It’s Tacky Invitation Day!

by admin on May 18, 2010

Story # 1

Here’s short one…!  My husband and I just received an invitation from an acquaintance to a reception that is to follow a private ceremony where the couple will express their commitment to one another.  I’m confused.  Are they getting married?  I presume so, as they have been living together for quite some time.  The wording just seems odd.  I also was a bit taken aback by the comments on the back of the invitation.  Bad enough that they printed “no gifts,” but the next line is what really threw me…”but cash donations to offset the cost of the reception are welcome.  Also, we are sure the musicians and bartenders will appreciate any tips you care to give them.”    0517-10

Story # 2

My boyfriend and I have been together for many years, own a home together and attend all family events together. Last year, one of my cousins was getting married. The invitation was sent to my mother’s house, about 3 years after I had moved out, and my mom called to tell me it had arrived. She sounded a little funny on the phone, so I was curious to see this invitation. I go to my mom’s to pick it up and the envelope is addressed to “Myself and Boyfriend”. But the kicker is, “and Boyfriend” was covered over with White-Out. Just one coat, so you could CLEARLY read what had been written there. I did not mind him not being invited, but I would have expected her to write up a new envelope once she changed her mind about including him. My boyfriend of course did not see anything wrong with what she did. I, however, decided to decline the invite, since clearly she was over her guest limit.     0513-10

Story # 3

I just received an invitation to a wedding dance.The invite, in Power Point presentation form, states that the couple are cool and know heaps of people, but aren’t rich so they can’t possibly afford to host everyone at the reception. Instead, the lucky recipients of this email invitation are invited to the after reception dance party. RSVP is required because, “I you don’t, you should bring your own cup and drink as we won’t have enough for you”. The best part is it’s a blanket email sent to the whole company, of 200+ people. 1104-08

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

NKKingston May 18, 2010 at 6:34 am

It probably says something about my group of friends, but the first half of the first one doesn’t sound so strange to me (i.e. the bit before the money grab!). I know quite a few people who’ve had commitment ceremonies rather than marriages. Sometimes it’s been for legal reasons – for example, one half of the couple was attempting to get a divorce but the ex was making it difficult – sometimes it’s been because their religious beliefs are so different as to make a wedding very awkward, and sometimes it’s been because they don’t like the institution of marriage. Mostly it’s been because a lot of my friends are hippies, to be honest. Nothing like a good excuse to weave your own bower from willow and wear half a tree in your hair!


Sharon May 18, 2010 at 7:11 am

In the first story, I am wondering if the “commitment” language means one of the couple is still legally married to someone else, and they can’t get married until his or her divorce is final.


SarahLovesFabric May 18, 2010 at 8:29 am

I’m assuming that the submitter of #1 knows whether the invitation senders are a same-sex couple or not, and whether they can legally marry in their state or not. That’s the context in which I have normally heard the phrase “commitment ceremony” used.
However, even some opposite-sex couples wish to publicly commit to one another without marrying, whether to express solidarity with same-sex couples (like Brad & Angelina, “we won’t marry until everyone can,”) or because of child custody issues, health insurance, an unfinalized divorce, etc.
While I will not comment on the validity of these reasons, at least they are skirting the words “marriage” or “wedding” if that’s not what’s actually going on here. And if they are getting legally married, and just aren’t using the words, that to me sounds like they should have resolved some issues before invitations went out.
Under any circumstances, though, the notations about cash donations and tips are just tacky, tacky, tacky.


Ponytail May 18, 2010 at 9:11 am

Story no. 2 – classy ! A similar thing happened to me in that my boyfriend and I received a Christmas card from his cousin addressed to “[Boyfriend’s name] and his girlfriend-whose-name-I-don’t-know”. Yup, that was written out in the CARD (obviously she filled in his name).
a) we’d been living together for about five years at that point
b) she’d have had to contact his mum to get the address so why not the name ?
c) she could have addressed the envelope to him, and then written a message inside to him, wishing us both a Merry Christmas
d) she really thought that was an appropriate thing to write in a card.

