Mar 3, 2011

45. The Alternatives in Bridal Shower Gift-Opening

If every bride and every groom who gets married gets the choice to customize and stylize their wedding receptions, colors, flowers and everything only makes sense that a bride gets to have some type of say in some aspects of her bridal shower. And regardless of the strides in customs and traditions we've made...somehow the bridal shower or what's expected of the event...remains the same.

1 - Has to be a surprise (or at least where I'm from)
2 - Invite most women on the wedding list
3 - After briefly, and I mean very briefly, eating some of the food...the bride is then expected to sit there like a china doll and open each and every present, smile and show it to everyone...and if she dares to speak out against this part, the women at the party wish the wrath of Lucifer on her.
Just kidding...but seriously, a bride who doesn't like this tradition, is often overruled....and being a bride who had to do's not exactly fun. First request, I'd like a Miller Lite...then I'll open these gifts.

Don't get me wrong, my bridal shower was absolutely amazing...but the idea of opening presents in front of like 50 people, made my stomach flip.  Some people love it - while others shy away from that. And almost every response of finding alternatives to opening gifts - or not at all, is met with the same answer "then decline to have a shower" which honestly, I think is the wrong attitude.
But I'm not just ranting as a bride, and I've been to my fair share of a bridal (and baby) showers as a bridesmaid and guest, and the time that it can sometimes take to open all the gifts can be wearing on the guests as well. I'd rather have 10 minutes face-time with the guest-of-honor then 2 hours of watching her open gifts.

And maybe I can't turn back time, but I hopefully can help brides-to-be turn this part of a shower that some dread into something more positive.
Here are some ideas to shoot to your bridesmaid and the others who have a hand in your shower.
  • Encourage guests to skip the wrapping paper and call it a "green-friendly shower." Suggest they use baskets or just a bow. These items can be used over and over again to “wrap” gifts in the future. 
  • In the same sense, you can do a "display shower." Set up a long table and when the guests arrive have them write their name on a place card and setup the gift with the place card. So then the bride can take sometime and walk down the line and see all the gifts. 
  • Utilize your bridesmaids the best way you can and set up an assembly line.
    • They can hand you the gifts
    • One or two can do the majority of the unwrapping and leave the card reading and first look at the gift to you when they hand it to you
    • Ask another (most likely the MOH) to write down the gift and the gift giver in a notebook for you later to refer to.
  •  Here's my favorite idea: When the guests arrive give them a raffle ticket and tell them to put their name on it. Explain that the bride wants to be able to spend more time mingling and will only open a certain pre-determined number of gifts (not including the BMs and MOB/MOG gifts, duh) and that she will raffle off numbers. You can set it up like the lotteries on TV and raffle off the numbers in a glamorous style.  So say 50 guests show 15 gifts. That way some gifts get opened and you still have time to mingle. Also, if a guest seems particularly off put by this's easy to fix the drawing so their name comes up!
The simple truth is some people expect you to open the gifts...and all of them. And some people will get offended if you don't open their gifts, so if you choose an option where you aren't opening all prepared for that. It is a bridal shower thrown in your honor, people put time aside for this event and bought you a gift. BUT if a bride is having anxiety about opening all the presents, or there are a ridiculous amount of gifts to of these other choices can be a nice option.

I've been to showers where the bride has taken around 2-3 hours to open presents, showers that have put me to sleep because they're boring and I've also been to great showers where I'm kept involved with the gift-opening.

I'm all for "do whatever the hell you want" but great Aunt Maude may not be. It's 2011...not 1952, we now have choices. Let's embrace it

Other online reads for this topic:
Wedding Bee blog post

Hey readers, do you have any alternatives to bridal shower gift-opening? Or do you think you should stick to the rules of tradition and do as those have done in the past? Let's hear it.


  1. I think what is most important is being able to enjoy this time in your life. If you're going to have a big shower then these are all great time-saving alternatives to the traditional bridal shower. I love to wrap gifts in clear cellophane or tulle and then create a pretty bow with a fun accent (like measuring spoons if you are giving a culinary gift.) The bride will appreciate it and you still get to have a fun time wrapping the present.

  2. My only thought is if the shower is not a surprise request that it be a smaller group of people. Less people=less gifts to open.

  3. I hate the lottery idea. I think that is the most insulting idea, ever. If I went to a shower and it was a lottery as you described I would take my gift and leave. Can you imagine going to a shower and having a ticket determine if your gift gets open or not? I take a lot of time picking out a great gift I would like to give and if the bride to be or mom to be doesn't take the time to open it, that's down right rude.

    I feel like it wouldnt be so awful to open gifts in front of people if it was made fun and not so boring. Bridal bingo for example, people love winning gifts, which makes watching the opening of the gifts a little more entertaining. Also, the timer game. The bride opens the gifts and when the timer goes off whoevers gift she is currently opening gets a prize. If done right and fun, the shower will not be such a drag and it will actually be looked forward to.