Financial Compensating Friends Who Help At The Wedding

by admin on February 29, 2012

I have a situation that happened a while ago and hadn’t thought of in over a year but it recently came back up and it’s really gnawing at me that I can’t figure out if I am overreacting or not. I’m usually pretty quick to admit my flaws but this is something I thought I was right about and now I just don’t know! I need your teachings as I have gotten before and I would appreciate the feedback of your loyal readers as well. I will warn you I wrote the story first and realized it was long but I felt the history of the wedding and background of the friendship had to be included at least a little bit so you would see this is not a situation between strangers or acquaintances:

I just want to say that I really do love your site. I discovered it in 2010 shortly before my wedding when my boss and I had a disagreement about discouraging guests from bringing gifts to the wedding happening in August. I was having a very casual destination wedding at a state park and because everyone was traveling I wanted to say something in my wedding newsletter (invite, map, various pet friendly hotels, fun things to do when in the tourist town, etc. rolled into one) to let guests know that gifts were not necessary, we just wanted a celebration with our closest friends and family. Anyway after my boss got upset at the idea that I would turn away gifts (which I would never!) I researched your site and my eyes were open- nothing mentioned and still no registry, everyone’s happy. It was an education for me as my etiquette had previously been a mix of common sense and winging it.

Anyways, trying to have a budget wedding within our means we kept it small and reached out to some friends with certain expertise. One of my best friends took wonderful wedding photos at no charge- a life saver. A friend of my MIL arranged the silk flowers for my bouquet, corsages, etc. We were paying for our wedding ourselves though our parents did want to chip in by helping with the DIY decorations and a couple of things to make the outdoor wedding more convenient (a tent for changing and for people to lie down if the heat got to them, an air conditioner and generator, etc.) My husband’s friend B and her then fiancé M (they were getting married almost a month later) put together some music for the ceremony (only a few minutes) and a loop of about 20 songs or so that we had discussed for the reception. M worked at a music studio for a living and they were so kind and helpful and understanding of my concerns about the music not being offensive due to the amount of elderly and children alike.

Some background: My husband has known B since childhood. Their fathers knew each other since before kindergarten and are best friends so obviously B is a family friend. I know B and her father somewhat well. B’s father, E, is a millionaire and B worked part-time for E for a time but never really had to worry about paying anything or earning money as she has been given a huge trust fund. Sometimes B had a spoiled rich girl outlook on life but I thought she was a fairly sweet girl and figured that was the kind of thing that changed with age and experience. Okay, that’s the background, here’s the situation.

B and M arrive about a half hour before the ceremony so we can do a quick timing of the processional song to make sure it was cued right. They were really great. They put the loop on for the reception and were able to enjoy it as guests and not workers. We had a blast and it was mostly within our means though between payday and honeymoon we were stretched pretty tight. My parents heard my husband and I discussing if we could afford to maybe pay each B&M and my friend who did the photos a token of gratitude in return. We knew they each probably did the services as wedding gifts but we felt that they had gone well beyond any expectation that we had and put in so much time and effort. They were so professional, did an amazing job, spent countless time with us planning ahead of time, lugging equipment and took their tasks so seriously running around like crazy even though we wanted them to not worry and enjoy themselves. We felt they worked too hard and wanted to show them we appreciated what they did to help make our wedding perfect- we couldn’t pay them as much as professionals would get but we felt like we needed to compensate them for hauling equipment, film, etc.

My parents overheard the conversation and insisted they wanted to pay (my friend who did the photos is like a daughter to them) and we discussed what we thought would be fair considering everything. My mother went to give B a check for $300 (I know it’s modest but it was really all that could be done within the means of myself, my husband and our families). B attempted to graciously refuse it but my mother insisted. To be honest my husband and I were sure B would not cash the check, she does not need the money and obviously only took it to be polite, but it was more the gesture of appreciation we wanted to extend and were really grateful that my parents were so willing to offer to help in that respect.

By the way, every thank you card was sent out within 2 weeks of the wedding. They were sent to everyone who attended to thank them for sharing our special day with a specific notation about a conversation from the reception or how cute their child was dancing. If they also brought a gift we included how much we appreciated the sentiment and generosity and how we had or planned to use it. Anyone who sent a congratulatory card but could not attend was also sent a thank you note. They were all personal and sentimental (not difficult since it was all family and friends) and handwritten by myself and my husband. I was proud and relieved when they were all mailed knowing we hadn’t overlooked anyone.

