As we drift into springy and summery weather (finally) we are rediscovering our love of lightweight scarves. For temperatures in the low 70s, the scarf always strikes us as the perfect accessory. Wrap it around your neck (multiple times, if you like) on your way to work, or use it as a stole if you’re sitting outside having a drink or grabbing a bite after work. The best part, we think: unlike a jacket, it’s easy to scrunch the scarf up and stick it in your bag if the weather suddenly turns hotter. Today, we’re liking this Spring Garden scarf from Affordable Scarves — at $11.26, it’s definitely affordable. Spring Garden Pashmina
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Hijack (apologies; I do like the scarf, both as an idea and as pictured):
I have a question about marriage-related gifts. If you’re invited to a wedding, you’re expected to give some sort of gift to the couple. If you’re also invited to an engagement party (as is my boyfriend, which is how this question arose), do you owe the couple a second gift? If so, should it be an additional item from the registry? How much should you be spending on this engagement gift?
Any guidance would be appreciated. Relevant parties are on the east coast (Boston/NYC/DC), if it matters.
I have only been to an engagement party once, and it didn’t occur to me to bring a gift for the couple, although I did bring a bottle of wine for the hostess. They weren’t throwing the party, so I didn’t think a gift is in order. However, a minority of people did bring small gifts, mostly for the bride-to-be. I am on the East Coast, fwiw.
I don’t think you need to bring anything — you’ll already be shelling out for the wedding and the bridal shower. I agree with Eponine that a bottle of wine or floral arrangement would be a lovely gift . . . . (though it should probably be directed to the hosts of the party rather than the couple?) (If they already have their registry up at the time of their engagement party …. wow.)
In my experience, gifts are not required – and should not be expected – at engagement parties. When I got engaged (in 1998 – wow! time flies) a close family friend hosted an engagement party for us. Only two people brought gifts, and gave them to me discretely. Shower gifts were based on a theme and largely did not include items from our registry (time-of-day shower, tool shower).
My mother (who is 63) and I (33) were discussing this the other day. She commented that she was surprised by what people are buying for engagement parties and showers these days. (My brother just got married last October, and the pre-wedding events were the source of her surprise.) Until the last 5 years, it had been her experience that there were no gifts at engagement parties and showers were opportunities to buy small (inexpensive) things to set up house. People saved registry items for the wedding. But with my brother, and other recent showers for family friends, she saw very expensive registry items given at showers.
It may be old-fashioned, but I prefer to save the big registry gift for the wedding. If it truly is an engagement party, I also would be surprised if they were registered already.
Unless “set up house” is a euphemism, that’s not the kind of gifts that are brought to the showers I’ve been to…
My experience is more like L’s. I’ve never seen any risque items at showers, but the trend these days in my social circles has been toward family friendly events, many of which are coed (both baby and wedding).
Hmm. Perhaps my friends are oh-so-slightly immature, or perhaps playing drinking games at 30 is a lawyer thing.
Yep, my shower experience is more like L’s and MelD’s. I always thought “adult gifts” were meant for the bachelorette party.
Showers I’ve been to lately in NYC have been registry items, and then cash was typical for the wedding (nearly all registry items are bought up by and given at the shower). I think it’s completely absurd and getting to be super expensive, but that seems to be the norm in my circle these days.
Joke/risque gifts are left for the bachelorette party, which not everyone in my circle even has (thank goodness).
I am not actually sure that I knew there was a difference between a shower and a bachelorette party. None of my friends have had multiple pre-wedding parties.
In my circles, a shower is often held in someone’s home (relative of the bride or groom, maybe home of someone in the wedding party) and includes female family of all ages. The bachelorette party is more alcohol oriented and it’s usually only friends and similar-age relatives. There’s some ambiguity and crossover, of course – I’ve been to “showers” that are just friends and risque gifts and held at a restaurant for brunch.
Philadelphia: recently attended an engagement party at the home of the groom’s parents. I’m not sure if EVERYONE brought a gift, but the dining room was lined with bags/boxes. We went with a “dressy” but not pricey gift (i.e. not kitchen gadgets — it was at the lower end of their “decorative bowl” choices :) )
I’d say spend on par with the shower gift, although you can certainly keep the “extra” cost in mind when budgeting for the shower/wedding gift. We ended up spending about $40 more than usual shower + wedding gift total, but we also got to enjoy another very nice party.
IMO this gift-giving business is WAY out of hand.
Completely agree. I really don’t understand the engagement party thing at all — isn’t it the marriage that should be celebrated, not the agreement to be married? (But this also goes into what seems to be a newer trend — 1.5-2 year engagements. It’s like the couple doesn’t actually want to get married!) I had a bridal shower, but I asked for no gifts.
I have no problem if someone (parents? happy friends?) wants to throw a little shindig for the happy couple-to-be-married – but gifts for an engagement party? No, no no.
Although I am even less of a fan of the out-of-hand bachelorette/bachelor party extravaganzas.
Me too! And now multi-day trips for bachelor/ette parties seem to be more frequent. I love spending with friends, and I love traveling, but somehow these events bug me, especially when engagement parties and multiple showers seem to be more common, too. And it’s not really a response to say that such events are optional—that’s clearly true in a technical sense but can feel otherwise, especially if one is part of the wedding party.
Maybe I feel this way because I am so busy with work and other committments, I assume that others are as well, and I would feel uncomfortable presuming that my friends have the time or money to fete me for days. But lots of people have no problem asking for or even expecting it.
I had a two-year engagement. No engagemnet parties or showers. Not that I didn’t want to get married, just that that’s the way the timing worked out.
