Why Do People Accept Wedding Gifts?

by golbguru on August 20, 2007

It appears to me that this whole wedding thing has become a profit-loss business for some people. Just read this ungrateful rant on Yahoo! Answers:

I myself am planning a wedding. It’s costing me about $35,000 give or take. (And that’s not a big number for a wedding) Now I understand if you are traveling super long distances (I have a guest coming from France to my wedding in Canada) but people that live by me shouldn’t have a problem. Right? If you break it down, I think it will cost me about $230 per person. Now, whenever I go to a wedding, I try to find out how much it cost for a plate, add 15% or more. I thought that was what everyone did. I know that maybe not everyone has tonnes of money, but it’s a wedding! I plan on doing it once! Isn’t the point of weddings (other then getting married) to help start off a couple? When it was my fiance’s brother wedding we gave him $900 between us. He’s family! I see people asking “what is a cheap gift for a wedding?” … and I can’t help feel insulted for the wedding couple.

Tell me am I out of line with my thinking??? Should I expect only $20 gifts from people?

Forget about the ridiculous numbers in that text, just concentrate on the attitude.

Fortunately, the rant received some suitable chastising replies, and probably the lady who asked the question finally learned something at the end of all that. The best answer to that rant was this:

…and by the way, you are having a wedding, not a fund raiser!

Now, I have met a few people/couples who are not as ungrateful as the author of the above rant, but they do try to *estimate* the value of gifts received, so as to find comfort against the rising cost of their wedding. They are not blunt enough to say “I am expecting wedding gifts“, but somewhere at the back of their mind, their calculators are running, and they are hoping that guests will give them *reasonable* gifts.

I can understand the feelings of people/guests, who, with their own free will, genuinely wish to give something to the marrying couple to help them start a new household. Such noble feelings extend beyond the boundaries of culture and tradition, and are perfectly sensible from the point of view of the giver.

But, I haven’t fully understood the logic behind a couple or a person who expects (or for that matter, just accepts) gifts on their wedding? Are you expecting gifts because everyone else gets gifts for their weddings? or because of cultural and traditional obligations (like your parents want you to accept gifts)? or because you really need the help that the gifts will provide in setting up your new household? or are you just taking them because people are in the mood to give? I am not asking these questions in a fit of ranting mood - I would really like to know what goes on in the mind when it comes to expecting gifts.

People share this common, often quoted, philosophy - “it’s the thought that counts“. If it’s really the thought that counts, then why not just accept good wishes and blessings as wedding gifts instead of merchandise and/or cash? and if you are ready to accept just the thoughts, why not proactively ask people to not bring any gifts? “Proactively” is the key word here - without which, the line between “expecting” gifts and “accepting” gifts becomes blur.

Why not save hundreds of poor souls from situations like this, and advice like this on how to avoid overspending on wedding presents? Why not save yourselves (and/or some of your family members) the trouble of ridiculing people who give *cheap* gifts? Just politely ask everyone to not bring any gifts and a lot of problems will be solved. :)

If you think that would be an earth-shattering, revolutionary way of doing things, take heart; people have done this before. For example, here is a part of a wedding invitation I received last month (from an economically average, middle class gentleman):

no presents please

We (me and my wife) had a similar wedding “policy”. It wasn’t within the norms of our cultural and/or traditional mindset, but we did it anyways. We had a lot of reasons why people shouldn’t spend money and time on buying gifts for us, but we never found a single one that convinced us to accept any gifts from anyone.

I would be glad to hear from people who have (or have not) accepted gifts at their weddings, and the reasons behind doing so. If you are planning on getting married in future, would you consider proactively asking your guests to not bring gifts (or even flowers)?

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{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

1 GeekMan 08.20.07 at 7:45 am

When I got married my wife and I made it known that gifts were not necessary. However, our circle of friends and family are very close and we wound up receiving a gift from everyone we knew, whether or not the made it to the actual wedding. And I don’t know about anyone else’s friends and family, but for us once a gift is given it becomes an insult to refuse or return it. I’d like to point out though, that when planning for the wedding we planned to exchange our money for a big party with friends and family and great memories. We did not expect, and didn’t even attempt to calculate, making the money back.

Honestly, sometimes I wonder if people have become so focused on pinching pennies that they’ve forgotten that sometimes money is SUPPOSED to be spent.

2 BD 08.20.07 at 7:47 am

It’s considered rude to tell people what to do with their money by presenting them with a list of your registry items - and it is BEYOND rude to refuse a gift from someone who supports you and wants to give one! For these reasons, wedding invitations are always silent on the question of gifts.

Interestingly, in traditional circles it’s considered equally tacky to register with a charity and thereby pressure guests to support a cause they might object to.

The only reason registries exist is for considerate gift-givers to be sure they’re gifting something the couple needs. If the couple doesn’t need anything, they should not register for anything. However, they should NEVER say what I saw on one recent invitation - “No boxed gifts.” That’s just money-grubbing and pathetic.

3 Bent 08.20.07 at 8:16 am

If I ever get married again, I plan to somehow specify that, since we are not a young couple just starting out and we have a desire to simplify so we can merge two households, we have everything we need and want. If someone chooses to give a present, I would request that it be something that is personally meaningful to the giver and that it come with a story (i.e. “this was my aunt’s favorite plate/locket/poem that her sweetheart gave to her during the war”). Donations to one of our favorite charities would be good (I specify *our* favorite because they would be giving a gift in honor of us, not to honor them). Better yet, an ideal gift for me would be a story, a song, or a performance. I’ll just have to figure out how to say all this in an announcement/invitation.

4 Bent 08.20.07 at 8:41 am

More thoughts:

This trend of lavish, extravagant weddings is, in my opinion, ridiculous. I know of far too many couples that spend much much more than they can afford on a wedding to impress their friends. What a horrible way to start a marriage, deep in debt.

5 Kitty 08.20.07 at 8:42 am

For some reason I’ve never wanted a big wedding. I’ve always thought it such a waste of money — if I ever get married, it’ll be a brief civil ceremony and a little reception in my home just for relatives and close friends. Seems to me that a really nice and memorable honeymoon would be much better and at a fraction of a price.

One thing that always bugged me about weddings even more than presents is the whole bride’s maids business. At least with presents you can bring what you can. But if you are asked to be a bride’s maid you cannot very well refuse. And it is usually young women, often students, who are asked so having to buy this fancy dress is a big expense for them. One time I narrowly missed to get invited to be a bride’s maid was when I was in grad school living on an assistantship. Thankfully I lived on campus in Urbana while the wedding was in Chicago, and this friend needed to get her bride’s maids to be right there for measurements, so she invited 4 other girls. Was I happy about it! The price of the dress none of them would ever were anywhere else was $90 which was a really big deal for all of them - this was in 1981 so $90 back then was not what $90 right now, plus they were all children of recent immigrants and all students.

Many years ago, when my cousin who lived in Australia got married, my father sent her a check for $200 which was a really big deal for us then. We later found out that the girl’s mother complained how cheap we were only sending $200. We haven’t been in contact with them after that, but I’ve always wondered how much they expected.

