Etiquette Hell

Wedding Bliss and Blues => Gifts, Registries and Money => Topic started by: lilblu on March 14, 2014, 01:02:27 PM

Title: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: lilblu on March 14, 2014, 01:02:27 PM
Here's the deal:
I have a much younger cousin who I saw a fair amount of prior to 2000 (she was about 8 or 9 then), but have barely seen her since then, mostly just in passing. Our entire family seemed to kind of just fall apart after 2000, I'm not sure what happened. No one is mad at anyone, I guess people just grow apart. She is 22 or so now and is getting married soon and I've been sent a wedding invitation. My understanding is that etiquette rules dictate that I am supposed to give her a gift even though I am not going to the wedding.

So my problem is that I don't believe in weddings or wedding gifts. I don't want to go into my beliefs here because the details of my beliefs are not important to the issue. I'm wondering what I'm supposed to do about the gift? They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case. Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift. I've never really come across this problem before so I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Mikayla on March 14, 2014, 01:11:31 PM
I'm curious what others have to say about gifts being mandatory when you receive a wedding invite.  As far as I know, gifts aren't mandatory even when you attend.  I've never heard that an invite = automatic gift.

So when you say it's rude of her to expect a gift, I don't see where this comes from.  I didn't expect gifts from anyone.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: HannahGrace on March 14, 2014, 01:14:10 PM
I'm curious what others have to say about gifts being mandatory when you receive a wedding invite.  As far as I know, gifts aren't mandatory even when you attend.  I've never heard that an invite = automatic gift.

So when you say it's rude of her to expect a gift, I don't see where this comes from.  I didn't expect gifts from anyone.

Exactly.  I think it's odd to presume rudeness on the part of the inviter - I can tell you that I would prefer that everyone I invite comes to my wedding, and that no one brings a gift.  So the very last thing I would want is for someone to not come, but to send me a gift.

I'm not sure what it means to not believe in weddings, but if that's the reason you aren't going, then so be it.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Zizi-K on March 14, 2014, 01:16:04 PM
I agree. Gifts are not "expected" especially if you are not attending the wedding. This is someone you haven't been in contact with for over 10 years. In lieu of a gift, you could write your cousin a heartfelt letter with some marital advice, if you have some. Sending a gift normally is a reflecting of your affection for someone, your desire to celebrate their event, etc. I think this can all be communicated without the transference of a physical object or monetary amount. However, I think she would probably be hurt if you let the invitation pass without any personal acknowledgement beyond the rsvp.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: LemonZen on March 14, 2014, 01:17:49 PM
Does your family know about your belief? (If they do I would assume they would know why you would not attend/send a gift.)

I agree with others that gifts are never mandatory. Unless they have specifically stated they expect a gift, I don't know that you can assume that they are expecting something and therefore are being rude.

Would it go against your belief to send them a card? Could you send them a generic (non-wedding) card or note with general well wishes inside to let them know you are thinking of them? Assuming you do want to do something, of course.

Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: camlan on March 14, 2014, 01:21:32 PM
Is this the first wedding you have been invited to? What you do now will set the tone for how you handle future wedding invitations. If you have been invited to weddings before, what did you do?

The old etiquette used to be that you only had to give a wedding gift if you attended the ceremony. If you were invited but couldn't go, then you didn't have to give a gift, but you could if you wanted to. Say an elderly grandparent could not physically attend the wedding, but still wanted to gift a grandchild--no one would raise an eyebrow.

In recent years, there does seem to be a trend to invitation = gift. I am not happy with this trend. Especially since some people will send out invitations hoping the invited won't attend, but will still send a gift. The last time I did any research on this, the experts were divided on the topic.

One rule of etiquette that hasn't changed is that no one should expect a gift, ever.

If an invitation does not equal a summons, as we say here, then it also should not mandate a gift.

What I would do in your shoes is politely decline to attend the wedding. And don't send a gift. Don't mention a gift. Just say nothing.

If your beliefs would allow to congratulate your cousin, maybe not on getting married, but on making a major life change, would you be comfortable sending her a card? I ask because it might be seen as a bit heartless not to acknowledge what is, after all, a pretty big life event.


Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: TootsNYC on March 14, 2014, 01:32:25 PM
Please don't assume that the bride is expecting you to give her a gift.

She has reached out to a family member to include them in her wedding. That's all.

The idea behind "you have to buy a gift if you're invited to a wedding" is this:
   In nearly every culture in the world, weddings are a Big Deal in Someone's Life.
   Big Deals in the lives of people {you} -care- about are marked with gifts; weddings more so than anything else. (think about it--wedding gifts are cross cultural)
   If {you} receive an invitation to someone's wedding, they are telling {you} they care about {you}. It is then presumed that {you} in turn care about them. (Might not be accurate, but it's not an unreasonable thing to hope for.)
   Put these together, and it's then society's expectation that {you} will mark the occasion with a gift in order to tangibly indicate {your} affection and good wishes.
   The gift is the "word" that the culture's "dictionary" uses to say, "I love you and I wish you well on this Important Occasion." It's the "Lego block" of the society's etiquette/cultural language.
   
It's not the couple, or their parents, who are creating the expectation of the gift; it's society in general.

   If {you} reject this expectation, there are of course other ways to indicate {your} affection and good wishes.
   Whatever you do in the face of this expectation is then a piece of communication about how {you} feel about the person having the Big Deal happen in their Life. It will carry a message.

  If {you} do attend the ceremony, that's a message that these people and this Big Event are important to {you}, and so for you to -not- send that "word" from the "dictionary" is hurtful. (That's where the "you only 'have' to send a gift if you attend the ceremony" comes from, and that's why society's pressure is so high.)
   If you attend their reception, and eat and drink their food (and presumably celebrate as well), and you reject the culture's accepted form of communication (giving a gift), you send the message that you will take (their hospitality and their emotional connection), but you won't give anything (a gift, or an equivalently powerful message of regard and good will).
   Those are hurtful message to send. And of course the person receiving that message is the couple (and any family members), not society at large. That's why a couple (or family members) may be offended and think less of you.


