Etiquette Question

Relatives you are not close to invite you to a wedding. You are not going because it’s far away and during the semester. The invitation includes a statement that they prefer money gifts (“honeymoon fund.”)

How much should one give?

19 thoughts on “Etiquette Question

  1. About as much as you’d spend on a gift from a hypothetical registry and nothing that it would make you lose sleep given your financial situation and familial closeness. I was raised to think it’s tacky to directly ask for money for yourself in such a situation. It’s almost as tacky as money dances.
    $50-$100 sounds good to me, since apparently if you’re invited to weddings you send some kind of gift even if you do not attend and they don’t have a registry. YMMV.


    1. Oh, you want tacky? The money solicitation came in the form of a homemade poem which is so atrocious that my literary critic’s eyes are hurting right now. A poem! I’d give more never to have seen the poem in my life.


      1. It was in the style of “We are going to have a great reception and we know it’s not very cool to ask for money in this situation but we’d like for you to make an exception.”


        1. “we’d like for you to make an exception”

          You don’t really know us,
          But we think that you owe us,
          So cough up now, dear deadbeat
          Or your name with us is deadmeat.
          Show us the green
          for our honeymoon dream!

          How much will you donate for me to stop and never mention this again?


        2. Sorry. That would instantly cause me to revise the gift downward out of pouty irritation, if anything. Keep in mind with monetary gifts people don’t generally remember to send thanks for the money telling donors what they did with it.

          “No boxed gifts” without a registry is enough of a hint to send money. Actually, people will send money anyways. Grrr.


  2. There are better ways to do things like that. There are several websites that do digital registries that allow you to purchase “gifts” for the couple, but the website just sends them a lump of cash that they can use for whatever. I went to a wedding a few years back where the registry was set up with gifts for their honeymoon; you could buy them a night at the resort, romantic dinners, a snorkeling expedition, coffee and cake at a famous cafe, a historic tour of the town near the resort, a boat excursion to an uninhabited island, etc. etc. We bought them snorkeling lessons; I have no idea if they actually went snorkeling on their honeymoon, but it was a nice fiction that we had bought that for them as a gift.


  3. I wouldn’t give more than $50. You can do it via PayPal at no cost if they’re within the country and you click on “Friends and Family” option when sending. Or get them a Visa gift card.

    I personally wouldn’t expect people who aren’t coming to get me anything.


  4. $50 maximum and I would be highly tempted to donate to the healthcare fund of that 91-year-old Mexican man beaten up in L.A., in their name, and let them know.

    Actually my daughter did this, to elope. They actually had an elopement fund. They said look: a wedding with guests will not be fun because [multiple guest list problems], therefore, we would like to just go somewhere we would enjoy and have a simple, private wedding ceremony; contributions to that will enable us to have a nicer trip … and it was tacky, but then again it was very convenient, and they had a lovely time.

    There is some sort of class issue involved, too. One is supposed to not need money, or if one does, one is supposed to not have any kind of wedding with guests. Or if one does, one is supposed to want/need physical gifts. All of this does not speak to the reality of everyone: what if you do need to have a ceremony, because you have family/friends who want to go, and you can do that, and you know they are going to give you things, but you cannot use the kinds of things that people give for weddings? I’ve seen 2 strategies: (really not needing money) — say no presents or if you absolutely must donate somewhere in our name, or, say without shame or coercion, that they are saving for a down payment / baby / and the best gift would be such a contribution.

    I find that asking guests to pay for the wedding or the honeymoon is what is the most tacky (despite my daughter having done it). Personally, I would not have a wedding or honeymoon I could not pay for, and I don’t normally think I should pay for other peoples’. It is bad enough to have to travel to weddings, buy bridesmaid dresses and so on. To be paying for the wedding and honeymoon in addition is ridiculous. There are certain situations in which everyone contributing to an elopement — like my daughter’s — where it can be OK, but it really depends on the group; I wouldn’t solicit money for something like that from people who weren’t part of the inner circle.


    1. It’s doubly bad for those who are going to the wedding. It’s far and it’s very expensive to go. It’s fine for the bride’s family who are all close but the groom’s family will be traveling from very far away.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Send a card – only a card, no money – with your own poem, and mention specifically that you consider your poem to be your gift.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We can help you write a poem for the card. Here’s my humble contribution.

        Dearly beloved who are barely my kin,
        congrats on your wedding, I hope you have fun.
        I was gonna send money but reflected within,
        and both money and fucks I can give you are none.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. If you feel like being mean, send them your personal check for funds in a U.S. bank for a small amount (say $15). When they cash the check over in Europe, their bank will probably charge them a bigger fee to convert the currency than the check is worth.

    Twenty years ago I sold a short story to a Scottish print magazine, and the magazine editor sent me a check for ten pounds (worth about $12 at the time). My local bank told me I’d have to pay a $15 fee to get the 12 bucks!


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