Just roll with it, writes Carolyn Hax. When that’s not an option, say no.
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: Friends who pretty much grew up and married decades ago find some modern wedding practices to be … well, very interesting. Are we just too out of touch when it comes to questioning destination events to propose, and expectations that parents are to pay for certain pre-wedding parties but not have much of a say? Registries are announced on invitations and gifts aren’t supposed to be wrapped, just bring them.
Any thoughts on broaching this generational disconnect? Are we from too conservative a generation? Or have the times shifted to a grin-and-get-over-it mode?
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DEAR DISCONNECTED: I think the more you can roll with it and the less you harrumph your way through it, the better. But that’s hardly new.
If that’s not possible and/or when rolling with something you dislike involves time and money you don’t want to part with, then just say no.
I’ll apply this 1-2 strategy to your examples:
• Destination events to propose? Not your business, so not yours to question. (Or approve of or attend, for that matter.)
• Expectations that parents are to pay for certain pre-wedding parties? If you don’t want to host or pay for something, then don’t. If you don’t mind the money but it’s the event that bugs you, then give a no-strings cash gift of an amount that feels appropriate.
• Registries are announced on invitations? How convenient. Otherwise not your business.
• Gifts aren’t supposed to be wrapped … just bring them? OK then — save postage and save a tree.
• Not having much of a say? No changes there, actually, since it’s the couple’s wedding, not Mom’s or Dad’s. Contribute within your limits and, again, without strings.
Grinning and getting over it in general seems like a fine approach to anything other people do that’s generally well-meaning and doesn’t do you any harm. “Hmm, interesting.” Better than, “Get off my lawn.”
Re: Disconnected: Etiquette has never, not ever, been static, and yet every generation thinks their forms of etiquette have existed since time immemorial. Your great-grandparents would have been appalled beyond words by your children not opening their wedding gifts at the ceremony and showing them off with fervent public thanks. Your early 19th-century ancestors would wonder what an engagement ring is.
DEAR ANONYMOUS: I heart this with all my heart. Thank you.
Can we get a 21st-century movement going to wonder what an engagement ring is really for?
Re: Disconnect: I’m in my mid-30s, and a lot of my friends already have households and all the associated trappings — china, silverware, linens — that are traditionally associated with wedding gifts. I, personally, am not a huge fan of donations to honeymoons and destination events, but I’m slowly getting over it. If someone wants to use gift money on a great event that they’ll remember fondly for years, instead of a third set of china, that’s a sensible and legitimate choice.
— Getting Over It
DEAR GETTING OVER IT: I’m glad you brought this up, because I’ve come around on a lot of things, too. Shakedowns, no, but expressing a preference for experiences versus stuff? Using registries creatively instead of locking them into the past? Absolutely.