So in this case, think about what message you want to send on the occasion of this Big Deal in the life of someone who is indicating--14 years after the family breakup--that they do consider themselves to be connected to you in a positive way.  How do you feel about that? What would you like to say? Would you like to reinstate some sort of relationship?

In your case, you don't want to use that particular "word" from the societal "dictionary." So you'll need to find some sort of "terminology" in your own "language" that will send as powerful a message.

If you DON'T want to have any relationship, then choose a communication that will create the effect you want.

Also remember that perhaps you don't believe in weddings--in our culture, we have a very strong presumption that most of our beliefs are specific to us, and that it is not appropriate to demand that other people follow our beliefs.
  So Christians attend weddings or bris/baptism/dedication-type events in synagogues or mosques or all sorts of other places (vice versa all over the place)
in respect for the beliefs of the people they care about. They send messages of good will to people who are publicly declaring their belief in a diety they themselves reject.
   Because in our culture, beliefs are considered to be a matter of one's OWN conscience.
  So if you ignore this wedding, or if you mention how you don't believe in weddings, that's going to be incredibly hurtful "language."
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: TootsNYC on March 14, 2014, 01:33:30 PM
I agree. Gifts are not "expected" especially if you are not attending the wedding. This is someone you haven't been in contact with for over 10 years. In lieu of a gift, you could write your cousin a heartfelt letter with some marital advice, if you have some. Sending a gift normally is a reflecting of your affection for someone, your desire to celebrate their event, etc. I think this can all be communicated without the transference of a physical object or monetary amount. However, I think she would probably be hurt if you let the invitation pass without any personal acknowledgement beyond the rsvp.

Oh, don't do that! Even if you have some (maybe especially if you have some).

Just send a letter with good wishes.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: jedikaiti on March 14, 2014, 01:34:14 PM
Send them a nice card with heartfelt well wishes for a happy future.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on March 14, 2014, 01:47:04 PM
In recent years, there does seem to be a trend to invitation = gift. I am not happy with this trend. Especially since some people will send out invitations hoping the invited won't attend, but will still send a gift. The last time I did any research on this, the experts were divided on the topic.

It's not all that recent.  Over 20 years ago, my mother told me I had to send a gift to a wedding I was invited to but would not be attending.  One I did, because I was close with the bride.  The other?  I ended up being the cohost of her bridal shower because the MOH didn't have her own place and I did.  So I did give her a shower gift but I didn't send a wedding gift.

OP, I don't believe you have to send a gift but you do have to acknowledge the invitation.  Send back a nice card - doesn't have to be a wedding card - with something like, 'I won't be able to attend but I wish you good fortune and happiness on the day and in your future lives together.'
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: TurtleDove on March 14, 2014, 01:56:24 PM
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case. Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift. I've never really come across this problem before so I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

Do you value the relationship with the people getting married?  If not, do nothing.  If you do, I would consider what you mean by the bolded.  If I understood your post, you do not support marriage in general, or specifically this marriage.  If staying true to this belief of yours is more important than being supportive of your cousin in connection with a big event in her life, then own that, but understand that many people could perceive your actions against marriage in general and this marriage in particular to be "rude."

I don't think there is any reason to think the cousin "expects" a gift.  If it were me, I would send my best wishes in a card and decline attending the ceremony.  But if you want to convey that you don't believe in marriage and do not support the cousin's marriage, and feel incapable of sending her best wishes on this event, just do nothing rather than make your lack of support known.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: TootsNYC on March 14, 2014, 02:10:50 PM
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case. Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift. I've never really come across this problem before so I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

Do you value the relationship with the people getting married?  If not, do nothing. 

Well, do RSVP to tell them you won't be attending.

Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Zizi-K on March 14, 2014, 02:24:38 PM
I agree. Gifts are not "expected" especially if you are not attending the wedding. This is someone you haven't been in contact with for over 10 years. In lieu of a gift, you could write your cousin a heartfelt letter with some marital advice, if you have some. Sending a gift normally is a reflecting of your affection for someone, your desire to celebrate their event, etc. I think this can all be communicated without the transference of a physical object or monetary amount. However, I think she would probably be hurt if you let the invitation pass without any personal acknowledgement beyond the rsvp.

Oh, don't do that! Even if you have some (maybe especially if you have some).

Just send a letter with good wishes.

Haha, yes, perhaps that is better advice. I suppose I was thinking about platitudes...OP doesn't know the bride as an adult and really couldn't offer much in the way of specific advice. More along the lines of "Never go to sleep mad." But a nice note would certainly be great.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Margo on March 14, 2014, 02:25:27 PM
You are not required to send a gift, particularly if you don't intend to attend the wedding. Send a nice card or letter with best wishes for the future (you don't have to specifically mention the wedding if you feel that would conflict with your beliefs, you can simply say something such as "I hope you will be very happy together" or "wishing you the very best for your life together"

Just send a reply to say you won't be able to attend, and wishing them the best.

There is no rudeness on either side.

HOWEVER, it is reasonable for you to think about how you will handle things n the future - it's likely that you will be invited to other weddings in the future, and perhaps some of those will be wedding sof people who are vry close to you, and who may be hurt if you don't attend.

You are not obliged to violate your own principles but it's worth considering that you can support people without necessarily supporting their choices - for instance, my cousin joined an evangelical church while she was at University. She and her husband met via their church, it's a huge an important part of their lives. My uncle is atheist (he and my aunt did not marry in church because it went against his principles) but - he walked his daughter up the aisle and he attended her baptism because he wanted to be there for her.

You may to consider whether your principled objection to weddings would prevent you from supporting someone who you loved, even if you did not support the choices which they made.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: esposita on March 14, 2014, 02:27:22 PM
I think its quite presumptuous to think them rude for "expecting a gift" when all they did was send an invitation to an important event in their lives.

Do they have any idea how you feel about marriage? I would not expect people to remember something like that when the family is not close and you haven't spoken to them in a while. They probably don't know/remember your beliefs, and since you don't really know them I don't think you can assume that their reason for inviting you was to get a gift.

I vote for politely declining and leaving it at that.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: TurtleDove on March 14, 2014, 02:29:13 PM
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case. Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift. I've never really come across this problem before so I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

Do you value the relationship with the people getting married?  If not, do nothing. 

