Author Topic: Are wedding presents obligatory?  (Read 4629 times)

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JeseC

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Are wedding presents obligatory?
« on: January 17, 2013, 06:13:41 PM »
I've been invited to a friend's wedding in a few months.  I'd really like to go, but...well, the problem is that I'm having to scrimp and save just to afford to go.  I'm just not sure that I could afford to provide a present.  What is the acceptable action in this situation?

Shoo

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 06:15:19 PM »
I know you'd like to go, but I am of the opinion that if you have to scrimp and save and still won't have enough money to bring a wedding present too, you can't afford to go.  Send a nice card, and a gift if you want to, but make it easy on yourself (and your finances) and skip the wedding.

MOM21SON

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 06:20:00 PM »
You have up to a year to give a gift.

Cami

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 06:21:09 PM »
As far as I know the "rules" say you are not obligated to bring a gift to a wedding.

Personally, I would not attend a wedding to which I could not afford to bring a gift.

However -- is there some service you could provide the couple that could serve as a gift? Are you an awesome house painter or babysitter, etc? If so, that could be a great gift.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 07:42:51 PM by Cami »

MorgnsGrl

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 06:40:47 PM »
My thoughts on this matter are conflicting. I think the wedding couple should not feel that their guests are obliged to give them a gift, but I feel that wedding guests are obliged to bring one. I think the gift could be a nice card with a promise that a material gift will be delivered in the near future, though.

Phoebe

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2013, 06:46:16 PM »
My thoughts on this matter are conflicting. I think the wedding couple should not feel that their guests are obliged to give them a gift, but I feel that wedding guests are obliged to bring one. I think the gift could be a nice card with a promise that a material gift will be delivered in the near future, though.

I know that the general consensus is that attending a wedding obligates one to give a gift, but honestly I'd be crushed if a friend felt she/he couldn't attend my wedding because they couldn't afford a gift. 

TootsNYC

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2013, 07:24:34 PM »
My thoughts on this matter are conflicting. I think the wedding couple should not feel that their guests are obliged to give them a gift, but I feel that wedding guests are obliged to bring one. I think the gift could be a nice card with a promise that a material gift will be delivered in the near future, though.

I know that the general consensus is that attending a wedding obligates one to give a gift, but honestly I'd be crushed if a friend felt she/he couldn't attend my wedding because they couldn't afford a gift.
i agree in both places.

So my suggestion to you would be, go.
If your friends have any "quality" to them, it'll matter more than you know; and they'd rather have your presence than a present.

Think of something small to give them as a wedding present--a bottle of wine that's $7 but has a label you think they'd like, or a $15 cookbook that has some recipes that you *know* will taste great. A $5 gadget that you happen to *know* they don't have and truly believe they will find useful.

In ANY of these (or whatever you choose), include a personal note explaining why this is a useful/valuable/tasty/specific-to-them item.

Then if you think you want to give them a more valuable present, give it months later when your finances have recovered.

But you may find that your gift and the a note may be something they really treasure, and your gift-giving urge (and obligation) may be satisfied.

My rule is: "Never attend someone's wedding unless you feel an irresistible urge to give them a wedding present."

buvezdevin

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2013, 07:58:50 PM »
My thoughts on this matter are conflicting. I think the wedding couple should not feel that their guests are obliged to give them a gift, but I feel that wedding guests are obliged to bring one. I think the gift could be a nice card with a promise that a material gift will be delivered in the near future, though.

I know that the general consensus is that attending a wedding obligates one to give a gift, but honestly I'd be crushed if a friend felt she/he couldn't attend my wedding because they couldn't afford a gift.
i agree in both places.

So my suggestion to you would be, go.
If your friends have any "quality" to them, it'll matter more than you know; and they'd rather have your presence than a present.

Think of something small to give them as a wedding present--a bottle of wine that's $7 but has a label you think they'd like, or a $15 cookbook that has some recipes that you *know* will taste great. A $5 gadget that you happen to *know* they don't have and truly believe they will find useful.

In ANY of these (or whatever you choose), include a personal note explaining why this is a useful/valuable/tasty/specific-to-them item.

Then if you think you want to give them a more valuable present, give it months later when your finances have recovered.

But you may find that your gift and the a note may be something they really treasure, and your gift-giving urge (and obligation) may be satisfied.

My rule is: "Never attend someone's wedding unless you feel an irresistible urge to give them a wedding present."

POD.  When I was married, way back, one friend we invited to the wedding - and were delighted to have there - was in grad school at the time.  We were used to socializing with him in ways that were inexpensive, knew he had a tight budget, and certainly did not expect him to give a wedding gift of significant cost.  But, I remember well being delighted with a ceramic container he gave us labelled "Coffee" - it was kept on our kitchen counter holding coffee beans and was a lovely daily reminder of him.  I'd guess a similar item could now be found for around or under $10. 

