Belated Showers

Dear Miss SOS:

Hi – I am planning a belated wedding shower for my cousin. Who decides who will get invitations to the wedding shower, the bride or me? My cousin wants to omit one cousin, which will offend our aunt. I am close to this aunt and I just do not have the heart to tell her that her daughter is not invited. Thank you.

It is unfortunate that you are being placed in an awkward situation within family circles. With noted exceptions (i.e. a surprise shower), the Bride determines the guest list for her wedding shower; however, it is the hostess who decides on the number of guests, as she is the one paying the bills.

Generally only close friends and relatives are invited to showers since the invitation automatically requires a gift. Bridal attendants are invited to all parties and showers given for the Bride unless it is an office party or special group party. If the wedding party included Junior Bridesmaids (sisters or relatives of the Bride and Groom between the ages 10-14), their mothers should be invited, as well as the mother of the Flower Girl. Other than that, there are no strict rules about who should or should not be invited.


Bridal Showers

Dear Miss SOS:

I am the Maid of Honor for my dearest and longest friend. I am planning a “spa day” for her, the other bridesmaids, and some of her family and friends. However, not everyone is able to afford the spa treatments and many won’t be attending. Is it permissible for me to host another party at my home, serving just snacks and beverages?

Your friend is a very lucky Bride to have such a gracious friend, cognizant of the financial concerns of those who would otherwise enjoy participating. By all means, you may host another party at your home, whether it be a Bridal Shower or just a means for family and friends to become acquainted prior to the big day.

Dear Miss SOS:

How long should a hostess delay starting the bridal shower for a late-arriving guest?

Fifteen minutes is the established length of time. To wait more than twenty minutes would be showing rudeness to many for the sake of one. When the late guest finally arrives, he or she of course apologizes to the hostess and then is seated.

Dear Miss SOS:

One of our children has announced his engagement. I would like to host a bridal shower or couples’ shower for his fiancée. Our daughter says that it should be up to the maid of honor to give the shower. I assume that gathering would be mostly the Bride’s personal friends and sisters, etc., and that they might also invite me as a courtesy. Regardless, I don’t want to step on any toes or break any rules of decorum, but would be happy to have a second, separate shower for any friends that might not be included in the intimate circle of family and best friends, but with whom the bride is friendly. Is this appropriate and if so, how do I go about it? I was planning to ask my future daughter-in-law directly but decided to check with you first.

Miss SOS is always pleased when parents of the affianced couple want to express their love and excitement by hosting a party. Regardless, your daughter is correct.

Attending a bridal shower is one of the few events where the giving of a gift is mandatory. The purpose of a shower is to provide items to help the Bride set up her new home. Because of that reason, it is not considered proper for the shower to be hosted by the Bride’s mother, future mother-in-law, sister, or daughter. Instead, the Bride’s maid-of-honor or other intimates of the Bride (friends, aunts, cousins,etc.), are to be spontaneously moved to host the shower(s). The guest list for a bridal shower should correctly include the Bride, her attendants, mothers of the flower girl and/or ring bearer, and the Bride and Groom’s mothers, sisters, and sisters-in-law.

Though replaced for the most part by showers, Engagement Parties are a wonderful way to have a reception for friends and family. It can be hosted by either set of parents to announce their children’s intention to wed. In the past, it also marked the first time the young woman was seen wearing her engagement ring.

You may also host the Rehearsal Dinner, customarily held the night before the nuptials. At one time the parents of the Bride hosted the dinner. However, as the Bride’s parents were already financially strapped just affording the wedding, it evolved where the Groom’s parents now host the dinner (although it is not mandatory). Your guest list should properly include the Bride and Groom’s immediate family, the wedding party and their spouses/fiancées/domestic partners, grandparents, elderly relatives, and out-of-town guests that have traveled great distances to be there. If your budget can afford it, you can extend the invitation to other family members and friends.


Shower & Wedding Gifts

Dear Miss SOS:

If I thank everyone for their gifts at my bridal shower, do I still need to send written thank-you notes?

Of course! You need to send a hand-written thank-you note (no commercial pre-printed note) for every single gift you receive, regardless how much you gushed over it at your bridal shower. This also holds true for any engagement gifts you may have received.

Dear Miss SOS:
I’m really steamed. I was recently married to the man of my dreams and have yet to receive very many wedding gifts. When I asked some of my family members why they hadn’t sent a gift, my aunt for one responded that since it was my fourth marriage she felt that a congratulation card was more than appropriate. Granted, she had sent presents for my first marriages but I can’t help but feel that she’s slighting my new husband. How can I let people know that their actions are wrong?

Contrary to popular belief, family members, friends and wedding guests are not obligated to give a wedding gift to the happy couple, even for a first wedding or any subsequent ones that may follow. Your actions in contacting individuals regarding the whereabouts of any gift that you were expecting are unbecoming at best, and crude at worst.

