Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wedding Gifts

Recently we received an invitation to an Indian wedding.  At the bottom of the invitation the following words were printed - “We request no boxed gifts, please”.
Excuse me?  What exactly does that mean?  I’ll give my humble opinion regarding that in just a moment.
Before we go into that topic let’s talk about wedding gifts in general. It used to be that invitations were just that – invitations. Gifts were never mentioned on the invitation.  That’s the way it should be, right?   Well, let’s think about that and some of its disadvantages. 
If you don’t mention anything about gifts then newly married couples will end up with 14 popcorn makers, 6 electric rice cookers, and 4 toasters.  Oh by the way, none of those items are needed because the couple already has TWO of each item – thanks to the groom and bride having it from when they were single.
But I digress.
People of Indian origin who are getting married in the USA have started following the American custom of having a “Wedding Registry”.  The couple who are getting married will register with a department store or two and they will list all of the items they need after they get married.  The invitation will tell the guests where the couple has been registered.  The guests can then go to the store or website and buy the items they would like to give as a “gift” to the newly married couple.  The stores will deliver the gifts to the newly married couple on behalf of the guests.  After the wedding ceremony and honeymoon are over, the couple will write individual “thank you” notes to all of the guests.
There are advantages to having a Wedding Registry.  First, guests don’t have to worry about what to buy.  Everyone already knows what the couple wants by viewing the list of items at the store or online.  Also, you can select the items according to your budget.  Furthermore you don’t have to carry the gift with you to the wedding or do the dreaded gift-wrapping that takes you 15 minutes to complete but the bride and groom will rip it open in 4 seconds and won’t even remember what the wrapping paper looks like.
About 15 years ago, Wedding Registry was considered rude.  It also took the fun and surprise out of gift giving.  Being registered was like begging for a gift and saying “Hey Mr. and Mrs. Guest, buy me this and buy me that.” Tacky!  Nowadays though, it is widely accepted by everyone including the Indian social circles in the USA.
So in my life I have received wedding invitations from Indians and non-Indians. Regarding gifts, I have seen the following (or some variation of it) on the invite:
Invitations that do not mention a gift at all.
Invitations that said: “No gifts, please.”
Invitations requesting that guests please donate to a particular charity as opposed to buying a gift for the event.
Invitations that said: “Your presence is the only present we desire.”
Now let’s get back to what I originally asked, because this is the first time I received an invitation that said “No Boxed Gifts, Please.”  Again, what exactly does that mean? 
Come on now, we all know what it means. It means “Bring us a gift but make sure that it’s a CASH gift.  You see only CASH is accepted at this wedding.  Keep your stupid boxes at home.”
I may be old fashioned on this one but in my opinion, asking for a gift is not really decent, even if everyone else is doing it.  Add to that, you are now outright asking for CASH?  I didn’t know that I was attending the wedding of 2 beggars. Why don’t you just sit outside the wedding hall and panhandle all the people walking by for some spare change.  Why don’t you just say that there is a minimum admission charge of $25 but no maximum.  It’s tacky, lacks decency, and certainly classless.
You know I may have given a CASH gift or I may have not.  It was a choice that I had to make but the invite isn’t giving me a choice.  Now don’t be afraid to disagree with me.   If you think I’m wrong or I’m taking it the wrong way, go ahead and say something now.  Because I’m a “literal meaning” kind of guy.
The words said “No Boxed Gifts, Please” right?  So I’m thinking about buying a gift and instead of putting it in a beautiful gift box, I’ll just give it in a plastic bag to the newly married couple.  Or maybe I just have too much class for that.


  1. I think it should have read, 'We don't recommend our guests to give any gifts, but if you insist, please give cash so that we can make the best possible use of it'.

    As you yourself mentioned, what's the point of getting 14 popcorn makers, 6 electric rice cookers and 4 toasters as gifts??

    Destination Infinity

  2. Thanks for your comments Rajesh. I still think putting on the invitation "Give Me Cash" is not in good taste.

  3. I think its not decent to tell what to give and what not..instead we can say no gifts please..that is if we are bothered about multiple extra things..specifying anything is not in good taste..

    This is one of those things in life that we have to manage whether we get useless things or is either no gifts or the choice lies with the giver not taker..

  4. Thanks for your comments Renu. Long time No see. I agree with you It is the choice of the gift giver and not the taker.

    Renu, please visit here as often as you can. I value your comments.

  5. I am not in favor of such post scripts which dictate what gifts should be given.

    we face similar situations for children's birthday parties SG. So, instead of triplicating or quadruplating their toys, color sets etc. I prefer giving cash or gift coupons in packets. This could come in handy.

