Has Greed Become Socially Acceptable?

by admin on August 26, 2014

Several UK readers submitted the following link to a article about how brides are using more creative ways to drain their guests dry of money. I can’t say I’m surprised since wedding greed appears to have become more socially acceptable despite many people claiming they would never act so crass or support someone who was. If there really were a negative backlash to wedding greed, wouldn’t there be a corresponding decline in people being greedy?

Read away!

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy August 26, 2014 at 5:16 pm

While I happily agree most of this is very rude I don’t understand the cake one. I admit to looking into that initially to save money but found the cost difference for what I wanted was very minimal but I can understand couples who want a massive or very creative cake opting for this. It is always meant to be decorative but still feed everyone at your wedding cake most offer a small part of the cake for the cake cutting and then a larger sheet cake (in the flavour/style ordered) to be cut up for service it’s still iced just isn’t 15 layers high for example. It’s a good idea too if your having a smallish wedding say 60 and the design you want feeds 500 you get the design without the massive amounts of leftovers. I just can’t see how this is rude, money saving yes but so long as everyone can have a piece of cake how is that wrong?

Reply

Miss Mercy August 27, 2014 at 4:01 am

I felt the same way about the cake- why should anyone care how much of it is real as long as everybody gets a fair slice?

I was also somewhat confused as to why it’s rude for a bride and groom to sell china and props from the wedding if they purchased these themselves- if they aren’t gifts, why is the couple obligated to keep them?

Reply

The Elf August 27, 2014 at 7:26 am

It comes off as ostentatious. I agree that having a “fake cake” is not rude so long as everyone gets a slice of cake.

Reply

ddwwylm September 1, 2014 at 2:57 am

The worst “fake cake” experience I had was where the couple had a real cake made up to look like a Hostess cup cake. They got to slice and eat the real cake, and served their guests actual Hostess cupcakes. It was gross. Supposedly hostess cupcakes was their thing – but wouldn’t you think they would have a tower of them, or feed each other one, rather than making sure they got a real cake and their guests the cheap stuff.

The only other time I experienced a fake cake, I don’t think the couple really cared about fooling anyone. they were very young, and it may have been a parent idea. they had the already cut up sheet cake on the table before they even cut into their “cake” the groom told anyone who would listen about how the rest of it was fake, and the plated cake was an obviously different type,
IIRC it was black forest cake from Costco – definitely something with fruit on top. I didn’t care at all for that one, the served cake was good.

Reply

Ergala August 26, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I read the article and there was something I could not get past. Through most of it the blame was being placed solely on brides. I understand that a lot of the time the bride does do a fair amount of the planning, but so often we are told “It’s not just the bride’s day….it’s the groom’s day too”. In that case both should share the lashing for being greedy.

Reply

Yet Another Laura August 26, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Exactly! I wonder who will shoulder the blame for all that is tacky when two men are marrying each other and there is no bride to blame everything on.

Reply

Miss Mercy August 27, 2014 at 4:03 am

Again, precisely the same thing occurred to me!
How are these things always solely the fault of one half of the wedding couple?

Reply

The Elf August 27, 2014 at 7:27 am

Yes! But the fact is, the brides typically are the ones running the show. I wish it wasn’t the case, and I wish I hadn’t given into that social expectation too, but thereyago.

Reply

Laura August 26, 2014 at 8:41 pm

I’ll be honest and concede that I find the fake cakes a bit tacky…not rude…but tacky and silly. But I’m a bit more practical minded and less romantic. To me the point of the cake is to eat it. So when people have a fake cake for looks/pictures, I just don’t get it. You want a picture in front of a fake cake? Why? so you can look back and say, “this is the plastic cake we didn’t eat?” Other times I’ve seen couples do it because they can’t afford the extravagant cake and wedding they want but want to impress their guests, which just seems a different kind of fake…

Reply

Maggie August 27, 2014 at 12:10 am

In Hong Kong, local couples do have the fake cake. It’s only for photo taking. No one expects it to be edible. But if you go to a wedding in the US/UK/etc. and you see a fancy cake on a fancy table, you expect to be eating it later. They should be a “For Display Only” signs on their fake cakes so not to disappoint their customers (if people are paying for their meals, they are not guests).

