A Political Registry

by admin on June 27, 2012

At Ehell we’re not afraid to confront etiquette faux pas committed in the name of politics but it’s not a topic that usually appears here.   But I received so many submissions for the following “story” that ignoring it did not seem to be an option.   So, for your consideration, I give you the…..


Obama Re Election Event Registry

Got a birthday, anniversary, or wedding coming up?

Let your friends know how important this election is to you—register with Obama 2012, and ask for a donation in lieu of a gift. It’s a great way to support the President on your big day. Plus, it’s a gift that we can all appreciate—and goes a lot further than a gravy bowl.

Hmmm…not since Newt Gingrich’s extravagant (and greedy) registry for his third wedding went online viral have I seen a more tackier use of a registry by a politician.   Veteran Ehellions recognize every wrong thing about this….1) Weddings are not fundraisers regardless if it benefits the happy couple or some political campaign or cause.  2) Registries exist to suggest gift ideas to inquiring guests.  There is no “asking”, aka “directing”, guests for specific gifts as if one expected to receive the very things one has registered for.

The worst, imo, is the politicization of a private celebration such as a wedding which should be a solemn occasion free of any entanglements to a particular political party or cause.   I prefer to not be placed in the awkward situation where my acceptance of the invitation is a tacit endorsement of a candidate.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

LeeLee88 June 27, 2012 at 4:25 am

The idea seems to be meeting with a lot of backlash, which I think is good. When my neighbor told me, my eyes just about popped out of my head 😛


David June 27, 2012 at 5:51 am

How incredibly disappointing.


--Lia June 27, 2012 at 6:18 am

If the store provides registry cards and suggests couples include them in the invitations, I’d call that advertising. The etiquette problem is if the couple actually does it. Then it’s the couple’s fault. I think this is the same thing. That the political campaign would do whatever it can to solicit funds is tacky but understandable. The problem is if someone falls for it. We’ve long had the unfortunate melding of celebrations with business enterprises (how can I make money off my wedding). Now we’ve got the melding of celebrations with fund raising.

What would I do if I was invited to such a thing? I’d acknowledge it for what it is. Instead of congratulating the couple on their upcoming wedding, I’d wish them success with their political fund-raiser. (And I’d decline.)


CaffeineKatie June 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

Talk about tacky with a capital T!!!!!!!!!!!!


Kaypeep June 27, 2012 at 7:25 am

I thought this had to be a joke but it’s real. Wow. Just wow. I don’t think this was Obama’s idea, as one news source states, it’s written by a blog writer and campaign worker, so it’s probably a young staffer who thought they were being clever and didn’t realize the faux pas. I hope it’s removed and corrected, it could be a great learning tool to teach people a manners lesson.


Hemi June 27, 2012 at 7:36 am

I have no words…


Chet June 27, 2012 at 7:42 am

Not only is this Tacky with a capital T, but boy, where to begin on something like this…

In addition to everything else that people are saying, what a way to endanger some friendships! I have friends that fall on both sides of the aisle, judging from their facebook posts, and something like this (regardless of which party) would run a number of them off.

Good grief!


Morty'sCleaningLady June 27, 2012 at 7:44 am

I agree with the Admin — tackiest thing I have seen in a long time. If I have any weddings to attend this year that include this on their registry, I’m definitely purchasing the much maligned gravy boat, whether or not the couple registered for one. Gravy boats are forever; political administrations are 4 or 8 years. You would hope someone in the political realm or the White House caught this massive etiquette faux pas before it was ever announced.


Green123 June 27, 2012 at 7:48 am

I appreciate that the rules are slightly different in the US than the UK, but I’m not sure how different this is to asking for donations to charity (in lieu of flowers) at a funeral or giving ‘charity gift cards’ (such as those that donate to Oxfam to buy schoolbooks or help build a well in Africa) at a birthday. It’s a bit unusual, yes, but I guess it works for some people and not for others. No-one is (I hope!) insisting on a donation to a particular cause, but rather *suggesting* it as a gift. You can still buy them a gravy bowl if you wish!


The Elf June 27, 2012 at 8:07 am

I was hoping you’d tackle this one!

