Adapted from a recent online discussion.
'Encouragement' gifts for bride are over the top, so just decline
Bridesmaid-zilla?: As a bridesmaid in my future sister-in-law's wedding, I just got an e-mail from the maid of honor assigning me certain dates on which to send the bride gifts (trinkets? a bottle of wine? who knows?) to "encourage her." I'm buying a dress, dying shoes to match, traveling for the wedding and no doubt shelling out for a bachelorette party. Am I being a Grinch, or is this over the top?
Also — the whole "encouragement" thing rubs me the wrong way. You're marrying the love of your life, then having a party with everyone you love; this sounds like a good deal to me; "encouragement" implies that this is a struggle to be gotten through. She's getting married, not running a marathon or going through chemo.
(I have in fact done both those things — the chemo while planning my own wedding. And I didn't insist on six months of weekly gifts from my bridesmaids. Sheesh.)
So, two questions I guess: (1) Am I overreacting, or is this actually reasonable?; And, (2) If it is over the top, is there any way I can say so without totally offending everyone, or do I just suck it up?
Carolyn: (1) There is nothing reasonable about this request.
(2) Please respond to the maid of honor that "encouragement" implies that the bride is going through something terrible, and that if this is so, you'd like to help in some more significant way. (The dyed-to-match shoes suggest an emerging tragedy, but that's between us.)
If she responds in earnest that all is well and the gifts are just about showing the bride love, then please say clearly that you're going to decline — no reflection on the bride, you just have other priorities for your discretionary spending.
By the way — I can't tell if you're genuinely puzzled or just baiting me to say horrible things about wedding excess, but even knowing it might be the latter, it seems I can't help myself.
How to track down what to spend on a 'nice' wedding
Washington: My daughter is recently engaged … a happy occasion! Now how do we decide how much we are willing to spend on the wedding? We have adequate means but are generally frugal. So many weddings seem to be such huge extravaganzas.
We don't know how to start thinking about what might be reasonable or necessary for a "nice" wedding.
Carolyn: I suggest sitting down and putting together a rough idea of what you'd consider a "nice" wedding — location, number of guests, heavy hors d'oeuvres/buffet/sit-down meal, DJ vs. live music, etc. Then, make a few calls and/or go online and gather some information on pricing.
If you just wing it, then the location you regard as simple and nice might seem like a few thousand dollars in your mind, but be $15,000 in reality — and so you'll believe you're giving your daughter a fair budget for "nice" when really it will buy her 20 guests in a public park.
Not that there's anything wrong with 20 guests in a public park — just that what you think you're giving should match what you really are giving.