Fast forward a month, toward the end of September, we purchase a gift for B and M’s wedding and have it shipped to their home. We attend the wedding which was an extravagant affair and during the reception, when we cannot find a place to put our monetary gift, try to give it to M who refuses. My husband is good natured and doesn’t seem to mind one way or the other after the third attempt. I’m embarrassed but keep my mouth shut, it’s their wedding, they don’t have to accept money if they don’t want to.

Sometime around Christmas I check the mail and see they have sent a thank you card. I am pleased until I open it up. It’s a quick note thanking us for giving them a gift and inviting us to come try out their new pool soon… with my parents’ voided check inside…

Here’s the thing, I don’t think B was trying to be malicious. I really don’t. I think she just doesn’t know any better but my feelings were hurt and I was really shocked. Couldn’t she have just not cashed the check and left it at that?? I am upset for a couple of days. My husband and I disagree. He’s pretty easygoing and doesn’t get upset often and just says that is how she was raised and not to worry about it, we can’t change her. I think what she did was hurtful and careless. She’s made it very clear that she feels sorry for us because she thinks we’re poor (I mean we ARE but we aren’t destitute and when someone invites us to a wedding we save ahead of time and try to be generous within our means). I think that what she did could have been perceived as her flaunting her money and how she doesn’t need ours, it may not have been intended that way but it certainly could have been perceived that way. So I think it was reckless of her to do that without thinking of the consequences. I generally don’t hold grudges as long as I speak my mind but deciding it was probably best not to confront her about this it took me a little longer so I brooded for two days and let it go.

So anyways, 2 days of ‘I can’t believe that’ and I moved on. We were recently visiting family and somehow the wedding came up and that somehow led to my father mentioning the check. I didn’t say much except that I didn’t think she did it to be malicious and my father agreed and my husband again stated that was how she was raised and I may have made a comment about no one being raised to be rude. However the conversation moved on and I couldn’t help being troubled by it.

Did I originally overreact? Am I still overreacting if I still think it was a terribly rude thing to do? Am I being selfish and stubborn? I can’t help feeling like she really didn’t have to let us know she wasn’t going to cash the check much less including it in our THANK YOU note! It felt like she was saying, Thanks for the show of appreciation, but no thanks!

I was able to let it go after 2 days before but it’s been 3 days now and I am wondering if maybe we started this somehow. Did we make her think that we didn’t appreciate her gift by allowing and endorsing my parents to give her the check? Did she feel like it undervalued the gift of the music? At the time that never would have occurred to me as I spent painstaking hours picking out personal gifts for the men and women in our families that contributed to helping with our wedding. They chose to supplement our budget with additional decorations and thoughtful gestures and made the whole thing so great. It was the perfect, casual, non girly affair and I wanted to give gifts to everyone who made it happen. But looking back… did we offend her?

So I ask you oh etiquette maven and followers: Did we start this by overstepping bounds or am I just being way too sensitive for someone who has never observed etiquette in the strictest sense (by that I mean I have no idea what fork goes with what).  0221-12

I think you are reading more into B’s intentions and motivations than is prudent.    There have been several times where I have given a friend the gift of my time for their wedding and while I appreciate their offers to compensate me for my time, it almost becomes borderline offensive that my gift of time is being monetized,and in a sense returned to me.    In every case, the amount offered to me was really a token since my fees to coordinate a wedding can be many times more than what the giver gave me.   The number of hours I can invest in their wedding can quickly add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars’ worth of my time.   On a rare few occasions I have cashed the check because I realized it was important to the giver that they retain some dignity by not presuming on my generosity and their recognition and gratitude for the value of the gift I’ve given them.  But in general I decline to accept such payments since my time was the gift.

So,if you look at B&M’s time they put into your wedding as a gift, it was very nice of you to offer to compensate them as a show that you are not taking them for granted and appreciated their investment in your wedding but B&M do not want a money transaction for their gift.

In these types of situations, there almost seems to be a “dance” that each party does to make sure the other person is OK with the arrangement.   Person A offers to pay or reimburse Person B who declines to accept it.  Person A offers again and Person B may decline again.  At the third attempt of offering money, Person B may finally capitulate and accept or he/she may decline for the third time.   Both persons walk away reassured.  Person A knows Person B really does not want or need his money and Person B is assured that Person A is a generous individual who is willing to not presume he is entitled.  Win-win all around.