Lia, while I agree that the ultimate fault lies with the couple that elicts to use their wedding as a political fundraiser, it is still the tackiest wedding thing I’ve read about lately. Someone on the campaign staff should have balked at that one. It is not understandable; it is mind-boggling.

Besides, with a roughly 50/50 split nationwide in elections, it’s a strong liklihood that SOMEONE attending your event is not willing to support the Obama campaign. Is it really worth offending your guests for a political campaign? If you feel that strongly about it, donate with your own money.


The Elf June 27, 2012 at 8:11 am

Green123, “no-one is (I hope!) insisting on a donation to a particular cause, but rather *suggesting* it as a gift. ”

*Suggesting* it but not insisting really doesn’t make it any better.


Phoebe161 June 27, 2012 at 8:11 am

My jaw is still on the floor.


Wim June 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

I thought of your website the minute I read about this in my local Belgian newspaper (yes, tacky news travels fast).
Not really appropriate… however much sympathy I have for Mr Obama, someone on his campaign team really dropped the ball on this one.
However, I’m secretly hoping someone will actually be sending a gravy bowl to the Obamas now 😉


Virg June 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

My thought on it is that it’s like any other registry. If someone asks the couple for gift suggestions, it’s no more tacky to request a political donation than to offer any other registry. If it’s pushed without the guests asking for ideas, then it’s exactly as tacky as any other push request. Guests who ask but then don’t agree with the request are still free to get something else.



Cupcake June 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

I think the push/pull theory applies here, just as it would with donations for anything else. If someone writes on a wedding invitation ‘insead of a gift, please give money to Obama’, that’s tacky. If a guest asks what the couple would like and finds out that they have set it up so guests who wish to can donate to a campaign the couple supports, that’s fine IMO.

I don’t think the fact that it’s political really makes a difference. Sure people have differing opinions on Obama, but they also have differing opinions on charities. Personally I wouldn’t want to donate to someone’s church, but if I ASKED someone what I could get them as a gift I would not think them tacky for suggesting that, and likewise I would not think them tacky for suggesting a donation to a political campaign. If I opened an invitation to find a note TELLING me to donate, then yes that would be tacky. But as far as I can see, this registry doesn’t actually encourage that.


Wendy June 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

I saw this on the Drudge Report about a week ago and my first thought was, politics has hit a new low on both sides of the aisle. I think the only reason it’s Obama is because the Republicans didn’t think of it first (Newt’s wedding aside).

Wim, I think that’s funnier than sending tea bags. 🙂


justme June 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

Someone needs to design a gravy bowl with a picture of Obama on it now.

Have you ever seen those tee shirts that depict a Darwin fish being eaten by a Truth fish, being eaten by an STFU fish? I pictured something similar, only it’s wedding guests being eaten by a Gimme Pig, being eaten by a bigger Gimme Pig.

Also Green123, I thought of that too, but I think this is worse because it involves a specific political cause, which not all of the guests may support (whereas the funeral charity donations are usually to benefit research into whatever ailment the deceased person suffered from, so it’s relevant)


Jay June 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

Would be tacky to actually DO it, but I don’t see how this is any different from Macy’s giving you a bunch of cards and telling you to put them in your invitations. It’s asking someone to commit a faux pas, but it isn’t a faux pas in itself..


TwentyKittens June 27, 2012 at 9:53 am

How did the poor, maligned gravy boat become the standard for “useless wedding gift”? I use mine at least once a month.


Lisa June 27, 2012 at 9:55 am

It would be interesting to find out just how many gravy boats this couple receives given that not everyone invited to their wedding will be an Obama supporter.


Yarnspinner June 27, 2012 at 9:57 am

So glad you covered this. I was horrified.


A June 27, 2012 at 10:05 am

If I only had had this suggestion for my wedding last year! My mostly liberal friends and family might have really helped out Obama’s campaign. I, on the other hand, would have preferred (and still do prefer) the gravy bowl. 😉

That said, I’m not so shocked by this lack of manners in a political campaign. Is it still tacky? Yes. Shocking? No.