    Wedding registry idea is novel.

  6. Thanks for your comments Asha. I agree with you. Cash gift is fine but it has to be decided by the giver. Wedding Registry is very common in USA now. We think it is very convenient.

  7. You forgot about clocks and Ganeshas!

    I heard that the shops tick the things which have already been bought for the couple. This is a great method. Hope we follow this here, in India too! I have got too many porcelain gods/dolls which came during our gruhapravesh!

    Donating to a charity is best, I think!

    'pan handle'...I read this expression for the first time! Interesting!

    'No gift' is best. We go to their functions and they come to ours, done!

  8. Thanks for your comments Sandhya.

    OK Sandhya! I will add clocks and Ganeshas to the list of popcorn makers and toasters. I agree with you. “No Gifts, please” is the best. But wedding registry is acceptable. Yes, they do mark an item as “bought” when someone else already bought it from the registry list.

    Panhandler is an American slang for those who ask for spontaneous charity from strangers in the street. That is also called “beggar” in many countries.

  9. I am with No Gifts,please.
    However,if one is accepting a gift...lets be practicle.It has to be in Cash for the couple to decide for themselves as to what would they might like to buy.

  10. Thanks for your comments Mr. Chowla. I agree with you that cash gift is more convenient for the couple. But the deciding person should be the gift giver, I think.

  11. @SG I am all for this registry business. Indian weddings here now say "No gifts please" because of the reasons you have mentioned ( I am still trying to deal with some of the "hot cases" and wall clocks I received at my wedding 17 years ago!!) In India people also have this awful habit of recycling not just the wedding gifts but also the wrapping paper!!! ( my aunt would win a prize for this there was a contest around it). Cash gifts generally make sense because the couple would need money to set up a new home etc. But yes, to openly ask for it seems rude. I recently received a lovely wedding invite where the couple had indicated the name of a charity to which guests could donate instead of giving them gifts. Ofcourse the wording made it clear that it was optional.

  12. I agree with what you are trying to say. The person who is giving the gift must decide whether or not he wants to gift something. If at all he is planning to gift, he should be able to decide what gift or what sort of gift he is trying to give. Printing that on the invitation card looks really cheap. I personally hate cash gifts.

  13. Thanks for your comments Meera. Agree with you 100%.

  14. Thanks for your comments Avada Kedavara. Agree with you. The person who is giving the gift has to decide what sort of gift to give.

  15. I think weddings are fun and I’ve done it all.
    Let’s see if I can remember the order.

    1 was Wedding Registry
    2 was Bring a gift and surprise me (and boy was I surprised)
    3 was Don’t bring a gift because your gifts suck
    4 was Donate to my favorite charity
    5 was Donate to my favorite charity…which happens to be MY BANK ACCOUNT
    6 was Wedding Registry but only Rodeo Drive stores…I will allow Tiffany’s and Rolex (if you check with me in advance)
    7 was Please follow the CREAM theory – CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME
    8 was No Boxed Gifts…but heavy envelopes are more than acceptable.
    9 was Honey if you don’t bring a nice gift then I’ll marry you next and clean your clock in the divorce.

    Zsa Zsa Gabor

  16. Thanks for your comments Zsa Zsa. I know you have been married 9 times. It takes guts. I like your sense of humor a lot. I still remember one of your comment. "I am a marvelous housekeeper: Every time I leave a man I keep his house."

  17. You said it SG. True, instead of boxes cash is acceptable for them.People carry big- big boxes which may have a very small Chinese item and that too very cheap.ThatAmerican system or no gift system will be better.Another problem is the recipient has to build a new closet to store all those items,same thing in more numbers. Relevant topic.

  18. Hello SG,
    No boxes means a cover will do..:).You are right.
    Why do people expect gifts at all? I wonder..

  19. I just hae this whole idea of "asked" gifts. The best things about gifts were that they were surprise, thoughtful and showed how much a person really cared! Now its all business. The beauty of gifting, the fun of it is lost somewhere in this 'practicality'.
    I mean I do understand the logic of registry that there would not be double of same items and other "advantages" but this "no boxed gifting" is too much.
    Life was so better with limited friends, limited thoughtful gifts and lots of love and care!!!

  20. I liked the concept of Wedding Registry. It is certainly better than getting tacky wall clocks and flower vases and ugly melamine dinner sets.
    But yes, 'No boxed gifts' sounds too crass. The choice of what to give certainly has to be with the guest.
    When in doubt, I prefer to give cash or gift vouchers!