This past Saturday I held a bridal shower for my niece; a tradition going back to the 1800s. Relatives and friends of the bride would give a party for the bride-to-be if she did not have a trousseau either because her parents could not afford to give her one or if they did not approve of her future husband, therefore, withholding the trousseau they had planned for their daughter. A shower would give her a start for her new home and married life. A trousseau consisted of the wedding clothes for the bride as well as the wardrobe and jewellery she would wear throughout her married life. Heirloom linens, china, and silverware were often a part of trousseau as well.
During the 1900s young women were often given a cedar chest (hope chest). They would add household items to the chest with the “hope” to marry and set up their own household.
My dad made me a cedar chest (which I still have) in 1968. I, too, remember adding special items to my chest as I collected them. I still have a special teapot my grandmother gave me when I was a teenager carefully stored in this treasure box. My daughter and I went through my cedar chest last summer and found some of my favourite outfits from the 1980’s…shoulder pads and all. (Whatever happened to Wayne Clark?). Often a mother would store her wedding dress in the cedar chest in hopes that her daughter may want to wear it on her wedding day.
Today bridal showers are much less formal, but still a gathering of friends and family of the bride. Modern brides often have already set up house and the need for everyday items aren’t as necessary as they once were. It seems that I have hosted a bridal shower almost annually for some time now and more often than not we have contributed to a larger “group” gift. Thankfully, my nieces haven’t wanted to play “games” at their showers, so that has taken the pressure off of me to come up with some original ideas on what to play.
Deciding on the menu is when I start to panic! Luckily I had “The Butler Did It” cater for me. Marianne Brown, the owner extraordinaire, supplied a delicious array of tea sandwiches (I couldn’t break with tradition completely). She also supplied an artfully arranged cheese platter. The food was a real hit and as Marianne said, “Don’t be surprised if everyone eats a lot!”.
I also ordered a “naked” cake (one with barely any icing) as the bride doesn’t really have a sweet tooth.
Refreshments require some forethought as well. As I hadn’t met many of the guests beforehand I served a variety of drinks. I always serve a champagne punch for these gatherings plus wine and sparkling waters. A coffee station is a must too!
This champagne punch recipe is good, however, may be too sweet for some. The ingredients can always be altered to suit individual tastes. It looks pretty in a drink dispenser (a pale pink colour) and goes a long way to quench a crowd.
The decorating part is what I enjoy the most. I wanted to have a long “veil” on the front door to welcome guests, however, the wind made that impossible so I had to shorten it up. It still looked somewhat festive.
The larger table arrangement was cut dogwood branches from the garden. With the addition of a penny and a couple of sugar cubes, the leaves stayed fresh looking for days after. I’m not sure if this helped but it didn’t hurt.
The wedding colour scheme is pale pink, creamy white and gold. I wanted to keep to these colours in my decorating too as a lead up to the wedding. I doubt that anyone else notices those little details but it’s a way to amuse myself!
Some things never change no matter what century we are in. Get a group of women together and there is no shortage of great conversation and lots of laughter!
My wish to my niece and her groom is that they too will “forever” be happy walking arm and arm into a wonderful future.