Bridal shower pointers for the mother of the groom

Bridal shower pointers for the mother of the groom

A bridal shower for your future daughter-in-law may be among the first duties of the mother of the groom in the months leading up to the wedding. Your role may be as simple as attending and bringing a gift, or as pivotal as hosting the event. However you are involved, plan to enjoy all the parties thrown in honor of the couple. It’s a fun time in everyone’s lives.

Bridal Shower Basics

Attending bridal showers is a public blessing and show of your support for your son and his bride-to-be. It is good to remember that basic etiquette is never out of style.  With that in mind, be sure to:

  • RSVP in a timely manner to any shower invitation. If you are unable to be there, make sure you explain to your son and daughter-in-law why. You may think that a difficult or unyielding circumstance  is obvious, but a couple involved in wedding planning may miss a lot of details in the lives of others. Communication is so important during this time.
  • Arrive on time, or more preferably, 20 minutes or so ahead of time, in order to be there with the couple or bride to meet and greet other guests. Even though you may not be hosting this event, you are an important member of the wedding party. This is a great time to meet other important people in your daughter-in-law’s life.
  • Bring a gift in keeping with the theme of the party. Keep in mind that there may be other showers or occasions for gifts for the couple before the wedding. Budget accordingly. Also, in my opinion, this is not the time to grandstand by bringing a very extravagant present. Save that for a private moment with the couple.
  • Be ready to answer questions from family and friends about what the couple needs or wants in terms of gifts. Be ready to share registry and any other relevant information in this regard.

Yes, You Can Host A Shower

Traditionally, it was considered poor form for family members of the couple to host a shower since it is essentially asking for gifts. Even more traditionally, there was only one shower, bridesmaids hosted it, and only women who were also invited to the wedding were on the guest list.

Lifestyles and trends have changed both these traditions considerably, however, and the groom and his family are much more involved in these occasions. For instance, coworkers of either the bride or groom may throw a party celebrating the upcoming marriage. Friends and family may choose to honor the couple with a variety of parties prior to the wedding, particularly when the location of the wedding will prevent many from attending. These can include a party hosted by the mother of the groom or the groom’s family.

During my son’s engagement, I was unaware that  the groom’s mother may host a bridal shower. Indeed, not until researching for this project did I realize the tradition had evolved, finding a thumbs up from none other than Emily Post. Similarly, Sydell Rabin, author of The Complete Mother of the Groom, and Sharon Naylor, author of Mother of the Groom, both agree. You will find a few voices out there, Martha Stewart being one, that either just don’t agree, or haven’t caught up with the times, but I think if hosting a shower for your future daughter-in-law is feasible and something you want to do, you should definitely do it. It is a wonderful opportunity to have fun while building the foundation for the future.


  • GreenEyedGal33

    I could use some advice on this topic! I am engaged and my future MIL wants her friend (who I’ve never met) to host my shower. I thought this was incredibly strange and delicately told her that I’d like my MOH to host. Now MIL is saying that she’d like to host it. She’s not talking about hosting a second shower — she wants to host the one and only bridal shower. I don’t want this and I’m wondering what others think of the idea of the MOG hosting the only shower? For what it’s worth, she has a history of being pushy and overbearing. Of course I’d want my own mother to host it in a perfect world, but she unfortunately passed away four years ago (making MIL’s pushiness even less welcome at a time when I’m missing my mom tremendously). Anyone ever have a MIL pushing to host the shower against your wishes? Help is appreciated!!

  • Love SoCal

    I haven’t been able to find an answer to this question. When there is more than one shower and they are both local events, does the guest list overlap? The maid-of-honor and her mom are hosting a bridal shower. The guest list includes all the bridesmaids, female relatives, and me (the MOG). My daughter, who is a bridesmaid, lives in another state and will not be able to attend. She will be co-hosting a couples shower with the best man about a month after the bridal shower. The guest list will include bridesmaids and groomsmen and their plus-ones, plus cousins, uncles, aunts, on the groom’s side that were not invited to the bridal shower. Is the MOB and dad and grandparents invited as well? (I’m helping behind the scenes. There was no time for an engagement party.)

  • Neighbor

    So what are some thoughts on the mother of the groom not attending a bridal shower… or a sister of the groom. MY family is putting on two showers one for our family and friends on one side of the state and another on the other side of the state…. But my mother in law is only going to the one that HER family will be at… as well as my soon to be sister in law…? And the groom isnt coming because well..he is the groom so their will be no support or representation there from his side of the family….

    • Joyce Beverly

      Thanks for stopping by Neighbor. I think the mother of the groom should do everything she can to attend any shower she is invited to. It’s not always possible, though. Any number of situations can make this difficult. Moms may have financial or other limitations or responsibilities (like caring for parents) that can’t be easily resolved or set aside. However, she should regretfully decline when she is invited to any affair in your honor and she should take the time to call or write and make her reasons clear to you and the hostess. Perhaps if you let her know you would really love for someone from your fiance’s family to be there, she will encourage someone else to represent her. She may not realize how you feel about this. Even if nothing changes, having a discussion about it is a great exercise in learning to communicate with someone who will be an important person in your lives.

