How Tacky Is This (A Wedding Question)

I agree with this statement wholeheartedly.

You best bet to discourage gifts (hoping that they give money instead) is to just NOT register.

Side note: The woman who hosts Etiquette Hell gets partial credit for my baby. We used to both hang out on wedding newsgroups and she sent me a recipe for flank steak. AFTER I made it, she told me that it has the reputation of being a fertility enhancer. I was preggers not long after. Hmmmm.

A general comment on gifts: Etiquette, as you’ve learned, seems to have it that the bride and groom act completely naive about the concept of gifts. “Gifts? Of course we don’t expect any!” Gifts are not to be discussed, mentioned, thought about, breathed near, or farted over before they are actually received. IF you register, this is supposed to be passed on by word of mouth only, by your relatives, and only when specifically asked.

I realize that all sounds a little extreme, but that seems to be how the etiquette gurus would have it. A little bending of the rules in this day and age is acceptable, I think. But many people still think making any mention of gift preference within the wedding invitation is taboo. Unfortunately, some of the stores which so kindly allow for registries also do things like give you, for free, nice little cards announcing your registry. These look classy and nice and you’re encouraged to enclose them with invitations. And of course, when a couple gets these pushed on them by a source which has been so darned knowledgeable about wedding gift-giving, and who does this every day, why, it seems legit! What a neat idea! But it’s not a neat idea, and I think it erodes people’s sensitivities to what’s appropriate.

To look at the bright side: since you can’t tell people to hand over cash, you might get something really neat that you didn’t expect. We did register, but some of the people who ignored it bought such NEAT stuff. This made such an impression on my husband that he still prefers we buy things that are NOT on registries when we attend weddings. Sure we got some clunkers, and stuff that’s nice but we’ll never use. But a few gems were among the lot, and we continue to be touched that someone was so thoughtful/had such good taste.

Another firm vote in the “hopelessly tacky” camp, with the rider that it IS appropriate and sensible to let your close friends and relatives quietly spread the word about your needs.

Most of the posters above nailed it dead-on: even assuming gifts may be forthcoming is crass. Your wedding is a joyous event you’re asking friends and family to witness. Gifts–possible or varying in nature–are unmentionable.

Openly, that is. Most people DO want to give gifts as part of the celebration and they’d rather their gifts be useful and valued. Big caveat here: one facet of wedding gifts is the impulse to commemorate the event in a lasting way. Hence housewares, etc. usually come from pals at showers and wedding gifts tend more toward engraved silver butter dishes, etc. At least in theory, but heck…

By all means recruit your nearest and dearest to discreetly pass the word that featherlou and her intended, being honest young people, are facing relocation issues after their happy union. Put bluntly, if folks give you cash be prepared to gush, GUSH, gratitude–and keep following up. In notes, Christmas cards, etc. you can’t say, “We think of you every time we make toast!”, etc. If the discreet word-of-mouth campaign works you’ll need to keep saying, “We featherlous are delighted in our new home and our new life together and we’ll never forget that your generosity helped make them possible…” etc. etc.

In other words, I’d guess people would be more inclined to gift you in your preferred form if you don’t show the slightest awareness or interest in gifts at all.

Good GAD, that was wordy! Not to mention distressingly pragmatic.


I just got married this past December so the wedding stuff is fresh in my mind. We registered but we didn’t mention it in our invitations nor did we tell people where we registered until they asked.


Boy, do you live in the wrong country. I had a modest-sized Israeli wedding - only about 450 guests - and we raked in over 20 grand.

I swear to God, counting the money the morning after was almost as fun as the party itself.:smiley:

another vote for incredibly tacky.

((but will point out that if you really hate the stuff and you really want the money, you can just return it/sell it off as soon as is humanly possible - so long as the gift givers never find out. The second that anyone catches a whiff of that plan, it becomes equally tasteless.))