6 Angela 08.20.07 at 9:08 am

I’m not married but I’ve been a guest at many weddings. I don’t have a problem with giving a gift but I don’t have the money to buy an excessive, expensive present. I was invited to my cousin’s lavish wedding (over $100,000, as I was told) and I was only able to purchase them a $30 teapot off their registry. I shouldn’t be expected to dish out hundreds of dollars to attend their wedding. I’d just rather not attend if that is the case. I don’t mind the registry though. I think it makes things much easier.

$900 for a wedding gift? Can she be my sister, please?

7 Exick 08.20.07 at 9:28 am

This poor person has been bullshitted by the wedding industry into believing that $35,000 for a wedding is “not a big number”. That right there is some sad stuff.

When we got married (3 years ago) we spent just under $5,000. Even that should be considered a lot. We certainly didn’t request gifts, but we did accept them. However, we weren’t looking to recoup our costs through gifts.

My wife regularly hears about these kinds of stories. It’s absurd to think that a wedding guest would take your costs into consideration and base the amount of the gift they gave on some sort of imagined cost-per-plate.

8 plonkee 08.20.07 at 9:31 am

I don’t have a problem with people wanting or not wanting wedding gifts. If invited to a wedding, I will expect to get a gift and in fact I prefer to do so. I want to show someone that they mean something to me, and the accepted way for me to do that is by buying a gift. If they really don’t want a gift, I will of course, still send a card.

9 meagan 08.20.07 at 9:34 am

My husband and I just got married last Saturday. We had a small registry with most gifts being under $40. We did this not necessarily because we expect gifts but so that most of the people who were giving them had a guide as to what we needed. As typical, though, there were a couple of people who didn’t follow the registry and bought us items we didn’t need and thus we will have to donate. I don’t mean to sound harsh about it- but some of the stuff was not only AWFUL but completely useless. I would have much preferred just a card.
As snotty as having a registry sounds I think it could also be considered smart for both parties. As a guest, you don’t want to spend time and money on something that the couple doesn’t need/want that they can’t do anything with.

10 plonkee 08.20.07 at 9:34 am

I meant to add, that if you are the sort of person who expects to give gifts, it stands to reason that you expect to get them. Even if its nothing like requiring them from your guests, you sort of expect it - like getting gifts on your birthday.

11 nku 08.20.07 at 9:37 am

In my opinion, wedding should be a close family and friend ceremony, not the one to flaunt one’s social status nor like you said a fund-raiser. (Now I know that writing something like this will peeve my parents/relatives, but still :P)

Another thing that I absolutely hate about the Indian weddings is the whole “We don’t want dowry, but we will not say no to presents. And btw, here’s our list” scene. I had a friend from IIT (Indian Institute of Technology). He himself is very well placed in one of the top IT service company in India. His father, as I remember, also was a highly placed officer in Indian government; his mother a doctor and a professor in a reputed medical college in UP. He had refused two alliances because they were not able/willing to pay Rs 1 Cr in gifts (a plot, a car, wedding expenses, electronics, jewelery etc) his parents were demanding. I had several long chats with him to try and understand the mentality behind it. He said, they were just recovering the cost. Also he mentioned something about how it will all the stuff be his wife’s in reality. So according to him, her parents were just helping their daughter settle down in life in style.

12 The Financial Blogger 08.20.07 at 9:57 am

I got married 3 years ago and it cost me 15K (honeymoon included). We really tried to cut down the expenses but just inviting 125 people to eat was more than half of the 15K. While we were not expecting gifts, we were glad that people though of us by giving us money. I were 22 and 23 and 15K was a lot of money. Without help from my guests, I would have to put the wedding cost on my line of credit. Not really a good start for a young couple!
Having said that, keep in mind that even if you try to make your best so everybody will enjoy your wedding, it won’t happen. So I would suggest to remain silent about gifts and welcome them when they come!

13 golbguru 08.20.07 at 10:01 am

GeekMan: “When I got married my wife and I made it known that gifts were not necessary.” - I really appreciate that.

BD: “...it is BEYOND rude to refuse a gift from someone who supports you and wants to give one!” - If you are already presented with a gift, then the rudeness factor plays a big role, because that’s like “rejection“. That’s why I am along the lines of a simple line on the invitation that says gifts will not be accepted - that stops them from even buying anything in the first place. You can be as polite and respectful in composing that. I am sure, ignoring a couple’s request for no gifts would be considered equally rude by some people. And once you make your position clear, it becomes easier for people to decide how they want to play the game. :)

Bent: “What a horrible way to start a marriage, deep in debt.” - Amen brother!

Meagan: “I don’t mean to sound harsh about it- but some of the stuff was not only AWFUL but completely useless.” - it’s probably because people do have trouble choosing *good* and affordable gifts. It’s better to not put them in this jeopardy. :)

Plonkee: “..that if you are the sort of person who expects to give gifts, it stands to reason that you expect to get them. ” - that is the kind of reason I have trouble understanding. Sometimes, such an inclination may make celebrations seem like gift-taking excuses. :)

Nku: Greed transcends all educational levels - all traditions and cultures. Btw, this: “..how all the stuff be his wife’s in reality.” Lol.. what a bunch of crap. :)

14 Tim 08.20.07 at 10:58 am

I’m all for gifts at weddings. For young people starting off, people ought to want to see them start off on a good foot; however, that is from the giver point of view. accordingly, i’ve seen some horrendous, useless gifts where if the thought counted, well there was absolutely no thought. I’m all for registries.

as far as the couple is concerned, it’s a mixed bag to me. i much prefer the asian method of red envelopes which alleviates bad gifts as well as who gave what and how much was it worth. the red envelope is the admission fee, which i have no issue with at all.

we did have an asian wedding, but we did not accept red envelopes which caused somewhat of a stir since it is the thing to do and it sort of gives the impression of arrogance. however, we agreed that people ought to focus on enjoying themselves.

The red envelopes are intended to help defray the cost of the wedding as well as provide some financial basis for the couple. don’t get me wrong, we would definitely have liked to get the red envelopes considering that we had a little over 1200 people at our wedding and reception.

we also had two weddings and two receptions and finding some time before our 50th anniversary to have a third reception for my side of the family. i was very upset about my side of the family not even sending a single wedding card. their excuse, well you aren’t getting anything until you have a reception at our location. now i’ve dished out some nice gifts for all of my relatives and friends (seemed to me i had a standing account at Tiffany’s), but to get that response was worse than expecting to get gifts. the expectation that a couple has to have a reception. I’m not sure what is worse.

15 Debbie 08.20.07 at 12:54 pm

Some relatives of mine begged people not to give them gifts because they were combining two households into one and did not have the space. They got loads of gifts anyway; people feel bad when they don’t bring a gift even if they’ve been told that this is what the couples want. (The best I could do when I heard someone contemplating what to get them was to recommend something small!)

