The Art of Sistering

(This is the second in what’s emerging as a series of companion posts as my baby sister’s wedding year coincides with the 20th anniversary of my own nuptials.  To read the first post, To Be or Not to Be (a bridesmaid), click here.)

“Not to deride

not to curse

not to bewail

but to understand.”


Cassatt/detail (

For my sisters

who each have such big hearts & kind hands~

Kelly Salasin

What’s the first thing that comes to YOUR mind when someone says “Bridal Shower”?

For me it’s the distasteful image–of a woman in a paper plate hat of bows; and then, a feeling–of utter BOREDOM!

In my male-oriented twenties, the thought of an entire afternoon spent with women was abysmal–especially when it meant “dressing up” and smiling politely while a relative opens hundreds of household items and you resort to eating sheet cake with white frosting and thick pastel flowers.

For my own bridal shower, 20 years ago this April, I requested a co-ed party.  Why should I be the one who alone endures the tradition–as if the house would be my domain!  I was a career woman.  I backpacked through Europe.  I  conquered many loves.  I did NOT belong in a paper plate hat of bows opening up dishes!

But things quickly get practical as you approach a wedding–the cost and complication of hosting a co-ed shower is not something you want to force on more sensible women who respect tradition.

I endured the hat and the polite smiling–and basically survived.  But why waste energy on surviving?

Which is why I’m glad that my sister’s shower might be a more delightful expression of love and support.  Maybe we’ll even have a rich chocolate cake with layers–and serious cocktails (along with the sherbert punch.)

Living now in an all male household, I still resist playing the part of a “proper” lady, but I do deeply appreciate opportunities to steep in the company of women.

Laurent/detail (

I can see past the paper plate of bows and past the gift-opening dullness to the spirit of the gathering:

a community of women joining together to be the first to bless my sister’s marriage.

This inspiring thought has me searching the web for the roots of this tradition–just a I did last month when faced with a sour perspective on becoming a 46 year-old bridesmaid.

But unfortunately there was little symbolism in the relatively new tradition of showers to wash away my skepticism.  A bridal shower is what it isa bounty of household gifts for the bride to kick start her marital “duties” from the kitchen–to the bedroom.

It’s up to us then to direct our energy and spirit in ways that bless and celebrate the gift of loving our sister as she approaches HER BIG day.  And maybe the men can have a brother gathering where they gift lawn accessories and grilling tools.

(To see all the posts from “My Sister’s Wedding” collection, click here.)


One thought on “The Art of Sistering

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  1. My sister stood for me in my wedding. There was no was I was going to try to choose one of my guy friends. I knew any of them would gladly do it, but there were feeling to avoid being hurt. And my sister was proud to wear a pant suit and stand for me (her choice of attire).

    You mention marital ‘duties’. Duties are split in a marriage, of course. Men carry an ‘expected’ load of duties too, from the garage to the lawn to the shingles on the roof, and often there is no bounty that other men offer to lighten that load. Often, but not always…

    Since she was my ‘best man’, she mixed traditions. I wasn’t interested in drinking beer and wasting money at some seedy bar/’pleasure dome’ and neither were my friends. So, we got together, grilled, played video games, and laughed (mainly at stories about me when I was younger, which is fine). My sister also mixed a couple traditional bridal shower games (I am told, as I have never attended a bridal shower) games into the affair.

    We had to guess the number of nails in a tupperware jar (a large jar, which I own and have used about 1/3 of the nails from) and a couple other small games. It was a good time and it was a time for the married men of the group to offer advice in a safe place and to show happiness that men often keep to themselves or wrap in a nonchalance or bravado when in mixed company.

    So, yeah, men can and do gather in ways that direct a positive energy to help another of their kind towards happiness.

    I enjoyed this post. It was good and enlightening to hear a perspective that is not often available on such a topic.


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