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April 13, 2010 9:51 PM   Subscribe

Need some input on how to interpret my friend's wedding invitation gift requests...

My boyfriend and I were recently invited to our friends' wedding. Tucked into their wedding invitation was a little poem requesting money in lieu of gifts. The couple will be moving away shortly after the wedding and it would be a hassle to transport physical gifts, so I understand their preference.

A couple days ago I received the invitation to the bridal shower. In the card was the same little poem again. Then at the bottom of the card was a line asking guests to please bring a bottle of champagne or wine.

This being the first wedding in my group of friends, and given the unusual gift requests, we're not quite sure how this works. Here are my questions:

- Should we write checks or give cash? Would checks be safer, or would that just create more work for the bride and groom?

- Should we place the money in signed cards or envelopes? Or should the money be given anonymously? What is the usual practice? I ask because I know some of our friends are not doing so well financially, and it seems like putting names to the amounts would put these people in an awkward spot.

- Is the champagne/wine they requested considered to be the bridal shower gift? And was the repeated enclosure of the money poem just a reminder? Or are we meant to bring a monetary gift in addition to bubbly? Is it like a wine potluck? Is this a common thing to do at bridal showers?
posted by keep it under cover to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
bring wine or champagne to the shower (leftovers will probably show up at the reception) and bring a check in a nice card to the wedding. the double reminder is quite likely for people who (for one reason or another) are attending either the shower or the wedding but not both...if you want to be extra nice, bring more champagne to the wedding...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:08 PM on April 13, 2010

My suggestion is to write a check and place it in a nice wedding card. 1) They'll be getting a lot of money on their wedding day and will be going to the bank to deposit it all anyways, so cash is a less ideal in case it's misplaced. 2) I'm sure they would like to be able to write you a thank you card for your gift. 3) The idea of anonymous wedding gifts seems very odd to me and as far as I know, anonymous gifting is not a common practice here in America, guessing it's the same up north (asking for $$ instead of merchandise is not unheard of).

Less sure about this, but it's my guess that the bridal shower "gift" should be a little bit of $$ and the booze is requested to offset the cost of the party, perhaps? Or to make it an extra raucous party because everyone there will get their own bottle of wine? Assuming it's consumed at the party, that is. I'm a dude and never threw a bridal shower, so take my input with a grain of salt.

On preview: what the sexyrobot said.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:15 PM on April 13, 2010

Gifts of money go in signed cards, so they know who to send the thank-you card to. Checks are a little more work, but they'll be doing a big batch, presumably, so do whatever makes you feel more comfortable.

The champagne thing isn't typical in my experience, but it sounds to me like they were hoping to cut shower costs by essentially making it byob. So, yes, it's a wine potluck, and yes, you're supposed to bring more money. That makes the whole shower weird, because showers are basically "hang out, drink, open gifts, pass gifts around, discuss gifts, play a game" and passing around checks or cash is about the only thing they could do to make this any tackier* than it already is. I think you should feel free to give a single monetary gift at either occasion - wedding or shower - but don't feel like you need to write two separate checks. That's just kind of weird. If it were me in this situation, I would take the check to the shower, since there's nothing to a shower but the gift business.

*Perception of tackiness may vary. Someone who asked for cash for their wedding gifts will be along in a minute to say it's not tacky at all.
posted by donnagirl at 10:17 PM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Checks are normal, cash is also fine but it's then more of an issue if a tiny envelope gets misplaced. Place it in a signed card. The concern you have over the amounts and awkwardness in re: your broke friends is one of the reasons it is problematic for people to specifically request cash even if they have good reasons to do so.

If you give a check, make it out to Bride OR Groom (using their old last names even if the plan is to change). That way, either one of them can deposit the check, and if they encounter some hassle in getting a name changed they can still deal with it and deposit it. I just made a wedding check out to Joe or Anna Newlastname a few weeks ago (they combined their old last names into an entirely new name) and they can't deposit it at the moment until some messiness about the name change gets taken care of in the courts in June- oops.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:24 PM on April 13, 2010

Best answer: A suggestion about the monetary gift, if I may. A postal money order, made out to one or the other, using his or her prior-to-wedding name. It costs you what, 85 cents, (as of the last time I bought one) and you don't have to wait around for them to get back from the honeymoon to cash your check (which is what happened to us the last time we wrote a personal check as a gift to someone).
posted by Lynsey at 10:29 PM on April 13, 2010

The champagne thing isn't typical in my experience, but it sounds to me like they were hoping to cut shower costs by essentially making it byob.

Or perhaps they're looking to collect wine/champagne to serve at their wedding reception. I've heard of that, too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:30 PM on April 13, 2010

Best answer: I happened to notice that you are a "broke-ass student". I have also been one at many times.

Something to remember about weddings is that gifts for weddings are just like tithing to a church/temple -- the amount that is appropriate to give is entirely dependent on your own income. Just like Jesus said that the poor woman giving her only 2 cents was more generous than the rich man with his bag of money, the $20 DVD chosen with care from a broke-ass student -- or even better, something home-made with care -- will be as cherished as the requisite $100 from well-to-do relatives. Or more, because $20 is more valuable to a poor person than $100 to a middle-class one.

