35 answers

Bridal Shower for Couple Living Together 5 Years

Well my sister is having a destination wedding this week in Cancun Mexico (just her and her husband are there). She is then having a "reception" this fall where everyone is invited to a camground for the weekend. She has been living with her fiance for 5 years so she has basically everything she needs. We are not sure whether or not to give her a bridal shower. She has been "keeping house" for a long time so what would anyone give her. To add to the dilema she lives hours away from me and even further from my parents. Any advice on how to give appropriate gifts or even how to have a shower and address invitations?? Thanks in advanced for any ideas..

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just because they are living together doesn't mean that she doesn't deserve a bridal shower!

Maybe a simpler shower at the destination? like the night or two nights before?

or combine the reception into the bridal shower and everyting and just have double batchelorette party? one naughty and one nice?

1 mom found this helpful

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Okay...so they've been "keeping house" as you say for 5 years, and now they are eloping--excuse me, "having a destination wedding"--and then to top it off, the reception is a "weekend" at a campground (does each guest have to pay for their over-night accommodations/most food? OUCH on the cost! For my family that could EASILY run upwards of $500--depends on how far the travel to the campground is, travel could add a HUGE cost. And hardly "elderly relative friendly" of an option.)...and then you want to know if you should throw a bridal shower?

Ummmm...no. A bridal shower is supposed to be thrown by the bridesmaids, and should not be thrown by a member of the bride's family...you are out on both counts. The point of a bridal shower is supposed to be to help a young couple with not much in the way of financial resources to get started out in life together. As you've already pointed out...you sister and her fiance are hardly just starting out. You are right in questioning "what gifts?" Kitchen towels? Nope, she's got those. Negligie? Well she's not exactly the "blushing bride," so it kind of takes the fun out of that one (when I was at the stage of my life where all my friends were getting married I always noted that it was the most "up tight" women who got the most negligies at the showers--so that definitely was about the "blushing" factor!

Certainly send your sister a card and perhaps even a gift wishing her well on her marriage. But I'd skip the shower since it seems just VERY tacky.

Gosh...I seem old with this opinion...mind you, I'm only 35. LOL! I'm coming up on my 10th anniversary, and did the "old fashioned thing" of not moving in with my fiance until we had said "I do." I'd have been mortified if 5 years into our "living together" friends and relatives--some of which likely had less financial means than hubby and me--had been asked to retrofit my house with nicer towels, pots and pans, and such than we already had. I also agree with the poster who points out that people who are invited to a shower typically expect to be invited to the wedding--especially since they are going to be hit up for two gifts--shower and wedding.

3 moms found this helpful

Wow, this makes me feel very old. (And I am very old.) I'm apparently in the minority who think that having a bridal shower for a bride who has been living with her fiance for 5 years is not necessary and is even actually tacky. One poster called it "retrofitting" their home, and I think that's a great description of what you are asking. The point of a shower is to help a couple get started in life together. They've already started. So what your asking is for everyone to upgrade their living arrangement. New towels, new appliances, new stuff. I've been married for 23 years, I'd love an upgrade! My towels are all ratty and my dishes are chipped. LOL! So why don't we get showers every 5 or 10 years that we're married? We don't. People would never think of having a 5-years-married shower. So what's the difference if the couple has lived together for 5 years. Perhaps the time to shower them with gifts was when they moved in together. Then they could have had a housewarming party.

I think, as another poster stated, that people who are inclined to give a gift will do so. People going to the campground reception will most likely give a gift. But a shower for a couple who have already had a good long start down the road of life together, eh, not such a good idea IMHO.

2 moms found this helpful

She may not be expecting anything since she has been living with this person for 5 years and because the wedding is private. She should be supported in finally making her arrangement legal. I'll never understand why so many couples just live together. What has happened to our society?