  • kelly

    My sister is getting married and when I mention anything about a shower she says she doest want one , but told me her mother-in-law to be wants to throw her one but just for the grooms family . I dont think its right for it just to be his family that hers should be included in it .

    • Joyce Beverly

      Kelly, I agree with you that it would be much more gracious (and right from an etiquette point of view) for the groom’s mother to include some of the bride’s family, especially if they live in the same area. I am sorry your relationships are beginning like this. If your sister isn’t willing to ask her to include some of her family, or if the groom’s mom does not change her mind, I hope you will let this go. “Forgive and forget,” if you will, in the interest of good relations in the long run. Actually, this is almost always good advice, and never more so than when there is a wedding afoot.

    • jfhscott

      I know it is a bit semantic, but can your sister indicate that she appreciates her mother-in-law’s enthusiasm, but is uncomfortable with an event which presumes a gift will be presented, suggesting, at most, an “engagement party” where she can meet her husband’s family?

  • Confused

    I found that being mother of groom when it comes to a bridal shower is fraught with danger. May daughter-in-law’s mother was not throwing a shower so I decided to throw one for her and called the mother to ask if she would like to include her lady friends in the guest list. She responded with a list of invitees and I asked if she would like to help. I even ran a menu past her asking what she thought and asking her to make suggestions. She and her friends did bring food. I thought everything was okay. But now, years later, I’m hearing that it caused quite a stir in that community. The story now is that I usurped her mother’s privilege. Now, there’s is a baby on the way and I am told to definitely not throw a baby shower (this was preemptive – I had not offered; I had simply asked if one was planned so that I would know the date – sometimes things are done on very short notice). I guess I’m kind of hurt; but I’m also trying to figure out what I did wrong. I’ve checked all sorts of etiquette sites and I don’t have an answer. Any suggestions?

    • Joyce Beverly

      I am sorry this has come up after all this time. It amazes me how people can nurture imagined slights for years. It isn’t helpful to anyone, and reminds me of the proverbial saying that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. You did nothing wrong in my opinion. Today’s “rules” definitely allow the mother of the groom to host a shower for the bride, and it is especially appropriate when the families live a good distance away from each other and the MOG is hosting a party in her own town. It is rude, in my opinion, for you to be getting a cold shoulder for something you did with the best of intentions. My suggestion, though, is not to let this uncovered “offense” undermine your relationships now. It’s in the past and with a baby coming there is so much to be excited about. If it comes up again, let them know you meant no harm and that you’re looking forward to the future and many shared happy occasions with this new grandchild.

    • jfhscott


      While I believe what you report, I cannot believe folks would think that you “usurped her mother’s privilege”.

    • jfhscott


      They think that you “usurped her mother’s privilege”? There actually remain those who find a mom holding a shower for her daughter not to be a “privilege” but actually uncouth. Simply put, a shower presumes gift giving, and no parent should ever throw an event which, by its nature, involves a solicitation of a gift for their child. Rather, an eager mother of the bride should curb her enthusiasm and, if she chooses, host an engagement party. Attendees might bring a gift, but that is completely incidental.

      I know this is rather semantic, and I’ve heard of showers where guests are not expected to bring gifts (something I find oxymoronic). But if you offered to throw a shower, and your daughter in law accepted your kind offer (which she could have graciously declined), anyone who disapproves is being disprespectful of not only you, but your daughter in law as well.

  • Provincial Lady

    What if the mother of the groom is NOT invited to any shower?

    • Joyce Beverly

      In my opinion, it is a serious breach of etiquette on the part of the bride and her mother. Unfortunately, the MOG’s response has to be to gracefully let it go. I am sorry this happened to you.

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  • maggiesocial

    This is an interesting topic to me. I do think the MOG should plan to attend all showers that she is able. If she can’t attend she should send a small token and a note.
    I am still torn with the idea of hosting a shower. I am more in favor of hosting a announcement party. I am not really into the idea of hosting a party for a family member that “requires” a gift. I do like the idea of a party to celebrate the engagement and introduce the bride and her family to our family and friends. I am sure many people will bring gifts- but it doesn’t seem as “gimme”.

    What do you think of the idea of giving the bride shower gifts that are family heirlooms?

    And about the gifts for all these showers. I talked with my MIL when I was getting married in the dark ages. I asked her not feel like she had to bring a gift every time. She insisted- but bought a set of pots and pans. She divided them up and gave a piece at each shower. My mom did the same thing with a place setting of my china.

    • Joyce Beverly

      That’s a great idea about having a gift you can split up among showers or other gift occasions. Thanks for sharing! I agree it is a little disconcerting to think of hosting a party which essentially is for gifts. While it is “okay” (Emily Post okay) it may not be the right thing for everyone. When the bride and her family live a significant distance away, especially when many friends and family of the groom may not be able to attend the wedding, the idea of hosting a shower as mother of the groom is more palatable to me.

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