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Is a Bridal Shower Gift for the Bride or the Couple?

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Traditionally, bridal showers were thrown to help set the newlywed couple up in their new home. These days, however, more people who get married are already living together. They probably have towels and don’t need another frying pan.

So is a bridal shower gift for the bride or the couple?

A bridal shower is a perfect opportunity for people to give a gift specifically to the bride. At the reception, gifts are usually for the couple. People who grew up with or cared for the bride will want to give her a special gift. You can show your love for the bride-to-be at the shower by giving her a thoughtful gift she will use for years.

Soon to be bride smiling opening gift

Here’s some information on how showers started, where they are today, and what you can expect when giving gifts at a wedding shower.

Why People Throw Showers for Brides

The bridal shower tradition dates back hundreds of years.

As the story goes, the first bridal shower happened in the 16th century when a father refused to pay the marriage dowry for his daughter because he disapproved of the union.

Hearing this, the community decided to rally around the couple, and everyone came together to buy gifts for the bride to bring into her marriage to replace the missing dowry.

Bridal shower party

Until decades ago, and to some degree today, bridal showers were meant to help get the bride and couple ready for life together.

At more traditional bridal showers, people give:

  • Kitchenware
  • Sheets
  • Towels
  • Small Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Home Decorations
  • Gift Cards
  • Cash

The idea is that the gifts will help the bride and the couple with their new life together.

How Modern Showers Have Changed

Pretty girls in pink robes and sleep masks with balloons at bridal showers

In the 1950s and earlier, it was common for brides to go directly from living at home with their parents to living with their husbands.

However, now most brides are better established, and more are already living with the people they will marry.

That’s why giving a couple a toaster as a shower present will probably feel weird. Odds are, they already have a nice toaster and don’t need the one you’re giving them.

Even if they’re not living together, most people who get married are much better off than in generations past. They likely are older, have jobs, and have a place of their own.

Some people even think that bridal showers are somewhat anachronistic.

You may come across people who think showers are sexist or a legacy of male-dominated societies where women were given gifts like kitchenware because they were expected to stay home and raise children.

Still, bridal showers aren’t going anywhere. People love having parties, and for the most part, folks have been able to adapt to modern realities.

What to Give at Bridal Showers

If you get an invitation to a bridal shower, then, yes, you should give a gift. It’s not a must if you’re not going, but any gift is always appreciated.

If you decide to attend, then bring a gift.

Deciding what exactly to give as a present for a bridal shower can be a challenge. You want your gift to be something the bride and the couple will enjoy.

Here are some factors to consider to help make your present hit the mark.

The Budget

Bride-to-be receiving a gift box from her close friends

There are no rules for how much you should plan on spending. But as a guideline, a bridal shower gift should cost less than a wedding gift.

Normally, people spend anywhere from a third to half as much on the shower gift as they do on the wedding gift they give at the reception.

Of course, if you know the bride better and want to splash some cash, then feel free to spend as much as you want!

Who Is Throwing the Shower?

Usually, the bride’s mother or close friends will throw the wedding shower. If you need some help with gift ideas, then ask them! They can point you in the right direction.

A lot of showers today have themes to help people know what to buy.

For example, they can have a shower designed to stock their bar, and you can buy a nice bottle of wine.

The theme could also be related to a hobby, like running, that the couple shares, so you can buy them some cool running gear.

bride and bridesmaid bridal shower party

Look for Registry Info

Sometimes the shower, like the wedding, will include registry information on the invitation. When in doubt, you can always ask the bride if they are registered anywhere.

If the registry for the shower is the same as the wedding, buy something smaller for the shower and something more significant for the reception gift.

Be Ready for the Bride to Open the Gift There

Typically, brides open shower gifts in front of guests. It’s a fun tradition where the community can come out and show support for the couple.

It’s important to buy a gift you can be proud to give. This doesn’t mean spending hundreds of dollars.

Avoid gag gifts.

If you know the bride well, feel free to buy something more meaningful or sentimental. If you’re a family friend or work associate, opt for a more practical gift.

bride and friends celebrating bridal party holding gifts

Cash and Gift Cards Work

Giving cash or gift cards is entirely acceptable if you’re traveling to attend the shower or are stumped on what to get the bride.

Make sure you put the present inside a card with a personalized note so the amount you’re giving is discreet.

Buying Gifts Specifically for the Bride

female friends enjoying bridal party toasting wine with gifts around

The wedding shower is mainly for the bride. These days, people aren’t giving as many bed sheets as gifts.

Modern brides are different from hundreds of years ago, but people still want an opportunity to celebrate the bride specifically.

The bride’s parents and close friends love to throw a shower where they invite friends and family to come together before the wedding.

A bridal shower is an intimate setting where people can talk about the upcoming ceremony and gush over the dress.

A bridal shower is also the perfect chance for you to buy a gift specifically for the bride-to-be. It’s normal for people to give brides clothing, nice toiletries, and even lingerie as a shower present.

If you want to give something a bit more personal, you can put a picture of the bride, the two of you, or the wedding couple in a nice frame.

Buy her some personalized jewelry or a gift card to your favorite spa to help her release all of that wedding tension when they have a spare moment.

There Are No Rules on Gifts

Bride opening present from her girlfriends during bridal party

Gifts are always welcome, no matter what they are.

If you end up giving a gift that misses the mark or is something that they already have, they can always return it and buy something else. It’s the thought that counts.

The bride will be happy that you’re there. The attention is rarely on the gifts. They are glad they get a chance to be among friends and family ahead of the big day.

The bride-to-be will appreciate your time and presence much more than whatever gift you give.