I need wedding gift advice: I don’t hate weddings, but I dread the invitations
I really need some wedding gift advice. Why are couples feeling so entitled, just because they are getting married? Here’s what finally has sent me over the edge: A co-worker of mine is getting married and the bride to-be (I’ll call hr “Anna”) and I have lunch together with some other women nearly every day at work. Last week, she announced to me and the girls that she didn’t want any of her wedding guests to give her gifts — only cash or gift cards. She said she doesn’t want cheap gifts and stuff she doesn’t want because she’ll just have to return those and it’ll be a drag. We sat there gobsmacked, but none of us said anything. Anna didn’t stop there, she emphasized that her guests better use the bridal registry because that way she can ditch the gifts, consolidate the money, and get the really expensive stuff she knows her husband probably wouldn’t want her to buy. I was really shocked but none of us said anything. When Anna’s wedding invitation arrived, it did specifically mention Anna’s bridal registry. I checked it out and everything on it was way over my budget. I have to work with this woman and despite what I consider her selfish attitude and warped values, if I attend the wedding I will have to spend way more than I can afford. I can’t give her a small gift from another store after what Anna has told us. But I don’t feel at all good about her or this situation. Literally, the next day I got another wedding invitation from one of my friend’s kids, suggesting I contribute to a charity instead of a gift (a list of charities were included with the invitation). I am really offended by all of this. in fact, I’m beginning to dread any more wedding invitations coming my way. ” What’s the proper way to handle these situations?
Tony’s Take: First off, as a guy and during the time most of my friends were getting married, I was single. The option of just sending cash and being done with it looked very attractive. Then, later, when online registries started, calling up the store and finding an appropriate item to send from the registry was easier than trying to go and find a gift.
Now a word of background. Culturally, I have some Italian background So I ended up at Italian weddings where the bride goes around with her white silk purse and people stuck cash and checks in it. It’s a tradition. The other side of my upbringing is very Waspy and the thought of bringing a physical present to a wedding was anathema. Which is why I appreciated easy ways out., because I tend to forget things unless they are in front one me.
A thoughtful couple must provide a range of things that people can purchase for you and then just be prepared to return them en masse two weeks after the wedding (long enough to record them in the gift registry so you can send thank you notes). And, with people increasingly having friends from all over the United States it is hard to get registration information out to them in a non tacky manner because the chances are they don’t’ know other members of your family to ask about it. So I am less perturbed about the information on where the bride is registered, being included on the invitation. I believe that this whole practice was made socially acceptable by people putting in cards requesting that donations be made through a charity of their choice in lieu of gifts, or even no gifts at all. This does have some legitimacy to it since many older couples really have everything they want.
Weddings are a milestone in any person’s life, and a time to celebrate that with family and friends and the occasional guests you might invite out of obligation. No one is ever required to send or bring a gift for a wedding, but it’s traditional to do so. If you are a bride to be, consider that your guests are wishing you well and taking their time to be at your nuptials, sometimes traveling at great cost. This is the real gift.
Before my sister and I were the “Advice Sisters” we gave wedding advice as “The Wedding Belles.” Times have changed and my attitude towards some etiquette issues softened. Yes, gift registries that make it easier for those who don’t know the couple to pick out a nice gift. But no one should put this information on an invitation. Furthermore, a couple that only selects a registry with high priced items is guilting guests into a “price for admission” to attend the wedding. Some couples have even asked guests to only contribute to a list of charities and these might be objectionable to some of the guests political and religious views (when you are finished reading our advice here, read Good Grief! Groaning About The Gifts on advicesisters.com ). If you are a couple jones-ing for gifts, at least give your guests a wide range of choice.
As to where to provide this information, many couples these days handle this kind of information by providing a wedding website or Facebook page and blast enough information on social media so that it’s not necessary to include it in the wedding invitation which should be just that –a request for your presence at the wedding ceremony and reception only.
As to how to handle greedy gift-gubbers like Anna? Personally, I’d decline such an invitation as long as it wasn’t a family obligation. I would send regrets and manage to be “obligated that weekend (make up some plausible excuse and go out of town if you can’t manage a white lie). You have to work with Anna so send a gift anyway, a small one (since she wants money, send a gift card that she can use it towards whatever big items she intends to buy).
If you do attend the wedding you might consider pooling your gift money with some of your female lunch friends in your office who also heard Anna’s selfish diatribe (and who doubtless feel as horrified as you) and buy a “group gift.” Anna will get one big gift and you’ll all get off the hook.
There is one last thing I want to mention: In your letter you say Anna wants to buy things her husband-to-be would not want her to buy. As a relationship expert, this already is a red flag that all isn’t well in their relationship — and they’re not even married yet. I wish them success, but perhaps a paid-for session with a marriage counselor would be the most useful, and priceless, gift of all.