I know several couples who had 2 year engagements. They were saving up cash to pay for the wedding themselves. Have to respect that! :)
As someone who is 5 months away from my wedding day with a 1.5 year engagement total, I find your comment very offensive, Res Ipsa. The decision to have a long engagement was certainly not because we don’t want to get married – in fact, I can’t WAIT to get married! The decision was based on timing. I just graduated from law school and am taking the Bar in July and I didn’t want to have to miss any time from school for the wedding/honeymoon, nor did I want to be worried about wedding plans while studying for the Bar. This way, we got most of the wedding done during the school year and now I can take 2 full months out of planning to study for the Bar and then go back to wedding planning and finally enjoy my wedding before the Bar results come out! Also, my fiance and I are paying for our wedding ourselves, so the extra time gives us more time to save so we don’t walk away from our wedding with debt! I just think that you should really consider other people’s circumstances before you make judgments on their life choices.
I am throwing an engagement party in a month or so. It’s to get everyone together, introduce friends/family on both sides, celebrate the good news with the couple, and in this case, particularly because the wedding will most likely be small (their preference is family only). Plus, in my mind at least, an engagement is a great reason to celebrate! Never even occurred to me that people might think they should bring gifts.
I think the purpose of an engagement party is so that the friends and family of one person can meet the friends and family of the other person.
Absolutely concur. My cousin got married a few years ago and was very up-front that she expected gifts at the engagement party, AND the bridal shower, AND a wedding gift. The kicker? The marriage lasted just over a year, and then six months after the divorce she got engaged again and wanted the gift parade to start all over! The excuse being that her ex-husband had gotten so much of their joint property in the divorce (which was only partly true, although the very lovely pots-and-pans set we had given them went with him). We had given shower and wedding gifts the first time, and this time our entire family (normally VERY generous with gifts) decided we would all give her nice greeting cards, with our very fervent best wishes that this marriage would be a bit happier and longer-lasting. And that’s what she got, to her very petulant unamusement. At least when THAT marriage broke up less than a year later we didn’t feel like we’d thrown money down the drain. I usually don’t make my gifts conditional, but I don’t really want to furnish my cousin’s ex-husband’s new love nest, or provide her with hockable goods so she can fund her next divorce.
Anyway – my rule of thumb is, if we know the couple well, they get no engagement gift, a small shower gift, and a fairly nice wedding gift. If we don’t know them well – in which case I think it’s fairly obvious the invitation is a gift-grab – they get a card, with our very best wishes on a long and happy marriage, and that’s it (and we don’t attend the wedding). I don’t know if word’s gotten around or what, but we don’t get invited to very many casual-acquaintance weddings any more.
I feel sorry for your cousin, that’s so sad (her decisions, not your decision not to gift at her subsequent weddings).
I know – she is a very beautiful girl who is looking for someone to “take care of her” (rather than working to take care of herself) and keeps ending up with these guys who have money, but are otherwise losers. It seems like getting a degree and getting a job would be a lot easier than going through two divorces before age 26, but I heard from my mom the other day she is engaged again – some people never learn. :(
Agree! For any close friend’s weddings, you are now required to get (1) bridal shower gift, (2) bachelorette gift + a round of drinks at the bachelorette party and (3) wedding gift. Easily looking at over $250 per wedding (plus anything spent on travelling to each event).
Whoa, we must run in really different circles. I don’t know anyone who had separate bridal showers and bachelorette parties (although I do know people who had one shower for family and older friends, and another for younger friends), and I’ve never even heard of someone asking people to buy rounds.
Its not asking, but when you go out for someone’s bachelorette your not going to let the bride pay. also i’ve never heard of a combined bridal shower/bachelorette, they are always seperate where I am (boston/dc/ny)
What about multiple showers? I’ve been invited to couples showers, room specific showers, tool showers, stock the bar showers, pantry showers, etc. I only had 2 showers, which was pretty slim in my circle.
I had 2 bridal showers, one for each side of the family, no bachelorette or engagement party, and a beautiful wedding. I would never expect a gift at a bachelorette or engagement party, but I guess that’s just me. I also didn’t expect 2 showers, but when my in-laws are involved nothing is what I expect. My in-laws gave me this outrageous surprise bridal shower (75+) women who I had never met in my life. It took me 3 hours to open all of the gifts. I was completely embarrassed to be paraded in front of the entire family and judged like a prize winning cow. My baby shower was even more outrageous. I was put on a stage in front of a room with over 80+ women (Imagine 10 tables decked out in a ballroom at the Sheraton with me sitting in a “throne” like chair on a stage!) I had NO say in this, and I actually told my MIL NOT to get involved with the baby shower because she had done so much for the wedding shower. The kicker is I am now tagged as the greedy wife of a sweet Italian boy, and haven’t been invited to any bridal/baby showers on his side. I was actually told after the last one that “it was just a small affair. Not your thing.”
It’s pretty common in my circles for there to be two bridal showers – one where the cast of characters is mostly the mother / MIL and their friends and older relatives, and one where the cast of characters is mostly the bride’s same-age friends. Though there may be some overlap. Personally, I’m a real fan of bridal showers where there is an activity – not create-a-dress-out-of-toilet-paper, but a real activity like beading or pottery painting or something to get people who don’t know one another actively engaged.
I think you may have misread. It doesn’t seem that anyone expects a gift at an engagement party. Rather, the OP was unsure whether she should bring one, and almost everyone told her it was optional.
OK, I must be old fashioned. I’d give an engagement gift, but I wouldn’t take it to a party. The purpose of the shower is to “shower” the bride with things she’ll need for married life. Gifts are the purpose of that party. The engagement party and wedding are celebrations. It’s tacky to take the gift. You should have it delivered (or take it yourself) to the bride’s home at another time.