I loved getting presents as a kid, but as an adult, not so much. I’d rather people not trouble themselves. But they want to, so you need to be prepared for that.

I would never spend more than I could afford on a wedding (which is, after all, nothing more than a ceremony and a party), so any gifts would not be used to recoup expenses. That is so creepy. Also, I like the idea of having only one bridesmaid, so she can wear whatever she wants without freaking out any traditionalists who want everyone to match.

One strategy I like for handling gifts is to ask your friends and relatives to provide services for the wedding (making the cake, playing the music, reading a poem, etc.) AS their present. For some people the service is obvious because there are things they enjoy doing that would be good for a wedding. For other people, this would be more difficult.

16 moom 08.20.07 at 1:33 pm

Recent weddings I’ve been to I gave a gift card, a cheque, or equivalent. I did think of it as helping to offset the cost of the wedding. OTOH growing up we used on a day to day basis some of the presents my parents received at their wedding. If the gifts are good quality and useful it makes sense. Neither of them had much stuff of any sort when they got married (they were “boarding”).

17 Ted Valentine 08.20.07 at 2:09 pm

I find that there is way too much focus on the wedding and way too little focus on the marriage.

I find that usually these things are inversely correlated. The more focus on the wedding, gifts, etc., the less people take seriously their marriage vows.

18 R 08.20.07 at 2:37 pm

This is a topical post for me, as I am getting married in a couple of weeks, and agonized over this aspect of it for quite a while!

I think in the end we came up with a really good solution, though. Here’s what we did…

Our situation:
- My fiance and I live in a small apartment with very little space, and we try to live frugally. Initially, we wanted to just say “no gifts, please!” and duck the whole issue. Two things changed our minds: (1) in every example we could find of people who had tried this (at least, in our age group - it’s a different story if it’s a second marriage or both individuals are older), the end result seemed to have been everyone buying gifts anyways, but most of them being things that the couple didn’t need at all; (2) we started hearing very direct complaints (not in rude ways - these are our friends and family and I certainly don’t want to imply they were inappropriate in their comments!) that of course people were still going to buy us gifts, half of them we’ve already bought gifts for them for their own weddings, they would feel terrible not doing so… we were just making it harder on everyone by not making it clear what we wanted!
- We liked the “register for a charity” idea, but also recognized that (a) some people don’t like the idea of giving to something that’s not necessarily in alignment with their own values, and (b) for many people, giving to someone at their wedding is a personal thing, and they want to be remembered for it… and giving to an unrelated charity does not feel the same. I hadn’t realized it before, but giving is something that’s important to people. It’s a way that people feel a part of something. It’s not necessarily an evil thing - trying to take “giving” out of the world isn’t necessarily the direction you want to go!

Our solution: We gave people options.
- We wrote a comment on the web page on which we were posting information about the wedding explaining that we needed little (and had space for little) and that people’s attendance itself was the biggest gift - and NO PRESENTS WERE REQUIRED.
- We said that if people did want to give something that we would treasure, one thing we would really appreciate (and did have room for) would be a single favorite recipe, the cheaper and simpler the better… and if it came with a story or discussions of where they learned it / why they liked it / memorable times they’d used it, all the better!
- We said if people eg hated cooking and thought recipes were evil, and did want to give money, something that was important to us but which we did not do as often as we would like is donate to charities… and we listed two of our favorites, saying donations to these in our honor would be something meaningful to us
- Finally, we said that if all this sounded like a lot of time-consuming hogwash and you like buying things off a registry, we did make two small ones (target and amazon) of things we thought we could actually use (much of which was in the $5-$20 range).
- Then, we reemphasized that none of this was necessary, either!

So far, the reactions have been positive. The great-aunt who things we’re a couple of hippies and doesn’t want to deal with it is happy to have a normal registry, while friends I worked in non-profits with seem to be having fun with the favorite-family-recipe-plus-story idea. And my mother feels far less uncomfortable trying to answer questions about it than she did when we kept saying “oh, we just don’t want gifts” and every time she passed it on people gave her a funny look at pressed her for gift ideas….

19 AtWorkReader 08.20.07 at 2:47 pm

If people want money, they should try Vietnamese weddings. It’s traditional to bring $50-150/person as a gift. Bride and groom walk around the reception with a basket that they hold out for the collection of well-stuffed envelopes…with a video camera so they can document the gift-givers!

20 Kim Bentz 08.21.07 at 5:57 am

The attitude of the ranter which initiated this conversation is horrifying. I am grateful that I haven’t been invited to the weddings of any such people (to my knowledge).

I believe a wedding is merely sharing one of life’s celebrations with your friends. Isn’t this what life is about? Sharing our joys and our sorrows in a loving community of friends and families? Isn’t this what makes for a full, rich life?

If one wants gifts in correlation with the cost of the wedding, perhaps one should allow one’s guests to determine the cost of various items. On the invitation one could include a catalogue of choices: Check one veil, #1 is a simple traditional veil consisting of a simple beaded headpiece and shoulder length tulle. (Cost $50) #2 is an elegant handmade piece of lace which delightfully frames the (grasping and greedy) bride’s face and ends in a 5 foot train. (Cost $1,500) #3 No veil. Check one dress, #1 is the bride’s grandmother’s wedding dress. It is a simple satin and lace affair in a traditional style. (Cost for cleaning and alterations, $200) #2 is the Brazen Brides Monthly dress of the year. It is a satin sheath dress beaded in real pearls. It has a long train which looks elegant on it’s own or with veil #2. (Cost from the designer de jour includes alterations, $9,000.) Etc., Etc.

I think we could save our brazen bride a fortune that she can then spend at Tiffany’s or wherever her greedy heart desires.

It is as if she were setting a price for a performance. Yeech! That groom better have a pre-nup, that’s all I’m sayin’. This marriage ain’t going to last, and when it ends she will have calculated the value of every last teaspoon.

Give me a simple wedding with a man and a woman who deeply love each other and want to share their joy with the rest of us any day over an overpriced spectacle with an obscene yet unspoken price tag attached.

It would be more honest on the part of our bride to send out notices of a spectacle and charge an entry fee. She might be able to get Ticketmaster to handle the tickets, so that people could charge them on their Visa cards. It could also resolve that pesky seating problem. You could offer premium prices for the “best” tables, and slightly less for tables in the back. Perhaps one could buy a ticket for either the wedding OR the reception, and I’m sure she could come up with a price for that.

21 Elizabeth 08.21.07 at 5:57 am

My husband and I have just been married a year. We were both finishing school at the time (he finished this year…I finished just before the wedding). We were very thankful for the gifts because we had nothing and no money. Almost everything we got was practical and useful. We really appreciated everything, but especially those who helped us get on our feet. Because he was still in school, we were both unemployed (I moved to his school area after the wedding). We used the money to pay rent and keep above water while we looked for jobs.