Your wedding is not a fundraiser nor is it to be a method in which to furnish your home or obtain personal items. A note extending congratulations and best wishes for a long and happy life together is considered sufficient, especially in the circumstances you described.

Dear Miss SOS:

I’m freaked out. I peeked at my bridal registry and about 75% of the items are still there. What can I do to kick-start it?

This is what occurs when a Bride takes the position that her bridal registry is a shopping list and not a convenience for friends and family who are seeking ideas for a wedding gift. A giver is not required to purchase any item that’s been registered and may instead opt to gift you with another item altogether that they believe you may appreciate or enjoy.

You are to do nothing to “kick-start” the registry but merely express your deepest appreciation and gratitude for any present that you may receive, whether it be an item you registered for or a hand-crafted afghan that your grandmother made.

Dear Miss SOS:

My fiancé’s mother thinks we should display the gifts we’ve already received at the reception. I don’t think this is proper. Who is right?

You are! Gifts may be displayed at home before the wedding, but they should never be displayed at the reception site. Also, monetary gifts should never be displayed and all checks should be deposited as soon as they are received.

Dear Miss SOS:

I was invited to a wedding of a good friend which will be held in Mexico. I’m not going, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is I’m not convinced the wedding will actually happen (the groom-to-be isn’t officially divorced yet, although Mexico may have different laws). Also, even if the marriage does happen, I’m not convinced it will actually last.

Regardless, I do know that Miss SOS would tell me to keep my trap shut (which I am) and buy her a gift anyway (which I will). And, since I know her through business, I’m pretty sure I can write this off.

My friend has sent me her bridal registry filled with things I could buy them to make their honeymoon special. Again, I’m not sure about the whole wedding thing happening so I didn’t want to do that. I’ve attached a copy of her invitation. Can you figure out something, as inexpensive as possible, that I can mail her without me looking cheap and that can be returned so I can either get my money back or use myself? Let me know. Thanks.

It is difficult for Miss SOS to refrain from responding as she initially would have liked other than to comment what an interesting view of friendship you have.

You, as one of the Bride’s friends and confidants, will only wish her the very very best, regardless of any personal misgivings or doubts about the wedding and/or the single status of her fiancé.

Unlike a bridal shower, a wedding gift is never mandatory but is instead at the option of the individual, and can be sent up to 12 months after the wedding has taken place. In purchasing a gift, one does not cross-reference it to the invitation in determining how much money should be spent. That is totally dependent on you, your finances, and your relationship to the person.

Once the gift is given, it is exactly that – a gift – and may be used/disposed/returned by the recipient only. In other words, if your friend doesn’t like your gift, she returns it to the store herself, to either exchange or obtain the money/credit for the item.

Dear Miss SOS:

I have been invited to a bridal luncheon and the invitation requests a gift for a groom’s wishing well. I know what a bride’s wishing well is, but I am stumped as to what to bring for a groom’s. Can you give me any suggestions?

When the words “wishing well” are on a bridal shower invitation, it means that in addition to bringing a regular gift, each guest is also to bring a simple present, such as a wooden spoon or measuring cup.

For a groom’s wishing well, Miss SOS would suggest something appropriate for a handyman’s tool box, such as a measuring tape, screwdriver, picture hangers and hooks, or even duct tape (Miss SOS’ husband’s cure-all for everything). You could also purchase something for his car, such as a flashlight or a small emergency first aid kit.

Dear Miss SOS:

I have received an invitation to a bridal shower with the words “wishing well” written in the bottom left corner. What does that mean?

When the words “wishing well” are on a shower invitation, it means that in addition to bringing a regular gift, each guest is also to bring a simple present, such as wooden spoon, a bottle of detergent, or a set of measuring spoons. The wishing well gifts may be wrapped, or tied with a ribbon, or left unadorned. The items are placed in a cardboard replica of a wishing well that the hostess has either made or rented. At some wishing well showers, the hostess asks the guests to write a note to the Bride, which is wrapped around the gift and then read by the Bride when she pulls out the item.

Dear Miss SOS:

What do you think of guests who leave the price tag on a shower gift in order for the Bride to be aware of their generosity?

That the least they can do is to scream when the Bride opens the present, lean over and pull the price tag off, and then drop it into a nearby ashtray where everybody can examine it later at their leisure.

Dear Miss SOS:

We are looking for help on our wedding reception invitations. We are an older couple and have both been married before. We are having a very casual luncheon celebrating our recent private wedding. We want our friends and family to come and celebrate with us but we do not want gifts. Their presence is all we want. Is there any tactful way to word this on the invitation? Thank you!

In the past, Miss SOS has been very strict adhering to the standards of etiquette that forbids any mention of a gift on an invitation celebrating a wedding. She understands the basis of such a position and 99.99% of the time concurs whole-heartedly. However, etiquette was never meant to be a rigid set of rules that are not to be adapted when certain situations apply. Yours is among them.

