A Shower & Spice & Everything Nice: In Praise of Girlfriends
By Real Bride Blogger Sandee McGlaun
A couple of weeks ago, I did something I’d come to think I’d never have the chance to do: I was the guest of honor at a bridal shower.
Maid-of-honor Melissa and bridesmaids D.B. and (from afar) Sherry threw me a beautiful shower, which my mom and a number of my local girlfriends attended. Melissa held it in her backyard on a sunny Saturday morning, and it was exquisite. She’d set up two tents for us and decorated with hot pink pinwheels, bright orange and blue lanterns, blooming flowers, and colorful candies. She greeted us with freshly mixed mimosas, and there was plenty of refreshing lemon water to keep us cool. We dined on two kinds of quiche, homemade muffins, fresh fruit, and yogurt parfaits. For dessert, we had cupcakes, which Melissa had arranged and frosted in the shape of a wedding dress!
D.B. prepared creative and beautiful party favors of handmade Blue Bear soaps, serums, and lip balms, placed in bags with the tag “From Sandee’s Shower to yours!” We played several well-chosen games. I’m a crafty girl, and Melissa had set out paints and a canvas so that everyone who attended could paint a heart. And I’m a word nerd, so I loved both the bridal word search and a game where we passed around a pretty box containing descriptive couplets: whose hair was shortest, or who’d been married the longest. The box was passed to the person who fit each couplet best, and once all the clues had been drawn, the last person holding the box won the prize.
And there were presents, too. We’d chosen a theme of “Spice it up!” so the gifts ranged from exotic cooking spices, salts, and linens for the kitchen, to lingerie, massage goodies, and other items to “spice up” the boudoir.
I was utterly overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, creativity, and generosity of my friends. But given what amazing women they are, I wasn’t surprised.
Couples’ showers are becoming more common, and I do have dear male friends, too, so perhaps it’s a little old-fashioned to have a girlfriends-only shower. But as an older bride who’s spent more of her adult years than not uncoupled and living far from blood family, I have an especially deep appreciation for my girlfriends. Over the past 20 years, more often than not it’s my girlfriends who’ve been by my side, day after day. They’re the ones who’ve given me lifts to the airport, who’ve gone out dancing with me on my birthday. Who helped me move, one more time. Who brought me soup when I got pneumonia, took my panicked 3 AM call when my house was broken into, listened to work woes and endless crazy dating stories in the days before Steve. They’re the ones who let me belt Indigo Girls’ songs in their car without setting me on the curb, who’ve laughed with me, hiked up mountains with me, talked books and drunk wine and shared s’mores and dreams around the firepit. They’ve rescued and reassured and re-energized me.
My girlfriends are my family. And for me, my bridal shower was as much a celebration of them as it was of me becoming a bride.
I’ve known a few of the wonderful women in my life for decades (mom, of course, whom I also consider a friend; and Sherry and I first palled around in the third grade…), others just a few years. And what a rich diversity of life and relationship experiences: some of my gal pals are single; some married; some in committed relationships. Some of the singles are divorced, others have never married. For those with children, their kids range anywhere from 2 to 25 years old. There are single parents; non-parents, and parents to fur kids only. It’s hard to imagine a question or conundrum I could encounter outside the realm of these women’s collective wisdom. It’s important to me to sustain my friendships even though I’m now coupled up. We all need good girlfriend time.
I only cried once during the shower. (Though to be honest, I saved myself from a second bout only by hugging my thanks instead of squeaking out the words choking me up). After the passing-the-box game, Melissa distributed pens and paper for one more activity, a storytelling game–perfect for a writer-bride! She read off a list of words, and the guests were instructed to compose, within seven minutes, a love story that incorporated all the words. My job was to read the finished stories out loud and pick my favorite.
Theirs was no small task: the list of words included “earthquake,” “doghouse,” “fire,” and “chemistry,” among others. Let me tell you, I have some talented and funny girlfriends. One story featured two lovebirds falling for each other while building a doghouse. In another, the man had already built the house and invited his love interest to come see his peke-a-poo’s new abode. One couple met over a Bunsen burner in chemistry class. Still another tale placed me in California, where an earthquake led to romance. Several stories made it clear Steve would/should never be in the doghouse. D.B’s story, which ended with Steve saying, “Call the fire department – my baby is hot!” made me laugh out loud.
But the one that made me cry was a true story. Our friend Brigitte, whom I met through Steve, wrote about a “lonely professor” of “forestry, not chemistry” who had talked about his “search for someone special” while sitting by a campfire. I got about two sentences in and realized the story was about Steve, before I knew him, and I had to hand the paper to my mother to finish reading it aloud. Knowing that Steve has also cherished, and been supported by, a family of dear friends during his single-father years touches me deeply. Brigitte later polished up the story and emailed it to both of us, which made me tear up all over again.
As “his” friends and “my” friends become our friends, I look forward to celebrating our wedding with their love and laughter surrounding us. And my girlfriends don’t know it yet, but there’s going to be a special song played during the reception in honor of all their beautiful selves. Get your dancing shoes ready, ladies, because we’re going to kick up our heels, together.