What is a wedding shower?

"What is a wedding shower?" Google gets asked this question thousands of time each month. Here in the South, where we pride ourselves on tradition, ritual and ceremony, it's hard to believe anyone wouldn't know what a wedding shower is, but I guess everyone has to learn sometime. Wedding showers, also known as bridal showers, are parties held for the bride-to-be in anticipation of her upcoming wedding ceremony. The bride is "showered" with gifts from the attendees, traditionally all women. The shower is usually hosted by the Maid of Honor and/or all the bridesmaids. Now this is where I must admit that -- being a guy -- I've never actually been to a wedding shower. But I've heard plenty of stories. And from what I hear, there are often games and always food. Some showers have themes, ranging from kitchen to lawn & garden to lingerie. Traditional activities include making a wedding dress out of toilet paper (y'all seriously do this?); writing down things the bride-to-be says during the shower and then reading them back to her as things she's likely to say on her "wedding night"; and making a bouquet out of bows from the wedding gifts that the bride will use at her wedding rehearsal. Bending tradition a bit, wedding showers are often thrown by friends of the couple outside of the official wedding party. Co-workers, college friends, high school friends or neighbors may decide to host their own shower outside the traditional bridesmaids shower. Sometimes the groom is even invited (remember him?). Here are some of Amy's wedding-related designs:
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