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Lauren M.G. Burt: How to do the bridal shower the right way

Weddings are one of the most joyous events in life for the couple and those in their lives. Before walking down the aisle, many smaller events take place, one of the most popular being the bridal shower. Some countries refer to the party as "kitchen teas" but the modern bridal shower originated in the U.S. in the late 1800s. Traditionally the event has been reserved for the bride-to-be to celebrate with her closest friends and female relatives. While party themes range from kitchen to lingerie showers, many general traditions remain. As a hostess, guest or bride, following shower protocol will leave the bride beaming, and her nearest-and-dearest remembering the experience fondly.

Hostess: Tradition states that close friends or the bridal party host the shower, which is usually the maid or matron of honor. One person or a group may host a shower, there is no set number on hostesses. Be sure it is friends who host, not the bride's family. If a bride's family wants to host an event, more appropriate options are an engagement party or a bridal party brunch. When organizing the shower, respect the taste and style of the bride. Keep surprises positive and fun. At the party, the bride and hostess should greet each guest upon arrival. When two people get married, family and friends meet and mix together who may not know each other. Making introductions allows people to feel more at ease.

Planning: Set the shower date a few months or at least two weeks from the wedding. When inviting guests, be sure to invite people who are also invited to the wedding. A person invited only to the shower — or any wedding event — who is not invited to the actual wedding is rude and a big no-no. Also, multiple showers are becoming more common, but avoid overlapping guests. You may want to include some people for everything, but asking them for multiple gifts, time and resources may result in unintended issues.

Invites: Luckily there are endless varieties of invites and stationary these days, just be sure to send invites via post mail four to six weeks prior. Save-the-dates should be the only electronic invite. The bride's gift registry should be included on the invitation. Always allow the bride to create or approve the guest list. And make sure she is aware of when guests will receive the invitation.

Guests: Once you receive the invitation, RSVP immediately. Guests are expected to bring a gift to the shower unless otherwise noted. Shower gifts are usually for the home, kitchen or entertaining. Stay within your budget and consult the gift registry. If you know the bride well, feel free to stray from the registry as long as the gift remains appropriate for the occasion.

Groom: Men — and the groom — are not traditionally invited to attend the shower. However, more men are becoming involved with the pre-wedding parties and couples showers are increasingly popular. And an old tradition is making its way back to popular culture with the husband-to-be stopping by the party before the gifts are opened or at the end to drop-off a bouquet of flowers to his bride and thank guests for attending.

Bride: Enjoy the shower and the experiences that a wedding creates. The bride's No.1 post-party duty is the thank-you notes. Promptly write and mail thank-you notes after every event someone hosts for you, and thank every gift giver. Before you say, "I do," put thank-you notes at the top of your to do's.