Bridal Shower Ideas for the Non-Traditional Bride

Give some thought to the shower you want. There are so many options and so many variables. Think about what would best suit you, including your level of participation and whether or not you want it to be a surprise.
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The concept of the bridal shower originated about 300 years ago. According to wedding lore, a Dutch woman's Dad refused to give her a dowry because he did not care for her choice in mates so all the women folk in the village got together and showered her with gifts so she could marry the man she loved.

Obviously, 300 years ago, and even 30 years ago, a bride needed lots of household items to get her marriage off to a good start. These days, so many couples are living together before they wed that you probably already have plenty of dishes and pots and pans. Wedding showers can be far more creative and personalized and your shower can bring you gifts that appease both your material and spiritual needs.

1. Give some thought to the shower you want. There are so many options and so many variables. Think about what would best suit you, including your level of participation and whether or not you want it to be a surprise. Give these questions some thought:

• Where would you like it to be?
• Who would you want to be there?
• What kind of theme would you like?
• What would you like to experience?
• Would you rather a night time or weekend shower?
• What kind of gifts would you most appreciate?
• Would you want boys there or would you want to make it an exclusively a goddess thing?
• What kind of gifts (material or spiritual) would you like to offer?
• Would you want to include a ritual experience?
• Do you feel you can have all the elements you most want in one shower or might it be best to have two -- one for family and one for friends?

2. Ask for what you want. Be clear upfront. Even if someone else is throwing a shower for you, you can make requests, including the request not to have a "traditional shower." You can even pick a theme. "Showers are more themed than they used to because brides and grooms are older and established and have the typical gifts," says Sharon Naylor, bridal expert and author of many wedding books, including The Ultimate Bridal Shower Idea Book. "There is more focus on their hobbies or home décor. They are not themed around starting your first home. "

3. Bridal showers have gotten more exotic. Themes range from a "lingerie party" (where the bride gets only sexy sleepwear, under things and naughty toys), to a "romantic beauty shower" (where she is gifted with beauty products, Victorian-style romantic items and anything that inspires romance) to a "backyard barbeque and luau shower" for both the bride and groom (where you can roast a pig, play lots of goofy games and give the bride and groom a Hawaiian "lei" -- and all the jokes that you can think of). Here are some fun spiritual themes to consider.

• Goddess gathering. Women gather with sacred intent to spiritually support you through this right of passage and maybe bring gifts of the goddesses from the world's traditions or gifts fit for a goddess -- such as elegant perfume bottles, gift certificates for massages, inspiring art work.

• Feng Shui Shower. Guests bring feng shui items for the home, such as wind chimes, crystals, golden icons, water fountain, bamboo flutes, plants, Chinese good luck symbols and coins, cash in a red envelope.

• Shower you with Wisdom. You receive gifts of wisdom and advice. The shower gifts can be anything you need and the wishing well is books, prayers, plaques with pithy sayings and quotes. The women go around a circle and offer you advice for married life or they write down their advice and it is placed in a special Wisdom Book.

• Wedding Memory and Keepsake shower. This is devoted to honoring your past and documenting your wedding experience and marriage. Guests bring keepsake gifts such as: beautiful photo albums; picture frames; memory boxes; disposable cameras (or they can chip in for a new camera); scrapbooking items; a frame for your wedding license and your vows; and even a "wedding time capsule" into which you can put a copy of your wedding invitation, a photo of you and your groom, a favor, dried flowers, etc. Someone also brings a retrospect of the bride in photos -- usually mom -- and one or more people share a story of how you went from shy child, to awkward teen, to the beautiful swan you have become.

• Special Cultural Custom's Shower. Many cultures have there own version of women gathering to honor, celebrate and assist the bride through her rite of passage that can be adapted or included in some way in a wedding shower. For example, in Bali, the women folk take the bride to a river, help her remove her clothes, and let the clothes float down the river, says ritual expert Barbara Biziou. This is to symbolize releasing the old. Then they dress her in fresh new clothes.

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