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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Thing About Bridal Showers

In March, some of my closest friends and family gathered for bridal showers that I'll never forget. Here's why:

I've never been an Elizabeth Gilbert fan. I thought I would be at one point. I was eager to read Eat, Pray, Love, only to put it down after a few chapters. There's something about her voice that annoys me - the sarcasm, the constant attempt to be clever?  I'm not sure.

Despite this aversion, my curiosity was piqued when she published Committed last year. Maybe it was the shiny new ring I had on my left hand, or maybe it was the 20 hours I had in the car between Brattleboro and Atlanta. Either way, in that desperate moment when early radio programming fades to mid-morning oblivion, I found myself downloading it on my iPhone.

What I got was typical Gilbert paired with some fascinating information on infidelity studies and the gene that makes men good partners. Last month's showers left me thinking a lot about my favorite part of the book - the description of Laotian wedding customs. 

According to Gilbert, when one receives a wedding invitation in a Laotian village, he puts money in the envelope and later gives it to the couple on their wedding day. The bride and groom then carefully record each gift in a ledger that they will later use to see how much they should give that individual on her wedding day. The understanding is that you give that amount back - plus a little more (interest) if you can. So this wedding money isn't really a "gift" at all; it's an investment in the new couple's lives. It's a foundation that allows the couple to buy a home or start a business in a way that wouldn't have been possible without this community support. Gilbert elegantly describes it as "an exhaustively catalogued and ever-shifting loan, circulating from one family to the next as each new couple starts a life together." It says - we believe in you, and we want you to succeed.

After getting engaged, I felt a little weird about creating a registry. It seemed presumptuous and greedy to send the message that those invited to celebrate with us "should" give us a gift. I didn't want others to feel that I expected these things. I was convinced by our mothers that people appreciate the guidance, so off we went with scanners and checklists.

In March, I was overwhelmed by the generosity shown at our showers. My friends know me so well, and they are wonderful and fun and loving and kind. Their support makes the Maxwell-Concklin foundation feel even stronger than it already was. They are, like the little Laotian village, generously investing in not just our kitchen, but us. They are all pitching in to help get us on our feet. And now, for the rest of our lives, we will be able to do the same for young couples to come. What a lovely concept, and what an honor.


P.S. This talk on nurturing creativity by Gilbert is wonderful.
P.P.S. Some photos of a shower in Greenville, given by my MOH, Ellen:

oldest friends and bridesmaids - Britt and Tara

Mom and Tara


  1. Lauren, this is so beautiful! Love it :)

  2. So sweet, Lauren. I've read both of Gilbert's books, and I definitely enjoyed "Committed" more, too. So very excited to see you (and to meet John) soon!


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