August 21, 2008

Hosting Weddings Sucks

A friend of mine got married recently. I'm not married, so I don't have any first-hand experience at this, but I was appalled at the rudeness and lack of consideration from their guests.

The first problem came after the RSVP date for the invitations came and went... and 30% of the guests still hadn't responded (one way or the other). OK, fine, people might forget or whatever - or maybe they assume that a non-RSVP means that they are not coming (by the way, that is NOT what it means - it just means that you are lazy, rude and inconsiderate). Whatever the case, a 30% non-response rate is a lot. Many of the invitees who didn't RSVP were married themselves, so you would think that these people would appreciate how expensive weddings can be (even at the cheapest) and would understand about how getting the guest count correct is key to managing the costs, right? Anyway, the bride and groom had to spend tons of time calling these people personally and ask them if they were coming (certainly something they shouldn't have to do, which is the whole purpose of the RSVP). But, wait, it gets worse.

The couple getting married requested no children at the wedding reception - it was written on the invitation - yet multiple people who attended the wedding brought along their friggin' kids. Additionally, the RSVP cards were sent out pre-printed with the number of guests already written on it (like "1" if the invite was just for one person, "2" if it was for someone and their girlfriend, etc.). Well, get this - people would cross out the pre-printed number and write their own response. Individuals would cross out "1" and write "2". Couples would cross out "2" and write "4". You can't fucking do that, people!! But, wait, it gets worse.

After the wedding, the couple couldn't help but notice that the the gifts they received only amounted to one-fifth of the cost to throw the wedding. And this wasn't an expensive wedding, so it made the numbers all the more shocking. As an example, if the wedding cost $20,000, they only received $3,700 in gifts. There were a ton of people who didn't event bring a CARD! I know the "rule" is that you have one year to give the married couple a gift, but let's be honest, if the guest doesn't bring a gift to the wedding, there is a great probability they won't give a gift at all. It was a destination wedding, so you can excuse the people who traveled from giving a gift. But the majority of the attendees at the wedding were local at this "destination" wedding, and the couple still didn't get shit for gifts. (Disclaimer: the guests were not the most affluent people in the world, but I'm still pretty shocked... I mean, knit a sweater or something.) Of course, you shouldn't throw a wedding in order to get gifts, or with the expectation it will pay for your party - I understand that - but isn't this horrible that a ton of people didn't give anything, not even a card? That seems rude to me.

The couple then held a reception in their hometown for the people who couldn't travel all the way to the actual wedding, and the gifts received at the hometown reception was just as bad - again, only about half of the guests brought a gift and they were just as skimpy as those received at the actual wedding. I'm shocked that HALF the guests wouldn't bring some sort of gift or token - is this the norm?

There was one person who is a close friend of the couple, who attended the lavish bachelor party (for free), didn't come to the actual wedding, attended the hometown reception, and didn't even bring a card (let alone cash)! This is the same person who received a $300 gift from the groom at his wedding a while back). In another horrible example - a bonefide millionaire, who is a friend of the family, came to the hometown reception and didn't even bring a card. What the fuck?!?!

It's shocking how screwed up and rude people can be when when invited to weddings. How is this possible? If I get invited to a legitimate friend/family wedding, I send a gift even if I DON'T COME! Shouldn't the button be pushed on all these people?? If you're the bride or groom, how do you even LOOK at these people again? Maybe the guests didn't think the couple would make it long term?? I just find this all very disappointing, and it shakes my confidence in people.

I'd love to hear your wedding horror stories, as I'm sure they get much worse.

If you're interested in reading more about weddings, you might want to check out another post on this blog titled, "Weddings: The Money Pit of All Money Pits".


  1. This same exact thing happened to my friend!! I can't believe people are like this at weddings!

  2. Well, what about the bridesmaids and groomsmen who have to shell out major money for outfits/accessories/hairdos? And a shower gift... The brides don't care about that! I agree that ou should bring something, but you shouldn't get married to see what you get!

