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Something Old, Something Bold

Something Old, Something Bold: Bridal Showers and Bachelorette Parties

Beth Montemurro
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    Something Old, Something Bold
    Book Description:

    InSomething Old, Something Bold, sociologist Beth Montemurro takes a fresh look at the wedding process, offering a perspective not likely to be found in the slew of planning books and magazines readily available to the modern bride. Ultimately, Montemurro argues, prenuptial rituals contribute to the stabilization of gender inequalities-that American society at the turn of the twenty-first century is still very much married to tradition and traditional conceptions of masculinity and femininity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-3944-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction: Joining the Party
    (pp. 1-19)

    I cannot pinpoint exactly when I learned what a bachelorette party was; however, I do remember quite clearly when I heard about the first one for someone I knew. Years ago, I was a bridesmaid in a wedding and thus involved in planning the bridal shower. On the day of the shower, I arrived early at the restaurant where the shower was to be held in order to help decorate and set up for the event. Like every shower to which I had been invited or attended, this one was a surprise. The bride was unaware when it was happening,...

  6. Chapter 2 Origins of Bridal Showers and Bachelorette Parties
    (pp. 20-43)

    Two pre-wedding party-planning guides written more than forty years apart offer very different suggestions for how to host a successful event. InShowers for All Occasions, Germaine Haney (1954) offered themes and games for bridal showers, most of which assumed the bride-to-be would take on a traditional wife role. Herbert Kavet’s (1999) guide to bachelorette parties, published at the turn of the twenty-first century, instructed friends of brides-to-be how to find an exotic dancer and adorn the bride-to-be with items like plastic penises and condoms. This bachelorette party-planning guide, like others (e.g., Liveris and Johnson 1998; Long 2000), was written...

  7. Chapter 3 Something Old: Etiquette, Tradition, and Femininity at Bridal Showers
    (pp. 44-84)

    The room is filled with hushed, anxious conversation. About twenty women sit at beautifully decorated tables. The women are dressed-up and made-up, wearing skirts or dresses—after all, this is a formal affair. It is one-thirty on a Saturday afternoon and we have all gathered to celebrate a wedding that will happen in just one month.

    Some of the women are sipping mimosas from champagne flutes. There are several flower arrangements in glass vases tied with pastel blue ribbons in the center of each table. In the corner, next to the table with the fountain of champagne punch, sits a...

  8. Chapter 4 Something Borrowed and Blue: The Bachelorette Party
    (pp. 85-131)

    It is the fall of 1998 and I am attending a friend’s bachelorette party. When I walk into Anna’s house on the night of her party, the first thing I see is a long white veil on a hanger. On closer inspection, I notice that about thirty silk rosettes have been sewn onto it. Anna’s sister, Lynn, the maid of honor, is standing by the sink struggling with a jug, several bottles, and some fruit juice. When I ask what she is making, she smiles mischievously and says it’s a little something for the ride. We will be going to...

  9. Chapter 5 Something New: Consumption, Materialism, and Excess in Pre-wedding Rituals
    (pp. 132-166)

    Beth: Do you think showers are becoming any less common with people living together before they get married?

    Bryn: No. They just ask for more. And more elaborate things—like register for beds…. It usually seems like people have so much with their weddings, it doesn’t seem like anything is getting replaced.

    In 2003 Trista Rehn, star of ABC’s popular reality dating show TheBachelorette, signed a deal with the network to have her (and then fiancé Ryan Sutter’s) pre-nuptial preparations and wedding filmed and aired on national television. Representatives for the show boasted that they spent nearly four million...

  10. Chapter 6 Something Different: Variations in Pre-wedding Rituals
    (pp. 167-190)

    This book focuses primarily on the bridal showers and bachelorette parties of middle- and upper-middle-class white American women. Other women and men celebrate such events differently, if at all. There is great cultural variation in the way weddings are constructed and executed around the world; thus, it makes sense that there would be variation in pre-wedding rituals as well. In this chapter I explore variations in pre-wedding rituals from around the country and around the world. Some rituals have strong similarities to bridal showers or bachelorette parties. Others are very different, reflective of different conceptions of marriage and the roles...

  11. Chapter 7 Conclusion: Bashful Brides and Bold Bachelorettes
    (pp. 191-204)

    Beth: How would you contrast the shower … with her bachelorette party?

    April: Well, I mean, obviously, it’s a more subdued atmosphere, more proper, calmer. Whereas her bachelorette party was a pretty wild atmosphere…. I guess just the shower—you’re being very proper, a good little girl, and you’re crossing your ankles and being very polite. Whereas the bachelorette, she would’ve gotten harassed if she was anything near like she was at the shower, which is what she was expected to be. You know, the two events occurred two hours from each other and she acts a certain way and...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 205-206)
  13. References
    (pp. 207-214)
  14. Index
    (pp. 215-224)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 225-226)