The topic of wedding gifts, specifically whether or not a wedding guest must give one, is touchy. While it’s by no means mandatory to gift the happy couple, most consider it the right thing to do. It’s a gesture of goodwill and a lovely way to express your support of the newlyweds. That said, it’s highly likely that not every guest at a wedding will oblige. In fact, it’s been estimated that between 7 and 10% of guests at a wedding fail to give a gift. If, like me, you’re: a) petty AF and/or b) someone whose love language is receiving gifts, you may be wondering WTF is wrong with these people how to handle this situation. Fortunately for you, I’ve been through this and have some advice on the matter. To be clear, you should not accost every person on your invite list who failed to get you something off the registry, or make a passive-aggressive Facebook status derailing “how selfish people can be these days”. What you should do is take into account the particular circumstances, your relationship to the person, and act (or don’t act) accordingly.
1. The No-Show
Let me be clear. By “no-show,” I don’t mean someone that RSVPed “yes” and then failed to show up to the wedding at the eleventh hour. Barring a true emergency, that person should be ashamed and should absolutely send a gift to make up for the added stress and expense their last-minute ghosting caused. Instead, I’m talking about the person that RSVPed “no” from the get-go. While it’s certainly the classy move for such a guest to send a gift, it’s definitely not required.
How To Handle: This one is understandable, especially if the guest in question isn’t a close friend or family member. You may feel disappointed if the guest is someone near and dear to your heart, but there’s not much you can do or say without looking tacky. Make peace with the fact that this is perfectly acceptable and move on.
2. The Flaky Friend
We all have that one friend who is all over the place. They flit from event to event, and can barely remember to brush their hair, let alone put together a wedding gift. It’s inevitable that this friend is going to neglect to send a gift, even after a reasonable amount of time has passed.
How To Handle: What is a “reasonable amount of time,” you ask? Tradition has it that guests have up to one year to send a gift. But seeing as how we live in the age of next-day delivery and most of us can barely remember what we ate for lunch yesterday, this seems a bit antiquated. A couple of months appears to be the new norm. If at least that much time has passed, you consider this person a good friend, and are fairly sure it was an oversight, it might be worth having an honest conversation. But it’s important to make it about your feelings and emphasize that the nature of the gift is of no importance. For example: “I consider you a good friend and it hurt me that you didn’t even acknowledge the wedding with a card.” A true friend will immediately own the gaffe and make things right.
3. The Reciprocator
This should go without saying, but if you attended someone’s wedding and did not get them a gift, then you have no right to complain if they return the favor and arrive at your wedding empty-handed. While technically, two wrongs don’t make a right, your petty self should respect the game and do better next time.
How To Handle: Zip it, acknowledge your hypocrisy, and fix your life start practicing the Golden Rule.
4. The One Who’s Gone The Extra Mile (Literally or Figuratively)
It’s no secret that weddings aren’t cheap, especially when you consider all the other related events such as an engagement party, bachelor/bachelorette, or a bridal shower. For those guests who aren’t flush with cash, these costs can build up quickly, and adding a wedding gift on top of everything else might understandably be more than some guests can handle financially. It’s also important to consider the guests who have expended considerable time and money traveling to the wedding and other events, especially when these events are more than a brief car or train ride away. This is especially true for the members of your bridal party.
How To Handle: The best approach here is to be grateful for everything this guest has contributed up until the wedding. Whether it’s the bridesmaid who has spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on celebrating you multiple times leading up to the wedding (and buying a bridesmaid dress she can never totally wear again), or the friend who flew in from a different continent to be there for your big day, try to channel your inner Elsa and let it go. If you really can’t help yourself, you can try sending a subtle hint in the thank you note by thanking this guest for their presence and see if they pick up on the signal. If they don’t, move on.
5. The Borderline Invite
This is by far the most frustrating one of the bunch. There’s always going to be at least one guest you’re hesitant about, who you ultimately decide to invite, whether it’s a colleague you’re lukewarm on, a distant high school friend you lost touch with, or some other rando. In my experience, these are often the people that treat the open bar like it’s their last night on Earth and/or end up half-dressed on the dance floor busting moves that even a dad would find uncool. This would be fine, except for the fact that these same people are the ones that conveniently forget to bring or send a gift, leaving you wondering why you invited them at all.
