The Anti-Gimme Pig Dilemma

by admin on June 19, 2014

When my DH proposed, I immediately started putting money aside for our wedding and honeymoon. I never once expected anyone to foot the bill for us, and subsequently we had a longer than proper engagement – 2.5 years. I was so touched and appreciative when my father offered to help us with the venue and catering. All in all, the wedding total came to $12,000, and my dad helped us with the two most expensive parts of it. Because of his help, we were able to set aside extra money in case we wanted to do something spontaneous and fun on our honeymoon.

Needless to say, I am very careful with money. :)

Anyway, in the very beginning, my mother’s casual friend offered – out of the blue – to be our wedding planner as a gift. She had been a planner for over ten years and recently retired, but she wanted to do it for us. This incredibly generous woman (Let’s call her Rachel) taught me so much about wedding ettiquette and proper traditions, gave so many ideas and helped with so many aspects that looking back, my wedding would never have been as beautiful without her. I did my best to help her help me, though I always felt as though I would be a “gimme pig” if I kept asking her questions or demanded her assistance in every aspect of my planning. So I never imposed, never initiated contact, always demurred to her suggestions, etc. I am a private, hermit person and feel a little awkward in social situations, and I really did not want to stress Rachel out with too many details or questions. I had never budgeted for, or even thought to have, a wedding planner – such an extravagance! Maybe that was selfish, or rude, to not let her into more of the putting together. I don’t really know. I was trying to be gracious and accommodating.

Anyway, the wedding was just beautiful. Everything was so absolutely perfect, and I was blessed to have such a perfect day.

My DH and I left the next afternoon for our honeymoon. The morning of, we opened gifts and made our lists to write thank you’s during our honeymoon down time. To my extreme surprise, Rachel had given us a gift of money on top of all she had already done for us! I never expected anything from any of the guests, really, but this was so far above and beyond that I think I sat there stunned for some time before my husband noticed.

And here is where I may have made a horrible blunder and need to be condemned forever.

Because I had managed to set aside more than needed for the honeymoon, when I wrote my thank you to Rachel, not only did I send BACK the money, but I sent extra. I was sincere in my thanks, I tried to convey my utter gratitude and how much her help meant to me, and that she went so far above and beyond that she needn’t to have given us any further gift. I said that while I knew the amount I was sending was not nearly equal to what she did for us, that I hoped she would accept this small token of our gratitude.

Please, even writing this two years later, I cringe. I guess that is sign enough that I did something hellish, but I really thought at the time that I was being a GOOD person.

I received another card from Rachel in which she sent everything back and told me that it had been her pleasure, she appreciated the gesture, and she insisted I keep the money. It was very gracious and made no hint that what I had done was horrible and uncouth. I left it at that, and didn’t try to get into one of those incredibly uncomfortable money wars that certain people are so fond of (where assault of the person is common, in an attempt to force money on a person). I did send out another thank you card, and that was that.

Anyway. What is done, is done. I just wanted to know if my instincts are correct, that what I did was completely out of line and ungracious. Or, by chance, is it a gesture that would have been taken in the spirit that it was intended?  0607-14

Your intentions were very good, your execution could have been improved.   It could have been viewed as a rejection of Rachel’s money gift to send back the same cash with more added.   I suspect Rachel did not take offense at this.   But next time send a deeply sincere thank you note with a gift card to a nice restaurant in it.   My son married recently and there were friends who offered their services to us for a lovely wedding but who insisted their time was a gift to us and that they wanted no payment.   I gave those friends $50 gift cards to a nice seafood restaurant I knew they liked.

You can stop cringing now, btw.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

another Laura June 19, 2014 at 8:55 am

I didn’t know that there was a “proper” amount of time to be engaged. My husband and I were engaged for three months, my best friend was engaged for just under a year, and I’ve known people to be engaged for 3 or 4 years to finish school first. It should be based on what works for the couple. If you need awhile to save up for the wedding that you want, do it. If you need to have it earlier than you planned because a loved one is terminally I’ll, that’s what you do.