  3. I've had a friend of a friend ask me if she was being invited to my wedding. I politely said, if my friend invites you as her guest than yes.

    You think that would have stopped her, but no. I saw her 2 other times and she mentioned each time she saw me. I finally had a talk with my friend at how uncomfortable I felt over this. I explained that the cost is very high, we want to keep the count to just good friends and family and I'm unemployed at the moment.

    Guess is three weeks away and my single girlfriend is bringing this girlfriend to the wedding. Granted, I gave her the option to bring a guest, but all my other single girlfriends whom are unattached are coming single. They feel it inappropriate to invite a same sex friend to a wedding.

    I don't get it.

  4. I think it may have to with Western society's feelings of apathy regarding what was once a sacred and personal event. Like everything else, marriage has been commercialised and cheapened. Not an excuse, just a possible explaination for what seems to be a behavioral trend.

    Or maybe it's just the economy;)

  5. I just got married and my Wife's Father has a twin(who is not poor) that is supposedly close to the Family and she brought a card with freakin' unicorns on it with nothing inside.

  6. "After the wedding, the couple totaled the gifts they received and it only amounted to one-fifth of the cost to throw the wedding."

    Are you serious? People actually do this? Oh my GOD materialism. Holy hellballs.

  7. at my wedding my sister-in-law(who lives out of state) told me she would send us our gift when she got back home. that was almost a year ago and i'm still waiting!!! we haven't even gotten a card !!!

  8. You know what the issue is? You invite friends and family to share this day with you....people who you've bent over backwards for at one point, given lavish gifts to for all their bs events. You include them in your very narrow list of people who get to witness the most important day of your life. They proceed to enjoy, in my case, a combo meal of filet mignon and seabass, a candy buffet with tons of delicious treats, an open bar to drink to their hearts content, tons of music for them to groove to, photo frame favor, and a photo booth to document their memories. Umm...I can't recall when was the last time I got to dine on a meal that would cost $200 at restaurant, rack up a bar bill the size of my arm and party all night long on someone else's dime. But if I did, I guarantee you that my offering in return would not be a pair dishtowels that were not even on the registry!

  9. wow, I never even thought that some people might actually tally up the price of the gifts they received vs. the cost of the wedding. if money was so important to them, they should have charged people at the door.

  10. The bride and groom (and you) are wrong to judge wedding guests and their "gift giving." Yes, it totally sucks that your friends couldn't have gotten $100 gifts from everyone. At the same time, according to wedding etiquette, gifts are NEVER to be expected by the bride and groom.

    That said, it is also poor etiquette for guests to not send a guest at all. It is considered perfectly fine to wait a few months before sending a gift.

    I really think that you (and a lot of other people) need to read Emily Post's book written on Wedding Etiquette.

    The whole reason etiquette is so important in today's society is to make people happy. It is NOT designed so that people can judge and point fingers at people and say "she is rude, that was rude, etc."

    And lastly, there are much bigger problems in the world then counting out how much your wedding gifts are worth...and what can the bride and groom do about it? Absolutely nothing, except send out Thank you cards.

    Don't sweat the small stuff.

  11. I'm surprised at how many of you out there are bashing the couple I wrote about (and me) by saying that this is a post about being a gift greedy wedding couple. That's not what it's about at all - it's about how their wedding guests (their FRIENDS, their FAMILY) had the gall to not bring a gift at all! It's about a young couple who now is in debt because they threw a modestly-priced wedding (because society says they "must" have a wedding), and they got close to nothing in return to help them start their lives. I don't think anyone should expect to get rich off a wedding... but should they get screwed?? Shouldn't we expect more from human beings... like a timely RSVP (or any RSVP at all!), a modest gift, or the respect to not bring people who weren't invited?

