Shower for out of town bride

tarponDecember 2, 2008

I am the mother of the bride. My daughter has moved out of town and I want to give her a shower but don't know what to do because they will fly in for the shower and won't be able to transport gifts back with them. I was thinking of having a small shower and asking people to either ship a gift to them of bring a gift card to the shower from one of the stores they are registered at. I know this won't be much fun but I really don't know what else to do. I really want to have a shower for her. Someone please help.


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Typically bridal showers are given by the bride's friends, not by relatives.

There is also no gracious way to tell people what to buy, and asking them to ship the gift is just over the top.

Sorry, I know that isn't what you want to hear.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 9:48AM
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Mothers don't give showers for their daughters! Have the bridesmaids step in.

Why can't she take the gifts back with her? She can ship them (just as you want the guests to do).

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 11:23AM
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If you are certain that you daughter can't ship gifts, then perhaps it would be better to plan a tea, luncheon or another non-gift event so your daughter can celebrate with family and friends without gifts being an issue. Asking guests to bring gift cards could easily offend.

As others mentioned, mothers shouldn't host a shower. However, you can help someone else as long as your name doesn't appear on the invitation. Perhaps one or more of the bridesmaids or an aunt or one of your close friends would like to be the "official" host.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 12:00AM
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I agree about you not hosting the shower. I've seen the mother get heavily involved (well, actually order the bridesmaids around), but she didn't issue the invitation.

Why can't the gifts be shipped? Most people seem to buy off the registry (at least for the shower), so she could just not register for really big stuff. Ground shipping is pretty reasonable.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 7:50PM
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I agree with the other posters. Don't host your own daughter's shower. If you want to help pay for or plan a shower hosted by someone else, that's fine, but don't ask or push anyone to do it, just offer to help if someone else offers.

You're right, a shower without gifts won't be fun at all. In fact, some of the guests might even be offended and feel like it's not even really a shower, just a request for gifts. I know I felt that way even when I was invited to a "shower" at which the bride and groom didn't even open the gifts at the party.

As Talley Sue once pointed out when another poster asked a similar question, a gift card shower is no fun, either. Who wants to sit and watch someone open a bunch of gift card envelopes?

A shower is a party at which the guest of honor opens gifts in front of the guests (who ooh and ahh appropriately). If that isn't going to happen, then why call it a shower? I like sweet pea's idea of some other type of party -- and then you could be the host, too.

If there is to be a shower, PLEASE don't ask guests to pay to ship gifts to your daughter. If she can't carry them back with her, why couldn't she just ship them herself? But I bet she wouldn't even need to. Small things can go in her suitcase, and if she gets something big, like, say, a microwave, from someplace like Target, she could simply take it back to the store, get a credit, and pick up the identical item at the Target in her own town. If there is shipping to do, though, don't ask your guests to pay for it.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 11:40PM
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Mothers don't give showers. The solution could be that her friends in the new town give her a small shower, and then no shipping will be involved. Then a bridesmaid or aunt or friend in your town could give a small shower, but those gifts will need to be shipped back at your and/or her expense.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 8:07PM
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When my niece was married, my sister-in-law(her other aunt) and I hosted the shower. I lived over 300 miles away from her so planning was a problem. We hosted a Tupperware shower for her. The Tupperware consultant sent the invitations and did the planning. I prepared the food. It was an Hor d'oeuvres buffet. My SIL provided her home. Each guest gave a card and money to the bride. The Tupperware consultant sold us Tupperware also. The hostess gifts for the party went to the bride. Of course the bride bought what Tupperware she wanted with the money we gave her. The Tupperware is shipped to the bride. That solves one of your problems. If you could get a friend or relative to provide a home to have the party that would solve the second problem for you. You could provide the food without directly being the hostess. I believe other companies such as Pampered Chef does this also. My niece had an established household before the wedding as many do. She wanted Tupperware, which was something she did not have. She was happy. The guests can see what their money bought and give the bride advice if they choose. The bride picks the gifts so there aren't any returns or duplicates.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 10:03PM
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If there is to be a shower, PLEASE don't ask guests to pay to ship gifts to your daughter. If she can't carry them back with her, why couldn't she just ship them herself? But I bet she wouldn't even need to. Small things can go in her suitcase, and if she gets something big, like, say, a microwave, from someplace like Target, she could simply take it back to the store, get a credit, and pick up the identical item at the Target in her own town. If there is shipping to do, though, don't ask your guests to pay for it.

