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Do I get my father a present for his wedding?
March 28, 2011 7:15 PM   Subscribe

My father is getting remarried, with only the witnesses present, and there will be no reception. Should I get him a gift? Send a card? What is appropriate in a situation like this?

My siblings and I are at a complete loss. I'm not even sure when the wedding will be, just sometime this week, and it really seems like they are trying to keep it informal. I feel like we should do something, but just have no idea what. Have you been in a similar situation? Any ideas or suggestions?
posted by isnotarobot to Human Relations (22 answers total)
 
Do you want to witness the wedding? Have you told your father so? I was really upset when my dad almost married without me being there; his parents were very upset too. I think it sina qua non that weddings at a minimum should have the people who gave birth to you, and the people you gave birth to/raised. And no one has so many parents or so many children that they can't fit them in a room if they want to come.

If you want to be there, you should tell your father, and explain why it's important.
posted by jb at 7:19 PM on March 28, 2011


i had a super small wedding (that didn't include anyone that gave birth to us) and we really appreciated the cards we got. i felt weird about the presents.

i also really disagree with jb. a wedding should include exactly the people that the bride and groom want there. this is their day, their marriage, and it's absurd how many people try to change that to fill some need within themselves.
posted by nadawi at 7:27 PM on March 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


Your father -- anyone really -- gets to have whatever wedding in whatever manner they feel is appropriate. It's their day, not yours. Send a card if you want; "etiquette" says you don't have to if you aren't invited OR don't receive an announcement. And either way, you have up to a year to send a gift (according to "etiquette"), so don't feel you have to make this decision right now.
posted by macadamiaranch at 7:28 PM on March 28, 2011


I also completely disagree with jb. What people do in their ceremonies and rituals is entirely up to them.This applies to you, as well, of course. Send a card or a gift if you'd like. It will be okay, really.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:28 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


We took my dad and his new wife to a nice brunch and gave them a custom gift basket that we made stuffed full of nice munchies and candy, plus a modest gift card to Amazon.com. This was after they got married at the county courthouse in a bare bones thing with just the judge present.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 PM on March 28, 2011


Perhaps offer to take him & his new wife out for dinner with you and all your siblings?
posted by jeather at 7:32 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess he hasn't made any mention of what he would like?
Usually you give wedding cards and gifts just as for a first wedding. Exactly what you choose to give depends on your family & what they've asked for. Maybe a grander version of what you would give your Dad for Christmas or his birthday, or (apologies for awkward wording) what you might give a couple as an anniversary gift?
posted by SarahbytheSea at 7:35 PM on March 28, 2011


I would absolutely send a card, and a small personal gift. They likely don't need anything, but it would be good to send something symbolic that says 'welcome to the family' for his wife, or 'I am so happy for you' for your dad. A piece of poetry, a picture that is meaningful, or something.

Once a neighbor got married on the QT, and my husband and I took over a loaf of homemade bread, a container of salt, and a bottle of wine. I forget what the symbolism was for each item, (good food, a little spice and love?) but we wrote our best wishes on a card that went with them and they seemed to appreciate it. And we felt that we had shared and celebrated their happiness a little bit.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:38 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just to clarify, I am not upset about not being included. I totally support him in his decision to keep things small and simple. I am just uncertain about how to acknowledge and celebrate their marriage when they aren't doing anything official.
Dinner with my siblings sounds like a great idea and I will definitely pass it on to them! Unfortunately, I live out of state and the next time I'll see him will be for my wedding in a couple of months.
posted by isnotarobot at 7:40 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tell him you feel a need to celebrate and commemorate this occasion with and for him. If you're happy for him, tell him that.

Ask him if he has an ideas along those lines. He may have ideas already. He just may tell you.

And the fallback is a card.
posted by artlung at 7:43 PM on March 28, 2011


I think a nice card would be perfect. It would both congratulate them and make your soon-to-be-stepmother feel welcomed into the family.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 7:45 PM on March 28, 2011


A card would be lovely and much appreciated by both, I bet.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:56 PM on March 28, 2011


I also had a super-small wedding with no family and the minimum number of people legally required to be there. The reason for that was explicitly that I didn't want any kind of fuss, so I gave an emphatic no whenever I was asked about presents (which wasn't very often to be fair). We purposefully spent as little as possible on the wedding, and it felt really weird to think of anyone else spending money on the occasion.

However my parents did specifically ring me the day before to wish us luck and say they were thinking of us. And both my sisters sent emails saying the same thing (they live overseas so phone calls are expensive and difficult). My husband's family did something similar. I really liked that, more than I expected. Lots of people also all specifically said an extra 'congratulations!" the next time we saw them which was nice too. So definitely take the time to specifically tell your Dad you're happy for him and his new wife. Sending a card would be OK too if you want to go that far but don't buy a present without at least checking with him first, keeping it simple doesn't usually include gifts. You should know him well enough to gauge how much fuss you need or can get away with (for me it was very little, heh).

