Planning a bridal shower is almost like a bullet you cannot dodge; especially if you’re a close female friend/relative to the bride-to-be. You have the little issues of people not remembering to RSVP, or people forgetting that it’s meant to be a surprise and they go on to blab to the bride. Basically, there are so many reasons to say ‘I no do again’. However, you find yourself doing it again and again because it’s all about that special person you love and want to create a great experience for – the bride.
Bridal showers became an integral part of my social life after the first of my many girlfriends got engaged in 2003 (or maybe 2002? I forget) and I was heavily involved in her pre-marital preparations. That first affair was the sort of feeble effort that only a novice could have pulled off.It was staged in her fiancé’s house because we all still inhabited our parents’ abodes. Nobody put much thought to food; I was ignorant about the party-saving powers of bridal shower games and she was one of the first of us to be getting married so we neglected the “advice” section which would have equipped her with words of wisdom for the journey ahead. I think the highlight of the evening was when said fiancé gate-crashed our little gathering bringing music, plenty of drinks and his friends (many of whom were of the good-looking & single variety), thereby saving the day as we turned our attentions to partying and being eyed up by fine boys.
Since then, my planning skills have increased as my pool of single girlfriends has rapidly decreased and it’s clear that bridal showers are now permanently embedded in the Nigerian wedding culture. I’m not sure when exactly it became the norm but we seem to have happily adopted this very American concept by giving it a unique touch of Nigerian-ness, which makes me wonder what social events we previously used to plug that hole?
History insists we had customs like the fattening houses in some Niger Delta communes and dancing around the village square with other maidens (sometimes bare chested, to the men’s delight) in Igboland but did they effectively do the job of preparing a bride for her nuptials, the way a bridal shower rightly can? I don’t have a clue. What I do have, however, are experiences of the Nigerian bridal shower experience and maybe a few tips (while attempting to squeeze you for some of your own) on how to make it all worthwhile for the bride, you as the planner, and all other invitees to your little soiree.
Spa Day or Themed-party?
Know thy bride and know her tastes. Stop following that one script which says we must all gather in one location to eat and gist for a couple of hours. Mix it up, mbok! Your bride is probably stressed and up to her eyeballs in pre-wedding organizing so why not exploit the few hours that you’ve assembled her and all her special friends together? You could have indoor and/or outdoor activities (shopping doesn’t count), build enthusiasm and interest by putting teasers in your invitation about the fun event you’re planning and try and see if that doesn’t get prompter responses to your RSVP requests. It is very possible to start your planning from the day she tells you her wedding date so that you have plenty time to lock down dates, book venues, etc.
I know you feel offended that after buying the expensive Asoebi, I’m talking about spending more money. However, you’ll need to determine where the spending for bridal shower is emanating from. Send word early to other close friends if you need contributions for food/the cake/favours. Take my experience as gospel, if you pay for it before discussing it, you’ll probably never get money back. Everyone else should be tapped to bring necessaries like drinks, disposables and finger food. This is not the wedding day; serving rice is not a must. Remember, they’re probably arriving with gifts for the bride and you don’t want to clean out their wallet before they can get a chance to pay for their own Asoebi.
The Scandalous Gifts
I’ve seen these in all shapes and forms. I personally know a woman who religiously buys Durex lube for all brides-to-be, just because of her own haunting wedding night experience.Although, she’ll tell you plainly that her lube only goes to ‘untouched brides’. Anyone with a track record should be able to survive the “do”. My thoughts on her logic are for another discussion but I actually like her idea – it’s sensual, practical and thoughtful.
Here’s the thing with wispy, lacy nothings –in the Nigerian context.It’s very likely that the couple want kids immediately after the wedding and so you give her loads of naughty size-8 underwear which is great for the honeymoon but gets consigned to the back of her drawer once she gets pregnant and shifts gear to maternity bras. Let’s not forget the possibility of her going up a size post-baby.My married girlfriends bemoan the wasting away of their bridal shower lingerie, abandoned after little or no use.
So, think differently. Scented candles are a great gift, as are cheeky items such as sex cheques (basically a cheque book with promissory notes to do something interesting to the other party), massage kits, feather ticklers and furry handcuffs (only for the adventurous minded. Remember how I said you should know thy bride?) I once included a pregnancy kit in my bridal shower gift to a friend because I knew she and her hubs were keen on trying for a baby immediately. If you choose to do underwear, getting her separates such as bras, panties and silk/satin wraps or dressing gowns are also a good idea.
Giving *coughs* Advice
One of the most boisterous sessions of the Naija bridal shower,is when you get to hear some of the most disturbing details you wish you never discovered about the sex lives of certain couples. I don’t know what it is about bridal showers, but I find that some ladies get very open and unnecessarily descriptive. I truly don’t need to know how many times a night and what position your man likes to hit it. Please stop putting that information out there. Isn’t it enough to just keep stuff generic. For instance “try and be adventurous, don’t wait for him to always initiate things”. Why does someone feel the need to give you the details of how it goes down at her crib? No thank you, ma’am and please don’t be presenting ammunition to some undercover runs girl who just might download those details for her own ulterior purposes.
The advice session is meant to embody a gift of titbits of wisdom to the bride and one way to do this is to get a book to pass around to all attendees before the bridal shower, so they can write down words that the bride can return to and read days /years afterwards. You can put down a prayer, words of advice, even a favourite tried-and-tested recipe. It’s an advice session, not a sex-tips session and their lives will consist of other activities outside the bedroom. Enough said.
Personally, I think bridal shower favours are a very memorable touch to your event,and it doesn’t have to be extravagant. I once got a tape measure as a “thank you for coming”, which is still very much in use today. Something small and practical for the handbag or the home is a great idea; it also serves as a great memento for the bride-to-be.
Make up your mind early so you can get a good discount if you’re ordering from a supplier – remember what I said about budgets.
Information abounds on the interwebs about hosting amazingly fun bridal showers (and I didn’t even touch Hen Nights!) without involving an events planner. Apparently, in the U.S., men also get invited… how very contemporary!
What about you? What stories, experiences or tips have you got from the bridal showers you’ve attended?
Mz Socially Awkward does far too much legal reading and writing as part of her day job (for which she remains grateful to God!)… which means she’s too brain-fatigued in her spare time to create a blog. She enjoys observing everyday life as it occurs around her and being entertained by reality.