image I’ve been to my fair share of weddings. In the past year alone I’ve been a regular guest, a maid of honor, an honored guest and a bridesmaid. The summer before that I flew to two weddings my boyfriend, Ike, was in within two months of each other. We’ve got another ceremony in September and are flying to the Caribbean next spring to listen to the sweet sweet sound of more wedding bells.

By now I’ve got my routine down. There are no less than four dresses I can choose from which swing from super fancy pants throw down to the low key affair in a converted warehouse. There are an array of satin shoes in the back of my closet just waiting for the Wobble and hairspray under my sink that only gets used for my “I do” updo — a French twist with just the slightest bouffant.

Send me an invite and I can be in a pew that night with a tear at the ready. But what I won’t have is a gift. Ever. I am strictly a no-wedding-gift guest. This is a controversial stance for some people. So let me explain.

Firstly, I’ve never been to a wedding I can walk, bike ride, hop scotch, jump rope or swim to. Every wedding I’ve attended since my friends and family have started getting married has been miles upon miles upon miles away. A few have even earned me new passport stamps.

Let’s break down the numbers. On average, I spend $300 dollars for a round trip plane ticket. On top of that, I’m staying at least two nights (and sometimes three) in a hotel room, which, even with the nuptial discount, will run you anywhere from $100 to $200 dollars per night. According to those calculations, thus far I’ve spent a minimum of $500 dollars and we haven’t even Wobbled yet.

Add to all of that local transportation to and from airports, eating anything besides the reception dinner, and whatever non-wedding-related fun you might want to have in New York, Puerto Rico, Long Beach or the host of other cities I’ve witnessed the state of holy matrimony in and we’re talking a cool G conservatively. Basically your fancy invitation in the mail is like a bill written in Monotype Corsiva.

But I’ll pay it gladly in order to play a small role at the starting line of the marathon folks call marriage. I want to ring the starting bell with you and maybe jog a little bit of the way with a water jug and sign that says “Keep Going!”. Because that’s the real point of having more than one witness there. You’re establishing a community of people that will hopefully hold you to the vows you made. And I take that unwritten and unofficial role quite seriously. So serious in fact that I’m paying for the privilege. So if any of my friends tried to come at me on some old “Where’s our $100 gift to pay for all that dry chicken we fed you?” foolishness like these folks, then I’d have to bust out a fistful receipts and dust off my TI-80.

Recently a HuffPo reader got this email from a bride:

“Hi Tanya, how are you? I just want to know is there any reason or dissatisfaction of Mike’s and I wedding that both you and Phil gave 50$ each? In terms of the amount we got from you both was very unexpected as a result we were very much short on paying off the reception because just for the cocktail + reception alone the plate per person is 200$ (as per a normal wedding range with open bar is about) and Mike and I both have already paid for everything else including decor, photography, attire etc and didn’t expect we had to cover that huge amount for reception as well.”

I have no idea where this trend of not only expecting more than a toaster but also emailing guests to express dissatisfaction over the gift received started but it needs to stop. Blame it on wedding reality TV all you want but brides be trippin’!

A good friend of mine who just got married, and whose gift is not in the mail, told me recently, “If you can’t pay in cash, elope.” Or better yet, just tone it down a few notches. Thing is, I’m planning on contributing big to her honeymoon fund because I’m much more inclined to give the gift of memories rather than buy you a $379 dollar duvet cover when I’m still on my Target steez.

Don’t get me wrong I love weddings. What I don’t love are self-important dumb dumbs. People who think that the rest of us owe them a gold star (and cold had cash) for getting hitched.

Any true etiquette expert will tell you that gifts, though lovely and thoughtful and appreciated, are not required entrance fees to the chapel. You are not hosting a rent partyyou’re getting married on your dime. And this new line of faux classy reasoning stating that wedding gifts should cover the cost of the reception is so very bootleg I can’t even deal. If you’d like me to pay for your wedding, then I will. The guy who cleans my yard, Kenny, can officiate in my living room then we can have sugar cookies and Shasta on my stoop. Congratulations or whatever.

What’s your stance on wedding gift giving? Is it ever enough?



This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
Helena on XOJane!

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  • Steve Joseph

    Serioulsy??? I fall somewhere in the middle on this issue, but even so I’d never show up to a wedding empty handed. First I’ll express the ways in which I think you’re right. I am completely opposed to couples who throw a party outside of their means and expect their guests to pay for their plate. After all, they didn’t consult their guests before booking a pricey venue, did they??? Probably not, so how does it then become each of their guests’ problems? I could just not go at all, then you won’t even get my $100, or $150. My general rule is I pay $100 if I go alone and $150 if I bring a guest, but I’m realizing that needs to be adjusted and I should probably pay an even $200 if I bring a guest, as they are still eating just as much as me. But if the venue cost the couple more than that per person, that’s their problem. I live within my means. My means is to pay between $100 and $200 for a gift to a newlywed couple. Just because they live beyond their means doesn’t mean I should follow suit. My wedding cost $101 per person… I expected from people what I’ve given in the past and priced my wedding accordingly. I ended up profiting due to generosity, but I didn’t expect it. Couples who expect it deserve being disappointed. However, the writer of this article is actually following along the same lines of the selfish brides and grooms who expect their problems to become the problems of other people. The writer says he or she spent money to get there, spent money on his/her outfit, spent money on eating outside the reception hall, spent money on accommodations…so? If you can’t afford to go, stay home! And “going” DOES include some type of gift, I’m sorry it just does. Again, if you don’t like these rules… you shouldn’t show up. It’s along the lines of people who go out to eat but say they can’t afford to tip the waiter/waitress. I saw a meme on facebook once that said “if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out.” Same concept. If you can’t afford to bring a gift, you can’t afford the wedding trip. The “my presence is enough” mentality is wildly inappropriate. When it comes time to plan your wedding, imagine every out of town guest having the same mentality as you. But yeah that note from the illiterate bride expressing discontent in the $50 gift from each of the couple (so $100 total) was tasteless. $50 might have been a lot of money to each of those people and at least they tried to do the right thing and contribute what they could. Again the bride didn’t consult this guest where her venue would be, so the guest had 0 responsibility to reimburse the bride for what she spent on the wedding.

  • Donotask

    It’s rude and hurtful. Gifts do not have to be expensive. A token like a $10 wall clock is better than showing up with nothing. Maybe the couple went into debt to have their wedding, and thought you were so important they pushed their $$ limit to have you there. Yes, you should be put out if someone doesn’t care enough about you. A lot of people come to enjoy free entertainment and food. It’s not a free date night. It’s about the couple.

  • KaayC

    You have no class.

  • texassa

    Overblown weddings combined with gift shower hysteria is ridiculous and tacky, but so is going to a party without a gift.