Always have given at both — usually registry at the engagement party and cash at the wedding. This is based on my mother’s etiquette guidance when I asked… Yes it sucks, especially for those of us (including me) who are not married, and may never get repaid for the extreme cost of celebrating our friends’ weddings.
Sorry – also, gift at the shower — usually something on the lower end (think kitchen gadget) – or I’ll skip the engagement party gift and give that at the shower — there’s no wrong answer… or right one unfortunately!
Totally agree on your last point – re: may never get repaid for the extreme cost of celebrating our friend’s weddings. I had a rash of close friends get married when I was in my early twenties and was a bridesmaid about once a month. Now in my early thirties, there is another bunch of marriages (a second wave). I’m in neither set and I really can’t bear to hear the earlier/older brides complain about the cost of the upcoming weddings. Worse yet – they want to go-in on group gifts that are absurdly cheap. It drives me nuts.
oh god… yes! My college friends got married within a couple years after college (or during wht I like to call the ‘lean years’ financially) — I was never a big fan of Sex & the City but I did love the episode when Sarah Jessica Parker’s character registered for a pair of Manolo Blahniks to make the point to a married-with-kids friend.
Repaid? Wow, awesome attitude. I’m sure your friends would be thrilled to know that you are secretly grumbling about whether or not you’ll be “repaid” for joining them in celebrating their special day.
Either you can afford to go and want to go – and you go happily, and buy whatever gift your budget permits – or you can’t/don’t. But please don’t keep tabs in your head of how much you’ve shelled out on others over the years and think snarky thoughts about whether or not you’ll get repaid.
Guessing you got married — here’s the thing, as a single woman, no one threw me a shower to start off my life, so if I want a set of nice china, that’s on me — and yes, I have spent thousands over the years on other people… just the way it is, but no, its not fair, and yes, it does cost a lot when you start to think about it.
SF Bay Associate
It absolutely does and I don’t think it is fair. I thought the “Manolo registry” on SATC was a great idea. If it’s OK for people to register for shower gifts, it should be OK for single people to register for, and receive, gifts they want, for whatever occasion.
Original Anon here – nope, I’ve never been married. I’m also not bitter about not having a set of Calphalon pots and will probably not register for gifts at all when we do get married.
Not that I don’t enjoy nice things. I do have very nice cookware that I’ve purchased for myself. I’ve just never minded buying gifts for weddings. I have no issues with the fact that I won’t get “repaid” if I don’t ask for gifts or have a big wedding.
I’m single and am not bitter about how much I have to spend. However, I am now pretty upfront with friends who are getting married that I am more than happy to attend the wedding itself but will probably not attend any showers/bachelorette parties, etc.
There are plenty of couples who get married and have tiny/justice of the peace weddings and don’t expect any gifts whatsoever. I have plenty of friends who went this route and presumably didn’t get any more reciprocation in terms of gifts/expenditures as the singles.
Totally agree w/ Shayna et al. I’m in my late twenties, have been a bridesmaid 8 times in the last 10 months, and have not taken a vacation (nor will I be in 2010) in years that wasn’t to someone else’s wedding. I have spent literally thousands of dollars on the gifts, the dresses, the travel. I have been sent bills without any warning by maids of honor for bridal showers I could not attend simply because I was in the wedding party. I love my friends and am always glad to be there if that’s what they want, but the reality is that other people’s weddings are an expense that will actually delay my ability to buy a home. Frankly these experiences have completely turned me off to the entire tradition/industry, and my boyfriend and I will be doing a very low-key parents-and-siblings-only ceremony.
Many of my friends have been wonderful, considerate brides. But there are also quite a few who keep track of, and mention often, the guests who didn’t give a gift/gave a cheap gift/didn’t come to the shower or bachelorette party. I think all that we unmarrieds, elopers, and low key brides ask from everyone else is a bit of perspective, because this stuff really adds up and ultimately has nothing to do with the very serious and joyous decision to get married.
The cost of the gift is supposed to equal what you estimate the cost per guest of the wedding is. If you don’t want to spend money on a gift, decline to go to the wedding. Otherwise, if you’re accepting the bride’s hospitality and assuming you can afford to buy a gift, you should get one. You may not receive gifts, but you’re not spending $200 per person on a big party, either.
If you can’t afford a gift or can only afford a small one, I can’t imagine that your friends would mind. When I was still in school I told a few friends that I couldn’t afford to both attend a wedding and pay for a gift, and without exception they flat-out told me they’d rather have their friends at the wedding than get presents. One well-off friend even offered to pay for my hotel room. People have big weddings because they want to celebrate, not because they want to get stuff. It’d be far easier to skip the reception and spend $30,000 on stuff if that was their goal.
When was the last time you threw a $50-$100 a head party for your friends? If you had a party, I’d bring you a bottle of wine. If I’m invited to a wedding, I bring a wedding gift. And I got married young, so I certainly didn’t get gifts as extravagant as I give because my friends were poor and my wedding was modest.
Ok, sure, it may be crass to keep tabs on costs shelled out for weddings, BUT….
if you marry later in life (as I did) or not at all, you may be going to dozens of weddings over decades. In most cultures, gift-giving works through reciprocity, but when one doesn’t have a wedding of their own, there is no opportunity for reciprocity.
I often threatened to have a major 30 or 35th birthday party, so that I could register for all the awesome kitchen gear that my friends had received for their weddings…. never had the ovaries to actually follow through.
Eventually, I did get married, and we received some lovely wedding gifts – some from friends whose weddings I’d attended decades earlier, but mostly from more recent friends.
I long for a KitchenAid mixer and a china set worthy of formal dinner parties. How old do you think I have to get before I can guilt friends into buying these for me?
See the comments above though. Weddings are now in the 40-60 grand range! I highly doubt you’ve spent that much on your friends. So yes you don’t get kitchen ware, but you do get to keep all that money.
