Open Thread

by epi on June 6, 2013

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Lee June 6, 2013 at 2:31 am

I understand that it is impolite to state “no gifts” in any part of the wedding invitation, and that that rudely assumes people would be obligated to give a gift at all. We are getting married in the US, but we live overseas. Any gifts received would have to be shipped home by us. I know I could register on Amazon (which does global delivery) but I don’t want to obligate my guests to pay for overseas delivery fees, or pay currency conversion charges by registering at a site based in our home country. Is there any way to politely make people understand that if they are kind enough to bring gifts, they need to be small and light? Isn’t it more rude to let it play out and know we’ll end up returning gifts, than to just let people know the situation in the first place? (This isn’t a ‘how to request money’ question – we don’t need that either.) Thanks for any response!

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Alicia June 6, 2013 at 7:27 am

Your guests should know you live abroad. Then your family and wedding party can spread the word of the international hassles. Last summer a friend of mine was worried about the same thing. They live abroad in an African nation but got married here in the USA. With only one exception people were conscious of logistics and gave them things related to their real lifestyle. A bunch of us friends for example all got together and bought the town they are working as missionaries for the next five years in a water well installed in their village and then just wrote cards full of “well wishes”
For another friend a few years ago who they live in France and again the friends got together and gave them one recipe book of all of our best receipes and in between the leaves of teh recipe book were euros and instructions to fit out their kitchen in France using the Euros so about 15 friends all told the gift was a small booklet size

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Lee June 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

Those are amazing gift ideas. Thanks for sharing! Extremely thoughtful.

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Vanna Keiler June 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Hi Lee. I believe the official etiquette position on receiving gifts that has circulated on this website is to not anticipate getting them, and just to accept them with thanks if/when they arrive. I would guess that probably all of your guests will not come empty-handed to your wedding event, except those in your inner circle who are aware of your traveling needs. It may be tacky to have others spread the word about your gift preference beyond this inner circle. I say err on the side of caution and just let things happen as they will – it sometimes takes the sails out of the gift-giving experience when someone dictates what they want/don’t want to receive. If some of the gifts you receive are not practical to pack when you leave, you are free to do with them as you please including donating them or giving them away, use them while you are still in the country or when you return for another home visit.

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Winifred Rosenburg June 6, 2013 at 8:55 am

I agree with Alicia and would like to add that it is actually rude to bring a gift (one that’s larger than a card) to the wedding because of all the logistical problems of what to do with the gift. Gifts should be mailed to the couple before the wedding or very shortly after. I can’t guarantee all your guests will know this rule or will have the common sense of realizing that your going to have problems dealing with gifts, but hopefully most of your guests will realize.

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Just Laura June 6, 2013 at 11:14 am

I completely agree about logistics; however, in the South, a table is set up for gifts, and guests are commonly seen lugging them in to the reception. It’s an expected sight – almost like an admission ticket to the venue. Usually (at least in OK, TX and FL), the mother of the bride handles getting the gifts to a safe location, such as the couple’s home or a hotel room.

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Lee June 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

Thanks for your advice! Weddings where I am from are similar to the situation you describe in the South, and that is my concern. People want to make a pretty gift table for the bride and groom, and the gifts are huge!

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Cyra June 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I think the gift table is a pretty common sight at most weddings–you always see them here in the Northwest, too–but I still think they’re tacky and an unnecessary hassle! Even before I knew it was more polite to mail the couple’s gift I thought they were a weird way of showing off (both for the couple and for the person who brought the largest gift), and at my own wedding I had them tucked away in a corner where they weren’t obvious.

But in answer to Lee’s question, I think you’re just going to have to deal with whatever happens. Hopefully your guests will be thoughtful and mail your gift, give something small, or ask you for suggestions (in which case you can reply, “You’re so sweet for wanting to give a gift! We will be returning to ____ after the wedding, so mailing something small would really be best. Would you like our address?”)

You probably will get some gifts at your wedding, and you’ll just have to either ship them yourself, return them, or donate them.

Best wishes!

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Elizabeth June 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Gift tables are common in the “north” as well. If the wedding is local, and most of the guests live in the area, it is an added unnecessary expense to ship a gift when it can easily be brought to the venue. Usually a couple of people from the wedding party help pack them up at the end of the evening, it’s not a big deal.

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Winifred Rosenburg June 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I should have also mentioned that it is also acceptable to personally bring gifts to the home of the bride, groom, or parents of the bride or groom in situations where it is feasible to avoid shipping costs.

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becky June 10, 2013 at 5:54 pm

The gift table at the reception is not unique to the south. There are guests in all parts of the country that don’t know to send gifts to the bride’s home (or other appropriate home). Most weddings I’ve attended throughout the south have very few gifts brought to the reception. Gift tables have just been the response to accommodating those who just don’t know better and as we say in the south….”bless their hearts”.

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