{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly February 29, 2012 at 8:44 am

I think it is a tricky issue to try to forcibly pay someone for services they wanted to offer for free. I’m sure the poster’s parents didn’t mean to be rude, but I don’t think they should have pressured B to take the money. If everyone knows that B doesn’t need the $300, and the poster seems to believe that $300 is a “modest amount” that wouldn’t fairly compensate B anyhow, why give money at all? Why not invite B over for dinner some night or give a small gift as a thank you?

To compare, (and I’m paraphrasing from a book called Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely) imagine you went to a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with your family. The food was delicious and you chatted it up with all your relatives. Then, at the end, you stood up and said “Wow Mom, that was great. How much do I owe you? Would $15 cover it?”

In my mind, this would be extremely rude and hurtful, because you reduced your family’s love, time, and efforts to a financial transaction.


ripple February 29, 2012 at 9:42 am

B may have returned the voided check so you would know that money was not going to be taken out of your (parent’s) account. I used to give my nieces a check for Christmas and one would wait several months before she cashed it, leaving me having to keep track of that extra $25 every month against my bank statement. It can get a little frustrating wondering if you have that money for yourself or if it will finally be cashed.


MoniCAN February 29, 2012 at 9:48 am

Was this wedding in the United States? $300 seems very generous to give to a friend who put music together for you (20 songs also seems like a small number…). Did they DJ or MC the wedding at all? You said they only arrived about 30 minutes before the wedding, so it doesn’t sound like they had to set up sound equipment or anything.

I think the “dance” admin speaks of clearly didn’t work out here, as it was done and the OP still feels awkward and offended.

My thoughts:

-B should not have sent the voided check along with the thank you note, that was tacky/tasteless. She should have sent it back separately with a note explaining the music was really meant to be a gift. She’s a millionaire, right? She can afford a second envelope and stamp.

-OP shouldn’t expect B to just not cash the check and tell no one. It’s incredibly rude to let someone’s account balance be off $300 without a word (especially if you say your family is more on the “poor” side of money, $300 is a lot of money).

-OP and husband trying to give M the money gift three times was awkward and a little rude. You sent them a gift earlier, why the second $ gift at the wedding? That’s something I think only brothers and fathers should try to pull. If I were marrying a millionaire and her childhood friend of less means mailed us a nice gift, then tried to shove money in my face 3 times AT MY RECEPTION, I would feel really awkward and embarrassed about it.

-This is a great example of why things should be clearly spelled out (in writing, if possible) regarding money for weddings. OP should have let B and M know she intended to compensate them somehow. Then they could have clearly spelled out their services were a gift.

But then… if people communicated clearly at weddings, we’d miss out on most of the stories for this site! 🙂


June February 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Exactly! These are the points I wanted to make.

Also, OP, if you have any friends who want an hour’s worth of songs for a reception, I’ll happily take $300.


aka Cat February 29, 2012 at 10:05 am

You overreacted.

B and M didn’t want compensation for their gift to you. My guess is B and M spent the time between receiving the check and returning it voided trying to figure out how to return it without offending your parents. They sort of did an end run around the dilemma by returning the check to you instead of your parents, but other than that they just didn’t want your parents to have this uncashed check in limbo.


essie February 29, 2012 at 10:27 am

LW asked “Couldn’t she have just not cashed the check and left it at that??” No. Firstly, your parents would have been left wondering, every month, when she was going to cash it so they could balance their checkbook. Secondly, by voiding it, she stopped anyone who might have opened your mail and taken the check.

The only rudeness I see on B’s part was in sending the voided check to the LW and her DH instead of returning it to LW’s mother, who was the one to give her the check in the first place.


Kovitlac February 29, 2012 at 10:45 am

I don’t really understand. If she had simply never cashed it, wouldn’t that have screwed up your parent’s checkbook? They’d always be down as having $300 less then they really do. It’s something you can cover for a time, but eventually you’re going to want to correct the issue. Then if the money is taken out later, you might not even remember why $300 is missing. In that light, what B did was absolutely right, and the OP is simply reading far too much into a non-issue.


