There are few events in a person’s life more contentious than the one that’s supposedly the happiest; a wedding. There are rules. So many rules. And so few of them are written.
Take the present, for example. Cash is acceptable now, as are donations to a honeymoon. Hell, some people even use “pre-gift” donations to pay off the over-the-top nuptials no one asked them to have.
But what if the happy couple don’t ask for anything? Nothing. Not even via a registry for actual, wrapped goods. Is that fair? And as a guest, should you listen?
A Mumsnet forum user and presumably wedding invitee raised precisely that predicament recently: “AIBU (Am I being unreasonable) to think no wedding list = no present?” she wrote. “AIBU to think that if you do not provide a wedding list or include a request for cash… or even a dodgy poem then you are not expecting to be bought a gift or given a sum of money?”
That’s when things kicked off.
Goodbye, flower crowns. It was nice knowing you. (Post continues below.)
“YABU,” argued Aquamarine1029. The fact that they haven’t explicitly asked for anything is a sign of decorum, she argued, not a free pass to turn up empty-handed. “A wedding invitation should not be a gift grab.”
user1487372252 agreed. “Of course people don’t expect one but what are you implying? Have you received an invite without a list and are hoping to turn up without something? Very rude if you are.”
“I wouldn’t go to a dinner party without a gift for the host. Why on earth would anyone go to the biggest party most people throw in their lives without a gift for them?” added TisapityshesaGeordie.
Predictably, not everyone felt the same way.
“I don’t get the logic of: as the couple getting married it’s rude to have a list or ask for gifts [and] as a wedding guest it’s rude not to bring a gift,” wrote newbian.
“Either gift giving/receiving is part of the wedding tradition, or it isn’t. I much prefer guidance from the couple on what they want or need via a list, than to just guess. The idea that acknowledging the reality that people want to and plan to give gifts is rude – sorry I don’t accept that. Etiquette rules for people who don’t live in the real world.”
“I think the polite thing to do is ask them,” suggested womaninatightspot. “Last wedding I attended without gift list [the] couple [had] been together years [and] suggested gift vouchers from B&Q so they could tackle the garden.”
But that doesn't always work. Several posters blushingly recounted being stung by the good old 'don't bring a thing' double-cross.
"I went to a wedding years back where I asked about the registry and was told they didn't have one because they were having no gifts. So I asked which store they'd like a gift card for or if they had a honeymoon fund. Again, was told they didn't and were telling people not to do anything for them," wrote ...
Not wanting to ignore their (frequently repeated) wishes, she brought a card. Yet when she arrived on The Big Day... "there was a gift table".
Some suggested a bottle of champagne. Others something handmade or sentimental, like a photo album of nostalgic snaps. Charity donations were also a popular recommendation.
"We did not request anything at our wedding but were given lots of money/vouchers which was very much appreciated but not expected," Boredboredboredboredbored. "I think this post highlights you are damned if you do and damned if you don't."
Brides, grooms, guests... have you been in this situation. What's your advice?