Reply

NostalgicGal August 27, 2014 at 1:33 am

It just shows how this stuff is becoming more prevalent… and there are more getting away with it; so it becomes even more prevalent.

I have a feeling if this continues; it’s going to become courthouse steps once more as everyone is too busy and too broke to feed the gimme pigs. I know I won’t be going to any of these pay-your-own-costs things, and I’m not tossing in for a honeymoon or the like. You can be just as married without a cruise. How about the courthouse steps and put the funds on a house downpayment?

Years back I refused to give in to my mother’s reality-check-bouncing fantasy she’d dreamed up when I was four; the wedding she always wanted; and I am still glad over three decades later that I didn’t give in and my dad didn’t go into debt for that fiasco. (mother was off on the cost of things by 10-15 TIMES what *she* wanted would have cost-one of my counters was go ahead and toss the bash for herself and have a renewal of vows when their silver came up in a few years)

I don’t mind a ‘faux cake’ as long as there’s enough REAL cake to serve everyone. Most people are served off the sheet cake or sheet cakes made up, easier to cut and portion that way; not the fancy cake out front. One bit to cut into; and a small top layer if you want to freeze it, the rest can be frosted fake. When western weddings became popular in Japan, JUST FOR THE PICTURES, there is often a several foot high layered fakecake with a knife imbedded in it; the couple just poses with hands on the knife for the picture, then head for the next posed picture.

Reply

kit August 27, 2014 at 1:45 am

I agree that I don’t see most cake being of styrofoam any more tacky than some other decoration being of styrofoam (as long as you aren’t served a piece of styrofoam, obviously).

And also I don’t see the problem with selling or renting decorations, plates, dresses, etc. Where I live there are businesses where you can rent china, and also businesses where you can rent wedding dresses. Are all those businesses rude and tacky per se, or only if they started from the owners having a wedding? Also… big news… if you reserve a restaurant for your wedding dinner instead of buying your own plates (which is by far the more common thing to do here), the plates have probably been used BEFORE! And maybe even in another wedding! :O

Reply

Lenore August 27, 2014 at 1:51 am

My Mom was recently told by an acquaintance that when attending a wedding, one should bring a present that is the same value as the cost of your meal. Gosh, if I had known that, I could have kitted out my kitchen with fancy shmancy things from my wedding.

However, while I am not a resident of the UK, I have friends who are, and they have confirmed that the primary purpose of the Daily Mail is to serve as back up toilet paper….

Reply

Kimstu August 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Good point about the newspaper. No discussion of the Daily Mail is complete without a reference to the wonderful “Dan & Dan” video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI

Reply

KarenK August 29, 2014 at 11:06 am

Love it!

Reply

English1 August 27, 2014 at 3:44 am

Firstly, remember it’s the Daily Mail. Don’t believe everything you read, and bear in mind they love to criticise women and put that spin on their stories (if you are a SAHM you are lazy, if you are a working mum your children suffer, if you are a feminist you are a man-hater, if you don’t have plastic surgery you are ugly, if you do have plastic surgery you are vain, children shouldn’t be sexualised by these clothes but here’s a glam picture of a 16 year old for you all to get your rocks off over, you get the picture.)

Some of these things are pretty tacky but I think they need to be put in context. I went to what you might call a pot-luck wedding, but it was absolutely lovely, very low key, held in a real barn on a working farm, couple provided all drinks (home-made wine, beer, and soft drinks) and entertainment, and the meal was a picnic where all the guests brought their own and shared stuff with people they knew.

Other things are pretty normal and not poor etiquette in the UK. Cash bars are the usual arrangement at weddings – with some free drinks at the start. It’s normal. I prefer that to the US system of providing only a couple of types of drinks free to everyone. Here, you can drink whatever you like. The idea of going up to a bar, asking for a whiskey and coke, and being told I’m not allowed to have one and can’t even buy it for myself, seems very inhospitable, from a UK perspective. We don’t dictate what people are allowed to drink.

What’s wrong with selling or hiring your wedding stuff? Are they supposed to just throw it all away? Sounds good to me.

