This week, Manzo'd is all about Lauren's bridal shower. After this week's "Previously on..." that features Lauren punching Chris in the face, it's the day of the shower and the Manzo house is in busy chaos. Caroline's motto for the day is "get it done, get it done, get it done." She's been planning this shower for six months and everything has to be perfect. Caroline breaks down the guest list of 110 in her interview: neither Dina nor Greg Bennett will be at the party, since both are on the west coast. Dina's daughter Lexi, however, will be representing for her mom. Caroline explains that she wants Lauren to be able to look back on this day and say "wow that was really something." It's a life-changing moment for her and Caroline's very emotional about it.
Four hours before the shower, Chris and Albie are at Chris' apartment in Hoboken when there's a knock at the door. Lo and behold, it's Greg Bennett, Lauren's gay BFF come to surprise her at the shower. He explains to a shocked Albie that he really wanted Lauren to think he couldn't come, so he didn't tell a soul in the family except for Chris. Apparently, the youngest Manzo is the only one who's capable ofkeeping a secret. In his interview, Greg says this is HIS moment...to surprise Lauren. Now the question is whether the princess will be excited to see him or pissed off that he stole her limelight...
Three hours before the shower, Caroline's army of helpers are gluing tea cups to saucers when blast from the past Brittany Parks arrives to pitch in. Caroline explains via confessional that she doesn't quite know the status of the brunette vixen's renewed relationship with Albie but she wants her son to be happy, so she's remaining cautiously optimistic. That is, until two seconds later when Brittany promptly drops and chips one of the saucers. The poor girl is a nervous wreck around Caroline, which shows the matriarch that she's trying. At the same time, Albie and Greg are grabbing drinks at Mikie Squared while Chris picks up the rental car. Albie explains the Brittany situation to his former roommate, saying that if he wants to be in a good relationship, he needs to make sure he's being the kind of guy who deserves one. Recognizing that last time around, he allowed other people (a.k.a. his family) to influence why things went south with Brittany, this time he's determined to "embrace [his] nuts, let life be and see what happens." Albie Manzo is a grown a** man, y'all.
The shower is now 15 minutes away and the final touches are being put on the event. Soon enough, a parade of familiar faces from RHONJ start arriving bearing gifts: Jacqueline, Melissa Gorga, Kathy Wakile, Rosie Pierri - the gang's all here! Lauren arrives for her big moment just as Caroline is organizing the bridal party on the stairs. Mama Manzo is determined to have this day be a fairytale for Lauren, and the bride-to-be appears genuinely blown away by all the thought. There is food to feed an army, hanging teacups around the garden and floating parasols filled with flowers in the pool. Seeing the look of genuine happiness on Lauren's face, Caroline proclaims it's a moment she'll never forget. Meanwhile, the boys are on their way to the house debating whether or not they'll be well-received. From the backseat, Greg says they should stop putting bad energy out, but Chris points out that if there's one thing his family is good at, it's taking good news and turning it into bad news.
The shower is in full swing and there's an overflowing table of gifts. Lauren's wearing a custom wedding gown and "Bride to Be" sash while joking with guests that Albie and Brittany will be next to walk down the aisle. With Vito stashed away in a corner playing on his phone, Caroline gives a beautiful toast. It was so simple and heartfelt that I actually wrote it down word for word:
"You are loved beyond measure and my only hope for you is that you will take everything you've learned as Lauren Manzo and be the best Lauren Scalia you can be. To Lauren and Vito!"
The boys pull up outside and Greg is looking very Monte Carlo homeless stashed in a giant refrigerator box in his white denim. As Lauren opens an incredibly thoughtful gift from Caroline - the sash from Caroline's own wedding gown embellished with a blue heart made from one of Albert's old shirts - Chris stops the shower in its tracks by announcing via trumpet that another gift has arrived out front in the driveway. If Lauren freaks out, Chris' plan is simply to run into the woods and hide. With Chris and Albie on either side of the refrigerator box sporting a gigantic red bow, Greg pops out and Lauren is ecstatically shocked to see her best friend. Caroline can't believe she was kept in the dark too, and points out in her interview how sweet it was for her boys to think of their sister by giving her the best gift they could - her partner-in-crime.
Now that the party has been successfully crashed, Albie heads inside with Brittany, who's inexplicably wearing one of Caroline's belts with her blue and white dress. Albie explains in his confessional that it's a really big deal to him that Brittany is putting in an increased effort with his family. She even got Lauren a sister-in-law card for the shower! Ten seconds later however, he's eating his words as his Aunt Jacqueline corners him to get the dirt. Jacqueline's clearly having a blast with the interrogation - asking when he and Brittany got back together and wondering about Brittany's ring size and how many kids they want. Albie is visibly uncomfortable by the conversation as he watches Brittany across the table. He laments in his interview that he can't go thirty seconds without being questioned by someone in his family - it's like navigating a minefield 24 hours a day. Outside, Lauren offers a heartfelt thank you to everyone for coming and the magical party draws to a close.
The next morning, Albie and Chris have been assigned the duty of stacking hundreds of chairs and doing cleanup from the shower. Chris needs to get this straight. First they didn't get invited to the party, didn't get to eat at the party, had to sneak drinks, brought the best gift and now they have to clean while Lauren sashays around the deck with Greg? What's wrong with this picture? Albie's still shaken from all of Jacqueline's marriage talk yesterday. Caroline explains that Albie has the tendency to overthink everything. He wasn't prepared for that kind of conversation and now his stress is mentally snowballing. Lauren doesn't see what the problem is: last year the family didn't like Brittany and it wasn't good enough, now everyone likes her and it's an issue. Albie says that everyone liking Brittany is a good thing but finds their approach a little aggressive. The family just needs to cool it on the getting married talks. Caroline cuts the conversation off to get the kids to start cleaning. Enough talk, Albert needs help getting the pool robot to submerge.