The Obligatory Work Bridal Shower

by admin on January 13, 2011

Oh, here we go again, a bridal shower at work for yet another wedding that 99% of the staff is not invited to!

This is the 3rd or 4th in a few years and I am wondering when everyone is going to catch on that this is just not right.

I am opting out and taking a day of vacation on the day of the shower for the bride who can barely find two words to utter to me during the work day now I am expected to cough up some hard earned cash to buy her a gift…sorry but
I will not be intimidated into this again.

Sincerely, Your co-workers   0107-11

Some brides need to develop a profound aversion to being feted with showers attended by people they have no interest in socializing with either at work or outside of work or having as guests to their wedding.  The obligatory workplace shower, where everyone feels this compulsion to shower their soon-to-be-wed co-worker with gifts simply because they happen to share a cubicle farm with her, should go the way of the dinosaur and be relegated to private functions outside of work.

Have a need to honor a co-worker’s impending nuptials?  Bring cupcakes or some delectable, shareable treat to work in “honor” of the bride and leave it at that.  Do not become the vehicle of her avarice by driving her down the road to greedy presumptions that her co-workers somehow owe her gifts even though their presence at her wedding is not so dearly coveted.   Bring your own gift and give it privately.

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Just Laura January 14, 2011 at 10:58 am

I want to follow-up to Lynda’s excellent comment:
I once worked for a smaller company in FL of about 55 people (I was in the museum division, which was slightly separate, but shared common office space). One kindhearted older woman took time to make a cake for every employee’s birthday. When my birthday came, there was no cake. Now, as I mentioned in my other comment, I don’t think these events belong in a professional setting at all, so I was unconcerned. But the office manager was horrified that I was left out, so she dashed over (on company time) to a cupcake shop and bought me a cupcake (I wasn’t told of this until later, and of course thanked her). However, what if I was upset/offended by this? What kind of effect on my productivity/team spirit could this have had?

I remember at another job how Employee A was upset that she didn’t get as nice of a baby shower gift from everyone that Employee B had received 6 months before. How was that beneficial to the work environment?

I couldn’t agree more with Lynda, and I’ve worked for both large companies and small “mom & pop” firms. This sort of thing is just ridiculous. I’m friends with several coworkers, but we meet up for parties/bridal showers AFTER work.

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Bint January 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

Coming from a country that doesn’t have showers, the idea of inviting people to a party for one of my friends, on the understanding that they would all bring her presents, makes me cringe.

The idea of doing this in the workplace is just hideous! I don’t blame the bride in this story at all from the information, but the organisers. Inviting workmates who aren’t invited to her wedding is awful – to the people invited (buy her a present for a wedding you aren’t invited to!) and quite possibly also to the bride, who may well be mortified.

Baby showers have started cropping up at some workplaces I’ve been in. Argh. Few people where I’m from would give presents to unborn children, but there’s always one bright-eyed organiser who thinks that of COURSE we want to have a party and buy Susie’s baby a present, regardless of what we or Susie actually want!

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karma January 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

My spouse’s last job was a fairly small office environment–about 17 people. In theirs, one young woman was the person in charge of organizing. She was about 23 and very naive about etiquette and cultural norms. She’d organized a stupid event for every single thing that occurred in the lives of people there. My husband was always coming home and needing another gift, another cash donation, etc. The weirdest part was that the chick who organized this stuff would invite the spouses and families of the employees every single time. Once after I declined the fourth invitation to go up there for a 7pm party, my husband and I had a small fight. He told me that he was worried that his bosses might think he was not a team player because he never brought his family around. I stared at him and finally said, “Look. If anyone ever asks, you tell them that I also have a job with events that I have to attend. You attend yours, I attend mine, which makes us both team players. I’ve been at work ALL day myself, and I DON’T intend to come up there to hang around with folks I don’t know because another one decided to have another baby or get married.” I couldn’t believe that we were arguing over a shower!! :( (For the record, after he thought about it for a few hours, he decided that he’d only reacted that way because he didn’t actually want to attend forced parties after-hours either. He started dropping off a gift and coming home after that.)

