If the future bride can have a shower, why not the groom, too? That’s the impetus behind bro-dal showers, events that celebrate a man’s first step into marriage.
They are increasing in popularity, but don’t mistake them for bachelor parties.
“The bachelor party is very different. It usually involves more money, a smaller, closer group of men, and it has a less sophisticated, wilder vibe,” said Alex Dulac, 40, founder of the Plunge, a website for grooms. “Showers are more formalized. They’re laid back, generally happen during the day with a fun activity and a broader group of people, like extended family, in-laws, co-workers, even your boss, who might be invited because there’s less bad behavior.”
Dulac, who is based in New York City, said men have become more self-aware.
“They’re looking to live more fulfilling lives,” he said. “They want stronger relationships that are deeper and purposeful. They want to celebrate this next stage in their life and the people who have been on the journey to this awesome point.”
That means, he said, no keg chugging or other forms of debauchery. Instead, perhaps a catered lunch, golf outing, scotch tasting, pickup basketball, shooting pool or a poker game.
Lauren Grech, chief executive of LLG Events, a destination wedding planning company based in New York, sees these parties as modernized versions of dinners that were popular in the mid-1900s.
“These were previously held in the groom’s honor, hosted by the father with friends and family making toasts on his behalf and to show support of the upcoming marriage,” she said. “Groom showers are a resurgence of this.”
Two years ago, Douglas Baumann, 30, and 11 other men celebrated a friend’s engagement by playing golf and then having lunch.
“It was his fiancée’s idea, which was smart because it gave him something special to do at the same time that she was having her shower,” he said.
Baumann, who lives in Hollywood, Fla., said the groom’s bachelor party followed a few months later. “We did a drunken beach bar weekend,” he said. “But this was more structured and not crazy.”
Sign of involvement
Greech said the bro-dal shower reflects that men are getting more involved in planning their weddings, something that used to be the bride’s exclusive bailiwick.
“It’s acknowledging the fact that they’re taking more prominent roles in the wedding processes, and it’s a way of giving him more attention beyond the bachelor party,” she said.
It was that thinking that led John Berno and Christian Zavala to have separate showers to celebrate their upcoming nuptials.
“I’ve always envisioned celebrating my wedding in a traditional way, but I never envisioned having a shower because it wasn’t a thing for men to have,” said Berno, 36, who had his shower Sept. 21 at a friend’s home in New Jersey. “Now it is, whether you’re straight or gay. It feels very fair because girls have so many events.”
Invitations were sent to 60 people, including family members, 30 male friends and his grandmother, who attended the luncheon.
During the party, speeches were made, and gifts, that were pulled from his registry, were opened while everyone played newlywed bingo, among other games.
“It felt very special and was a necessary wedding experience,” Berno said. “If I didn’t have the shower, I would have felt I was missing out on something important, that my wedding experience was incomplete.”
Zavala had his shower, a brunch, Nov. 17, with 15-plus guests at his best friend’s home.
“My bachelor party, which is happening in St. Lucia in March, will be a longer event and won’t be as tame,” he said. “This is a different experience. It’s a prequel.”
The pair, who are to wed May 16 in New York City, decided not to invite each other to their showers.
“John did it traditionally,” Zavala said. “So I did, too. This is how they’re done. Even though this is new territory, there’s a structure that’s already there. So we’re following that, while still making things our own.”
Lara Friedrich, a New York City psychologist who specializes in couples therapy, said some therapists attribute the bro-parties to embracing a man’s readiness to be vulnerable.
“The definition of what’s masculine and what it means to be a man is changing,” Friedrich said. “The idea of the solitary man who doesn’t need connection no longer exists. Men are becoming socially able to value their friendships more and make that public. They’re OK with showing vulnerability.”
Brides, she said, have been at the center of the celebration, and that has left out men, who are asking: “What about me? I’m getting married, too.”
“These parties are about how do we honor men and this very big change that they’re entering into. And that was missing before.”
Friedrich predicts that the showers will become mainstream.
“As society continues to change, and as weddings continue to become more couple-centric, these events will become more popular,” she said. “More men want to celebrate these major moments. And people will continue to embrace and empower that desire. We are no longer solely focused on one gender.”
Berno agreed: “After attending mine, a lot of men said they wanted to have one, too. We all stood around wondering why this hasn’t been done before.”