? Each guest is assigned a holiday and brings a gift with that special day in mind: a nightgown for Valentine's Day; a picnic basket for the Fourth of July; candlesticks for use at Friday evening Shabbat celebrations; a turkey platter for Thanksgiving.

An hours-before-the-wedding shower can make preparation a memorable bargain for the bride-to-be. Guests chip in for personal services, such as a pedicure, a manicure, a visit to the hairstylist -- anything a bride needs to get ready for her big day. "Most brides do all these things before they get married, and it can get expensive," says Marlene Meyer, owner of Life of the Party, a Baltimore catering and event planning firm. "It's a shower theme that's different and clever."

If the bride and groom enjoy travel or have planned a honeymoon, consider a travel shower. A globe-trotting couple would appreciate books on the places they'll visit; a travel alarm clock; voltage converters; a travel iron; a mini coffeepot; lightweight tote bags; or a collection of maps or travel guides.

No matter the theme of the party, it's the thought that counts. Just make sure the shower is a happy gathering of the couple's family and close friends.


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