Do You Have to Open Gifts at Your Bridal Shower?

The world is divided into those who love seeing gifts being unwrapped and those who don't.

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Photo: Kate Headley

Opening your bridal shower gifts in front of guests is something to look forward to. Or is it? What if you're a shy bride who would feel too self-conscious making a fuss over every nonstick skillet and crystal wineglass? What if each reveal goes on too long and guests start to lose interest? While many bridal shower hosts try to keep the opening of gifts moving along so the bride can spend more time socializing with guests, unwrapping all those toasters and towels was traditionally the whole point of a bridal shower-to deluge the bride with all the items she'd need for her new home.

So, do you have to open presents at your bridal shower? The short answer is no. If you think your crowd would rather watch paint dry than watch you open 40 presents, try these time-savers: Have guests bring their gifts wrapped in clear cellophane or not wrapped at all, then display everything on a table for guests to view. Or have a bridesmaid hand each cellophane or unwrapped present to you so you can give a quick look and thank you. Still on the fence about whether or not to open gifts? Before you decide one way or another, consider these points-both for and against-first.

Opening presents passes the time.

There's only so much eating, chatting, and making toilet-paper wedding dresses you can do in an afternoon. Opening gifts is another activity to help pass the time, especially if you're not excited about asking your guests to play too many of the traditional games. If you don't plan to open gifts, make sure there's enough happening to keep guests busy throughout the entire party.

It's a tradition.

There are still plenty of guests who look forward to seeing the bride's spontaneous reactions to the gifts, as well as see what everyone else brought. If your bridal shower guest list has a number of older guests, they may be upset if you don't open each wrapped present. Consider the implications of skipping this tradition before you make your final decision.

You may have to fake enthusiasm.

You have to show how much you love and are surprised by every gift, even though most of them were from your registry. If you're not sure how much you can ooh and ahh over housewares you already selected, opening gifts in front of guests might not be the right choice for you. As much as you love each present, you wouldn't want to hurt someone's feelings with your reaction.

It can be really hard for a bride who doesn't enjoy being the center of attention.

Everyone will be looking at you as you unwrap and react to each gift, and this could go on for hours. If you're more of an introvert, you may think that the less time guests spend directing their undivided attention on you, the better.

Guests may get bored.

Watching someone (who all guests may not know that well) open up gift after gift can get dull. Consider your crowd before making a final decision-should you think that they'll get antsy after just a handful of presents, you may want to save the unwrapping process for that evening.

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