Author Topic: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?  (Read 3448 times)

jrgtnre

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Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« on: September 26, 2018, 11:33:01 AM »
I'm getting married soon. My fiance and I feel that we have everything we need, and are uncomfortable asking people to travel to our wedding AND bring a gift. Does anyone feel it would be rude to state on the website that guests' friendship over the years and attendance is gift enough? Or something like that? Phrasing suggestions welcome. Thanks!

onlykelsey

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2018, 11:36:37 AM »
I'd ask that in lieu of gifts people make donations to X.  People like getting gifts, and this way you can benefit a not-for-profit that's important to you or your community.    If it's a cause guests associate with you, I think they're more likely to follow your wishes.

wordnerd

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2018, 11:48:56 AM »
Etiquette books will usually tell you not to do this because it tells a guest how to celebrate you and presumes that they would get you a gift in the first place. In practice, I think it works fine. We did the same thing as you are considering and I literally wrote something on the website to the effect of "everyone is traveling to this wedding and we consider that the best gift possible. If you feel moved, please consider a donation to X." A few people brought token gifts. No one was offended as far as I know.

E.T.

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2018, 11:50:50 AM »
I did this for my wedding by talking to each guest individually and leaving a short note on the website. We didn't make a registry either.  We were mostly successful but had to find something my mother in law could buy since it made her happy. Ended up with new every day dishes which were a lot of fun and a good useful compromise since we had only mismatched/damaged dishes from college. Most people still gave money but I was happy that a few took the advice and didn't give a gift at all. I think that made it easier for my lower income friends to attend. All we wanted was for their lovely selves to be present, no presents needed. :)

For more unsolicited advice: we also called everyone to make sure they had hotel rooms, since reserving room blocks often goes wrong for guests. I tried to connect solo travelers I thought would get along well so they could share a room with someone if they wanted to save on lodging costs too. All our guests except one couple traveled for our wedding, so it was a big logistical puzzle. I think personal communication is key to making sure your guests have a great time and minimizes family stress leading up to the big celebration.

dcozad999

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2018, 11:57:13 AM »
I'd ask that in lieu of gifts people make donations to X.  People like getting gifts, and this way you can benefit a not-for-profit that's important to you or your community.    If it's a cause guests associate with you, I think they're more likely to follow your wishes.

The wife and I had a 10 year anniversary party last year since our wedding was in her native country and we had never done anything for our family/friends here.

We asked that they not bring gifts, but if they felt they needed to, they could make a donation to our favorite charity, and I included the URL.

We still got a few bottles of wine and a couple of gifts. Not sure how many gave donations since I didn't really do anything but provide the website info.

Lookilu

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2018, 12:06:09 PM »
Etiquette books will usually tell you not to do this because it tells a guest how to celebrate you and presumes that they would get you a gift in the first place. In practice, I think it works fine. We did the same thing as you are considering and I literally wrote something on the website to the effect of "everyone is traveling to this wedding and we consider that the best gift possible. If you feel moved, please consider a donation to X." A few people brought token gifts. No one was offended as far as I know.

This is excellent advice. I've seen it phrased as 'Your presence is our present,' but there are a number of good ideas here http://creativemelissa.com/2012/10/15/no-gifts-please-invitation-wording/ too.

Dicey

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2018, 12:10:25 PM »
I love this community! Great responses so far.

When my nephew got married, I helped him make their honeymoon travel plans, saving him big buxx. Seriously, at least $800 on the flight alone. I also used points to pay for the hotel night before their cruise. Then, I bought a gift anyway, because I saw something wonderful made by a craftsman in their area. It's been three years and still no thank you for the gift, verbal or otherwise.

My point is that if people travel for your wedding, it is a gift of their time and money. Send them a thank you note.

Which reminds me of this experience from the same time period. We traveled, including a flight, rental car, long drive and multiple hotels to a member of DH's family's wedding. We also gave them a generous gift card to a great and practical place (Fred Meyer for you PNW folks). We were pleased to see a hand-written envelope arrive a couple of weeks later. Until we opened it. Inside was a photo of the bride and groom holding a chalkboard that said "Thank You". That's all.

Pro tip: Bad idea. Do not do this.

onlykelsey

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2018, 12:17:49 PM »
I love this community! Great responses so far.

When my nephew got married, I helped him make their honeymoon travel plans, saving him big buxx. Seriously, at least $800 on the flight alone. I also used points to pay for the hotel night before their cruise. Then, I bought a gift anyway, because I saw something wonderful made by a craftsman in their area. It's been three years and still no thank you for the gift, verbal or otherwise.

My point is that if people travel for your wedding, it is a gift of their time and money. Send them a thank you note.

