image I’ve been to my fair share of weddings. In the past year alone I’ve been a regular guest, a maid of honor, an honored guest and a bridesmaid. The summer before that I flew to two weddings my boyfriend, Ike, was in within two months of each other. We’ve got another ceremony in September and are flying to the Caribbean next spring to listen to the sweet sweet sound of more wedding bells.

By now I’ve got my routine down. There are no less than four dresses I can choose from which swing from super fancy pants throw down to the low key affair in a converted warehouse. There are an array of satin shoes in the back of my closet just waiting for the Wobble and hairspray under my sink that only gets used for my “I do” updo — a French twist with just the slightest bouffant.

Send me an invite and I can be in a pew that night with a tear at the ready. But what I won’t have is a gift. Ever. I am strictly a no-wedding-gift guest. This is a controversial stance for some people. So let me explain.

Firstly, I’ve never been to a wedding I can walk, bike ride, hop scotch, jump rope or swim to. Every wedding I’ve attended since my friends and family have started getting married has been miles upon miles upon miles away. A few have even earned me new passport stamps.

Let’s break down the numbers. On average, I spend $300 dollars for a round trip plane ticket. On top of that, I’m staying at least two nights (and sometimes three) in a hotel room, which, even with the nuptial discount, will run you anywhere from $100 to $200 dollars per night. According to those calculations, thus far I’ve spent a minimum of $500 dollars and we haven’t even Wobbled yet.

Add to all of that local transportation to and from airports, eating anything besides the reception dinner, and whatever non-wedding-related fun you might want to have in New York, Puerto Rico, Long Beach or the host of other cities I’ve witnessed the state of holy matrimony in and we’re talking a cool G conservatively. Basically your fancy invitation in the mail is like a bill written in Monotype Corsiva.

But I’ll pay it gladly in order to play a small role at the starting line of the marathon folks call marriage. I want to ring the starting bell with you and maybe jog a little bit of the way with a water jug and sign that says “Keep Going!”. Because that’s the real point of having more than one witness there. You’re establishing a community of people that will hopefully hold you to the vows you made. And I take that unwritten and unofficial role quite seriously. So serious in fact that I’m paying for the privilege. So if any of my friends tried to come at me on some old “Where’s our $100 gift to pay for all that dry chicken we fed you?” foolishness like these folks, then I’d have to bust out a fistful receipts and dust off my TI-80.

Recently a HuffPo reader got this email from a bride:

“Hi Tanya, how are you? I just want to know is there any reason or dissatisfaction of Mike’s and I wedding that both you and Phil gave 50$ each? In terms of the amount we got from you both was very unexpected as a result we were very much short on paying off the reception because just for the cocktail + reception alone the plate per person is 200$ (as per a normal wedding range with open bar is about) and Mike and I both have already paid for everything else including decor, photography, attire etc and didn’t expect we had to cover that huge amount for reception as well.”

I have no idea where this trend of not only expecting more than a toaster but also emailing guests to express dissatisfaction over the gift received started but it needs to stop. Blame it on wedding reality TV all you want but brides be trippin’!

A good friend of mine who just got married, and whose gift is not in the mail, told me recently, “If you can’t pay in cash, elope.” Or better yet, just tone it down a few notches. Thing is, I’m planning on contributing big to her honeymoon fund because I’m much more inclined to give the gift of memories rather than buy you a $379 dollar duvet cover when I’m still on my Target steez.

Don’t get me wrong I love weddings. What I don’t love are self-important dumb dumbs. People who think that the rest of us owe them a gold star (and cold had cash) for getting hitched.

Any true etiquette expert will tell you that gifts, though lovely and thoughtful and appreciated, are not required entrance fees to the chapel. You are not hosting a rent partyyou’re getting married on your dime. And this new line of faux classy reasoning stating that wedding gifts should cover the cost of the reception is so very bootleg I can’t even deal. If you’d like me to pay for your wedding, then I will. The guy who cleans my yard, Kenny, can officiate in my living room then we can have sugar cookies and Shasta on my stoop. Congratulations or whatever.

What’s your stance on wedding gift giving? Is it ever enough?



This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
Helena on XOJane!

  • Ash

    Man, that huffpost article made me so mad the first time I read it! The whole wedding industry is a joke. People are spending all this money on weddings that don’t even last.

    I don’t think your stance on wedding gifts is wrong, especially if you’re spending so much money in attending the wedding.

    It’s tacky to use gift money to cover your wedding expenses. I don’t understand people that do that. My future wedding is going to be the courthouse followed by a cookout with tons good food , friends, and alcohol. That’s all that matters.

  • PinkStuff

    I think gifts are nice to give IF you can. The bride and groom should realize the financial burden that destination weddings can put on their guests, and understand that showing up may be their gift.
    As far as emailing your guests to ask why you didn’t receive a larger gift, that’s tacky and ridiculous. When you invite people to a wedding, it isn’t required that they bring a gift, much less a specified amount. Tacky.

  • Esta Fiesta

    While a gift is expected (I wouldn’t want someone coming to my wedding empty handed ESPECIALLY if I wasn’t empty handed at theirs), the only thing ruder than not bringing a gift is following up with your guest to see why they didn’t give you one.

  • Whatever

    Wow. I always give a bridal shower gift for the bride and put about $100 in my card at the wedding. These are family members and friends, not some fair-weather friend of a friend whose wedding i’m crashing for free drinks and dinner.

    I’m not saying that everyone needs to give in the same way, but even an inexpensive gift that shows thought or your love for the couple would suffice. Marriage is a pretty big deal and I am happy for all my friends and family that have found someone they want to spend their lives with. I don’t see dollar signs when I open invitations, like the author. There is usually a variety of gifts on wedding registries that range in price so why not pick up the $20 gift and a nice card an call it a day. I could see if the author’s stance was staying within her budget… but it seems more like she’s just hell bent on NOT giving a gift to anyone no matter the circumstance. Seems pretty selfish to me.

    As for that bride that was not satisfied with receiving $50 each from the couple, after reading that email I would have cut her off immediately. How tacky of her to EXPECT her guests to pay for their reception. If you can’t afford an extravagant wedding then scale it down to what you’re comfortable paying on your own. Your guests are not venture capitalists looking to invest.

  • Ladybug

    Even if gifts are not expected or required, you should have the decency to give a gift. Something. $50 to a spa. Something. It is a way to honor this new journey the couple is going on. Otherwise, why don’t you just stay home with that attitude? Seriously.