Wedding shower question

My brother-in-law is getting married in a few weeks. My husband is the best man and he’s making the cake. We are hosting a co-ed wedding shower for them at our house, along with my mother-in-law. Today, I received an invitation to another shower being thrown by the bride’s sister (who is also the matron of honor).

I know showers are the only parties where gifts are mandatory. Money is pretty tight right now, though. Which do you think is the least rude option?

A) Give the bride a gift at the shower I’m hosting, but not the 2nd shower

B) Give the bride a gift at the 2nd shower, but not the shower I’m hosting

C) Decline the invitation to the 2nd shower altogether


I’d consider the throwing of the shower to be a gift in itself. I’d take a pass and give a gift at the 2nd shower.

Just an opinion, but unless these people are both moving directly from home to married life, isn’t a shower sort of unnecessary? I mean, people who have lived on their own have stuff already. The purpose of the shower is to feather the nest. If they already have feathers, they don’t need any more.

I would agree with Kalhoun. Even if money wasn’t tight, it’s really not necessary to give a gift for two showers even if you attend, IMHO.

That’s why I didn’t let anyone throw a bridal shower for me. That, and the fact that I hate hate HATE with the fire of 10[sup]11[/sup] suns the games that are usually played at showers.

A lot of people use wedding and shower gifts to “upgrade” their stuff. I didn’t do that, either. I’m careless and klutzy, and not at all house-proud, so I don’t go for expensive home stuff.

FWIW, neither bride nor groom seems to be going in this direction. For the shower we’re hosting, guests are invited to bring a gift that they wish they’d had on their last vacation, and it’s specified on the invitation that it should be something small (i.e., inexpensive). I think we’re gonna get them a travel cribbage set.


Another option might be to give them something that you have had and loved in your home. I had a wedding shower where that was the whole point – I think someone called it a “maythim” wedding shower, but that doesn’t bring up any results on the internets – and it was lovely. The idea is not to just re-gift something that you didn’t like, but to give them something that has meaning to you, that you have loved and cherished, and pass it on to them with good wishes. And you don’t do this in secret; you let them know the story of how you got it, and what it has meant to you, and that you hope it will bring good things to their lives as well.

This isn’t to everyone’s taste, but the things that I got at that shower were some of the best gifts.

I’d decline an invite to the second shower and give a small gift at your own. I’m sure you’re busy enough that you have an excuse.

From an etiquette perspective, it is true that showers are ‘gift mandatory’ occasions – if you accept an invitation to a shower, you ought to bring a gift. However, it is also true (from an etiquette perspective) that nobody is supposed to be invited to more than one shower for any particular couple.

If you were more distantly connected with the couple, I would recommend that you decline the second invitation. However, in your situation that may not be possible or desirable. So, I’m going to recommend that you figure out what you were going to spend on one shower gift and buy two, smaller shower gifts with that money instead. There is no etiquette stipulation that shower gifts ought to be expensive, BTW. Traditionally, in fact, shower gifts are inexpensive.

The two gifts don;t have to be equal in value, either. For instance, you could buy them a wok for the first shower, and a set of wok utensils for the second – like that.

This is what I’d really prefer to do, but I don’t want to make the bride feel slighted. I may go this route, since wedding showers aren’t my thing.

Brilliant. Unfortunately, the 2nd shower is being held at a store, and the invitation says, “You may purchase [bride’s] gift at the shower.” This makes me a bit nervous. I’m not sure how expensive the merchandise is, so I may have to do some reconnaissance.

I’m inclined to agree with you, but in the interest of family harmony, I’m keeping my mouth shut. My mother-in-law asked if we’d be willing to host a shower with her, and I didn’t feel I could decline.

:eek: Well, that’s so fucking tacky I hardly even know what to tell you.


If I were you I’d schedule something for the same day as the second shower and pretend I couldn’t get out of it. A teeth-cleaning, say. Then, when you RSVP say, “Gosh. I can’t make it on the 10th. I have a dentist thing scheduled for that day. I’m sure glad I can make it to the other shower though – I’d hate to have missed both of them.”