All that said, I can totally see the importance of giving gifts to young couples who are getting married for the first time. However, I can’t afford much. But I look at their registry (because much of what they need/want is listed and try to pick something that has something to do with what we do as friends (pizza, cookies, entertainment). While most of our gifts were practical my husband recieved an XBox360 from his roommates, because they all always played together and it was their way of saying goodbye. And now they can still play when they visit us.

I never would refuse a gift since the person is giving out of love. I know that I have been heartbroken about giving a gift at a wedding and having it refused or unthankfully accepted.

22 Kim Bentz 08.21.07 at 6:18 am

Meagan: “I don’t mean to sound harsh about it- but some of the stuff was not only AWFUL but completely useless.”

A gift is meant to be a token of MY affection for you. It is something from MY heart toward you, and while it would be nice if I knew you well enough to never be mistaken in your tastes, well, if I am, have the good grace to appreciate my heart, if not my taste in glassware or whatever.

For our wedding we received (I am not kidding) 96 glasses. That’s right 96. They came in sets of four and six and not one set matched another. It is something we laugh about to this day, more than 25 years later. We loved our friends and understood that they wanted to help us get started but we were all young and broke.

BTW, We paid for the bridesmaid’s dresses and the groomsmen’s tuxes to spare them an expense they could not afford. We did not have a dinner, which we could not afford, we had cake, nuts, mints and punch, which was the tradition at the time in our circle.

I have no memory of registering anywhere. What would have been the point?

We have been to several weddings during the time our business was failing and pulling us into a deep financial hole. Gifts are hit and miss. I gave a bottle of my favorite wine from my personal (and very small) wine collection to one friend. I have gone without gifts, I have made things, I have written poems, I have helped serve or clean up, whatever. The point is to share in the joy of the occasion and have a chance to show how happy we are for the happy couple.

23 Matt 08.21.07 at 6:50 am

One of our guests gave us a card with 2 $100 bills in it and a handwritten note. The note said “I had a wonderful time at your wedding.” I liked that. He obviously wrote the note during the reception and I imagine he decided how much money to put in based on how much fun he had. The open bar certainly paid off in that case. It could have easily gone the other way - “This party sucked” and 2 cents.

24 Shawn 08.21.07 at 6:57 am

In the Chicago area it is pretty much accepted that you will bring a cash gift to the wedding. Registry items are received at the bridal shower. We spent about $10,000 for our reception and received about the same amount back in cash the night of the wedding. The only time I have ever heard people complain about this practice is when there is a cash bar at the wedding.

25 Ellen 08.21.07 at 7:01 am

What a touchy subject! The idea of putting any references to gifts on the invitation makes my skin crawl, even if it is to request that they not be given. Certainly, if you wanted to spread the word informally that you’d rather people not bring them (just as the registry information should be offered only when people ask), that would be your choice. However, I for one LOVE giving wedding/shower gifts, and I would be hurt at the idea that my offering was somehow inadequate. Gifts are (or should be) an expression of affection, when graciously given and received.

For our wedding, not all of our guests gave gifts, and that was totally, utterly, perfectly fine with us. We were happy to have them there, and it’s not like we made lists of who gave what (except for the purposes of thank you notes) and who didn’t. We didn’t expect to recoup any of the wedding costs (though some people were unexpectedly generous) and the idea that people should ‘pay’ for their plates is horrifying.

26 Erika 08.21.07 at 9:05 am

For my wedding, we included a separate card in our invitation (with all the reception info stuff) that said “We request only the honor of your presence on our special day. If you would like to honor our marriage with a gift, consider donating to a charity of your choices. Some suggestions” and the following with a list of 4 charities we support. Most people honored it, and the few gifts we got we either very special to us or from people who we knew would be horrified at anything that was not traditional.

27 Laura 08.21.07 at 9:51 am

My husband and I got married less than a year ago. If it was between us, a small ceremony would’ve been fine. We both have large familiesa nd they wanted a bigger wedding, so we compromised. Everyone was invited for the wedding ceremony at our congregation and the reception was kept as small as we could.

We were blessed with gifts, but they weren’t expected. Some of our friends and family are on a budget like us. We felt that it was more important to have our loved ones celebrate the day with us than have a gift.

It worked out for the best and we had a great time. It’s sad how people trivialize their wedding by determing the ‘income’ they’ll receive. Just have a smaller wedding if money is an issue.

28 Fabulously Broke 08.21.07 at 12:00 pm

We got married for under $1000 this year.

See post: http://fabulouslybrokeinthecity.blogspot.com/2007/06/1000-wedding.html

In fact, we just wanted to sign papers, but I thought a ceremony might appease the parents. We just had parents bring the food for our after-wedding feast in the backyard, we did NOT expect presents, a card at most, and it was only immediate family that was invited. There were Husband’s parents’ friends who also gave us gifts, but it was totally unexpected and much appreciated, since we didn’t invite them or any of our friends to it…

I hadn’t told all of my friends, but I got some unfavourable feedback for a ‘backyard wedding’ idea, from one of my friends who expected to be invited to a lavish wedding with open bar, etc…

See post: http://fabulouslybrokeinthecity.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-didnt-tell-my-friend-that-we-got.html

And now she just thinks we’re engaged……

29 devil 08.21.07 at 12:01 pm

We eloped in Las Vegas over 18 years ago, had a BLAST and have never regretted not having a formal wedding. What a hassle. I wanted a marriage, not an overpriced party.

Our families gave us gifts when we got home and we accepted them as graciously as possible. They were happy to give us gifts because they were SO relieved not to have to attend a BORING wedding.

30 dimes 08.21.07 at 1:05 pm

We did not have a traditional wedding and did not bother with a registry or anything like that, but the people who did want to congratulate us gave us checks here and there. We did not solicit and there was absolutely no pressure for anyone to give a gift, they just did if they chose to. When I’m invited to a wedding I generally don’t have any problems purchasing a gift unless the couple has lived together before the wedding and presumably has all the household trimmings. Young couples starting out DO need help setting up a household, and thoughtful gifts are very helpful in that regard.
What I have a problem with though are people who seem to think that their guests should purchase a gift that is comparable to the amount the bride and groom spent on them. OK, you overbudgeted and spent about $200 per guest. However, it is NOT appropriate to expect my husband and me to dole out $400 on gifts for you, in addition to the inconvenience and travel to attend your wedding. It’s never made sense to me why a guest must partake in the extravagance of his or her hosts.

31 Nicky 08.22.07 at 4:56 am

When my husband and I married, all we cared about was our friends and family getting there safely and having a good time. It was a HUGE wedding (350 guests), but the total came to only 5K. We said that if people really wanted to give us something, they could help us out with the big day. The vast majority of my thank you cards were to guests who blessed us with the gift of their time and energy.

We did register, but did not mention it on the invitations. Anyone interested just asked.

32 Iscah 08.22.07 at 6:17 am

My husband and I were married in July. We requested no gifts. We did it for two reasons. One we are trying to simplify and declutter our lives. We don’t need more stuff. We are adults who have already been living on our own. Second, this is the year of weddings for us. I will be a bridesmaid three times in the next 5 weeks and have attended 3 weddings already. This is a huge financial drain on people. We wanted people to come and celebrate our marriage with us, not feel obligated to buy us something.