Been a while since I did this but I'm going to suggest it..
Bride & groom bring an extra suitcase(s) to pack the gifts in. The next thing is go to Staples and pick up a box, then pack it up and check it at the airport.

I can't count the number of times hubby I did this, we'd go to other states and pick up plants and stuff. We've always boxed it and brought it with us to the airport.

Just be sure to check with the airline on what is the largest sized box you can check. You also need to check the weight of the suitcase. IIRC, the large suitcase can't weigh more then 50lbs. When my niece was here a few months ago I sent an extra carry on just in case and she needed it. They weighed her suitcase and wouldn't let her check it.

Shipping stuff can get costly, depends on what the items are. I do like the idea of taking it back to the store and getting a gift card then purchasing it when you get home.

As for the mother throwing the shower, why not? My guess is the wedding is out of state, bride is coming in to visit parents. Bridal party probably lives by the bride, or that's what I get from the mother wanting to throw something.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 7:38AM
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Unfortunately, today most airlines are charging for all checked bags. When I flew to my son's then on to my in-laws recently, the airline charged me $15 per checked bag for each leg of the trip.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 4:56PM
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It's still cheap shipping for a bunch of what is essentially loot.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 7:14PM
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Southwest allows two bags per person free.

And there is always UPS!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 4:06PM
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I would just like to say as a bride in this exact situation that those who would "not attend" a gift card shower are ridiculous - try not to let your nose bleed too much. Do not deny your daughter the opportunity to have her shower just as she has dreamed of - if the shower ends up being more of a social gathering where everyone gets to catch up with each other - then so be it - you should do what your daughter wants - she certainly should not have to be responsible for shipping her gifts to her home or returning all the gifts she got for gift cards - that is simply insane. With all that the bride is putting together for her wedding- all the time and effort she is spending to make her wedding something her family and friends can be happy with - it is completely insane for me to read these postings saying that a bride should "decline" their shower (especially since this is typically a surprise so bride would have no way to decline it). Now you have a out of town bride with a ton of gifts and no way to get them home and oh by the way she has to get back right away because she actually has a job in between planning a wedding and attending a shower (which she was supposed to "decline"). I can't believe these out-dated and stuffy responses.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:50PM
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Well if you're in that much of a hurry, surely your mother could organise the shipping.
No one has suggested the bride decline the shower, just that the mother shouldn't be hosting it.
Poor thing, to have a ton of gifts.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 8:02PM
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Nobody said that they would not attend a shower given by the bride's mother, or a gift card shower. We just -- all -- said that we don't like it, for various reasons, and we wouldn't do it.

We also said that we don't think it's right for the host to ask the guests to ship shower gifts. It's no harder or more expensive for the host or the bride to ship it than for the guests to do it. I don't know what is "simply insane" about that, or about the simple expedient of asking the store to substitute local pickup in her town.

I don't find "Do not deny your daughter the opportunity to have her shower just as she has dreamed of" and "you should do what your daughter wants" to be very persuasive. What if she wants a cash shower? What if she wants you to put "Cash gifts preferred, please" on the invitation? At what point does indulging the guest of honor become enabling inappropriate behavior?

Your post sounds rather hostile, defensive, and aggressive. Would you be willing to show it to your own shower guests? Would you be proud for them to know you that think these things?

If you don't think that such a shower would be in bad taste, seem grabby, or be boring, fine; it's a matter of opinion. And if none of your guests do, either, then you're golden.

But attacking and insulting those here who disagree isn't going to help you if they do.

We welcome your participation in the forum, but we try to maintain a cordial tone, so please help us stick to that.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 6:21PM
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One idea that a shower hostess in this situation *could* do is to have a theme shower: a shoe-box shower.