Some people are stupid, some are rude, some seem to be both – story no 2 has an example of the latter. Even without the White-Out, not inviting a SO of your family member is bad manners.


Margaret May 18, 2010 at 9:36 am

That first one doesn’t sound like a wedding. It sounds like they have decided that they do not want to get married for whatever reason, but plan on spending their lives together AS IF they were married, and so want to get to have a wedding-like celebration. Maybe it’s not fair, but I think if you want a wedding, you have to actually get married.


phoenix May 18, 2010 at 9:39 am

What is the etiquette faux-pas in the first one being an invitation to a commitment ceremony? I get the no gifts/bring cash being tacky, but the fact that a couple invited someone to a commitment ceremony and not a marriage doesn’t strike me as rude. I’m assuming the OP is not familiar with that type of ceremony, but it’s fairly common these days amongst couples who have reasons to not get legally married but who want to celebrate their union and show that they are in fact “serious.” If the OP was that confused/unfamiliar with the concept, it would have been fine to ask the couple to clarify.


NotCinderell May 18, 2010 at 11:18 am

Maybe it’s uncharitable of me, but I don’t understand why someone who was legally allowed to get married but had a problem with the “institution of marriage” would have no problem with a non-marriage commitment ceremony. Marriage is and has always been an official declaration to the world that you are committed to another person, and that we should all treat this non-blood relative as your next of kin. What is the difference between this and a non-marital “commitment ceremony?” Is it just an aversion to the word “marriage?” An unwillingness to sign a legal document that declares your couple status to the government?


Nicole May 18, 2010 at 11:22 am

In #1, I really hate to see tip jars at private events, but try to stop them! I helped to host a golden wedding anniversary party and the bartender put out a tip jar. We were hosting the bar and our charge included a gratuity for the bartender. I asked him to put it away and saw it back out on the bar, just a little hidden, a short time later. I went to the manager and made it clear that if the bartender took one more dollar in tips from our guests that we would not be paying for his services at all, let alone the gratuity. She wasn’t happy and said that they expect to earn those tips, but did force him to put it away. I won’t use that facility again since they seem to think it is ok to shake down guests for tips.


tinytx May 18, 2010 at 11:30 am

I once received an invitation to a *ahem, former friend’s wedding. We had been roommates and I was still living in the same house we had shared. Rather than send it to me at that address, she sent it to my parents, who had moved since we had last spoken, meaning she had to look it up to send it there. I took all that as a sign that she was inviting me to be polite, or it was just a gift grab. Either way, I took the hint, didn’t go and sent my regrets.

As far as stating “no gifts,” I really wish that it was okay etiquette to say that. After buying a house & moving in, me and my husband had a housewarming and weren’t even thinking about it in terms of receiving gifts, but rather just inviting everyone to check out our new place. I was a little embarrassed when everyone starting showing up with presents (and yes, they were promptly followed with thank you notes!). Sometimes people really do just want your company, and don’t want you to worry about spending any money on them.


Kitty_ev May 18, 2010 at 11:31 am

I see no problem with a commitment ceremony- plenty of people disagree with the fact that only heterosexual couples can marry so choose to go this route instead of having a legal marriage. I don’t see anything wrong with that- what would have been wrong would be to call it a marriage or wedding on the invitation when that’s not really what it is. I don’t see why couples who are choosing to commit to one another without a legal ceremony are any less entitled to throwing a party to celebrate the fact than couples who are having a legal ceremony of some description.


SammyHammy May 18, 2010 at 11:46 am

I am the poster of the first story. They are a heterosexual couple, both in their late forties. He’s divorced twice, she’s divorced at least once that I know of (he’s actually the cousin of my husband’s best friend from childhood, so while I see him at social events occasionally, I don’t really know him all that well). As far as I know, they are both legally free to marry.

Anyway, I don’t care if they get married or have a commitment ceremony or what; if they are doing what makes them happy, then more power to them. What I was confused about was how vague the wording is on the invitation. I honestly don’t know whether or not they are getting married. It just struck me as quite odd. And I do actually agree with Margaret’s comment that if you want all the perks of a wedding, you should actually get married.