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JS January 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Good lord, Lynda. I can only imagine how those parties have suffered from your absence.

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susanne January 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I am still reeling after my recent etiquette-hell experience : this was not an office experience but rather a family friend (our parents were friends – and their parents before them……) who lives “just down the road” : she and her fiance decided that they wanted to get married “abroad” (in Ireland) and sent out invites 6 months ahead of time. 2 weeks before the wedding my now ex-friend called to get everyone’s arrival dates. When I told her I’d planned to arrive 2 days before the wedding she replied that was fine as long as I didn’t expect her to “feed me 3 days in a row “………I was too shocked to reply. Her tone was not that “out of character” – she is a “no nonsense” type of person – but given that I’d spent considerable money on airfare, accomodation, new clothes and a gift I was too upset at the chilliness of the remark that I chose to cancel my attendance. Is it possible that some folks choose to get married abroad to avoid having guests – that the invites are just a formality ? Maybe I’m the etiquette ignoramus ? Whatever it is – it sure hurts !

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SJ January 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Other Me –
I’m thinking Dunder Mifflin, too!

Also, I don’t see any reason to have a party at work during work hours. Five minutes to give a gift or card, a special lunch, or all the parties you want that are offsite or oustide of work hours makes much more sense to me.

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that girl January 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Friday, 14 January, 2011 14:29:08
[ No Subject ]

From:
Louise

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To: (email address deleted)
Alice, your workplace sounds just like mine – most weeks there is a ‘collection’ for someone’s happy event and I have been asked many times to contribute towards a gift for someone I barely know. The pinnacle came last autumn – two girls on my team (A and B) were each expecting their second babies, one of our senior managers (C) was expecting her first baby, and a chap who had recently left our team for another post was expecting his first baby. All four deliveries were due around Christmas. I came into work one day to the news that a decision had been taken and everyone on my team (14 people) was expected to contribute £10.00 (around $16.00)towards presents for the expectant mothers. I was slightly put out, as I don’t really enjoy being directed in this way, but thought £2.50 for each baby seemed reasonable.

Alas! I had misunderstood – we were in fact expected to contribute £10.00 for each baby – £40.00 ($63.00) in total – currently almost a day’s wages (we aren’t well-paid girls!).

Bearing in mind that we had already collected for generous gifts for A and B at the arrival of their first babies; that C earns around 4 times our salary and would, I imagine, be somewhat embarrassed by such a generous gift from junior staff; and that D had joined another team who would, no doubt, hold their own ‘collection’ for him, I felt that the expected donation was excessive and politely declined to contribute. I would have contributed to a general collection with no fixed amount, and would have varied my contribution according to how close I am to the various expectant parents and how much I could reasonably afford to put in (recent graduate, cash is tight). In the event, I got a transfer to a different department so neatly avoided any further panhandling. Was I mean? Or just sensible?

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Michelle P January 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I’ve worked as a bank teller, and it was a nightmare with the “contributions”. Once, a card was pa,ssed around and a collection taken up for a colleague to buy her a cake because she “was having a bad day”! Give me a break. I signed the card, but didn’t put any money in. To be fair, I wasn’t given a hard time about not contributing to all of the events, but just being asked got old.

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june burden January 15, 2011 at 6:45 am

michelle p rofl at comment card for worker cos she was ‘having a bad day’ If that was my workplace we’d ALL get one everyday…….I work in caring for the elderly! (enough said) :-D x

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Enna January 15, 2011 at 7:38 am

In one job I was in one collegue had a baby. I didn’t mind give in £1/£2 towards a gift but that was it even though I didn’t know this collegue personally. I think opptional gifts where individuals can decided what they give towards it if they do are the fairist.

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Kristin January 15, 2011 at 8:14 am

Well…I WAS one of those people who were forced to participate in a work shower. I was TOLD that I was to provide dishes, mints and nuts for the after work shower…which I was unable to attend due to an actual work related event.

So I dutifully dropped off the dishes, mints, nuts, and gift to the organizer telling her that I would not be able to attend because of my work obligations.

