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Carolyn Hax: When the bride says no soap to a shower

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn: I’m getting married in six months! I’m getting pressure from friends who want to throw me a wedding shower. It’s really not my thing. Is this kind of pomp and circumstance required?

— Don’t Want a Wedding Shower

Don't Want a Wedding Shower: If you wake up one morning with the head of a marzipan dove in your bed, then I urge you to contact the authorities.

Pressure to throw you a party you don’t want, and they’re not relatives — I do wonder what they’re thinking.

Regardless, nothing is “required.” If you’re certain, then you stick to your no thanks without apology.

The answer gets more flexible when you throw in the variables you don’t talk about here, such as, why they so badly want to do this for you; do you, for example, do nice things for others but make it hard for people to do nice things for you?

It also matters why you’re so resistant — whether it’s the appearance of a gift grab, or the fustiness of traditions, or an introvert’s preference for quiet, or the volatility of certain friends or relatives in the same room. A party can take on about as many forms as you can imagine, so there’s room to work with your friends if you want to. And to have a really nice time with people who care about you.

I answered a question last year from another bride under pressure to agree to a wedding shower, if you're interested. It's in two parts: is the original advice, and is the thought process behind the advice as explained to someone who thought it was terrible.

Re: Shower: Their motivation could be well-intentioned: "We love our friend and want to celebrate her happiness, plus we love planning a good party." If that's the motivation, then I would try to work with them to plan something you WILL enjoy — a lunch, no gifts? Happy hour at your favorite bar? Etc. — where they can express their love for you and which you will enjoy as well.

— Motivated

Re: Shower: I didn't want a shower. My friends and mom persuaded me to have one anyway. It was not fancy. We wore jeans, drank beer and made a scrapbook about my pre-wedding life.

It was great. It is a wonderful memory, and years later, the scrapbook is priceless. Think about letting people celebrate you, in a way that you’re comfortable with.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Thanks so much for this. It's a humane example of the flexibility in the word "party."

You do need to be able to trust party-throwers to honor any downscale/offbeat wishes, which I suppose can be no small obstacle, but with that trust there are a lot of great possibilities.

And the scrapbook idea is ingenious. You get access to artifacts that you might not even know about otherwise, plus it serves as a party activity to get people mixing.

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