Well, do RSVP to tell them you won't be attending.

Ah, agreed.  I guess I meant more it is better to just say, "No, I cannot make it" than "I don't support your marriage."  Whether the OP cares about the relationship or not!
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: kherbert05 on March 14, 2014, 02:38:42 PM
It is an invitation not a summons or invoice. You aren't obligated to do anything but RSVP that you aren't going to attend.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: nyarlathotep on March 14, 2014, 04:30:42 PM
RSVP no, but send a nice letter wishing them happiness (I'd vote for no on the marital advice, though).

It is never rude to refuse to attend a ceremony you do not agree with - whatever the ceremony - as long as you do so graciously. Depending on how close you are with the people involved, you may not want to disclose the reasons, though. Some people read "I do not personally believe in X" as "I judge you for doing X", even though this isn't always the case, so you'll want to tread carefully.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: gellchom on March 14, 2014, 05:59:11 PM
You don't have to buy a gift, although, as Toots points out, you need to evaluate what sort of message, if any, that will send in your family's context.

Do write a short note wishing them happiness.  It doesn't have to be on a purchased greeting card.  In fact, if they enclosed a response card with enough room for a few lines, you can write it right on that. 

Do not give them any marital advice, and don't tell them what you do and don't believe in or approve of or how you feel about weddings, marriage, or gifts.  Any of those things would be rude in this situation: no one is taking a referendum.  They are just inviting you to share a very important event in their lives (that they DO believe in) and offering you hospitality.  It would be just as inappropriate to tell them how you feel about weddings and so forth in your response as it would be to send a diatribe against religion in response to an invitation to a bar mitzvah or christening.

I, too, am taken aback at your calling them rude for expecting a gift and for that matter assuming they expect anything other than a response to the invitation.  Unless there is something you haven't told us, and you are saying that just based on your having received an invitation, this looks like projection that indicates some pretty strong negative feelings on your part about these people.

Just decline the invitation politely and with a few nice words of congratulations and good wishes. 
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: sammycat on March 14, 2014, 06:36:39 PM
I, too, am taken aback at your calling them rude for expecting a gift and for that matter assuming they expect anything other than a response to the invitation.  Unless there is something you haven't told us, and you are saying that just based on your having received an invitation, this looks like projection that indicates some pretty strong negative feelings on your part about these people.

Just decline the invitation politely and with a few nice words of congratulations and good wishes.

POD. 

Unless there's a lot of background we're unaware of, I fail to see how receiving an invitation is anything other than what it appears on the surface  - ie. please come and share our happy day with us.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: kareng57 on March 14, 2014, 09:23:59 PM
I agree with PPs.  Your cousin is not in the wrong for sending you an invitation to which you can politely decline.  You are the one in the wrong for assuming that it is a gift-solicitation.

Naturally this is all up to you but I think you have to think of the long term, here.  It's one thing to decline an invitation for a cousin you haven't seen in a long time.  It's another thing if it's a sibling, a good friend etc.  Your stance could lead to many hurt feelings and disappointment.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: JenJay on March 14, 2014, 09:48:44 PM
I'd like to stand up for the OP a little bit. I don't think she meant to call her cousin out as being rude, I think she's under the mistaken impression that marrying couples always expect to receive gifts from everyone they invite to their wedding and that is what she's calling rude. A lot of people have already covered the fact that OP was mistaken about having to send a gift just because she was invited so hopefully she feels better about that now. Honestly, if that was a real rule (we invited you so you have to send a gift!) I would agree that it would be rude to invite anyone you had a good idea wouldn't come. But yeah, that's not actually a thing, so...

OP, I think it's pretty common for people to invite distant relatives for a wedding because it's hard to know who will want to come. I once received an invite from relatives so distant I didn't recognize their names! I just RSVP'd no and didn't give it another thought (And no, I didn't send a card, because I actually thought they might have mailed it to me by mistake and we were strangers. I found out several months later that it was a very distant cousin in another state.). They may have been worried you'd be hurt if they didn't invite you. DH and I eloped but I had that issue with a baby shower. Invite the ones you know won't come and risk offending them because it looks like a gift grab, or don't invite them and risk offending them because they feel excluded.  :-\

How do you usually acknowledge your friends' happy life events? Even though you are against marriage can you look at this as two people doing something that makes them happy and being excited to share the good news with their friends and families? If you'd normally send a letter or card, do that. It doesn't have to be a wedding card. If you're vehemently opposed, to the point that you don't want to acknowledge their marriage at all, just decline the invite.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: purple on March 15, 2014, 12:51:00 AM
Is the only reason you're not going to the wedding because of your personal beliefs? Or are you actually unavailable or unable to go for other reasons?

If the former, then I would advise you to have a good think about whether this is a relationship that you want to rekindle or not.

If you are happy with the distance in this relationship, then just politely decline - send a gift or a card or not - it doesn't really matter.

If this is a relationship that you would like to rekindle then I think you should consider going to the wedding (and buying a gift).  Think of it (as others have said above) as being there to support this person you care about at a major life event.

I've sat through looooooooooong *religion* masses for baby baptisms and weddings for people I care about and the whole shebang is completely meaningless to me, but the people up the front are people I care about, so I put on a nice dress and a nice smile - it didn't kill me! :)

I agree with the other posters who also said that's it's probably a good time to start thinking about how you will handle such situations in the future.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: peaches on March 15, 2014, 06:24:46 AM
We've established that OP doesn't need to send a gift since she's decided not to attend the wedding.

OP does need to respond to the invitation. Otherwise the couple won't know whether to expect her or not. That could be as simple as filling out a response card included in the invitation and mailing it.

It's a nice gesture to send a card or handwritten note wishing the couple well. I would do that if you want to maintain a cordial relationship.
 



Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Sharnita on March 15, 2014, 07:34:53 AM
OP, how old are you? You mention that you've never come across this before but weddings are pretty much a fundamental part of life in every culture.  If you don't believe in them and intend to decline invites this might be the first time you deal with this but it isn't going to be the last.