Dictionary.com defines “gift” as “property, money or an asset that one person transfers to another while receiving nothing in return.” If you can’t give a gift without being pissed that you’re not getting something back, don’t do it. No true friend wants a gift wrapped in bitterness and a statue of limitations on repayment. You can express your affection for someone without spending money: send a heartfelt note, bake them something, bring a bottle of wine, or have a long, enjoyable conversation. And decline the invitations to events where they’re going to offer you goodies, such as company, drinks and food. Use the money you save to buy your own Kitchenaid, if that makes you feel better … and thus makes you a better friend. Yes, Sex in the City was way funny. But I doubt most people find happiness following Carrie’s (or Samantha’s or … ) philosophy of life.
I wholeheartedly agree with Lizbet. Gifts should be given freely and joyously without expectations of equitable reciprocity. That said, I can see how one would get annoyed by couples who feel entitled to gifts and make guests feel forced/ obliged to give a gift.
My complaint was more that the old brides won’t stop moaning and groaning to me about how expensive weddings were and trying to cheap out on things that nobody cheaped out on for them. Nevermind the fact that five years ago, I was expected to shell out for bridesmaid dresses, bachelorette etc etc for their weddings. Not really keeping tabs, just calling out their behavior as tacky.
Do the people you know have shotgun weddings? Who is already registered at the time of the engagement party?
A lot of my friends waited to have the engagement party until their families could attend which pushed the date out at least a couple months — it’s really very common!
You said that you’ve only been to one engagement party, correct? You’ll experience the … shall we say, eager, bride at some point!
I’m a pretty organized person and I like to have things done and settled – so yes, I was registered by the time an engagement party would have been thrown. I didn’t have an engagement party per se, but my husband’s aunt / uncle threw a luncheon at the Ritz in our city so that my family (from out of town) could meet husband’s family (in town). I do remember that aunt / uncle gave us a lovely silver bread basket, but I don’t remember any other gifts.
I think a bridal shower gift can range from modest to extravagant depending on budgets and closeness to bride. As a young married, standing up in my girlfriends’ weddings, we gave things like ice cream parfait glasses with chocolate sauce, or cute dishtowels from Crate & Barrel, that type of thing. I’ve given more extravagant bridal shower gifts as I got older and had more disposable income to do so, but the inexpensive gifts are just as appropriate IMO.
anon - chi
Seriously? I’ve been to a lot of weddings and have never thought that the gift was something for which I should be “repaid.” The point of the gift is to give something from the heart – if you regard it as a debt and are annoyed it won’t be repaid, I’d bet the bride and groom would prefer you didn’t give it in the first place.
That you are happy for the couple does not negate the high cost of attending these weddings over the years — its one of the inequities of being single and having friends who are not. It’s not fair – that doesn’t make me bitter or cheap – just honest about the way it is.
My gift giving at these events usually follows the structure below but there are always exceptions depending on the closeness of the friendship:
Engagement party – Usually no gift. If they are very close friends or family I will sometimes do a card and a bottle of champagne/liquor or buy them a drink at a bar when we’re out next together. If I choose to do an engagement gift, it is irregardless of whether they throw an engagement party. I do not buy a gift simply because they are throwing a party. If someone I would otherwise give a small engagemetn gift throws a party, I rarely bring the gift to the party. One exception is that I will bring it if they live far away from me and I’m not going to see them frequently between now and the wedding.
Wedding shower(s) – Usually something from the registry or another creative gift idea for the home (e.g nice spices or decorative item I feel fairly confident the bride will like). If I am invited to multiple showers (sometimes happens when you’re standing up or are family), I will bring relatively small gifts to each.
Bachelorette party – No gift unless the invitation explicitely requested we bring something specific (underwear has recently been a common requested gift at some of these parties and they are later worked into an inevitably raunchy game).
Wedding – Cash and card or I will mail gift from registry to couple’s home. Number one rule here – never write a check b/c it’s usually a hassle for the bride to cash with the name changes!
This is what I have done and it seems like everyone else at the events I went to have done. No gift at the engagement party, except for some people brought nice wine to one at home, small gift from the registry for the shower (appetizer plates, etc) and then gift from the registry sent to the home or card and cash at the wedding.
Maybe I’m a little different, but I actually prefer to give a gift (as opposed to cash) as the wedding gift. My mother was incredibly talented at crochet and would usually make some sort of doiley set as a wedding gift. My mother taught me to crochet a few years ago. Though most of my friends are young like me (age 26) and prefer the money, no one has ever balked at the idea of getting a hand-made afghan as a gift. One friend who got married last year (who had specifically said he and his wife would prefer cash gifts) said my gift, was “the best wedding gift, ever”.
And those of you crocheters and knitters out there, know these kinds of hand-made gifts aren’t exactly cheap either.
Hijacking the hijack – :)
Speaking expensive weddings – what does everyone do about “destination weddings” that involve an expensive trip and an entire weekend of activities, all of which cost something? A fairly good friend of mine is getting married in Jamaica next year and I have already tabulated the cost of my husband and I attending the wedding and pre-/post-festivities – without our son – at around $5,000. My husband says we could just give them 1/5 of the money in cash as a killer wedding present and save ourselves a lot of money and hassle. I want to support my friend, but that is a major vacation for us in a year when we already have another one planned – plus we can’t take our son with us. Am I a terrible friend for wanting to tell her we’re not coming?
Nope, you aren’t.
People who plan destination weddings fall into one of two categories, imo. Category #1 are those who understand that the travel expense and time commitment may exclude many people who would otherwise love to be there, and they are very understanding of the can’t-make-its and happy about those who are able to attend. Category #2 thinks the universe revolves around them, esp. w/respect to their wedding, and they’ll be pissed – but then again, they’d find a way to be pissed about something no matter where they chose to get married and regardless of whether or not you attended.