/my comment is based on my experience being a student bride with many student and unemployed friends -- it bothered me that some felt pressure from family and employed friends to spend $70-100 because that is what some well-to-do middle class folks in Canada have decided is the "done thing", with no regard or feeling for those with less. My husband and I were also moving overseas right after our wedding and could not take with us; most of the expensive wedding gifts from relatives went in storage. But among our most cherished gifts that went with us were a set of 6 DVDs several people had clubbed together to get us, and a small painting by an artist friend who had no money but had given us something so much more precious: her time and her talent.
posted by jb at 11:32 PM on April 13, 2010 [5 favorites]

Take wine to the bridal shower to share; feel free not to take a gift or any money. Bridal showers should be about celebration; if gifts are mandatory, that's not a party, that a private tax.

/also angry at the inflation where people now expect TWO wedding gifts if they invite you to a shower -- it's just greedy.

Actually, the same is true for weddings. Gifts are never mandatory; they are simply customary. Because they are a strong custom, not giving anything can leave the bride and groom in the awkward position of thinking that they lost a gift. But leaving a card is sufficient to cover that scenario.

And the whole thing you said about people not necessarily being able to afford gifts is exactly why people like Miss Manners say that one should never make any reference to gifts in any invitation. She would even say that you shouldn't mention gifts even if your purpose is to ask people NOT to bring gifts to a gifty-situation, because that's assuming that they were planning to in the first place. (I disagree with her here -- sure, it might be arrogant to assume someone was thinking of bringing a gift, but that's outweighed by niceness of assuring people they don't need to).
posted by jb at 11:43 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Expecting a gift is tacky. Reminding guests that certain gifts are preferred is just plain rude.
Your friends are getting married. That is a present in itself. Give gifts according to to the occasion, not of social requisite.
posted by at the crossroads at 1:24 AM on April 14, 2010

I have been to three weddings where they asked for cash in lieu of gifts. The custom seems to be to bring a card and then either the Maid of Honor or Best Man collects them after the ceremony, before the reception.

One wedding I went to used a very nicely decorated box. The other one collected it in a shopping bag. In all instances we gave what we could and signed the card with no apologies or feelings of embarrassment. It's the same thing if you bought something from a registry, they'll know if you bought the $100 silverware set or the $20 placemats.
posted by like_neon at 3:41 AM on April 14, 2010

I agree with some of the others that your friend is in the wrong to have mentioned gifts at all, let along which kind they would prefer.

However, I disagree with jb on the shower. The whole point of a shower is to have a party and open gifts. I think if you decide to attend you need to bring a gift of some kind, whether cash or not. If you don't want to attend I don't think you need to send a gift if you don't want.

I sincerely hope that the shower invitations were sent by a family member or friend throwing the shower as I cannot bear the thought of someone requesting such a specific item like wine or champagne for a shower for themselves. So perhaps this was something that was supposed to be a fun idea by the host of the party.

I would write a check and place it in a card for the wedding.
posted by NHlove at 3:53 AM on April 14, 2010

I'm wondering if this is at all a generational shift. I'm 23 and only vaguely see this as tacky.

Anyway, I definitely interpret this as cash gift to the wedding, alcohol to the shower, to be drunk at the shower and at the reception if there's leftovers.

So I would place a check in a card and take it to the wedding, unless you particularly want to do a show of solidarity with your less well off friends and be anonymous. Personal decision. I would be tempted to pool together and give a lump sum of whatever we all can contribute.

To the shower just bring alcohol, no money. You can bring an additional gift but you might one up the other shower guests by doing so. Talk to your friends who are going?
posted by quirks at 5:26 AM on April 14, 2010

I think this is definitely a generational shift, but because weddings are multi-generational events, I believe it's in the best interest of the couple to try to offend as few people as possible.

OP, you are not expected to bring a gift to the wedding AND the shower (or if you are, you need new friends). You can certainly give a gift at each, but you don't have to. Give what you are comfortable with and what you can afford. Do not give anonymously; a check or money order is much safer than cash (cash gifts, particularly at weddings themselves, can easily get "misplaced") and will allow the bride and groom to send you a thank-you note when they get back from their honeymoon.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:09 AM on April 14, 2010

Best answer: Gifts are mandatory at a shower since gift-opening is the whole purpose of a shower. This makes a shower the only occasion, other than a child's birthday party, where a guest is de jure required to give a gift.

In theory, gifts aren't mandatory at any other occasion, including a wedding. In practice, if you're close enough to the couple to attend the wedding, it is odd that you wouldn't also want to bring a gift or at least send one within a year of the wedding.

Since wedding gifts are traditionally sent to the bride's home, which in terms of logistics and security is the obvious thing to do in most cases including this one, you should not send cash. It's not safe to send cash through the mail. And of course you sign the gift. Otherwise, who would they send the debt collectors to when some of the guests stiff them?

