I think in the UK the cash bar/open bar thing is more of a class divide. FWIW I grew up in a working class/poor area and I have only ever been to one cash bar wedding in my life – it was such an unusual experience for most of us that a lot of people quietly discussed it to each other as the evening ran on (mostly in the context of assuming that the pay bar was dictated by the rather fancy venue, rather than any judgement against the couple for the choice they made)
It’s all about the managing of expectations, I think. Those both sound like valid ways to do things. It just sucks if that’s not established, and then it’s like– uh.. what did I do? Why don’t you want to give me gifts any more?
The friendship has not endured (and honestly… they ended up getting divorced about a year later and my first thought was “oh you have time to file divorce paperwork but not to send me a thank you note??” I’m not proud, but yeah.)
Yes, a childish voice in Cottia cried; but she looked at Nissa’s downcast eyes, and could not say it. “No-o,” she said, slowly. “No, it is…it is in the manner of a thank-you, for all these years you cared for me.”
I think it really has to depend on your relationship with the couple. For most weddings of friends we’ve spent around £50 on a small gift or honeymoon contribution. Some may feel this is stingy but these are all couples who live together and have explicitly stated on their invites that they were not expecting gifts.
I am so guilty of having just done something like that. R was talking about maybe buying a really nice new pan to replace his old set as we moved in this past weekend.
“No, but I am sorry. And even if no one thanks a slave, still you deserved to be thanked, and I never thought – oh, Nissa, sometimes I think I’m too thoughtless to get married.” Heat rushed up in Cottia’s cheeks. “I don’t want to be any longer in Calleva,” she said, “and I know Marcus must go and claim his land, and I do not want to be left out of this adventure too. But I don’t know if I can run a household – ”
Of course, if the pot BREAKS, I’ll just replace it.
I have an uncle like that. He’s my godfather, and when I was in my late twenties he sent my dad an email asking my parents to tell me he didn’t want to exchange Christmas presents with me anymore. But he made it clear he still expected my parents to buy his daughter (my dad’s goddaughter) a gift. Some people are just go through life treating relationships like transactions, and they’re never going to be happy.
I don’t think weddings are a ploy for presents at all, but they do often come with them and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying or looking forward to that!
It can be tough. I also think because people vary so much in what degree of “distance” they use as a guest list cut off, for a bunch of reasons. But definitely, unless you gave birth to the bride or groom (with some huge caveats and exceptions even there) you don’t have an unalienable right to attend the wedding.
I know exactly what you mean! I totally didn’t miss the gifts I might have gotten from my uncles… but it sure made me question how they felt about me as a person.
Cottia pushed back a sigh. Nissa would go on like this. “No, please ask,” she said.
“Cottia,” said Nissa, and smiled, her nervous birdlike smile. She plucked at the mantle on her lap, folded it and unfolded it again, and said, “Could I ask a thing of you, milady? It is only a little favor, a very little one, and perhaps I ought not ask it after all, when you have already so favored me, but – ”
I guess we never got to that part of the food service contract since we told them off the top we wanted an open bar. The only thing that was free was water.
And so attitudes on gifts aren’t necessarily the same. People are free to let that reflect in their gifts if they choose. But calling such an event “gift grabby” makes unwarranted assumptions about a couple – that the only value they see in their reception guests is their wallets.
I usually go by the rule of gifting a sum close to the cost I think the couple will be paying to have me/us there. If I am particularly close to the couple, I will give more to reflect that.
I’m getting married next year and my fiancé and I are having a really difficult time deciding what to do regarding gifts. We’ve lived together for several years and bought our first house last summer so there really isn’t anything we need.
Wow, really? Now I can’t imagine going to a wedding and paying for my own non-alcoholic drinks!
Marcus and Esca both looked startled, and well they might, for their backs had been on Cottia as she slipped into the Aquila garden. She was too old, perhaps, to come sneaking through the bushes, and the melting slush soaked her thin slippers; but she did not care.
