No, please don’t buy us *things*!
It is a lovely thing that so many people enjoy giving gifts to couples who are getting married. Of course, traditionally it would be the first time that couple would have lived together. They would usually be young and would need all the help they could get, so bedsheets and crockery were essential presents so that they had something to sleep under and eat off of. The modern bride and groom, however, are in a quite different state. The average age for a UK bride is 30; for a groom it’s 32. Marriage is likely to come after one or both parties have studied and established themselves within successful careers and one they have already lived together for a number of years, possibly in a house that they both own.
A Man and I will both be 24 on our wedding day, so we will be younger than the average. We have, however, already lived together for a year and by the time the wedding comes around we’ll both be in secure, fairly well-paid jobs. Our flat is furnished, though somewhat haphazardly, and our kitchen is full of the gadgetry we’ve both acquired during our culinary adventures. At the moment, we just don’t need *things*. Although there’s no ‘expectation’ that gifts will be given at a wedding, it’s usually somewhat a given that some guests will want to give something and in order to avoid ‘triple toaster syndrome’ most couples these days will compile a gift registry, whether with a department store or online (often both). Even those couples who have lived together for some time will often register, in order to upgrade some of their existing things, or to have an excuse to get some bits they wouldn’t normally be able to justify. However, the thing is that we just don’t have space for *things*. We live in a 2-bed flat, and whilst there’s plenty of room for the two of us there just isn’t enough storage for a whole bunch of beautiful new wedding gifts. Much as I covet a stand mixer, I simply do not currently have space in my kitchen.
There is one thing we’d like, though. One thing we’ll eventually be able to save the money for but for which assistance would be greatly appreciated. A house deposit. Because although we live together, we don’t own our flat, and renting essentially amounts to throwing money at something you don’t own.
According to the wedding blogosphere, asking for money is a big no-no and I can appreciate why. It does seem to be hypocritical to say “Please help us to save money for the house deposit we can’t afford” and at the same time throw thousands of pounds at a one-day party. This dichotomy has caused me a great deal of stress in the past and I really do wonder sometimes if we’re doing the right thing in spending money on the wedding until I remember that we’re prioritising. Things which are important to us are having money spent on them, things we don’t care about so much are being saved on or cut altogether. And I also have to remind myself that just because it’s a one-day party does not mean it’s a waste of money – the whole thing is about the memories, and not just for us but for all of our guests too. If spending on a wedding is a waste of money, it’s only a waste in the same way as going on holiday or going out for a meal or having a few drinks with friends. For each one of those, you’re spending money for memories and experiences rather than material things, which I’m sure must be healthy for our westernised, capitalist souls or something.
So to the ‘hypocrite’ argument I counter by saying that a wedding and a house just aren’t comparable, and it isn’t fair to say that it’s wrong to ask for money in lieu of gifts on that ground. Besides, it would be naïve to assume that the amount we’re spending on the wedding would be enough for a house deposit (plus all the fees and expenses associated with buying a new house) in any case.
We will be able to save for a house deposit eventually; we just decided to have the wedding first. We’ve been waiting long enough to get married, if we decided to wait until after we’d bought a house it might never have happened! And if any wedding gifts we are fortunate enough to receive can go towards our savings, all the better.
Another argument is that asking for money suggests that you are demanding gifts from all of your guests, or that you are hoping to recoup the cost of their attendance, like an entrance fee to your wedding. I call bullshit. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no difference in this respect between asking for money and setting up a registry in order to ask for gifts – it’s merely acknowledging that many guests choose to give wedding gifts and letting them know what you’d prefer to receive. There’s no demand involved.
The final thing that annoys me is the assumption that it’s horrifically rude to include any kind of reference to gifts on or with the invitation. This may be a big difference between the US and the UK, but I have never received an invitation which didn’t include registry information except for Cousin E’s, which included a note stating that she and her husband were hoping to do up their garden. The whole ‘guests will know to ask the bridal party’ farce is, as far as I’m concerned, ridiculous. For one thing, not everyone will know the Mother of the Bride or the Bridesmaids and may feel embarrassed about asking the bride or groom directly. For another, I return to the fact that there’s no secret about the fact that many wedding guests enjoy buying gifts for the bride and groom. Why attempt to make their lives easier by having a gift list, only to tear away that ease by refusing to include the information with the invitation? It’s sheer madness! And stating that people will understand that if you’re not registered anywhere you’re implying you’d like money? See ‘triple toaster syndrome’ above.
This is why we’ll be including a note with our invitations stating that we’re saving for a house deposit and that if any of our guests wish to give us something (emphasis on the ‘if’) then a contribution would be greatly appreciated. We won’t be using a sappy money poem as those things make me want to throw up, but instead being straightforward with our wishes. Of course if anyone decides they’d like to get us a *thing* instead it will be most gratefully received; I just can’t guarantee there’ll be anywhere for it in our flat!
Is anyone else asking for money as wedding gifts or do you think I’m being unforgivably rude in my outlook? Anyone else on the side of ‘etiquette-be-damned’?