I think a gift was probably the last thing on their mind when they invited you. Knowing the family would be there, remembering the good times of the past - those were probably the motivating factors.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Harriet Jones on March 15, 2014, 09:21:19 AM
From the OP, this "much younger" cousin sounds like she's in her early 20s, so the OP is (at a minimum) mid-20s,  probably older.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: cicero on March 16, 2014, 02:57:30 AM
i agree that the "belief system" is not the issue here. I don't see why you would be expected to send a gift to someone you barely know, for a wedding you won't be attending. ASAIK - a grandparent, or aunt/uncle (older and more financially established) might do that, but I wouldn't expect a gift from a young cousin i barely know (I'm assuming you are young).

you don't have to "believe in marriage" - but you can polite and respectful. geting married is a normative thing in most cultures; it's not like they are doing something illegal or immoral or harmful. I might not believe in the "religious belief system" that most of my family members believe in - but i respect them and so i wouldn't do anything to hurt their feelings (e.g., they don't use electricity on the sabbath so if i'm at their house i won't use electricity, etc). So in your case i would think of a way to be happy for them, without going against your beliefs.like a card or letter wishing them happiness
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: nyarlathotep on March 16, 2014, 03:06:00 AM
I'd like to stand up for the OP a little bit. I don't think she meant to call her cousin out as being rude, I think she's under the mistaken impression that marrying couples always expect to receive gifts from everyone they invite to their wedding and that is what she's calling rude. A lot of people have already covered the fact that OP was mistaken about having to send a gift just because she was invited so hopefully she feels better about that now. Honestly, if that was a real rule (we invited you so you have to send a gift!) I would agree that it would be rude to invite anyone you had a good idea wouldn't come. But yeah, that's not actually a thing, so...

POD. I read it as "It's rude to expect gifts" rather than "this couple is being rude".

I'm also not sure how constructive it is to encourage someone to go against their own beliefs in this situation. Declining an invitation isn't inherently rude, so why does it suddenly become a problem if the reason is religion/politics?
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: #borecore on March 16, 2014, 09:25:56 AM
Going back to the OP, "I don't believe in weddings" sounds different from "I don't believe in marriages." So I think the best/safest/politest route is a congratulatory note. It can be polite without mentioning the ceremony.

Just buy a blank note card and write a message about wishing them the best, now and always. And let them know that you, unfortunately, will not be able to attend their event.

If you don't even want to make the effort to buy a card, and there's an RSVP card in the invitation, just write an extra line of regrets on the card, along with checking the appropriate box.

I am really curious about believing in weddings, as they are clearly a thing that happens, so I'm not sure how you could not believe in them any more than you could not believe in graduations or pigs. But I suppose that's neither here nor there. I do think that a wedding invitation response is not the place to expound on these beliefs. So polite avoidance of the issue is best.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: gramma dishes on March 16, 2014, 09:59:42 AM
Going back to the OP, "I don't believe in weddings" sounds different from "I don't believe in marriages." So I think the best/safest/politest route is a congratulatory note. It can be polite without mentioning the ceremony.

Just buy a blank note card and write a message about wishing them the best, now and always. And let them know that you, unfortunately, will not be able to attend their event.

If you don't even want to make the effort to buy a card, and there's an RSVP card in the invitation, just write an extra line of regrets on the card, along with checking the appropriate box.

I am really curious about believing in weddings, as they are clearly a thing that happens, so I'm not sure how you could not believe in them any more than you could not believe in graduations or pigs. But I suppose that's neither here nor there. I do think that a wedding invitation response is not the place to expound on these beliefs. So polite avoidance of the issue is best.

Ditto!  All of it, but especially the bolded part.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: gellchom on March 16, 2014, 11:17:17 AM
Here's where I think some of us are getting confused.  In her original (and only) post, Lilblu wrote both
Quote
My understanding is that etiquette rules dictate that I am supposed to give her a gift even though I am not going to the wedding.
and
Quote
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case.

I appreciate that there is a difference between a violation of etiquette and rudeness -- they aren't coextensive (i.e., there are etiquette violations that are incorrect but not rude, and there is rudeness that is technically correct).  But Lilblu is giving herself credit for understanding the difference, while unkindly assuming that her cousin does not:
Quote
Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift.
There may well be more facts to support that assumption, but she hasn't shared them with us, so all we're left with is her making, without any discernible reason, the unkindest possible assumption about the motives of relatives she says she doesn't even know well anymore and a fiance she doesn't know at all.

Now, to stick up for Lilblu, she isn't making this up out of whole cloth.  Right here on eHell, we have seen that a few -- not all -- authorities do (or did) say that even if you don't attend, you should send a gift for every wedding invitation (at least "real" invitations, not courtesy or mass invitations) you receive.  I don't agree with that, but we have seen it.  But to logically extend that to "Therefore, as those issuing the invitations know that their guests will be thus obliged, every wedding invitation is always fairly viewed as a demand for a gift" is just ridiculous: by definition, then, all wedding invitations would then be rude.  (Unless, I guess, they say "no gifts please," which wouldn't be rude but would be incorrect -- see above!  :))  And it may be that, perhaps because of the beliefs she referenced, that is exactly the logic Lilblu wants etiquette to follow, and therefore brand all weddings and invitations as rude.

I can't help but feel that the real reason for this post was to try to get eHell sanction for using the occasion to communicate to her relatives her feelings about weddings, gifts, and perhaps their motives in sending her the invitation.   And that is simply not okay -- and come to think of it, it wouldn't be okay even if she knew for sure that they really did expect a gift from her.  She is more than entitled to her beliefs, and I am not saying she isn't right -- maybe she would persuade us all, who knows.  But that's not the point -- whether you are right or wrong, you just don't use the occasion of a wedding or an invitation to criticize or question others' beliefs.  If you get an invitation to a flat earth seminar or anti-puppy festival, just politely decline.

Lilblu, I don't know if you are even still following this thread.  But if you are, and you want some help formulating a response, here is a suggestion.  As others have said, use either the response card if they sent one, or any piece of stationery, or a greeting card.  Write something like,
"Dear Cousin Lulabelle,
Thank you for the lovely [or just "your"] invitation.  Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend.  I look forward to meeting Dagwood someday.  My best wishes for a lovely day and for a long and happy life together.
Love [or "yours" or "sincerely" or "fondly" or whatever feels right, or nothing at all],
Lilblu

As for a gift, decide if there are any family dynamics that you care about that outweigh your anti-gift beliefs, and make your decision accordingly.  Either giving or not giving a gift is fine.  I know there are many who don't like charitable contributions as gifts, but in my community they are very common, so maybe that would work for you as a sort of compromise with yourself in this situation -- provided you are very careful to choose a charity you are sure they would like.

