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I love your site and it has given me plenty of fun during the
years. I don't actually have a etiquettehell story to tell, but I wanted to
share with you some information about the money dance that I found. I work as a
librarian and while looking up other thing concerning wedding customs for a
client I came across this. I'm from Scandinavia and therefore is concerns our
old customs. Personally I don't agree with the money dance, especially the way
that most of them are arranged (wedding etiquettehell being my source of
information), but it was interesting to see that it actually has quite old
In Scandinavia, specially Sweden, during the 1600-1800 century
one of many customs was that the bride to be would go out in the neighborhood
and beg for things to help her with her coming marriage and household. People
usually gave her some food , cloth or cooking utensils to help her with her new
life. Another way for the newlyweds to gather some money for their new life, was
a money dance. During the wedding feast guest could dance with the bride or the
groom and in exchange for the dance give the couple some small money. This was
nothing you had to participate in. You could dance with the couple even without
paying for it. This small amount was given to the couple as an extra well wish
even if you had given them some other gift. These custom was mostly practiced in
the middle and lower classes, that didn't have that much money to begging with
and needed everything they could get to help them with their new life. Nobody in
the higher classes would have had anything to do with this custom. They had
enough money to start a new wedded life with from the start.
This custom is not practiced any more in Scandinavia and I
really hope it doesn't come back. I can understand that was a nice way of
helping a newly wedded couple back some 200-300 years ago, when people on
whole didn't have much in a way of possessions or money. But in today's society
it doesn't hold the same meaning any more.
So, that is what I found out about the money dance custom and
wanted to share it with you.
Names have been changed to protect the money-grubbing. Though
they really shouldn't be protected.
I had a coworker, Andrea, several years ago who made a
big coffee can into a "Donation" box when she got engaged. She printed
in big letters "Please help me. Weddings are Expensive" and placed it
on our front counter. All day long Andrea would solicit and harass the big
account customers to the point several stopped using us and never came back.
There were many many complaints. Someone even got laid off because of the
"slowing business season" that was directly related to Andrea's
behavior. She only got away with it because she was marrying the owners' son.
Then, Andrea didn't even invite any of the co-workers even though she'd spent
months hitting us up for cash as well.
Well, Andrea is now a "professional" wedding planner
(scary isn't it?) and she was hired to help my husband's sister with her wedding
this past July. I got to see this classless nitwit in action again.
After the wedding, Andrea's husband stood at the door to the
posh reception site holding lovely crystal vases with a sign taped on it reading
"Help Mark & Bonnie pay for your dinner". Entry into the reception
site was slowing moving because of place cards, guest book photos, and the like. He
walked up and down the crowd shouting like a beer vendor at the baseball park
"Donations! Make your donations here!" "Bonnie and Mark need your
help!" and he hassled people who didn't hand over at least $20.
The truly bizarre thing is that neither Mark nor Bonnie had
paid a dime for the wedding. My in-laws footed the entire $150K+ wedding and
reception after much adolescent complaining and foot stomping by Bonnie (who is
30 and has a high paying professional job), and they ended up having to take a
second mortgage on their house to pay off the credit card bills. I have wondered
who actually got the cash guests were hassled to contribute. Andrea? Bonnie
& Mark? Or my father-in-law's Visa?
I've never had the nerve to ask.
My friend is a travel agent and she has been dealing with a
bride who is getting married in January. She doesn't want gifts because she's
afraid people will buy her tacky stuff. She has set up an account at the travel
agents which she wants to use to pay for her honeymoon. She rings every few days
to find out how much loot is available now and whenever the amount goes up she
wants to know who it's from and how much they gave - she told my friend that she
told her guests that it would be anonymous. She has also asked my friend to give
her a letter on headed paper that she can copy and sent to all her guests asking
them to make their donation to her pile of money as soon as possible even though
her wedding isn't until 2006. This is so she can upgrade her hotel etc if she
gets extra. She keeps saying that she is actually doing her guests a favor as
they won't have to shop around but my friend and I both know that she is greedy
"Wedding vendors are now even
offering 'registries' so that guests can choose to give a 'gift' toward paying
for their very expensive wedding services. These businesses will all
whisper sweet assurances that it is certainly permissible to include their
registry cards in the wedding invitations or place the registry Web site address
on every wedding-related piece of paper. What do they care if you end up
looking like an etiquette-challenged greedball? I'm convinced that the
registry is the sole reason some people enter into the matrimonial state.