We’ve definitely skipped weddings that aren’t where we live and told the couple quite simply “we can’t afford it.”
Agree, I was under the impression that destination weddings are planned with the expectation that many, many guests can’t make it. The ones I’ve been invited to/heard of ended up consisting of less than 20 people. I think you should only go if it would coincide with a great time for a vacation as well, or if your the sister of the bride or something.
Agree – My understanding is that destination weddings are a way to weed out the casual acquaintances, and with the understanding (or at least there should be an understanding!) that it may not be feasible for everyone.
That said, as Anon pointed out, the Bride/Groom Zilla is a spreading persona, and I find that the older the couple, the more childish they act (mostly because – and this is purely conjecture on my part – they have waited until now for their moment in the spotlight)
I don’t think you should ever feel guilty about RSVPing “no” to a destination wedding that will cost the same as a vacation or used car. I think this holds true even for a non-destination wedding that happens to be far from where you live (e.g. bride’s family is in CA, which is where wedding will be, and you live in midwest or east coast). You can be “sad” or “disappointed” that you cannot make it, but I don’t think you should feel guilty.
Also, I don’t think a lengthy explanation should be required. I have had to say “no” to a few of these over the years and generally do not feel obligated to go over my personal finances with the bride and groom to explain why I cannot attend. A simple “I’m so sorry, but it is simply not in my budget” should suffice. I also do not feel obligated to dip into my house savings or emergency fund to pay for it. (I have said “yes” to a few destination weddings over the years too which makes me ever so aware of the expense and even more confident in my answer when I have to say “no!”)
I will confess to sending a slightly larger gift and far sappier note to any dear friend whose wedding I am unable to attend for any reason.
I don’t think you’re a terrible friend at all! I think destination weddings can be fun and if people want to have them, they should go for it. But, they shouldn’t expect people to come. Hoping people can come, wanting people to come, etc. is fine. But a couple can’t get upset (or shouldn’t get upset, I should say) if not everyone can attend their pricey destination wedding.
On a side note, I think it’s a great idea to have a smallish destination wedding and have a larger celebration in one’s hometown a few months later.
For a slightly different perspective on the destination wedding:
My BF and I live on the east coast. His entire family (and there are a LOT of them!) lives within an hour’s drive. My closest family member (mom) is 600 miles away, and the rest of my family is scattered over ten different states. There is literally nowhere we could hold our wedding that wouldn’t involve expensive travel for 95% of my family, and if we hold it anywhere other than where we live now, every single one of his family members would have to travel. So if at least half the guests are going to have to travel no matter what, we might as well have them travel to someplace fun, you know?
You’re in a tough position, but if someone can’t make it, I think it would be a little out of line to get upset. No one will (or should) talk about how unreasonable it was for you to have your wedding in the location you plan to have it (like my family does about the cousin who went for an awful destination wedding in order to earn a free honeymoon at the resort), but at the same time, if a friend or non-nuclear-family member opts out of a 800 mile trip to your wedding, please be understanding (not that I read your post to mean that you wouldn’t be).
Oh, absolutely. I’m fully expecting that probably only a quarter of my family would be able to come, which makes me sad, but I understand! I’d never get upset with anyone for being unable to come – I just wanted to point out the difficult position some of us are in. :-)
Sure, but also take into account that perhaps more of your family could travel if, for example, they could stay for free with your BF’s family in the city where you currently live, or if you held the wedding in your hometown where a hotel room only costs $100. But there’s nothing wrong with a destination wedding so long as you realize some people aren’t going to make it, and some of them are going to gripe (and they’d probably find something to gripe about anyway).
No, I disagree. Because if you do a destination wedding, you’re typically committing your relatives to an expensive hotel, whereas if you just said, “We’re going to get married in City X (where either you or the groom have ties),” they can double up with relatives, stay in more inexpensive hotels, etc.
Sorry, I’m old-school on this — I think destination weddings are rude. I think it’s rude to make people spend their vacation time on your wedding and to have them have to be at expensive hotels (unless you’re footing the bill).
I don’t have any problem with destination weddings in theory, as long as the bride/groom don’t impose a high-priced hotel on the guests or expect that many people will be able to attend. These days it just seems like most of these destination wedding venues require the couple to book a certain amount of guests into the hotel. It’s just not fair to guests to make them spend $250/night on a hotel just so you can get a free honeymoon or a cheap wedding.
J, I was in the same position as you (my family is in New Jersey; his is in the midwest and the south) and we eloped. Then we had two parties: one in NJ, and one in the midwest (where we now live). We invited “my” people to the one in NJ, and “his” people to the one in the midwest. Problem solved. No, it wasn’t the same as a fancy wedding with all the glamour, etc., but we had THREE parties AND it all cost under $10,000 for everything. Can’t complain about that!
Absolutely not a terrible friend. Politely decline the invitation, no explanations needed, and send the same sort of gift you usually would to a friend of this level.
Also, Jamaica: friends of ours went to a destination wedding there last year, and hated it. Very scary outside the resort itself, and even there, on the beach, all sorts of pressure-y vendors.
Had a similar experience. Was uncomfortable the whole time I was there, was a little terrifying to be honest. We were in a ostensibly romantic cottage on the ocean – once we got there we realized that the cottage came with its own 2 guard dogs and 24-hour armed security guard. Super relaxing, let me tell you.
I just say that I’m sorry, I can’t afford to go or that I can’t take the time off to travel. Although if you really want to go, I’m sure you can make it a family vacation and hire a sitter to watch your son during the wedding. Most nicer hotels have a childcare service available. But I can’t imagine that your friend would be upset if you can’t make it – I’m sure she realizes that many people won’t be able to take a long weekend in the Caribbean.
