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Invited to a wedding. What's a good gift?
Old 11-21-2011, 12:28 AM   #1
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Invited to a wedding. What's a good gift?

That time of year is coming again. Spouse and I went to a wave of weddings in our 20s and 30s as our peer group paired off, but it's been at least 15 years since we were last invited to one.

Now we have two coming up in the next six months.

First up is the "youngest" son (in his 30s) of our neighbors (the good friend who died suddenly a couple weeks ago). We know the family pretty well from being invited to all their holiday gatherings over the last decade and from helping out with lots of home-improvement projects. The son's a good guy and we've been surfing together occasionally, but I think the main reason we're invited to the wedding is because we're friends of his parents.

He and his fiancée are both nurses. She just resigned from Army active duty and she's in the Reserves, both still at Tripler. They're having a church wedding followed by a Waikiki hotel reception. I'm blissfully ignorant of wedding expenses but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are (or someone else is) spending $100 per person. We've just learned that the married couple is going to move back in with his (newly widowed) mother for a year or two while Mom decides her next step. We think cash is the best fit for this occasion. Is there an Emily Post or Miss Manners guideline on an appropriate cash gift?

Next up is my nephew the Army Ranger in April. He and his fiancée are both officers. He'll be separating from the Army shortly after the wedding and going back to school for his MBA on his GI Bill. (He enlisted in 1999 and was commissioned in 2007.) I think she has three-plus years left on her service obligation and has already announced that she's not stayin' a minute longer than she has to. We handed him a generous cash gift upon his graduation from West Point nearly five years ago, and we're probably going to do the same thing for them at the wedding. They've already set up housekeeping, too, so they probably don't need any more household goods to ship from one end of the country to the other.

I'm pretty sure that I can get away with aloha casual at the first wedding, but the second one will be in Austin in April. (Gee, how hot could that be?) It'll be the first time in literally a decade that I've worn a coat & tie. I think it'll also be the first time in my 19-year-old daughter's life that she's seen me wear a coat & tie...
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Old 11-21-2011, 12:54 AM   #2
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If you want to get them something they'd really like, then find out via the grapevine whether or not they are registered and where - - at a store, or on Amazon, or ?. Then get them something on their list.

As for cash, Emily Post would probably say to give an amount that you feel comfortable with and can afford, but which also expresses your joy at this happy occasion. In other words, it varies, just as the amount spent on other gifts varies.
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:27 AM   #3
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I was invited to 2 weddings this year. Each time, the invitation contained a small card indicating where the couple was registered. If that's the case, buy early or you will be left with only expensive choices.

As for cash, I think it is the best gift of all. The amount really depends on your means and how close you are to the newlyweds. I have heard of some "rule" (whatever) that says you should give enough to at least cover your plate. So if your neighbor's son spends about $100 per person, a gift of $200 would be appropriate if both you and Mrs. Nords attend the reception.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:26 AM   #4
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This is of course highly dependent on family traditions/expectations etc. but for the two that we've been to recently we picked something out of the registry.

What I also did was take a camera and try to get photos that the pro photographer couldn't get because they're not everywhere at once. After throwing out the obvious bloopers I copied the rest to a DVD and sent that to the bride/groom/respective parents. All expressed appreciation for that. I think they liked the DVD more than whatever it was we bought them.
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:54 AM   #5
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There isn't really a rule for how much. But you should give what you are comfortable giving. If you want a thank you note, please give it to them ahead of the wedding in an envelope--the bride will thank you!
Cash given to my DH on our wedding day was absorbed into his pockets and spent on our honeymoon. In the south, generally speaking, cash is not so obvious of a gift, simply because we often register for china or silver. But in other parts of the country, mostly cash is given.
I'm guessing for the attire for the Austin wedding, much will depend on the time of day and the formality of the invitation. And you can always ask the family if you need more specifics.
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:42 AM   #6
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Off topic: Do people still wear a coat & tie to weddings if they're not in the party? Especially in Austin in April? Ask your nephew.
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Old 11-21-2011, 12:30 PM   #7
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I can't see a bride and groom being choosy or offended by a decent sized cash gift or gift card to somewhere they shop or dine or travel to/on. Hey if you want to look like you are giving them a store bought gift, stick the $$ or gift card inside a big box and wrap that puppy up. In the small number of weddings I have been to, the bride and groom didn't open presents in front of the whole wedding assembly, so it isn't like you bring shame to yourself if you give them a fat envelope stuffed with cash.

And in particular for these two couples that are going to be mobile immediately following the wedding, I wouldn't encumber them with a third, fourth or fifth toaster or whatever.
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Old 11-21-2011, 12:58 PM   #8
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Prepaid divorce?
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:00 PM   #9
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In my community a male guest to a wedding typically wears a blue blazer, shirt & tie with appropriate trousers. There are seersucker blazers for summer.