You can put up with a pretty ugly spouse if you know there are thousands of
dollars in prizes awaiting your entry into marital bliss."
Jeanne Hamilton, Wedding Etiquette Hell: A Bride's Bible To
Avoiding Everlasting Damnation, page 77
One of my very best friends was set to marry my fiancé's very
good friend. One day we got on the subject of her wedding shower and I asked her
if she would like me to get her a gift off her registry or surprise her since we
were such good friends. I preferred to surprise her since they registered for
gifts for a house they don't, and won't, have since he was unemployed when he
proposed and still unemployed YEARS later at the time of their wedding. Like any
good bride she said whatever I got for her shower was greatly appreciated and
was completely up to me. Sounds gracious... until she informs me that no matter
what I get for the shower I am still expected to buy a separate gift for the
wedding, the bachelorette, and bachelor party. That is 4 gifts for 1 wedding!
She also told me how much money I could expect to spend! They aren't even having
their ceremony in the country or having dinner served at their reception, and
they know we just bought a house and are saving for our own wedding/marriage.
Now, no matter what, we feel cheap because we know what they expect and my fiancé
refuses to just charge a bunch of gifts and go into a debt that probably
won't be paid off by the time they get divorced!
This will be short, but not particularly sweet. A
daughter of friends of ours from church was getting married. She and her
fiancé already had one child and were expecting another. We were happy that
they were finally doing the right thing and were happy to be supportive.
In the wedding invitation was a list of stores where they had registered for
gifts. I had never seen this before, but in reading at your site, I see it is
common (you can use any and all meanings of the word) practice these days.
Now this is a struggling couple, living with her family, trying to at last make
a life for themselves. Imagine our wonderment to see both a "Play
Station" and an "X Box" among the desired items. We
got them kitchen stuff. Very nice. A large assortment of high quality, useful
items. No, we never received a thank you. They are now
divorced. Imagine that!
My husband's cousin was married in the fall. Over the
summer, their aunt volunteered to throw a shower. As a dutiful guest, I
called to RSVP, chatted a while about the kids, what I was up to, yadda yadda
yadda, and where the couple had registered. I was told, "Oh, they are
registered at Target, but I think they just really want cash."
I decided to ignore the last part (no one would be THAT tacky), and poured over
their 250+ item registry, eventually settling on a decent $30 gift that was
beautifully wrapped and brought to the shower. A meaningless thank you
note was written by the bride, and I tossed it in a box to keep for later.
Later, the wedding rolls by. We cannot attend, but I called the Bride's
mother to inquire about what the bride would like. The bride had culled
160-odd items from the registry (thank God!), but did not leave anything
suitable to give as a wedding present. I asked if
she would like a $60 item that would be used in conjunction with the item I gave
at the shower. Her mother answered, "Oh, she returned that for store
credit. Why don't you just send them a check? $100 or so would be
fine." I bought them a toaster, and mailed it to them.
The thank you card said, "Thank you for the cookware set." So
glad they live in a different state and I will not see them at holiday
gatherings any time soon!
