February 22, 2018

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Trousseu tea only for friends?

We mine the Free Press archives for advice that still applies today (...or doesn’t)

From Mrs. Thompson Advises, published in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 23, 1957

Dear Mrs. Thompson: Just what is a “trousseau tea?” The dictionary says a trousseau is “the clothes and general outfit of a bride.” Yes today one sees on display family and shower gifts. It seems to be an affair of show.

Just what persons should be invited? Often I am invited to such teas, though I’ve always known the prospective bridegroom, I wouldn’t know the bride-elect if I met her in my porridge. Should I take her a gift? I’ve always understood that was bad manners.

Shouldn’t such a tea be only for close friends of the bride, persons who have given her gifts privately or at showers, or who may be invited to the wedding?

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From Mrs. Thompson Advises, published in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 23, 1957

Dear Mrs. Thompson: Just what is a "trousseau tea?" The dictionary says a trousseau is "the clothes and general outfit of a bride." Yes today one sees on display family and shower gifts. It seems to be an affair of show.

Just what persons should be invited? Often I am invited to such teas, though I’ve always known the prospective bridegroom, I wouldn’t know the bride-elect if I met her in my porridge. Should I take her a gift? I’ve always understood that was bad manners.

Winnipeggers could enjoy jazz greats including Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan and Chet Baker at this May 1957 concert. Ticket prices ranged from $11 to $22 in today's dollars. </p>

Winnipeggers could enjoy jazz greats including Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan and Chet Baker at this May 1957 concert. Ticket prices ranged from $11 to $22 in today's dollars.

Shouldn’t such a tea be only for close friends of the bride, persons who have given her gifts privately or at showers, or who may be invited to the wedding?

You recently said that correct customs have not changed, although the widespread prevalence of wrong usage may win out in time.  Has that become so in regard to trousseau teas?

I would appreciate a few words in your column on this question. Some of us have had quite an argument about it. –Jarvis

Dear Jarvis: There have never been any hard and fast rules about trousseau teas, as there are about wedding procedure. These functions developed from the practice of asking close friends to "come in and see my things." It was found to be less confusing to name a specific day and have everybody come then, than to have people dropping in when it suited them.

The first trousseau tea I attended was about 40 years go. Guests were all close friends of the bride, and she showed us wedding gifts which had arrived, shower gifts, and all her trousseau, including lingerie. I believe it is now considered in doubtful taste to display intimate garments.

However I don’t think that the purpose was to "show off." It was rather a matter of sharing with friends the thrills of getting married, and letting them see how kind everybody had been. It is correct to display wedding gifts at a reception, also showing shower or wedding gifts at trousseau teas should not be considered wrong, especially as many of those invited to a tea will not be at the wedding. Besides close friends, business acquaintances and people who have attended showers are usually asked to the tea.

I have never been asked to a tea when I didn’t know the bride, but understand some people ask the groom’s mother for a list of people she would like to have included. That is probably why you have been invited though the bride was a stranger.

I think it is quite unnecessary to include the groom’s friends, but they don’t have to come unless they are interested, and certainly they are not expected to bring a gift. It would be rather embarrassing if they did, though I have known old friends of the bride’s mother who hadn’t been asked to showers to take along some little remembrance when attending a trousseau tea. That is different, even though nothing was expected from them either.

My own feeling is that the original form of such teas was preferable to the mob scene type. But I wouldn’t say it is incorrect to have a large trousseau tea.

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