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Another Wedding Etiquette question

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With the season of weddings upon us, I have a quandary that could use some learned advice.

A friend of mine was to get married in September. Usual wedding hoopla. So I got her a Le Creuset 5.5 qt round dutch oven as per her registry request. She stressed out and ended up eloping a couple weeks ago. No more wedding hoopla. My question? Should I still give her said expensive pot or should I get her another present that is less expensive?

Now I would like to say money is no object and give out expensive presents all the time, but I'm at that age where I'm giving out so many wedding, engagement, baby, and other various gifts that my present budget has gotten all out of proportion. In addition, I have other friends who are getting married with the hoopla and my sense of equity says these people should get a gift that is a little more expensive than someone who elopes (and thus has no hoopla).

How do you vote?

P.S. If said pot is returned, I would get something for myself (Kitchenaid Accolade stand mixer) so I can't be counted on to make an objective decision.

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  1. A wedding gift should be an expression of congratulations on the occasion of a marriage. It is not a quid pro quo for your attendance at a lavish wedding, or repayment to the bride for the expense of all the "hoopla."

    You should decide which of your friends get more lavish gifts based on their closeness to you, not the quantity or cost of hoopla in their weddings.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Grace

        My thoughts exactly.

        1. Ignore your sense of equity.

          Recite three times: The gift is not a quid pro quo for the level of event or hoopla.

          1. While I agree with the sentiment expressed below in theory, I also empathize with your feelings. In reality I give roughly the same amount for every wedding I attend regardless of degree of hoopla, and I don't believe this is truly optional, but if there is no wedding I do feel a gift (and my budget) is optional.

            I have never heard of a registry when there is no wedding which is in effect the result of her actions. Is the registry still in effect? It is possible that she may actually be embarassed to receive expensive registry gifts after the elopement. On the other hand, I hear a lot of brides & grooms watch their registries obsessively, so they may notice that the item is returned (although they won't know who purchased it). Just something to consider.

            3 Replies
            1. re: julesrules

              But there was a wedding. They were wed. The original poster just wasn't invited to witness it. But there was a wedding. If she wishes to recognize it with a gift or not is entirely up to her.

              1. re: curiousbaker

                I should have clarified: I've never heard of a registry for an elopement, only for weddings with guests invited.

                1. re: julesrules

                  I'm sorry - that sounded much tarter than I intended. I was just bristling because it seems so much attention is paid to the "event" around the wedding, rather than the wedding itself as an event in a couple's life. (Says the divorcee who wouldn't marry again for all the chocolate in Belgium.) But of course, I agree, people don't normally register for an elopement; you elope in order to avoid all the hoopla, and I would definitely consider a registry part of the hoopla. (But that doesn't mean that close friends wouldn't want to mark the occasion with a gift, of course.)

            2. Give your friends what you want to give them. If you feel the gift is too much, then return it and get something more appropriate.

              Personally, with aquaintances, I usually send a small gift if I don't attend the wedding, or none at all. UNLESS they are good friends and I am not invited or don't attend the wedding for a valid reason, then I send them a gift on par with the level of our friendship.

              I decided a few years ago that all my gifts would be just that, GIFTS. If I wouldn't normally give someone a large gift I don't. If they are a very good friend, then I give accordingly.

              In my area most wedding gifts are expected or even requested as cash, which I think is crass and lazy. As well as expensive. When cash is the gift I try to find out how much per person the dinner is and give that much for myself and guest as the monetary gift. Sometimes the cost is so high that this is beyond either my budget or sensibility, then I give what I can afford.

              Remember, you don't have to give anything extravagent or even at all when you attend a wedding. You are being asked to be a guest in celebrating an event, not to help pay for it. Give within your budget.

              6 Replies
              1. re: The Rogue

                The gift of cash is not considered crass or lazy in some cultures. I can only speak for my Asian family, but the standard wedding gift from close friends and family is cash (in a pretty red envelope).

                1. re: chococat

                  I never saw gift items given at any Jewish weddings I've been too--only money.

                  1. re: Chorus Girl

                    I can't imagine why you would. Gifts should be mailed in advance to their home. Bringing gifts to the wedding just adds to the the stress.

                    1. re: JudiAU

                      Exactly! I don't know why people insist on bringing gifts to a wedding. It is not a birthday party.

                      1. re: Candy

                        It used to be considered less than good form (if not exactly bad form) to bring gifts to the wedding. Gifts were properly delivered to the bride's house before the wedding, or to the couple's house after the wedding.

                  2. re: chococat


                    On the other hand, what has been traditionally considered very poor manners in US culture is *expecting*, *requesting* or *treating* cash as the preferred form of gift. And still is in most quarters.

                    The relatively recent evolution of registries to pay for expenses of the wedding festivities (not just the honeymoon, but the food and photos and limos et cet.) is simply beyond the pale.

                2. Give according to your level of friendship with the person, NOT the cost of the wedding. Also, I agree with the other poster who said to stay within your budget.

                  Really, whether or not they have a wedding shouldn't have anything to do with it. If I consider the person a friend, I'll give a gift, eloping or not. If I don't, I'll send a card (and not attend the wedding either, if they are having one).

                  1. Maybe she deserves a MORE expensive gift to reflect her choosing not only to save her family the costs of a wedding, but also to save money for all the invitees who now won't have to shell out for transportation, dry cleaning expenses, bridesmaid attire, etc.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Fida
                      Bride of the Juggler

                      You're assuming they haven't all just lost deposits on all of the above. Thank you.

                      1. re: Bride of the Juggler

                        Yes, you're right. I certainly don't know much about weddings, but since the event was six months away, I'm assuming that much of the money could be returned, the bridesmaids haven't shelled out yet, etc.