Of course come people still gave us money which we accepted because they wanted to give. It did cause quite a stir with the other brides for whom I’ll be a bridesmaid. The have all felt compelled to share with me that they have to ask for gifts to recoup some of the wedding costs. My not asking for gifts all made them feel uncomfortable to ask for gifts.

Other friends just told me I was crazy. Oh well. Also our wedding was aroun $4,000 for 75 people and gorgouse. We kept it affordable for us and therefore didn’t have to “recoup” any costs.

33 Dan 08.22.07 at 6:54 am

You know…Every time I read an article like this I am thankful my wife and I did not go through this.

Thirteen years ago I married her while on leave from the USAF. I flew in, asked her to marry me on Monday, bought the license ($25) on Wednesday, got married at the court ($50 tip to the judge) on Friday and flew back overseas on Sunday.

34 Lazy Man 08.22.07 at 7:11 am

It’s interesting that you are looking for a reason why to accept wedding gifts. Since it’s the overwhelming norm to accept gifts, shouldn’t the question be “why not accept gifts?” It’s like wondering why people expect the sun to rise tomorrow.

Your example of the person expecting to make money on gifts is an absurd one… in most cases she’ll be shocked to learn that she’ll lose money.

We have tried to do the “no gifts” thing for every party we had, and it never works. It’s as if people need to give a gift to not feel indebted. And if you don’t register, you end up getting stuff that you would never even use.

It’s hard not to have the thoughts of gifts in the back of your head when planning a wedding. With the average wedding around $27,000 now, that’s an extremely big expense. I don’t know about you, but the last time I shelled out more than $25K on something, I assessed the overall financial value. That assessment has to include all the things that are likely to happen including receiving gifts.

Perhaps it’s like doing a home improvement project. You may be doing it for the comfort of the improvement, but it’s comforting to know that the value of your home will offset some of the costs.

35 EmilyPost Follower 08.22.07 at 8:14 am

This subject matter is so relative to the area of the country you are in. What is expected in the northeast is considered frivolous in the South. What is acceptable in the rural areas is considered too simple in the metropolitan areas. Growing up in the NYC metro area, I was taught when going to a wedding or any affair that you should “cover your plate” meaning your gift should cover the costs of the meal, etc. Quite often many people (especially out-of-towners) would be horrified to learn just how expensive a seat at a NY/NY/CT wedding reception has become. In our tri-state area, the average is $150/plate. Before I got married, I gave $200 but now that I know how expensive everything is I usually give $300+ as a gift from my husband & I, depending on the place & how close to the couple I am. For my close friends & family, I also always give a meaningful gift off their registry–one they will remember for years to come whenever they use it, ie. their teapot in their china pattern, etc. I always think of my friends/family whenever I use the special/cherished things they gave me as wedding gifts.

One mistake alot of insensitive people always make is they give gifts THEY would like to receive. When you’re first starting out, you need necessary items–dishes, coffeepots, etc. Expensive crystal figurines & (not my taste) knickknacks & tschotchkas were politely accepted then returned for the basics needed. Best to stick to the registry to learn what is still needed. Do not take offense at the sometimes big ticket items that are registered for. It is entirely acceptable to chip in with another couple, etc. for a group gift. A friend of mine needed furniture so badly that a group of her co-workers got together & collected enough $ at her office to buy her a loveseat! What a great thoughtful gift!

36 golbguru 08.22.07 at 9:00 am

Lazy: “It’s like wondering why people expect the sun to rise tomorrow.” - I am sure most of us take that for granted too. And if some of us hadn’t wondered about that a few centuries ago, we would still be living with the concept of geocentric model of the universe with a flat earth. :) It’s fun to question the norms; weird (and sometimes enlightening) things result from doing that. :) Sorry about going offtrack here, just thought I should mention this.

@ “That assessment has to include all the things that are likely to happen including receiving gifts.” - I guess it’s an ideological difference at this level. If you try to estimate the value of the gifts during the financial planning, you would probably start thinking in terms of using that leverage - and end up spending more than an *ideal* amount. I don’t have too many data points to establish that as a known phenomenon - but from whatever I have observed, that seems to be the case.

Dan: “asked her to marry me on Monday, bought the license ($25) on Wednesday, got married at the court ($50 tip to the judge) on Friday ” - now, that’s what I call a resourceful wedding. It’s good to hear stories that go against the *norm*.

Laura: “It’s sad how people trivialize their wedding by determing the ‘income’ they’ll receive. Just have a smaller wedding if money is an issue.” - Sad, but true. I think the mentality “it’s just for this one time - I deserve to splurge” comes into play for many people.

37 Dr. H 08.22.07 at 12:37 pm

Just wanted to note that I think the excuse for not suggesting donations to charity that “what if the guests don’t want to donate to something they don’t agree with on principle” is really weird. Are people really going to ask for donations to political parties or controversial groups for their wedding? The vast majority of charities help the environment, children, those who live in poverty. Is there really anyone out there who can’t give money to these charities because it is against their principles? For my wedding I created a charity registry at JustGive.org that did include Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, but also included the Nature Conservancy and organizations working to provide clean water in Africa, healthcare to the poor, etc. (note that I also provided a link to this registry on our wedding website and did not mention gifts on the invite, and also noted at the top of the webpage that all we really wanted was the pleasure of the guests’ company and that donations were merely if they so desired).

Finally I would like to note that wedding costs depend on the people having the wedding, not the location. I got married in suburban Connecticut (”the tri state area”) and we had our favorite Indian restaurant cater the food for $15 a plate. The food was great, I don’t have a clue why most people spend so much more for such generic food.

38 Tim 08.22.07 at 11:47 pm

i hate donations thing. my parents use to donate money in my name as a gift for my birthday or xmas, which absolutely annoyed the heck out of me. If you are going to donate, then do so for yourself.

as far as donations for weddings, if a couple chooses donations only thing, then nothing wrong with that. people don’t have to donate if they do not like the organization being donated to.

39 Pam 08.23.07 at 4:18 pm

I do not understand the concept of “recouping” costs! If I throw a dinner party, I don’t recoup any costs. ???
My wedding reception was the same concept - invite guests, share a meal, visit together, have fun.

40 Rubab 08.23.07 at 10:37 pm

There is concept of dowry as well, however everywhere local culture prevails; similarly people have developed ways to exchange gifts on weddings

41 Patrick 08.27.07 at 9:05 am

When my wife and I got married we already had just about everything we needed for our household, so we had her mother spread the word that we really didn’t have any wants or needs for gifts, and that people did not have to give anything if they did not want to. We didn’t register anywhere either. We stopped just short of telling people not to bring gifts though, because that can be insulting to some people. In the end we got several small gifts and a lot of cards - some of which held cash or a check. We were grateful for the gifts, but more so for the fact that our friends and family came.

