Who's Really Responsible for Hosting the Bridal Shower?

And other shower dilemmas, solved.

The months and weeks leading up to a wedding are filled with celebrations in honor of the bride-to-be. And while it's supposed to be all fun and games, one etiquette snafu can leave a bad taste in the mouths of hostesses and brides-to-be alike. We asked national etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas, Diane Gottsman, to set the record straight on who hosts the bridal showers, when it's acceptable for a mother-of-the-bride to offer assistance, and how to handle even the most uncomfortable situations.

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Who Should Host the Bridal Shower?

"Under optimum circumstances, the attendants in the bridal party would host the shower. The mother of the bride (MOB) should be a guest, but should not participate. There are some circumstances where the MOB would discreetly offer financial assistance, but request to keep her name off the invitation. Another circumstance where the mother of the bride or mother of the groom may host the shower is when grandparents can't visit due to health or illness, and the family wants to hold a small celebration they can be a part of as well."

Is It Ever Acceptable for a Bride to Turn Down a Host?

"Yes. If the bride has several showers already organized on her behalf, she can politely let her friend know that she appreciates her offer, but would prefer her friend attend one of the multiple showers already in progress. She can also suggest her friend join in as a host at one of the showers already being planned on her behalf."

What If Someone Who Wasn't Originally Invited Offers to Host?

"The bride would have to be honest and let her know. [She could say something like], 'I appreciate your kind offer, but unfortunately, we are not able to invite everyone we would like to our wedding. I would feel uncomfortable allowing you to throw me a shower when I can't include you on the guest list. Please know that I plan on having you over to dinner once we are settled in our new home.' The bottom line is there just is no way around some of these uncomfortable situations except to tell the truth."

Is It Ever Appropriate for a Bride to Offer Directives?

"Without turning into a bossy bride, certainly the bride can offer her favorite foods and color theme if asked by the hosts. However, her role is somewhat limited or passive in the planning process. From the hosts' perspective, they may want some input from the bride and should feel free to ask the bride a few key questions to ensure the bride has a great time at her own shower. Bottom line: Some gentle requests from the bride are fine but firm directives are not polite or appreciated."

How Many Showers Is Too Many Showers?

"Guests should not be invited to more than two showers in the same city. Three is pushing it, and any more than that comes across as greedy, unsophisticated, or over-the-top."

What Is the Mother of the Bride's Role?

"She's a guest. The MOB should offer assistance when asked, but otherwise sit back and relax. She can certainly offer helping hands on the day of the shower. Also, she can give suggestions if she is asked regarding bride taste and preferences."

What Is the Bride's Role at Her Own Shower?

"The bride should let the hosts know whom to invite (make sure not to invite anyone to the shower who won't be invited to the wedding), within reason. Keep in mind potential budget restrictions that may come into play: Don't expect the entire guest list to be invited, and don't expect the event to be held at a location that is unreasonable or too expensive. Always act grateful and make sure to send out prompt thank you notes to the hosts and guests."

What Is the Mother of the Groom's Role?

"The mother-of-the-groom is generally an invited guest unless she's asked to help with a particular task."

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert, author of "Modern Etiquette for a Better Life," and founder of The Protocol School of Texas.

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