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Monday, May 24, 2010

Who's a wedding present for?

Somebody I know is going to a wedding. Being a wedding guest can be an expensive business. Weddings often involve a party in the evening. This tends to entail an overnight stay. If you're traveling and staying overnight as the head of a grown-up family with plus-ones, as I have in the past, it can cost you the best part of a thousand pounds. Anyway, the wedding that my associate is going to is the wedding of two people who've been living together for a number of years. This means that they already have many of the things that couples getting married traditionally had as wedding gifts. We got a vacuum cleaner and some pans, for instance.

Marrying couples in 2010 already have all the pans and vacuum cleaners they require. Therefore this couple have hinted to some of their friends that they would rather have money. I argue that this wasn't a good idea, not least because their honeymoon is in Las Vegas, which rather suggests that my associate's money could go straight to the house on the first night. It's being suggested that I'm an old skinflint saying that they shouldn't get what they want and it shouldn't make any difference if they want to fritter it. That's their business.

I've been thinking about this. It strikes me that a wedding gift is not like other gifts. It's not actually for "the happy couple". It's supposed to be a contribution to setting people up in life. I remember couples in the past asking for something for their "bottom drawer". This always made me picture crisp new sheets. People accepted that it was perfectly legitimate to ask for things for their bottom drawer. If you were buying things on people's wedding list you weren't just gratifying the desires of the couple. You were contributing to the setting up of a home and by extension a family and, by further extension, society.