42 MetaMommy 08.27.07 at 4:21 pm

My husband and I were married about 2 years ago. Neither of us were interested in a lavish wedding, but we did have about 60 people (friends and family). While we didn’t watch every penny spent, we didn’t go overboard. In the end, we wanted a nice evening for everyone to enjoy, as long we could afford it. Anyone looking to get gifts in order to afford a wedding…well, that’s a bad start to a new life IMHO.

When it came to gifts, we didn’t need anything, so we asked for charitable donations in lieu of gifts. That is, we asked for nothing, but those who wanted to give us something could go to a registry we set up with a list of our favorite charities. I chose a few charities across the spectrum to give donors a choice. We felt this was a reasonable compromise because we would feel terrible attending a wedding and not being able to give a gift for the same reason we always bring a dessert or a bottle of wine when invited to someone’s home for dinner. It’s just nice.

43 bride$maid 08.28.07 at 7:41 am

Ok I simply just had to reply to this when I read it.

I was a bridesmaid in my sisters wedding and it was the perfect example of what NOT TO DO.

As a bridesmaid I spent hundreds on my dress, and we were gouged on the alterations so badly. I hoped the bride would say something about what they were charging us “as a surprise” since she chose the place but no, not a word, over $100 just in alterations most of the SEVEN girls paid.

I was out of town so I spent a lot on travel, which was my choice, but left me not really being able to afford much after that.

Now to the wedding. Before the wedding we attended a fund-raising stag and doe, and I was told last minute that it was CUSTOMARY for the bridal party to donate all the gifts for prizes. So I spent about $50 on something people would actually want, when I get there most were like $10 or $20 gifts. Then we went to her bridal “money” shower. No gifts, just moolah. The maids put in “whatever they could afford” to get her a nice couch. I put in $100 but still was made to feel like that might not have been enough. I was often helping put things together so I got to hear a lot of the gossip and I know for a fact that it was talked about who gave what amount, and how some people were so “cheap” to give 50 at a shower and some people were so “nice” to give a lot. You don’t know what people’s financial situations are! It made me so angry. Then at the wedding there was no place for gifts either, we were asked to bring money. It’s not as if there was a registry either. I would have liked to get them a gift, personally, so that they would use it and think of us or have something they need. They’re a new couple and have a new house… I’m sure they need a lot!!

We also got gifts to be in the wedding party, which was a nice thought, but I hate to think they asked for all this money just to spend it on us. I rather have gotten no gift.

I would be embarrassed to accept money from old ladies and people who you know aren’t rich but have the mentality of “I should at least cover the cost of mine and my family’s plate!”. The wedding was pretty extravagant with all kinds of extras that weren’t necessary.. fireworks indoors??? food show?? They had an expensive honeymoon too, for two weeks, and I happen to know right before the wedding the groom bought diamond earrings. She also got a diamond wedding band too, not just a regular gold band.

My advice is, don’t get married if you’re too poor to afford your own wedding, and don’t ask people to fund your extravagant gifts to each other as well.

44 bride$maid 08.28.07 at 7:49 am

Oh I forgot to add that even though at the bridal shower all the guests were expected to give a lot of money (more than $50) apparently.. all the prizes to be won were from the dollar store!!!

45 Agree100% 09.09.07 at 1:28 pm

Sorry for responding so much, but this is one of my biggest issues with weddings today. My husband and I are in constant disagreement about this one. I feel it is totally unacceptable to word any invitation such that you desire money instead of a gift. In the past year, we have received at least 5 or so invitations where all had messages about the bride and groom’s desire to receive money rather than gifts or registry information. I feel it is very inappropriate, presumptious and selfish. My husband thinks it doesn’t matter. He says it’s the norm and people don’t know any better. My argument here is that if you pick up any book on wedding etiquette, it is clearly stated that registry information and asking for money in an invitation is a no no. For our wedding we did not include any information about our registry (and definitely not about receiving money) in our invitation. While we had a registry, we simply asked family and the bridal party to share the registry information word of mouth with only those people who *asked*, but to also share that gifts were not necessary. We were very concerned about the expenses incurred by guests and bridal party members. In the case of our bridal party, we paid for the hotel rooms for all who were from out of town. When choosing the bridesmaid dresses, I tried to accomodate everyone’s budget, and for those who could not afford the entire payment for the dress, I made up the difference myself. And we explicitly asked our attendents not to give any gifts. For guests traveling from out of town with limited budgets, we tried to make arrangements for them to ride with someone coming from the same area. To me, trying be sensitive to be sensitive to the budgets of our guests was much more important than receiving gifts. I do NOT think it’s reasonable for one to expect the guests to cover the cost of the plate. In the words of Michelle Singletary, “Shoot, why not just set up a register at the reception and charge admission to recoup the costs”? If you can’t afford the cost of your wedding on your own, you should scale back or wait until you can. There’s such an err of entitlement about our culture today. And lastly, those destination weddings …Forget about it!!! Again, this is another way for the bride and groom to save on their expenses at the expense of all the guests. And one couple who had a destination wedding, still expected gifts after guests spent thousands just to travel and stay at the resort for the wedding. Foolishness, I tell you!

46 Misa 09.10.07 at 1:13 am

People seem to expect gifts to “cover the cost of your plate”. I don’t understand the logic there. My husband and I got married in 2002 and our wedding cost maybe six hundred dollars, including cake and food costs. I actually think it cost closer much less (300 to 400), but I’ll give an upper figure of 600, just to “be safe”. That number, by the way, includes all food, invitations, my dress, my bridesmaids’ dresses, and my husband’s tux. (And, to be open here, part of the reason I’m not certain how much it cost exactly is that my mother paid for most of it. Thanks Mom!) But, always, always, we looked at it not as an expense to be “recouped” but something we were doing because we loved each other (we’d originally talked about doing something even smaller - with only immediate family, going away somewhere and getting married, or maybe even just getting married at a courthouse. In the end, my mother and little sisters were very upset by these ideas, wanting us to have a “real wedding” and that’s why I didn’t feel guilty letting my mom pay for most of it. She also had a bit more money than we did. In return, though, there were several things I “compromised” on, that she wanted. I wasn’t really a bride who needed to have everything “exactly this way” - just a few things.)

We were able to do this because we were more concerned about the marriage than the actual wedding. And so we were willing to “forgo the fancy stuff” for some more frugal options. For instance, I had a beautiful dress. But, I got it on sale. We’re not religious, but we got married in the church that I was baptized into as a child because the church was free - and I knew the man who would be the officiant from going to church there, as a child, with my father and my grandparents. We also didn’t have alcohol - partially because of the church’s policy, but also because it would have been VERY expensive. We did, however, have an italian soda “bar”, run mostly by my sisters and some cousins. Lots of people said that was unique and fun. It was also pretty frugal - we got the syrups from Cash and Carry, where the prices are something like two or three dollars a bottle, rather than the seven to ten you normally see. (And, even better, Cash and Carry doesn’t require a membership.) My mother, grandmother, an aunt (and her mother!), myself, and my sisters made my bridesmaids’ dresses (my bridesmaids’ were one of my best friends from junior high, a cousin from stepmother’s side of the family, and my three younger sisters).