  12. to start off - you are a piece of sh*t and so are your married friends. You do not EVER expect a gift from anyone...ever. I cannot believe you have the gall to complain about this. Obviously you are a bunch of money grubbing fools. And as far as your friends being in debt...that is their fault, they should have never thrown a wedding they could not afford - talk about common sense! Last i checked people have a wedding so their friends and family can share in their special day - not finance it! So your little friends screwed themselves. And stop playing the society card - noone says anyone has to have a wedding.

    while you're at it, use some of your common sense and take a class in grammar

  13. Society doesn't "require" anyone to have a wedding. They also should have thrown a wedding they were able to afford rather than going in to debt. No, they shouldn't expect gifts and no, it's not rude for guests to not bring one. Yes, timely RSVP's and attending in the manner people are invited should be expected. Most weddings are about attention whore status. The size, the décor, the gifts. If their wedding was really about their marriage and inviting famly and friends to share the day, they would be content with what they spent and what form of payment was used, and not care if gifts were received or not as thats NOT what its about. Your friends never should have expected to recoup wedding cost in gifts regardless of financial status of their guests.

  14. To the "Anonymous" person above complaining about grammar in the post: Take your own advice. Sentences don't start with "and" and you capitalize the word "I"

  15. I somewhat agreed with your post--until you wrote a reply. Times are tough for EVERYONE--if your guests plan on coming and getting drunk and eating all the food-they don't seem like much of friends anyways. Society does not dictate to us that we must have a wedding. You have to be a certain age to get married-they are adults-they can do what they want. Whether it is going to the justice of the peace, having a pot luck celebration later one or going into debt for one night. It is a great day if you can--but I will not and refuse to get into debt to basically throw a party. The day is about my soon to be husband and me. Yes, gifts are nice-but really I would like family and friends to be there. That is why we are having a wedding, to let them join in on our joy. I totally agree that not RSVPing is unacceptable. Due to our budget and size constraints-we have to use an A & B list. Family first and then friends--if they don't RSVP in time-there won't be room. Thats not the point. Gifts are great and much appreciated-but if you expect to come out richer for having a wedding-you're in it for the wrong reason. Kinda lets me know why the divorce rate is at 50%.

  16. Thanks for the support and defense, Tami! In adding to your comment, I'll also point out to Anonymous that "noone" is actually two words (and "shit" is spelled with an "i" and not a "*") - but what do I know?... I need a grammar lesson. I'm still kind of surprised by some of the venom out there about this blog, but it creates interesting conversion, if nothing else. Some of the other postings may interest you all as well, including another wedding one on Dec 11, 2008. I think I have to disagree and say that I think society DOES require us to have weddings. I mean, you don't legally have to have one, but are you trying to tell me that you wouldn't bat an eye if your friend got married and simply said, "Yeah, we're not having a wedding." 98% of you out there would say, "WHAT?!" You'd be surprised, at a minimum.

  17. I was just recently married and I can't help but to comment on your blog.

    Yes, calling those who haven't RSVP'd is a pain, but it happens get over it. You don't know the reason behind the lack of response, what if it got lost in the mail? What IF they simply forgot - haven't you ever forgotten something? Brides and grooms tend to send them out really early, so it's easy to forget about it or think you've already taken care of it. So what, you have to take a few minutes out of your day and call your friends and family...I was happy to be able to catch up with a few friends and family before the big day.

    So people brought kids to the wedding. Ok, I'll give the bride that one. It's pretty rude; however, were any of these kids infants (ie. need to be fed by mom)? When the pressure is there to attend a wedding, people will "break the rules" to be able to attend. I guess I have a hard time with the "no kids" rule me weddings are all about celebrating 2 families forming a new family and "family," to me, includes kids.

    Now onto the gifts. That is unbelievably rude of the bride and groom and not to mention yourself to count up the value of the gifts and judge people on their gift or lack of. There is no "rule" that you have to give a couple a gift.

    People should not throw a wedding just to see what gifts they will receive. That is extremely greedy and gift-grabby. No one should be expected to give you a gift because YOU made the decision to get married.

    You also compared the gifts to the cost of the wedding, it WAS NOT the choice of the guests as to what the B&G spent on their wedding. If you think otherwise, then when you get married (if you choose to do so) then be sure to send out your wedding bill to your guests so they know ahead of time how much you expect them to spend on you.