If this feels unsatisfying to you because you aren't getting something in there about your beliefs about weddings, gifts, or her motives, then I don't think that you are going to find the help you need here.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: katycoo on March 16, 2014, 07:20:51 PM
OP I appreciate your desire to not go into the details of your beliefs, but I wanted to ask, are they somewhat recent?  Have you been and gifted to weddings before you formed these beliefs?  If so, this could be more difficult than if this is your first exposure to this situation.

I think I would just decline and wish them well. 
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: purple on March 16, 2014, 08:35:17 PM
Here's where I think some of us are getting confused.  In her original (and only) post, Lilblu wrote both
Quote
My understanding is that etiquette rules dictate that I am supposed to give her a gift even though I am not going to the wedding.
and
Quote
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case.

I appreciate that there is a difference between a violation of etiquette and rudeness -- they aren't coextensive (i.e., there are etiquette violations that are incorrect but not rude, and there is rudeness that is technically correct).  But Lilblu is giving herself credit for understanding the difference, while unkindly assuming that her cousin does not:
Quote
Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift.
There may well be more facts to support that assumption, but she hasn't shared them with us, so all we're left with is her making, without any discernible reason, the unkindest possible assumption about the motives of relatives she says she doesn't even know well anymore and a fiance she doesn't know at all.

Now, to stick up for Lilblu, she isn't making this up out of whole cloth.  Right here on eHell, we have seen that a few -- not all -- authorities do (or did) say that even if you don't attend, you should send a gift for every wedding invitation (at least "real" invitations, not courtesy or mass invitations) you receive.  I don't agree with that, but we have seen it.  But to logically extend that to "Therefore, as those issuing the invitations know that their guests will be thus obliged, every wedding invitation is always fairly viewed as a demand for a gift" is just ridiculous: by definition, then, all wedding invitations would then be rude.  (Unless, I guess, they say "no gifts please," which wouldn't be rude but would be incorrect -- see above!  :))  And it may be that, perhaps because of the beliefs she referenced, that is exactly the logic Lilblu wants etiquette to follow, and therefore brand all weddings and invitations as rude.

I can't help but feel that the real reason for this post was to try to get eHell sanction for using the occasion to communicate to her relatives her feelings about weddings, gifts, and perhaps their motives in sending her the invitation.   And that is simply not okay -- and come to think of it, it wouldn't be okay even if she knew for sure that they really did expect a gift from her.  She is more than entitled to her beliefs, and I am not saying she isn't right -- maybe she would persuade us all, who knows.  But that's not the point -- whether you are right or wrong, you just don't use the occasion of a wedding or an invitation to criticize or question others' beliefs.  If you get an invitation to a flat earth seminar or anti-puppy festival, just politely decline.
Lilblu, I don't know if you are even still following this thread.  But if you are, and you want some help formulating a response, here is a suggestion.  As others have said, use either the response card if they sent one, or any piece of stationery, or a greeting card.  Write something like,
"Dear Cousin Lulabelle,
Thank you for the lovely [or just "your"] invitation.  Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend.  I look forward to meeting Dagwood someday.  My best wishes for a lovely day and for a long and happy life together.
Love [or "yours" or "sincerely" or "fondly" or whatever feels right, or nothing at all],
Lilblu

As for a gift, decide if there are any family dynamics that you care about that outweigh your anti-gift beliefs, and make your decision accordingly.  Either giving or not giving a gift is fine.  I know there are many who don't like charitable contributions as gifts, but in my community they are very common, so maybe that would work for you as a sort of compromise with yourself in this situation -- provided you are very careful to choose a charity you are sure they would like.

If this feels unsatisfying to you because you aren't getting something in there about your beliefs about weddings, gifts, or her motives, then I don't think that you are going to find the help you need here.

Yes! 100% yes!
This is how I feel but couldn't articulate as well as you did  :)
Thank you.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: whatsanenigma on March 16, 2014, 08:40:48 PM
Here's where I think some of us are getting confused.  In her original (and only) post, Lilblu wrote both
Quote
My understanding is that etiquette rules dictate that I am supposed to give her a gift even though I am not going to the wedding.
and
Quote
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case.

I appreciate that there is a difference between a violation of etiquette and rudeness -- they aren't coextensive (i.e., there are etiquette violations that are incorrect but not rude, and there is rudeness that is technically correct).  But Lilblu is giving herself credit for understanding the difference, while unkindly assuming that her cousin does not:
Quote
Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift.
There may well be more facts to support that assumption, but she hasn't shared them with us, so all we're left with is her making, without any discernible reason, the unkindest possible assumption about the motives of relatives she says she doesn't even know well anymore and a fiance she doesn't know at all.

Now, to stick up for Lilblu, she isn't making this up out of whole cloth.  Right here on eHell, we have seen that a few -- not all -- authorities do (or did) say that even if you don't attend, you should send a gift for every wedding invitation (at least "real" invitations, not courtesy or mass invitations) you receive.  I don't agree with that, but we have seen it.  But to logically extend that to "Therefore, as those issuing the invitations know that their guests will be thus obliged, every wedding invitation is always fairly viewed as a demand for a gift" is just ridiculous: by definition, then, all wedding invitations would then be rude.  (Unless, I guess, they say "no gifts please," which wouldn't be rude but would be incorrect -- see above!  :))  And it may be that, perhaps because of the beliefs she referenced, that is exactly the logic Lilblu wants etiquette to follow, and therefore brand all weddings and invitations as rude.

