A bridal shower is a present-giving gathering held for a bride-to-be before her wedding. The tradition started in the 1890s and is most prevalent in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The origins of a bridal shower emerged from earlier dowry practices, when a peasant woman’s family did not have the money to provide a dowry (the money, goods, or estate that is given to a woman at the time of her marriage,) or when a father denied his daughter a dowry due to disapproval of the relationship. Then, friends of the bride-to-be would come together and offer gifts that would make up for the dowry and enable her to marry the man she desires.
Bachelorette parties began in the 1980s, modeled after century old bachelor parties for the groom. Originally, parties that honoured the bride-to-be were labeled as bachelorette parties, and frequently included exhibits of sexual freedom, such as trading naughty secrets, drinking booze, and hiring exotic male dancers. Now the word bachelorette is used for an array of party types.
Usually, the maid of honor organizes and hosts the bridal shower and/or bachelorette party. Either event includes music, food, decorations, gifts and entertainment. Usually guests will gift the bride with some money or other items that contribute to the couples new life, such as silverware or linens. People dress up in their best attire and pose together for photo opportunities.
Decoration for bridal parties and bachelorette parties depend on the individual bride and her style. Less formal than the wedding, the focus of either of these events is for the bride’s girl friends to celebrate and honor her special milestone. Balloons with “Congratulations” or “Bride to Be” are common, as well as novelty party favors such as hats, crowns, sashes and beads. Customized wine glasses or t-shirts are another way to make the guests at a bridal shower or bachelorette stand out as a group. More modern couples may opt to have a less traditional celebratory gathering which includes male and female guests, called a stag and doe, or Jack and Jill.