And, when people said they weren’t sure what to get us, we always said that we didn’t expect a gift, but that if they wanted to give us a gift, they could do something to help with the wedding. So, my “uncle” (actually, my father’s cousin) did our photography. My stepfather worked at the Hilton, so he was able to get us a room there. A woman who was a friend of the family made our table centerpieces. Several members of our families/several of our friends were diabetic, so my stepmother made some pretty good tasting diabetic-friendly desserts. These were some of the best gifts we could have been given, because it meant we were able to have a nice reception - all we wanted was a small “party” with our friends and family there. There were still other gifts, mostly things we’d registered for. We really were one of those couples that needed help “starting out” - we were married in November (2002) and in August (2002), we’d moved out of a room we were renting together into our first “actual” apartment. So there were some things we didn’t have, and we got several of those things. I think the two “stuff” gifts we got from our wedding that we use the most are a kettle (from an uncle) and a quilt made by great-grandmother (it’s on our futon).

But we had friends who weren’t doing well financially and we told them just to come, that having them there was a gift enough. And we meant it - I don’t remember who didn’t bring a gift (though, as noted, I do remember some of the people who gave us the more thoughtful/useful gifts, because they were such a blessing). I think that maybe if people remembered that they have a choice, that they don’t HAVE to have a big, elaborate wedding, and that, really, this should be more about the marriage than the wedding, they’d be a lot better off and maybe a bit less greedy!

47 laska 09.18.07 at 8:07 am

I feel that giving and receiving gifts is a great tradition, which exists in most cultures for a reason - it brings joy to people. It seems an exaggeration to me to say that giving is a noble act that “extends beyond the boundaries of culture and tradition”. It is a generous act, I admit, but a very natural one. And giving would not exist without receiving. At our wedding, we let people know that gifts were not necessary, but I would never go as far as to say that we simply would not accept them (as the author of this post suggests). I wouldn’t like such a request made to me, if I was going to a friend’s wedding. That being said, I agree that gifts are never to be expected or to be viewed as “recouping the costs”. The extremes to which American weddings go with everything - diamond rings (who needs them?), unnecessary fancy decorations, bride-showers (nothing but an excuse for soliciting gifts and money) is ridiculous as many have commented here. However, I feel that there’s nothing wrong with accepting gifts that come from the heart and a desire to do something good for you.

48 Nick 10.01.07 at 8:27 pm

When I hear someone I know is getting married, do you know the first thought that crosses my mind?

“Great! This is going to cost me a fortune.”

Look, I’m anti-marriage. I don’t think anyone should get married ever. And I hate weddings. I loathe them. They are elaborate exercises in ego. Plus those $200 dollar a plate meals usually suck and I could buy a better meal for $25 at any decent restaurant.

So… when you invite me to your wedding you should be happy that I come and that I don’t tell you you’re a jerk for getting married. If you get a decent gift on top of that, be extra grateful. It means I care deeply about you.

49 Mrs. Micah 10.21.07 at 11:36 am

Well, anyone who gave me a gift over $7 covered the cost of their food at the wedding. But I didn’t make that calculation until a minute ago while reading this article.

I was very grateful for the gifts, since we didn’t have a lot of little important things that couples need, like casserole dishes, baking trays, (enough) bookcases, lamps. We also got used things like some couches, a great table, a set of pretty glasses, and an entertainment center. We accepted them as from friends and family who were helping us put together our home.

Paying for a wedding is paying for what you want. It shouldn’t be based on what you think you’ll get in return but what you can afford and how you want to honor your marriage (by being frugal, for example, or by having a big blowout because that makes you happy and you can afford it). If you want me to pay to come, I’ll send a card (no check) and invite you over for dinner sometime.

50 MoneyChangesThings 10.23.07 at 8:24 am

I’ve written about this from the guests’ point of view. It’s really hard to be true to one’s values when bossy brides and grooms tell you exactly what you’re supposed to buy them, and don’t communicate that they might appreciate something a guest would create or think they’d enjoy in their lifetime together….

51 hank 11.20.07 at 7:55 pm

I’ve been on here a time or 15 beforehand, but this is the first time I stumbledupon this post - absolutely ridiculous - that’s one of the reasons I had a cheap wedding. Yea, I missed out in getting gifts, but that’s really not what a wedding is for - people don’t pay to come to your wedding. I’d be willing to say 50% of people don’t even LIKE going to weddings for just that reason… I’m not a fan myself, that’s for sure… :)

52 Beth 12.01.07 at 10:41 pm

I’m rather shocked at the attitude on a lot of the posts here. On the one hand, I think that sometimes the amount of money spent on weddings is ridiculous. On the other hand, it’s judgmental and rude to assume that anyone who doesn’t scrimp on wedding costs is greedy and more focused on the wedding than on the marriage, which is completely false. Whatever happened to the spirit of giving? For a lot of people, a wedding is a joyous occasion and a memorable day. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to throw a nice, fun party for family and friends, and though that does not require anything lavish, there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to have nice food and decor.

Similarly, when it comes to gifts, the main problem is when there’s an expectation at all. I wouldn’t expect gifts at a wedding, but I also wouldn’t be rude enough to turn anything down or to tell people what they should or should not spend. I’m a student with a limited budget, and my friends who have gotten married thus far have tended to have very practical registries, so that they have something to use other than the broken hand-me-down utensils they had before. For a couple of close friends, I’ve also bought nice crystal candlesticks. It’s not a matter of recouping plate costs; in fact, for one of them, I was unable to attend the wedding. It was a matter of wanting to give them something pretty and nice, that wasn’t tacky, and that could be used for years to come. My mother received candlesticks at her wedding, and always uses them on special occasions. It’s something that makes people think of a home, instead of a student dorm. I wanted to give my friends something that they’d enjoy and that wouldn’t break after a couple uses, because I felt that they deserved it. I enjoy giving gifts to the people I love.

In short, just as I don’t understanding wanting to spend as much as possible, I don’t know why it’s a badge of honor to be as cheap as possible (if your budget does not require it) at what should be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

53 Munigrubber 01.31.08 at 1:04 pm

So so so tacky! What ever happened to good old-fashioned word of mouth that the Wedding is a “fundraiser”? Give them a gift card with $1.00 on it.

54 Munigrubber 01.31.08 at 1:15 pm


(What would Gandhi do?)

55 Beth 02.04.08 at 3:44 pm

Recently it seems I have seen people acting very selfish and tacky about wedding presents. Here are some examples:

1)I have a cousin who is having a wedding around 200 people in August 2008. She registered at FIVE places about three months ago. I do not have a problem with registering in itself. But five places and that far ahead?

2) The same cousin I have listed in #1 revealed they invited an old friend of the groom to the wedding who is a doctor. The sad part is they were “bragging” about how they were expecting an expensive gift from him since he is a doctor.

3) I work with a nurse who just appalled me about her gift greediness. We work in a medical setting that we see our patients on a regular basis. She made sure to mention to all of our patients when she was getting married and I guess must have told them where she was registered. Because the next thing I know a few patients had brought in gifts and she accepted them without hesitating. Even though this is directly against our companies policy…….. Here is the worst part. After the patients left she pulled up her registry online and was checking to see how much they spent!!!!! I did report this to my supervisor. Don’t want to seem like a tattle tale but this was just way out of line to me.

4) The person in number three came to work after her wedding complaining about the presents she received. Apparently, a couple of her friends only got cards. She just thought this was so horrible even though they had brought gifts to the wedding shower. She made the comment that she was NOT sending them “Thank-you” notes for just a card. How self-centered.

5) I have a relative who got married. After the wedding I was helping her by writing down who got her what for “thank-you cards.” I regretted this later. She kept complaining about how various people had only spent this much on her blah blah blah.

6) This is my last example and favorite. In collage me and a friend were going to Target to shop. Her roommate found out we were going to Target and asked to bum a ride. Apparently though she did not come to shop. She had registered for Target for her wedding and wanted to go their registry station to see what what people had gotten her. Apparently she was not happy with what she saw and literally threw a fit in Target.

56 FingerWagger 06.04.08 at 7:36 am

MAN, you guys are freaking MISERS. When a bride and a groom decide to invite you, they are writing a check (an expensive one) for to attend. Multiply that by 100+ guests, and you’re looking at a serious bill for them.
Now to all of you selfish people, crying and whining about how it’s so unfair to expect a small gift, shame on you. If you were fortunate enough for mommy and daddy to foot the wedding/honeymoon bill, then I don’t expect you to understand. But get this: LOTS of people aren’t as well off, and have to through their sweat and blood, give their hard-earned money so that you can get drunk on the dance floor.
Heck, I bet the majority of you scrooges spend more on a dinner for yourself than you do on a couple’s big day.
The bottom line is this: It is NOT taboo or tasteless for the bride and groom to want to “recoup” some of the costs of the wedding. If you disagree, just try taking out 10 of your friends at a regular sit-down restaurant (TRY RUBY TUESDAY, THEY’RE GREAT) 200 damn times (roughly $10 a plate * 200 = $20000, a modest wedding cost), and see if you are still as “generous”.

57 ashley 06.13.08 at 12:05 pm

if it comes from the heart then it shouldnt matter what it is.

58 Lin 07.24.09 at 8:20 am

Fingerwagger…I Completely agree!!! People do spend more for a regular dinner out than something for the Bride and groom on their special day…..

59 Kim 07.24.09 at 8:52 am

Fingerwagger and Lin:

You’re missing the point. If you want to throw an elaborate wedding, spending $100 or more on average per guest, that is your choice. That is the kind of elaborate wedding you wish for. Great. But should you invite me to your party and there is an expectation involved, whether it is a beach wedding where everyone is in flip flops and sunscreen or you are partying at the Ritz all night…make it clear up front. Perhaps you should sell tickets and make them available at Ticketmaster. Then I know going into it that it isn’t my presence on your happy day that you want, but a gift to recoup the cost of your party plus some. Then I can choose….hmmmm….The Miller Wedding is having a GREAT band and salmon in a cucumber mint sauce, but the Smiths are having grandpa’s old jazz quartet playing during the reception and serving hamburgers and baked beans. But the Miller Wedding is $250/ea, and the Smiths is $15/ea. Just let me know up front the expectations.

When I threw our wedding, we wanted people to come to share our special day and witness the beginning of our lives together. We weren’t out to score big in the gift department. I never once calculated the cost of the gifts, but the thought behind them and the remembrances from people we loved.

When I go to a wedding I give based on what I can afford, what I think might be very special to the newlyweds and enhance their lives together and frankly I haven’t a clue, nor do I ask, what they are spending on the party. And I expect the same. When I throw a party of ANY kind, my friends are not responsible for what I choose to spend on that party. They are not involved in whether I decide to install new lighting throughout the yard to enhance the party, whether I have it catered or do the cooking myself. I don’t involve them in the finances of the party at all. After all, it’s MY party. They are my GUESTS, not customers.

I think many people have very strange ideas about what a wedding and wedding reception are. And you are two who apparently want to put on an elaborate display to impress….whom? But, you want them to pay for your financial decisions about that day. Let me send you a bill to my next BBQ. You may pay at the door. Cash only, please. And remember to tip if you have a good time. 20% is customary.

60 Rachel 11.22.09 at 1:59 pm

People are so cheap. Just got married last Saturday $180 per head and the absolute sh*t that we got from about 60% of people was shocking. I reckon average spend was about $50 per person. Off!

61 Joan 01.05.10 at 5:56 pm

I am amazed at the cheapskate attitudes shown in this website toward the bride and groom. Frankly, I would prefer family and friends NOT attend my wedding if they can drop hundreds of dollars on a fancy dinner or night of drinking or travel but gave me a $50 gift card . Not only did the close relative and best man give us a $50 gift card they brought themselves and three young adult children and one “girlfriend”. Oh yeah, and they brought all of the same to the rehearsal dinner the night before. It cost us $600 for their six plates at the wedding and about $400 at the rehearsal dinner. I believe my in-laws remark was “Oh, I seldom order drinks out but since your paying….”. Did I mention how they packagecd up desserts from our dessert bar and took it with them? I really was not happy contributing toward their upper middle class lifestyle. Let’s see their combined income is over 300K. Give me a break. I always give a decent check (no gift) whether I attend or not. However for the young or impoverished family or friends invited … I am pleased with whatever they give. Its those who are flat out cheapskates looking for free meals and drinks that are tacky and disgusting. I informed my husband that his family member’s children would unfortunately pay for the sins of their parents. Becuase we will attend all of their weddings and provide a check for $50 and bring my children (2nd marriage) and their dates to even up the playing field. I could care less about how anyone feels about my thoughts on this matter. Its mean and hurtful to have a brother, sister, best friend, etc. cheap out on your wedding gift while living high. Its sickening.

62 KimB 01.05.10 at 11:53 pm


I’m very glad that we aren’t friends and that you did not invite me to your wedding. My husband and I have been married for 28 years. At no point did I care what gifts people gave us. I was thrilled that they were there to share our special day. To this day, there are 150 people that watched as we vowed to spend our lives together.

Life throws you a lot of crap. I measure my friendships by the time we spend together, by the laughs we have shared, by the tears we have cried, by the times we have been there for each other. I don’t care how much they make, unless they are going through a financial crisis and I can help them out. I have a limit of how much I spend on gifts. I hope my friends do as well. In fact, I celebrate my birthday by throwing a party and telling absolutely no one what the reason for the party is. I don’t throw it on my actual birthday so that no one feels like it is a birthday party and no one brings gifts. I get to treat my friends and myself by having everyone over for a fun time.

I would never throw a party (which is essentially what a wedding is) and calculate my return on investment. Blech.

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64 etiquette x le berlinois 01.18.15 at 3:27 am

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