    We wrote down the gifts we received only to be able to thank each person for their generocity. We NEVER totaled the amount up. If we received a gift, we still sent a thank you for the person thinking about us and supporting us on our wedding day.

    I also beg to differ that society tells you you have to have a big lavish wedding. Nope. There is no expectation of that at all. There are plenty of wonderful and intimate weddings that happen all the time at the courthouse, at home, etc. Maybe you just don't see that because YOU are focused on the "big white wedding."

  18. I give up. If all of you think that it is OK for half of the wedding guests to not bring a gift (nothing - no money, no dishtowel, no card, no nothing), then I guess I am a total idiot and my expectations for people are too high.

    This particular wedding I wrote about cost a lousy $11,000 (oh wow, how "lavish"!) and the gifts totaled $2,500 for 200 attendees. If you think this sounds like a money-grubbing couple, because they happened to notice that they got an average of $12.50 from each guest, then I guess that is the definition of "gift-grabby". to me, that seems like something I would notice, even if I wasn't trying to notice.

    If all of you would never be disappointed in a gift (or lack thereof), or if you received $12.50 from someone and thought to yourself, "I'm so glad they could be part of my special day!", then I guess you are better people than me.

    I wrote this blog thinking it would elicit some pity for a great couple that I know... I also thought that it could serve as a helpful, cautionary tale to brides-to-be, but apparently those of you who have commented negatively believe that it is rude to think people might bring gifts, and you probably don't expect to get any gifts at your own wedding... so I guess you can disregard everything I wrote.

    I will agree with you that someone shouldn't throw a wedding to get gifts - I totally agree, and that is not what this couple was doing, believe me - but, if something EGREGIOUS happens (like half the guests didn't bring a gift), isn't it OK to acknowledge that in the pages of this blog without essentially being called a gift-grabbing whore? I'm just really, really surprised by the majority of comments posted here.

  19. I am the 5:19 anonymous poster responding once again.

    "I agree you don't throw a wedding to get gifts - that is not what this couple did - but, if something EGREGIOUS happens (like half the guests didn't bring a gift), isn't it OK to acknowledge that in this blog?"

    Aren't you contradicting yourself here?

    About your question acknowledging the percentages for gift givers to non-gift givers, then what percentage do you think is acceptable? What about the numbers of guests who (let's say because of the economy) can't afford a gift, should they feel obligated to decline the wedding invite?

    Just a question, why SHOULD guests bring a gift?

    Again the way it seems most of us are looking at it would be: weddings are not about gifts, it's about bringing your loved ones together to support your marriage. What exactly in the "come witness our marriage and celebrate OUR decision" says you must bring me a dish towel? Gifts are not what makes a successful marriage.

    We did have guests who didn't give a card or a gift. Not a problem for us, we were just extremely grateful that they were willing to spend that important day with us. To tell you the truth, I couldn't even recall who didn't give a gift and I'll never go back to check either.

    The $11,000 you mentioned is all relative. It might be a huge budget (and yes, lavish) to some - like me - and it could be a moderate to small budget to another.

    The couple did not need to spend that money at all to get married. The bare minimum would be the marriage certificate fees - maybe a few hundred at most.

    I can tell that you think highly of this couple, and in the end you are concerned about their feelings when they reflect on the wedding. BUT if this couple did tell you the cost of their wedding and what gifts they did get from people and who, etc. then it would lead me to believe that they DID have expectations.

  20. I appreciate your comments - at least you are rationale and not screaming at me or sending me hate e-mail. (I always find the behavior of people to be astonishing, which is why I started this blog in the first place.)

    Of course the couple had SOME expectation to get gifts - maybe they didn't expect to get rich or to get the world's greatest stuff, but there is some expectation that there will be gifts - and perhaps there was also HOPE to get gifts, because they really needed them.