Do not bring a gift, particularly cash, to the wedding. Mail it in advance. I wouldn't choose a gift card because it limits their options.
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:02 PM   #10
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Cash makes an excellent gift. Someone in or close to the wedding party can be contacted for guidance on the gift - perhaps the maid of honor or the bride's mother.
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:05 PM   #11
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Coat and tie still seem de rigueur for male wedding guests (unless instructed otherwise of course).
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by FD View Post
Coat and tie still seem de rigueur for male wedding guests (unless instructed otherwise of course).
Which is French for "uncomfortable"...
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:23 PM   #13
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Our last two weddings were coat and tie. However, for the one in Austin, you could probably just wear........never mind, it would just be deleted.
Both were registered at several places and included a list of the individual items they wanted. If you want to give cash, perhaps you could get an idea of how much by looking at the cost of the items they are registered for.

Oh, don't forget to include a 1099...
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:18 PM   #14
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Both of these couples are online but neither one is registered.

The first one had been registered, but when they decided to move back in with Mom they canceled the registration. I think they're expecting everyone to give cash, so maybe I should also gift-wrap a six-pack of surf wax. It'll keep us in mind every time they use one!

The second couple is (*gasp*) actually planning to pay for their own wedding. I can tell from their blog that they're also pushing hard to cut expenses and build their net worth. So I'm pretty sure that between wedding expenses & MBA classes they'll be happy with the cash.

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Prepaid divorce?
Let's not go there. This will be #4 for the first groom and (depending on how you count annulments) #2 for the second groom.

The good news is that in my inexperienced assessment, both women are the best they're ever going to see for the rest of their lives, and both guys know it. Both women appear to have thoroughly hogtied domesticated matured their future spouses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
What I also did was take a camera and try to get photos that the pro photographer couldn't get because they're not everywhere at once. After throwing out the obvious bloopers I copied the rest to a DVD and sent that to the bride/groom/respective parents. All expressed appreciation for that. I think they liked the DVD more than whatever it was we bought them.
I really like that idea! I'm no pro but I'm happy to sit around snapping blackmail candids for them to enjoy later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eridanus View Post
Off topic: Do people still wear a coat & tie to weddings if they're not in the party? Especially in Austin in April? Ask your nephew.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FD View Post
Coat and tie still seem de rigueur for male wedding guests (unless instructed otherwise of course).
Quote:
Originally Posted by JPatrick View Post
Our last two weddings were coat and tie. However, for the one in Austin, you could probably just wear........never mind, it would just be deleted.
Good point. Coming from Hawaii, I'm probably the only guy who could get away with sniveling asking about the dress code. I'd literally have to dust off the blazer before I put it on... guess I should store it in a trash bag.

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Oh, don't forget to include a 1099...
Have the rules changed on that, or is it still "only in excess of $600"?

But hey, it's a gift, and we're not going to be pushing the $13K limits...
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Have the rules changed on that, or is it still "only in excess of $600"?

But hey, it's a gift, and we're not going to be pushing the $13K limits...
Don't sweat the 1099, just slip the cash under the table.
I guess to be safe you could wear some of those groucho glasses, and watch out for guys like Walt who are taking pictures left and right.
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Old 11-21-2011, 03:58 PM   #16
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Ugh, tie (i.e. torture device) and coat (another uncomfortable piece of 20th Century apparel). Just wear a nice shirt w/ no tie. After they open your nice ca$h gift they could care less. Plus you would be very comfortable during the wedding!
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:00 PM   #17
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Let's not go there. This will be #4 for the first groom and (depending on how you count annulments) #2 for the second groom.

The good news is that in my inexperienced assessment, both women are the best they're ever going to see for the rest of their lives, and both guys know it. Both women appear to have thoroughly hogtied domesticated matured their future spouses.
Sigh - the military has done that to those who have been deploying a lot - I dated an Army guy who was looking for number 3....and I spoke with many young Marines and Soldiers who were in their twenties and on 2 or 3....brutal.


And yet - I am like that - second husband - don't plan on another one - too old ;-)
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:23 PM   #18
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I'm known around this area as the towel set giver. Graduation gifts, birthdays, and yes......wedding gifts. When the clerk at Dillards sees me coming she simply asks "what kind of towel set are you looking for today?"
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:33 PM   #19
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I think cash is great, especially in these circumstances.

Found a blog with Emily Post's office "no rule" and a lot of comments in the $100-$200 range which seems about right to me.

Cash as a wedding gift – how much do you give? - Savings Source - Money-saving advice - timesunion.com - Albany NY

I do think including the surf wax is a nice touch!
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:54 PM   #20
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My quick question to the bride and groom to be is "Is there a wedding registry?" such as Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc. If so, you're in luck. You pick out a gift that they selected.
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