Another thing to add to the list of wedding etiquette anxieties.
Weddings are all about manoeuvring the minefield of social etiquette. We know this. Asking to bring a partner, if there’s no plus one mentioned? Not OK. Wearing white if you’re not in the bridal party? Really, really not OK. Turning up a bit pissed, without shoes, with your one night stand from the night before? That’s hilarious, but also definitely not OK.
More and more brides are looking to online forums to ask for advice on how to manage their wedding-day woes. But it was popular bridal bible A Practical Wedding that had a tricky moment this week when a bride wrote in for some, er – controversial advice.
“One of our guests did not give us a wedding card or gift. It wouldn’t bother me so much except that she is my best friend from growing up, a bridesmaid in our small wedding party, and she brought her boyfriend to our wedding. Maybe she thought that she didn’t have to give us a wedding gift because she was a bridesmaid?”
Ordinarily, anyone complaining that they didn’t receive a gift would be stared down with a ‘how old are you?’ glare, but a wedding gift? Well, many would say that it’s a different kettle of fish.
The response from Liz Moorhead, resident agony aunt at A Practical Wedding, had no time for the wedding belle whinging. She quickly shut down the narky bride by pointing out the emotional/financial/time costs that a member of a bridal party commits to a wedding is gift enough.
She also noted that speculating on the bridesmaid’s personal cash situation (oh, I didn’t mention that, did I? Yuh. Bridezilla felt that since her bridesmaid could afford a European holiday, she could afford a gift) was both rude and ignorant of her friend’s financial reality. Preach, Lizzie!
There are so many lovely traditions when it comes to weddings – wearing a fancy dress, walking down the aisle, exchanging rings, gettin’ champagne DERRUNNKKK in aforementioned fancy dress – but the whole gift giving garb is seriously riddled with problems.
Um, there’s no MF rule book, guys.
For starters, no one really knows what the rules are – which means half of your guests and wedding party have no idea if they’re doing the wrong thing, or the right thing. Australia is not the meat-and-three-veg, suburban stodge of a bygone era: these days, there are many wonderful cultures melting into another, each with their own set of wedding traditions.
So, if you’re expecting your guests to bring a gift, say it. In nice, clear, adult words; direct them to where they can find the registry online. Or tell them where to post the gifts to. Or just ask them to scan in their credit card details so you can deduct the exact amount of money that you deem a fair fee for being invited to your VERY BIG AND GLAMOROUS AND EXTREMELY IMPORTANT DAY.
Your wedding is already draining the life and loose change of everyone involved.
To all the brides out there sharpening their gifted Global kitchen knife set, relax. I know that weddings are expensive. I know you have spent your life savings and your mum’s life savings and your pet dog’s life savings to get down the aisle. I KNOW that it doesn’t seem like a big ask for a goddamn f*cking toaster after you let Charlene choose her own heinous bridesmaid dress just because her stupid boobs were too big for the one you chose. But c’mon.
Attending a wedding is really expensive. Being in a bridal party is even more expensive: there’s the dress, the shoes, the hen’s night (the stripper), the facials, the nails, the makeup, the spray tan… the list goes on. So really, that toaster you expect from your long-suffering bridesmaid? It could just be the cherry atop a Give Me A Break You Demanding Bitch sundae.
Gifts can only be given, not requested.
Here’s the thing. Going out with your hard-earned pennies and buying somebody a gift is a big deal, because it has come from a nice warm, fluffy, squidgy place in your heart that cares not for counting dollar signs. That’s where the saying, “It’s the thought that counts” comes from… well, either that, or a really nice Mum that was sick of receiving pasta-shell-necklaces.
In her bitch-out on A Practical Wedding, the bride noted that she was preparing to ‘confront’ her bridesmaid about her apparent indiscretion. Wow. Lady, this is your best friend since childhood! It’s not like she shagged your husband in the loos before the wedding. Opting to ‘confront’ someone over not receiving a gift is, quite frankly, outrageously narcissistic and downright rude.
A quick vox-pop among friends drew a consistent response – no gifts. All the brides (and brides-to-be) that I spoke to offered the same sentiment: the bride should pay for the bridesmaids costs, and expect nothing in return. BUT – many also said that they would be surprised if their bridesmaids didn’t give them anything. And I kinda get that.
As someone who is an avid gifter/card drawer/fuss maker, I would personally never dream of letting my best friend from childhood walk down the aisle without some kind of expression of love on my behalf. Ya know, a card, a bunch of flowers, a rock with their face drawn on it. But I also know that being in a wedding party in 2015 is very different to attending a wedding a few decades ago when the gifting tradition was around. It’s expensive, and time-consuming, and stressful. So brides: maybe cut your girlfriends some slack when it comes to gifting – it’s your wedding, after all. Not theirs.
And in my response to the newlywed who wrote in to A Practical Wedding? Well, darling, here’s an option you haven’t considered: maybe she just FORGOT.
Are you recently hitched? Did you expect gifts from your bridal party? If you were in the bridal party, would you give a gift?
Did you like this? You might also like…