    Anyone who tells me that they personally threw a wedding and didn't expect any gifts (or were surprised they got gifts at all) is out and out lying. You may be pleasantly surprised, and you may not think it was necessary, but you would be more surprised to NOT get gifts than to GET gifts, and that is the definition of "expectation".

    I'm not sure what the "right" percentage is of guests who should give gifts. I understand that not everyone can. But I think that if only half the people brought gifts, that means half the people didn't bring gifts. I happen to think that not bringing a gift to a wedding is wrong (it doesn't have to be $1,000, but SOMETHING, anything!). So when I hear that 50% of a group of people are doing something "wrong" (by my definition) then that is very alarming to me. You tell me, what is the right percentage is. Help me correct my (apparently) misguided assumptions of society.

    Personally, I've never been invited to a wedding and not given them a gift (notice I wrote "invited" not just attended). So statistically speaking, I must be in the smallest minority of people - because apparently there is a sea of folks out there who don't give gifts, and an equally large sea of people out there who apparently think that this is totally fine (probably the people who aren't bringing gifts themselves). And that shocks the hell out of me.

    Bottom line: you should give a gift if you attend a wedding (something big, something small, something). If you don't give a gift - then that is wrong. If your gift is $12.50, I think that is wrong, too (assuming your not in jail or poverty stricken or something like that). And no one is going to convince me otherwise.

    So people can claim that the couple is bad for saying anything at all about the gifts they did or did not receive, but to me, the majority of the blame lies with the guests.

  21. Yes, I’ll admit that it’s easy for people to have an expectation of gifts, especially with things like gift registries. These should only be created for showers though since the B&G are not hosting this event and the purpose is to shower the B&G with things they could use; however, a lot of B&G’s then have a sense of entitlement when it comes to wedding gifts.

    If the couple you knew really needed these things, then why throw the big wedding? Why not use that money towards the things they really needed and have a more intimate wedding? We didn’t spend a lot on our wedding, but if we could have afforded more, I’m not sure that we would have spent it on the wedding. We probably would have saved that money for a down payment on a house.

    Anyone who tells me that they personally threw a wedding and didn't expect any gifts (or were surprised they got gifts at all) is out and out lying. You may be pleasantly surprised, and you may not think it was necessary, but you would be more surprised to NOT get gifts than to GET gifts, and that is the definition of "expectation".

    You have a valid point. Hell gift tables are usually set up at the reception for this very reason. BUT, I think you can’t have an expectation of how generous you think people “should” be. We had guests ask us where we were registered (for the purpose of a wedding gift) and we flat out told them: “don’t worry about that, just come and celebrate with us,” and that’s exactly what they did.

    I'm not sure what the "right" percentage is of guests who should give gifts. I understand that not everyone can. But I think that if only half the people brought gifts, that means half the people didn't bring gifts. I happen to think that not bringing a gift to a wedding is wrong (it doesn't have to be $1,000, but SOMETHING, anything!). So when I hear that 50% of a group of people are doing something "wrong" (by my definition) then that is very alarming to me. You tell me, what is the right percentage is. Help me correct my (apparently) misguided assumptions of society.

    Well, I guess the answer is that there is no correct percentage. I never go to a wedding without a gift either, and if I am invited and cannot attend, I try to send something as well. Most importantly though, I cannot judge anyone for not giving a gift or for the gift they are so generous to give. You never truly know someone’s situation, so maybe all they can afford is $12.50.

    I feel like putting it in these terms is putting a value on your relationship, and that, to me, is wrong.

  22. I just got married in August and I have to agree with the RSVP thing. It was pretty annoying that a lot of people didn't all! I guess for us it was okay to assume that most of those were not attending because most of them were out of towners and they tend to be flaky anyways. I did find it pretty rude that some of them had said they wouldn't miss our wedding for anything and then never even bothered to RSVP regrets or send a card. And I don't mean money or a gift...not even a card, or an e-card, to say "Congratulations" or ANYTHING. Guess it goes to show what kind of friends they really are? It especially pissed me off that one particular couple we invited didn't RSVP either way, and didn't even send a card, even though we RSVPd regrets AND sent them money when they got married a year earlier. AND we sent a gift when they had a baby!