Meegs February 29, 2012 at 10:50 am

In a way, I actually think it was quite considerate of B to send the voided check. If she had no intention of ever cashing it, then your parents checking account would have been unbalanced and they would always have to be wondering if she would cash it a year from now or something.


Library Diva February 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

I think OP is waaaaaay over-reacting to this. Isn’t it possible that B just helped out with OP’s wedding as a gift, then sent the voided check to help them with their record-keeping? I think all of OP’s subsequent interpretations — that B felt her music was worth more than $300, that she wanted to flaunt her money, that she was passive-aggressively insulting them by putting the voided check in a thank you note — all of these things are a serious overreaction.

OP, just let this go before it destroys the friendship. Try not to think so much about the economic differences between you and this girl. Try socializing on more of an equal footing: do things that don’t involve a lot of money, like coffee or the beach.


LonelyHound February 29, 2012 at 11:13 am

I agree with the Admin and Molly. I do not think she was being mean spirited at all. A check being voided and returned has happened a couple of times to me. It was not from a friend but from a business to which I sent a check for payment of services but found out the services had already been covered. Instead of wondering why they had not cashed my check or having to call them wondering if they got paid the vendor sent the check back to me, voided, so I could realize it was not needed and dispose of it. I wonder if B was trying to do that in her own way. I know it still seems like a snub but would you rather know you shredded the check than wondering 4 months later why it has not been cashed?


Mrs Goldfish February 29, 2012 at 11:17 am

Oh, this entry makes me itch a little bit.

The OP’s wedding was a small affair with friends and family and ponies and rainbows. There was soooo much love….. Her friends wedding was an extravagant affair (tsssk tsssk) even though it appears that was well within the families means.
The OPs thank you cards were seeping with sentiment and OMG thank you’s. The friend also sent thank you cards with an invitation in it for a nice get together. But those are called a quick note. Not everybody is a skilled writer, or is comfortable putting their emotions on paper. Thank you notes were sent out, isn’t that what counts?

OP I’m sure you didn’t mean to, but you try to write yourself into sainthood with this story.
I don’t know if your friend was rude for returning that check, or if it was a passive agressive answer to a gesture she percieved as rude on your part. (Not taking no as an answer to the check, insisting on paying for a gift.)
If this friendship is worth anything to you, it might be a good idea to look at your own thoughts a little bit more objectively once in a while. Your friend might be rich and you not, but you have decided to be “right” all the time. You appear to be certain of the way things should be (weddings should be small and cute and with friends and family, thank you notes should be long and seeping with sentiment, people should work hard even if they were lucky enough to have the means not to.) And when your friend breaks some of your unwritten rules you seem to feel better faulting her for it. Maybe because she is rich and you are not. I don’t know, but I don’t think it is just about the check.


essie March 1, 2012 at 7:17 am

I want a pony.


Cosette January 20, 2015 at 7:42 pm

I want a bean feast.


Lizza March 1, 2012 at 9:32 am

I agree – I think it’s interesting how we hear so many details on the OP’s wedding and how lovely and small it was and how thoughtful everyone and everything involved was. And then, all we hear about B and M’s wedding is that it was “extravagant” and they wouldn’t take a monetary gift pressed on them. I completely agree with the statement, “I don’t think it is just about the check.”


Cheryl February 29, 2012 at 11:19 am

Hasn’t everyone written a check and, when it has not been cashed for eons, wonder about if it will be cashed or not? For some, that may make it hard to balance a checkbook and may even cause an overdraft if the check was written long ago and fogotten about even though a record of it should be kept and the amount accounted for. Not everyone may be as vigilant with their record keeping. By returning the check, B removed all doubt which may have been her intent. Not to insult the OP but to help her keep an accurate account of the checks.


t_twisted February 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

I’ve never really been moved to post a comment on here yet, most people get there way before I do and usually express my sentiments to the letter rendering my own contributions uneccessary. However, I am truly baffled as to why the OP might be offended by what happened here. I love the idea of describing the usual interactions on matters such as this as a ‘dance’. The involunatry monetary transaction dance, which B almost undoubtedly did with your parents on the offer of the cheque, and most likely capitulated on the insistence of your kind parents. Have you considered that perhaps B felt so guilty for accepting the cheque in the first place that he felt to the need to make it quite clear to you that they had no interntion of cashing it, thus returning it to you. Agreed, perhaps hastily enclosing it with the thank you may not have been as well thought out as it could have been, but I don’t see how any etiquette has been breached here at all. Everyone all seems far too polite for their own good :-p


Elizabeth February 29, 2012 at 11:24 am

I think B’s returning of the check can be seen as a kindness. When I write checks, I have to remember to keep the amount set aside in my checking account until the check is cashed. OP’s parents would notice that the check hadn’t been cashed. How long would they have kept $300 set aside in case B did cash it?


