A bridal shower is a gift-giving party held for a bride-to-be in anticipation of her wedding.
The history of the custom is rooted not necessarily for the provision of goods for the upcoming matrimonial home, but to provide goods and financial assistance to ensure the wedding may take place. The custom of the bridal shower is said to have grown out of earlier dowry practices, when a poor woman’s family might not have the money to provide a dowry for her, or when a father refused to give his daughter her dowry because he did not approve of the marriage. In such situations, friends of the woman would gather together and bring gifts that would compensate for the dowry and allow her to marry the man of her choice. The earliest stories about these events have been known to originate in Brussels, Belgium around 1860. A frequently quoted legend traces the origin of this practice to the 16th or 17th Century Netherlands.
However, there are also parallels with many dowry practices In the United States, bridal showers started in urban areas in the 1890s mainly among the upper middle classes. By the 1930s, bridal showers had spread to rural America.