    Luckily we didn't have anyone cross out the number of seats reserved to make it more than what we allotted. THAT is rude.

    And anyone who says they didn't add up the amount of money and gifts they receive is lying. Everyone I know who has gotten married in the last few years had spreadsheets to keep track of every dollar spent and every dollar received. If nothing else, just out of curiosity.

    We got less than half of what we spent back in gift money (1/3rd of which was from my dad, actually), but we were lucky to not have to go into debt to pay for our wedding. I think people who don't have the money to spend but have big weddings that they can't afford anyways, tend to be more upset when they don't get much back in gifts.

  23. It especially pissed me off that one particular couple we invited didn't RSVP either way, and didn't even send a card, even though we RSVPd regrets AND sent them money when they got married a year earlier. AND we sent a gift when they had a baby!

    To the last anon poster... I guess you only know how to be friends who reciprocate your friendship equally huh?

    Also, don't you dare generalize and say that anyone who says they didn't add up gifts is lying.

    I absolutely did not add up gifts. When they gave money, I wrote down "money" not a dollar amount. I only wrote down a list for the purpose of thank you notes, as soon as those were out the door, the list was in the garbage.

  24. If you deposited the money in a bank, then you added it up on the deposit slip. Don't act like you don't know whether you got $3 or $14 million for your wedding. You have a good idea of what it was. You know.

  25. I have always held the view that gifts are the way that friends and family send the couple into married life. I too always bring one. I agree with the Minister that society does force a wedding. In the case of my wife and I, we wanted to do a civil ceremony and just let people know after the fact that we got married. Then my mom got involved.

    She literally made us have a very large wedding (200 guests), she had a significant influence on the guest list, insisted on many of the most expensive parts of the wedding. My parents did give us a nice gift that we treasure, but there is no doubt in my mind that the expense of the wedding (which my wife and I personally incurred) was due to her.

    On the gift tally, we did not add up the dollar number, but as the Minister says, we have a very good idea of the costs of the gifts we got and from whom. It wasn't by design, but you know. I think the Minister is correct in pointing out that people are generally rude about weddings. Not RSVPing is a pain in the ass and we actually chased down each person to get a yes or no. We had more than enough things to do, and bad behaviour on behalf of the guests doesn't help anything.

    In terms of expecting a gift, we tried to have the mindset where we did not really expect anything from anyone but sometimes it is hard. I'll give examples; not giving a card, email or anything is bad behaviour in my mind. I don't really care whether you got us something, but we kept all of the cards and well-wishing so we could remember people being part of our day. It is a little about sharing the special day and recognizing that you were part of it. The only instance where we had a reasonable expectation of a gift was when we had recently been generous to someone/couple and not had it reciprocated. In one instance, we had been unable to attend a destination wedding but had bought a quite generous gift (think $200 - $400 range). Then, when the couple attended our wedding, we didn't get so much as a card. Nor did we get a thank-you from their gift. It could be for any number of reasons but the one that springs to the forefront is that they are not as good friends as we had thought. Not because of the dollar amount but because of the lack of recognition and reciprocation. As the Minister notes, it is hard to interact with that couple now because it is in the forefront of our mind.

    And to those who are taking on the Minister and calling him names personally, you should really have a look in the mirror. I think you'll find your behaviour is worse. The Minister has a good sense of sarcasm, is funny to read and if you disagree with what he says, he clearly is happy to respond. But attacking him personally? Offside.

  26. I know this has been dead for a long while (a year!) but I still have some thoughts:

    1. Yes, guests should bring at least a small gift if they can. At the very least, they should bring a card. A card is just thoughtful.

    2. People need to just so "no" to doing big expensive weddings. I don;t care if you have 50K to spend on one, it is a serious waste of money and something our consumer culture has talked a lot of people into.

    3. This dogma about how no one should ever expect a gift and it is all about "sharing your special day" sounds sweet and adorable, but then why is everyone registering for gifts?