Ever since I started watching comedian John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” on HBO, I’ve been yearning to write this piece. I know it’s another, “WTF? If you write that, you will probably lose a few friends” kind of piece (see 17 Things Not To Say To A Friend With Breast Cancer) but I’m taking the plunge anyway. It’s got to be the cancer. I think it’s making me bold.
John Oliver does a great segment called, How Is THIS Still A Thing? If you’ve never watched Mr. Oliver, you may want to check it out–perhaps start with this one about the Commonwealth Games. From the moment I started laughing hysterically over this 3 minute video: Daylight Saving Time: How is This Still A Thing? I was hooked.
Immediately, I started thinking of my own “How Is This Still A Thing?” scenarios. The bridal shower was the first thing that came to mind. I took notes. I started writing. I asked around. I found that no one– young, old or in between, really liked attending a bridal shower, but I was still too much of a wus to write the piece. My friend’s daughter was engaged. Might there be a bridal shower in my future? Might I be giving the bridal shower?
But now my friend’s daughter’s is on her honeymoon, there was (gratefully) no bridal shower, and I am safe (I think) to tell it as I see it.
If you are like me, you’ve probably been invited to a wedding (or 8) this summer, right?
You are, of course, appropriately thrilled for the couple. Weddings are awesome, so you had no problem reserving, say, your last three-day weekend of summer—to travel to Detroit for the festivities. You “happily” also spent last weekend (the really beautiful one) traveling to the engagement party in Nowheresville, Illinois.
So when the evite comes from Aunt Rose, even though no travel is required, if you are like me (hopefully you are nicer), maybe this is the first thing that runs through your mind:
“Really, what the F$$k could they possibly want with me now?”
And then you realize that, of course…they want you to attend the bridal shower!
And maybe you think, “Really? Is there yet another gift giving opportunity that requires my butt to be somewhere other than a beach chair on a beautiful Sunday afternoon?”
So what’s the deal with the bridal shower?
According to Miss Abigail, the custom goes back a long way– it grew out of dowry practice. Legend has it that in the early 1800s, a beautiful Dutch girl gave her heart to a very poor, but very good-hearted, village miller.
Everyone in the town loved and was happy for the couple…everyone except for the girl’s very mean father, who insisted that the girl not marry the miller, but instead marry a very rich, fat, old, ugly guy. If she married for true love, her father threatened, she would lose her dowry.
So the people from the village each thought of a gift they could contribute to couple to make up a dowry, so she could marry for love. They “showered” her with gifts, giving her a finer dowry than her father ever could! True love prevailed, and the bridal “shower” tradition was born.
Happy story right?
But none of this makes sense any more. Today, bridal showers are totally superfluous and “mostly joyless” (a recent description from my good friend who attended one the other day) events—it’s not about the love—it’s just about getting more “stuff.” It’s passé, defunct, it’s totally lame.
None of the brides I know have dowries. They have jobs. Many of them damn good ones. They can afford lots of stuff on their own, and most receive a slew of lovely things as engagement and wedding gifts. Do they really need more?
Other than the mother of the bride, and perhaps the bride herself (after all, it is her turn—she had to suffer through her friends’ showers) no one really wants to be there. Because why would anyone want to be inside from 1PM to 5PM on a beautiful Saturday in May watching a fully grown adult open gifts?
All of the brides I know have been living on their own for years– with their partners, or with girlfriends, or on their own. They have matching wine glasses, nicer underwear, and a better Nespresso machine than I do.
So Really, how is this still a thing?
How many occasions do we need to talk, eat, drink and gather together to honor the bride? The wedding, the engagement party, and for the young ones—the bachelorette party…isn’t that enough of a commitment of both time and money?
Does anyone really want to play a “get to know you game?”
Does any adult really want to sit around and watch another adult awkwardly open gifts?
“OMG a Scan Pan? How did you know?”
“Um… because you registered for it?” When did this not become the tackiest thing ever?
Is there such a thing as an “awesome” bridal shower? I don’t think there is enough alcohol in the world…
So, Mr. Oliver, please—take this on. Because, really, Bridal showers? How is THIS still a thing?
P.S. I probably don’t have to worry about getting invited to many bridal showers in the future, but if by chance the invitation was in the mail when this post was published (I am so screwed)…I was JK about all this. I’d love to attend. Where did you say the bride registered?