Author Topic: Wedding Gift Spat- Should Cultural Traditions Be Considered in Gift Giving?  (Read 27459 times)

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TootsNYC

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A question for those familiar with the 'covering your plate' idea - I know that no one here has said they agreed with it - do these people still believe they are hosting?  To me it would be a rather convoluted way of paying for dinner and entertainment, not as a guest but as a paying customer, so I honestly don't see the hosting - but that's my view and what I like about EH is that there are posters who are very good at explaining other points of view.

Well in my experience, the people who focus on "covering the plate" are the GUESTS, *not* the couple nor the couple's parents.

And guests never believe they are hosting, nor do they believe they are paying customers. They still think of themselves as guests .They are simply compensating the bride and groom (or their parents) for the expenses that those folks were forced to undergo.

(I will admit that in this culture, there is a TINY bit more of an expectation that it will be a dinner dance, etc. Cake and punch wouldn't make a great impression.)

It's good to be Queen

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Miss Manners has this one exactly right, the couple (or their family) give the wedding they can afford and the guest gives the gift they can afford, the two are in no way related.  "Covering you plate" is not a recognized concept in etiquette.

Bookgirl

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Reading this and all of these posts makes me glad that I don't have many weddings to attend in my circle! 

We've been married for 11 1/2 years.  I couldn't begin to tell you who gave us cash but I can darn sure tell you who gave us the microwave and the crock pot that we are still using to this day. 
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Shoo

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Miss Manners has this one exactly right, the couple (or their family) give the wedding they can afford and the guest gives the gift they can afford, the two are in no way related.  "Covering you plate" is not a recognized concept in etiquette.

And this is what I choose to believe is correct.  Makes life so much simpler.

HoneyBee42

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Reading this and all of these posts makes me glad that I don't have many weddings to attend in my circle! 

We've been married for 11 1/2 years.  I couldn't begin to tell you who gave us cash but I can darn sure tell you who gave us the microwave and the crock pot that we are still using to this day.

And for that matter, I was married for 19 years, separated for 1 year before the divorce was finalized, and I've been divorced now for just over 2 years--and I *still* remember who it was who gave us (me) the Corningware set (3 of 5 pieces have survived, two pieces got broken during the 19 years).   


It's good to be Queen

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I remember finding a book of all of the wedding presents my parents received (in 1958).  One gift, from two very elderly aunts was $4.00.  Considering how little money they had, that was a generous gift from them.

kareng57

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Miss Manners has this one exactly right, the couple (or their family) give the wedding they can afford and the guest gives the gift they can afford, the two are in no way related.  "Covering you plate" is not a recognized concept in etiquette.

And this is what I choose to believe is correct.  Makes life so much simpler.


I agree completely, but etiquette does not necessarily equal tradition.

That's why I assert that, if you (generic) know that cash is the preferred gift for a wedding that you will be attending, it's kind of churlish to insist on giving a tangible gift instead.  Not rude, but churlish - it smacks of "teaching them a lesson" - in that some guests don't like giving cash.

That said, no one is obligated to "cover their plate".

proudmama

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I remember finding a book of all of the wedding presents my parents received (in 1958).  One gift, from two very elderly aunts was $4.00.  Considering how little money they had, that was a generous gift from them.

I love stories like this.   :)  Sometimes, it's the smallest gifts that mean the most. 

We were married 16 years ago.  My cousin, his wife and 2 kids gave us $15 from the family.  I still remember that gift because I know that it was a lot to them and honestly, I didn't expect anything from them.  I was just happy that they were able to come spend the day with us (and I live in an area where 'cover the plate' is common). 

Thipu1

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It's true.  Sometimes, the least impressive gifts turn out to be the best. 

For some unknown reason, a relative of  Mr. Thipu gave us a book on Marco Polo as a Wedding gift.

  The contents of our bookcases have changed greatly over the 30 years of our marriage but that one is still there.  There's  just something about it that we love.


ettiquit

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I would probably decline an invitation to a wedding where I was expected to cover my plate. 

I also think that if you plan on having a traditional wedding (Chinese, Croatian, etc.) that it might be a good idea to include that info in the invite.  Whether you just point out that it's going to follow the traditions of that culture or take an extra steps and include information for where someone can go to read about it.  It won't guarantee that every guest will bring something that's appropriate for the tradition, but I do think some of the responsibility is going to fall on the couple if they have specific expectations about the gifts.

gellchom

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I would probably decline an invitation to a wedding where I was expected to cover my plate. 

I also think that if you plan on having a traditional wedding (Chinese, Croatian, etc.) that it might be a good idea to include that info in the invite.  Whether you just point out that it's going to follow the traditions of that culture or take an extra steps and include information for where someone can go to read about it.  It won't guarantee that every guest will bring something that's appropriate for the tradition, but I do think some of the responsibility is going to fall on the couple if they have specific expectations about the gifts.