DGS June 27, 2012 at 10:10 am

Wow, makes me wonder what the late great Liz Carpenter (the Social Secretary to LBJ) would have said about this…she was quite the etiquette maven! What a shame! Politics, money and religion have no place for discussion at social gatherings, particularly those that celebrate significant developmental events. Weddings are supposed to bring families and friends together regardless of who they might vote for, not estrange guests.


Justin June 27, 2012 at 10:25 am

Unless you are at an event aimed at being political such as a candidate rally or speech or a political meeeting, politics will almost always create tension and conflict. There is a no politics rule at family get togethers as people hold strong opinions on opposite sides of the fence. There is also a no politics rule in my office as my boss and I lean different ways. It avoids unneeded tensions.

Bringing your political beliefs to your wedding just seems like a classic way to create drama and conflict. Although if you really want to bring politics in you could skip bride’s side and groom’s side and seat by republicans and democrats with the independants in the middle. You could even have a rousing debate before the vows and see how many people switch sides. It could even be a game to see how many of your close friends and familiy you can move from friendships or at least being civil to not even speaking to one another.*

*Disclaimer, the author takes no responsibility if you actually do this. Be aware that most jurisdictions have outlawed dueling, public brawls, and other forms of disorderly conduct.


Annie June 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

When I got married, we thought it would be nice if people donated money in our name to a charitable cause (one that was a-political and unlikely to offend). We did NOT suggest it to anyone. We told my mom to tell anyone who asked her what we really wanted. Needless to say, she did not mention it to anyone who did not ask.

The thought of telling guests that you expect a gift from them, and telling them what it will be, makes my skin crawl. Add the faux pas of mixing politics and social occasions, and you’ve got a great Etiquette Hell moment.


TylerBelle June 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

If I’m to participate in something as this for my big wedding / birthday / anniversary shindig, then I will be expecting some political bigwig to make an appearance at the event. It doesn’t have to actually be the presidential person, but some head of state, a governor, a senator, etc., will do fine. And I still want that gravy bowl. Hee.

Seriously though, I simply do not get who or why would think this a good idea and go forward with it. Wouldn’t they realize though some may bite, but many, if not most, no matter their political views, would be turned off by it? I guess not.


Sandy Hostetler June 27, 2012 at 10:52 am

I get that this is incorrect etiquette-wise, but why would accepting the invitation mean a tacit endorsement of a candidate? Merely accepting the invite certainly doesn’t mean you would choose to make the donation any more than it means you would choose to buy a gravy boat (or any other item) off the registry.


Calliope June 27, 2012 at 10:57 am

I would find it tacky for someone to actually include this request on their wedding invitation, but I don’t see why this coming from a political campaign is jaw-dropping. Lots of organizations ask for donations like this, and lots of well-meaning people request donations to pet causes in lieu of wedding gifts. I’m not saying that this isn’t rude–because it is–but this particular example doesn’t really ruffle my feathers. My guess it the outrage meter is ramped up simply because politics are involved.


Goldie June 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

How embarrassing. With supporters like this, who needs enemies? All the author had to do was imagine a post just like hers, but with a candidate/cause she’s passionately against in place of “Obama 2012”, and think about how it’d make her feel. Do not do unto others what you wouldn’t want done unto you!

I find it highly unprofessional that this was posted on a blog that apparently officially represents the campaign. At any large corporation I’ve worked for, we were told not to make any controversial statements using company media (corporate email etc) so it wouldn’t seem to an outside reader that these statements are coming, not from an individual, but from the company. It’s incredibly bad PR and reflects badly on the company (or, in this case, on the President and his campaign).


Ann June 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm

By sheer coincidence, I’m reading a book about the first Obama campaign, and the significance and success of its online campaign, mostly run by young computer wizards, but conceived by experienced marketers.

In this instance, I’m thinking (hoping!) that some youngster got over-enthusiastic, and that this wasn’t conceived by experienced campaign/marketing professionals. Hoping!


TheVapors June 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Way to ruin a fun night by getting politics all over it. That’s not a party I’d want to attend.


E June 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Elf – *Suggesting* it but not insisting really doesn’t make it any better.

