I’ve been asked to officiate a service for some dear friends in a few months. All the legalities have been taken care of, and I’m drafting the ceremony.
My question is this: are my spouse and myself then expected to give the happy couple a gift as well? I recognize that gifts are never *required* at a wedding, but I’m not really certain of the etiquette when one is both a guest and the officiant. Generally officiants are paid for their service (they have paid the fee for my licensing to perform the service in their state, but I am not being otherwise compensated, nor do I wish to be), and my family will be traveling to another state for the ceremony with all the expenses that incurs. I feel like the gift we’re giving is of my service; I know what my minister charges for non-church-member weddings, and it’s at least as much if not more than what we’d spend on a gift. But my spouse disagrees and feels that we need to have a gift at the wedding as well.
I’m pretty sure I’m right on this? Help me eHellions, you’re my only hope! 0831-13
What I tell people who have the gift of time to offer is that the wedding couple or parents (whomever is the main planner) have an obligation to offer compensation for their services. The bridal couple or family should NEVER assume these gifts of time are free for the taking and therefore the offer must be made to pay their friends in some agreed upon fashion for the time and service being given. The person then has the option of offering their services for free, as a gift. This conversational “dance” has the effect of promoting an attitude of not assuming upon others, appreciating the expense of time, honors the gift of time as having worthy value, and allows the person to offer their talents as a gift voluntarily. Dear OP, it sounds to me as though this conversation did not happen between you and the happy couple otherwise there would be no confusion as to what an appropriate wedding gift would be.
To be honest, I am quite surprised that your friends have not offered to assist in paying for your travel expenses to their wedding since you are a vital part of the ceremony. They are truly assuming a great deal on your generosity to marry them at no expense to themselves whatsoever. Traveling out of state AND officiating? As if that was not enough, your husband wants to throw more money at them in form of a tangible gift?