One of the loveliest ways for you to say, “No gifts, please” would be the phrasing, “Your love and friendship are cherished gifts. We respectfully request no others.”

Dear Miss SOS:

One of my close friends is getting married two weeks before me and, due to the cost of flying to the state that she is getting married in, I am unable to attend her wedding. I’m wondering what I should do about a wedding gift for her and her husband. I sent her a bridal shower gift even though I was unable to attend. Should I send her a gift for the wedding too? If so, how much should I spend on their gift? Help!

Though it is not required to send a wedding gift, it is a lovely gesture to do so as one of the Bride’s closest friends and confidants. As to how much to spend, the formula is to take one month’s gross pay earnings, divide it by the number of years you have been friends, multiply it by …. no, Miss SOS is just kidding.

A wedding gift should be something you believe the happy couple would enjoy that is affordable to your budget. Should your finances be stretched due to your own wedding plans, consider something hand-made. Miss SOS has seen charming gifts that were a labor of love from the giver – from homemade quilts (quite time-consuming to make) to an assortment of homemade preserves and jellies (yummy) to a framed collage of photographs that have special meaning. Whatever gift you decide to give, if it comes from the heart, you have given the best gift there is.

Dear Miss SOS:

I read your advice that wedding gifts are to be sent before or after but not brought to the wedding itself. Could you please advise me on the proper way to address the name on a gift to be sent ahead of time to the home of the bride (who is living with the groom)?

All prewedding gifts are addressed to the Bride-to-be. After the ceremony, gifts are addressed to the happy couple. Some individuals may take this as a sign of inequality however nowadays some people will take offense at anything. Fortunately, sending people presents goes a long way toward mitigating any perception of offense.

Dear Miss SOS:

I want you to settle a dispute between a work colleague and me. She says that weddings gifts are to be brought to the church. I say that gifts are to be brought to the reception. Who’s right? There’s a $5 bet on this.

Please immediately abandon this concept that bringing a wedding gift to either event is the price of admission for your attendance. Neither of you are correct. It is considered extremely rude and discourteous to force the happy couple, on the busiest day of their lives, to take full responsibility in making arrangements in securing and transporting all gifts without breaking them, losing them, or misplacing gift cards. Gifts are to be sent to the Bride or Groom’s home prior to or after the wedding, but never on the day itself.


Showers—Invitations to

Dear Miss SOS:

Prior to getting married, I will be the guest of honor at three bridal showers. Do I give the hostesses of each shower the same guest list of women to invite? Is it proper to ask the same people over and over again?

The only people that should be invited to each of your bridal showers are yours and your groom’s mothers and the attendants. They are not expected to bring a gift to each event – one will suffice. Provide your hostesses with separate lists of intimates, friends and family for each shower, along with each guest’s address to assist the hostess in mailing the invitations.


Showers & RSVP’s

Dear Miss SOS:

I have been invited to a large bridal shower for a woman I do not know very well and only consider to be a passing acquaintance. Am I required to attend or send a gift? What do I say when I refuse?

You are to graciously decline by calling or writing a note saying, “Thank you for your beautiful invitation to Jane’s bridal shower. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend.” No further explanation is necessary. For a bride that you only refer to as a passing acquaintance, it is not required that you send a bridal shower gift. However, if you had been a good friend of either the bride or groom, you would be expected to take or send a gift to the hostess’s house before the shower took place, even if you couldn’t attend the festivities.

Dear Miss SOS:

I received a bridal shower invitation that, along with the date, time, and place, stated that the party was being hosted by Miss J and Miss B, listing their telephone numbers. The invitation did NOT say to RSVP, so I didn’t. When I showed up at the shower, the hostesses acted surprised. The mother of the bride took me quietly aside and said I should have responded that I was attending. I told her that the invitation didn’t say to RSVP or I would have, as I am very good at that sort of thing. I feel that I have been wrongly taken to task and want you to instruct others accordingly.

You are sadly mistaken if you believe that Miss SOS will support your decision that not responding to an invitation is good manners.

In Miss SOS younger days, one issuing an invitation never had to include the request to respond or add the letters RSVP. People were reared to always graciously reply, first indicating that they had received the lovely invitation and then indicating if they would be able to attend.

If someone called and left you a message on your answering machine, casually inviting you to their home for a Saturday afternoon barbeque, Miss SOS has every confidence that you would call that individual back, letting them know you had received their message and then if you were going to be there or not. Do you honestly believe that etiquette would take the stance that a written invitation to a bridal shower is to be treated any differently? The hostess’s telephone numbers were included in the invitation to facilitate your response. What other reason did you think it meant?

To leave a host or hostess hanging in the air as to whether you received their invitation, much less if they may expect your presence, is considered rude. Not impolite, rude. Regardless if there is a RSVP request added to an invitation card or not, you are to reply promptly to all invitations.