The sad thing is, I would have bought a gift for this co-worker anyway since we talked every day and were friendly…but being forced to participate in a shower just ruined it.

If I ever get married or get pregnant…after telling any of my co-workers…the NEXT thing out of my mouth will be “Please do not give me a shower.” I don’t know our talk to 50% of the people I work with…I do not want or expect them to shower me with gifts!

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Jillybean January 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Yikes, Kristin – that’s awful. I guess it all depends on how the office structures it. If my office handled it the way you describe, yeah, there would be a revolt.

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Zhoen January 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Lynda, good for you. Doing “something nice” for someone who clearly would not take it as being nice, is not nice at all. Having a backbone and standing up for oneself would stop all this hypocritical mandatory gift culture.

I worked in an OR of about 200, largely female staff, and the parties, and collections were constant. Voluntary contributions, but there was still a lot of unstated pressure. The parties were more pressed upon everyone. I had no problem adding a few dollars in when it was flowers for a funeral, or when someone was very ill or injured. Sometimes for a baby or wedding, depending. But one time a nurse wanted us to give one of the scrub techs a huge stuffed penguin from the gift shop – because everyone knew the scrub collected penguins. That got everyone a little riled, and as far as I know, she never collected any money. Nurse never could understand why she’d crossed the line.

They knew I never attended the parties, much to their consternation. So when I left, and made it very clear I did not want a gift or party, the usual organizers were cagy. On my last day, I knew something was coming, and was braced to be gracious no matter what. Everyone contributed a candy bar, in a fancy canvas bag. THAT was fun, and just small enough that even I couldn’t object, which made it so much easier for me to be genuinely grateful.

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Garden Girl January 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Be fair to brides here – often they are not asked if they would LIKE a shower, they are just told that their workplace will have a shower for them. Last year where I work, a bride clearly didn’t want a shower and this caused all sorts of bad feeling – the gossip mill went kerflooey about how she didn’t really seem excited enough for her WEDDING! People here seem unfazed by attending a shower for someone whose wedding they aren’t attending – they just like to be in on the celebration, I guess? They also like to attend ceremonies regardless of invitation.

Our showers are paid for by our social fund (woe to s/he who does not contribute!) and mainly feature lunch and one small gift, also paid by the social fund. The social committee also uses the fund to send flowers/food for deaths and illnesses, and plans baby showers. The social committee is easily offended by those who would reject their gifts and parties, no matter how gently. I suspect some brides go along with workplace showers to keep the peace.

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Kat January 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm

@that girl – expected donation?! That’s not a gift, that’s a TAX! I would have a problem with it too.

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Been there! January 19, 2011 at 10:54 pm

The reason why I hate forced work parties with luncheons is that I am gluten free and not by choice either. I have serious reactions to wheat products. So a surprise party was held for me at work for my birthday. Lunch menu contained: sandwiches, crackers, chicken pot pies, green beans with french onions on it (meaning the onions were breaded), Wheat thins with some type of cream cheese and pepperoni, and a cake. I couldn’t eat a damn thing and felt so grossly embarrassed that I didn’t know what to do. I think people in the work place should individually give that person a gift if they know them and not be forced with all the shnanaggens of the party.

as a p.s. I have a friend who has a peanut allergy and the cake was chocolate with a peanut butter filling!

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Katje June 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm

The notion of bridal or baby showers at work are nice but I’d personally prefer those to be outside of work only. A potluck type party or some cake or cupcakes, yeah. The shower….eh…leave that for family and friends.

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Kellie August 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I am wondering as my wedding is in a month and I choose co-workers based on our relationship. One of them is a good frien and is throwing me a shower off-site at her home. In the past I have seen many showers for various babies, weddings,etc. So I was thrilled that mine is not in the office. Especially as being the Director of H/R I don’t want ANY obligation to the shower nor do I want people to feel obligated ot let down by my invitation or lack there of. It’s been a tricky wicket! And the boss, I know them but I felt like an invitation was a giant obligation to very socially busy people. Now I feel like it was a mistake! I hate this part!
Bride in Sept.

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