The guests at the shower aren't stupid; they know that any gifts will have to be shipped. So simply write on the invitation, "To minimize shipping, please bring a gift that will fit in a shoebox."

The guests can have a lot of fun with that--and they'll all know that gift cards will fit in a shoe box quite nicely.

Also, showers should really be attended only by the bride's closest friends & relatives. So the casual conversations ought to be able to suffice in terms of suggesting that people ask the store to ship to the bride's home, or ship to the same store in her town for her to pick up.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 9:46PM
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Actually I plead stupidity. My dd lives in California, her best friend is in Colorado. Two years ago the Colorado friend got married and we had a shower and I gave her a Mixer- never thinking at all about how she would get it home!! I bought it online and could have easily had it shipped to her home instead of mine- just wasn't thinking. It would have been fine to wrap up a picture of the mixer- after all she didn't open the box up and take it out so all anyone really saw was the picture anyway.

Now my dd is getting married- here in the East. Both she and her fiance are grad students- they need everything but have very limited budgets. At holidays I give her lots of pictures (of gifts sent directly) or gift cards so she doesn't have to pay for too much baggage. The first checked bag is now 25 on most flights 35 or 50 for a second bag. (Southwest doesn't fly direct to SFO)

Several friends or relatives have offered to give her a shower. I love the idea of a "shoebox" theme on the invitation. Will that work and not offend?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 11:18AM
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I think encouraging guests to have the gifts shipped to the bride's house and wrapping up a photo of their gift is a great idea. The bride has something to open at the shower, the guests can ooh and aah, and the bride doesn't have the added expense of shipping all of her gifts.
And if you want to throw your daughter a shower, there is no rule that says you can't. Everyone gets way too caught up in what "proper" wedding etiquette is.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 10:19AM
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If you can have an "Around the Clock" shower, or a "basket" themed shower, or a kitchen shower, or a honeymoon shower, I don't know why you couldn't have a "shoebox" shower.

Simply write on the invite:
"Since the bride will have to ship all gifts home to California, please bring a gift that will fit in a shoebox."

I think you can even add this sort of phrase:
"If you want to gift a bulky gift from her registry, the company will arrange for her to pick it up at a store near her, which saves everyone the shipping cost."

So someone will buy her a bulky mixer, but pick up a rubber spatula to put in the shoebox.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 11:38PM
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Thank you for your imput. I didn't think it was ever ok to mention a registry on any invitation. Am I wrong? Would it be ok to say " Or wrap a picture and arrange for her to pick up any bulky gifts directly from a store near her." Or words to that effect?

Just to clarify I won't be giving the shower- one of her Aunts will.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 3:35PM
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Talley Sue is an expert, and she says that etiquette permits it on a shower invitation, and I am sure she is right.

I still am not crazy about it, though. At most a link to a wedding web site.

So that sort of colors my thoughts on your situation. My instinct is that the less there is about gifts on the invitation, and the less specific it gets, the more comfortable you will feel about it. I would call it a "shoebox shower" and write something like, "Petunia must travel by air, so please bring a gift that will fit in a shoebox." Let the guests take it from there. They will have gotten the message that transporting the gifts will be problematic, and they will be able to think of the solutions themselves, including wrapping up a picture of something they will ship or have waiting at a store in Petunia's city.

I think you will be happier, and your invitation will look nicer, if you don't overthink it for them.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 4:08PM
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Thank you so much. Gellchom I think you hit it exactly right!!!

By the way I loved the Petunia reference- although we refer to her as "The Princess".

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 8:32PM
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Blueberry 22, In most areas it is acceptable for a shower host to mention a registry or gifts, such as the theme of a shower, because the invitation is not being issued by the bride or groom. This is one of the only times it is acceptable, however.

I like the shoe box gift idea; people could really have fun with it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 12:27PM
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I think that the solution to mentioning the registry on the shower is to use wording something like this:

"If you need gift ideas, check their registries at Macy's and BB&B; or call for suggestions and consultation."

Perfectly gracious, no? Starts off with the conditional--maybe you don't *need* gift ideas! And makes it clear that the registries are suggestions only. And provides the offer of a personal touch.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 11:02PM
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You could also put this (because you are the hostess, and not the bride or her mother):

"Please remember that Jane & Charlie will need to send gifts home to Alaska. If the gift you've chosen is bulky, feel free to call and consult with me."