The thing that really got me, though, were the comments on the back about no gifts and the tipping thing.


mommaknowsbest May 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm

The OP didn’t say there was a faus pax in the invite ins tory #1, simply that they didn’t understand the wording, and therefore wasn’t sure what the ceremony actually was–they never said there was a problem with it. I don’t think people should send out ambiguous announcements or invites,I would definitely want to know too what it was I was going to . All commenters on here need to read the stories thoroughly before posting comments, it shows your lack of etiquette when responding poorly to a story.


jenna May 18, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I see no problem with a commitment ceremony either, and you can throw a party for any reason you like. It’s your money, after all. (As long as you don’t throw parties just to grab for gifts – ew).

Nicole – what’s funny is that at the last wedding I attended, it was open bar (beer, wine and champagne only, which was totally OK) but there was a tip jar out. The friendly bartender was not pressuring guests to add to it. Having worked in the service industry and knowing how little such workers earn, even if my friends (bride&groom) had given the bartender a gratuity at the end of the night, I still felt it was fine to chuck a few dollars in there. As a guest, it didn’t bother me at all.


LadyJ May 18, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Hello all,

Long-time lurker, first time commenter here. I happen to know an elderly couple that wanted to marry but decided not to do so legally because the bride was getting an SSI check from her previous late husband that she would no longer receive were she to legally marry. So in order for them to be able to make a life together they held a committment ceremony at their church (and still called it a wedding/marriage because they felt they were “married in the eyes of God”).

I’m just pointing out that there are other reasons one might choose not to legally marry that have little to do with political statements or legal entanglements with an ex.


Cady May 18, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Tinytx, the exact same thing happened to me. My fiance and I moved in together, and we had a little housewarming party so everyone could see where we lived and also because we don’t see some of our friends as often as we’d like. I tried to word the invitation to emphasize that we just wanted to see everyone, and I was surprised when everyone showed up with a gift! I sent thank you notes, but I think in retrospect I would not have called it a housewarming, because I think that’s what made people bring gifts (or maybe they do just really like us).


moonwind May 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm

I remember a co-worker and his ‘non-wedding’. He and his lady both had been married and lost their spouses to early death. Both were collecting Social Security survivor benefits. If they “married” they would be losing that income. So, they chose the commitment ceremony, and called it their “un-wedding”.


phoenix May 18, 2010 at 3:45 pm

NotCinderell- I take it you aren’t familiar with a commitment ceremony. Basically, a commitment ceremony is on a personal level the same as a marriage, but legally very different. A marriage ceremony goes with a legal marriage (otherwise people will get mad at you for ‘faking’ a marriage.) People choose not to get legally married for a variety of reasons, including: the way it affects disability payments, the fact that homosexual couples are not allowed to (and solidarity with them), court bias towards women in the case of later divorce, belief that love does not necessitate government validation, being later in life and feeling that doing a ‘wedding’ is not appropriate, etc etc.

However, someone not wanting to enter into a marriage in the legal sense can still want to express devotion to someone, and declare to family that they are a unit and should be treated as such.

So basically, someone who is having a commitment ceremony is having a wedding without the legal side of it. But you can’t call it a marriage if you only do the personal/romantic/religious side of it and not the legal (not to most people) so it’s called a commitment ceremony.

Me, I don’t think it’s anybody’s business to tell others what forms are appropriate for expressing love, especially with all the legal/social/governmental/religious complications of this day and age.


NotCinderell May 18, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I think in lady J’s case, the people really are married. They have a religious ceremony, and even if it’s not a civil marriage, it’s still a marriage within a paradigm that they recognize. Further, for people that are of the same sex, they can’t get married legally in most states, so a commitment ceremony is their only option if they’re not of one of the few religions that allows for gay marriage.

However, one of the early commenters specifically mentioned the idea of having a commitment ceremony because one doesn’t believe in marriage. That’s what confuses me.