Fake cake – I find it a bit strange – if you only need or can afford a small cake, have a small cake. I think a fake display one is a bit silly. You have it just so you can pose for photos by it? But it’s not rude or poor etiquette as it doesn’t hurt the guests at all.

Reply

Enna August 28, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I think someone referred to the daily mail as “the devil’s toilet paper”. Weddings only cost £24000 if you choose to spend that much.

Reply

NostalgicGal August 28, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Exactly.

Reply

Syn August 27, 2014 at 5:07 am

It’s funny because some of these made me think of cultural differences. Here (Finland) it’s perfectly acceptable to put “we are at gift registry x or would welcome donations towards our honeymoon”. Bank account details at the bottom of an invite is normal and in no way shunned or seen tacky.

But it’s not the first time I’ve noticed etiquette differences in weddings here and abroad. For example it seems like in the US cash bars are seen as tacky. Here it’s exceptional if the couple actually supplies drinks beyond what goes with food.

Reply

NicoleK August 27, 2014 at 9:05 am

Can’t say I’ve ever experienced any of these, except registries.

Reply

traherne August 27, 2014 at 9:24 am

I admit I have helped fund a couple of honeymoons. My first instinct was to ignore the slip of paper included with the invitation (tacky, I known) and buy them a gift of my choosing, but I was afraid it would be interpreted as passive-agressive and decided it wasn’t worth it. So I guess I’m part of the problem. I did give less than I would have normally spent on a gift, though.

Reply

PucksMuse August 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

I abandoned hobby baking a while ago, and brides who expected free/deeply discounted cakes played a big factor in the decision. People find out that you decorate cakes and they get this weird look on their faces, as if they’re calculating how to work this to their advantage. They think you should do the cake at cost or for free because you get “the fun” and the “practice” of making a big complicated cake. Or, thanks to shows like Cupcake Wars and The Food Network Challenge, they think you should be able to produce such a cake in a few hours, not taking into account that those bakers have assistants and prepare their cakes, icing and fondant ahead of time. And when you say no, they get super-offended that you don’t want to “help out” for their special day.

Reply

NostalgicGal August 27, 2014 at 11:55 pm

And all the ‘exposure’ will do for you is get you more people wanting you to do their cake for free too (they expect you to pay for all the ingredients, make it, decorate it, take it, and if you do have things like pillars or tiers, you’ll never see those back).

Same goes for those that do flowers; or forbid, play with ribbons. I’ve been at trying to do award ribbons and trophies and you don’t know the number of people that want 24 “Pew Bows” of ribbons and silk flowers or little vases hidden to hold real ones that are going to run close to $100 WHOLE SALE SUPPLIES each, yet the labor (a few weeks) and want them for free in two days; as ‘loaner’ as it will be ‘Great Exposure’ for you (including me footing bill for the real flowers). If I do have a set on hand, they can’t settle for those, OH NO they want THIS instead. How many, times $2500-4000 (my cost no labor), before you get to saying ‘sorry I can’t accommodate this… in other words, no. Cash in full before I start, please.’

Reply

PucksMuse August 31, 2014 at 7:14 am

The comment about the pillars made me laugh. A friend of my mom’s wanted to make a elaborate cake for her son’s engagement party. She didn’t know what size the layers would be and she didn’t know what shape she wanted to use, round or square. So she wanted to borrow my cake pans. All of them. Every size. Round and square. All in all, it would have been about 14 cake pans, plus she wanted to borrow all of my pillars because she didn’t know what kind she wanted to use. And she wanted me to deliver them to her house.

After picking my jaw up from the ground, I said “No, I’m sorry, that won’t work for me. You need to narrow down your plans and then let me know, specifically, which pans and pillars you need. And when you let me know which ones you need, you can come pick them up at my office. When you’re done, you can drop them off at my office.”

She was VERY unhappy with me and told my mother I was being very rude and selfish about sharing my equipment. Mom pointed out that I was doing her friend a favor, not the other way around, and if friend wanted the cake pans for FREE as opposed to renting them from the local hobby store, which would have cost her about $50, she should try to make convenient for me to help her, not the other way around.