                    2. Wedding presents are given because of the closeness of the gift giver to the happy couple. Wedding presents have nothing to do with the ceremony or reception.

                      I can't imagine why you would return a wedding present, already purchased, because of an elopement.

                      Additional wedding etiquette questions are probably best posted on the board below.

                      Link: http://www.etiquettehell.com/

                      1. FWIW, if I eloped, I wouldn't expect gifts. In fact, I may BE eloping rather soon and I would feel uncomfortable with people sending gifts (but I'm uncomfortable with the whole idea of weddings in the first place...). Of course it's not an 'exchange' but if they wanted you to celebrate with them, they would have had a wedding with guests. But they didn't want anyone else to be a part of the proceedings so I can't see how you are still involved at all. Doesn't that defeat the point of elopement?

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: drdawn

                          So if we're close friends and I don't invite you to the birth of my child, you won't even think about sending me or my child a gift or offer congratulations after delivery?

                          Of course one is still involved in a wedding of close friend whether you attend or not. And as a close friend, I would send a gift in congratulations for the happy life changing event.

                          1. re: LisaLou

                            Lisa Lou, do you really see a wedding and labor as comparable events? One is traditionally celebrated (I know that's loaded) as family and friends take part in witnessing the public union of two people. The other is a less planned, far more personal, physical, and often painful (even if joyful) experience.

                            I have friends and loved ones who have invited me to their weddings, but I have no expectation of attending the birth of their children. That's more often considered an intrusion. Similarly, there are friends I would invite to my wedding, whom-- bless them-- I would prefer not to have while my bottom half is splitting open.

                            Consider it this way, while both partake in the institution of family, one is civil/legal and the other is a medical/physical experience. One is far more conducive to invitations and cakes than the other.

                            Personally, I see weddings are public celebrations-- I've been asked to particpate, in some way, in this union, to share the joy. A gift functions as an expression of sharing and celebration-- especially in an age where the couples in question have been cohabitating and amassing home goods anyway.

                            Anyway, the expectation of gifts in any case is far more a breach of ettiquette than the failure to give gifts.

                            1. re: Lizard

                              No labor and a wedding or not the same thing in terms of effort expended. However, they are both life changing milestones. Sometimes people rather than going into debt up to their eyeballs to start out their life together have a small, small ceremonty to get married. That doesn't make their marriage any less of a milestone than someone who spends $200/plate. If I am their close friend, I will send something to mark that milestone. I don't need to be invited to do that nor do I consider it a slight to not be invited b/c someone decided to be fiscally responsible or decided to not let their parents take over the wedding and turn into social payback time. And no, not all weddings are like that but you need to take into consideration that sometimes, more often than we'd like to admit, they are. Maybe birthday gifts are a better example than the birth of a child. There are plenty of birthday gifts that I've sent where I haven't been invited to or there was no birthday party.

                              I do agree with you the expectation for gifts if far worse than not giving one. A gift is never required. It should be given to celebrate the event not b/c you have to or b/c you want to help the bride and groom recoup their outlay for the wedding.

                              1. re: LisaLou

                                My point was that it could be that the reason they eloped is that they don't want it to be a milestone, and to force it to be one by sending a gift could be equally rude. In my case it's not about the money at all or the prospect of my mother dominating the proceedings: I feel that my relationship with my partner is private. I don't want it to be a milestone or acknowledged. And I have a hard time getting people to accept this--friends pressuring me to 'just have a party--it can be low key' or my mom saying that 'I don't care if you do it in the middle of nepal, I want to be there.' I accept that it is likely that I am in the minority here (although I have a colleague who didn't tell anyone she got married for this reason too), but it is possible that this couple feels that way too.

                                1. re: drdawn

                                  I have a couple of friends who for financial and legal reasons it was better to be married. So they both did it during their lunch hours (two separate friends). Most people didn't find out until several months later that they had made the plunge so to speak. A couple of dinners were thrown in their honor by close friends and a few gifts but I think most people realized that their lack of "running off" to get married really best underlined the practical reasons why they basically just got a marriage license almost the same way one renews a driver's license.

                                  1. re: drdawn

                                    it seems to me that getting married is/should be a major milestone in ones life - its not something that will happen repetitively (usually) and, well, its an important thing, for the two people involved. Probably the most important step you can take in stepping out toward the future. Whether you choose to share it or not with others in a big celebration is purely a matter of personal choice. From the standpoint of the giftgiver, you are no more bound to give a gift than you would be in any other situation - just do what feels right within your friendship.

                          2. Much to the chagrin of my husband's relatives, who all seem to be marrying and breeding in quick succession, I buy and give the gift I (we) want to give, regardless of the wedding style or venue.

                            If you like them enough to give them the pot, then do so, regardless of the hoopla factor. Think of it this way--it's your gift to them, not compensation for having you at their overblown, rubber-chicken event.

                            We essentially eloped almost 10 years ago--we planned a very small wedding in Florida, and invited 12 of our nearest and dearest. And yes, we paid for them to come. Those who didn't come still sent wonderful gifts and were generous. Would they have done more if we'd had their version of a proper wedding? I can't say.

                            But I remember exactly who gave us the All-Clads, the Wusthofs, the good cooking tools, and the French souffle dish. And I think of them fondly every time I use them.

                            1. It sounds to me like you go to a lot of weddings and baby showers. Only you know how close you are to this particular friend who eloped. Maybe this time, as you stated, you want to give yourself a gift so do so and get that KitchenAid mixer! If you have any qualms about returning the original gift of a dutch oven pot, give it to her already. Maybe after the honeymoon cools down, they'll have a party and cook a nice dinner in it and invite everybody over!

                              1. IMO you buy gifts because you want that person to have it...no matter the price....not to make a "show".