As a single person, bridal showers bothered me. Actually, the excessive gift-giving associated with weddings in general bothered me. As I scrimped and struggled along on my own, the contrast between my own experience and the outpouring of material resources to couples was striking. Usually, it didn’t make me angry. It mostly just hurt a lot. It hurt that following a socially expected path (getting married) meant people gave you gifts, but if you weren’t getting married, you were on your own–in more ways than one.
I know bridal showers and wedding gifts are”one of those things” we “just do” and no one knows exactly why (see Wikipedia for some ideas). I know no one means to hurt anyone else or to imply that some people are worth more than others. I know most people are well-meaning, and pretty much everyone involved in the gift-giving doesn’t give much thought to the disconnect between the origins of these customs and modern society.
Before I got engaged, I knew that I would need to be prepared to graciously explain to to people why I didn’t want a bridal shower. Now that I am engaged and have had those conversations, I hope I have come across as gracious and respectful.
At the same time, when my mind reviews those conversations, there’s a part of me that cries out, “Why now?” People tell me that they want to “support” me in this new phase of my life. Why now? What about when I first moved into my own apartment? What about any of the times I’ve struggled financially in the past eight years? What about when my dad passed away? What about the times I’ve experienced severe depression and anxiety?
Why now, when in many ways, my life is going to be much easier? I get to split costs with someone and benefit from two working salaries. I have someone who will stay with me in transition periods, who will attend weddings and funerals with me, who can go get me ginger ale when I’m sick. To be “showered” with gifts now, when I am in need the least, would not only be impractical, it would add to the hurtfulness of those past memories.
I don’t at all mean to say that there weren’t key people who were very much there for me in key situations, or to imply I’m not grateful for help I have received. I am grateful–so very, very grateful. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been really, really hard at times, and there were no social customs to shower me with support.
I also understand that people want to celebrate with me, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m all for celebration and commemoration. So, if, for you, that means you want to give, please consider giving to the fund I’ve set up through One Day’s Wages for my 30th birthday and in honor of my engagement. All donations go directly towards projects that empower women living in extreme poverty.
Help me turn this “bridal shower” thing into something positive and redemptive. Help me help provide resources to women who would otherwise never receive them. I’ve set my goal at $3,000 this year, which is ambitious. But I’m turning 30 and, heck, I’m getting married. Why not use the momentum of celebration to raise funds for people who truly need it?