How To Handle: If you can’t avoid inviting this person and they do end up disappointing you, cut your losses and try to distance yourself where possible. When you do see them, be polite, but there’s no need to dredge up the subject with someone you didn’t care much about to begin with.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t care at all about wedding gifts, you’re a unicorn and I commend you for your magnanimous spirit. For those not so blessed, it’s perfectly normal to feel slighted and a little offended, but it’s important to consider the specific circumstances and remember that it’s the gesture that matters (not how much money your guest dropped on the gift). And for those who want to drag me in the comments for having a strong opinion about this, to you I say:
Images: @oceanswide / Unsplash; Tenor (1); Giphy (5)
Anyone who has participated in wedding planning can agree that it can be so damn stressful. Whether you’re the bride, groom, MOH, MIL, or bridesmaid, there is a to-do list longer than a CVS receipt. First, you need a budget, a date, and a venue. You also have to make these decisions fairly quickly and pray your venue isn’t booked by some un-engaged girl already planning her fairytale wedding. Next, you have to coordinate vendors, the dress, your bridesmaid dresses, invitations, honeymoon… I think you get the point.
We’ve all heard the term bridezilla, and there’s a reason for it. Weddings are a lot of work, and they can bring out the worst in people. I, myself, have been in a handful of weddings and have witnessed couples fight over the most trivial things. Really?? We’re getting pissed over linen patterns or up lighting?? I’ve seen these spats over decor turn into a scene from Fight Club.
As a former bride and also as someone who has called off her wedding, I’m familiar with tension before the big day. My ex-fiancé and I bickered about the guest list, venue, flowers, you name it. These wedding quarrels morphed into us going to war about everything from finances to family to our careers. Before I called it off, I would constantly question if everyone who plans a wedding struggles with this or if I was just in the wrong relationship. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t normal.
So, the question is: are these normal pre-wedding disagreements, or are these serious warning signs that this person isn’t your ‘til-death-do-us-part? Read on for some signs that your wedding disagreements are an indicator of unhappiness to come.
Why Did You Get Engaged In The First Place?
Social media has really changed the game for engagements and weddings (I blame Laguna Beach for starting prom-posals). There’s nothing wrong with it, but today it’s pretty much the standard for people hire photographers and plan over-the-top engagements, which they then post over and over again on Instagram. Same goes for weddings. Every part of your wedding day is documented by friends and family on social media. Let’s not forget about the teaser pics right after the big day that only warn of a few weeks later when your IG feed will be inundated by wedding shots.
Wedding Stress: It’s normal to overthink your hashtag or worry about selecting the perfect photographer. You’re paying a TON of money for these services, so you have the right to be picky. But ask yourself: if you took away the fancy dress, flowers, and glam squad, would you still want to marry this person and spend the rest of your life with them? One of my best friends was so over her family’s BS that she and her now-husband canceled their 300 person extravaganza and had a surprise wedding with 40 people instead. This didn’t stop her MIL from wearing a white gown to the event, but at the end of the day, it was about their love for each other—not the fancy ballroom.
Red Flag: If you answered no to the above question, you might want to reconsider this engagement. If all you care about is how your wedding will look to others, this is not a good sign. If you can’t imagine this day without all the bells and whistles or if it makes you cry inside thinking about someone posting an unflattering photo of your venue on, take a step back to reflect on why you actually want to go through with this. After I got engaged, I posted a picture of my proposal on Instagram within an hour of it happening. I remember being annoyed by the caption my ex used for his post (something along the lines of “she said finally”). While it’s normal to share your engagement on IG, looking back, I should have been more excited to celebrate our engagement with him and less concerned with the perfect filter or caption.
How And Why Do You Fight?
It’s expected to have disagreements about venue location or booking a band vs. a DJ. Everyone has a vision of what this day will look like. I’m sure you’re also getting forceful opinions from your family or future in-laws. You might bicker about your guest list—should you invite your creepy uncle or your future father-in-law’s clients? Does your fiancé’s #foreveralone bestie get a plus-one? There are a million and one scenarios that can have you and your SO at each other’s throats.
Wedding Stress: No matter what the argument is about, you want to feel heard by your SO. Relationships are about compromise, and you should respect each other’s opinions when there is any type of disagreement. There shouldn’t be any blaming or name-calling when things go wrong. You should move on quickly after an argument, and fights over wedding favors shouldn’t turn into screaming matches about what religion you’ll raise your future kids. Also, an important point to keep in mind: a lot of arguments stem from family drama. It’s important your SO puts your feelings before their family’s and always listens to you first. Here’s a good example of this done right: My friend’s husband’s family paid for their entire (six-figure!) wedding, but every decision was made together. He never once held the money over her head to get his way. Wedding disagreements should not come between you and your fiancé. On the flip side, my ex always told me he would choose his family over me any day. If he went to his mom to question my flower choices, what made me think he wouldn’t talk sh*t to his mom about my parenting style when we had kids?