Beth February 29, 2012 at 11:31 am

The first thought that came to my mind was that she was letting you know there wasn’t a $300 check floating around that may or may not get cashed. By returning the voided check, your parents will be able to balance their account and not be fearful of going into the red should that check be cashed 6 months down the line when they’d already assumed it wouldn’t be. Granted, perhaps the thank you note was not the best return method, but if it were me, I wouldn’t hold on to a check for that amount that I had no intention of cashing.


Yvaine February 29, 2012 at 11:35 am

I’m guessing they gave you the voided check to show you that they weren’t going to cash it rather than let it just hang there letting your parents wonder “are they going to cash it? did they just not get around to it yet? should I keep accounting for it in my checkbook to be safe?” It may have been clumsily done but I suspect it was meant to save your parents worry and inconvenience.


elizabeth February 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

Molly had it right-offering to pay in a situation like this is a dance people do. Especially knowing the financial situation of B, you and your mom probably shouldn’t have insisted that B accept the check. Really, what would have been the best guesture may have been to right her thank you card ahead of time and place in it a gift card to her favorite store or restaurant and then give her that. A gift card feels more like just a nice thank you then like you are trying to pay her and inserted in the card would mean the song and dance of accepting or not wouldn’t be necessary.

As for her sending the voided check in the thank you, I think you are overreacting. While she probably should have sent it in a separate note with a small explanation, she was probably sending the check NOT to shove it in your face that she doesnt need the money, but rather to let you know it wasn’t going to be cashed. People (especially those who aren’t wealthy) find it hard to have a couple hundred dollar check floating, no knowing when or if the recipient will cash it. I think B took this into account and was actually trying to be fair and considerate.

On another random note, I’m really confused as to why you sent a gift for their wedding ahead of time and then ALSO tried to not only give money in addition to the gift, but to give it straight to the groom rather than in a nice card on the gift table. This just seems strange and a bit over the top. Maybe I missed something?


Katy February 29, 2012 at 11:51 am

I have made several wedding cakes for friend’s weddings. They are always my gift to them, though depending on my relationship or how intricate they want the decorating with them I ask for a bit to cover the cost of materials. Quite often I’ll deliver the cakes on the big day, and after compliments/approval from the bride I’ll be pulled aside by the MOB or the FOB and offered money for the cake. My response is always “I created it out of love and respect, and with the understanding that it is a gift. I don’t want anything for it, and I’d much rather the money goes towards a tip for excellent services from the waitstaff/DJ/photographer/whoever deserves a little extra for going out of their way to make the day special for a couple they don’t know”. It always ends the cycle of “Please take this as compensation” or whatever.
Though, to tell the truth, I have gotten several gift cards with the Thank-You notes, or a note saying ‘we’re getting mani/pedis on me’ or once even a ‘certificate’ for a weekend of free babysitting so the hubby and I could get out of the house for a night. I’ve never turned them down.


bloo February 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Katy –

This is what I was thinking about. I have friend that lives in another state and makes gourmet wedding cakes (in the $1500-$5000 range). She has, in years past, made wedding cakes as gifts for friends in our place of worship. But on more than one occasion, she gets a small check from a well-meaning bride or MOB for $50-$100 (which doesn’t even begin to cover the materials much less her time and expertise) so now what?

Not only is her gift no longer a gift, but she hasn’t been near adequately compensated.

OP, you over-reacted. B wanted to give you a gift and you reduced it to a financial transaction. I don’t think she did anything wrong by sending the voided check to you. Now your parents can balance their checkbook. She probably felt more comfortable dealing with you and it was your speech that got your parents to want to pay them.

I will say that it is refreshing that you, your parents and B have big hearts that are in the right place. But please, graciously accept a gift in the spirit it was given. Surely you have felt the joy of giving of your time and energy to help someone out. Don’t be selfish with that!