Most people will say, "Oh, I'll give them a gift card and a picture of their KitchenAid mixer," or "I'll buy them a spatula and a gift card, and put in a note that they can use it to buy the mixer."

Or they'll buy flatware, linens, whatever.


If you are given a bulky item from your registry, I think you could arrange for Mom to return it to the store in your town, and have them send a note to the store in YOUR town for you to pick up the same item there.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 11:10PM
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What else can i put in the invites..... Bride lives in florida and will have to ship gifts to florida if they do not fit in a suitcase. The registries do have shipping options but i dont know if guests are computer savy.... what if i just say "Bride and Groom live in Florida so we suggest suitcaseable gifts"....

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 10:19PM
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FLO, did you read the posts in this string? They give lots of good answers to your question. I think that your idea for wording is fine, too.

And I love the word "suitcasable"!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 4:18PM
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I googled this subject because my mom is throwing me a couples shower in Boston and I live (and will marry) in my new home state of California. I too am wondering a tactful way to ask people to have the stores ship the gifts instead of bringing them to the party.

So far, all I have come up with is a note on our website about keeping green and saving on wrapping paper by having the stores ship the gifts.

I am looking forward to the shower but hate sitting there and opening gifts in front of a large group of people anyway.

I was really hoping to help my mom out by including a little note in her invites, but after reading all your comments, I am having second thoughts about THAT.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 6:24PM
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Hi Michelle - As a shower attendee and gift giver, I don't think it's good form to do what you're suggesting. Your guests are spending their time shopping for your, their money, and their afternoon/day at your shower. For you to not even open the gifts in front of them is poor. Your guests deserve to see you open the gifts, exclaim over them, and thank them profusely at the time. You're trying to keep yourself from being inconvenienced by shortchanging your guests.

No matter how tactfully you craft your message, it'll be crude and send a bad feeling. Frankly, if the bride to be can't be bothered to open the gift I've given her in front of me and get them to where she lives, I'm not sure I'd be bothered to attend.

I'd suggest that you learn to enthusiastically open your gifts in front of people (that CAN be so boring if the bride doesn't do it well and is dull). Although the shower is for you, a good host always makes sure that the guests have a good time, too. And part of that, at a shower, is seeing how the bride reacts to the gift given.

Carry whatever gifts you can back to California, have your parents bring some when they come for the wedding, and ship the others. Don't diss your guests.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 7:56AM
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I'm with Suzieque 100%. Please don't have a "shower" where you don't open the gifts. Around here, people would consider it extremely rude, and some would be laughing at you for years. Some years ago, the unofficial leader of a group of us who were giving a party for an engaged couple tried to do that. The rest of us were extremely uncomfortable with the idea; fortunately, someone else spoke up before I had to. We ended up just calling it an "engagement party" or something.

A shower IS a party where the guest(s) of honor open the gifts in front of the guests. A shower where the guests just bring gifts is a party with an admission fee. Asking them to have the gifts sent is even one step farther. If you need to ship the gifts, don't ask your guests to arrange and pay for it.

If you don't like the idea of a real shower, then why have one? Ask the hosts just to have a party instead.

I also don't think that trying to put a "green" spin on it about saving wrapping paper will help at all. (It doesn't even make sense: the packing materials that the stores would ship the gifts in and the planes and trucks that carry them are much less "green" than a few sheets of gift wrap.) If I saw something like that, I would probably think, "I wonder if they are going to 'be green' by not sending thank you notes, too." Please don't embarrass yourselves by communicating that you want loot but don't want to inconvenience yourself and don't care about your guests' pleasure.

And while I'm being such a wet blanket .... !

I hate the term "couples shower." It sounds like single people aren't included (if "couple" referred to the guests of honor, it would be "couple" or "couple's," not "couples"). If the point is that the party is for men, too, then call it "coed" if you must -- but I don't even like that, because it implies that otherwise a shower must only be for women and it is somehow beneath a man's dignity to attend unless you make it okay by adding the modifier "coed."

