Showers & Parties

Throw a Co-Ed Bridal Shower

Have a stylish party thrown for the bride and the groom

When Leslie Dubuque got engaged to Tuckley Williams, they wanted to collapse the ever-expanding catalog of pre-wedding festivities into a single, all-encompassing shower. Tossing aside the customary notion that showers are for ladies only, Leslie and Tuckley set their sights on a fun, coed, evening shower that would represent both of their personalities and interests.

Such is the preference of many couples these days. "I think brides and grooms are looking for different ways to celebrate their weddings," says New York City– and Los Angeles–based planner Lyndsey Hamilton. It’s not about women sitting around a table anymore, unwrapping lingerie and mixing bowls, she says. Instead, the modern shower, often held at venues like bars or restaurants, is far more stylish and personalized than its traditional predecessor. A new guard of brides—and their fiancés—are changing the landscape of country-club and living-room showers, eschewing its all-female cast and endless stream of registered gifts (to which they have to feign surprise), hoping to make the occasion a more memorable, happening party.

Offer Cues to Party Hosts
After a little coaxing and explaining, most brides discover surprisingly amenable hosts. Even those in their parents’ generation are happy to go along with the idea. "Obviously you have to be polite and gracious, but be vocal about wanting a coed shower," Hamilton says. "Then hand over the reins and give your hosts the chance to be creative."

Leslie’s friends from Texas, where she grew up, were thrilled to acquiesce. They threw the LA-based couple a festive Tex-Mex barbecue shower at a friend’s Austin home on a creek running through beautiful Zilker Park. Antique chandeliers, which were spray-painted off white, hung from a canopy of trees in the backyard. Pink and white hydrangeas topped the tables, swathed in chocolate brown burlap with hot pink grosgrain ribbon sewn down the sides. "It was a mix of sophistication and Southern country," she says.

Guests mingled while feasting on the made-from-scratch buffet, including Texas favorites, from steak to fajitas, all served with spicy sauces and salsas from her brother-in-law’s culinary company, Cookwell & Company. Right in step, the bar was appropriately stocked with Mexican beers like Tecate and Pacifico, and plenty of bourbon. By 2 a.m., the candles had melted down and almost all of the 50 guests were dancing in the grass to Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, under the moon and strings of twinkle lights. "It really felt like a tribute to us," says Leslie.

Tweak Tradition as Desired
A coed shower means catering to the couple’s common interests, not just the bride’s, says San Francisco Bay Area–based planner Laurie Arons, whose own coed shower was an elegant dinner party at the famous PlumpJack restaurant. She and her husband are food and wine enthusiasts, so it was an occasion he could really get excited about. "Think about what the bride and groom like to do and what they need," she says, "because, ultimately, the purpose of a shower is to give gifts."

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