Jen February 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I think the OP is being sensitive about the money.

Also I find it odd that OP was giving B her parents money. Shouldn’t the OP’s parents have extended the offer?


LovleAnjel February 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

You might be reading too much into it. One angle may be, that she returned the voided check so that the information it contained (signature, bank account & routing #s) would not in danger of becoming fodder for identity theft (perhaps she does not own a shredder – she might not know you can buy them for home use either). She also returned it to you, not your parents. Perhaps she thought you would assure your parents the check had been safely disposed of and put their worries to rest.


Shiny Gloria February 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm

My daughter had many people people offer their services for her wedding, and she accepted almost all of them. She asked about payment, which all refused, but she gave thank-you gifts to all who donated their services. I think the people who made the offer would have been offended if she had insisted on payment, but they all appreciated the personal gifts.


Tara February 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I see where B was coming from. If you write a check, you are probably waiting for it to clear your account, especially for the larger amounts. So you have to keep that money in your account and the longer a person waits to cash a check, the more likely that reserve will vanish. Then the person cashes the check and it overdraws your account, and bad things ensue.

She probably thought it was a kindness in giving your folks paperwork to know they didn’t need to stress about keeping $300 in their account. She could have worded it better, but I think that was probably her intent.


Serenity S. February 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I think you are over-reacting and should let this go instead of turning a minor incident into a huge ordeal. No offense intended.


acr February 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I agree – it’s almost like you’re looking for a way to be offended at B. She probably returned the voided check to make sure not cashing it didn’t cause your parents difficulty in balancing their checkbook. Though maybe a TY note wasn’t the best place for it. Still, she seems like a very kind, thoughtful and generous person. I also think it’s really cool of her not to accept money from people who have less (financially) than she does. She’s very lucky to have that trust fund, and she knows it.

I also agree that trying to pay her for her gift to you was kind of rude. It really seems to have come from a place of pride rather than a place of thankfulness. A more appropriate gesture would have been a detailed thank you letter and some kind of thank you gift. This could be as simple as homemade cookies, bread, preserves, etc, or something that you know she would really like.


Cat February 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Giving money to someone who has a great deal of it is a nice gesture, but I can understand the lady thinking that she doesn’t need it and you could always use it.She probably did not mean it as insult.

If it’s not overtly meant as an insult, it’s best to assume that it was mean to be a nice gesture. If she had said, “There’s no point in sending me money; I could buy and sell you!” Yes, be insulted. Short of that, always assume the best of someone and never the worse.

I think I’d have given a gift that could not be returned to me. Fruit, flowers, prime meat…these can all be ordered via specialty companies and are a lovely way to say how much one appreciates the recipient.You can have a note enclosed with the gift expressing your appreciation of the service they rendered you. “You were so sweet to help with my wedding that I just had to send you these roses/this dessert to tell you how much what you did meant to me.” Or take them out to dinner at a nice restaurant as a thank you.


Pam February 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I agree with the sentiment that the OP is overreacting; your friend is your friend and didn’t want to be paid! I also think that those giving a service should make it very clear that the service is their gift. You would never try to give a person a check in return for a wedding gift (thank you for the toaster, here is a check for $20!) and clear communication by the giver on the intentions of their service would be helpful for all!


Miss Raven February 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm

My thoughts:
Firstly, it was a nice thought to want to compensate B and M somehow for their hard work. This was a good intention. However, knowing that they are well-off and probably wouldn’t take the money anyway, I think that some sort of non-monetary thanks would have been in order. Flowers, or dinner, or a nice bottle of wine? Why was the only instinct to offer money?

Second, it was not rude of B to return the check, but the way she did it was rude. I think a better course of action would have been to return the check after OP’s wedding, separate from anything else, with a nice note about how unnecessary it was and how she could not in good conscience accept the money. I don’t think her intent was malicious, but I do think it was very thoughtless.

Third, since everyone all around had good intentions and poor execution, I think it’s best to just let it all go. OP, your reaction to this indicates that the issue isn’t how B feels about the economic differences between you two, but how you feel about it. Clearly you are sensitive about the issue, but it doesn’t seem to bother B at all. I would try to recognize and accept your feelings about B’s wealth and your lack of wealth, and in doing so, let them slip away. She’s happy? You’re happy? Then I’d say it’s time to move on and let the friendship recover.


