Thursday, September 4, 2008

Showers: When it rains it pours

Okay...I had to share this column I found on shower gift registries!

I recently had a similar situation and wondered how I should handle it. Glad to see that I am not alone.

Dear Prudence,I was recently invited to a friend's wedding. Enclosed with the invitation was a slip of paper listing the stores where the couple is registered along with the message: "Please include a gift receipt." Am I right to find this message a bit rude? I feel like my friend is announcing, "We have picked out exactly what we want you to buy but still think you'll screw up the job, so we want to make sure it's returnable." Or maybe they already know that they don't want the crap they registered for and are just looking for a way to get cash? Frankly, I'd rather skip the middle man (and the shipping fees) if they don't trust me enough to buy what they have already indicated they want. Am I out of line? (And isn't there a better way for them to ask for cash if that's what they need most?)
—Presumptively Incompetent Giver

Dear Presumptively,I always enjoy hearing about the ever-escalating ways engaged couples seek to chisel the goods out of their friends and loved ones. The innovation here is that the couple clearly doesn't want the stuff they've designated, but they feel they're too classy to come right out and say, "Just give us cash."

Here's a tip for engaged couples: The invitation should announce the where and when of the wedding and say nothing about the "What I want."

For that, you wait until your guests start inquiring, and then, as Peggy Post (heir to Emily's mantle) advises, you graciously say anything they feel like getting you would be delightful and that you've also registered at Crate and Barrel if they want some guidance. If what you want is cash, Ms. Post advises saying you're saving for a big purchase and a check would be most appreciated. (Miss Manners demurs that there is no polite way to say, "Show me the money.") What couples like your friends don't realize is that people who care about them actually enjoy the act of getting them something meaningful to mark the occasion of their starting their lives together. But these couples are killing that pleasure by acting as if they are collection agencies calling in their friends' debts. So, sure, go ahead and write this couple a check—maybe they'll even surprise you and send a thank-you note.
Thank goodness!! The voice of reason...and confirmation from The Emily Post Institute to boot! ( )

I have long been a fan of Emily Post and own a rather large volume of her book of etiquette. Because of this, various friends and family members ofetn call me and ask "hey...what does Emily say on this" Like the Bible...Emily's advice is timeless.

Over the years I have been shocked by the greediness of soon-to-wed couples. Some have multiple showers, teas, parties, order to glean as many gifts as possible, and believe it is okay to do so. I've even seen young brides register for some really off-the-wall items such as a flat-screen tv and his & hers IPod Nanos! Where does this sense of entitlement come from?!

Being raised by a proper Southern woman, I was taught that for special occasions ( weddings, births, graduations, birthdays, etc..) you invite others to share your joy. If they CHOOSE to also bring you a gift, that was entirely up to them. It should NOT be expected.

A tea or a shower is to give a bride going from her parents home to her marital home the basics to set up a household (okay...that was back in the day, but you see my point.) A gift registry was used for "suggestion." While it does take the hassle out of "what do I get them?" gifts for the happy couple should not be limited to that list, and they should not expect to get everything they ask for either. A flat-screen and an IPod Nano are not necessary to set up household.

Just because someone ( or several someones) want to throw you a shower or tea, does not mean you can't say NO and suggest they pool their resources. I would think that the potential hostesses would be relieved! And you do not invite someone to a party that would not be invited to the wedding. That is saying "You are good enough to give us stuff, but not good enough to watch us get married."

My mother had recently called me (to consult "Emily") regarding a situation in our extended family where the mother of the bride wanted each sister to throw a specific shower and was calling about to set her plan in motion. I was mortified! It is one thing for the young bride (or her friends) to not know any better, but this mother is "of sufficient age" to have taken etiquette and elocution in school. I wonder if her desire for her daughter to have a good, strong marriage is as strong as her desire for her to get presents.

The only saving grace to this scenaio is that the sisters have divided the master guest list between them so that everyone gets invited to one event rather than everyone getting invited to all (another common faux pas).

My daughter is now of the age that she and her beau are discussing the possibility of marriage. Having been out on her own for over a year now, she pretty much has everything she needs for a household (thus nullifying the need for a shower, in the traditonal sense) however, because of the generous nature of her friends, I am certain that they will be amply fetted.

I plan to caution her to think carefully about her choices and her guests.

Perhaps my first gift to her will be a new copy of Emily Post!

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