Red Flag: It’s a MAJOR warning sign if your SO gaslights you every time you fight. You shouldn’t feel unreasonable, crazy, or unheard when you’re just trying to get your point across (this also holds for arguments outside of wedding planning). I spent a long 6 years with my ex where I was always justifying my feelings. His favorite line when we fought was, “I think your parents dropped you on your head as a baby because you’re crazy”. I know, awful right?
Another major warning sign is constantly walking on eggshells around your SO. You should never have the mentality that it would be easier to keep something to yourself in order to avoid a fight. My ex and I fought a lot—I eventually stopped bringing things up to him because I was afraid of setting him off. It got to the point where I secretly planned our honeymoon because I couldn’t mentally handle another battle. Not a good sign.
Does Your Future Spouse Make Planning Easy Or Difficult?
How did they react when you scheduled a tour of 10 venues the weekend after you got engaged? Did they freak out when you told them the florist was $10k over budget? Did they ditch a cake tasting or black out when you went to see a band showcase? I might sound like a broken record at this point, but how your partner deals with the planning process is a huge indicator of what type of relationship you’re in.
Wedding Stress: It’s OK if your groom doesn’t want to be involved in every single detail of wedding planning. You probably have better taste in European-style flower arrangements, anyway. I went to every vendor meeting with a friend for her wedding, and we had way more fun picking out color schemes and candle holders than she would have had if she’d brought her then-fiancé. The difference is, her now-husband is an awesome guy and would always praise her for having great taste—he just didn’t have a vision for envelope liners and calligraphy styles. If he’s taking the backseat, your SO should be happy to let you plan and be appreciative of the effort you put into it. If he’s willing to be your hype man over classic hand-tied bouquets, imagine how supportive he’ll be for the important stuff.
Red Flag: If your SO makes every part of the planning process a challenge, you’re in red flag city. This could look like anything from delaying you from making decisions to a complete lack of interest in the planning process, not showing up to things, or being overly critical once you make a decision. For instance, my ex would call me impulsive for moving forward with any stage of the planning process. I had to wait three months post-engagement before we were even allowed to talk about venues or setting a date. And, while being completely uninterested in planning, he still managed to be highly critical of every decision I made. His response to when I picked our invitations: “those look like funeral announcements”. Tbh, he made planning so miserable it kind of felt like I actually was planning a funeral!
At the end of the day, you know yourself and your relationship better than anyone else. If you don’t feel supported or if the arguing is spiraling out of control, talk to your SO! Communication is clutch while wedding planning and it will continue to be important throughout married life. It may feel like it, but you aren’t trapped or committed to going through with your marriage. There are plenty of people who have called off an engagement, and they are better for it!
Images: Petr Ovralov / Unsplash, Giphy
As someone who’s written about weddings for the last several years, and attended/been in more than a handful, I thought when it came time for my own I would have this planning thing down. I used to say that when I got married I wouldn’t get stressed out about dumb sh*t (lol) and I would do what I want without other people’s opinions influencing me (ha!). So when I got engaged this past June and started planning my wedding for next September, I was just as surprised as anybody that I totally did not have this planning thing down. After going through the first six months of planning, my new M.O. on weddings has become, “Don’t judge a bride until you walk a mile in her wedding shoes,” and damn, those shoes are hard AF to walk in.
Below are nine things I thought about weddings that flew out the window when I started planning my own.
1. I Won’t Worry About The Little Things
Boy, was I wrong on this one. In fact, the little things are ALL I worry about. I constantly run through all the wedding signage we’ll need in my mind and whether it matters if the fonts on the table numbers match the font on the bar sign. I worry about trying every appetizer during cocktail hour or that I’ll be in the bathroom when the band plays “Sweet Caroline.” I never worry that our caterer won’t show up or that the band will suck. Why would I worry about major issues like that when I can stress about how the welcome table will be laid out?
2. My Wedding Won’t Cost That Much
Them: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done while planning your wedding? Me: I agreed to pay the band $200 extra to have someone play a 2 minute sax solo during the ceremony
— Ashley Fern (@disco_infern0) July 26, 2019
I’d like to think I’m pretty well-versed in how much different vendors cost, so I have no idea what the hell I was thinking when I said this. Especially since we’re having a tented reception in my grandma’s backyard, and that sh*t ain’t cheap. Every time I see a new bill come in, my heart stops beating for a split second and I honestly wonder how big of a problem it would be if I served McDonald’s instead of beef tenderloin and just made a Spotify playlist for the reception.