Jamesey May 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm

In response to Nicole: I was under the impression that it was in poor taste to have tip jars at formal events as well. Thank you for raising that issue.
Jenna as a guest at a wedding, I would not anticipate or look forward to tipping a bartender, regardless of my status in the service industry. I feel for all people, but I mostly feel annoyed at people charging someone who is supposedly a guest .


Dina May 18, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Another possibility on #1 is that they legally married earlier in a small courthouse thing and are just getting around to celebrating it now…


Amalthea May 18, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Not Cinderell – It is possible (and I believe quite common) to want to publicly acknowledge your and your partners’ commitment to one another in front of friends and family, yet dislike the institution of marriage itself.

In the case of myself and my partner, while we are legally able to have a wedding, we probably won’t – neither of us are in any way religious and in Australia there are laws giving de facto partners the same rights (or almost as close) as married couples.

Legally, in Australia, there are four main ‘conditions’ for marriage – It must be between a man and a woman (depending on your views this may or may not be a good thing. Also, transexual individuals have been allowed to marry – eg: genetically male, but female for all intents and purpooses). Secondly it must be forsaking all others (doesn’t always work out that way, unfortunately). Thirdly, as long as the couple live (again, doesn’t always work out that way). Lastly, it is supposed to be in the eyes of god (which doesn’t matter so much to non-religious people).

I have always seen marriage as having a religious base, whether it is done as a civil union with no mention of god or in a church/mosque/etc. My partner developed a slight aversion to it after witnessing his parents’ nasty divorce as a child. While I respect anyone who chooses to get married, whether religious or not, we both know that it’s not for us. The good thing about a commitment ceremony is that it allows people to officially state their commitment to and their love for one another (which I believe is the gist of a wedding) without engaging in the institution of marriage which, for one reason or another, they might not want to do.


Shoegal May 18, 2010 at 11:18 pm

I can certainly understand why (as SammyHammy elaborated) two people in their late forties who have three divorces between them might not want to have a legally binding marriage, but it’s so. not. cool. to ask your guests to offset the cost of your reception. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again ; have the wedding (or commitment ceremony) you can afford. Same goes for story #3 – we’d all love to have every member of our family and every single one of our friends there, but that’s not always plausible. You can have the awkward, “Sorry we can’t invite you cause our guest list is out of control,” conversation just like the rest of us.


surlychick May 19, 2010 at 6:13 am

Can we get past the commitment ceremony thing already? The real issue with #1 is the wording on the back: “but cash donations to offset the cost of the reception are welcome. Also, we are sure the musicians and bartenders will appreciate any tips you care to give them.” That’s tacky! If you can’t afford the reception, don’t have one- or have one that you can afford.


Momma Bates May 19, 2010 at 9:07 am

We recently received a wedding invitation that stated that space was limited so only the first 150 to RSVP would be accepted. Because we love them both, we sent our RSVP back quickly. If we hadn’t loved them quite as much, we most certainly would have sent our regrets. We did get a good laugh out of it, though.


DGS May 19, 2010 at 9:13 am

The commitment ceremony vs. wedding issue aside, it is the responsibility of the person who is booking the reception to provide their vendors (which includes event planners, photographers, florists, musicians, bartenders, waitstaff, etc.) with a tip, NOT that of their guests. For our wedding, we had set the tips aside and given them to my Mom to hand to the vendors in sealed envelopes at the end of the reception; each contained a handwritten thank-you note from me (the bride) and the cash tip. For bartenders and waitstaff, I gave a large tip to the reception captain and asked him to kindly distribute it among his waitstaff. One’s guests are just that, guests. They are there to celebrate the couple, not to serve as a cash cow.


Xtina May 19, 2010 at 10:45 am

#1: Although I also happen to come from the school of thought of “no playing house unless you really get married”, I understand there are some exceptions—but whatever the case, don’t host the party if you can’t afford it. If I’m going to pay for a party, then I’ll host my own, haha. And yes, tip jars at a private event are tacky; the host should arrange to cover an appropriate tip for the bar staff as part of their contract.