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Mer June 20, 2014 at 10:09 am

While this is irrelevant nowadays, there used to be “proper” time to be engaged. Or, at least here. If my memory serves me right, it was a year and one day after the engagement in which time the wedding should take place. Well, it was different time and different world. But things like this might affect people’s thinking even today.

Just to be on the safe side :) I don’t try to say that long engagement is improper. Personally I don’t care how long it takes to each couple (while I do dislike “engagement” with no purpose to get married).

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OP June 28, 2014 at 11:17 am

Thank you, Mer…. I didn’t realize the propriety of engagement length was a dated thing. I actually picked up on that little detail from an old (1920’s) ettiquette book that my grandma owned. It is fun to read and browse through, but I can definitely see how such timeframes are inappropriate these days. :)

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Lakey June 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm

When it comes to social blunders, intent matters. You didn’t intend to reject a gift. You have a very particular attitude about money, and that colored your attitude toward the gift. She no doubt understood that.

We sometimes don’t acknowledge the emotional baggage that we attach to money and spending. Some people make themselves feel better by lavish spending, others make themselves feel better by saving and being frugal. My parents were raised during the depression and knowing that there were financial assets at the ready was comforting to them. Enjoy this woman’s gift to you, knowing that it made her feel good.

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NostalgicGal June 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Not cringeworthy OP.

Engagements are as long as needed.

A little around sending the money back, plus; your heart was in the right place. Rachel was an angel to not take the offense or at least rise above it, and send it back. Not going to go there or probe or wonder the what-ifs. You had your heart in the right place when you sent the money; Rachel was lovely to send it back.

I don’t think gift cards are a good solution though; they often end up in a drawer. That’s a sticky widget, what is a good non-cash thank you. Hm.

I don’t condemn you OP.

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Harley Granny June 19, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I’m not going to nit-pick the engagement. What ever works for the couple is what is proper.

I’m afraid I would have been tempted to do the same thing you did.
I’m glad it worked out and you’ve saved others from commiting the same sin!

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yokozbornak June 19, 2014 at 4:24 pm

It sounds like both you and Rachel are lovely, gracious people. I am sure she doesn’t think ill of you and appreciated your gesture.

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JackieJormpJomp June 19, 2014 at 11:30 pm

If I were Rachel, I would have thought your gesture rather adorably awkward, and it would have made me smile. I doubt she’s offended. It’s a cute story.

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daphne June 20, 2014 at 1:27 pm

I don’t think you did anything wrong. She spent enough time with you to know who you are. So she very likely picked up on the fact that, to paraphrase your post, you were a little etiquette challenged at the time. She obviously really liked you and wanted to give you a gift. And although it was a little awkward to send it back, I’m sure she realized your intentions and that’s why she returned it. So no worries! :-)

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Surianne June 22, 2014 at 7:26 pm

I agree with everyone above — it sounds like both you and Rachel are caring people with good intentions. I have no doubt she understood that and wasn’t upset with you at all. I don’t think you need to feel badly about this at all.

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just4kicks June 23, 2014 at 7:34 am

I think what you did was very nice!!! You and Rachel both sound like lovely ladies, and I personally don’t see any wrongs committed. Congratulations to you and your husband….I wish you a lifetime of joy.

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Stacey Frith-Smith June 23, 2014 at 11:10 am

No more cringing! You were trying to be generous and it went a little left of the ideal. Your wedding planner caught it and did the perfect social reset- returned her gift to you and the token. I think you sound like a gem for instincts, if not for execution!

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Leiden June 24, 2014 at 1:22 am

Sending a gift back is not “proper”. But you clearly meant well.

If this is something that keeps bothering you, you might invite Rachel over for tea of something and just say: There is something that I feel is unresolved and I would just like to explain myself.

If nothing else for your own peace of mind.

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OP June 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

Thank you, everyone, and thank you, Admin. It’s good to hear that intent matters, and that I didn’t do something totally atrocious…. Just a bit awkward. I will be calling on Rachel when I visit my mom later this year. Hopefully we can laugh about this faux pas and put it behind us. Again, thank you for responding and being so kind and undertanding!!!

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Enna July 27, 2014 at 10:16 am

You meant well. :)

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