I love surprises. I truly do. My best friend from high school broke into my house (yes, yes, that sounds bad) to sing me a song he composed on his guitar as a celebration of me getting my driver’s license.  I opened the door, and a shadowy figure sitting on the dining room table started squawking. I immediately collapsed on the floor out of surprise, nay, FEAR.  However, once I recovered and he pulled me up to my feet, I was overwhelmed with delight. I mean, if it hadn’t been so scary, it would have been very sweet! Luckily for me, he learned his lesson and that year, for my suprise birthday party, he had my father sit outside and pretend to weed the garden. My dad was talking to me as we entered the house and voila! A huge group of my very greatest friends were all there to wish me a happy birthday.

I tried to learn this lesson, but pulling off surprises can be complicated and some people hate them. If your bride is one of those people, don’t hold a surprise bridal shower. If it’s really all about her, then make sure the situation for the shower reflects her personal tastes and preferences.  I’ve seen many a bride smile stiffly through a sexy display of underwear and other bedroom accoutrements in front of mothers-in-law, grandmothers, or even 9 year old nieces. I’ve also been with very casual brides who squirm through a formal high tea sipping delicately and avoiding adding crumbs to all the table doilies. It’s not about what the host(ess) wants, but about what the bride would enjoy. Sometimes we think we are doing something special when in reality, it ends up being strained for everyone.

College friends were getting married shortly after we graduated. The Maid of Honor asked a bunch of us local gals for ideas for a bridal shower. I suggested we make it a surprise because this bride-to-be really plans her days to the minute, and a little spontaneity could only add to the festivities. Well, we gathered all the women from her work that we knew she liked, the women from her both sides of the families, and all of us bridesmaids at a casual Asian fusion restaurant.  The MOH did her best to get the bride to the celebration, but two hours later, they still had not appeared. Our reservation time at the restaurant’s specialty occassion room ran out and still, no future bride.  We called the MOH and the bride to find out where they were, but no one picked up. A couple hours later, the bride called her mother to say that SHE had planned a surprise spa day for her Maid of Honor to thank her for all her help with the wedding. She took their cell phones, locked them in the car, and wouldn’t take no for an answer from the MOH. The Maid of Honor kept thinking the massage was the only surprise and was hoping she wouldn’t have to ruin the surprise of the shower for the bride.  But the day kept building with a facial, a mani-pedi, and then a sauna steam body wrap.  Because she was ushered around by the spa staff and didn’t see the bride, she couldn’t explain anything and didn’t have anyone’s phone number memorized. Three hours later, she saw the bride and told her the situation.  The bride was angry for her spa day treat being ruined by the guilt of missing her own bridal shower.

In the end, I should have known that the bride would have scheduled something when it seemed like she had “nothing on her schedule.” She was such a planner herself that a surprise just wasn’t possible or practical.  If you have a spontaneous bride, give it a whirl!  Otherwise, leave the surprises for Halloween and invite her to her special occasion with plenty of advance notice.