Isn’t that the same as with any registry? You suggest things you might like, eg a gravy boat, saucepan or a donation to a chosen charity/campaign etc but none of your guests actually have to buy anything? If suggesting things isn’t ok (eg when appropriate, not on the invitation, a guest asks and you point them to the registry) then are registries themselves a problem?

I’m not from the US and this is something I struggle to get my head round!

I guess this is more tacky as it’s potentially divisive? But by extension so are a fair few charity requests (and some people in my family could be divided by requesting the wrong brand of cookware…).


Calli Arcale June 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Tacky as heck, but given the wholesale pushing of gift registries in general and various charities starting to encourage it as well, it was only a matter of time. I voted for Obama in the last election, and although I won’t commit to a particular candidate until November, if the election were held today I’d probably vote for him again. But if somebody put “political donation to Obama’s reelection campaign” on their gift registry, that’s one gift I absolutely would not give them. They’d probably end up with a saucepan or something.


Morgana Abbey June 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Welcome to the world post-Citizens United.


JWH June 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I have one friend who does ask for political donations as birthday gifts.

Of course, the donation is to his campaign, and his “birthday party” is explicitly a fundraiser ..


Cat June 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I come from generations of registered Democrats and am more and more humiliated by my affiliation. Years ago, I received a horrible phone call from a representative from the Democratic Party years ago who felt it was her place to insult me because I disagreed with some of the party’s policies.

This is a new low. I’ll write in a candidate if I have to, but I won’t support anyone who sinks to begging for money in this fashion.


kingsrings June 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Like others have said, leave politics out of what is supposed to be a joyous occasion celebrating this couple’s ultimate committment to one another. If people can’t leave politics out of an occasion like this, then they seriously have their priorities out of whack.


The Elf June 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

E, A registry is optional and should not be included in the invitation. You, as a guest, find out about the registry by asking questions of those near the bride or groom, who say that they registered at this or that place. You ask for the information. It is not given to you. That’s the key difference.


The Elf June 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Calliope, I think this is extra-rude because it is political. Perhaps this is because of my own personal bias; I’m pretty burned out and cynical on politics as a whole. When someone asks for charitable donation, like how Annie did it and not in an invitation, then you get the idea that the money is going towards a good cause. Feeding the homeless, helping animals, medical research, something. Even if it is a charity that would normally not make your normal donation list, you get the idea that something good will come of it.

Not so a political campaign, no matter who it is for. Yeah, like I’d really like to donate to another attack ad. Yippie.


Missy June 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I have to agree with The Elf. I’m not offended by my friends who ask for people to donate to Heifer International for presents. Of course, most of them do not solicit in invitations. They have an addendum on a registry page saying something like, “We are thankful for your well-wishes, but there are those who need this more than we do.” Done that way, I don’t find it tacky at all.

But given the partisan nature of politics, I would be horrified by seeing that in the invitation. It just seems bizarre to solicit donations from friends and family when I know half of them are not of that political persuasion and would never, ever support it even if I wanted it. To me, it would be like telling all my vegetarian friends and family that they HAD to eat beef at the dinner.


Green123 June 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm

@Elf, I think this is a key difference between US and UK. In the UK, it’s normal to send details of the registry with a wedding invitation, and most British people would find it very confusing if they had to think of a gift themselves! In the UK it’s also normal to request cash gifts rather than actual items, particularly when the couple have lived toegther for some years and don’t actually need linen, cutlery etc. So although the political party thing is a bit unusual as a gift suggestion, it is just that, a suggestion. No-one is obliged to actually give that gift if they don’t want to, can’t afford to etc.

(Incidentally, my now-husband and I lived together 10 years before we married. In lieu of a registry, we suggested, and were given, travel vouchers as wedding gifts, while some other friends bought us nice traditional things like photo frames, vases, bedlinen etc. Some people gave us nothing but the joy of their presence at our wedding, and we were very happy to receive that. No-one bought us a gravy boat.)


grumpy_otter June 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I cringed when I heard of this, and though many commenters have pointed out correctly that one need not reveal their registry unless asked…………..YUCK! Just YUCK!!!!

I hate the whole thing. It just seems slimey to suggest that a political contribution is an appropriate wedding gift. Blech.

