You know, somebody brought up parents paying for the wedding a few posts ago. It seems like it used to be that parents would almost always pay for the wedding, and the bride would have a wedding based on what her parents could afford. But in the past generation or so, more and more brides, instead of marrying while still living at their parents' house, or only a few short years out of the house working in a low-paying job like secretarial work, are now marrying after living on their own or with their fiance for 10 or more years, and often making very good salaries. This has led to a trend of the couple themselves paying for the wedding. But I wonder if that has also fueled some of the attitude of "cover your plate," because instead of the bride's parents paying for the wedding (and then the couple receiving gifts, many of which would be household items), the bride and groom are paying for the wedding themselves, meaning that they lose money, instead of gaining a small amount of money/household items. So maybe it's because of the fact that it's the couple themselves paying for it that makes people feel more duty-bound to try to give a gift that covers their share of the wedding/reception costs, because they hate the idea of the bride and groom using money that they might have put towards the down payment on a house on the wedding instead. Not that it isn't the couple's choice to do that, but... weddings are expensive!
Our wedding was catered by an acquaintance who was going to culinary school and thus charged less, the reception was held in the church reception room (which we received a discount for because of all my dad's work in the church), my wedding dress was inexpensive by general standards, etc., and yet it was still quite a few thousands of dollars. We did receive gifts, although they were mostly of the physical kind, four crockpots, that sort of thing. The monetary gifts we got were very generous but nowhere near paying for the wedding. But because my parents had saved for years and very generously gave us enough to cover most of the wedding, we were able to use most of the money given us towards our new house.