OK, am I the only parent that won’t leave the kids with a sitter I don’t know? I’ve always been concerned that sitter positions at resorts are a magnet for molesters. It only takes once. If we travel with the kids, it’s with the plan to watch them ourselves at all times. If not, they stay with Grandma…
It’s a valid concern, but I remember my mom leaving me with resort-recommended babysitters when I traveled with her for business. You’d probably want to do your research carefully and make sure the hotel is running full background checks on all childcare employees. I don’t think it’s inherently more risky than daycare or Sunday school.
I had the same worries. When the children were babies, I’d go through nanny agencies in the area I would be visiting, to arrange an adults-only evening. I figured they screened more thoroughly than resorts. And when my children were old enough to speak (and thus tell me if something happened to make them uncomfortable) I was comfortable leaving them in the kids’ group activities at resorts. And when we were renting a summer house for a week, I sometimes called area churches ahead of time, asking the youth director or church secretary for the name of a teenager who would be a great babysitter. I’d call her parents first to explain and then talk to her. (Yep, I was desperate for a bit of grown-up time, and these both worked great.)
I think destination weddings are rude as well — your wedding is one of the most important days of your life and I can’t imagine picking a place that would be so expensive and out of the way that it would preclude a large majority of your guests from coming. I think looking back, those who have destination weddings may regret that some of the most important people in their lives couldn’t make it for financial reasons.
Do you think elopements are rude too? I’m not up for inviting people you know won’t come as a gift grab, but I don’t think it’s rude to not have a huge wedding with everyone there.
I agree with everyone else – just rsvp “no” and spend as much as you’re comfortable with on a gift. I wouldn’t give $1000 gift unless one of my siblings were getting married.
I agree with some others on this one. I say you should bring a small, relatively inexpensive gift, such as a bottle of wine. I typically spend $35-$50 on the engagement party gift, $75-$100 on the shower gift, and $150-$250 on the wedding gift (or cash/check). Of course, the amounts are dependent on how well I know the bride and groom and on whether I’m bringing a date to the wedding.
anon - chi
According to etiquette books, engagement parties actually aren’t supposed to be gift-giving occasions (unlike showers and weddings).
I have a question on cash as gift for weddings.
I have always thought that was somewhat tacky. I know that is certainly the norm in some cultures, but I thought that for the most part no one did this with their friends (different to get $$ from grandma & grandpa vs someone you went to law school with, let’s say).
So is this really the norm?? And, for those that give, how much do you give?? Is it per person? Do you pay more if you bring a date?? How does it work?
In my not-too-extensive experience (several Italian friends) it’s a cultural thing. People give the same in cash as they would pay for a wedding gift. Cheques are made out to the woman, in her maiden name. Acknowledgment is made with a hand-written note from the bride and groom within a couple of months.
I once sent a Visa gift card (sold everywhere, this one I happened to buy at Macys) to a couple in another country, after their registry refused my U.S. credit card when I tried to buy them items from their list. The gift card worked fine for them, no trouble using it.
Agree on the check gifting — If possible write it out in nice calligraphy, and know that your gift is every bit as appreciated, or more, than the toaster oven (all three of them) from the registry.
I usually give a cheque at weddings. I’m sure there are a huge range of opinions about the amount to give for a cash gift. The rule of thumb I follow is to try and cover the cost of my meal, plus some extra as a gift. If I don’t know the couple well, this usually works out to $150 for me, or $300 for myself and my fiance. [I live in a large Canadian city where weddings are expensive!!]
It’s cultural. I live in a Chinese-dominated society and cash is what you’re SUPPOSED to give for the wedding banquet. The way it’s calculated is based on the ‘posh-ness’ of the hotel. So if a couple has their wedding banquet at the 4 Seasons, you’re expected to shell out $150 per head in red envelopes and leave it at the door with whichever person is the official “collector”.
Unfortunately all couples calculate the cost per table and work out how many people need to “show up” for them to recoup cost – and use it as a great way to treat themselves to hotels they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise, as guests are of course footing the bill. Several young associates at my husband’s bank ‘threw’ banquets at the Ritz/4 seasons which I thought was terrible for guests. It’s as professionally done as any finance manager’s spreadsheets.
So if we don’t know people REALLY well, we just don’t show up – or if unavoidable, only one of us goes depending on who is getting married. (On top of everything, we’re vegetarian, which means we usually have a bad time anyway at the banquets with the crap that is doled out in the name of food)
Definitely a cultural thing. I’m South Asian and it’s practically expected that people will give cash/check. For most guests, it ends up about $100 per couple, and more if you’re close friends/family.
I was also surprised to see so many people mention cash/check as the default gift!
I once read an Emily Post column where she went off on registries as being incredibly tacky (in her opinion, begging with your hand out is begging, no matter what name you give it).
Cash just seems super tacky to me. I understand there are exceptions for cultural norms, and fine, but I can’t imagine I would ever feel comfortable going to someone’s wedding & just giving them an envelope full of cash or a check. It’s a wee bit too Sopranos for me. If you can’t afford to throw a big wedding, by all means, don’t have one — it’s hardly mandatory. But please don’t invite me to just up-front pay for it.
