Two thousand nine hundred and forty four dollars.
That’s how much money I have spent in the last 10 weeks on going to weddings. And no, none of these were an overseas destination wedding that required overpriced flights to Bali and several nights in a hotel. These were just ordinary, run of the mill, local weddings.
So along with celebrating all that love and devotion shared between my friends and their newfound life partners, I am also nursing a woeful bank balance and a small credit card debt.
Some of that money I am happy to shell out. The $420 return flights to Brisbane. The $85 cab back to Melbourne from the Dandenong ranges. A $200 dress (that I secretly wanted to buy anyway) from David Lawrence. That is money spent on allowing me to attend the special event with friends or making sure I look nice on that occasion.
But I also spent $1200 – almost half my total wedding attendance cost – in contributions to wishing wells.
Wishing wells, for those lucky enough not to know, are basically a fancy way of the bride and groom asking for cash. But instead of just saying “please give us money”, they make up a poem, or use some cutesy quote. And they prompt you to bring them however many hundred dollars in a white envelope, place it in a bird cage covered in flowers or a clay pot shaped like a well (because that makes it feel more ‘special’) and never receive so much as a ‘thanks’.
Reading between the lines, those poems are the code a couple uses to communicate one or more of three messages:
1. We suspect all of our guests have very bad tastes, and don’t really want your choice in gifts.
2. Our wedding was very expensive and we need you to help us pay it off.
3. We’re not sure we need anything specific right now but aren’t going to waste this opportunity to take money off our friends.
Yep, despite the dress-up, polished, pretty and creative ways of asking, there is absolutely no way to ask for a cash gift at your wedding that actually disguises the truth. It is an utterly classless decision and one that reduces your guests to the amount of cash that they can spare at any particular time.
Me? I started out 10 weeks ago being generous. $200 is a good amount, I thought to myself. Not realising I would then be expected to spend that same amount six times over, leaving me basically scraping for cash ahead of Christmas.
I get that new couples need money to start their lives together. But it’s not like the olden days where weddings were about moving out of home. These couples have all been living together for several years, they got ‘moving out’ presents when they did just that, or for their 21st birthdays, or in a lot of cases for their 30th birthdays. So why do you need more?
And if a couple is getting married, mulling over all the options around gifts and registries and ultimately decides: cash is the only thing that will satisfy. Well, why not be upfront about that. Don’t give me your request tied up in a pretty bow that insults my intelligence (and my taste in gifts).
Just say: We’d love it if you could put some money towards our life together.
Plain. Simple. Although still, kinda icky.