with Lynne and Leslie

Wedding week: Be a cheerful giver…and getter

by SweetMidlife
There is no ticket price on a wedding invitation. 

Leslie here!

I remember being blown away as a young adult when I found out how a bridal gift registry worked.

“So you’re saying that I go into a store, look up things I want, write them down and then people buy me what I asked for?”

“Yep.”

“What sweet madness is this?”

By the time I got to fill out my own gift registry, it was almost two decades later, and I’d been on the other side of that sweet madness many, many times. I thought that having experience buying gifts for people made me pretty judicious in what I asked from other people, as in: I felt that my job as a wedding guest was to buy you a gift, preferably one you had asked for, that did not make me look cheap without putting my rent in jeopardy. I learned, especially when I was younger, that you had to jump on the registry and buy the less-expensive nice gifts first or someone was going to beat you to it. And if a bride ONLY had high dollar items on the registry, I either bought a $50 gift certificate or went in with friends.

So as a bride, I was very careful to have a range of things I registered for, in price and in fanciness. I was almost 39 when I got married, so while I already had towels and plates, I registered for some that could establish us as a new household. However, I didn’t go crazy and say “Y’all better buy me $50 a piece towels,” because it is not anyone else’s responsibility to buy my fancy towels. Of course, the registry is just a suggestion, as far as I was concerned. While there were a couple of things we got where we were like “Uh, OK!” we accepted everything cheerfully and gratefully.

Because they were gifts.

And not legal obligations.

Or compensation or reimbursement for the money we spent on the wedding.

I’ve read some horror stories online on sites like HellsBells, where people submit hideous stories of bad wedding etiquette, about wedded ingrates who start email battles with guests whose gifts they consider unworthy of the money they spent on their meal, or of one idiot who tried to return a beautifully presented “wedding cake” made of the towels HE AND HIS FIANCEE HAD REGISTERED FOR to the co-worker who had painstakingly assembled it, because they didn’t want “artsy crafty” gifts.

And expected her to buy them something else.

What?

Nobody had to buy me crap. But they did. And when they did, we thanked them and moved on, particularly because we got enough cash to buy our own towels if we decided to. A wedding invitation should not have a dollar sign on it. All you need to do is RSVP in time to ensure that I don’t pay for your dinner if you’re not gonna show, and then just show up and not start a fist fight in the buffet line or cuss out my grandmother. That’s it. Gifts are usually expected, but if you don’t give me one, the wedding’s already been paid for so while it’s not the custom, it’s not like I need your check. And unless your gift is a rotting bag of oranges, illegal substances or something I gave you with the price tag scratched off, it’s cool.

Feeling this way does not make me perfect or a martyr. It just makes me a grown-up, I hope, because my wedding didn’t roll out the way I’d planned, requiring me to adjust my definition of gift. After my husband and I had paid the deposit on the hotel where we’d be married and started telling people the date, we found that he had a tumor in his ear for which his insurance would not cover the surgery to remove, as it was a pre-exisiting condition. After about a week of worry, we decided to get married in the same place we’d planned, with the dress I’d purchased and as many people as we could get from the original guest list…just several months earlier.

Immediately, we called our loved ones, most of whom lived several states and a couple of hundred dollars of plane tickets away, and said “We love you and want you here, but we understand that you now have four weeks rather than five months to buy plane tickets or bridesmaids dresses or gifts. You now have to decide what to do with your kids who were invited for what was supposed to be a summer wedding, when they were out of school, but who will now still be in school. You have to rearrange possible vacation days, or check your calendar. We know we are asking a lot of you, so understand that we mean it when we say…if you cannot make it we will never be mad about that. And if you come, particularly if it’s going to cost you more to come now than it would during the summer…consider that your gift.”

And we meant it. But you would not believe the gifts that we got – the gift of the friend who called Costco and personally ordered my flowers, and then yelled at them for a refund when they screwed it up. The gift of a song that a friend learned to play for our recessional. The gift of free photography from friends who usually charge thousands, or of wedding planning from a friend who had charged that much professionally to do the same. The gift of various wedding party members running out to buy last-minute candles, to pick up out of town guests I’d forgotten to update on changed plans. The gift of my grandma, who didn’t think she could travel after surgery but who, on a fixed income, got clearance and bought a last minute ticket anyway which wasn’t cheap, even at senior prices.

These are gifts that are given out of love, that cost money and time and effort and organization. They are not sold at Pottery Barn. There is no gift certificate for “fill out place cards the morning of the wedding at the bride gets stuffed into her dress.” That’s a gift, nonetheless.

And I wouldn’t exchange them. They are priceless.


One Response to “Wedding week: Be a cheerful giver…and getter”

  1. maria_blake@comcast.net' Maria says:

    This is awesome … and SO TRUE! You know I would’ve been there too 🙂

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