I can't help but feel that the real reason for this post was to try to get eHell sanction for using the occasion to communicate to her relatives her feelings about weddings, gifts, and perhaps their motives in sending her the invitation.   And that is simply not okay -- and come to think of it, it wouldn't be okay even if she knew for sure that they really did expect a gift from her.  She is more than entitled to her beliefs, and I am not saying she isn't right -- maybe she would persuade us all, who knows.  But that's not the point -- whether you are right or wrong, you just don't use the occasion of a wedding or an invitation to criticize or question others' beliefs.  If you get an invitation to a flat earth seminar or anti-puppy festival, just politely decline.
Lilblu, I don't know if you are even still following this thread.  But if you are, and you want some help formulating a response, here is a suggestion.  As others have said, use either the response card if they sent one, or any piece of stationery, or a greeting card.  Write something like,
"Dear Cousin Lulabelle,
Thank you for the lovely [or just "your"] invitation.  Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend.  I look forward to meeting Dagwood someday.  My best wishes for a lovely day and for a long and happy life together.
Love [or "yours" or "sincerely" or "fondly" or whatever feels right, or nothing at all],
Lilblu

As for a gift, decide if there are any family dynamics that you care about that outweigh your anti-gift beliefs, and make your decision accordingly.  Either giving or not giving a gift is fine.  I know there are many who don't like charitable contributions as gifts, but in my community they are very common, so maybe that would work for you as a sort of compromise with yourself in this situation -- provided you are very careful to choose a charity you are sure they would like.

If this feels unsatisfying to you because you aren't getting something in there about your beliefs about weddings, gifts, or her motives, then I don't think that you are going to find the help you need here.

Yes! 100% yes!
This is how I feel but couldn't articulate as well as you did  :)
Thank you.

Just for the record, I didn't get that feeling from the OP's post at all.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: purple on March 16, 2014, 09:18:35 PM
^^Actually, whatsanenigma, I think you are right.  The part of the post I really agree with is the latter part - the sentiment that somebody else's big event is not the right venue for you (general) to jump up on your soapbox and start preaching your own beliefs and making your (general) stand.

Perhaps I just got a bit excited with the bolding and highlighted the whole paragraph rather than that part I really meant.  :)
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: whatsanenigma on March 16, 2014, 09:44:19 PM
^^Actually, whatsanenigma, I think you are right.  The part of the post I really agree with is the latter part - the sentiment that somebody else's big event is not the right venue for you (general) to jump up on your soapbox and start preaching your own beliefs and making your (general) stand.

Perhaps I just got a bit excited with the bolding and highlighted the whole paragraph rather than that part I really meant.  :)

No worries, I was just scooping up all references to it in one big quote-tree swoop.   :)

And I actually agree with the general sentiment also.  I just don't think that's what this particular OP is doing.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: gellchom on March 16, 2014, 11:14:13 PM
Of course that may not be her motivation at all, and I hope it isn't.  The reason I got the sneaking feeling that it might be is that otherwise I wonder what the point of posting at all is. 

She wrote
Quote
So my problem is that I don't believe in weddings or wedding gifts. .... I'm wondering what I'm supposed to do about the gift? They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case. Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift. I've never really come across this problem before so I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?
Note that she didn't ask if she has to send a gift, and she already knows she wouldn't be rude if she didn't:
Quote
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case.
(even though she also says that it is her "understanding that etiquette rules dictate" that she should).  So what does she mean, exactly, when she says she is "wondering what I'm supposed to do about the gift" and "I've never really come across this problem before"?  What "problem," exactly?  To me, since she already knows she isn't required to send a gift, it sounds like she is asking if she should explain to them that the reason she isn't sending them a gift is because she doesn't believe in weddings and wedding gifts.  And if she doesn't also sort of want to somehow comment on their rudeness in (she assumes) expecting gifts, why did she even mention that here?  If she would be satisfied by simply declining the invitation politely and sending no gift without comment, then I don't think we would have seen this post.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: kareng57 on March 16, 2014, 11:23:22 PM
Of course that may not be her motivation at all, and I hope it isn't.  The reason I got the sneaking feeling that it might be is that otherwise I wonder what the point of posting at all is. 

She wrote
Quote
So my problem is that I don't believe in weddings or wedding gifts. .... I'm wondering what I'm supposed to do about the gift? They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case. Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift. I've never really come across this problem before so I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?
Note that she didn't ask if she has to send a gift, and she already knows she wouldn't be rude if she didn't:
Quote
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case.
(even though she also says that it is her "understanding that etiquette rules dictate" that she should).  So what does she mean, exactly, when she says she is "wondering what I'm supposed to do about the gift" and "I've never really come across this problem before"?  What "problem," exactly?  To me, since she already knows she isn't required to send a gift, it sounds like she is asking if she should explain to them that the reason she isn't sending them a gift is because she doesn't believe in weddings and wedding gifts.  And if she doesn't also sort of want to somehow comment on their rudeness in (she assumes) expecting gifts, why did she even mention that here?  If she would be satisfied by simply declining the invitation politely and sending no gift without comment, then I don't think we would have seen this post.


Agree completely; I am quite baffled by OP's question.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with politely declining, and not sending a gift. (A card would certainly be nice but it's not mandatory). So, why make so much more out of the situation?
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: peaches on March 16, 2014, 11:27:23 PM
My take on the original post was that she thought a gift would be required as a result of receiving an invitation (which we've made clear is not the case).

She felt she would be labeled as rude for not sending a gift when her intention is not to be rude, but simply to follow her beliefs which include not giving gifts.

I think she wants to avoid giving offense. Otherwise, why would she ask this on an Etiquette board? She could do whatever she wants without consulting anyone.

I think a lot of good suggestions have been given. Hopefully, they helped OP.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: kareng57 on March 16, 2014, 11:37:21 PM
My take on the original post was that she thought a gift would be required as a result of receiving an invitation (which we've made clear is not the case).

She felt she would be labeled as rude for not sending a gift when her intention is not to be rude, but simply to follow her beliefs which include not giving gifts.

I think she wants to avoid giving offense. Otherwise, why would she ask this on an Etiquette board? She could do whatever she wants without consulting anyone.

I think a lot of good suggestions have been given. Hopefully, they helped OP.


Overall I do agree, but she's asserted that the HC are rude for "expecting" gifts.

