Dear Uncommon Courtesy,
I know that the wedding gift question is always done to death but since it is such a quagmire I thought I would throw another one in the mix. I am a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding for which I will have to travel a few hours. I have also traveled for her bridal shower and her bachelorette evening. For both events, I helped pay for the events themselves and bought small gifts (lingerie and coffee mugs). The wedding websites tell me that I am also expected to buy a wedding present and I feel like my friend is expecting one. I am not married and not expecting to get married which is making this whole experience feel very unbalanced. I have already spent a ton of money on my friend. How do I politely get out of purchasing yet another thing for this wedding?
Victoria: Okay, so first let’s talk about how ridic this all is
Victoria: Like, bridesmaids shouldn’t have to plan and pay for BOTH a bachelorette and a shower.
Jaya: Yeah, like here’s a rundown of the average bridesmaid expenses now: dress, shoes, travel/accommodations to wedding, possible travel/accommodations to bachelorette party, AND gift? I know this is the “norm” now but let’s go on the record saying it shouldn’t be.
Victoria: It should not be! And if we get any questions from any brides asking how can they kindly ask their bridesmaids why they didn’t send a gift after doing all this stuff, we will very politely discuss how they are incredibly wrong and selfish and then mock them (just a heads up).
Jaya: Hahaha, of course.
Victoria: So my advice to this bridesmaid is to not send a wedding gift. Write a very nice and heartfelt card instead.
Jaya: Yes, that sounds good. Okay, so the tricky thing is that no, you are never obligated to give a gift at any point, no matter what your relationship to the wedding, but people have weird expectations now.
Victoria: That’s true, but I mean, honestly, the only way we are going to get past this is by just not doing it.
Victoria: If bridesmaids would just put their stylishly-clad-in-matching-shoes feet down and say, “I’m sorry, but attending both your wedding and your bachelorette in Vegas and your hometown shower is too much for me”…then people wouldn’t start getting all these expectations.
Jaya: That’s a good point! And it’s hard! Weddings are an emotional time, and nobody wants to be the one to hurt the bride’s feelings. So I think a lot of times the wedding party just becomes total pushovers.
Victoria: Yeah (and trust us, this is hard for us too!!!). I’d love to see more brides sitting down with their maids and being like, look. “My wedding is out of town for all of you, so I don’t want you to plan any kind of out of town bachelorette or shower or anything.”
And grooms, too, I guess.
Jaya: Right. I think half of this is people not even knowing that their expectations are out of line, just because they see what everyone else has. Like, blogs show you fun bachelorette parties in Vegas, and you assume a bachelorette party in Vegas is the standard. When that might not work for your circumstances.
Victoria: Yesss, like, maybe I should create some kind of spreadsheet? Like with formulas of: your friends estimated incomes, the estimated expense of the dress/shoes, estimated expense of travel/lodging for the wedding, and the total shouldn’t be more than like .25% of the bridesmaids estimated income?
Jaya: Victoria, why are your solutions always spreadsheets?
Victoria: Lol, because I am a neeeeerd.
Jaya: I think just better communication can help, and more understanding if your bridesmaids just aren’t the type to be able to afford/want to pay for a big trip or a designer dress.
Victoria: And really listen to what they are saying! If they seem less than enthusiastic, back down, way way down!
Jaya: Yes! If you’re the one getting married, they probably want to make you happy, but you don’t want that to make them go into debt.
Victoria: Or from the beginning, ask them what they think a reasonable price for the BM dress is (and stick to it!!)
And like, everyone’s always saying “oh tradition…”
But TRADITIONALLY, the brides family was supposed to either let the bridal party stay in their home or pay
for their lodging. And no one does that anymore. And yet now brides get showers AND bachelorette parties.
Jaya: Right, and TRADITIONALLY the bridesmaids planned the bachelorette party without the bride saying “hey let’s all go to the Bahamas”
Victoria: Haha yeah. Or the one super rich bridesmaid suggesting that.
Jaya: I always think of the movie Bridesmaids with that, where everyone else can afford Vegas and first class and Kristen Wiig is stuck in the back.
Victoria: Yeaaaaah, that’s no bueno.
Jaya: And I liked a lot of that movie, but also I just wanted to be like MAYA RUDOLPH, YOU KNOW YOUR FRIEND IS GOING THROUGH HARD TIMES, GET EVERYONE TO TONE IT DOWN.
I mean, things should be toned down anyway, probably.
Like do you really need to spend an entire weekend?
Like, how about a nice dinner and some drinks?
Especially the older you are…its just not as fun to go clubbing and wear penis hats as when you were 23.
Jaya: So, back to the issue at hand. Let’s say the LW takes our advice and sends a nice card and then, worst case scenario, the couple is like “where is our gift?”
What do you say?
Besides “fuck off”
Victoria: You could passive aggressively send them an uncommon courtesy link!
But also I would say “Sally, I went to considerable time and effort and spent a very large amount of money
being in your wedding, planning and attending your bachelorette and shower, and buying gifts for those parties. I would have hoped that you realized that that WAS my gift to you and frankly, I am a little hurt that you don’t consider it to be enough.”
Jaya: Just to wrap it up, you’re not obligated to get a gift, especially if you’ve spent your money/time on doing other wedding stuff, and anyone who tries to make you feel guilty for that can shove it.