I’ve been reading about wedding related fundraising
attempts, and I have a little local custom to share. I live in the Province of
Manitoba, and around here it is customary for engaged couples to have a
“social” prior to their wedding. Essentially, you pay ten bucks to go to a
big party in a rec hall on a Saturday night. It’s not by invitation—the
wedding party sells tickets. There is a bar, usually selling booze at a very
small mark-up above cost (i.e. $2.25 for a drink that cost the couple $2.00 to
purchase at cost). There is a silent auction (more of a draw really), the prizes
for which the wedding party and possibly the couple’s family have canvassed
from local merchants. There are dances between the couple and sometimes the
wedding party, and usually a late lunch is served consisting of at least cold
cuts, cheese, pickles, rye bread and butter—but these are the basics, I have
been to showers for couples of different ethnic backgrounds that have had
everything from perogies to spring rolls to dainties, etc.
This is a local custom and if a couple doesn’t have a
social, it is considered a little odd. Furthermore, although socials are quite
plainly fundraising efforts, I don’t think most couples make that much money
off of them. Really they are big parties and in some smaller communities, a
social might be THE event of the month. Everyone might go, grandmas (early in
the evening the music is decidedly polkas-oriented), kids, middle agers, and the
young drinking crowd (around 10:00 p.m. the newer dance-type music comes
on)—you may not even know the couple who is getting married!
Now, this is all well and good, I don’t think we’re
talking any major etiquette problems for the most part, because they are a part
of the local etiquette; they are not exclusive parties to which you must come or
be deemed a poor excuse for a friend, and; although they are billed as
fundraisers, it’s really more of a community celebration. What does get to me
is when a couple gets married and then has a social as a reception (and usually
expects their friends, even those not invited to the actual wedding, to
go)—it’s one of my pet peeves and drives me bonkers! If you expect me to pay
and entrance fee for your reception, don’t bother inviting me!
Aww, that's too bad that this has become a
required social custom. It seems the entire community has been
invaded by bloodsucking aliens and are no longer capable of discerning how
decent humans act.
My former friend is easily the most selfish, materialistic
person on the planet. "J"'s entire self worth is based on whether or
not people are jealous of what she has. J and I grew up together, the only 2
girls in the neighborhood. I tried to be her "big sister" and
supported her through a teen marriage that lasted 8 weeks, numerous pregnancy
scares with numerous men and an AIDS test that thankfully came up negative. When
she married the second time I helped her with every aspect of the wedding: the
dress, veil, shoes, cake, flowers, decor, EVERYTHING, without a single thank
you. Her future mother in law insisted on helping me throw a bridal shower only
to insult every idea I had, avoid my phone calls and emails and then tell J that
I was "worthless" and did nothing.
When I went through a divorce she offered me use of her guest
room "until I got back on my feet" for $1000 rent per month plus
utilities and groceries! When her first child was born she asked me to be her
coach and I dutifully attended child birth classes and was there for the birth
while her husband slept and then suddenly got ill at the impending C-section. I
was with her for hours of labor and the C-section only to be informed later that
another friend was to be the Godmother. I wasn't even invited to the Baptism but
was shown pictures of the event months after the fact. Despite all that I went
to every birthday party, gift in hand, bought Christmas presents and numerous
"just because" gifts of clothing and toys for her son. Whenever we
would get together, and it would be months in between, she would note my purse
or piece of jewelry and ask "how much is it?" or "who bought that
for you?" It just so happened that I had a wonderful boyfriend who bought
me beautiful gifts.
When we got engaged she was mad because my engagement ring was
larger and a few weeks later she calls to tell me she has "traded up" her ring and now has a "better" ring and proceeds to tell me
exactly how much it costs. When I bought a gift for my sister in law, who was
pregnant, J says "you use to buy my son gifts like that" and she would
constantly ask how much I was spending on my SIL's baby. It went on like this
for years until one day I just couldn't take it anymore. I wrote her a note and
told her we couldn't be friends anymore. She called me up and cussed me out,
demanding "who's going to throw me a baby shower now?" as she was
expecting baby number 2. She then accused me of being "jealous of all her
successes in life" but I honestly can't see what successes that would be,
she lives on credit and works a menial job that she hates. I use to feel bad
for her because I was her only friend now I see why that was, no one else would
put up with her crap. The girl who was her son's Godmother stopped talking to J
and J assumes it's because she's "jealous" of J. Oh, and she had FOUR
registries for a second son born 3 years after the first.
