Q: We had planned on sending thank you postcards after our wedding – they’re easy to make online, cheaper than traditional cards and we can use a photo from our wedding or honeymoon. But when my mother saw me ordering them online, she was appalled and told me that they were a horrible faux pas. Who’s right?
I enjoy receiving those post cards; I’ve seen some that are especially wonderful, such as a couple on the beach with “Thank You!” written in the sand surrounded by a heart. While these are lovely, they do not and cannot replace a traditional thank you card. However, they do serve as a perfect stopgap between your wedding day and the day when you finally get your thank you notes in the mail.
Q: I recently was invited to a wedding that included a registry link on the invitation to a website dedicated to helping them solicit funds to redo their home. To me this seems inappropriate. Do I have to give to that site or do I have another option?
The thing about wedding registries that most people seem to forget—or never knew in the first place—is that they are only suggestions. If you’re invited to a wedding you should send or take a gift, but that present can be anything you choose. Registries, whether in store or online, are useful tools because they allow the couple to let their guests know what they would prefer to use in their home as well as cutting down considerably on duplicate gifts.
With online registries, especially those you can create yourself, come unlimited ways to ask for things. I have seen requests for funds to go toward honeymoons, hiring a surrogate and yes, home renovations. While I personally consider these tacky—they’re akin to asking your grandmother to just give you money for your birthday with the implication that she couldn’t possibly pick out something that you would enjoy—the use of them is growing exponentially. As people wait longer to get married, often they already have joined their lives—and their possessions—for months if not years before their wedding. That means that many traditional gifts are unnecessary and often would duplicate items they already own.
If you find yourself in this position, my recommendation is to give the couple a gift that’s in the same genre as their request, while keeping closer to a traditional present. Since you mentioned that they would like to renovate their home, perhaps a very nice set of tools along with a gift card to a home renovation chain? Or maybe a gift certificate for a whole house cleaning from a reputable cleaning service for after the renovation is complete? Or even a set of gift cards to local restaurants for use while their kitchen is unusable?
Though you might hear some uncharitable feedback for this (unfortunately many couples see their registry as a checklist to be fulfilled, instead of being grateful for the gifts that their guests have so generously given), remember that what you’re giving is a gift and that weddings are incredibly stressful times, and let the comment go in one ear and out the other.
Q: I received an invitation to my cousin’s wedding, but she didn’t include “+1” on the invitation. She knows that I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over six months, so I figure I can just bring him with me, but my mom says no. What do you think?
Creating a guest list might be the most stressful part of planning a wedding. Think of writing down a list of everyone you know and everyone your fiancé knows, then add everyone your parents know and his parents know, then add those extra family members, friends, co-workers and the vendors with whom you’re creating your big day. If you could stop there, you would already have the fear that you’d forgotten someone important. But even the most well-funded couples and their families cannot afford to include everyone. That means taking that huge list and whittling it down.
The best way I’ve ever heard this process described is to think of your guest list like an onion. Each layer is a layer of friendships or family; immediate family in the center, then closest friends, then extended family, other friends, co-workers, and on and on. If you decide to include, or conversely cut, one person from a layer, then you must invite or discard all the people in that layer.
All this to say that if your cousin knows of your relationship and didn’t include your boyfriend on your invitation, then she probably has a very good reason for doing so. If you feel like you cannot attend this wedding without your boyfriend, you can call your cousin and ask her to include him with your invitation. But please think very carefully before you do so; she’s most likely very stressed and asking her to add one more person could become an awkward conversation quickly. My advice is to attend your cousin’s wedding with another family member who’s company you enjoy and who has already received an invitation, and have a great time.