The tradition of a bridal shower originated in Holland. How this legend came about? A young Dutch girl fell in love with a poor miller, who had spent his life helping those needier than himself.
This resulted in little offerings to his awaited bride when they were ready to be married. When the young lady told her father she planned on marrying the miller, he was totally outraged and forbade the marriage. The father being totally against his daughter’s marriage, refused to give her the customary bridal dowry….hoping she would change her mind and wait for a better suited man with higher statures.
Despite her father's disapproval, the young lady decided to risk the hardship of poverty and marry her true love. Without a dowry, the couple had very little to their names and was nearly penniless. Upon hearing the couple’s dilemma, the community came to their aid to show appreciation for the miller’s kindness to others over the years.
With the help of many kind townspeople, the groom's friends joined together and "showered" the new bride with necessities for the couple's home. Thanks to their kindness, the bride acquired what her father had denied her - everything she needed to set up a new home.
A beautiful tradition grew from the townspeople's generosity and continued for decades. Over time the old-fashioned dowry, a young woman customarily received from her family to set up her home, grew into a bridal shower given by her "family of friends." Gift giving was not common until the late 19th century. Back then early bridal showers were focused on strengthening the bride's friendship with her peers, offering moral support, and helping her plan for her marriage.
Early bridal showers tended to be much more intimate than modern showers. Unlike today's showers, the first bridal showers only included guests who were very close friends or relatives. It was only women who were invited.
Twentieth-Century Bridal Showers
Today there are many variations of bridal showers.
Hosting Couple Showers - Men have become much more involved in the wedding process. With more couples paying for their own weddings, the groom doesn't want to feel left out of the pre-wedding festivities. Having men present makes the whole thing much more relaxed. You see less of the traditions such as bouquets and hats made from the bows and ribbons. And the showers are more often held at the couple's favorite hangouts such as a restaurant or a bar, or even at a friend's house for brunch. The friends or family planning the showers have become tuned in to this. As the guest arrives at the bridal shower, have him or her fill an entry in an address book, which will act as the "sign-in" book. At the end of the shower, the bride has all the addresses and phone numbers she needs!
The event is usually held within two months of the wedding, up to two weeks before the big day. (It is considered poor etiquette to invite guests to the shower who have not been invited to the wedding.)
The principal reason for a bridal shower is that it's a nice occasion for close family and friends of the bride to spend relaxed time with her before the big wedding day. It's a time for sharing funny stories, for relatives to give advice to the bride, and for friends to show their support.