Miss Raven February 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Edit: Missed a spot. I forgot to mention that I think it’s strange that there was nowhere to put checks or cards at B and M’s wedding. People have a set of expectations for events like this, and what is to be done if the cards and other paper gifts that people bring to weddings (and whether you ask for them or not, people bring them in droves)? This part certainly set me on edge a bit. It was rude of B and M to reject the OP’s gift, but it probably should have been left at that. The appropriate thing to do was to set a place for such gifts to accumulate, or accept them graciously when presented with them in person.

I think it’s an odd thing to do, refusing to put a card box or something out at your reception, and then refusing gifts as people bring them to you. And certainly not etiquette-savvy.


Bint February 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I ws very surprised to hear that *you* had hurt feelings. Aside from all the excellent explanations above that you are over-reacting, and that B probably had very good reasons to make clear it was returned, there are two others:

1. B sent the cheque to you because you and she both knew she wasn’t meant to be paid. As in, “It’s ok, I’m not going to cash this but don’t tell your parents” in it together thing. Sending it to your parents might hurt their feelings but she doesn’t want you to believe she’d take the money. We’re talking an awkward situation here that she wasn’t expecting, after all. She’s doing her best.

2. Your parents really hurt B’s feelings and insulted her. She offered her services as a wedding present and your parents’ insistence on making it a financial transaction took that joy away from her. You say you would never turn away gifts, but you did. You call it a gesture of appreciation but to many people it’s actually an insult. It’s treating her like a vendor at those prices. It’s taking away her generosity and leaving her without a wedding present to give you. What is she supposed to give you now? The $300 your parents gave her?

This may explain why B and M wouldn’t accept your wedding present to them – either from awkwardness because they’ve cost you $300, or because they’re hurt. You don’t like it when you’re not allowed to give a present, but that’s what you’ve let your parents do to them.

I’m aware everyone’s intentions here are for the best but my sympathy is absolutely with B. She hasn’t been allowed, unlike others, to do this for you from kindness. She’s been paid. She probably feels she didn’t get to give you a wedding present, and this is her way of showing that she meant it – that it truly was a gift to you to work that hard. You’re being terribly terribly upset about this, but it’s interesting you just say she’s rich so often and don’t even consider that she might have been terribly upset too. In her position I’d have felt as if your parents had slapped me in the face. She did a huge amount for you at your wedding and I’d say you owe her rather more than the immediate assumption she’s behaving badly.


sv February 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm

If I wrote a cheque and the person did not cash it, I would be spending a lot of time wondering when that damn cheque was going to go through and trying to balance my bank account. You are reading far too much into it. She did not want ( and does not need ) the money, and it means more to you than it does to her. Having no intention of accepting money for her gift she simply was returning it. She was not flaunting her wealth – she was just returning the cheque. I wonder if you would feel as strongly about this is she was not so financially well off?


Calypso February 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Have to add to the POD chorus. If I offered my services to you for your wedding as a gift, I wouldn’t be at all pleased to be paid afterward. Faux pas #1 goes to you. And, I think it was very considerate for B to let you know she voided the check so you could tell your parents and their bookkeeping would be correct (I’m assuming B sent it to you, rather than to your parents, because she knows you better. Perhaps the ideal solution, if the check had your parents’ address on it, would have been for her to send it to *them* with a nice note).

And were many of the wedding guests trying to hand cash to B and M at their reception? It seems an odd way to give a money gift, but perhaps it’s a cultural thing?

Hope you get over your mad and value your friendship with B and M—they sound like terrific people.


JenaR February 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm

OP overreacted, and seems to be obsessing over the haves and have nots. I could see how B could get justifiably frustrated that her “no thank you’s” were not being heard. In a way, the persistent pushing of money can be seen as diminishing the value of the heartfelt gift. OP needs to get over herself and learn to graciously accept gifts instead of feeling like she constantly owes someone something or has to prove something just because she has less. ‘Sounds like it almost turned into a sort of power struggle.


Angela February 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm

There is offense at clearly rude treatment, and there is offense when another person handles an awkward situation in a less than perfect way. Save your offended feelings for the first category, because this sounds like it belongs squarely in the second.


MellowedOne March 1, 2012 at 7:53 am

This post epitomizes the grief that assumptions and mistaken perceptions can bring.

