Wedding Wire: Reddit bridal hoax brings up a slew of ethical and etiquette questions
Recently, a bride’s social media post went viral on the website Reddit. In the post, the bride informed her friends and guests that she and her husband were no longer getting married on the date they told everyone. They had decided to postpone the wedding and use money that was apparently raised by friends and family to help with the wedding for a luxurious honeymoon. She continued by saying they would let everyone know when the next wedding date would be and everyone was still able to donate to their now honeymoon fund, as well as shared their Amazon list for gifts.
Throughout the day the story was published, BuzzfedNews found out the story was fabricated to help the launch of a website that is now no longer live. However, this got us to thinking – what if money was donated to your wedding and you decided to cancel or postpone it? Does the money go back to those who gifted it to you?
Though it is not Wednesday, with the popularity of the story, we wanted to chat with our editor and resident Wediquette Wednesday guru Melanie Warner Spencer and get her take on the matter.
Melanie, is it proper etiquette to crowdsource your wedding or ask for money from others outside of your parents or immediate family?
Traditionally, couples would want to wait for family and friends to offer assistance. The exception to the rule is an initial meeting with the couple’s parents to discuss the wedding budget and to ask for clarification on how much, if any, they are able to contribute. It should never be assumed that parents will foot any portion of the bill, but since typically (and historically), parents have had certain financial roles in their children’s weddings (for example the bride’s pays for the wedding and reception and the groom’s pays for the rehearsal and flowers), a precedent has been set and it wouldn’t be unexpected to ask. Conventional wisdom is that the wedding, reception and honeymoon should reflect the budget of the couple and, or their families, so if funds are tight, the couple either saves up and gets married when they reach the goal they have the wedding or the festivities are scaled back as much as needed — even a city hall wedding can be chic! It’s possible that when the couple announces their engagement, friends and family will offer gifts of money to chip in, but again, soliciting funds is generally frowned upon.
If you were gifted money with the idea that it was for your wedding or a specific part of your wedding, do you have to use the money for that specific thing? Or is the money yours to do with as you wish because it was a “gift?”
Yes, when funds are given for a specific purpose, it should always be used for that reason. For example, when my husband and I got married, a loving relative who wasn’t able to hire a photographer for own her wedding many years earlier gifted us a tidy budget for a photographer. She also loves the cake cutting part of a wedding ceremony, so she offered additional funds for the cake. In both instances, it would have been inappropriate for us to use money given for those line items for any other reason. That said, if funds are being diverted to another service or activity because perhaps the cake fell under budget, go to the person who funded that item and inform them of the change. At this point, ask them if it’s OK for you to use it for another activity or service (be specific), so they are in the loop, because you wouldn’t want them to hear it from someone else that you didn’t use the money the way they had intended. Even better, tell them the item or service they paid for fell under budget and offer to give them the surplus. This will show them that you respect them and their gift and will exhibit a high level of integrity. My guess is, they will tell you to keep it and use it as you wish or put it toward some other element of the wedding in which they want to take part.
If you are no longer getting married, should the couple give the money back to whoever gifted said money?
Yes. Money, gifts and services given to the couple for the wedding should always be returned if the wedding is called off. There are no exceptions to this rule. If the other party instructs you to keep it, go for it, but don’t assume. Always plan to return it to the giver.
Whether real or fake, money and finances is always a huge part of the wedding planning process. What do you think about this story – real or fake? Let us know in the comments below.