2 moms found this helpful

Personally, I feel that is in in bad taste to host a "shower" for a couple that has been living together for that many years. My opinion. My feelings are that the people who will wish to give a gift to acknowledge their union will do so at their own discretion and those that don't, won't. I'm sure there will be lots of people at the campsite reception who will elect to give a gift of their choosing, whether money or something sentimental. Also, lots of times, when people receive a formal wedding shower invitation, they are expecting to also receive a wedding invitation--which won't be happening in this case. I doubt many people would attend the celebratory reception without contributing a gift. Maybe you could just get together with your sister and a few close friends for a dinner out in lieu of a shower. Have fun!

2 moms found this helpful

I am planning one right now where they have also been living together for over 2 years now too! We decided to do the shower anyway.. It's a couples shower so men are welcome. We made it a pool party too. As far as gifts go, we asked everyone to donate 1 cleaning supply and/or tool for their new "tool box" (as everyone is always looking for some type of tool to fix things around the house) and the cleaning supplies well will go into our bathroom cabinet wishing well...lol... Gifts... we asked everyone to go buy them a gift certificate to a specific travel agency to pay for their next vacation or honeymoon. EVERYONE needs a vacation! How nice would it be to go on one without spending any money???
As far as the invitations go... I am doing the shower at my house and decided to involve the groom to be in the surprise scheme! She has no idea.. he got the addresses from the bridal invitation list and emailed them to me. I made the invitations fun and welcoming to all. I wanted them to be able to share in the day together since they have already been together for a while already! I hope this helps... Email me if you have any questions or need some more ideas... ____@____.com

1 mom found this helpful


You are clearly a sweetheart in an difficult situation. My first question is, would she like a shower or party, etc? Everyone likes gifts, but some people need gifts in order to feel loved and some people need to give gifts in order to show love. As I was growing up, my grandmother always gave me gifts. No matter when I went to visit her, she had a gift for me. Sometimes, it was an item from a garage sale, sometime it was new from the store. Sometimes the items reflected my personality and sometimes it reflected hers. But she HAD to give me a gift, it was how she showed me that she loved me.

Is your sister that way? Does she always give you gifts? Does she respect a gift that would normally not fit her personality, but she likes it because it was given to her? If so, then a shower/gift-based party would be something special to her.

If she isn't really the gift-type person, then I'd think about what she might like instead. Some people need affirmation so a card shower of cards that focus on her good qualities and why people love and respect her would be perfect. Some people need lots of hugs, so a meaningful greeting line at the reception where she receives genuine hugs and kisses on the cheek, might work well. Some people need time together with the people they love. So a day centered on your sister doing the things she likes to do and getting reaquainted would be great. And some people need help doing tasks. If she always wanted help doing her chores, she may want help with the reception (planning, decorating, sending invitations, sending thank you notes, etc.)

My point is: this is about your sister and your relationship with her. So I advise: think about what she would value and try to make that possible. The days are going to fly bye and this is your time to show love to her.

1 mom found this helpful

just because they are living together doesn't mean that she doesn't deserve a bridal shower!

Maybe a simpler shower at the destination? like the night or two nights before?

or combine the reception into the bridal shower and everyting and just have double batchelorette party? one naughty and one nice?

1 mom found this helpful

Have a Gift card party. Everyone is invited to give, say $20 to a restaurant, or Lowe's Home depot, to fix up or get something they might need in the future. Have a gift card tree at the reception, everyone comes with a card and gift card and clips it on the tree, have a BBQ! camp out! and have fun! and celebrate the happy couple. Small amounts are key, affordable for the budget of the giver and still something for the bride and groom. :)


1 mom found this helpful

I share the opinions of those who recommend skipping the bridal shower. Those that attend the camping weekend are sure to give her something. If you personally are at a loss about what to get her, maybe ask her for some suggestions and choose from there. If others ask you what to get her, you will be able to give them some information.

