I’m often asked about etiquette for same-sex weddings. Are there differences? I’ve found that in general, the etiquette questions and dilemmas are the same no matter who is saying, “I do!” Take, for example, this question from a couple who finds themselves taking orders from two bossy brides.
I am writing on behalf of my severely frustrated wife and for my curiosity as well. My wife was asked to be a co-matron of honor for our good friend’s wedding. This happens to be a same-sex wedding, and so my wife and I are somewhat confused as to which traditional etiquette guidelines apply. The main issue that affects my wife is the bridal shower: should it be co-ed? And if so, how many people should be on the guest list? As it stands, the brides have pretty much planned the shower themselves and have invited 80+ people—and so far, they’ve all RSVP’d yes! My wife at this point feels like a “checkbook” to them and isn’t sure what she should do. Any insight would be helpful.
Dear Confused Checkbook,
Thank you for writing!
In a world of change, one thing should remain constant: graciousness. Every etiquette “rule” boils down to graciousness, and applies no matter who is saying “I do” to whom.
Unfortunately, these brides have missed the mark when it comes to graciousness (and common sense). The giveaway line: “the brides have pretty much planned the shower themselves.”
But let me begin with your first question: co-ed wedding showers have become popular and it’s totally appropriate to have one if that’s what the host and brides have decided works best for them. What is not OK is for the brides to host their own shower or invite 80+ guests. I feel like a broken record here, but bridal showers are by their nature gift-giving events, and therefore, should be more intimate events for the couple’s closest friends and family. They should not be a pre-wedding party where all the wedding guests are invited! It’s natural for your friends to be excited and want to include everyone, but the shower is not the place to do it.
Your instincts are correct and there are several issues here:
- The host plans the shower, not the brides.
- The host decides the number to include, based upon space and budget.
- The host sends the invitations, not the brides.
- Bridal showers are usually kept on the smaller side — including only those closest to the couple.
From your email, it seems you already know these things. It may be too late now, but your wife should have said, “WHOA! WAIT A MINUTE. I love you but this party is out of control and I can’t pay for it.” I recommend that she (or you both) sit down with your friends and tell them how you feel and that this wasn’t what you had in mind. Possibly suggest splitting the costs. We will assume that they didn’t think and things got out of control — but better to kindly verbalize your feelings than to let it ruin your friendship. It’s a difficult discussion, but you can support your friends without being a doormat.
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