We would have still wanted him at the wedding without a gift.  Just offering the above as an example of an inexpensive wedding gift that was cherished.  Also to note that if you are close to the happy couple, they may already understand that your current finances are not such that a more expensive wedding gift is not feasible.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
Mark Twain

SamiHami

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2013, 08:43:36 PM »
Agree with the PPs who say attending a wedding does obligate you to getting them a gift-but only one within your means. And if you send them a gift a few months after the wedding, that's perfectly acceptable as well.

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Surianne

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2013, 08:51:44 PM »
I've had friends tell me (when I was crazy broke) they'd much rather have me at their wedding than worry about a gift.  I think that's pretty normal: it's more important to see you there.  They'll be receiving a lot of gifts; one more won't make a significant difference.

I think the previous posters have some great ideas about inexpensive gifts.  Don't feel you have to meet some imagined cover-your-plate amount.  $10 is fine, if it's meaningful.  If you can't manage even that and still attend their wedding, I think a card with a sincere, personal message in it would be fine too.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2013, 08:54:11 PM »
I think it depends on your friend and your relationship with the couple.  When I married ages ago, I would have been very sad if someone didn't attend my wedding because they couldn't afford a present.

But I know in some areas it really is not done to attend without gifting. If that's the case in your social circle remember that a gift can be given up to a year after the event.  You could also see if someone wants to split the cost of a present. 

I hope you find a solution.

mj

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2013, 08:55:05 PM »
I'm assuming that you have to travel for the wedding since you have to save to go.  In my experience with my own wedding that required many guests to travel and other weddings with similar deals, the travel part was more than enough gift to me.  The other weddings I know that had travel required had the same point of view. 

But I'm guessing that this is up to how well you know the couple. 

Amara

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2013, 09:40:49 PM »
I would not want my friend to attend my wedding--and this one sounds as if it requires travel--if it in any way affected her financial condition as this one seems likely to do to the OP ("I'm having to scrimp and save just to afford to go"). I wouldn't want to see her have to scrimp and save. That phrase makes it sounds like her going will have a major impact on her finances. I wouldn't want that for a friend. What I would love: a letter or card with her best wishes and thoughts. 

CluelessBride

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2013, 09:52:07 PM »
I know you'd like to go, but I am of the opinion that if you have to scrimp and save and still won't have enough money to bring a wedding present too, you can't afford to go.  Send a nice card, and a gift if you want to, but make it easy on yourself (and your finances) and skip the wedding.

I agree with this, but mostly because I wouldn't want a friend of mine to have to scrimp and save and put themselves so close to financial ruin that they couldn't afford an extra $10-20 (or even less) for a gift just to attend my wedding.

In general, I think you should always take a gift to a wedding, because if you aren't close enough to a person to *want* to joyously give them a gift, then it is better to decline the invite. And I think most people can rearrange finances a little bit to give a token gift if money is tight ($5-10 can go a long way with a little creativity). But I do recognize that some people have already done all the financial rearranging they can do and are still struggling - I mean you can't cut out the daily Starbucks for a week if you never go to Starbucks. In those cases, I do think it's okay to attend without bringing a gift, but you should bring (or send) a very thoughtfully written card/letter. But that's assuming the wedding was local so that the cost of attending was basically nothing.


http://blog.nature.org/2011/11/diy-wedding-invitation-ornament/ <- very cheap wedding gift idea for someone even a little crafty

Calypso

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Re: Are wedding presents obligatory?
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2013, 10:12:54 PM »
Repeat after me this quote from Miss Manners:

"There is no such thing as an obligatory gift."
"There is no such thing as an obligatory gift."
"There is no such thing as an obligatory gift."

She doesn't say "except in the case of weddings." More and more, the word "gift" has become corrupted to mean anything but what it is----a gift is something you choose to make, it is never required. Period. Full stop. It doesn't matter if the wedding hosts are paying $1,000 per plate. A gift is never, never obligatory.

That said---you can see already by the responses on this thread that reasonable people may disagree with the hard line here. So, to me, the question isn't "it is required" but "can I personally stand the discomfort I might feel if my actions don't meet with approval from everyone." You will not be wrong to go to a wedding without bringing a gift, but being right doesn't always mean feeling your actions are happily accepted. Only you can know what your relationship is with the happy couple and if they'd prefer your presence sans present, or prefer you not come.

I guessed quite wrong on this on a wedding of someone I thought was a friend 20 years ago when I was broke and she lived across the country---paying to get there was, to my thought, my gift. She apparently didn't feel the same way. Our friendship cooled afterward, but I learned something I needed to know about where I stood with her.