1 mom found this helpful

It is not too hard if you stop to think about, what to give as a gifts. What do you need all the time, to keep a household running? Towels, washcloths (in her bath theme), bathroom items (toilet paper, pads, tampons, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, soap, lotion, etc) in a wicker basket.Laundry items in a laundry basket; laundry soap, fabric softener, bleach alternative, etc. (Maybe even a clothes line with clothes pins, to the laundry items.) A basket of cleaning supplies; mops/brooms/dustpans, floor care cleaner, dust cloths, dusting spray, all purpose cleaner, etc. Kitchen items that are use all the time can be done in a similar manor (like dishsoap, dishwasher fluid, kitchen counter anti-bacterial, towels/dishcloths/potholders/hotpads in her kitchen theme, etc.). There is also the canning jar filled with a mix (like cookies/brownies/cake)with a bow. A basket filled with a meal idea (like spaghetti noodles, jar of sauce, cheese, bread, and a bottle of wine). Longere/teddies/etc. will defenitely be needed, it is one thing that never grows old. House plants is something else she could use, with like a theme may their lives together be long and green. (Besides house plants replace the oxygen to our homes, giving us healthier surroundngs.) Another idea is gift certificates, so she can buy what she wants. Basically, think of things that are needed on a continuous basis.

I've been living with my fiance for a while and we hardly have everything we need. Most of the stuff we own was second hand given to us in college. I would ask your sister whether she wants a shower or not. If she does, ask her to register for gifts. You never know, maybe there are things that she could really use. My handmixer just died the other day and I told my fiance, "Well, it's a good thing it died before the wedding, now I can put it on my registry." I agree that giftcards to stores that they frequent is a good idea also. With the economy the way it is, we could all use a little extra help.

Still have a shower, but skip the traditional gifts. Ask instead for favorite recipes or menus, small donations made to her favorite charity, or everyone pitch in for a romantic table setting for two. I lived in another country and married young so few friends were able to attend. I loved that they all pitched in bought me a pair of Tiffany's champagne flutes. I think she will appreciate the gesture of friends getting together more than gifts, but your best bet will be to ask her if there is anything she had in mind. She might want something more traditional. Good luck and have fun!

Your right about them probably having all that they need....so my suggestion is, do they own the house? If so...gift cards to local hardware stores would be a great idea or gift cards to the places they shop to the most. That way they can go buy whatever they want or need.

Make the bridal shower a theme.....do they like wine or champagne? Have the guests all bring either their fav wine/champ. or have them go look for off the wall kinds for them to try. Have grapes, strawberries, cheeses....everything that goes with wine/champ.

Good luck!

If you wanted to do a small shower type event, one of the last showers I was invited to asked the following:

Everyone to bring a spice and a favorite recipe for the bride to be.

I wish I had the poem still that accompanied it, but it was really, really cute.


I chose not to have a bridal shower for the same reason.( I only had immediate family at my wedding, then a large outside reception afterwards.) I felt it would be greedy of me. It seems that alot of the time you're just re-decorating for the newlyweds. And with a shower, then you have to get 2 gifts!
Also, isn't that the maid-of-honor's job to plan the shower? If she's not having a MOH then it would be up to her to plan it! And THAt Would be greedy!
A wedding gift should be sufficient. Something personal (she is your sister), or good 'ole cash!
Why are they waiting so long to have the reception? That seems odd, too.

This may have been mentioned - haven't read all the replies . . .

We didn't live together, but we did get married later in life and had no reason to register for gifts (had 2 of mostly everything). However, friends/family really wanted to 'shower' me, so they chose a lingerie & linens theme. I got some really nice things and use them all.

Yes, you do need to give her a shower. Do the right thing. They're finally making a committment, don't judge her and penalize her now at this happy time! Besides, people don't buy the "good" stuff until they actually get married. Get over it - it's about her, not you!

I would suggest that the bride register somewhere to see what she wants or needs. Everyone always needs something for a house no matter how long you've been there. If anyone gets stumped, gift cards are always acceptable.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

I say everyone deserves a bridal shower. I did not get married until I was 39. And I also had a destination wedding and had been living with my fiance for a year. That did not mean we still did need some 'nicer' things. Until people get married, they usually 'get by' with some used items - nothing nice like people register for and receive when they get married. I didn't have things like a large skillet, a roaster, nice everyday dinner ware - just to name a few things. And I certainly didn't have any crystal. I am sure your sister has attended MANY showers and weddings over the years and has forked over MANY dollars over the years to others who have gotten married. Just because she may not be doing it the way it's 'usually' done does not mean she does not deserve the same things everyone receives when they are getting ready to take on the adventure of matrimony...