1. OP – you assumed your friends would understand the sentiment behind the check. The better option would have perhaps been to approach them and offered to take them to a local (expensive) restaurant to say thanks. It gives them the opportunity to state they wanted to help, and you could acknowledge that but then reoffer.

2. You assume the ‘rich girl’ can’t appreciate your motives because you can’t give her expensive things similar to what she is accustomed to.

3. Although you say in words you don’t believe your friends were malicious, you do in your heart believe there was an ulterior motive in their actions. Ulterior motive is malicious.

4. You assume their refusal of a cash gift at their wedding was some sort of slight on you. Why be embarassed otherwise?

Do you see the common denominator in this, OP? Money. You reflect an attitude that the bride’s wealth is a causative factor in your perceived mistreatment.

Common sense should have dictated that you kindly approach these “good friends” to resolve the matter. People often think they should just let things drop and move on, when the situation really needs to be addressed. Good friendships are not that good if one doesn’t take the effort to keep them.


PrincessButtercup March 1, 2012 at 10:22 am

I’m a photographer and have shot multiple weddings, as such I sometimes get asked by friends if I would shoot their wedding. Some of my good friends I have agreed and never discussed cost with them because I had no intentions of being paid on this job. Then afterwards they or their family will offer to pay me but often it makes a slightly awkward situation because I got the couple a small, useful gift but nothing too big because I intended my photography that they will be looking at for the rest of their lives, to be the big part of my gift to the couple.
In an instance of offering money during the event it’s best to respond; “Thank you for the offer but I am doing this as part of my gift to the couple to celebrate and be part of their day.” Of course the helpers may have been surprised by the offer and unsure how to respond so just took it so everyone can get back to the festivities.

In a situation where offering to compensate a friend doing a favor, in the middle of things is so not the time. It would have been better to discuss it before or after the event. Such as when the helpers are loading the equipment to go then catch them quietly and say “We appreciated your help so much, you went far above and beyond expected and we would love to give you a little something to thank you for being so helpful, would that be alright?” If so then you can offer the already made check. Being after the event they can stop and discuss it a bit more and not feel as pressured to take it to avoid a scene during the event.

I highly doubt the friend was trying to be rude and flaunt her lack of need for your money. She probably thought that was the best way to state that the check was not necessary and they had gifted their time to you so take the pending check off the books. Likely this all happened because the friend wanted to avoid discussing money, so she accepted to avoid the discussion and she returned to avoid the “hey why didn’t you cash it” discussion. It wasn’t the best way to handle it but it is time to move on.


Enna March 1, 2012 at 11:10 am

I agree with Admin over this one, you’re reading too much into it. Maybe she just wanted to show she hadn’t cashed it in? I’d be more worried if she was asking for a new cheque!


Mildred March 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

Wonderful response. Nothing like manners married to common sense and kindness.
And I’m definitely going to manage my own dance better as a result of this.


livvy March 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I feel kind of bad for OP, in that she obviously feels insecure about her financial situation as compared to B. I’m afraid for her that if she doesn’t relax, she’s going to jeopardize the friendship, and even possibly alienate her husband, who has been trying to reassure her that his childhood friend is not trying to insult her.


Louisa March 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

A little off-topic, but I am sort of yearning for the old days years back, when stories were often submitted without four paragraphs of largely irrelevant back story. The stories often reach epic proportions now and truly, most of this detail can be condensed into a few lines. Shorter is sweeter! ;P


GroceryGirl March 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I’m confused as to why OP felt that B and M needed to be compensated with $300. Apart from the fact that it was clearly meant to be a gift, didn’t it pretty much amount to putting some songs on an iPod or cd and playing it on a speaker? There is not mention that they were MCing or playing DJ so how is it that the OP feels that $300 isn’t even enough?


Hat March 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Honestly, I think she might have included it to let you know to not worry about it. She was trying to be considerate and knew the money was set aside for when she would withdraw it. And since she didn’t intend to, she wanted the money to not be tied up forever.

She was trying to be subtle and let everyone save face.


Angel April 5, 2012 at 9:24 am

OP you are way overreacting here. I think your friend did you a favor by returning the check to you. I don’t see it as rude at all. If you do, then perhaps you are looking for things to be offended about. Maybe she shouldn’t have included the check in with the thank you note, but as far as I can see it, she did nothing wrong.


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