#2: Obviously the bride’s afterthoughts were all too evident—would it have been that much trouble to re-address a new envelope to the OP? Personally, if it were me doing the inviting, I would have included the boyfriend since he was apparently only a hair’s width from being officially family anyway, but I understand that cuts to the guest list are hard decisions, and I wouldn’t have essentially written out my thoughts on paper and sent it to the guest and her (disinvited) S/O.

#3: Again, if you can’t afford the party, then don’t throw it. Open invitations of that sort are awful enough on their own (aren’t you supposed to only invite people you know and actually WANT there to your parties?), but the wording they selected made the invitation seem like nothing more than a cattle-car call for attention or gifts.


Southern Sugar May 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm

#1. Asking your guests to pay for your party is just rude. But I did want to mention something re: tip jars at events like these. Sometimes even if it’s spelled out in the vendor contract that there is a gratuity included, that isn’t necessarily going to the bartenders and waitstaff (which IMO is a total ripoff).

Example: My dad works as a bartender for an event center right now that has a “gratuity” clause. However, it’s really just a fee for the event center; the bartenders don’t see any of it. The only tips they get are whatever people drop in the tip jar. I’m working on explaining to him that this is an issue he needs to take up with the event center rather than getting annoyed with the guests who (rightfully from an etiquette perspective) often ignore the tip jar. So I would caution people to inquire about “gratuity” charges and specifically to whom they go to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.

#2. Ouch, afterthought much?

#3. Yikes! Who does stuff like that?


tennisgal1206 May 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm

true story. I received an evite for a coworker bridal shower. The theme was lingerie. I have hung out with said bride to be exactly once outside of work. On the guest list, I noticed mostly other female coworkers. Needless to say with such short notice about a week and a half, I couldn’t secure a sitter for my 8 month old for a weeknight. I declined the invitation.

About a week later, I received the invitation to the wedding. Or what appeared to be a wedding. However a few things were a bit off in this invitation:

– The RSVP date was a week past due. (I was clearly a B list guest)
– I was invited to the ceremony only. There was a reference in the invitation that the couple would be having a pre-ceremony reception the day before. But no other details (time, place, etc) So I could only assume I was only being invited to the ceremony.
– The ceremony was on Mother’s Day and as a new mom with a mom local I had already well-established other plans.

I thought the whole thing was horrible!


AS May 19, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Some just are, well, for the lack of a better word – weird! After reading the above stories, I felt compelled to share this story with readers.

My mother was finalizing her divorce when she met my father. My parents are married for 30+ years now (and they knew each other 5 years before their wedding).
About 10 years ago – before the internet era (when my parents have been married for more than 20 years already), a cousin of my mother sent her an invitation or a card (not sure which as my parents returned it quickly). But the invitation had mom’s previous husband’s last name! There is no way on this earth that she did not know my father’s (and her current) last name as she was in touch with my grandparents and other aunts and uncles of my mother. My parents were extremely offended.


CB May 20, 2010 at 3:00 am

Re. #1 and #3: in the UK it’s common practice to invite someone to the wedding ceremony and disco/dance (sometimes known as “evening reception”) but not the main reception inbetween (sit down meal sometimes called the “wedding breakfast”). Coming from South Africa, I find this really strange: what are people supposed to do in the meantime? My feeling is, if you can’t afford to pay for a sit-down meal for everyone, then don’t have a sit-down meal or don’t invite everyone you know.

I suppose couples do this so that they don’t offend anyone by not inviting them at all but I would prefer not to have to divide my guests into A-list and B-list. A previous commenter mentioned what I think is a fantastic idea: to say the first however-many to RSVP may come! lol That will certainly get those procrastinating respondents checking their diaries and jolly well responding! 🙂


NKKingston May 20, 2010 at 3:23 am

DGS: For bartenders and waitstaff, I gave a large tip to the reception captain and asked him to kindly distribute it among his waitstaff.

Southern Sugar: Sometimes even if it’s spelled out in the vendor contract that there is a gratuity included, that isn’t necessarily going to the bartenders and waitstaff (which IMO is a total ripoff).

