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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.

12 comments:

  1. Let us not forget that many people now have stag or hen nights (often more than one) abroad, thus adding to the expense. And maybe they get married abroad, too, so add even more money to the bill.

    But I digress. A lot of older people I've known haven't asked for anything for wedding gifts, which is lovely, and if anyone did ask for money, I would feel loath to give it, as it smacks of greed.

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  2. Im a young person who got married six weeks ago, and we didn't ask for anything.

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  3. Sets of nice cutlery once were a very popular gift.

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  5. It was once like your parents setting you up indirectly. The parents paid for the wedding and then the couple received everything they needed to start their new, independent life. They didn't already have a house of furniture, cutlery, crockery, linen and whitegoods. Now however, couples have paid for all that themselves, and then, often the wedding. Which is why, even though it's a bit awkward, and feels really wrong still, I kind of think asking for money is fair enough. It's got to be better than hundreds of useless gifts while they have a 30,000 euro (read somewhere that was the average) wedding loan to pay off.

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  6. A friend of mine only gives newly weds one thing - a kite. It's never on the 'wedding list', which is a plus. In addition you need two people to fly it properly, there's very rarely a duplicate gift, and in his opinion it adds greatly to the amount of happiness in a marriage. I've taken the practice on.

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  7. Like you say, they're an expensive business. Factor in the stag weekend in New York or five days in Spain, as well as gifts, travelling if it's out of London, hotels, etc, then you're paying thousands.

    A polite refusal to do most of these things may offend, but should get the message across and leave one not feeling too light of pocket.

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  8. some people set up a wedding list on trailfinders which is a neat way around the money but not actual cash conundrum!
    seems nicer to buy a spa treatment on day 2 of the honeymoon than £100 you'll feel they'll just drink away...

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  9. We recently went to a wedding of a very wealthy couple who between them own four houses. they asked for travel vouchers. We got them something else.

    I like it when people who don't really need the gifts ask for something else. Stella McCartney asked for trees, which is great if you've got a huge garden. It's also nice when people ask for cook books or books in general.

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  10. "A vacuum cleaner and some pans"? And did *you* get anything? Arf! I know what you mean about wedding lists - we put two hundred Marlboro lights and a Gretsch Country Gentleman on ours and we didn't get either.

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  11. Plus there's the trend to get wed on a weekday ("it's cheaper you see") which is just a way of puttting the cost on to the guests ie. you have to take a days holiday to go to their wedding.

    I also think there should a pre-nuptual agreement between the guest and the couple if they get divorced within say 7 years we get our money back!

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  12. I think some people forget the important thing is the marriage, not the wedding. I think weddings that set up the marriage are a great idea.

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