As for the comments above re: recouping the costs — I think it’s terrible that people are so bitter about it (and for single ladies who want a nice set of pots w/o getting hitched, spend the big wedding $ on buying a house/apt. & have a huge housewarming). I do think a large chunk of the pervasiveness of all these gift giving occasions can be explained by people just wanting to re-coup their own costs . . . so it’s all a bit, well I went to X, Y, Z’s engagement parties, now lets invite them to ours so they can get us Williams & Sonoma gift cards (I have a group of friends who all go in on the same group gift card every time one of them gets engaged — it ends up being a total wash in the end, and I think that’s exactly the plan.) Personally, if/when I get married, I do not intend to have a big wedding at all (more like elopement on a tropical island) & so I won’t be ‘re-couping’ my costs, as it were, if everyone’s comments are to judge above. I think it’s very sad — not because I want people to return the favor — but because I try to go out of my way to give gifts people will appreciate years and years down the line & I give them whenever I am happy for someone, regardless of whether I go to the wedding or if it’s big or small. I would hope that I have friends in my life who are thoughtful & uncalculating enough to do the same for me sometime in the future. But judging from above, that does not appear to be the “norm.”
This is in response to AIMS – for some reason there isn’t a response button.
I think this conversation is different depending on whether you’re in the wedding or just a guest. I agree with you that giving gifts you genuinely want to give because you love the couple is a pleasure, and that it’s terrible (and totally defeats the purpose of giving) to keep track. *But* everything is totally different when you’re in the bridal party. That comes with a good deal of obligation and expense that has little to do with what you can afford or would genuinely like to give to the couple to send them into their new life. I don’t think twice about spending on engagement, shower, and wedding gifts, but that is different than being expected to foot a portion of the bill for someone’s shower(s) and this new trend of destination bachelorette parties (insane!!) on top of the gifts, dress, and travel. If there is a polite way to decline being part of the wedding party (that truly won’t hurt the bride’s feelings), I haven’t found it. As I said above, some of my bride-friends have been so considerate and wonderful about the whole process, and I usually am happy to contribute & honored to be included. But I think a lot of the “bitter” comments above are the result of brides who take for granted that they should be celebrated on multiple occasions, with multiple gifts, without making any plans based on the financial realities of their best friends. I personally can’t begin to imagine accepting all of these different presents from one person, and it has made me see some friends differently when I see that kind of entitlement and self-involvement.
It’s cultural. I’d still follow the rule of giving the same amount you estimate they spent per guest, assuming you can afford that. And perhaps you’d prefer to get a Visa gift card instead of actual cash or check, which somehow seems less tacky.
anon - chi
I nearly always give cash, or sometimes cash plus a small gift off the registry. It’s not a cultural thing in my case, but I assume that most brides and grooms could use and would appreciate a gift that can be used on their honeymoon, house down payment, etc.
Maybe I am just old fashioned, but to me cash from peers seems odd. I think it’s different if it’s friends of parents or your own older relatives, but I have a few weddings coming up w/law school classmates this summer & it would seem seriously odd to me to bring $200 to their wedding, in a nice card.
I realize that a lot of couples starting out can use the money, but I think that there are more appropriate ways of giving them something useful. If you are giving cash, I do like the idea of getting some small present/keepsake to go with it but I still think that if its your friends/peers, giving cash is just a bit odd. It inherently becomes a bit like “thanks for inviting me to celebrate your love, here’s my portion of the tab” (which is entirely different from, say, your aunt & uncle sending you some $ and saying “here’s a little something to help you guys get started.”
@ C2 — thanks for explaining! I have never been in a wedding party (or to too many weddings with wedding parties, in fact) so that makes a bit more sense. I guess I just assumed that if you’re in someone’s wedding, you are very close & it’s a little less of a cost-benefit analysis, but looking back on it I realize that lots of people just want big weddings & lots of bridesmaids and it’s the kind of thing where you ask your best friend from child hood to be one even though you haven’t spoken in years. So that’s a very good point. It would make me view my friends differently too if they acted like spoiled children.
Just another viewpoint, as an old married lady of 18 (!) years. I certainly can understand the cash as a cultural gift, and even the very nice thought about how every new married couple can use some cash (true for us too, especially with massive student loans), but you can’t ignore/forget the beauty of being able to look at a tangible gift years later and warmly remember that “X and Y” gave you those beautiful candlesticks or that lovely bowl. You do remember gifts and you don’t remember cash! My favorite gift to give is to frame the couple’s wedding invitation-professionally done and sometimes accompanied with cash. The framing can easily cost $75-100. Someone did it for me, and I can tell you the framed invitation is hanging on our wall, right next to a wedding photo. We have a number of other memorable gifts that we use daily-even a $20 glass salad bowl with tongs (price tag left on), that I thought was tacky at the time but I have used weekly since. So don’t be afraid to be creative!
This stuff is all regional and culture-specific–I think there’s really no “norm” in the US. In my midwest experience (and not being of any particularly distinct ethnic tradition), engagement parties are not very common (although we had one, mostly so that our families could meet, and a few people brought gifts, most didn’t). Showers are a separate and distinct event from bachelorette parties, with relatively inexpensive registry household type items given at showers, and gag gifts or lingerie at bachelorette parties (which are generally just attended by close friends of the bride). And wedding gifts are either money or a “nicer” registry item such as china or crystal (or some totally random weird thing that no one would ever want, but I think that happens everywhere!).
I do think the idea of basing what you’re going to spend on what you think the bride / groom are spending per plate is tacky. You’re supposed to be sharing in their lovely day and their excitement, not mentally tallying up whether they were serving pasta, chicken or beef and how much the flowers must have run them.
Besides, it’s the people with the more modest weddings who could use MORE of my money, not less. I find it ludicrous to suggest that I should only give $20 to the couple who gets married in the backyard with punch and cake and but a couple hundred to the couple who treats me to a sit-down dinner at the Ritz. Hello, the first couple needs my money more. And if the second couple can’t afford the Ritz without requiring me to break even – well, they shouldn’t have booked the Ritz in the first place. You entertain by what you can afford, not by what your guests can pay.
