The tradition of the wedding shower has been around for centuries. And as long as we still have weddings, there's little doubt the tradition of "showering" the bride and groom with gifts will continue - and thank goodness for this! How dreary a world it'd be without happy times like wedding showers to express our affection for those we love and wish well. But as you know, the "rules" of traditions change - sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically - over time. So here's a little primer on the latest on the tradition of the wedding shower - at least as it stands for the time being.

Who's the Host and Who Can Come?

For eons, it seemed, it was considered in very bad taste for any immediate relative of the bride or groom's family to host a wedding shower. No longer does that old rule exist. Nowadays, anyone - sisters, aunts, moms, grandmothers, and female cousins included - can host a shower without fear of being frowned upon.

Despite what you may have read, heard, or witnessed, it is never appropriate to invite guests to attend a wedding shower if you do not plan on inviting them to the actual wedding itself. Although some people may consider it entirely all right to do this, you may find yourself with a lot of hurt feelings on your hands if you decide to invite your next-door neighbor to a shower you're hosting only to leave them off the "A" list of the wedding invitations.

Timing and Distance Issues

Another essential, never-do no-no is to not invite someone just because they live too far away to attend the wedding shower. If a person cares about the couple, it doesn't matter if they can't make it to the party or to the wedding. An invitation should be sent anyway to let them know their presence is wanted, even if it can't be realized. Otherwise, the person you've neglected will feel mightily shunned and infer that their friendship is no longer needed or wanted - and all because they've simply moved out of the area.

When wedding shower invitations should be sent is one tradition that has changed over the years. Due to the change in our ability to be mobile - airplanes, cars, trains, etc. - it's no longer necessary as it was a hundred years ago to send invitations six months in advance of the party. Do give your guests at least a month, preferably six weeks, however, so they may make adjustments to busy schedules, if necessary.

Forget About E-Mail

And another thing about wedding shower invitations: Don't ever think you can't save money or take shortcuts my sending them by e-mail. Although some people may do this, it's not considered at all in good taste even for the most casual of shower venues. Invitees may feel insulted that although they're expected to make or purchase a gift, the host of the party is too cheap to spend money on stationery and stamps. So no matter how crunched for time or energy you may be, do whatever it takes to send appropriate shower invitations by the good old-fashioned U.S. mail.

Wedding showers are events to be enjoyed, but we don't want to offend or anger anyone while we're planning them. So take a little time to make sure you know what you're doing when you decide to host a shower. It's a given that your efforts will pay off with a joyous soon-to-be bride and groom - and a roomful of happy shower guests!