If you feel you absolutely have to go to the damned thing to maintain family peace, then definately do some reconnaissance on the venue and get an idea of the prices on the things that will be offered. Choose something well within your self-imposed price limit to buy at the second shower, then buy something else (something cheap) for the first shower.

Or, if you’ve got a lot of etiquette chops, just bring a gift of your own choosing to the second shower. That would be perfectly within the bounds of correct etiquette – you certainly aren’t obligated (by etiquette anyway) to go along with their tacky scheme. I don’t blame you for not wanting to take that course, though, even if it is (as I suspect) what Miss Manners would recommend. So I offer the other suggestions above.

Heehee, it was probably mathom, a Tolkien turn of phrase meanining: “Anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away”. There was even a Mathom-House in Michel Delving.

I love seeing words like this in general usage. :slight_smile:

Sorry, no useful shower suggestions, just a sidetrack.

I forgot you were cohosting the first shower, so this wording needs to be tweaked a bit. Try, “Gosh, I can’t make it on the 10th. I have a dentist thing scheduled for that day. I hope you all have a great time, though. I’m really looking forward to the coed shower. Mabel and I are having lots of fun planning it.”

That second shower invitation is so incredibly tacky that all bets are off. I was going to suggest your option B as the best solution, but that was before I found out the plan for the second shower. Give whatever gift you want to or can afford at the first shower and skip the second.


Thanks for all of the advice, guys. I want to clarify that I like the bride a lot and I’m happy to throw her a shower, especially since the emphasis of one I’m hosting won’t be on gifts. I was a bit taken aback by the second invitation, but it’s not out of character for her sister.

I’m leaning much more heavily towards giving a gift at the first shower and bowing out of the second.

Disclaimer - I’m a guy with no sense of etiquette, but I have to ask - how did it happen that 2 showers are planned? Is this common? Because I always thought it was pretty much standard - 1 shower per wedding. The only exception would be, say, if one was for work friends, and the other for family - with no overlap between the guest lists.

Also, isn’t hosting the shower one of the tasks generally left to the maid of honor? How/why did you, your MIL, and the MoH fail to communicate on this? How much of an overlap is there between the guest lists?

Just wondering. Because I’d think of cancelling my shower, and combining the 2 - letting the MoH handle it (however tacky her gift-grab sounds.) Have the ouple and a select few friends and family over for a nice dinner instead.

That second shower invitation is so incredibly tacky that all bets are off.

I agree. Tacky, tacky, tacky. It’s also tacky for a close relative, such as a sister, to host a shower. Is it too late to prevent your brother-in-law from marrying into this tacky family?

I thought that it was supposed to be a close friend or sibling who hosts showers. Is it really that bad if a family member hosts the shower?

According to classic etiquette (the stuff you’ll find if you look in etiquette books), family members are not supposed to host showers. This is because it looks as if you are trolling for presents for your family. In actual fact, though, in some circles, showers are most commonly thrown by family members. It’s one of those regional variations that makes etiquette so interesting.

Fair questions, Dinsdale. A few months ago, my mother-in-law (who lives out of town) called and asked if we would be willing to help host a shower on October 7 for bride and groom at our house. I said sure. She agreed to be responsible for the invitations and planning; we are basically providing the space and some of the food. My husband and I are both busy with work and school, so we were glad to leave the organizational stuff to her. Mother-in-law corresponded directly with bride about the guest list. She sent out the invitations about a month ago. People have been RSVPing to her, and I’m not sure who has been invited.

Yesterday, I received an invitation for the 2nd shower, which is on October 8. I have no idea what the lines of communication are between my mother-in-law, the bride, and the MoH, and I don’t want to get in the middle of it. My mother-in-law would have all kinds of fits if I cancelled the shower she has been putting so much work into.

As I’ve said, I like the bride. We’ve been hoping for years that the two of them would get married. She’s not particularly close to her family.

My goal is to get through the shower(s) with minimal expense and hurt feelings on anybody’s side. I’m not emotionally invested in any of this, and if I say the wrong thing or express disapproval, it could cause a blow-up that I don’t feel like dealing with.