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Get the low-down on bachelor/ette parties and wedding showers.
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Wedding Showers:
What are they?
Who does what?
What's the gift expectation?

Bachelor/ette Parties:
What are they?
Who does what?
What's the gift expectation?
Other considerations

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Rachel: This episode is brought to you by Squarespace.

[Into music]

Rachel: So Hank, I heard you threw a party video without me?

Hank: I did not throw a party video without you, I hosted a party video. Come to think of it, why were you not at my party video?

R: Don’t worry about it. Not everybody can make it to all the things.

H: No, not everybody can make it to all of the things. And that is a good point to keep in mind this time of year when it seems like the parties are endless.

R: Ah, wedding season. It’s upon us.

H: It’s a happy time. And stressful time. Congratulations to everybody getting married soon or recently, but the traditions and the etiquette that go along with weddings can get confusing. Like, what’s the difference between a bachelor and a bachelorette party, vs. a shower?

R: Yeah, that’s actually what I want to talk about today is the expectations about parties before a wedding.

H: So I was actually reading about the history of bridal showers and they’re thought to have started in Holland or Brussels and they’re pretty romantic actually.

H: The story goes that they were started in the time of dowries, when brides relied on the dowry their fathers would give to them to start their life with their new husband. But one woman fell in love with someone her father didn’t approve of and he refused to give her her dowry unless she married someone he approved of.

H: Her friends wanted her to be able to marry the person she loved, so they got together and ‘showered’ her with gifts.

R: Well, luckily we don’t have dowries anymore.

H: Yeah it would feel very strange if I got paid to marry my wife by my father-in-law. Also, especially if I was paid in, like, sheep.

R: You’re totally right about the idea behind why a shower is called a shower. It’s a gift-giving party. It’s usually a daytime celebration with food and sometimes games with the main event being the opening of the gifts.

H: And there are bridal showers, and couple showers, and even groom showers and they take place usually a couple of months before the wedding. But not every wedding has all of these parties or even any of these parties.

R: That’s right, the two people getting married have a wedding, but it’s usually their friends or family who plan and hosts showers for the honoree. And because of that, sometimes there can be several showers leading up to one wedding because different groups of friends or sides of the family will host showers.

H: So let’s break it down: who goes to the showers, what’s expected of them, what kind of gift do you need to bring and how do you afford to go to all these parties for your friends before they get married?

R: So all pre-wedding parties are invite-only, just like a wedding. Except you don’t bring a plus-one to a shower or bachelorette or bachelor party. So, if you’re invited, you can go.

H: And only people invited to the wedding are invited to the pre-parties, right?

R: Yes! Keep in mind if you’re hosting a parting for your friend, be sure to check with them on the guest list and only invite people who are also invited to the wedding.

H: That would be weird.

R: Yeah.

H: It’s like… ‘hey, I want a gift from me.’ 

R: Awkward.

H: I don’t want you to actually come to the party.

H: Another traditional etiquette thing about showers is that the host of the party pays for the party. So if you’re invited to a shower, you shouldn’t expect to pitch in for food or activities.

R: That’s right, which is different from a bachelor or bachelorette party, but we’ll get to that in a minute. '

H: So for weddings there’s usually a registry, but is that true for showers? What kind of gifts do you bring to a shower?

R: It totally depends. Registries aren’t on invitations, so if you want to find out if there’s a registry, ask the host. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

R: But a registry is just a guide and even for weddings you’re not required to choose something off the registry as your gift.

H: As a general guide, traditional shower gifts are things for the home like kitchen tools or linens, but you know your friend best and can get them whatever you think they’ll appreciate.

R: Another “rule” you’ll sometimes read is about how much to spend on a gift, and the easiest rule to remember about that is to spend whatever fits into your budget and feels appropriate to you.

H: You’re going to have so many friends get married.

R: So many...

H: So it’s that simple. Weddings and all the fanfare around them are meant to be happy and celebratory, not a time to put a stress on your finances.

R: And along with that, what if you get invited to multiple showers for the same person?

H: Well that happens, especially if you’re friends with someone through multiple people. And you can definitely go to all the showers, but you’re only expected to bring one gift to the first shower you go to. Otherwise… ugh.

R: And if it feels weird to show up to the second or third shower without a gift, you can always bring a card or flowers or a consumable like a baked good or a bottle of wine.

H: Yeah, like chips and salsa. If you, like, want to come to my shower, you can bring any of those any time, I don’t need a gift… just chips. Thank you. That’ll be great.

R: Okay, so moving on to the other pre-wedding party that might be coming up for a lot of people right now: bachelor or bachelorette parties.

H: Unlike showers, there’s almost always only one bachelorette or bachelor party per honoree and these parties usually take place at least partly at night anywhere between a couple months to a couple days before the wedding.

R: And while they tend to be more wild than a shower, the guest list is usually smaller, limiting to just members of the bridal party or very close friends.

H: And with these parties, each guest is expected to cover their own costs and will probably be asked by the host to help cover the cost of the honoree.

R: And while this party isn’t all about gift-giving like the shower, check with the host about expectations here. If you want to bring a gift, this is good time for a more bawdy or funny gift than you’d give in front of someone’s grandparent at a shower.

H: Yeah, don’t do that... And every bachelorette or bachelor party is different, and it can always be fun to try and make them more different, have fun cool ideas for physical activities, and they usually involve some drinking, so remember to plan a safe ride home for yourself and your friends and especially the honoree. Everybody’s happy and safe and healthy.

R: So, we hope any and all wedding-related festivities you’re going to are fun and safe and memorable.

H: Take lots of pictures!

R: But not of the super drunk honoree.

H: And keep it off Facebook….

R: Yeah.

R: Let us know down in the comments what you did, or are planning to do for any pre-wedding parties.

H: And if watching a video about gift-giving has put you in a charitable mood, consider checking us out on Patreon, where you can get access to a livestream that the How to Adult team puts on every month.

R: Special shout out to Alex Nickel for being one of those supporters! Thank you, Alex! 

H: Thank you, Alex! And thank you all for watching!

R: This episode was brought to you by Squarespace, which lets users create custom websites or online stores with its all-in-one platform. If you’re looking to make your next move on a business idea or want to launch a creative project, check out Squarespace. With award-winning templates and 24/7 customer support, you’ll have everything you need to create a website, build a portfolio, design an online store, and more.

R: Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, musician, artist, or designer, make your next move by visiting, and use the code “ADULT” for 10% off your first order.

R: This is a good time for a more bawdy or funny gift that you would not give to grandparents at a shower. Nope.

H: Are the grandparents getting married?

R: Don't give it to grandparents! That would be terrible!

H: That's—I mean—that's what I'm—. That's a pro-tip. Go to a wedding shower, get a gift for the grandmother. Because she'll be like, "What?" and you'll be like, "I just think you're great!" "What about the bride?" "She's got enough! This is for you!" Here's a small owl I purchased at the antique shop. It's a toy owl, not an actual live owl.

R: I was thinking an owl owl!

H: Here's a small owl, nanny! I know you've always wanted one ever since you went to Harry Potter.