Is it rude to expect wedding presents?

Ah once again the taboo topics – this time it’s the etiquette (or not) of gift giving and receiving.

As I’ve been formatting my final honeymoon pictures to send as digital “thank yous” to everyone who contributed to our honeymoon fund, it got me thinking about wedding gifts and some of the advice I was given before my big day.

Pretty much every wedding blog, magazine and etiquette guide tiptoes around the notion of gift giving. The first thing you’ll hear is that you shouldn’t expect a wedding gift from anyone. The second thing you’ll hear (although this is extremely old fashioned and probably doesn’t apply anymore) is that you shouldn’t even bring up gifts with your guests. You should give your parents gift list details should anyone ask for them.

Well, not to be controversial or anything (sheesh, it’s not like I have a record of saying outlandish things or anything) but I think the above etiquette advice is a load of rubbish. So, I’m going to wade into the murky waters of gift giving and receiving and pick apart the finer points to let you know why I think you should absolutely expect gifts and why it’s not rude to let people know what to get you.

Our gift list was items for a honeymoon in the Bahamas – but many people chose to give creative gifts too

The etiquette of gift giving – revamped

Money, money, money

It can be expensive to attend a wedding, especially if you have to travel, bring a family (or find a babysitter), buy any new clothes etc. all of this expense before giving a gift – it’s understandable that lots of guests baulk at the idea of spending more money. But since when does a gift have to be about money? I have a friend whose partner makes gorgeous lamps, he sent us one as a wedding gift and we love it, because a lot of thought and care went into it and it’s gorgeous. What’s to stop someone being creative with a gift? It’s the thought that counts after all. In my book, a gift is a token of friendship, a symbol to mark moving on into a new stage of life and a sign of appreciation for being hosted for the day. The amount of money spent on said gift is totally irrelevant. If I didn’t have a penny in the world, I’d write my friends or family a song, a poem, a story – or I would get them a small, symbolic gift that really said something about them.

Why honesty isn’t rude

Why do we tiptoe around gift giving as if it isn’t a valued custom? Of course most guests will expect to get you a gift – and they want to get you something that you actually want and like. Taking a gamble is fine if they know you well enough, but there’s no point in leaving elderly relatives guessing as to what on earth it is you’ll want. Or receiving about 50 vases because everyone had the same idea. The fact is that most people will want to get you a gift – and if you don’t tell them what to get you, they’ll get you something anyway – and the rude thing would be pretending to love it and then regifting it later.

Or you might really need things – and people like to give you things you need – or experiences.

And finally (controversially) why it’s OK to expect gifts

Let’s reverse the question – would you go to a wedding without a gift? Or would you feel a bit rude. I know I would. So how can it be rude to both expect gifts and not to expect to bring them? Yup – work that one out! I think the big caveats here are as follows:

You shouldn’t expect expensive gifts. Booking something, for example, and then praying people will pay for it is probably unwise.

It’s probably rude to chase up people who didn’t give you a wedding gift – like some crazed debt collector.

Understand that people will deviate from your gift list, no matter how adamant you are that they shouldn’t.

So there you have it – why I think it’s silly not to just be clear about what you want as a gift. It’s the way to end up with things you want and need, instead of 100 toasters.

We’d love to hear from you – do you think it’s rude not to give a wedding gift? Would you feel awkward turning up at a wedding without a present or do you think weddings are expensive enough as it is?

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