Hopefully she will return with some clarification.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: aussie_chick on March 17, 2014, 05:51:50 AM
You are under no obligation to give a gift in this instance.
I would think about the post from Toots about considering what kind of relationship, if any, you hope to have with this cousin in future.
Either way, a card would be nice, but certainly not mandatory. And if you really don't approve of weddings and/or marriages (i'm not sure on this part) then send a "wishing you all the very best for your future lives together" without mentioning weddings or marriages.

Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: TurtleDove on March 17, 2014, 06:19:54 AM
I also got an "off" vibe from the OP, which made me fear she wants to use this wedding as a platform to make her views known. I think we all agree that would be wildly inappropriate.

I can't tell whether the OP is against wedding and marriage for herself or against weddings and marriage for all people? I have never heard of this and am interested to understand the reasoning.

Send a polite no, but don't make someone else's happy day about you.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: sammycat on March 17, 2014, 06:27:42 AM
I also got an "off" vibe from the OP, which made me fear she wants to use this wedding as a platform to make her views known. I think we all agree that would be wildly inappropriate.

I can't tell whether the OP is against wedding and marriage for herself or against weddings and marriage for all people? I have never heard of this and am interested to understand the reasoning.

Send a polite no, but don't make someone else's happy day about you.

POD
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 17, 2014, 09:37:24 AM
^ POD. Your personal beliefs are yours only. I think declining the invitation is the polite thing to do.

I find it questionable to assume the happy couple are expecting a gift and then to say that they are rude.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: mime on March 17, 2014, 11:24:14 AM
If my wedding were approaching and one of my invitations was sent to a relative who didn't believe in weddings or wedding gifts (and assuming I didn't know this information), and the relative has chosen to honor her beliefs by not bringing a gift (as it appears the OP has decided), I can see it playing out in a few ways:

1- The relative RSVPs "no" to the invitation, with or without any simple note of regret or best wishes.
No big deal. Not everyone can be there, for whatever reason.

2- The relative RSVPs "no" to the invitation, along with or followed by an explanation of her beliefs leading to the "no".
If the note was a kind and simple sentence or two, I would not find this rude. I would make an effort to be sensitive to her beliefs in the future.
If the note was preachy and/or unkind, I would likely leave that relationship distant and exclude her from future invitations of any type.

3- The relative attends the wedding, and brings no gift. I have to admit in all honesty that I would find that odd because bringing a gift is the typical behavior by a huge margin. I wouldn't dwell on it though: I may assume finances were tight and let it go-- after all, nobody is required to buy me something! (note: I did have a guest who attended my wedding and brought no gift, and this was roughly my reaction.)
If the no-gift came with an explanation of her beliefs that includes "I don't believe in weddings" I would wonder why she chose to come to my wedding in the first place, especially if our family had drifted apart over the last 10 years!

I think that to keep behavior and beliefs consistent, I would neither attend nor send a gift. This can be handled with absolutely no rudeness whatsoever.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Twik on March 18, 2014, 04:10:46 PM
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case. Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift.

It's actually quite rude to assign evil motives to people without evidence of such.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 19, 2014, 08:02:26 AM
OP, what have you decided?
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: artk2002 on March 19, 2014, 08:09:58 AM
They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case. Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift.

It's actually quite rude to assign evil motives to people without evidence of such.

Twik is quite right. OP has given no evidence that a gift is expected by this cousin.

I think that we have here a scenario that plays out frequently: There's a difference between something being polite (that is, within the bounds of etiquette) and something with social or interpersonal consequences. I suspect that OP is actually concerned about the social consequences of her position, but seeing them in etiquette terms. It is very true that, under etiquette, not giving a gift is acceptable. Under the broader social context it still may be a bad thing. "Polite" is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

OP, I'm not here to convince you that your beliefs are wrong, but to point out that you need to consider and accept all of the consequences of those beliefs. One of those consequences is that people who have weddings may feel hurt by your actions under those beliefs. That doesn't mean that your beliefs are wrong, or that you have to change them for other people, but it does mean that you have to accept that people are going to be unhappy with you because of those actions. You can't expect people to be happy with you, when you openly disapprove of a major (happy) event in their lives.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: kudeebee on March 19, 2014, 11:22:47 AM
Here's the deal:
I have a much younger cousin who I saw a fair amount of prior to 2000 (she was about 8 or 9 then), but have barely seen her since then, mostly just in passing. Our entire family seemed to kind of just fall apart after 2000, I'm not sure what happened. No one is mad at anyone, I guess people just grow apart. She is 22 or so now and is getting married soon and I've been sent a wedding invitation. My understanding is that etiquette rules dictate that I am supposed to give her a gift even though I am not going to the wedding.
So my problem is that I don't believe in weddings or wedding gifts. I don't want to go into my beliefs here because the details of my beliefs are not important to the issue. I'm wondering what I'm supposed to do about the gift? They might perceive my lack of a gift as being rude when in fact that is not the case. Personally, I think it's rude of them to expect a gift. I've never really come across this problem before so I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

To me, the key facts are bolded.  She is a younger cousin that you only see in passing.  It sounds like you are not going to the wedding and think etiquette says you must send a gift.  You don't believe in weddings or wedding gifts.

If you are not going to the wedding, you don't have to send a gift. Just reply "no" on the rsvp card or website or whatever method is given.  Do not state your beliefs, those are yours and your right to have.  If you can, write something like "hope you have a wonderful day".  If you don't feel good about writing something like that, then don't.

Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: lmyrs on March 19, 2014, 11:39:23 AM
I think that you have a faulty key assumption. You say in the OP that you believe that etiquette says that you must send a gift even if you don't go. That's just not the case. Etiquette never says you have to give a gift to anyone.

Now, that doesn't mean that you get out of familial or social "obligations" or expectations so easily. Only you know if it would be frowned upon by your circle/family if you declined to attend and did not send a gift. I don't think it would be so noticed in my family. But, my family is huge so no one really expects everyone to turn up and gifts are just a "nice to have", especially from the cousin generation who are usually included in a larger family gift with their parents, even if they're adults with families.

I do think that you are being ungracious by saying that the couple is rude for expecting a gift just because they sent you an invitation. Maybe they just want to see you at their wedding. Maybe they didn't want to invite you because you're not close but got pressure from your aunt. Maybe they are inviting all of their cousins and feel it would be really rude not to include you even if they don't think you are going to come. There's a million reasons why they sent you that invitation and "they just want a present" certainly wouldn't be my first guess.