I’m tempted to direct a withering gaze toward the White House.


ilex June 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Horrible. I don’t care if it’s Obama or Romney or Johnson. Politics are divisive — no, “we all” can’t appreciate a donation to your favorite candidate (not that we have to — you’re free to donate any cash you’re gifted to your political candidate). And you can’t choose to only tell the “correct-thinking” guests, because you don’t always know. People frequently assume I’m a partisan for a certain side, and I’m not. I don’t advertise the fact most of the time, because politics are so divisive, and I know a few people who actually would drop me if they knew I didn’t tow the same line they do — and those are the types I can see doing this.

Plus, if you abstain from the politics and buy a gravy boat (or whatever), it might be taken as a political statement itself. Tacky isn’t a strong enough word.


Cat Whisperer June 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Trying to bring civility and good manners to political campaigns is like trying to hold back a rising tide on the beach with a teaspoon. Better to abandon the effort and concentrate on something where you have a chance of actually doing some good. JMO.


Lilya June 28, 2012 at 4:39 am

I’ve already mentioned it elsewhere, but this sounds too much like “pushing your ideas on other people” and that’s something that makes me pretty uncomfortable.


Margo June 28, 2012 at 5:49 am

@Green123 I have to slightly disagree with you about the UK/USA differences. I’m in the UK too, and while I agree it’s fairly common to have registry information with a wedding invite but I don’t think it is any more ‘right’ from an etiquette point of view than it is in the US. I’ve always understood that it’s not really appropriate to include registry information with the invitation, but it is OK to have a registry and to let people know about it *if* they ask for gift ideas, and equally, it is always Ok to give something which is not on the registry.

I would say that about half the wedding invitations I’ve received have hadregistry information in the same envelope as the invite, but in every case it has been acompanied by a note of some sort saying it is only for suggestions, no obligation , we aer invivting you for your company etc – which suggests to me that there is still a fairly widely held understanding that asking for gifts is not appropriate.

So far as the original post is concerned, I do feel that asking for political donations is more inappropriate than asking for gifts, or asking for money or for donations towards a charity, as it i inherently divisive.

Most of us can be friends with, even love people who have differing political views to ours, but expecting your friends to donate to a cause which they may strongly opposed to puts them in a very awkward position and so is rude. I think this is much less likely to happen if you are asked to donate to a charity, as it’s much less likely that people will be strongly oposed to the aims of a charity, even if they don’t actively support it and wouldn’t necessarily give to it as a choice. (If the charity is one likely to evoke very strong views then I think the same objections apply,and it is more polite not to select that specific charity)


E June 28, 2012 at 6:40 am

The Elf –

I guess I still just see it as a suggestion?

I definitely get the no info on gifts with the information, what I’m still a little confused on is why it’s rude to ‘suggest’ this but not rude to suggest a gravy boat? Obviously it’s a know your audience thing, but if you’re getting married and a friend who has similar views to you asks what you might like as a wedding gift it’s rude to suggest a donation to a political campaign/charity donation?


pye June 28, 2012 at 7:34 am

The big difference to me is they are “suggesting” donations for a potentially controversal cause. There is a big difference in having a one on one conversation with someone to whom you know their politial beliefs and saying “you know, we’d really love for our guests to donate to X campaign instead of buying gifts for us” and posting on your website registry (as this blog seems to suggest to me) for all guests to suggest they donate to a political cause.

Remember the old saying is to not discuss politics at social situations. This not only invites the discussion but would actually make it a center point of the celebration.


Elle June 28, 2012 at 7:40 am


EttiquetteHell, the admin, and its commentators, generally find it tacky (and sometimes rude) to ask for anything but physical, mostly homemaking, goods. Honeymoon registries and charity requests are considered tacky here.

Honeymoon registries are becoming more and more popular as they get easier to use. Honestly, I like them – the idea of helping the happy couple form some long lasting, grand memories is cool.

But I doubt EHell will ever agree with me on that.


Chocobo June 28, 2012 at 9:55 am

Poor gravy boats. They’re such useful things and yet so maligned. I’ll take them from you if you don’t want them!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: