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Thoughts on Weddings

March 23, 2009

By blog world standards, I’m quite slow on responding to this post by Dog Ate My Finances.  She was crucified already, and I don’t mean this as a personal attack…  Just a general attack on the big wedding thing as a whole.  She is not the first to follow and expect the “cover your plate” rule, maybe just the first to blog about it as a recipient who was not happy with her gifts.

My thoughts on wedding gifts:

  • I think “cover your plate” is tacky, especially as a host.  It is sort of tacky as a guest too — if you are going to a backyard wedding, you buy a cheaper gift?  I wouldn’t.  (Admittedly, I could be missing cultural implications, but I speak only of my own culture.)
  • If you really can’t afford a gift, a card is obviously necessary.  To not give anything is tacky.
  • But if someone gave me a cheap gift (or no gift) I know for sure I wouldn’t bother to remember or care about it.  Sure, it is human nature, but I seriously don’t think I would get worked up about it.  I have many flaws, but holding grudges just isn’t one of them.
  • I like gift cards to Target.
  • No, I would not show up with a $20 card for a wedding!  Even a backyard affair.
  • If you live in the area, sure, you can offer to help out….  But for family and close friends, I would be happy to help out with no matter what gift I plan to give!  I wouldn’t do it to offset my cost, but because they are my family/friend.
  • Reading stuff like this makes me hate weddings. Really.  Not marriages, just weddings.

In my parents generation (in my family) weddings were mostly backyard type affairs.  Yeah, they had big families, and no, they weren’t rich.  The food was potluck style, often prepared by the mom and aunts.  A keg is provided sometimes, but I think cash bar is common if you rent a venue.  And by venue, I mean the Elks Lodge with round tables and folding chairs–not some high end hotel.  People in sweatpants.  (No, seriously.  Someone wore athletic pants to one of my aunts wedding. )

Rude?  No class? Small-town? Sure, some would say that. (The athletic pants were a bit over the top.)

But the weddings were about celebration, about the family coming together.  The more the merrier, really truly. Gifts were appreciated and probably given by the majority of the guests.  But they probably weren’t large, and I can guarantee the bride and groom weren’t registering for $200 crystal vases.   People are as generous as they can be, but most people weren’t wealthy.  The focus is on the celebration, on everyone in a large family making an effort to get together and celebrate.

Times are changing, and the old backyard (or even church + hotel) wedding doesn’t seem to be good enough for the younger generation.  One cousin got married last fall, on the ocean in Laguna Beach.  It was the most beautiful wedding I’ve been to, but it probably cost over $30k.  Her dad covered some of it, but she covered some too.

But that’s her choice, you know?  Most members of my family spent a small fortune on traveling, so I really doubt she “covered” the cost in gifts.  I’m sure it’ll was a lot of fun, but thinking of any of my cousins tallying up gifts sort of makes me want to vomit.

I guess it is kind of like [insert disgusting act of your choice].  I know some people do it, but I think it is disgusting and I don’t want to hear about it.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2009 10:38 pm

    We got $20 gift cards like crazy because Utah in general is CHEAP! Seriously- really, really cheap. It’s honestly the culture out here. But it’s nice because they do add up quickly, and we used our gift cards to buy groceries for months after being married.

    Weddings are such a headache.

    Being married is great.

  2. March 24, 2009 5:20 am

    I do think cover your plate is tacky. A cheap gift wouldn’t bother me, but I also know the value of a dollar. A $20 giftcard to Target? Sweet! That’s $20 I didn’t have before and it was nice of my friends/family to get it for me. I can’t imagine giving $20 at a wedding – I think the smallest wedding gift I’ve given was closer to $50, but I don’t know anyone else’s financial situation, so I shouldn’t judge.

    I grew up in a small farming community. Wedding receptions are often held at the Knights of Columbus Hall or VFW. Buffet style roast beef and fried chicken for dinner, cake, and dancing. Usually a few kegs and some giant gatorade jugs (borrowed from the football team? I don’t know) fiilled with girly mixed drinks, and then cash bar for anything else you want. Always a great DJ. And these weddings are so much fun.

    I’m not saying that’s for everyone, but I agree – weddings are a headache and I think that perhaps we place too much emphasis on having a fancy pants event. If that’s what you want, that’s fine, but don’t do it because society says you should.

  3. March 24, 2009 8:35 am

    I think expecting gifts at all is tacky. They’re gifts…not a cover charge! I plan to have a wedding web site to keep people posted on things, and somewhere on there I’ll say that gifts are unnecessary, but appreciated.

    Wedding gifts were meant to set the couple up in their household, but many couples already have most of these things now. Personally, I’d love to get hand made things and family heirlooms like if my grandma passed on the traditional holiday china (since I’ve been designated to take over holidays).

    My fiance and I are paying for the wedding ourselves, and will NOT be using any credit for it. As such, there’s no need to cover a plate and any cash gifts will be directed to a house down payment fund.

    Brides need to get over themselves and their gimme gimme princess attitude. Sure, it’s your day, but it’s also your fiance’s, and the parents usually are pretty excited too. While you are a guest of honor, you’re also playing a hostess role and it’s your job to make sure your guests have a good time, bridal party included.