Which reminds me of this experience from the same time period. We traveled, including a flight, rental car, long drive and multiple hotels to a member of DH's family's wedding. We also gave them a generous gift card to a great and practical place (Fred Meyer for you PNW folks). We were pleased to see a hand-written envelope arrive a couple of weeks later. Until we opened it. Inside was a photo of the bride and groom holding a chalkboard that said "Thank You". That's all.

Pro tip: Bad idea. Do not do this.

I know I'm a millennial, but I don't find the second story particularly offensive.  It doesn't seem like it would take much work from them to write "Dear Jane, Thanks so much for the [GIFT].  We have really enjoyed [VERB]ing with it.  Love, [COUPLE]" on the back...

Even if you don't get gifts, agreed that you should send a thank you to out of town guests for coming and/or donating anyway. 

nereo

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2018, 12:53:10 PM »
I'm getting married soon. My fiance and I feel that we have everything we need, and are uncomfortable asking people to travel to our wedding AND bring a gift. Does anyone feel it would be rude to state on the website that guests' friendship over the years and attendance is gift enough? Or something like that? Phrasing suggestions welcome. Thanks!

When we got married 3 years ago we felt that we did not need anything, and had lots of friends who were deeply in debt in graduate school.  We honestly did not want others to feel obligated to get us gifts, though our parents felt it was very important for us to have a registry. They felt (and in retrospect were probably right) that a subset of our guests feel obligated to get us something, particularly the generations above us.

Ultimately we had a line that said something like:
"we feel very blessed in our lives and ask only that you share in our celebration. Please do not feel any obligation to bring anything but yourselves. If it is your desire to provide us with something, we have a small registry at ____".
We reiterated this to several of our more indebted friends and made a few arrangements to assist some with the travel costs. In the end maybe ~50% of the guests gave us something, and thankfully we seem to ahve avoided any over-the-top spending on us.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 01:04:02 PM by nereo »

I'm a red panda

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2018, 01:02:50 PM »
I've seen "Your prescence is our present" as well.
I also like "in lieu of gifts please donate to X". Otherwise "no gifts" sounds like "send money". And while I typically do send money, I don't like people who are cash grabby.

Imma

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2018, 01:45:32 PM »
Ik have
I've seen "Your prescence is our present" as well.
I also like "in lieu of gifts please donate to X". Otherwise "no gifts" sounds like "send money". And while I typically do send money, I don't like people who are cash grabby.

I think it is quite convenient when people ask for money. Then at least you don't have to find the token gift to accompany the envelope with cash. But I agree that it's not the most polite option.

If I would receive an invite like Wordnerd's, I would not be offended at all - on the contrary. I would think the couple are modest which is a good thing in my book.

AMandM

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2018, 08:25:26 AM »
People who want to give a gift don't feel that way because they want to spend money, but because they want to give you something to make you happy. So to me, a note explaining that seeing them is what will make you happy is fine, but a suggestion that they make a donation is a little obnoxious. The donations idea feels to me like the mother who, when her kids ask what she'd like for Mother's Day, answers "a tidy house."  The thing asked for is in itself a virtuous act, but telling someone to do it as a gift seems a little manipulative.

I realize I'm probably in the minority on this one.

dcozad999

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2018, 08:32:23 AM »
People who want to give a gift don't feel that way because they want to spend money, but because they want to give you something to make you happy. So to me, a note explaining that seeing them is what will make you happy is fine, but a suggestion that they make a donation is a little obnoxious. The donations idea feels to me like the mother who, when her kids ask what she'd like for Mother's Day, answers "a tidy house."  The thing asked for is in itself a virtuous act, but telling someone to do it as a gift seems a little manipulative.

I realize I'm probably in the minority on this one.


I guess it could be manipulative if you are in some way tracking the donations.

I just gave the website to our favorite charity. I didn't ask them to make the donation in our name or set anything up beforehand. I don't know how many guests even sent a donation, and I really don't care.

 

I'm a red panda

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2018, 08:39:18 AM »
People who want to give a gift don't feel that way because they want to spend money, but because they want to give you something to make you happy. So to me, a note explaining that seeing them is what will make you happy is fine, but a suggestion that they make a donation is a little obnoxious. The donations idea feels to me like the mother who, when her kids ask what she'd like for Mother's Day, answers "a tidy house."  The thing asked for is in itself a virtuous act, but telling someone to do it as a gift seems a little manipulative.

I realize I'm probably in the minority on this one.

What's wrong with asking kids to clean instead of buy something? I'd love a tidy house!

I don't see how suggesting people who want to give gifts give a donation is manipulative. They don't have to do it.

charis

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2018, 09:20:15 AM »
People who want to give a gift don't feel that way because they want to spend money, but because they want to give you something to make you happy. So to me, a note explaining that seeing them is what will make you happy is fine, but a suggestion that they make a donation is a little obnoxious. The donations idea feels to me like the mother who, when her kids ask what she'd like for Mother's Day, answers "a tidy house."  The thing asked for is in itself a virtuous act, but telling someone to do it as a gift seems a little manipulative.

