A "Wishing Well" at a bridal shower traditionally provides the bride-to-be with small household necessities and kitchen gadgets. Buy a wooden wishing well at a craft store or construct one out of a bucket, pot or basket. Most party stores offer bridal wishing wells for rent. Fill the center with gauzy fabric to obscure the deposited gifts from view. Alternatively, use a covered box, but ensure the lid opens completely. The wishing well may accompany the gifts purchased from a registry, or serve as the sole gifts for couples with a well-established household.
For a traditional theme, choose small household items. Etiquette expert Elizabeth Post suggests the long-standing choices of a wooden kitchen spoon, a spool of thread and needle or a bar of soap. Industrious brides also appreciate tape measures, small boxes of screws or nails or birthday candles for celebrating or fixing a sticking zipper. Choose small, but not extremely heavy items. Even if a bride owns a home before her marriage, a bushel of necessities prevents newlyweds from making a shopping trip the first task as a married couple. For an alternate theme, choose poems or written thoughts from the guests, or attach them to each gift.
Inform guests of the wishing well theme on the invitation. Set a monetary guideline for the items. Intended items should cost just a dollar or two. Advise guests whether to bring the item wrapped or unwrapped. Upon arrival, attach a ribbon to each small gift. Place it in the wishing well with the ribbon sticking out over the side of the well. If fabric fills the center of the well, the ribbon may lay in the upper layers.
The bride may go through the gifts at a later time. However, it provides entertainment when she fishes in the well. To reveal the gifts, she pulls on one ribbon at a time and fishes the gift up. Announce each item to guests. A guessing game may emerge to determine a giver's identity. Laughter or tears may flow if guests attached a sentiment with each trinket.
When an established couple marries, they may appreciate money in lieu of gifts. Traditional etiquette considers asking for cash a faux pas. A few exceptions exist. A couple in their 60s (or older) likely will not need household gadgets and dust collectors but may, in fact, appreciate money to splurge on a trip. If a couple will live on a fixed income, extra money funds a nice dinner out or covers future emergencies. While asking for money for the actual wedding may discourage guests who want to give family photos or an heirloom, a wishing well provides a special circumstance. As a departure from a stack of cards, fill the wishing well up with one- or five- dollar bills. The practice prevents a giving competition, as no one knows who gave the most. The many bills also makes the wishing well overflow.
- "Emily Post's Etiquette: A Guide to Modern Manners"; Elizabeth Post; 1984
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