I was going to say, this is why you should ideally always tip in cash, and always give it to the person you’re tipping. Credit/debit goes straight to management, and they’re not legally required to distribute it to the staff who actually served you. Obviously you like to think you’ve hired an ethical company, but for the waitstaff it’s always nicer to receive the money in person.

(Have to say, in the UK I’ve never heard of tipping the staff you specifically hired to cater. But it’s a completely different tip culture anyway)


Morgs May 21, 2010 at 12:36 am

I don’t really see an issue with #1 (apart from the strange wording as mentioned by the OP), maybe it’s my age group (late 20s) but the last 3 wedding invites I’ve received were all of the “no gifts but cash welcome” variety. And I don’t see a problem with that in this day and age. These couples all had receptions they could afford – it’s just nice to know that their next few months after the wedding won’t be as “lean” as expect, and they won’t be stuck with any of the useless crap that usually suffices as wedding gifts. Weddings can have a gift registry which basically indicates to people what and where to buy gifts for the couple, I don’t see much difference in suggesting a cash gift instead. In the end, it’s entirely up to you – you get them what you choose. The same deal with the tip jars – they aren’t forcing people to give them money (or “shaking them down” as one person put it). It is ultimately up to the guest whether they choose to tip or not. Some posters are really over-reacting to suggestions (not requests) for cash donations – you make it seem like these people are criminals trying to extort money from you!


Kendra May 21, 2010 at 2:29 am

I just had to to respond to some of the commenters who were asking, “why bother having a ceremony. if the marriage isn’t legal”. Answer, because you are still publicly committing to another person. I belong to a faith community that, for admittedly political reasons, has chosen to no longer perform legal weddings. In a commitment/wedding ceremony, a couple stands up in front of their officiant before their friends, family, community and their god to declare ” I choose you, above all others, in bad times and good, to be my beloved, until the end of days. Your family and my family becomes our family. With Love and Trust.” A commitment ceremony is not “less than” a marriage ceremony, at most it’s “different from”. In the eyes of my community, a committed couple is no different from a married couple.
That being said, the #1 invitation is extremely tacky. It just goes to show that there are gimme pigs in all walks of life. I agree wholeheartedly with the other commenters in that if you can’t afford to throw the party you want, then have the party you can afford. An affordable reception can be a beautiful reception, especially if the hosts see to their guest’s comfort and enjoyment rather than just trying to put on airs.


jenna May 23, 2010 at 10:57 am

I should also say, I would never put “no box gifts” or “cash appreciated” or any dumb poem in our wedding invitations, on our website etc.. I’d never just “ask for cash”.

But, like a tip jar that I can contribute to or not at an event, I don’t mind or care if other people do it. I figure, we want to get the couple something they’ll like, right? Well, they’d like money. So, while we’d be totally within our rights to bring a “gift” (as opposed to cash) regardless of what the invitation said, I am not going to waste my money on a spiteful gift that the couple doesn’t want. The wedding world is so full of gifts that people don’t actually want that I see no need to contribute my share.

I know registries are accepted and even expected in today’s wedding world, but honestly I find them just as “gimme gimme” as admitting you want cash. “Here, look at this list of stuff we want!” Sure, they help guests figure out what the couple would like, but if the couple doesn’t actually want things, what on earth do they register for? And I am OK with a couple that honestly says “we don’t want that stuff. We don’t like stuff. We just want to travel/save for a house/whatever”.

We’re kind of in that boat ourselves: at no point did we say “no gifts” or “cash please” because we do feel it’s rude to do either. But we don’t want typical wedding gifts – we don’t want “stuff” at all. We live abroad, expect that we won’t settle in one place for awhile, can’t cart a bunch of expensive stuff around and have nowhere to store it (not even getting into shipping issues). So I feel for a couple with a similar outlook.