Sorry, sorry. I mean I'm sure they will want to send you a note of thanks for your very generous gift, because generous is what you're being, and how. It looks to me as though they are asking for the wine/champagne as a BYOB thing over and above your shower gift. So by cooperating, you are effectively acceding to a request to throw the shower for them, in that you'd be providing a major portion of the catering. And you're also being very nice by giving them the money they asked for, especially considering that they will know exactly what amount you and others spent on them and this will be a source of embarrassment to some.

Conversely, it really is not particularly nice of them to stuff any kind of gift request in with the invitation because that amounts to saying "Please be our guest, please get us this stuff" in the same breath, which is anti-hospitable. It's still less nice of them to dictate that you must give them money. I'm not saying this because I think you should be angry, correct them, judge them, hold a grudge, send a letter-bomb instead of a gift, etc etc. I am saying this because you're expressing a lot of concern about responding incorrectly to this, and the only incorrect thing you could really do now is paint the word "WELCOME" on your back and lie down across their threshold. Just remember that you're the generous one here, and you don't have to be quite this worried about displeasing or offending them.
posted by tel3path at 6:14 AM on April 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Wait a minute - I just reread the part where they tucked the same little poem in with the shower invitation.

The point about passing checks around a shower has already been made.

If I were you, I'd decline the shower invitation on the basis (which I would not express to them) that the terms and conditions amounted to a personal insult. Fortunately, you seem to be a lot nicer than me, so you might want to attend the shower and bring a wrapped gift of very small monetary value, or attend and consider the wine/champagne your gift, or attend and pony up the vig, or whatever really.
posted by tel3path at 7:19 AM on April 14, 2010

If they are moving to another country, it is fun to give a gift in the currency they will be using there.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:07 AM on April 14, 2010

I mean: "Its fun, even tho it is not classy of them to put a gift request in a wedding invitation."

When my sister in law got married 2 weeks before moving out of the country the family suggested cash to anyone who asked about gifts, but I don't think a request went out in the invites. Everybody got the message anyway.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:10 AM on April 14, 2010

Bridal showers don't exist in the UK and the idea of a party to buy things for the bride and then giving a wedding present too seems very strange for me. Am I right in thinking that the bridal shower part is a present for the bride only? When co-workers give birth it's customary to have a collection to get them a present (don't think baby showers are a thing here yet, but none of my friends are reproducing yet...) which is generally for the mother rather than the baby.

Give what you can afford and write them a cheque. Take the bride cupcakes.
posted by mippy at 8:25 AM on April 14, 2010

Well, bridal showers are only supposed to be small light-hearted gifts, not anything on the scale of a true wedding gift. Baby shower gifts are supposed to be along the lines of rattles, onesies, bags of diapers, etc., again nothing on a grand scale.

Certain wines might not be too grandiose for a bridal shower gift, but champagne is pushing the boat out.
posted by tel3path at 8:55 AM on April 14, 2010

Definitely write a check rather than cash - that pile of envelopes is tempting a potential thief whether it's at a home, a reception hall, or in a hotel room after the wedding. And if you get a gift certificate, register it.
posted by Sukey Says at 9:10 AM on April 14, 2010

From a East Indian POV, It is customary to give money as wedding gift. The reasoning is: you are helping the new couple in starting their life with no debt/lesser debt/chipping in for wedding expenses/in a way paying for your meal at their wedding. There are a number of ways this can be looked at.

The money may be be given in multiples of $5 or $10 bills. No checks are given unless the amount being gifted is very large. The money is usually put in an envelope with the couple's name and the gift giver's name on the outside. With regard to awkwardness of other friends, just avoid telling people how much you gave as a gift tactfully, that way hopefully no one will feel bad. (At the same time keep in mind that any comparisons "other friends" indulge in, is their choice.)

WRT the bridal shower, (this is a western tradition, no east Indian equivalent here), take a bottle of wine/champagne. I am a little surprised that the little money poem was included again. In this case, I would just take the bottle and consider the money poem as a reminder or a choice between the wine and giving money. Whichever way you go, I doubt the couple will be offended.
posted by VickyR at 10:05 AM on April 14, 2010

Just remembered something else, usually at East Indian wedding there is one family person/close friend who is in charge of gifts and keeps a watchful eye on them, hopefully since your friends have included their gift request, they have also considered how the gifts will be take care of.
posted by VickyR at 10:07 AM on April 14, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks to charmedimsure and Lynsey for pointing out aspects of money-gifting that I hadn't even thought of. I think we'll purchase a money order and make it out to the groom since I'm pretty certain his name won't change and I'm less certain as to if or when the bride will change her name, and when they'll get around to depositing their cheques.

I'm still torn on what to do with the bridal shower gift. I really appreciate all your thoughts and perspectives, both on weddings and showers in general as well as on my friend's big to-do specifically. It's all a huge help to a wedding newbie. I know I'll bring the wine. Some of my friends already bought small shower gifts before they received the invitations, and will now be bringing the wine in addition since it was specifically requested. I don't want to show up empty-handed (besides the wine) but I find the idea of cutting a smaller cheque to bring to the shower too darn weird.

For any future viewers of this thread, I'll update later on with what I did and what the "done thing" was at the shower. Thanks again for your help.
posted by keep it under cover at 4:55 PM on May 4, 2010

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