I realize I'm probably in the minority on this one.

What's wrong with asking kids to clean instead of buy something? I'd love a tidy house!

I don't see how suggesting people who want to give gifts give a donation is manipulative. They don't have to do it.

If asking for money or gifts on an invitation would be considered rude, why would suggesting a donation to charity be ok?  The reason that wedding etiquette says that gifts not be mentioned at all on an invitation is because, traditionally, gifts are not expected for a wedding (unlike a wedding shower).   So asking for no gifts implies an original expectation of gifts, as does directing how a gift should be given (by adding a link to a registry or charity).  Obviously in practice, people give gifts. 

What was suggested to me, and worked well, was to avoid any mention of gifts in the invitation and set up a small registry for those would will inevitably seek it out.  Spread by word of mouth through close family members and friends, only if someone asks, that you would be happy to receive no gifts.  Donate the cash to charity if you wish. 

People who want to give gifts mostly do it because they love you. 

I'm a red panda

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2018, 09:45:31 AM »
"Traditionally" gifts aren't expected at a wedding, might have been true at somepoint- but certainly not in the US in the last 30+ years.  Gifts are expected at weddings.  And while "traditionally" you aren't supposed to mention your registry; instead your guests have to go out of their way to figure out where it is. It's a pain.

If you DON'T want gifts, that IS unusual. MOST people get gifts at their wedding. It is against the norm to NOT get gifts.
People do still like to give things though; a donation is an alternative to not giving something at all; not the primary request.  I'd still start with the "Please no gifts."

In my experience, people give gifts at weddings because they are supposed to. Wedding gifts are rarely well thought out gifts of love, like another occasion might be. They are instead "does anyone know how fancy this wedding is, how much do I need to give to 'pay my plate'?"  People -attend- weddings because they love and support you. The gift is an obligation.

charis

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2018, 10:10:22 AM »
"Traditionally" gifts aren't expected at a wedding, might have been true at somepoint- but certainly not in the US in the last 30+ years.  Gifts are expected at weddings.  And while "traditionally" you aren't supposed to mention your registry; instead your guests have to go out of their way to figure out where it is. It's a pain.

If you DON'T want gifts, that IS unusual. MOST people get gifts at their wedding. It is against the norm to NOT get gifts.
People do still like to give things though; a donation is an alternative to not giving something at all; not the primary request.  I'd still start with the "Please no gifts."

In my experience, people give gifts at weddings because they are supposed to. Wedding gifts are rarely well thought out gifts of love, like another occasion might be. They are instead "does anyone know how fancy this wedding is, how much do I need to give to 'pay my plate'?"  People -attend- weddings because they love and support you. The gift is an obligation.

I clearly said in my post: "Obviously in practice, people give gifts."  And I mentioned the tradition behind the etiquette, distinguishing it from the (current) practice.  I also said most people who want to give you a gift do it out of love.  I think your response/rant is a bit misplaced.

bacchi

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2018, 10:44:16 AM »
Gah, as is obvious from those posts ^^^, weddings are land mines. Attendees are offended, parents are offended, left out people are offended.

Just elope. It offends everyone that cares about you but they'll get over it.

ketchup

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2018, 10:53:07 AM »
Weddings are bullshit, wedding gifts are bullshit.

I recently went to a (rather mustachian, very non-materialistic) friend's wedding and they politely requested no gifts on the invitations but there was a decent sized pile of gifts on the way in anyway. 

After the fact (about a week later) gave him a book and called it a late wedding gift.  It wasn't expensive, but it was quoted in their wedding vows and I knew he hadn't read it.  It was also a book that I'm a huge fan of and knew he would like.  It actually felt personal in all the ways that matter.  If an idea like that hadn't fallen into my lap, I would have felt completely OK with no gift at all.

But it really really depends on the people involved.  Assumptions can be dangerous.

E.T.

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2018, 07:15:26 AM »
Weddings don't have to be bs. They can be fun inexpensive celebrations with people you love. You just have to communicate with everyone so they know what to expect. More importantly, make sure your wedding is good for you and your future spouse. People won't remember any perceived faux pas if you're happy on your wedding day and the basics of guest comfort are taken care of.

AMandM

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2018, 09:44:12 AM »

What's wrong with asking kids to clean instead of buy something? I'd love a tidy house!

I don't see how suggesting people who want to give gifts give a donation is manipulative. They don't have to do it.

