Each Wednesday, we tackle wedding etiquette. At times, it’s a reader question or one from a colleague, friend or family member and other times we’ll cover a popular issue. (Note: Questions may be edited for clarity and brevity.)
Question: We were invited to our friend’s daughter’s wedding and asked to contribute to the honeymoon or to the purchase of a future home. We did so, regardless of considering the request crass. They seem to have no idea what they are doing. They have rescheduled many times. They have called the whole thing off several times. We are not holding our breath thinking they will return gifts. Also, for future reference, it would be very helpful to know how to respond when someone asks for money and you prefer not to give money. Yes, I am old-fashioned but it is nice to choose a gift that someone hopefully will treasure and keep to remember a special occasion. Meanwhile, if a wedding is postponed due to COVID, then canceled for other reasons shouldn’t the couple refund monetary gifts?
Answer: The short answer here is yes, it is customary to return gifts (physical and monetary) when the wedding is cancelled (with no plans to reschedule). Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do at this point, other than hope for the best. You could of course ask the parents, since they are friends, about plans to return gifts, but that could create strife. We are all already going through so much due to the pandemic. Right now, it’s especially important for us to be as compassionate and understanding as possible with ourselves and others. The couple clearly had a hard time navigating the plans for their wedding and how to proceed responsibly and were unable to make it work, potentially at the expense of their relationship. As the saying goes, we just never know what someone else is going through at any given moment. While it looks like bad form from the outside looking in, it’s hard to say what really happened. If you can afford (financially and emotionally) to offer the couple grace in this situation and let go of any expectations, that’s probably the best way to proceed for the sake of your own peace of mind and your friendship with the daughter’s parents. For future reference, while many couples are opting for alternative registries these days for everything from honeymoon and house funds to favorite charities, you can certainly give a traditional gift instead, even if the couple requests funding of any of the aforementioned or straight cash gifts.
Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question? Respond in the comments or email Melanie@MyNewOrleans.com.