The complicated etiquette around gifting and weddings

Later this month I am attending two weddings. These weddings are for friends who I used to be very close with. I would still consider us “good friends”, but I haven’t seen much of either friend because of distance or life circumstances (and maybe a tiny bit of laziness on all our parts). These two weddings also happen to be less than one week apart.

I’m very happy for my friends. I want to celebrate in their upcoming unions. However, the reality is that these weddings are breaking my wallet.

I don’t like the fact that I am equating their nuptials with money. It’s not about the money, it’s about the celebration of two people coming together, hopefully for a long time. But it’s hard not to think about the dollars with all the parties involved.

One friend had a surprise wedding shower. Money was asked for specifically, so I gave $50. Any less felt cheap, but I don’t think I could have parted with more. Obviously the bride-to-be is the center of the party, so I got to speak with her briefly before she had to leave to entertain other guests.

My other friend is having TWO wedding showers. I didn’t know that you could have two. She doesn’t know about either of them, so I can’t fault her. There’s also a bachelorette party. I can only attend one shower, and the other weddings is on the night of the bachelorette so I can’t attend that either. But if I was free, I would probably attend, and then things would be even more pricey.

Part of my problem is that I, personally, would not have a wedding shower. I would feel really uncomfortable having a party where the primary purpose is to collect gifts. I know that this is likely not supposed to be the primary purpose (for some people, anyway) but when all we’re really doing is sitting around, eating some sandwiches, and watching someone open gifts, it’s hard not to feel like this is the central point of the party.

Plus, guests are expected to bring gifts to the wedding, too. In my culture we’re expected to cover our plate plus a bit more depending on the relationship with the bride/groom. Because these are my friends, and not BF’s friends, I am covering both of us at each wedding. That means I’ll gift $400 total between these two weddings, plus the $100 given at the showers. It’s a lot of money over a very short time period.

BF and I at a wedding

Some wedding fun at an event last year. I stole the hat from another guest. I think we’re trying to look tough, not quite sure if we pulled it off though.

I had to make a rule for myself to guide my spending for these weddings. When I received the invitation for the first friend’s wedding shower, I decided that I would give $50, then $200 at the wedding. I received the second wedding shower invitation late, so for a while I didn’t think it was going to happen. In that case I would have given that couple $250. But then I got the invite, so my plan reverted back to the first option.

I recently told my mom that I didn’t want a wedding shower (whenever I get married – I’m not engaged). She stared at me, totally shocked. “What? You have to have a wedding shower. That’s where you get all the good gifts.” I told her that I didn’t want a bunch of stuff, we already have lots of house stuff since we live on our own, and people would give money/gifts at the wedding anyway so how can I ask for even more? She kept insisting though, and I later instructed sister that whenever I get married, under no circumstances do I want a traditional wedding shower.

I think a fun outing would be nice , like maybe going for a semi fancy meal or doing an outdoor activity. And instead of giving gifts, the party would be about being together and enjoying each other’s company. I guess that’s kind of like a bacherlorette. But you get the idea.

Fabulously Broke recently blogged about all the life events people are expected to attend and bring gifts to. There are a lot of events related to getting married, having a baby, and even getting divorced. She brings up a good point – what if someone chooses to be single? What about couples who never marry? Or people who just can’t afford to get married and throw a big party? These groups all seem to get the short end of the stick – they are expected to attend the parties, but they can’t (or won’t) ever throw their own.

I should add that I’m not judging people who decide to have these parties. They are all part of the celebration that leads to a marriage. All couples are unique and should maintain the traditions that are important to them. However, I do think that sometimes when people do things differently (like me suggesting to my mom that I do not want a shower), it can be hard for others to understand, and you may hit some walls put up by family members or friends who don’t agree. And I know it’s “your day” and all, but sometimes it’s just not worth it to put up a fight.

My ideal wedding? I loved the wedding in Rachel Getting Married (minus the crazy sister part). It was intimate, everything had meaning, and everybody seemed like they were part of the day and not just a bystander. Now if only I had a giant house to lay claim to…

What are your thoughts on gifts for weddings (and the corresponding engagement parties, wedding showers, bachelorettes, etc)? Do you have a rule of thumb you use as a guide when it comes to gifting?

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6 Responses to The complicated etiquette around gifting and weddings

  1. That’s the problem — surprise showers. But when people PURPOSEFULLY say: Hey I’m throwing a shower and you have to bring a gift from my registry at least $50 worth… that’s where I think — whaaa?

    It really feels like a moneygrubbing sort of attitude. “It’s my due, give me stuff!”

    Then again, lots of other people don’t do or feel that.. so *shrug*.. it’s hard to say.

  2. Oh!! And thank you so much for the link 🙂 Much appreciated.

  3. I’m feeling your pain, girl.

    Weddings are just so expensive! I wish I could just pay to cover the “plate cost” but then I end up looking cheap.

    I haven’t really heard of wedding showers, but that just seems a bit cheesy!

    I haven’t even got the courage to host a house warming yet.. I think the idea of having a party to collect gifts is difficult for me.

    • Obsessive Compulsive Daniela says:

      Agreed, and I feel especially cheap because I make decent money. But the selfish part of me says it’s still money that I want to save.

      House warmings are nice, people will bring wine, and maybe some odds and ends – much more reasonable. And you can cook them a super nice meal to compensate!

  4. No wedding shower for me when I got married last year. 22 guests at the wedding, outfits we both already owned, no honeymoon, no presents and dinner at an all you can eat buffet, where each person paid for themselves. We had both been married before, we didn’t need anything else 🙂

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