Author Topic: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?  (Read 6670 times)

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lilblu

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Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« on: March 14, 2014, 02:02:27 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?

Mikayla

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2014, 02:11:31 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.

Kaymar

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2014, 02:14:10 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.

Zizi-K

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2014, 02:16:04 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.

LemonZen

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2014, 02:17:49 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.


camlan

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2014, 02:21:32 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.


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TootsNYC

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2014, 02:32:25 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."

TootsNYC

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2014, 02:33:30 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.

jedikaiti

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2014, 02:34:14 PM »
Send them a nice card with heartfelt well wishes for a happy future.
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2014, 02:47:04 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.'
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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2014, 02:56:24 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.

TootsNYC

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2014, 03:10:50 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.


Zizi-K

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2014, 03:24:38 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.

Margo

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2014, 03:25:27 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.

esposita

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Re: Giving A Gift Is Against My Beliefs - What Do I Do?
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2014, 03:27:22 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.