I see your point, but I wouldn't do it.  How would you word it?  "The honor of your presence is requested at our traditional Croatian wedding"?  I would find that confusing, and possibly even a bit arrogant, as if their wedding were somehow more correctly traditional than other people's.  And no matter how you'd word it, it would also look to me like exactly what it really is: trying to direct gift-giving toward cash, which, like any other push toward a gift, is rude no matter what, the same as if they'd put "cash gifts requested" on the invitation.  That's my problem with the bolding: whether or not there is a traditional gift in the couple's community or culture, they are rude to ask or even hint for it unless and until asked what they'd like.  Whatever gift people give them, unless it is something the giver knew to be outright offensive, is by definition a lovely surprise.

That a polite guest tries to ascertain and, if possible, conform to what is considered appropriate in the couple's community, does not equal permission for the couple to try to push them to do so or be anything but gracious if they don't -- just like the existence of a registry does not make it rude to choose something elsewhere.  A gift is always voluntary and it is always the giver's choice, not the recipients'.

CluelessBride

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I would probably decline an invitation to a wedding where I was expected to cover my plate. 

I also think that if you plan on having a traditional wedding (Chinese, Croatian, etc.) that it might be a good idea to include that info in the invite.  Whether you just point out that it's going to follow the traditions of that culture or take an extra steps and include information for where someone can go to read about it.  It won't guarantee that every guest will bring something that's appropriate for the tradition, but I do think some of the responsibility is going to fall on the couple if they have specific expectations about the gifts.

I see your point, but I wouldn't do it.  How would you word it?  "The honor of your presence is requested at our traditional Croatian wedding"?  I would find that confusing, and possibly even a bit arrogant, as if their wedding were somehow more correctly traditional than other people's.  And no matter how you'd word it, it would also look to me like exactly what it really is: trying to direct gift-giving toward cash, which, like any other push toward a gift, is rude no matter what, the same as if they'd put "cash gifts requested" on the invitation.  That's my problem with the bolding: whether or not there is a traditional gift in the couple's community or culture, they are rude to ask or even hint for it unless and until asked what they'd like.  Whatever gift people give them, unless it is something the giver knew to be outright offensive, is by definition a lovely surprise.

That a polite guest tries to ascertain and, if possible, conform to what is considered appropriate in the couple's community, does not equal permission for the couple to try to push them to do so or be anything but gracious if they don't -- just like the existence of a registry does not make it rude to choose something elsewhere.  A gift is always voluntary and it is always the giver's choice, not the recipients'.

I'm with ettiquit, I'd probably decline to attend a wedding that was in a "cover your plate" culture, at least if the plate was more than I would have spent on the gift. Sorry, but I'm not going to break my budget because you want to have a very lavish party. But I also would't want to burden you with the cost of my plate if you expect to be able to recoup your costs. I'll send my regrets and a gift appropriate to our relationship.

To the bolded: I think as long as you make it about the different customs in general and don't make it about the gift expectations, it would be easy enough information to slip into an invite, especially if you put it on a a small insert instead of the invitation itself.  Even better if you can highlight a non-money/gift related tradition. "In homage to our heritage, we will be having a traditional Purple wedding, complete with a customary Purple People Eater cake wrestling ceremony."

That would mean people interested in following tradition or getting a heads up on unfamiliar customs could look into it a little further without sounding pushy. Then if those people googled traditional Purple wedding and found that wearing galoshes for the cake wrestling ceremony was recommended and that giving gifts that started with even letters was unlucky, they could plan accordingly.

ShadowLady

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I too am glad thar I do not have weddings that I need to attend.

I've a collection of gee-gaws to give as wedding gifts, if need be. I assure you  that they would not cover the expensive plates quoted here, because they were bought on sale years ago.  Close personal friends would probably get a different gift.

Possum

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http://www.thestar.com/life/2013/06/19/wedding_gift_spat_spirals_out_of_control_after_bride_demands_to_see_receipt.html


Clearly the etiquette lines have not only been crossed here but completely obliterated  :-\ This did leave me wondering, however, if the happy couple's (in general- not this particular couple) cultural traditions should be considered when choosing a gift?
If the brides are from a culture where giving money is the normal thing, then, if the guest had known that, it would have been good if they'd that into consideration.  But by the same token, if the brides are surprised by a gift, they need to think about the culture of the guest.  Perhaps giving money is such a taboo for them that they couldn't bring themselves to do it, or perhaps they simply aren't aware of the brides' culture.

(I'm guessing, though, that this has much more to do with age and maturity than it does culture. I mean, one bride came down the aisle chewing gum!)

Penguin_ar

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I've been to a few weddings that were "different" for one reason or another; for example an orthodox Jewish wedding with many non-Jewish guests, a traditional Chinese wedding in Ireland (not many Chinese there) and a couple of others.  In each case, the happy couple created a wedding website with some info on their traditions, things that would happen at the ceremony, what to expect/ to do etc.  For example the Jewish wedding had a strict dress code especially for the lady guests, and requested no outside snacks be brought in due to them being strictly kosher. The Chinese wedding did explain the tradition of the red money envelopes, but nowhere said it was required... it was just one in a list of wedding traditions they mentioned.