Hi A.
I would suggest a gift certificate to a home improvement store or a store that they like. Or a certificate for a gym or spa. A shower would still be nice. I was intrigued by your work too as I have worked for a small vegetable roadstand and enjoy it. How do you find jobs where you can work from the computer at home? I would be interested in doing that.


Instead of a bridal shower, you should just have a girls night in/out!! (bacherlorette party) if you's are into it, have a slumber parties party, i know a great demonstrator, her emaill add. is ____@____.com

good luck

Times they are a'changin'... My suggestion: Have a celebratory party supporting both your sister and her fiance. On the invitations, specify "no gifts please." This way you could have food, fun and games without asking guests for something unnecessary.

What about having a lingerie shower If she has everything that she needs for her house or apartment. Remember just because they haved lived together for 5 years does not mean they have everything or she may need to replace some things. All couples starting out should have nice new stuff anyway. invitees could give gift cards for their favorite places including places to dine. Well good luck and have fun.....

Just because they lived together for 5 years before getting married dose not mean that they do not deserve to get what every couple starting out in marriage gets. What if they just have hand me downs left over from college days.

Of course you would only invite the people who are invited to the wedding.

Another Idea for a shower is to have a unisex shower invite the men and woman that will be invited to the wedding. If you feel that uncomfortable about the shower because they have been together for 5 years already, then just have something with your immediate family mother,sisters, aunts cousins and have a brunch type thing and make sure that she gets some type of special lingerie for her wedding night after all it is still her wedding night no matter how long they have been together.

I waited to move in with my husband until we said our I Do's but that is not what happens for most couples today. Why punish the couple for living together in this day and age with the rate of divorce I think couples living together might make divorce rates slow up a little.

When my neice who lives 2 states away was getting married we had a shower for her, having her mother filling in for her as a mock bride. We recorded it for her and at one point called her putting her on the speaker phone. I would think with the cams on computers now days she could be a part of the the shower so to speak. As far as gifts have a gift card shower in which people bring gift cards rather than the normal gift that way she can choose what she needs. It works out great. Good Luck.


In my experience, there is always something someone needs (or *wants) LOL. I would ask your sister if she would be interested in a shower and if she would register somewhere for a variety of gifts she would like in various price ranges for all the different people who may be interested in giving her best wishes on the occasion.

Maybe a "at a distance" invitation...knowing not everyone will be able to come, putting registration information inside? I know this is weird, but you want your sister to get what she would like, as (hopefully) she'll only be married once!

I would think of things that you can always use, even if you don't need the usual shower gifts. If there are people that won't be able to make a shower or get together then I would suggest gift cards or money. Gift cards for her local grocery store, home improvement store or even entertainment or local mall. And of course everyone can use some extra cash, I'm assuming that she will not be receiving gifts in the mail from her wedding, did she register somewhere? Since she is not close to everyone, what about having something at the reception? Sounds like it is a laid back informal reception anyway. Ask her about it and if she minds, also if she hasn't registered anywhere, maybe ask her to and before the reception you can send out invites with her store/s of registry and people will have gift ideas. I'm sure there are things that she can still use around the house, any small appliances need updating, any new cookware, tupperware, untensils, maybe even just decorations. You could have him register some things are Lowes/Home Depot and her register some things at Bed,Bath and Beyond or Target. Then there is a wide range of stuff that people who are attending the reception can get. I wouldn't think that she would mind you discussing your dilemma with her since this isn't the usual bridal shower scenario and she will understand the situation. You could also plan to do something special with close family and friends for a girls night out or a spa day while you're all together for the reception, keep that part a surprise! Good luck, Jennifer

Me and my fiance have been together for five years too and my maid of honor insisted i have one.You can have her make a list/registry of things that she really would like to have or have replaced. I put things on a registry that I wanted that i didn't already have or better than what i have already and honestly I got way more than I expected. Also you can send invites just stating to send gift cards directly to them.

gift cards. To their favorite store if they are going to do any home repairs give them a home depot or lowes gift card.
me and my husband got married last year after living together for six plus we have two kids. My mom wanted to have a party for us and everyone wanted to know what to get for us and we just said told everyone gift cards.