I also feel that registries sort of force couples into a “conform or be forever mocked” situation. If you don’t register (as we won’t) people lament that they don’t know what to get you. If you don’t want them to get you anything, they complain that they really want to (or they feel they have to). If you do register and put stuff you actually want on there (as opposed to the usual home items that not all people need or care for) people think you’re greedy or tasteless. It’s like you’re sent to etiquette hell if you dare to want something that isn’t a china set, cookware, towels or sheets.

We’re having no part of it. No registry. No asking for cash. Nothing except a web page that says “please, really, no gifts necessary”. If people buy us boxed gifts, well, that’s nice, but with no storage and no way to get them back to our apartment abroad, we’ll have to return them. If people give cash, great. If they bring just a card, awesome. Nothing? That’s cool too. Donation to a charity? Great. Gift cards? Well, I hope they don’t expire anytime soon because we can’t use them right away.

If our guests think we’re crass for refusing to register for a bunch of stuff we don’t want and can’t keep, then we figure they clearly don’t know us or our lifestyle very well and would be better off not coming or not bringing anything.

And this is why I happily tuck checks into cards for weddings. No judgment. No questions asked. Just well wishes.


jenna May 23, 2010 at 11:00 am

I should add above that I do agree that “cash to offset the cost of the reception” *is* in fact an extraordinarily tacky thing to put on an invitation or elsewhere. Admitting you want cash doesn’t bug me. Openly saying “pay for our reception”? Yeah, no.


CB May 24, 2010 at 2:58 am

Absolutely Jenna! On top of all the stress of planning our wedding, like you, we had people going “we don’t know what to get you”. It’s really lovely of people to think of getting a couple a gift but please HEAR us when we say we live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with NO space. Seriously. No space.

The very mother-in-law (mine) who said we had to have a gift registry because “people were asking her” sat on our sofa two weeks ago saying “I don’t know how you can live like this” (i.e. in a cluttered home). Argh…


jenna May 24, 2010 at 11:45 am

Exactly! Our home isn’t that cluttered, but it *is* in Asia. They don’t do gift registries here (everyone gives cash, it’s known that you give cash, that’s what’s expected and there are no questions of tackiness. It really just works better).

We’ve gotten the “but we don’t know what to get you” and in response we smile nicely, explain again that we can’t store or ship anything, and gifts are not necessary. We like to think that our loved ones are bright enough to do the math: No storage space + exorbitant shipping + already live together + not settled = if you want to give something, just give cash.

I just wish we could stop having to be all sly and coy about it and just be honest. Etiquette’s weird sometimes. It forces people to be, basically, passive aggressive. (Seriously – what’s more passive aggressive than “oh, we didn’t register, we don’t need anything” when what you really mean is “if you want to give us something, please just make it money”.) I almost feel ruder being so unnervingly, irritatingly indirect than I would being honest, and yet I can’t bring myself to be honest. Gah!


Bint May 26, 2010 at 11:01 am

“Re. #1 and #3: in the UK it’s common practice to invite someone to the wedding ceremony and disco/dance (sometimes known as “evening reception”) but not the main reception inbetween (sit down meal sometimes called the “wedding breakfast”). ”

No, it isn’t. That would count as incredibly bad manners for anyone I know, or any wedding I’ve heard of, and I’m English. It’s very common to have people invited to just the evening part, but I don’t know anyone who would invite people to the ceremony and then just the evening. It’s inconvenient for the guests and it’s very rude to expect them to leave and come back.

This is as tacky in the UK as it is anywhere else. I’m sorry you’ve come into contact with some very inconsiderate couples, because that’s what that is.


Chelsey July 14, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I’m a little confused by the first one where she says, “Bad enough that they printed ‘no gifts’.” Why is that “bad enough”? Does the idea of someone not wanting you to buy them a gift offend you? Yes, the rest is a little strange, but I don’t think “bad enough” was the correct word choice for that bit.


Jude November 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm

It’s not the fact that someone doesn’t want gifts, or that they would prefer cash, it’s the fact that it’s bad manners to actually mention gifts at all on the invitation. No mention of where you are registered, no asking for cash, not even “no gifts”. That’s a discussion for a whole nother time and place, but not on the Invitation.


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