Why not just bring a nice card, congratulating the couple?
speaking from my experience in NY
-people have been having engagement parties MONTHS after getting engaged– that gives them plenty of time to register, and yes, they do expect a gift. do i think its tacky? yes, yes i do.
– showers are women only and have become quite large (the last one I was at was held at the same location where a jonas brother was married). this is where everything from the registry is given as well as the “adult” gifts. this is even the case with very conservative women. in my opinion, its better than having a bachelorette party.
– if there is a bachelorette party they tend to be destination weekends just for the brides close friends. they cost mucho dinero.
– the appropriate wedding gift is cash or check to cover your (and your date’s) plates.
LOVE this scarf! Personally, I wear scarves all the time. So much so that a co-worker told me recently told me about all of the scarves that she saw at a festival over the w/e and how much I would have loved them all. Hmmm….makes me wonder if I actually wear scarves too often… Anyhow, I think a scarf is a great way to add some color to an otherwise boring outfit (for ex. my typical “uniform” of a black shirt and grey pants) and is perfect for the days when it is a little breezy but a little too warm for a jacket. Also, can’t beat the price of this one!
Love scarves as accents in the fall, winter, and even early spring but think they look out of place in the summer — of course, I’ve never been able to wear them as a stole without it appearing as the ‘bubuschka’ look (for those of you not familiar with Yiddish, it basically makes me look like a little old lady, recent off the boat at the turn of the century) — not flattering, or chic. Were it a chic look on me, I would reconsider their summer appropriate-ness.
I’ve never been able to pull off wearing a scarf. I admire it on other people but I feel like I’m wearing a costume when I try one on myself.
Yes you can! Scarves are definitely my signature thing. I own at least 50 scarves and wear them year-round. I would recommend buying some classic large, square, silk scarves to start. This site has easy-to-follow instructions on different ways to tie a scarf: http://www.texeresilk.com/cms-scarf_tying_guide.html . This blogger also does a lot of lessons on how to fold a scarf, and features different styles: http://www.unefemme.net/search/label/Scarves . Have fun!
Ca-ute! I’ve ordered 3… I know I am not supposed to be shopping, but three scarves for $30? Especially since its nearly June, and it doesn’t yet feel like spring in Chicago…..
I have a networking question.
I am a 3L (as of Saturday)! I worked for 2 semesters for a law firm that I would love to have a permanent job with after graduation, but they do not extend offers until August or September.
My town has a softball league for attys, and I played on the team for that firm last summer (while I was working there). I’m currently a summer associate at a different firm that does not have a softball team. The coach (a first year associate) of the dream firm asked if I wanted to play with them this summer (the team is composed of a few VIPs, a couple of newish associates, and summer associates). I’m friends with some of the folks on the team, but more like work-friends and not hang-out-in-social-settings friends. Would it look desperate if I play with them? They haven’t offered me a job, and I don’t want it to look like I’m just hanging around, hoping they will offer me one. But I really do want to work for them. Softball is fun, but I don’t know that I would want to play on the team if I didn’t want to work at the firm. Oh, and I don’t know that I need to keep my name fresh in everyone’s mind — I think I made a good enough impression that everyone will remember me come August.
I hope that wasn’t too long or convoluted. Thanks!
Play with them!!! There’s no such thing as being too desperate in this economy … especially if it’s playing a fun game with friends! As far as I’m concerned, that’s networking and keeping yourself top of mind. (This is from a 2L currently two states away visiting a judge on the off chance that I stumble upon good networking).
Play with them. It can’t hurt to make friends and have fun even if you don’t end up with the job. However, be cautious about how you discuss it with your colleagues at your summer associate firm – say you play on a softball team with friends from your old job, don’t say you play on your old firm’s team.
They asked you – so go for it! Even if you don’t end up working for them, having the connections will come in handy at some point in the years to come, I can almost guarantee it!
Do it!! You will be right there in front of them, top-of-mind, when it’s time for them to make job offers. Better yet, this may be a test – are you enough of a team player to play with us (literally) when you don’t even have an official job? There are a million reasons to do it and not very many reasons not to. Say yes, and then have fun.
Thanks everyone! I am excited that this is not a faux pas…. Softball nights were some of my favorites last summer.
Just curious if you will have time without it impacting your summer job. I played softball as a summer associate one year (for my husbands work team – non-law) and always felt childish having to say “I’m sorry I can’t work late tonight, I have a softball game.” The team had to have a minimum number of ladies in order to play so if I didn’t show the team would forfeit. Consider if you can do both without burning bridges at either end.
Play with them – get used to it, this is business and this is the way it’s done. It’s called networking!
They invited you == not desperate. Enjoy!!
But I will respectfully disagree on keeping your name fresh in their minds. We had 4 interns last year, all equally fabulous. 3 kept in touch throughout the year; 1 didn’t. Guess who got offers first?
Just don’t let anyone take any photos they can use to “prove” you’re a lesbian should you ever be nominated for the Supreme Court! ;-)
I like scarves in the winter and necklaces in the summer.
But a big scarf like that can be good to keep at work. My office is over air conditioned and sometimes I want to wrap up in something.
What KLo said.
I think big scarves and shawls may be best for big women, not for the petite or medium sized variety. I can’t see myself all wrapped up, except in cold weather. Seldom even then. It is interesting to think about clothes without accesoories or jewelry. For example, look at V. Redgrave’s costuming in “Letters from Juliet”. No accessories, no jewelry. No scarf. It really works. Of course, she is that Eileen Fisher type, very architectural, plenty of BONE. I do like accessories and jewelry, but it is fun to think about dressing witout them. Ideally, it can work well. You will always be wearing shoes, right?
I disagree. I am of the slender variety and am always cold. I would not be able to survive overly-air conditioned offices and classrooms without a shawl or scarf or something to wrap around my neck/arms.