I have a friend (we'll call her Gail) that I was very close
with in elementary and middle school but we grew apart in high school and then
went to colleges in different states. I didn't really make much of an effort to
keep in touch but she was really good about keeping up with me so I just went
with it. After we finished college, we both eventually ended up in the same town
several hundred miles from home. She and I have extremely different
personalities and outlooks on life and so we remain friendly but not close.
Imagine my surprise a few years ago when I get a wedding invitation
from Wendy's little brother. I used to see "Jim" all the time when I
was in middle school and he was in Elementary but the only time I had seen him
since then was at Gail's wedding. He and I had a lovely conversation at her
wedding but that was the only contact I had had with him in 10 years or
more. Upon opening the invitation, I find that it is not an
invitation at all. It is just a 3 line announcement that "Jim and Christie
Smith will be married on August 1st, 2003". There were also two little
slips of paper inside the envelope that listed where they were registered.
I talked to Wendy a few weeks later and mentioned that I had received the
announcement from Jim (in as neutral and non-judgmental a tone as I could
muster). She laughed and said "Oh yes. I gave him the address of my old
friends and told him that you all loved him and would happily send him
gifts". Hello? Needless, to say, I did not send a gift.
A coworker invited me and most of the office to her wedding
recently. She spoke endlessly about her wedding, complaining endlessly
about family and friends involved with the wedding until all of her coworkers
groaned. After the wedding she spoke very openly about her gifts.
After looking over her registry that was filled with only extremely expensive
gifts, I decided to buy something beautiful for her and her husband that was off
of the registry. Multiple times following the wedding, she would start to
vent to me that she hated that people thought they should buy things off the
registry for her!
I am acquainted with a woman who is getting married next month
after a rather long courtship and a shorter yet much-anticipated
engagement. The couple are not particularly close to me (I have only met the
groom once) but I am quite fond of her and happy to hear of her upcoming
I believe however, that despite my affection for this dear
woman, she has committed a very tacky blunder with regard to the bridal shower.
As both the bride and groom are financing the entire wedding
themselves they have planned a beautiful yet small wedding to which only close
family and friends are invited. Knowing their intentions and having been a
bride-on-a-budget myself once I was not in the least bit disappointed that I
would not be invited to attend on the big day.
Keeping this in mind, imagine how puzzled I was when I
received an invitation to the bridal shower. "Why?" I thought to
myself "would I be on the invite-list to a bridal shower preceding a
wedding I am not invited to?" The answer became crystal-clear when I opened
the envelope and a shower of tiny cards for SEVEN gift registries fell out.
Also, despite the fact that the invitation itself was simple and quite elegant,
hand-written inside were the words "Come join in the bridal fun, but don't
forget to bring a gift for the lucky bride!"
Five minutes did not elapse between my opening the invitation
and picking up the phone to regretfully inform the MOH that I would not be
available to attend. Am I wrong to believe this to be incredibly distasteful
Five minutes? Tsk, tsk, my dear.
You're slowing down.
Several years ago we attended the wedding and reception of a
young couple who were married at our church. Towards the end of the reception
the bride announced that a collection basket would be passed around the room to
help her father pay wedding expenses. Had this been a needy family trying to
provide a simple wedding for their daughter, I might have felt different.
Neither was the case…and neither did I contribute! It took the meaning of
tacky to new heights!
"Alms for the poor bride? Alms for
the poor bride?"
A couple I know are getting married next month and have
registered at two stores...between the two, they have registered for a total of
FIVE toasters and FOUR vacuum cleaners. When a friend asked why in the
hell they registered for so many duplicates, they said "We go through them
quickly". So, you registered for BACKUP? My friend said they
must need that many vacuum cleaners to sweep up all the toast crumbs generated
from five toasters.
Page Last Updated May 15, 2007