I am getting married soon, and this is completely a ridiculous problem, but I am being inundated with offers to throw pre-wedding parties and events. People want to give me bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and pre-wedding family get togethers. I’m very grateful of course, but I am not really interested in being the center of attention and I don’t really have time to attend all these different events. How can I turn them down politely and without hurting anyone’s feelings?
Low key bride
Strangely, Miss Manners has tons of advice for guests who want to get out of attending (and bringing gifts!) to a never ending string of pre-wedding parties, but she hasn’t covered advice for brides who don’t want to go to their own parties. Therefore, the default answer is to just be gracious and go, you monster! We kid of course, but this is sort of the problem with the trend of greedy brides- people just can’t fathom the idea that someone wouldn’t want to have a bridal shower or bachelorette party.
Jaya: Oof, this is really a problem! I was dealing with this a little myself, and I’m someone who gets burnt out on social interactions pretty easily, and gets anxious about being “on” and such. I know I’m lucky that so many people want to celebrate, but it can be overwhelming when you just want to throw one party and everyone insists on half a dozen parties to ring in that party!
Victoria: So how are you handling it?
Jaya: Trying to graciously turn things down, in a “oh you really don’t have to do that” way, with mixed results. Like, if I say to my friends “you know what, i’m just not feeling a shower” that’s fine. But there’s more of a scolding tone of “they’re just trying to be nice” when an adult does it. Haha, “adult.” I’m 27. But you know what I mean. What should I be doing?
Victoria: Yeah, that’s such a touchy situation, I don’t really know how you would handle that tactfully and without offending anyone.
Jaya: Victoria you’re the one who gives me answers!!!! What am I supposed to do, try to politely communicate by myself?
Victoria: I mean, I think it’s less of an etiquette thing and more a family relations thing. I think etiquette strongly encourages going along with it unless theres a particularly good reason not to.
Jaya: Ahhh, and “I’m overwhelmed and want people to stop fussing over me” isn’t particularly good?
Victoria: Haha there’s the rub. You have to decide which hills you want to die on, and in a wedding, there are a whoooole lot of hills.
Jaya: And, like with many other words thrown around at weddings, a bride is often “selfish” when she doesn’t live up to what others expect she should be. I think it’s also hard because often times, at least for me, these requests are coming from people who don’t communicate with each other. People from my side want to throw things, people from his side want to throw things, and it all adds up.
Victoria: Yeah, exactly. Although, multiple showers are fairly traditional for exactly that reason. But ugh also, showers, traditionally, should really only be for your closest friends and relatives.
Jaya: And I guess, if your goal is toning down pre-wedding events, multiple showers, however compromised, is not really a great end game.
Victoria: But then you also don’t want to end up with a shower with 50 guests. After thinking about this some more, the advice I would give is to just gushingly thank people for offering and then be like, “but really I am just so overwhelmed with the wedding and my regular life, I couldn’t possibly.” And then if you need to pull out the big ammo and say “there are so many people wanting to host parties, I couldn’t possibly attend them all, so I would prefer to not show preference to any of them.”
Jaya: That’s perfect. I mean, it’s the truth too, but somehow I always think that would sound ungrateful like “wahhh too many people want to throw parties for me and it’s giving me anxiety.”
Victoria: Hahah yeah. I mean, if you have some attendants or at least a maid of honor—someone is at least nominally in charge of coordinating all that stuff and can be the bad guy. So that’s an option for people who have attendants.
Jaya: And showers can be so intense and huge events these days, it’s bananas.
Victoria: Why don’t people understand anymore that showers are supposed to be small with tiny little gifts like wooden spoons? They would be so much less objectionable that way, for both brides and guests.