Once the word is out about the wedding, the marriage machine really gets rolling. What other celebrations are in store? One of the most interesting aspects of pre-wedding festivities is how they used to divide along gender lines. There are parties and celebrations that have been exclusively female, such as showers, and those that are all-male - the bachelor dinner or stag party. More and more of these divisions are blurring, but don't be surprised if you have at least one shower that is "for women only."
Even in the midst of profound social change between the sexes, the bridal shower is one wedding tradition that has never been threatened with extinction. With an ability to adapt that even a chameleon would admire, the bridal shower has reinvented itself in any number of socially and politically correct ways. For the feminist, there is the coed bridal shower attended, of course, by both men and women. For the conservation conscious, there is the "green" bridal shower, featuring earth-friendly home products. There is a world of choice in specialty showers: the linen shower for the nest-builder; the kitchen shower for t3he cook; the wine shower for Les amis du vin; the tool shower for the home-improvement team. Not to mention the venerable lingerie shower, where a bride-to-be may be lucky enough to stock up on items she wouldn't have dared to buy herself!
Since it seems irrefutable that the bridal shower will endure as a tradition, it's interesting to look at its roots. What is the origin of this get-together? Wedding lore has it that the bridal shower dates back over three hundred years, when a young Dutch maiden fell in love with a poor miller, a man with a small fortune but a large heart. Because he often gave his flour to hungry families, he had no money to marry. The young lad's father refused to allow the marriage to take place without having his daughter properly set up. Seeing the girl's misery and knowing the miller's goodness, neighbors and friends figured out a way to provide her with enough household goods and furnishings to make a hoe. How? they gathered together and walked to the girl's house, each bringing a gift, and it seemed as though she were "showered" with gifts from heaven. This act of love so impressed the maiden's father that he gave his consent to the marriage.
Over time, this all-female party flourished as women showed support for one another. The gifts are the same as in the past - practical things to help start a new life - and the spirit is the same , too. As in the 1890s, guests may place their gifts in Japanese paper parasols to continue the "shower" motif, or tuck them in another popular Victorian container - the crepe paper wishing well.While the bride-to-be unwraps cooking utensils, tableware, and linens, hilarious jokes and stories fly. Women share valuable insights and secrets about the art of being married, and all bask in the warmth of sisterhood.
Who gives a bridal shower? Anyone who is close to the bride or groom may do so. Formerly, etiquette advisers would caution that the shower should not be hosted by a member of the bride's family, as it might appear too self-serving. Nowadays, this restriction, too, has been relaxed because of tour busy lifestyles. Certainly, showers can be hosted by good friends of the couple, male or female.
Another variation of the bridal shower is the quilting bee. Quilting bees flourished in rural America throughout the early 1800s. In this charming and productive tradition, neighbors gathered together for an all-day event to sew a special wedding quilt for the bride and groom. Early in the morning, women took their places around a frame, where they would stitch together specially prepared sections, usually in the wedding-ring pattern or other traditional design. All day long busy hands would work, putting in stitch after careful stitch to make a quilt that would last a lifetime. After the quilt was finished, fiddles signaled the beginning of dancing, as an evening of well-earned festivity began.;
Wedding Traditions | Groomsmen Events | The Bachelor Party
The Bachelor Party
And what about the groom during all this merry-making? He gets a party all his own, too, one that has also stood the test if time, though not without controversy: the bachelor dinner or stag party. Customarily, this all-male revelry takes place quite close to the actual wedding, as it has come to represent the groom's "last taste of freedom."
How did the bachelor dinner come about? It was supposed to have started in fifth-century Sparta, where military comrades would feast and toast one another on the eve of a wedding, much as they would salute a warrior gone down in battle. This bittersweet celebration does seem to possess an anti-female edge, especially in light of the risqué entertainment so often a part of the celebration. But others see this as a fun-filled-tradition that allows the jittery groom and his wedding attendants to release some anxieties before the big day. It hardly needs pointing out that this decision is between the bride and groom. If either person has strong feelings about it, why not voice them diplomatically before any plans have been made.
Excerpt from "A Bride's Book of Wedding Traditions" by Arlene Hamilton StewartHere are a few Bachelor Party ideas!