Voting for tacky myself.
What you need to do is not even mention it as an option…okay I am stretching the boundries here and I haven’t read all the posts…but what I am getting at is that you leave a relative on the invites as the contact for the RSVP. Inevitably (sp) people will ask, where are you registered, what can I give to the bride and groom.

< God this is so sneaky in it’s own right >

The relative, unknown to him or her says, “they aren’t receiving gifts but I understand they are trying to buy a house.”

So if you clue in said relative and leave out the fact you have a little scheme going on, you get cash towards your new home and the relative is not the pawn, even if he/she is.

Oh I am bad, really bad…and I don’t believe in the above.

But really, you could simply state that all you desire is the presence of your family and friends. And really that is all it’s about, is your family and friends gathering with you to enjoy your most fabulous day rather than the toasters, blenders and savings bonds. I have never felt that a wedding should be about the gifts…in fact if I ever get married there will be no gifts allowed, it will be a big party in a field where kids can play and adults can do as they please…no formal crap for me. Shorts, tank tops and fun with beer and BBQ…but that’s just me. Not only have I felt this way for ages but in my older years it makes complete sense.

Quick, short ceremony and let the fun begin. I would rather my guests enjoy themselves than feel they need to get gifts and that they need to dress up. I want them playing volleyball, throwing horse shoes, dancing to some good tunes while enjoying a good BBQ…oh yes we can do that anytime but I am not traditional and screw the gifts…if they want to give a gift then I will find a charity I believe in. That’s pretty damn reasonable eh? If you have all you need and want at the moment then why not ask that if people wish to spend money that they donate to a certain charity of your choice?

BTW, I forgot add, even if you want to buy a house now, there are so many out there that can’t hardly afford clothes from Wal*Mart or even that roof over their heads. There are many that can’t afford to have a car that runs right to get the kids to and from school or mom to and from work. There are many that struggle every day.

You may wish to have that downpayment on a home but if your wedding is able to bring one family a years worth of health insurance, or some clothing or some food, isn’t that worth you just waiting a while till you can afford it on your own? If your guests felt that not only did they enjoy the love and you two coming together as one that they might feel that somehow, someway they helped contribute to a family that really needs it?

That’s all I am getting at. If you have most everything you want, why not work within your love to help a few families or a family get the things they need?

I won’t necessarily vote for tacky, but then again I’m Swedish, and I guess we do things a bit differently around here. Knowing that a gift is wanted and will be appreciated is much more valuable to me than giving something I want to give.

My advice to you would be to tell your parents. Hopefully, they will not be offended. If people turn to them and ask what you might appreciate and your parents tell them that you’d really like help towards a down payment for a house, well, they can’t really find that tacky. I mean, if you don’t want the answer, don’t ask the question.

I actually heard of a couple where the guests had all contributed to a new car for the happy couple. Without any hints. One of their best friends knew how badly they needed a new car and rallied up all the guest to help. That was cool. IMHO, anyway.

I think that’s totally cool. I think it’s great when the couple receives gifts they truly need/want. But in regards to etiquette it doesn’t really pose the same problem, IMHO, if it was the best friend and not the couple who was pushing for the new car. (Unless the couple put him/her up to it, but I didn’t get that impression from your post.)

Well, not to beat a dead horse, here… but, tacky, tacky, TACKY. And, if others have done this and not been called on it, I assure you that that is not because it wasn’t tacky, but because their friends and family were more polite than they were. Top of the tacky pole is unsolicited criticism someone else’s manners. However, you asked. :wink:

It is NOT tacky, however, to let your close friends and family spread the word about where you are registered, or whether or not you’d really like cash. I’m not even opposed to registering with a home mortgage company or travel agency, as long as the rules of gift registration are followed. The rules are that no registration cards are enclosed in invitations, and registration information is only given out when it is asked for. If your wedding is small or informal maybe you could skip the written responses and give a phone number for RSVPs. The person RSVPing is very likely to ask the phone contact person about your gift preferences. Other people will ask your parents or bridesmaid[s] where you are registered. Some might ask you directly. Your friends and family members can be blunt, “You know, they really don’t need many of the standard-type wedding things, but they are saving to buy a house. {pause to let this sink in} Would you like their registration information?” If you are asked directly, you should be a little more subtle – not naming a preference: “Oh, well… {bashful pause} I hope no one feels they have to get us anything. {another pause to allow the person to ask if you are registered} Oh, yes, we are. I can e-mail you the information if you want it.”