Reply

NostalgicGal September 1, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Yep, oh yep.

My equipment, my supplies, schlep them to boot; get more supplies because there won’t be enough or the wrong stuff (so buy more out of my pocket to ‘loan’ and they are consumed so I will never get them back).

Um this stuff happens to have been an outlay of (fill in blank, on a lot of my stuff the collection is four digits plus) and I am not in the loaner/rental business. Scratch the finish off or dent it and I’ll need a new one; as I know you won’t replace it. One scratch, is all it takes. Or you lost that one little part that will cost a minor fortune to get a replacement (they know everyone loses/misplaces/breaks that one so they priced it accordingly) and I know you won’t replace it.

Hope she managed to make her cake and you didn’t have to ‘be nice’ and loan out your pans. “Sharing” your equipment? Since when is this a playground? You own the stuff, it’s yours, and again, since when did you get into the loaner/rental business?

Reply

UKHelen September 2, 2014 at 3:57 am

This is a bit of a tangent, because in this story I was the bride, and somebody wanted all my stuff of a certain category, but the principle is the same as with your cake pans and pillars (a definite jaw-dropper!).

We had an old-fashioned wedding photographer to do our pictures. This was in the days before video or digital photography. It seemed very expensive but we ended up with a lovely, thick, heavy, professional wedding album full of large-format pictures, in its own custom-made box.

My SIL, who lived on the other side of the country, had attended the wedding with her family, and her daughter had been one of my bridesmaids. On the phone to SIL, I mentioned that we’d received the wedding album, and I said that we would order a few reprints and send them to her (quite a generous offer, given the cost of the reprints). Her response? “Oh, just send me the album and I’ll pick out the ones I want and let you know” – !!!

Right. So I’m going to pack up this incredibly expensive, heavy album, post it to you at my cost and my risk, not knowing when/if I’ll ever see it again or how many sticky fingerprints it’ll be covered in when I eventually get it back – and in the meantime we can’t show anybody our wedding pictures, which we’ve only just received? No way. I ordered the reprints I thought she’d like and sent them to her. It was the casual way she said it that really took my breath away.

Reply

Harley Granny August 27, 2014 at 11:19 am

I personally think that these greedy HCs are in the minority. It’s sad that in many things the greedy /bad ones get the headlines.
When my circle of friends got married they were ALL very nice and not one over the top. Now that our children are getting married their weddings have been similar.

I’ve learned to take these articles with a grain of salt and don’t get all worked up about them.

Reply

Lori August 27, 2014 at 11:52 am

I recently attended a friend’s wedding in Canada. There was no registry listed, and after some investigation I discovered that it is both Canadian custom, and the custom of the groom’s culture (he is Latin American) just to give money. In fact the traditional repository for gifts is not a table but a mailbox with a slit for envelopes. I don’t see how this is bad etiquette if this is the accepted custom of the culture.

Reply

MM August 27, 2014 at 11:56 am

first of all, the Daily Mail is not the most credible news source.

second of all, some of these couples just need to be told no. I find it funny that some of these vendors are like “oh we don’t question it anymore.” They could just say we don’t offer those services or something like that. they’re perpetuating the problem!

finally, some of these things don’t seem that bad. Selling decorations and other stuff? Fine and good for the environment. I have a question: is it in bad taste to use the cash gift for the honeymoon?

Reply

Sally August 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I remember a young man 20 years ago at my workplace. He was engaged and planning his wedding. He told me that he and his fiance assumed that people would purchase a gift commensurate with the price of the couples’ attending. So if it was $50 a plate, people were expected to give a gift worth at least $100.
So this greed isn’t a new-fangled thing.

Reply

Nestholder August 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm

I’m quite impressed with the couple who made fairground stalls and later sold them, and the idea of renting ‘second-hand wedding paraphernalia’ makes a great deal of sense. To me, neither of these schemes fits in with the Mail’s lament about greedy brides—they bought what they needed, and sold it afterwards. Some of them even discovered a new business opportunity. Good for them!

I have never encountered anyone who invited guests to the ceremony and the evening dancing but not to the meal. I suspect that this “newspaper” is extrapolating from an extremely small sample and calling it a trend.

