Don't Be Rude

Couples Showers and Late Wedding Gifts

You’re asked to buy an expensive, ugly bridesmaid’s dress, but aren’t invited to the shower. You bought the wedding presents years ago; they’re just in your closet.

Dear Margaret,

I was invited to be an attendant in a friend’s wedding this month. So far everything has worked out nicely with the exception of a “couples shower.”

The matron of honor is throwing the shower and has only invited couples. I was under the impression that a couples shower is a shower thrown for the bride and groom (a.k.a., The Couple). The matron of honor, and the bride for that matter, has defined a couples shower as one to which only couples are invited.

Being a single person, I am certainly offended by this since I’m not invited to this shower, and especially since the bride is not having a separate shower that I would otherwise have been invited to. Can you please clarify the definition of a couples shower for me?

Margaret says…

So the bride asked you to be a bridesmaid, and then told you that you weren’t invited to the shower because you’re not dating anyone? Yeah, that’s kind of offensive.

As you pointed out, an invitation to a couples shower indicates that the person throwing the party has decided to buck the traditional shower model—where the hostess invites only the bride and her female friends and then forces them to play mildly irritating parlor games that involve clothespins and cotton balls.

At a couples shower, however, both the bride and the groom attend, and friends of the couple are free to come without regard to their gender. I’m not sure why this matron of honor decided it would be charming to exclude one of the bride’s friends based on her dating status. It’s distinctly un-charming.

The idea that an attendant wouldn’t be invited to any wedding event, save the consummation, has no basis in tradition. What’s more, I’d think it would be socially stressful for the bride and groom. They have to respond graciously to the idea that friends are throwing them a party but should be horrified that any of their attendants are being purposely excluded. I can’t imagine why the hostess is doing this, but I’m utterly baffled that the bride is in support.

But all of that aside, if they weren’t planning to invite you to the shower, why in the world did they tell you about it?

At any rate, you mentioned that the bride wasn’t having another shower to which you would be invited. However, the bridesmaids are traditionally in charge of hosting showers. Perhaps you could throw an alternate, more inclusive shower for the blushing bride. Or you could just return your shower gift and buy yourself a nice bottle of scotch.


Dear Margaret,

I have several wedding gifts here that are far overdue—as in, a couple of years overdue. I hit a groundswell of weddings all at once a while ago and succumbed to overwhelm.

I recently unearthed these gifts. I’d bought them a year after the wedding (I wasted a lot of time pressuring myself into trying to pick the ultimate, perfect personalized gift that would make up for my tardiness) and then misplaced them. They are gift certificates for stores where the couples were registered. I would very much like to send them to their rightful places. However, a) how do I broach the topic of them being unforgivably late, and b) is a gift certificate really lame when it comes so late?

The friends seem to be speaking to me but I don’t wish to put the burden of dignity on them.

Margaret says…

First, it’s possible that your friends don’t even realize that you didn’t give them any gifts. Still, you should absolutely send the presents along. But before you do, call the stores to make sure that the couples won’t have any problem using these (somewhat stale) certificates.

As you know, gift certificates aren’t quite as nice as getting the couple something you’ve selected especially for them, but at this point we’re doing damage control. (Besides, have you ever known anyone to be disappointed by a gift of cash?)

Send each certificate with a note indicating how horrified you were to find that you’d misplaced a gift that you thought you’d sent. Wish them continued love and success in their marriage, and do it on whatever stationery you have around. If you try to go out and find the perfect card for each couple it’ll be another six months before you finally drop those gifts in the mail.

For the record, I think it’s sweet and very thoughtful that you’re still concerned about this. But in the future, as soon as you get the invitation, just order a blender off the registry.