I also really recommend that you register for some “stuff” as well as at a mortgage place. Some people just don’t like to give money as gifts.

Finally, after the wedding, you can return things, if you want to. Or sell them on Ebay.

Damn. We should’ve gotten married in Israel. And invited the Swedes.

You’ll probably have to resign yourself to getting a lot of useless stuff you have no need for. My wife and I had twice as much household stuff as we needed, and after the wedding we had 2 1/2 times as much as we needed. Some people immediately assume that newlyweds are going to need kitchen stuff, no matter how long they’ve been in the real world.

Then again, some of the stuff you arent expecting can be really freakin’ cool. Like the hand-hammered wok my best friend’s wife picked up for us, or the onion-blossom kit and deep fryer we got…

Have you had the shower yet? Sometimes those gifts can be the most surprising and touching. All of my female friends got together and, along with the usual presents, they pitched in and got my wife a shawl in my clan’s tartan to match my kilt. I wore my kilt in the wedding, and she put the shawl on for the reception over her dress. Half the people there thought it was some Scottish wedding custom we had dug up somewhere. Nope, just thoughtful friends.

When my sister got married, a lot of friends’ “gifts” were contributions to the wedding. In other words, one friend got a license and performed the ceremony, other friends with good voices sang them down the aisle, one who liked cooking took care of the food, etc. I always thought that was great, because it meant they didn’t have to hire pros to do it, it made the ceremony more personal, they weren’t stuck with useless junk, and the friends got to show off. I don’t know if this would apply to your case, but I thought I’d mention it.

Oh, yes. The immediate money worries and logistics that seemed so overwhelming then are long forgotten but I still treasure several things thoughtful friends gave: a marble mortar and pestle, a very old sepia-tone family photograph and a handmade, tuned wind chime.

I still remember–gratefully–the intensely practical help some friends gave. It isn’t less just because the real, immediate crunch is long past. Heck, my mom gave a Maytag washer and dryer and an Electrolux vacuum cleaner. I’m still using all three, years later–and better believe they made daily life easier and more pleasant throughout. But the very personal gifts have their own special place.

No huge insights, here; just very grateful–and more so as time passes–that people cared enough in the first place.

No schmaltz; just truth.


My husband and I had lived together for a year and half before we got married, so we were set up in our house, but couldn’t afford a honeymoon. What we did was ask our family and close friends to spread the word that we needed money more than gifts. We got some gifts, but we also made enough in money to pay for our honeymoon. It was very nice.

Since registering is something all couples are encouraged to do these days, but are not permitted to discuss, maybe when asked your friends can spread the word that you’re registered at First National Bank or Century 21.

Personally, I don’t see the harm in spreading the word in a subtle manner among your close friends that you already have two households of “stuff” to fit into one home so that weighty (space usurping) gifts are not necessary–punctuated by the fact that you’re not registered somewhere.

Many people I know think its actually easier if you know (from a registry) what a couple needs/wants versus trying to guess. OTOH, I always thought (even when I was getting married) that it seemed odd (almost selfish) to register and tacky to be the guest checking a list of what the bride and groom wanted for a gift as opposed to actually putting some thought into it and giving a gift from your heart – even if that gift was “here’s $50 towards a good honeymoon or to get something you’d like.”

But then again, I seldom wrote Santa as a child either…

Congrats on the impending wedded bliss!