Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Proper Wedding Etiquette on Gifts - Wedding War of Words

I read an article today on a brides action and reaction to a wedding gift received and I could not, NOT have a thought about it, or have something to say about it.

I was shocked, appalled and simultaneously empathetic and sympathetic to BOTH parties!!

Who are the 2 parties? The article states something around 1 guest & 2 Brides (but that sort of confuses me). Anyway, the crux of the matter is this: The Bride(s) from UK, sent an SMS a guest from Ontario, Canada and began a Hellish WAR of Words, because... (and here's the kicker)... the bride felt the gift she received was "too cheap"!

Now, you, being the reader of the article, may instinctively choose one party over the other and will definitely have very valid reasons in doing so. The article writers themselves took a quick survey and there were people who favored both sides. But let me (for arguments sake) explain my dilemma and why I can't chose one over the other as easily.

Let me begin by saying, I can't help but read this article from 4 pairs of eyes. Not 2 pairs, Not 3, but 4! That is, the Brides', the Guests', as a Professional & Personally!

From the bride's point of view, I've been there (but not done that!). I advised my guests that I preferred cash gifts as I already had my house set up for 2 years and didn't need any decorative / kitchen / HH items. Finally, I had quite a few people who gifted me cash and decorative gifts, and speaking from the bride's perspective, after putting in all that effort and cost, you can't NOT help but feel let down slightly with some of the cash amounts received. To a Bride, this cash is part of the expectations of a gift; so when you gift someone something for a big event, would you put in minimum effort or would you want it to be something cherished and of use? For e.g. People give meaningful wedding gifts such as Honeymoon packages, expensive spa treatments, expensive crystal and in the Indian custom, Gold is given to show love, respect and blessings from the giving family. So, if you stick in a gift that could possibly equate to buying 3 subway sandwiches, you are falling way below the par of expectations the bride has!

Moving onto the guest's point of view. The article has a picture of the gift that was given (basically a gift hamper filled with food & goodies). From the looks of it, that big wicker basket looks very Eco-friendly, re-usable, decorative and honestly, expensive. In IKEA, a wicker basket that isn't half as classy as the one in the picture costs min $15 - $20... and that's just the basket. The article goes on to say that the guest couple filled the basket with all sorts of goodies, sugar & spice and everything nice. They added a well-wishing note that said... "Enjoy... Life is Delicious" (or something like that). Now, for the guests, that basket did take a lot of thought and effort. The total value of that basket may have been over $150 easy!! And, I can say one thing about an honest Canadian; they have high respect and value for money and the environment! So a $150-$180 worth an article is close to a day's pay for some people. So, that's not a joke! Also, whatever happened to the phrase... "It's the thought that counts"??

Now, let me voice my opinion as a professional. I am a certified and professional wedding planner and like all my colleagues in this field, part of my professional certification training is Bridal Etiquette. So, this is where I think the bride dropped the ball. Second, the article says the bride exchanged words such as 'Weddings are to make money for your future. Not to pay for peoples' meals.' Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought weddings were to celebrate your love and life with someone who makes you want to be a better person and having your family and friends surround you on this momentous day to celebrate this new journey of life for 2 people... (The act of gift giving is in line with the idea of showing your support to the newly wed... not necessarily with finance!). If I'm wrong, then I'm in the wrong business, because that's one of the biggest reasons I became a wedding planner!! In support of one comment in the Article, Wedding Celebrations are NOT a Business for the Bride and Groom!! Its' a celebration of Love, not a tact to make a profit! The Cash gifts received are meant to be a bonus to the married couple. They most certainly can't cover the cost of the wedding or even close to it, but they can help re-coup the costs involved.

Anyway, my personal opinions have been slipped into my views above. The 2 things I want to share separately are; I'm the kind of person who will appreciate any act / gift that shows love and support. I am a strong believer in the old saying that "It's the thought that counts" although I can understand the brides disappointment in a gift that was less than standard to what she received from others.

On a Final note to all my readers; you may be brides, soon to be brides, bridesmaids or just trying to organize a party. My honest suggestion to manage gifts for the occasion is, "Advance Notification". Tell your guests, politely, what works best for you. Be sweet, short, brief and to the point. Something along the lines of the following should work well with the invitees:

"We, [Groom] & [Bride], politely request all our guests who wish to support us with a gift on our Momentous Day, to kindly present us with Cash and not Valuables.
We have [set up an account (number, bank name, code) / created a cash box at the wedding reception] where you can deposit your cash or cheque to us.
We thank you in advance for your blessings & support in making our day special & we look forward to celebrating with you!"

Another way to avoid an unpleasant situation is to register for gifts, there are plenty of websites out there that support wedding gift registry and they are extremely easy and simple to find and manage. These 2 options also spare the bride the worry / effort of managing the gifts that are received AT the wedding!

That's all from me on this topic for now. For free specialized ideas on your wedding or event and for further tips on planning your wedding, contact me by visiting my website or read my blog posts.

Until then, take care and have a fabulous wedding!

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