Advice columnist Carolyn Hax: Find a photo of the couple and send it to them framed; assemble your 20 favorite recipes for entertaining. There are a million ways to say, for little to no money, that you’re grateful for your inclusion and you wish the couple well.
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: Are wedding presents still mandatory? Is it poor taste to skip out? I am heading out of town for a wedding. It will cost both me and my boyfriend more than $400 each to just fly out and stay for the weekend. My cousin and her boyfriend both make more than we do and are in a more than comfortable position to stock their new home with all the fixings on their registry.
I am making the financial effort to be there and I think that’s more than enough. My aunt and mother disagree and my aunt even said it’s rude to show up without a check or a gift of the equivalent price to cover the cost of your dinner on the big day.
I did not think I had to pay back the bride and groom for my attendance to the party they invited me to.
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— Wedding Guest
DEAR WEDDING GUEST: Your aunt is wrong, so wrong, Miss-Manners’-hands-thrown-up-in-gentle-despair wrong. Ugh. Wedding gifts are not “still” mandatory because they never were (at least not in my wedding-attending-lifetime). And the idea of having to repay the host for your hospitality is bogus and disgusting. Bogusting.
The better question, in fact, might be, “Are wedding presents still being treated as a mandatory part of an imaginary wedding quid-pro-quo by people who have never consulted a reputable etiquette guide”? The answer to that being an emphatic, yes!, apparently.
Pick out and inscribe a thoughtful card; find a photo of the couple and send it to them framed; write a poem. Assemble your 20 favorite recipes for entertaining. There are a million ways to say, for little to no money, that you’re grateful for your inclusion and you wish the couple well.
And don’t bring gifts with you to weddings; mail them. Managing people’s emotionally laden parcels while trying to throw a wedding is just another headache-to-be.
RE: GIFT: If you have some/all of Grandma’s recipes, then assemble them in a book; binding is done at copy shops for next to nothing. Believe me, the bride will open it and cry, AND your mom and aunt will be clamoring for a copy.
— Gifts With Heart
RE: AUNT: DEAR GIFTS WITH HEART: Tell your aunt that if this is true, then every guest gets a vote on the couple’s wedding choices to control costs. Do they really need beef on the menu? And who approved those $400 centerpieces?
DEAR ANONYMOUS: I’m getting married in a few months and I already sent out save-the-date cards. A friend of mine was speaking with a not-invited friend (who doesn’t know she did not get a save-the-date card) about their plans for the wedding. Invited Friend informed me that Not Invited Friend would be offended by lack of invitation and she would therefore bring Not Invited Friend as her “Plus 1.”
Invited Friend was not getting a “Plus 1” because my space is VERY LIMITED.
They continued to make plans to come. To avoid hurting Not Invited Friend’s feelings, I will now invite her.
I feel like Invited Friend really overstepped. I don’t know if I should let it go or have it out. Thoughts?
DEAR BULLIED: “OK, Invited Friend, I fixed it, she’s invited. Please don’t do that again.”