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 2:12PM
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My son's fiancee's mom is hosting a shower for the bride (that is the custom in their community) next month. The bride will have to travel by air. Her mom told me the other day that they had thought about asking for gift cards, but they'd had an even better idea: ask people to have the gift shipped or something but giftwrap a picture of it in a box. Because we have had this conversation (and because she and I get along great, luckily) I was able to say, "I have another idea. Why not let people just bring the gifts as usual, and then, any that are too big to go in their luggage, we can take back to the stores and ask them to give [Bride] a credit for them to pick up the identical items at her local store? Then at most there will be a few items from other stores too big for luggage; we can just ship those or leave them with you for now." She really liked the idea.

This should work fine in this case, as they expect that most of the gifts will be from the registries, which are at stores that have branches in both cities. But I bet that's true of a lot of people in this situation.

I also expect that people who figure she'll have to fly will either get easily packable items or else come up with the picture or GC idea on their own. But the shower will be more fun the more actual gifts there are to unwrap and see.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 5:18PM
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Follow up --

The above worked perfectly for my daughter-in-law's shower. In fact, the stores made it even easier yet. When we took the gifts back to Macy's and BBB, they didn't simply take the items back and arrange for pickup of identical ones in the bride's city: they shipped them -- free -- to her home. I don't know why, but both stores said it's actually easier for them, so that's how they do it.

That made the shower much more fun than opening gift cards or pictures of gifts would have been. It made me feel good to hear her mom telling everyone she thought it was such a great idea. So thanks to all of you, because this is where the idea originated!

There were a few items that weren't from the registry stores, and it was simple for the bride to take the small ones back with her and leave one or two large items for the next time someone is going by car.

So, I'm glad to report that it worked great for us, and I am sure it will for others, too.

The wedding was here in our city last week -- it just occurred to me that I can do the same with any gifts that don't fit in their car when they get back from their honeymoon and head back to their town.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 2:09PM
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Super! Glad it worked so well, Gellchom. I am surprised to know about the stores shipping free. Wow!

So - pics from the wedding?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 5:02PM
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I don't have any yet! The ones from the photographer will take a long time, but several of the kids' friends have posted some on Facebook, and I've asked them to send me electronic copies. When I get them, I'll dig up the instructions for posting pictures -- I never remember -- and post.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 10:45PM
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I was just reading an older post about shipping gifts from an out of town bridal shower. One new option is from UPS. It's called UPS My Choice. You can sign up for it free on their web site. The free membership lets members get a phone,email or text alert the day prior to delivery w/an approx 4 hr delivery window. If that time frame doesn't work you can reschedule or go online and release pkgs. needing a signature if you absolutely cannot be home. They also have luggage boxes that you can carry on the plane. Check out your UPS store!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 3:42AM
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Cathy Christian-Spann

I am helping with a shower for a friends son and daughter in law..they live out of state and cannot be here for the shower...thanks for all of the responses to this lady's questions they have been helpful to me also. But I want to make one comment regarding what's exceptable. If I am invited to a shower and I want to show the couple my love and support, I don't care what methods are used to promote the shower. We all know that the whole reason for a shower is to give gifts..the shower is not about me so I make no judgement on how it is arranged..if someone thinks another persons idea is not suitable to their standards of etiquette, then don't attend..I am not going to let "breaking rules of etiquette" keep me from showing my love...loved the shoe box theme someone suggested..also on the KNOT website they suggested doing a video to send to couple since they can't attend.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2015 at 12:28PM
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No one is saying that anyone should decline an invitation to a shower that breaks an etiquette rule rather than go along and "show their love." The question wasn't even about what a guest should do at all. It's what is polite for a host to do when giving a shower.

Just because we love our friends and relatives and would go ahead and (to use the example from the OP) pay to ship gifts doesn't make it polite for the hosts of the shower to tell or even suggest to the guests to pay for shipping.

It's the same for many situations. I wouldn't decline a wedding invitation or refuse to send a gift over it, but that doesn't mean that putting a registry list or "cash please" note in the wedding invitation is okay.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2015 at 10:52AM
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