What Is the Origin of the Bridal Shower?

by Jill Kokemuller

It is said the bridal shower began in the Netherlands as a way to provide needed household goods to a Dutch woman who wished to marry a poor miller instead of the wealthy farmer her father picked out for her. Her father refused to provide a dowry unless she married the man he chose, so the villagers came together to "shower" the woman with small gifts of household items so she could marry the miller. This is only one of several origin stories, however, as the true origin of the custom remains obscure.

Other Origin Stories

Another origin story with Victorian roots tells of a woman who was a friend of the bride, but could not afford a wedding gift. Because she wanted to do something for her friend, she threw a party for the bride and each attendee brought a small item. It is also suggested that the bridal shower originated in North America, and is a fairly recent tradition driven more by economic concerns – selling more wedding gifts – than it is by any sense of tradition. Whichever origin story is true, the bridal shower of today is a way for friends of the bride to celebrate with her and give her small items that aid in setting up a new household, or fun items such as lingerie if the household is already established.

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About the Author

Jill Kokemuller has been writing since 2010, with work published in the "Daily Gate City." She spent six years working in a private boarding school, where her focus was English, algebra and geometry. Kokemuller is an authorized substitute teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Iowa.