Telling kids I want a tidy house for Mother's Day is responding to their expression of love ("we want to mark the day as special in your honor") with a criticism ("you aren't doing a good enough job with your chores"). That's why I think it's wrong.  Asking for donations feels like a similar criticism, because it feels like I'm being instructed to be charitable instead of personal.

At the same time, I can only think of one wedding invitation I've ever received that wasn't from a close friend or relative. If I got invited to lots of weddings of mere acquaintances, maybe wedding presents would feel more like transactions to me. But I suspect I'd just feel no obligation to give a gift at all.

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2018, 11:04:59 AM »
We asked for either a bottle of wine or a donation to a choice of a couple charities. My family did pool their resources to purchase a hotel stay for us, but everyone else went along with our wishes. I think if you're older and have already lived independently people understand you don't need more tea cozies.

jrgtnre

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2018, 07:10:55 AM »
OP here, thanks for the responses. Seems like this is definitely a confusing issue. To clarify, I did not mean "we'd like money instead of presents", I mean't "you making the time to travel to our wedding is a huge gift itself". I've heard indirectly from one friend's mom that this might be depriving guests of the joy of gift giving... ugh. I understand that, but feel that other people would see the tradition to bring gifts as an obligation when the travel is already expensive.

We will put something like "Your presence is our present" on the website and invitations.


I'm a red panda

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2018, 07:26:39 AM »

What's wrong with asking kids to clean instead of buy something? I'd love a tidy house!

I don't see how suggesting people who want to give gifts give a donation is manipulative. They don't have to do it.

Telling kids I want a tidy house for Mother's Day is responding to their expression of love ("we want to mark the day as special in your honor") with a criticism ("you aren't doing a good enough job with your chores"). That's why I think it's wrong.  Asking for donations feels like a similar criticism, because it feels like I'm being instructed to be charitable instead of personal.

At the same time, I can only think of one wedding invitation I've ever received that wasn't from a close friend or relative. If I got invited to lots of weddings of mere acquaintances, maybe wedding presents would feel more like transactions to me. But I suspect I'd just feel no obligation to give a gift at all.

Thanks for the explanation of the Mother's Day thing.  In our house that was always code for "I'd like someone to do MY chores".  So it wasn't a criticism so much as a break.

I get wedding invitations from acquaintances I barely know and extended family that I haven't seen in over a decade constantly. I like weddings, but they are obligations, and stressful since I rarely know anyone there more than either the bride or groom (it's a lucky day when I know both!) and my own date.

patchyfacialhair

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #24 on: October 01, 2018, 01:06:26 PM »
My wedding was very small (25 people total), and I just texted everyone not to bring a gift or cash, that we were all set on everything and that presence was a present. Some people had travel expenses and we helped out with some of those for those who needed it.

A couple of people still gave small cash gifts ($50 or $100) but most people got the message and everyone was still happy.

FIREball567

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #25 on: October 01, 2018, 06:51:59 PM »
I got lucky for my wedding. We purposely didn't put a registry on the wedding invitations. For our close friends and family, we asked for cash. Everyone gave cash/check except for 1 painting (one of my wife's friends. She might reciprocate if he gets married one day.

pbkmaine

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #26 on: October 01, 2018, 07:06:35 PM »
My nephew and his fiancée, who are very well off, put a nice note on their wedding website. They said they had been blessed in life, and requested no gifts. They went on to say that if people did want to do something to remember their wedding, here is a list of charities they support.

Dee18

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #27 on: October 01, 2018, 07:13:03 PM »
I think saying no gifts is great.  I’ve been to several weddings like that. I don’t know why but I do not like the “if you would like to give something, give to this charity....”. Seems to me that really cancels out the previous “no gifts” statement. 

OzzieandHarriet

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #28 on: October 01, 2018, 10:56:26 PM »
When we got married, we were 39 and 41 and already had a house full of two people's stuff (albeit nothing fancy), so we said "no gifts" on the invitations. Also, it was a really basic wedding at the courthouse, followed by a late lunch at a restaurant for the 20 people who came. A few days later, we had a party at our house and invited everyone we knew, cooked most of the food ourselves. We called it an "open house" because there was no way all those people would fit at one time, though it did get crowded (it was fun).

Even with all that, we still got a few presents, including cash gifts from relatives. We sent thank-you notes to all of those people.

It's 20 years later and we're still married, so I guess everything worked out.

I think as long as you're polite, it's okay to do whatever you want, certainly with regard to gifts/no gifts.

sanderh

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Re: Is it ok to ask for no wedding gifts?
« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2018, 11:04:33 PM »
In most cultures I have encountered, yes, it is OK to ask for no gifts (for whatever occasion), but don't expect the guests to obey the request. Many or even most will still bring a small "token gift". However, they probably bring less and smaller gifts than if you didn't ask for no gifts, so the direction of change is good :)