Bridals, Engagements, And Other Parties Where The Etiquette Is Unclear

March 26, 2018  |  
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When I hear the word “Party” I immediately start planning my Lyft or Uber, picking out an outfit that shows off what I have going on, and picking up a little coconut water to recover the following day. But there are these odd types of parties that begin popping up around your late twenties and early thirties. Engagement. Gender Reveal. Bridal Shower. Baby shower. And the rules to typical parties do not apply to these, which can leave some of us in the dark on what to expect, how to behave, what to bring, and more. I’ve even needed to extend my wardrobe to contain items appropriate for these events. Many look akin to something you’d wear to Easter brunch…but at a swanky hotel, not at church. You get the idea right? No? Me neither. It’s a confusing time. Let’s break it down. Here is etiquette for baby showers, engagement parties, and other events we’re unclear on.

dance girl music toddler

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Older generations and kids are there

When deciding a lot of things about this party (what to wear/bring etc) here’s an important piece of information: there will likely be people spanning multiple generations there, from toddlers to great grand parents. Parties surrounding marriage and baby making aren’t limited to the hosts’ peers.

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So check the invite regarding sexy gifts

With that last point in mind, if you are attending a bridal shower, check the invitation regarding sexy gifts. It’s traditional, at some of these, to bring penis-shaped candles and lingerie but only if the invitation states that it’s that kind of bridal. If not, don’t make the assumption. You could make the bride open crotchless underwear in front of her grandmother.

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It’s no place for a first date

Typically, a party is a great place to bring someone you’ve just started dating—but not these kinds of parties. It will be very awkward for you and your date. Everyone else there will be married with children and, in some way, closely connected to the host.

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Have one to three drinks

That’s about the appropriate number for these things. Yes, it’s a serve yourself situation with several bottles of champagne out on the counter. But you shouldn’t grab one and stick a straw in it.

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There is a semi-strict end time

You should respect the hours listed on the invitation (6 to 9pm, 11am to 1pm). These aren’t the types of parties where the hours are just a suggestion. The hosts probably have other things to do after.

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No, don’t turn the music up

Don’t bring your little Bluetooth speakers and turn the music up. Don’t try to get a dance party going. At these parties, it isn’t appropriate for wildcards to try to get everyone turnt up. There is usually a master of ceremonies (the maid of honor, the mother in law) who has an agenda for the evening. Don’t push your own. On that note, don’t suggest everyone go to a bar.

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You don’t actually eat the diaper cake

In case you were wondering, you do not eat a diaper cake. It’s made from actual diapers. So don’t ask where the dessert forks are when someone announces that the diaper cake is coming out.

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They aren’t open to the public

So your friend from college is visiting the same weekend of your other friend’s baby shower. Can you ask to bring her to the shower? Sure. Will the host like that? Not at all. It’s a special day for her, and she only wants people she has a special connection with around. If the host says you can bring your friend, just know she says so begrudgingly.

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Cover up for showers

There isn’t really any reason to look sexy for a shower—these are usually women-only events. And even if they’re coed, you’ll get some stink eye if you show a bunch of side boob at these events.

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Dress cute but chic for engagement parties

Engagement parties are the one event where you can dress a little sexy. The guest list usually targets mostly the couples’ peers—there may be some parents and aunts and uncles there, but there likely will not be children or grandparents. These also tend to take place in the late afternoon or evening, rather than the early day showers.

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At baby showers, talk about babies

You’re sort of supposed to spend most of the baby shower talking about babies. It’s an unspoken rule. If you don’t have a baby, you can talk about your friend’s baby. It’s supposed to be about parenting, what to expect as a new mom, etc. Obviously, there will be other chit chat but if you go in there and talk about work, the stock market, and Coachella as if this isn’t a baby shower, people will raise an eyebrow.

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At bridal showers, talk about the couple

At bridal showers, you’re supposed to talk about the couple, and love at large. Talk about the first time you met the groom, what you thought of him, when you knew they were meant for each other etc. Again, you can talk about other things but remember this is a day to celebrate their love.

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At engagement parties, you can have more fun

Engagement parties are really the most fun in this group of wedding and parenthood related parties. You don’t have to literally shower the couple with attention and gifts the way you do at the shower. They just want their best friends around to hang out and get excited about the wedding.

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At showers, food will be light

It’s typical for shower food to be light, like sandwiches and salads. That’s why they’re at odd times of the day (11am to 1pm or 3pm to 5pm). So don’t rely on these for a major meal.

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Bring a host gift to gender reveal parties

Gender reveal parties are a new type of party that we’re all still getting accustomed to. But one major question is: do you bring a present? Well, you’ll bring a baby present to the shower, so you don’t need to do that here. But a host gift is always appreciated.

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