October 25, 2010
Wedding Gift Disaster
About 2 years ago, I attended a college roommate’s wedding (I call her a roommate because we weren’t really FRIENDS per se, just friendly in that we lived together for a bit.).
Okay, the wedding was in Milwaukee, WI, so I had to fly out for it and stay in a hotel. I had decided beforehand that my wedding gift to her and her husband would be a check. Well, as it turned out, I had forgotten to write the check beforehand and had forgotten to bring my checkbook to WI, meaning I attended the wedding gift-less. I felt really bad about it but fully intended to put it in the mail the minute I got home.
A week or so later I get this e-mail from her, saying that she was hurt I didn’t get her anything and that she believed I just mooched my way into a free party to see and hang out with friends. Well, I let my worst get the best of me, because I immediately snapped, responding to her e-mail saying that the check was already in the mail and that if she weren’t such a greedy person, she could’ve stomached waiting a week. I also mentioned that the travels and expenses I’d undergone to attend her wedding proved I cared more about seeing her get married than just attending a party.
Eeek! I wouldn’t be so worried about this whole ordeal (as it WAS 2 years ago) if I didn’t have to see her in a couple months at another friend’s wedding. Avoiding is out of the question. How can I dispel my icky feelings toward her so as to suck it up for the occasion? How shall I behave and/or get along with her? I wanna be the bigger person, but I also know my limits–I’m fully incapable of feigning friendliness or pretending. Help!
This whole exchange seems a bit bogus to me. First of all, there is the base fact that you don’t actually care too much about each other. Second, there is the oddity of the gift-giving etiquette in the scenario. It is common law that wedding gifts can be given up to a year after the wedding. Did you see the Larry David episode? One year, baby.
So, that this chick called you a week later upset about the gift was not only poor form, but odd and greedy in and of itself. Wedding gifts are not obligatory, they are gifts, like tips, like a choice to extend yourself on behalf of their union. And yes, like tipping, while not obligatory, they are expected. But no bride has the right to call and wonder, a week post-nuptuals, where her wedding prizes are.
Also, a word on weddings. Every wedding varies in price, but the couple makes a choice when planning that giant party. It is a choice to dish out a lot of dough on behalf of a union. Yes, the wedding is a giant party with lots of amenities, but we aren’t all shuffling across the country just for the fun. We arrive at these enormous soirees to celebrate love, to show that we are witness to a vow so that maybe, down the road, should the couple need help they know these witnesses are there to assist in upholding their promises.
It is not all pop-culture money-grubbing crap. A wedding is an event with a purpose and it sounds like your friend forgot. We all go slightly broke in our late twenties, thanks to bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings with hotel stays and airfare, and those suits and dresses to fit the part. But we do it because we love our friends and have faith in their love for one another.
My honest opinion: you should not have attended the wedding of someone you don’t care about. Weddings are costly and emotional and in order not to resent anyone for the expenditures, your really have to want to be there. It sounds like you both resented the financial investment you made on one-another.
In regards to the post-wedding exchange: you were both out of line, her most of all, and I would say the best remedy is kindness. Be the bigger woman and approach her before the wedding, call or email, and say how glad you were to be there to witness her marriage, and that you hope your gift bought them something beautiful for their new lives. Talk it out by surpassing (not bypassing) the issue, so that hopefully you can smile and hug her when you see her again. Remember, somewhere inside of you you do care about this woman.
It is a powerful drug, wishing well on your enemies. None of our hearts are nearly as hard as they seem in these crude moments. This girl, my guess, was having some after-wedding traumas of her own. Just love her, and hope she can do the same. Worst comes to worst, you remembered your softer side.
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