Monday, February 10, 2014

Wedding Gift Is Over Student's Budget; Should Attendance Be Out Of The Question, Too?

Dear Tazi:

I am in my final year of college. Since my program is a five year program, most of my friends graduated last year and are now getting married. I have received several invites to weddings and showers and would like to attend them all, but financially I cannot afford it!

As soon as I receive the invitation to a wedding shower I print out the gift registry to see what kind of things the bride and groom have registered for and what is still available for purchase. I realize my friends are just starting out and need EVERYTHING, but do they really need the most expensive of everything? It seems there is nothing on the registry that costs less than $100, unless you want to buy a partial gift (one plate; $20; a set of pillowcases, $50; two bath towels, $50).

I am doing my best to pay my own way through school on scholarship, a part-time job during the school year and working 60 hours a week during the summer, and student loans that I am paying on while in school (to keep the interest on them from accruing). I am seriously strapped for cash and cannot afford to buy the things my friends want - like Pfaltzgraff dinnerware in service for eight ($200, inc. tax) or a Ralph Lauren bath towel st ($140, on sale!). I don't own stuff this nice! I can't afford it, so why should I buy it for someone else?

Thus far I have turned down every invitation that has come in, without explanation and have not sent a gift, either. Then one of my sorority sisters asked me why I didn't want to come to her wedding, and told me she was really hurt that I didn't even offer regrets with my response card - I just checked no and popped it in the mail and never said anything more.

Spring is coming so the invites for summer weddings will again be arriving in the mail and I don't know what to do or say at this point. I thought people would get the message when word got around I hadn't attended any of last season's weddings, but I am still getting Save the Date cards for Memorial Day weekend (the weekend after my graduation) and other holiday weekends. What do you suggest?

In A Tight Spot

Dear In A Tight Spot:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a "partial" gift of a single place setting or a few towels or even a set of pillowcases! I am not sure where you got the idea that you needed to buy the entire set of what has been requested, but you are under no obligation to do so; nor are you under any obligation to buy off registry. A gift registry is a list of suggestions to make gift giving easy and return-free; however, if you see something that you think the bride and groom want or need there is no reason why you should not buy it. In fact, etiquette states that it is rude for someone to even mention the existence of a gift registry, as that smacks of self-centeredness and makes it look like the bride and groom are fishing for gifts.

What's all this? We specified Benjamins ONLY!
In some cultures, it is appropriate to turn down a wedding invitation if you cannot afford to give a gift that is equal to or greater than your plate charge; in America this demand is still considered to be the height of ingratitude so don't let your short finances stop you from attending a wedding you really want to attend. It may surprise you to hear this, but your friends understand that you are a poor college student, yet they invited you to their wedding anyway; this must mean that they want you there to celebrate their special day, regardless of your ability to pony up the cash! By refusing to attend - and refusing to give an explanation - you are hurting their feelings.

If you cannot afford to give what you call a "partial gift" you can give a gift card. Many stores now have the option of putting money on a "value added card", which is a single gift card onto which multiple guests can add a gift. Before the registry is closed out the bride and groom are presented with the "added value card" to purchase any items they registered for but did not receive. It is a way for many people to pool together to buy a large gift, even if they do not know each other! You can present the bride and groom with a card and a heartfelt message expressing your happiness for them along with the gift card or an added message that you put their gift on the value added card and hope they have fun deciding on what to get.

As much as it hurts that you can't afford nice stuff, remember that your day will come and you will be the one registering for - and receiving - fine china and Egyptian cotton towels.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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