A small side thing with your family to acknowledge the change in his life when you're next back together is also a nice idea. It doesn't have to be dinner specifically, even just an extra toast or a big group hug. Turn the spotlight on them for a few minutes and say 'go you!' before getting back to your own wedding stuff.
posted by shelleycat at 8:04 PM on March 28, 2011


I'd definitely go with the card. My husband and I got married in front of the judge, just the two of us, and we had no reception. I didn't actually expect people to send me cards because we didn't have a wedding, but I was touched by the ones we did receive.
posted by crankylex at 8:04 PM on March 28, 2011


I'm doing this sometime soon. Card is nice.
posted by kjs3 at 8:29 PM on March 28, 2011


When my Dad remarried (on a day I couldn't make it, as it was my own graduation - in a different country!) I sent his new wife some flowers with a note saying, "Welcome to the family".

The priest also got in touch with me and my brother and got us to write a note giving our support to the marriage, which she passed to him at some relevant point during the ceremony. It sounds like that might not be appropriate in something as simple and private as what your father plans to do, though.
posted by lollusc at 8:29 PM on March 28, 2011


My in-laws did something similar. We located a local florist and sent flowers on the day of (as we knew the day of) and then we mailed a card and token present to commemorate. They didn't NEED anything, and it was a quiet second marriage after several years of cohabitation, but it was nice for them to have it acknowledged by us. They were very touched by both gestures.

I think flowers to the new wife would be especially nice, but just some token gesture to recognize the wedding is appropriate.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:40 PM on March 28, 2011


If they are staying in a hotel for the wedding or honeymoon, sending a bottle of wine and a card is a very nice gesture.
posted by whoaali at 10:41 PM on March 28, 2011


I'm really over formal and socially-prescribed celebrations, but if I did something that was a milestone in my life, and someone bought me a balloon ride to acknowledge and celebrate that special journey, I would really be touched. If they sent me a card, or flowers, or baked goods (or a tree to plant, or a travel journal or a new camera or a heartfelt letter or a self-pressed flower or some bath salts or a favourite/appropriate quality poem) with a "You go/rock/awesome", I would be pleased. At the place I am in my life, I appreciate experiences far more than physical things and your father's MMV.


Please, please, stuff what's appropriate and send your father and his new wife something that will make them feel accepted and loved - doesn't have to be expensive, just kind. An email, a letter, a pet rock. It doesn't really matter - it's why you're doing it.
posted by b33j at 1:41 AM on March 29, 2011


I'd probably send a card (with handwritten note congratulating them) and either (a) a gift certificate or card for a restaurant in their town that you know/think they like, (b) some nice flowers from a local florist (not 1800 flowers or whatever), (c) a gift basket like mentioned above, or (d) a bottle of wine.

If finances are in the mix, or none of the "gift" options seems appropriate, then I think just a card with a nice handwritten note is fine. Your dad doesn't probably need or want anything, but I think he would appreciate some acknowledgment.

Whatever you do, coordinate with your siblings (give each other heads up), so you guys don't end up doing wildly different things without notifying each other and then one ends up pissed because she got dad a card and the other got dad a balloon ride without telling her and now she feels dumb etc.
posted by mrs. taters at 6:31 AM on March 29, 2011


When my father remarried, there was a whole wedding in the church, cake shindig afterwards, and lots of people there, many of whom gave them gifts. I didn't give them anything - it just didn't feel right to give two adults anything householdy to add to all the householdy stuff I grew up with. It didn't feel right to give him flowers, since the whole church was decorated. It didn't feel right to get them anything of the "standard gift" type, since by his business he was surrounded by gift baskety flowery box of chocolates gift card kind of people, and hey, I was his daughter fresh out of college, no need to get shown up by giving the cheap version of the same kind of gift everyone else was giving him.

I bought a pretty card, (handmade floral paper, no words at all) and just wrote a note, told him I loved him, welcomed her to the family, told them both how happy I was that they were building themselves a new start, basically told them that I thought it was a great thing they were getting married (they had at one point been dancing around the issue like all us kids were supposed to be upset about it, so a card telling them it really was okay wasn't a hyper-drama thing to do).

Of all the reasons they're getting married, "awesome gifts!!" is clearly not on the list. Don't sweat it.
posted by aimedwander at 1:09 PM on March 29, 2011


A card is nice; presumably they have nothing they need and they aren't registered anywhere. A nice note of welcome/warmth to your new stepmother would be especially kind.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:21 PM on March 29, 2011


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