The Bridal Shower: A Brief History

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The Origins of the Bridal Shower


Have you ever wondered where the tradition of the ‘Bridal Shower’ originated from? Although far less common in the UK, it is a very popular date in a bride’s wedding planning calendar in the US, Canada and Australia.

We have been doing a little reading and have discovered that the evolution of the bridal shower has a unique history and the etiquette and tradition surrounding the occasion is fascinating. Although it has evolved greatly, one thing has remained a constant: it is the time to ‘shower’ the bride with love and gifts for her big day. Perhaps reading about its history might inspire you to host your own!

Its origin can be traced back to 16th century Holland, where the bridal shower was introduced as an alternative to the dowry system. If the bride was too poor to afford a dowry or if her father opposed the marriage, friends and families would bring small gifts to help her begin married life. There is a lovely Dutch story to highlight this: “the story of a young, high-society girl who fell in love with a miller’s son. Despite her family’s disapproval of the boy due to his low class, she insisted on marrying him. In true fairytale fashion—substitute evil stepmother here—her father threatened to withhold her dowry if she disobeyed him and did not marry his choice, a wealthy pig farmer. When her friends learned of this, they brought her gifts in lieu of the dowry. Rumor has it that the father of the bride, so touched by their actions, agreed to the marriage.” (extract from World Bride Magazine) From this, the custom of family and friends ‘showering’ the bride with gifts before her wedding day was born.

In Victorian America, ladies of high society hosted bridal showers to celebrate, exchange gifts, food and gossip about the bride-to-be’s new role. Women would place their gifts inside a paper parasol and ‘shower them over the bride (hence the term ‘Bridal Shower’). The occasion has become simpler over the centuries, with more modest, useful gifts being the order of the day and the host usually being the maid of honour or mother of the bride.

These days, bridal showers can be anything from intimate tea parties to larger themed events but the meaning of the bridal shower gifts and the importance of thoughtful and useful things being offered to the bride is what can be learnt. A humourous goody bag is always fun but maybe they should be kept for the Hen party!

Perhaps you’re a bride struggling with the notion of finding a suitable way to celebrate your Hen Party with your girlfriends as well as your mother, mother-in-law to be, aunties, grandmothers etc…not everyone is up for a night out or city break but a Bridal Shower could offer the perfect solution: a calm and relaxed occasion where all can share in celebrating your special day followed by the opportunity for you to get your gladrags on and let your hair down with your best girlies during what is better known as the Hen Party!

We certainly feel the Bridal Shower should be the next best thing to make waves in the UK wedding industry! We love these ideas for making the day more fun and interactive:



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