I liken this to the poster in another thread who found her friend rude because he was planning his own birthday party and she didn't want to go. If you're feeling a bit guilty about not wanting to go, then it doesn't make them rude to invite you.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Specky on March 19, 2014, 04:13:57 PM
In some defense of the OP, I did an online search for "If I receive an invitation to a wedding, am I required to send a gift if I don't go?", and slight variations of that statement.  I looked at the first 10 results.  (Sadly, neither EHell nor Miss Manners appeared on the first page of any of the searches.)  Of those first 10 results, 9 stated that yes, a gift should be sent, even if one declines the invitation.  The 10th stated it as a "no, but", as in "No, but you should send one anyway".   I realize this is incorrect advice, but it is what is out there and what is coming up first in searches. 

When I searched for "Are guests expected to give me a gift if they decline my invitation?", I did not get a direct answer to that question, but did get similar results to the previous search.  With this misinformation so readily available, it isn't difficult to see how anyone could develop the idea that an invitation obligates a gift.

Also, when I re-read the original post, I did not see anything that indicated that the poster intended to use the occasion of the invitation to state their views and beliefs about weddings and gifts. 



Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 19, 2014, 05:09:16 PM
I think it's an interesting situation. Though, I am also a little unclear about what the OP is asking.

I think the basic facts (no, not required to send a gift for every invitation) have been covered (thanks Specky for pointing out that there is a lot of misinformation out there).

If the OP is concerned about appearing rude/uncaring to family (that is, it's not really rude but people might find it hurtful), that's a different situation, and one that would be good to prepare a strategy for, for the future. Then she can do something each time that is within the parameters of her beliefs, but which is more than "nothing," and should thus reinforce the family relationship adequately.

Ideas that come to mind:
--Heartfelt note of warm memories
--CD of old family photos and historical documents
--Homemade item that doesn't feel "gifty"
--Family heirloom, like one of Great-Grandma's spoons
--Scrapbook of current photos collected from family members and assembled by the OP

Depends on what the OP's beliefs allow. All of these things could be given not as "gifts to celebrate a wedding" but more as, "Oh hey, I thought of you [because you sent me an invitation] and here's a nice thing I thought you might like."
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: TootsNYC on March 19, 2014, 05:54:23 PM
I think that if etiquette is followed exactly--in other words, if the only people invited to the wedding are people who genuinely care about either the bride or broom--then yes, you should send a message to these people on the occasion of such a huge life event. After all, you care about them, right? And a gift is the "code word" for "I recognize what a HUGE life event this is, and I want to do something to let you know how much I care about you and how well I wish you."

But there ARE other ways to send that message, and it's the message that matters, not the gift. To completely ignore such a huge event in the life of someone you care about is really hurtful.

If you get an invitation that isn't actually from someone close to you, this doesn't apply.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: TurtleDove on March 19, 2014, 07:41:17 PM
Yeah, I agree with TootsNYC. It isn't rude ever to not send a gift, but as another poster pointed out there are likely to be consequences to the OP's anti-marriage stance. In this case, though, it seems the OP barely knows the HC so I would just RSVP no.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: gellchom on March 19, 2014, 10:32:22 PM
I think that if etiquette is followed exactly--in other words, if the only people invited to the wedding are people who genuinely care about either the bride or broom--then yes, you should send a message to these people on the occasion of such a huge life event. After all, you care about them, right? And a gift is the "code word" for "I recognize what a HUGE life event this is, and I want to do something to let you know how much I care about you and how well I wish you."

But there ARE other ways to send that message, and it's the message that matters, not the gift. To completely ignore such a huge event in the life of someone you care about is really hurtful.

If you get an invitation that isn't actually from someone close to you, this doesn't apply.

Perfect.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Mikayla on March 20, 2014, 11:33:17 AM

2- The relative RSVPs "no" to the invitation, along with or followed by an explanation of her beliefs leading to the "no".
If the note was a kind and simple sentence or two, I would not find this rude. I would make an effort to be sensitive to her beliefs in the future.



I trimmed the stuff I agreed with, but I totally disagree on this.  Polite wording doesn't make it less rude.

For some reason, it reminds me of someone posting a tragic situation on FB and asking people for prayers.  There's always that person who announces "Well, I don't pray, but....".

It's not about you.

I'm not saying I think OP is doing this, although a clarification would be helpful. 
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: TootsNYC on March 20, 2014, 12:21:51 PM
And if you think your own beliefs are important enough to mention, especially when they are in opposition to the beliefs of the person whose life event this is, then you are essentially saying, "you're doing it wrong."

This is not an academic discussion, in which your conflicting beliefs might be a point of interest.
Title: Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
Post by: Margo on March 21, 2014, 11:48:45 AM

2- The relative RSVPs "no" to the invitation, along with or followed by an explanation of her beliefs leading to the "no".
If the note was a kind and simple sentence or two, I would not find this rude. I would make an effort to be sensitive to her beliefs in the future.



I trimmed the stuff I agreed with, but I totally disagree on this.  Polite wording doesn't make it less rude.

For some reason, it reminds me of someone posting a tragic situation on FB and asking people for prayers.  There's always that person who announces "Well, I don't pray, but....".

It's not about you.

I'm not saying I think OP is doing this, although a clarification would be helpful.
This is a good point. In the situation of someone asking for prayers, you can either reply 'I'm thinking of you' or something similar which is sympathetic and appropriate to the situation but which does not promise or offer something you can't give or don't feel is appropriate, or you say nothing.

I thin the same applies here. Either you reply in a way which is is suitable for the situation but doesn't violate your beliefs, so you decline but with a nice note wishing them well in their future, or saying that you hope they will be very happy, or else you do nothing, which in this case would be sending a reply declining the invitation but not adding in a card or letter.

I think that the time to tell your friends you don't believe in marriage or gift-giving is at pretty much any time *except* when they send you a wedding invitation, save the date, or tell you that they are getting married. (the exception would be if they were asking you to be in the wedding party, when I think that more than a simple, polite decline would be appropriate)