It's customary in this part of the world to "shower" future brides and grooms with gifts for their new life together. Like most people, I’ve been to a number of wedding showers. Here in Wisconsin, a typical shower looks like this: guests arrive, talk, eat snacks, play party games, then eat a meal followed by gift opening and eating cake. If you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. Years ago, though, my sisters and I threw a unique wedding shower for our sister Michelle. Our non-traditional, This Is Your Life shower was a big hit, and it was so long ago that I figured I could reprise it for Kyle’s and Alayna’s couples wedding shower this summer.
On the old television show, This Is Your Life, an unsuspecting guest was pulled from the audience and treated to a walk back into their pasts. Unbeknownst to them, family members had helped producers line up “mystery guests” from different points in their lives (childhood, adulthood, professional, neighborhood, etc). Out of sight, the mystery guests would share stories connected to their relationship with the person pulled from the audience, who would then try to guess who they were and would then be reunited with the old friend.
Since Kyle's fiancee Alayna is a great sport and isn’t a fan of being the center of attention anyway (and there was going to be another wedding shower in her home state of Minnesota), I got her blessing to have Kyle’s life be the focus of our shower. He had no idea what I was planning, which was so much fun. (Neither he nor Alayna had ever been to a shower of any kind, so they had no idea what to expect anyway.)
The intro...[the only video that's a little shaky, I promise!]
Cailie and Kyle were great friends in high school.
Though they were in different grades, they connected via Student Council:
Mr. W, Kyle's former scout leader, really went all out:
Jerrod was a younger classmate:
Kyle's first grade teacher was a hoot!
As you may have noticed, I gave guests a list of the mystery guests and their relationships to Kyle, plus an explanation of what was going to take place so that they wouldn’t be completely lost.
A shower like this requires some planning; I had to first come up with a list of people from Kyle’s past. If you’re planning such an event, consider the following list (which could be expanded quite a bit for someone older than Kyle, who is only 24 and hasn’t been around that long, relatively): Former neighbors, babysitters, family members who’ve moved too far away to visit often, former employers, childhood friends, teachers, classmates, co-workers, etc.
Of course I also had to find and contact the mystery guests, explain the shower concept, and ask them if they’d be willing to participate. It’s important to note that only one of our eight mystery guests was actually invited to the wedding. They did not seem to mind. I recommend leaving former girlfriends/boyfriends off this list unless you’re certain there won’t be any issues. You need to decide an order for the guests and have someone help you keep them hidden until it’s time for them to come in. If you have it in your budget, you could consider buying token thank you gifts for the mystery guests.
A few guests couldn’t make it to the shower, so two recorded their stories and wedding wishes on video, which we projected to our TV so everyone could view them while Kyle sat with his back to the TV. One of the guests (who supervised Kyle in his job in Buenos Aires a few years ago) participated live via FaceTime (again, projected to the TV screen). Kendall was a big help for this aspect of the execution. We also practiced ahead of time and made sure the tv settings were correct before the shower.
I’ve created a video that explains how to plan a This Is Your Life Shower, in case anyone's interested.
As I mentioned previously, neither Kyle nor Alayna had ever attended a shower of any kind before this one. They thought it was great (especially the gift opening part, probably).
Have you ever been to a unique wedding or baby shower? Are showers different in your part of the world than they are here in Wisconsin?