3. I’ll Never Compare My Wedding To Someone Else’s
I have so much respect for the brides that sign up for Four Weddings. I truly can’t imagine willingly subjecting myself to having my wedding scrutinized by three strangers—I’m critical enough on my own. It’s hard not to compare yourself to other people in general, especially when so many friends are getting married around the same time. I find myself thinking about what I’d do differently or the same whenever I attend another wedding, which is actually kind of annoying because I’d like to be able to get drunk and enjoy myself. Plus, I sure as hell don’t want people to be doing that at mine.
4. There’s No Point In Stressing About The Weather Since You Can’t Control It
not to be dramatic but if it rains on my wedding day I might kill someone
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) December 13, 2019
HA! This is actually laughable and I’m not even sure I ever really believed it. This is, without a doubt, the number-one thing I spend the majority of my time thinking about. There is honestly nothing in the world more terrifying than the idea that it might actually rain on my wedding day. The closest I ever get to a serious mental breakdown is when I spend more than 30 seconds thinking about a monsoon beginning as soon as I walk down the aisle.
5. This Whole Planning Thing Is Going To Bring My Mom And I So Much Closer
I will admit, my mom and I haven’t really fought about wedding planning, which I know is rare/weird (I’m sorry if that makes you want to punch me in the face). But it’s definitely not bringing us closer. At the very beginning when we were trying to sort out all the vendors, my mom and I would text and talk on the phone multiple times a day, which was a lot, and it felt like I was engaged to my mom instead of my fiancé. She definitely triggers me with some of her ridiculous suggestions (like having guests move their own ceremony chairs to the reception tent), but overall the ride hasn’t been too bumpy so far (knock on wood—we’ve still got nine, months to go).
6. I’ll Get My Way On Everything
I know this sounds like a ridiculous thing to think, but when I was wedding planning in my mind, nobody was there telling me I couldn’t have our family labradoodle walk down the aisle (I’m still not 100% convinced that won’t be happening), so I never foresaw any issues. I didn’t think my photo booth idea would get shut down by my fiancé or that my idea for a limo bus instead of going to our cocktail hour would be considered a waste of money. I’ve only recently come to the conclusion that I don’t NEED everything on my wish list. I know, I’m so mature.
7. It’ll Be Easy To Make Our Guest List
Pretty sure my wedding vows said "in sickness and in health" but nothing about dealing with in-laws over Thanksgiving, yet here I am
— betchesbrides (@betchesbrides) November 26, 2019
It would be so cool if there was an etiquette rule that said, “If you haven’t spoken to your great aunt in two years, she doesn’t need to be invited”, so I could just point to it and that would be that. Unfortunately, no such thing exists and people are left to their own judgment when deciding who to invite. Making the guest list was like a balancing act. From trying to keep it under a certain number, to accommodating my future in-laws’ list, while also keeping my mom from inviting everyone she’s ever met, it was one of the hardest parts so far and I’m very thankful it’s over. If you’re going through it now, my best advice is to pick your battles. If you don’t win this one, you’ll win the next. Why does planning a wedding sound like being at war?
8. I Don’t Understand Why Someone Would Want To Elope
Because of all the reasons I just listed and 10,000 more, I truly believe that people who elope are geniuses and we should all be more like them.
9. Are Post-Wedding Blues A Real Thing?
Me: I’m just going to have a simple wedding.
Also me: pic.twitter.com/bubmgscPmk
— Amber Pera (@AmberPera) December 4, 2019
Absolutely, yes. My mom told me she sobbed on her wedding night because it was over. I’ve heard from all my married friends that they miss being engaged and wedding planning, so I’m trying my best to soak it all in, despite the challenges that come with it. I’m not looking forward to the day after my wedding when I realize it’s all over. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up crying in the back of a limo like a contestant on The Bachelor who’s just been kicked off. Sorry in advance to my soon-to-be husband, but hey, we said in sickness and in health right?
To all the brides I’ve judged before, I’m sorry. there’s a lot I thought I knew about weddings, but just like anything else, you don’t really know until you experience it for yourself. I’m walking a mile in all of your wedding shoes and wondering how the heck you did it. Cheers to you!
Images: Andre Hunter / Unsplash; betchesluvthis, betchesbrides, disco_infern0, amberpera / Twitter