Reply

Shhh its me August 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I think selling/renting your wedding paraphernalia is a great idea. I do think 99 p rental per Scrabble letter was a bit steep. I do think unless you have stunning taste , are very organized ,and have a knack for presentation it might not work out for you , but I don’t think thats greedy.

Reply

Angel August 27, 2014 at 6:25 pm

I will never understand why the couple doesn’t just have the party they can afford. Either scale back the festivities or invite fewer people. I would rather have a piece of cake and some punch than be forced to pay to go to a party that let’s face it, probably will not be that much fun anyway. I think that any time you are expected to show up at a party, bring a gift and PAY for your food, that is not fun. Not fun at all. I don’t see a problem with having a Styrofoam cake to save money, as long as there is enough cake for everyone, no big deal. But I don’t like cash bars, personally. I would rather go to a wedding where no alcohol is offered at all, and everything is paid for already, than one with a cash bar. Still that is not nearly as offensive as expecting guests to pay for their own food. That is beyond tacky!!

Reply

Cathy August 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I think we need to bring back “cake and punch” quick receptions after a church or civil ceremony. That was good enough in the 40s and 50s. These ridiculous circuses people think they “need” to have when they get married are getting out of hand. And yes, I totally agree that people need to have the party they can afford. It’s just stupid to go into horrendous debt for one party.

I also like the “no alcohol” receptions – most people drink too much and start acting stupid in the presence of free booze. We were at a wedding recently where the best man was so drunk he couldn’t put 3 coherent words together for the toast. It was embarrassing to watch.

Reply

KiwiAlice September 1, 2014 at 2:29 am

I don’t know about your friends and relations, but from my experiece saying “most people drink too much and start acting stupid in the presence of alcohol” is a gross exaggeration.

Reply

mrsvandy August 29, 2014 at 9:09 am

I had a fake cake. I wanted a three tier cake. My mom is a talented baker and her wedding gift to us was the cake. However I got married and hour a way from my mom’s house and the cake wouldn’t have survived the trip. So she made a fake one and two huge sheet cakes. The bonus of having a fake cake was that everyone got their cake served right a way! Perhaps these brides aren’t just doing it for cost savings perhaps they are also using a fake cutting cake for logistical reasons?

Reply

Christina August 29, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I am newly engaged and just starting to plan my wedding. When I found out what our dream venue was charging, I was forced to scale back. We aren’t taking a honeymoon at the same time because we can’t afford both. I would never dream of making my guests contribute to have a fancier party just for show. We are doing what we can afford. All we care about is everyone being a part of our day, not how big our cake looks or how much money we make.

A couple years ago, I did attend a wedding who had a honeymoon registry. You could purchase them outdoor excursions like scuba diving, or pay (10$ each) to have drinks delivered to them on the beach. It seemed like a cute idea for five seconds before I realized how crazy it was. If you can’t afford a honeymoon, don’t take one.

I struggle with registries in general. Some people get so offended if they get items that weren’t on their registry. Others just return the gifts. I feel weird about registering, because I never want anyone to feel like this list is ALL you can pick from. If someone is getting me a gift, I wouldn’t dream of dictating what it could be. Get whatever you want and I will appreciate the thought and time put into it. On the other hand, if I don’t register, it may come off like I am only after cash. And that isn’t the case, either. Can’t win.

We wont be doing a money dance, either. Tacky. If you want to give money, give money as the gift. Not by paying to dance with me for 30 seconds.

Reply

Christina August 29, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Oh, also, the fake.cake is just the craziest thing I have ever heard of. Like someone else said, who wants to look back on photos in years and think “remember that fantastic fake cake that fooled everyone?” Make REAL memories. Not just ones to show off or take stages photos. Craziness.

Reply

penguin tummy September 5, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Selling stuff after the wedding is quite practical and stops waste. I don’t see the problem with that. If you can turn it into a rental business, why not? Then you are helping others.

I do have a problem with pay for your own plate, I didn’t ask the bride and groom to pay for an expensive dinner, it was their choice not mine. This attitude of everyone paying for a wedding so the couple can have a bigger party assumes everyone is also flush with cash.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: