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Sunday, April 21, 2013

April Showers

Although Bridal and Baby Showers are not exclusively held in the Springtime, statistically there are more "Spring Showers" then any other time of the year. I often get asked questions regarding etiquette do's and don'ts, and lately I've had quite a few regarding Shower etiquette. As Bridal and Baby Showers differ in many ways I will address them separately, but there are some aspects that remain the same for both. Let's start in traditional order... with the Bride.

Bridal Showers are traditionally hosted by the Maid of Honor in coordination with the Bridesmaids. It is taboo for immediate family members to host the Bridal Shower (unless they are in the Bridal Party) as it is seen as "gift mongering".

Depending on how much you put into hosting a Shower, the event itself is considered the gift from the host. However, if you are a Bridesmaid and your contribution is a plate of cookies, you should include a small gift off the registry as well. If you are in the Bridal party and are unable to help plan, or to attend the Shower you are still obligated to send a gift.

Bridal Shower's are generally held 1 to 2 months before the wedding, but can be held up to 6 months before the wedding for special circumstances. Invitations should be sent out 4 to 6 weeks before the Shower.

Every person invited to a Bridal Shower should also be invited to the Wedding. The only exception is a Shower that is thrown by co-workers at your place of employment. Co-workers may wish to help you celebrate your happy event, but it is not expected that you invite every person you work with to the Wedding.

Traditionally a Bride has ONE Bridal Shower. The only exceptions to this rule are work related Showers with co-workers, and out of state Showers thrown by out of state family and friends who cannot make it to the main Shower. Having multiple Showers (one for the Bride's side, one for the Groom's side, one for friends, etc.) is very rude and seen as a selfish way to accumulate gifts. A Bridal Shower is the first of many events to bring both sides of the family together to get to know each other and celebrate a major life event.

Baby Showers have a few different rules of etiquette. A Baby Shower can be hosted by anyone, and generally the future Grandmothers should be included in some small way.

Baby Showers should be held anywhere from 1 to 3 months before the baby is due. Guests will want to see the mom-to-be in her big belly glory, but you don't want it too close in case the baby decides to make an early entrance. It is also acceptable to have a Baby Shower after the baby is born, especially when there are medical reasons, or it's an adoption. Baby Showers for mothers who have adopted their new precious family member should avoid games that relate to pregnancy.

The host of a Baby Shower should be considerate of the mom-to-be's comfort level, food choices (some women will have food issues all through their pregnancy), and games. Never choose games that would embarrass the guest of honor!

Once again, a Baby Shower is a one time event. The few exceptions to this rule are the 2 mentioned above, and if there has been a significant amount of time between children (like 10 years!). However, it is perfectly acceptable to have a "Baby Sprinkle". This is something that has recently gained popularity, and is an event that is smaller than a Shower, and only for a few small gifts (blankets, onesies, pajamas, etc.) the parents may need for their newest addition. A Baby Sprinkle is a great way to celebrate a new life with friends and family without them feeling like they are being manipulated into buying another expensive gift.

Although it's not mandatory, it is a nice gesture to bring a small gift for any older siblings that may be feeling left out with all the attention going to the new baby.

Bridal and Baby Showers should include a few quick games, unwrapping the gifts, and food and beverages. The amount of food you should have depends on the time of day you plan the Shower. If it's planned around lunch or dinner, then plan on having food that serves as a meal. If it's an early morning brunch style Shower, or mid-afternoon, then finger foods and tea cakes are all you need.

Any Shower should last 2 to 3 hours. Any longer than that and guests will get annoyed and restless.

If you are an invited guest to a Bridal or Baby Shower and are unable to attend you are not obligated to send a gift. However, if the guest of honor is a close friend or relative, it would be nice to send a gift to show your love and support.

If you have questions or concerns about gift buying you can refer to a previous post I made on the topic here, and my post on general Hosting Etiquette can be found here.

At the end of the day, a Bridal and Baby Shower should be a fun, and joyous gathering of friends and family to celebrate a new event in a loved one's life.

What was your favorite thing about a Bridal or Baby Shower that you have attended or given? What is the worst part of a Shower you have attended?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Will You Be My Partner?

What thoughts and images does the word "Partner" bring to mind? As children we are given study partners in class. Perhaps you hit the courts with a tennis partner, or have deadline to meet at work with your project partner. Maybe you want to start a company with your business partner, or dance a waltz with your dance partner. And let's not forget all those infamous partners in crime! According to the Oxford Dictionary, the primary definition of the word partner is: "a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits".

In recent years we have seen a broadening of the definition of "partner" to refer to one's spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, and/or significant other. In a recent conversation with a friend regarding this topic it seems that with the growing popularity of this particular use of the word partner is also an increase of people who are confused, and even slightly offended by it. 
Is a marriage or dating relationship a partnership? Yes, of course it is, but that is not all that it is. Drawing from the Oxford definition above, being in a long term committed relationship is definitely a huge undertaking that offers shared "risks" and "profits", but that is just the tip of the iceberg! Being in a relationship is about sharing your whole life with someone on much deeper level than what is expected in a partnership. Relationships are filled with emotions, intimacy, and a security that is much more personal than that of a partnership. Being in a committed relationship with a significant other, or spouse is definitely more profound than having just a partner. Why then are we seeing a growth in the use of the word partner to refer to significant others?

I think the answer is in the question itself. Our society doesn't see our significant others as being very significant. In fact, our culture has such low expectations for personal relationships that the word "partner" is now more appropriate than "spouse". It is the degradation of our society that has removed the high importance of a life long marriage to one person, a relationship that comes with comes with risks, profits, intimacy, and commitment, and replaced it with a business like partnership that can be terminated at any time either partner see's fit. It has removed the covenant of marriage and replaced it with the legal contract. It has reduced expectations of relationships to the point that one simply looks to find a person to who makes them happy in the moment but can be released when the moment is gone, instead of looking for that person who will bring them a lifetime of joy amongst the sorrows and struggles that are inevitable in life. 

My husband is my partner in that we are in this life to work together in all things. More importantly he is my spouse, significant other, best friend, confidant, lover, and the man who brings me joy, comfort, and security on a level no other person can. To introduce my husband as my "Partner" would be an insult to the man he is, and to our marriage. Why would anyone want to use this word to describe someone so important to them? 

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you introduce your spouse or significant other as your partner?