As I’ve mentioned before, I have some friends that are getting married soon. In about a month I’ll be heading to the wasteland of Saskatchewan to be one of the groomsmen. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Saskatchewan? My iPhone doesn’t even work there.
The bride to be recently had her bridal shower. I don’t know the details about how many people showed up, I did see the pile of gifts in their living room. That pile was massive! If I were to guess, she received around 100 gifts for her bridal shower, including some from people who she only passingly knew. This kind of blew my mind, but I was reassured this was common for bridal showers from small towns, so I went with it.
As far as I’m concerned, the wedding has almost become secondary to the amount of stuff the couple gets as a byproduct of the event. My friends have high ticket requests on their registry- things like a new barbeque and a new TV, items that stretch into the high hundreds or thousands of dollars. For me, I feel that I have no right to ask my friends and relatives to buy these items for me. I don’t have any right to ask them to buy anything for me.
I can’t really get mad at them about this. They’re not bad people, nor are they greedy bastards. They’re simply doing what society deems acceptable. Everybody else does it, why shouldn’t they?
I haven’t seen any statistics, (and if you have any, please pass them along) but I’d argue that the vast majority of couples don’t pay for their wedding. They may pay a portion, but with increasing amounts of student loan and consumer debt on everyone’s personal balance sheet, parents are expected to foot the bill. I see something wrong with that as well. Parents are expected to foot the bill and buy a really nice present? Am I the only one who expects to pay for my own wedding?
The argument about wedding presents is that couples need stuff to start their new lives together. That argument is hogwash. The vast majority of couples wait until at least their mid 20s to get married, with more and more waiting until their late 20s or early 30s. These people should already have most of the stuff they need to live comfortable lives. They just want better stuff. If you want better stuff, work for it! Or here’s an idea- do without.
As a society, I feel we’re really obsessed with stuff. Besides a nice new TV being better to watch, it also serves as a status symbol. It’s the same thing with nice furniture, a big house or a luxurious car. As personal finance geeks, we realize that these items take us further from where we want to be. So we either shun them completely or buy them in moderation. While we’d all agree with this, we’re still in the minority when it comes to this stuff. That’s why this phenomenon is hardly going away soon.
One last point: if you’re a soon to be married person or a single, maybe at your wedding you’d like to politely request people don’t bring any gifts. Or you could ask for donations toward a charity that you feel strongly about. Something positive could come from your dream day. Or you could get a new blender that you’ll use twice.