I think the question is not whether or not they've been living together or the geography of the participants, but rather whether potential shower guests would be invited to the wedding. When I got married 5 years ago, the "rule" as I remember it was that you don't invite someone to the shower who won't be invited to the wedding. We were living together in a city where no other family lived and I went back to my hometown for a bridal shower.

I do like the idea of gathering of women before the wedding to pass good wishes and wisdom and advice -- maybe a no-gifts tea party, or have the gift be a single unique tea setting, or a scrapbook page or something like that.

my husband and I were together 13 years, living together 7 years, when we got married this past October when I was 4 months pregnant with our son (we planned it all within 2 months). It was a very small informal wedding and my mom said I wasn't going to get a shower because my family would give me a nice baby shower. What I did get surprised with was a nice surprise ladies brunch at the Moshulu (just the girls in me and my husbands family, just 11 of us). I got flowers and my sister-in-law had these adorable cookies made that were shaped like a bridal dress. There were no gifts because that was the gift. I have to admit, that I felt left out not getting a shower, so this was nice and made me feel special. I was told about the brunch the night before. Since your sister isn't close, maybe you could tell her that you aren't throwing a shower (and why) but you have something special planned and to come to your house on X date (make sure the fiancee knows the plan). She at least deserves something to make her feel special and it doesn't always have to come in the form of "gifts".

My brother is getting married next month in the Bahamas. I bought him and my future sister-in-law matching Bahamas coin jewelry (cuff links and a necklace) as a shower gift from www.ohanabylea.etsy.com. I thought it was a simple & sentimental gift to celebrate their destination wedding.

I would definitely ask your sister if she wants a shower, or something along those lines. I lived with my husband for 3 years before we got married and I had a lovely bridal shower. Plus a bridal shower is not always about the gifts.

Hi A.,

A similar situation with me and my husband....

We had everything we needed and/or wanted. Instead of having a bridal shower, my friends took me to a dessert party at a local place that had fancy desserts, and we drank wine and chatted up, and had a great time! The only gift I received was a 'wedding day survival kit' that they had compiled - bobby pins, hairspray, kleenex, tums, advil, a disposable camera, things like that in a handy re-usable bag. Our honeymoon was on the beach, so they also included sunscreen, and the bag was waterproof on the inside. Anyway - i thought this was a very sweet, no frills, no gifts, fun way to say 'hey we love you and wish you the best' without it being a shower or bachlorette party.

just a thought!!

I had been living with my fiance a year when we married, and we also had a destination wedding. Since this was not a traditional situation, my best friend gave a nontraditional send off party. We went bowling. I enjoyed my girlfriends for the last time as a single gal, and those who chose to do so brought gifts- some personal items like bath products, others some home items, etc. Since she is leaving so soon, you may do a welcome home party instead. I think you may wish you had done something if you don't.

I would go for the shower. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. The surprise gathering at Moshalu that one poster mentioned is a great example. You can send e-vites and have it simple. It doesn't have to be a very large gathering...just family and closest friends. As for gifts, gift certificates to any of a slew of stores...Bed, Bath & Beyond; Home Depot; a supermarket...or I Goldberg, REI or the like, if they like to camp.

Even though people live together there is always something they can use. May be give some gift cards to somewhere nice for dinner or something else they can do together as a couple. If she likes camping may be you can get them a nice gift card from and outdoors place like REI. Do not make her feel like her wedding to her husband is not important just because they lived together for so long. May be the invitations can say we have made it official or something of a lighthearted nature.

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