My Family Thinks We’re Being “Gift Grabby”

Ask APW: But etiquette be damned, we just want to celebrate with them

Q: After a year of horrible stress trying to figure out our wedding plans, we’ve finally settled on a private ceremony (just us and immediate family) followed by a small lunch reception and baseball game the next day with about thirty friends and family members. It’s the first time since getting engaged that we’re actually excited about getting married. But I already have family that would be invited to the reception saying our plans are “weird” and come across as “gift grabby,” even though no one ever even said anything about us expecting gifts.

This leaves me wondering, with this already being raised as an issue several months out, should we have a small registry for those who do want to bring gifts or forgo it completely? I don’t want to seem like we are expecting gifts, so as not to upset those who are already implying that’s the whole point of our celebration. At the same time, if we don’t have a registry (which is what I’ve seen recommended for couples who prefer cash wedding gifts), will it come across as “cash grabby” instead?

How do you get the message across that you want to celebrate with people without them thinking it’s about the gifts?

—Sarah

A:Dear Sarah,

Good old “gift grabby.” Maybe my least favorite wedding term? (Short of “br*dezilla.” Or maybe “STD.”)

The people who use a term like “gift grabby” are people who are probably going to think whatever you do is grabby. They’re usually people who see this whole wedding event thing as a transaction. That perspective is their problem, not yours. Yeah, yeah, there are things people can do that put an emphasis on gifts, or come across as greedy. But the very act of having a wedding itself isn’t a ploy for presents (what a bad idea if it was, if you know how much weddings can cost compared to toasters and blenders). Your wedding isn’t a gift grab, and it’s not an imposition. It’s a wedding.

Etiquette-wise, there are things you can do that place an unseemly amount of emphasis on gifts or make them into an expectation or obligation. Having a registry is not one of those things. Not having a registry is not one of those things. Registries can be a real help to your friends who are maybe not good at gifts or don’t know what you need, but they’re not at all necessary. People generally know how to buy and give gifts without ’em (just perhaps not the ones you want).

Speaking of etiquette, you’re not supposed to mention the registry on the invitation itself (which is why many folks just put it on a wedding website). But, if you wanted to, you could take it a step further and not mention it in writing anywhere at all. People who want to will ask, it’ll spread by word of mouth, and just the people who are looking for it will find it.

But, really. Don’t let these folks get to you. Do what you’d like with regard to the registry, and don’t give their opinions a second thought. The guy who thinks gifts are the only motivation for a happy party… may actually not know what a happy party is. Luckily, you have a chance to show him one.

If you would like to ask APW a question please don’t be shy! You can email: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are accepted, Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off! 

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