I recently attended ~all~ the festivities surrounding my boyfriend’s brother’s wedding. It was a “gimme” nightmare from the start, mostly because of the number of parties they had. We had to attend all of them and bring a gift to each one. The parties were pretty much the brainchild of the bride and her mother. Here’s the parties we had to attend over the course of about a year from engagement to wedding day (and about a month after the wedding, as you’ll see below):
1. Engagement party – semi-formal affair at the bride’s parents’ home; had to attend and bring a gift.
2. Bridal shower – at the bride’s parents’ home again; had to attend and bring a gift. Note that I was considered close enough to be invited to her bridal shower, but not close enough to be invited to her bachelorette party (I am 32, about the right age to attend one of those things, and would have appreciated the invite for a night of fun, especially after bring hosed for so many gifts).
3. Bachelor party – my boyfriend had the pleasure of attending this. There was no gift requirement, but all of the attendees were expected to chip in and cover the groom-to-be’s entire weekend. This party was held at a very expensive golf resort, so the expenses included hotel, food/drink, and green fees which were NOT cheap. My boyfriend, as the groom’s brother and best man, felt he couldn’t decline to go. The groom had chosen the location and planned the party details, including sending out the email invite informing everyone that he expected his weekend costs to be covered.
4. Wedding Night party – Perhaps tackiest and most mystifying of the all, a so-called “Wedding Night” party, also at the bride’s parents’ home. We received an invitation stating that we were supposed to bring a specific amount of money per person attending this party. The “suggested minimum” was $30.00 per head. Based on the number of positive RSVPs that came in, the bride- and groom-to-be went out and purchased an expensive gift based on the amount of money they expected as gifts (in this case, they purchased a new TV). The TV was actually on display at the party so all of the attendees could see what they had “given” the bride and groom. It felt like they had charged admission to a really boring show! I had never heard of a “Wedding Night” party, and am pretty sure they just made the idea up.
5. Wedding – The wedding itself was a destination wedding (we went south). The date they chose was around the Christmas holidays, which meant that travel and accommodation was even more expensive than it would have been at another, more reasonable time of year. There were plane tickets, hotel fees, rental car fees, and, of course, another gift.
6. Post-wedding party – Even after the wedding we are not done. A couple of weeks later, we received an invitation to (hopefully) the final party for this event… the post-wedding party, which will happen in a couple of weeks. To which we also are expected to bring a gift. I have never heard of a “post-wedding party” in my life, except for maybe a brunch that happens the morning after the wedding, and to which no one is ever expected to bring a gift.
We have purchased ~five~ gifts so far for this extravaganza! I am wondering how many gifts we will be expected to buy once they start having children… 0120-13
Just how is this “expectation of a gift” being communicated? Word of mouth? Is it actually on the various invitations?
The organizers, or in this case, the bridal couple and their families, may have an expectation that guests owe them a gift for every wedding related event but that doesn’t mean you, the guest, or even as a family member, are under any obligation to facilitate their greed. In fact, I consider it entirely irrelevant what expectations a bride, her scheming, greedy mother or her equally scheming, greedy soon-to-be husband have about my gift giving. What I give, how much I give, or whether I give at all is independent of their expectations and instead based on my relationship to the couple and what my budget is. I believe people must find an inner strength to be content with a budgeted amount of money they wish to spend for a wedding gift and ignore all other manipulative attempts to extract even more material goods or cash from themselves.
When etiquette refers to a “wedding gift”, it means a gift given on the OCCASION of a wedding, not a gift for every single wedding related fundraising event the couple can dream up. Here’s the run down of the etiquette of gift giving for each event for this wedding:
Engagement party: Parents are the only ones who should be giving the couple any gifts and even those should be of a personal nature just in case the wedding does not occur. Gifts like personal jewelry. The greedy pigs of this world are madly intent on creating an expectation that guests to an engagement party are obligated to bring presents. Resist!
Bridal Shower – It’s a gift centered party but that doesn’t mean guests are obligated to give expensive gifts. Bridal shower gifts should be small.
Bachelor Party – No gifts required whatsoever. That said, it is gimme piggish to organize your own bachelor party in your own honor, book the most expensive venue and then bill your absolute best friends and family to pay your way.
Wedding Night Party – For a minute here I thought this was going to be some skanky party. But it was worse. The couple scammed their friends in order to acquire more material assets. Dear OP, don’t drink the “I owe a gift” Kool-aid being pedaled here. The price of admission to this party was each guest’s monetary share in the purchase of a television. It’s pathetic hospitality and exceedingly opportunistic. What annoys me most about greedy people is they *know* that friends and family are not going to rock the boat and put a foot down about these excessive demands placed upon them so they go along with it. It’s takes some inner fortitude to decline to facilitate someone’s obvious greed.
Post-Wedding Party – OP,how do you know there is an expectation of another gift? Did they actually say this or are you projecting this as an expectation you think they have of you? Either way, simply decline to bring a gift. If anyone has the utter audacity to call you on it, say, “I consider my other two presents to be appropriately generous. I seem to be mistaken so please enlighten me as to what value of gifts I am expected to give.” That should give a normal person a pause as you have now made it clear that your perception of generous is drastically different than theirs and to actually answer your question causes them to expose themselves as more interested in accumulating cash and property than actually being gracious and kind.