Gift Registry and Bridal Showers

Homemade Showers and Registry Alternatives

Two of the most conventional wedding elements, gift registries and showers, tend to follow pretty narrow parameters. Sure, electronic wedding invitations are now viable options and online registries have become the norm, but the etiquette and expectations of bygone bridal showers and gift registries still apply. Of course, the modern DIY bride knows nothing is set in stone – there are plenty of ways to simplify, revitalize and personalize these wedding customs with a homemade flair.

Low-Tech Gift Giving for Unconventional Couples

Formal gift registries are both helpful and indulgent, but they're not for everyone. In fact, the features of a department store registry can be a bit limiting for modern couples, especially if you're into creating rather than consuming.

One alternative to mass-produced items is a list of treasures from a local boutique. If you have a favorite antique store, independent artisan or artist in your town, talk to them about setting up a little makeshift registry. In many cases, they will be happy to go the extra mile for a personalized shopping experience, whether that means swift email correspondence with you and your guests, or personally tagging the items in their store that are on your wish list.

Money Matters

While an artisanal registry is great, cash is king for the do-it-yourself couple. Of course, this is a difficult area to navigate: most people agree that a blatant request for money is in poor taste, and etiquette says you shouldn't mention gift preferences on your wedding invitations. Luckily, you have allies to help you through this registry challenge: ask your bridesmaids, parents or other close family members to spread the word that you could do with a few bucks instead of a new toaster.

On your end, use clever conversation to steer guests in the right direction. Remind people how much you and your spouse are looking forward to buying your own house, or how your dream honeymoon is a top priority once you've tied the knot. These topics are sure to come up now and then in gatherings before the wedding, and the better you communicate your present circumstances and hopes for married life, the happier your guests will be to donate money instead of material items.

Planning a Purposeful Party

A bridal shower can be more than a lovely afternoon of gifts and conversation. It's never too early to get started on your wedding décor or ideas for the wedding menu, so get friends and family in on the action with a crafty shower that's fun and rewarding.

  • A crafting or cooking party is a really fun way to play around with possibilities for the wedding. It can take a big effort to make your own wedding décor or reception meal, but a bit of experimentation and a dry run can simplify things when the big day rolls around. Plus, it's easy to wrap an activity like making centerpieces, bunting, salads or cupcakes into a more customary bridal shower atmosphere of gifts, snacks and cocktails.
  • A simple and happy rainbow theme will bring together a host of unrelated elements, so you don't have to worry about buying a brand-new coordinated set of party accessories. For food and drink, offer rainbow fruit kebabs, a spectrum of bottled sodas or coolers and slices of lemons or oranges soaked in some water with food coloring for garnish. As for the rest of the room, use all sorts of vibrant flowers from the garden and create bright bunting or banners from old patterned sheets and pillowcases.
  • Throw a potluck shower. If each guest can bring a little something to snack on, you'll save a lot of prep time and you might even get inspiration for the wedding reception menu. This is also a great way to avoid excess, especially when it comes to the cake: many bridal shower cakes rival the size and extravagance of the wedding cake, and unless you have a hundred shower guests, a lot of that dessert will go uneaten. A couple dozen cupcakes plus a few coffee cakes will do the job (and you might have leftovers for breakfast the next day!)

Some guests might be a bit surprised if you put them to work as soon as they walk in the door, so the invites should be clear about the kind of party to expect. As long as you have some traditional elements of a shower – a formal gift opening, some nibbles and refreshments – you'll satisfy everyone and set the scene for a pleasant and cooperative afternoon.