My parents were married very young – and all of their housewares were wedding gifts. I distinctly remember the year my parents bought me a cuisinart for my birthday (I was very, very single) – and my dad said to me, “I think we have to accept that you are an adult now, whether or not you are married.”
“But the very act of having a wedding itself isn’t a ploy for presents (what a bad idea if it was, if you know how much weddings can cost compared to toasters and blenders).”
Reminds me of that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie goes on a rant about buying gifts for everyone’s wedding shower/wedding/baby shower/baby. . .
Although the details are patchy (and we are only hearing one side of the story), it has prompted an interesting debate: how much should you spend on a wedding gift? We asked our readers and here’s what they said (spoiler: it may be less than you’d think).
As a single person, I think my maximum was about £120 for a very close friend, in addition to the cost of travelling abroad for the wedding. The money was for an espresso maker that she told me she wanted. The gift was well received and my effort to travel to her wedding very appreciated. We had a lovely time.
Wedding present for my auntie
My husband and I were invited to something like that once, it was handled much more graciously, and it was really fun. There was a big group of guys who were teammates of the groom, and they couldn’t invite everyone to the ceremony and dinner. But inviting them all to the reception (safely after dinner was over), was a nice way to include folks but not pick and choose from the team. We brought a gift but didn’t feel obligated to, and we had a nice time.
And also, the all-church ceremony invitations were printed in the church bulletin, so you knew that if you did not get an official invitation, you were not invited to the reception, so it was clear from the beginning…
So I don’t hold a grudge, at all. But if I had been told that I wasn’t invited to the wedding, and was invited to dance and party afterward, I wouldn’t have travelled for the wedding, and would have taken the couple out for dinner to celebrate later on instead.
I said, “Well, if we’re getting married sometime in the next year or so, it’s something we could put onto a registry, because people love buying something like that to last and be useful. Otherwise, yeah, we could just wait for them to go on sale.”
It was an awesome time, BUT our group totally knew that it was the expectation going in, so we planned ahead.
“No – ” Cottia was embarrassed, and found herself poking her toe at the slush. She felt like a spoiled child under his gaze, and she resented it, far more than she had ever resented the tie between him and Marcus.
Also, to add on to my comment – the ‘should I buy it now or register’ question DOES make sense to me when you are engaged or foresee being engaged soon. But I have friends who are single, not dating anyone, who won’t buy nicer storage because ‘well I’ll register for that.’ That doesn’t make as much sense to me as someone who would go insane waiting potentially years for a kitchen I don’t hate, ha!
Just to say this is very common in the UK – especially for work colleagues! I don’t mind being invited to the ‘Evening Do / Reception’ by someone who I wouldn’t consider a very close friend. However I do cringe a little at the thought of having to do it myself. I think it would feel a little like splitting people in tier A and B level friends…
"My aunt Valaria means to give us Nissa as a wedding present, to go with us and spy on me!" Cottia cried.
But before Cottia could sit, Nissa’s voice rose above the garden wall. “My lady Camilla!” she called. “Lady Camilla! Ladybird, where are you?”
Bridal Shower Gifts: 6 Gift-Giving Tips - Bridesmaids - Mother of the ...
Second weddings don’t deserve loved ones attending? She thinks you had a wedding is just to get gifts? Unbelievable!
On the open bar topic – I’m the exact opposite. I’d never have an open bar or any alcohol at my *hypothetical* future wedding. I don’t drink, I can’t imagine my future partner drinking, and my religious tradition strongly frowns on the consumption of alcohol. It is just not something that make’s sense in our little subculture.
The main change in wedding etiquette over the years is that, while in the past it was considered extremely distasteful to give money, now this has become the norm. Personally, I still prefer to give something tangible as a present.
But he spoke true, so she said, “No, you are right. I did not think of that. I could…” She twisted her bracelet around her wrist, thinking, and avoiding Esca’s eyes. “I could free her! Yes! Marcus, what think you of that?”