  4. March 24, 2009 11:54 am

    I read the original blog post and never got around to commenting. Something that also bothers me, besides the ‘cover your plate’ mentality, is that many couples expect servitude if you don’t have cash (i.e. graphic design, assembling flowers, folding thousand tiny paper cranes — these are real examples). I think it’s nice for someone to offer but not everyone has the TIME either, especially if it’s wedding season.

    People may spend months or a year planning their wedding but forget that their wedding is not the center of other people’s lives.

  5. March 24, 2009 12:08 pm

    “People may spend months or a year planning their wedding but forget that their wedding is not the center of other people’s lives.”

    I think you hit the nail on the head with that. Many brides do get that it is not as important to the rest of the world as it is to them, but I can imagine it is easy to forget if you have spent a lot of time planning and obsessing over the details, not to mention spending a chunk of cash.

    I love weddings and love celebrating with friends and family, and yeah, it is important. But so are a lot of other things in my life.

  6. March 24, 2009 12:25 pm

    My now former best friend got married last summer…we had a fall out immediately following her wedding due to my not making her wedding the center of her universe and her acting like a spoiled brat regarding presents.

    I only gave about $30 worth of registry gift, and then I got her a piece of art that I thought she’d love that was was not on the registry (my first mistake).

    After my $50 shower gift, $150 towards the bachlorette party, and the $120 for a hotel room, $100 in gas, and $150 for a dress I otherwise would not have bought I do not feel bad about a $35 gift.

    Her wedding cost $50,000 because SHE CHOOSE TO DO THAT, and her parents paid for it, and they already lived together and had more than any two people ever need.

    Her wedding made me realize what is important to me and what I will absolutely NOT do and how I will NOT handle my wedding.

    Brides need to get over it. It’s just a party.

  7. March 24, 2009 12:27 pm

    I guess I missed that original post and am even a little late in responding to this post, but I agree with you. My roommate and best friend since forever is getting married this summer and I know first-hand how crazy and insane some of the expectations are for the guests. I think it’s also a little crazy some of the expectations for the bride/wedding party. Her mom’s expectations are so high for the wedding that it has become “unproper” to send an invitation without having a lined inner envelope. Or it is required for all the bridesmaid to have the same $80 shoes. Or it would be unacceptable to have anything less than an open bar. I know it’s their money and they can do whatever they want, but I just hate the thought that people expect and judge you on what a wedding should or should not look like.

  8. March 24, 2009 12:31 pm

    I honestly hate weddings. Hate them so much, that i’m probably going to elope. I love family gatherings, I would love for my family to experience my wedding, but it will be a logistical nightmare getting everybody to where I want to have my wedding, and I honestly do not want to spend money on supposedly ‘the happiest day of my life’.

    The cover your plate concept is beyond tacky. Guests should be invited because the bride and groom want their presence during their ‘special time’, not because they want/need gifts that they can’t buy on their own because they spent $xx,xxx on a wedding.

    One of my friends is getting married in September. I had to buy a gift for her engagement party, now one for her bridal shower, and later this year, for the wedding itself. For everything, she had a regstry. Imagine that! And i’m talking, Tiffany’s & Co registry here. $200 for a dish the size of a coaster. $150 for ONE glass. I’m sorry, but I feel lame showing up to an event with just one dish, or one spoon, or one glass, but I can’t afford to buy her a whole set. Multiply that by 3 events, and you’re looking at around $300-$600 in gifts for ONE friend’s wedding alone.

    It makes me sick how some people just turn it into a big production like their lives depended on it.

  9. March 24, 2009 12:33 pm

    I had never heard of the cover your plate tradition until recently, it’s certainly not very widespread as I grew up on both coasts. Growing up I was taught to always bring a gift, preferably something thoughtful, and nothing cheap. Never ever cash, cash is just tacky. My friends weddings each cost $25,000 and up, why should I pay more for a gift because their parents shelled out big bucks.

    We’re talking about a May wedding next year and I’m dreading the cost a bit. I’m certainly not counting on a single gift, we’re in our 30’s and have everything we need. I just want to have something fun with good food and drink. Oh and a nice dress, it’s one thing I’ll splurge on. I wear holey jeans in real life, for one day I want to dress like royalty.

  10. March 24, 2009 1:47 pm


    I started writing a post about this too, but eventually gave up fumbling for the right words. I do think it’s tacky to not give a gift, but I can’t imagine comparing gift tags to the guest list and finding out what gifts people gave. I don’t expect to give it much thought. (Really, I’d prefer not getting presents because we make enough money, and we’re throwing a wedding we can afford.)

    I can almost understand noticing (even if I probably won’t), but I can’t understand blogging about it and writing posts defending your attitude. The “it’s my culture” defense doesn’t fly with me either – selfish is not a culture!

    “People may spend months or a year planning their wedding but forget that their wedding is not the center of other people’s lives.”
    This made me laugh because all my family can talk about is my wedding. I probably am the one who cares the least!

  11. March 24, 2009 4:47 pm

    @LA Daze – I know what you mean. It is getting more and more likely I’m not having the standard big production wedding. I just don’t want it.

    @Miss M – I would sort of expect something for a gift, but I don’t think I’ll suddenly develop a need for fine china. Or be disappointed if some people didn’t give me one.

    @paranoid asteroid – I don’t think you are the average bride! I like this: “selfish isn’t a culture”. I try to be careful not to step on toes about cultural stuff, because I can be pretty oblivious to it, but.. yeah.

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