S.E. asks from Onalaska, WI on March 22, 2011
Tacky or Oversensitive (2 Scenarios)?
My friend has an obnoxious sister in law (NOT my sister in law - we were just talking yesterday about the registry since my friend and all her other SILs were commenting on it)... I am not related to this one at all....just funny it came up on the same day as my registry/wedding quandry so thought I would put both out here.
History - The sister in law is extremely spoiled by mom/dad and in laws. Married one year, husband works 20 hours a week as a healthy but lazy video game playing 22 year old, MIL bought them a house and is paying for remodeling, bought a Humvee about a month after wedding, three vacations this year for them, and they go over to MIL's house whenever they are low on gas because MIL fills the tank for them, and they tromp home once in a while and her parents slip them a few hundred every time they show up. Though they will only visit her parents when it is something related to themselves - no functions for other family or friends just for fun stuff, or when they are getting something.
So...back to my question...SIL is preganant and of course a princess. Husband wouldn't go to help register for baby items so mom drove 4 hours just to trek to Babies r' Us because Wal-Mart and Target are too blue collar for them. On the top of the registry they state in the "If you are buying us any bigger items we want neutral colors. Prefereably no clothes. No Disney Themed or Winnie The Pooh items." We, my friend and I, both thought it was a bit obnoxious (though she is quite the spoiled princess so that may be part of why we were so critical). Is this tacky to put at the top of a Babies R' Us registry? Isn't it just as easy to take anything anyone is gracious enough to give you, smile and thank them, and if you don't want the Mickey Mouse shirt...return it, regift it, or donate it??? Also what bigger items is she assuming people are going to buy - furniture and stuff? The very few items she has picked out are pretty feminine. Do you put on your registry what you don't want??? Is this the new thing?
Next scenario - Last night when I got home my husband and I received an invite to my husbands aunt's wedding celebration (2nd marriage for her, and second or third for him). History - she is about 60, no kids, well off, and now retiring to move with new husband in another state (they both own their own houses with mortgages and everything paid off). He is also wealthy, and I believe has no kids, or if so....they are much older in their 30s/40s. She travels internationally about 4-6 times a year, and has the freedom to do and see whatever she wants; so decided to retire when she moved to marry (in fact they had a destination wedding in Belize on an island - her previous was in Banff, Canada). They are having a party out of state to celebrate, and we are invited. I am first worried about finances because gas is going to run us about $200-$300. Hotel she blocked is $100-120 a night for two nights, and totally unkid friendly with a broken pool...though, I found that the whole weekend is sort of oriented to not bring the kids (which I didn't know when I first posted this). We have to take a vacation day to make it to Friday night's festivities which I guess she really wants everyone to attend. There is a set menu at a brew pub for Friday's meal...at $20 per person according to the invite that we pay for (husband and two kids with drinks will run about $100 for us). There is a reception Saturday night...but that is just hors de ouevers and drinks with a band, so will have to feed everyone before we attend. Then there are the meals for the rest of the weekend we have to cover on our own. So we are looking at about $700+ to attend.
The invite says "No gifts please. Donate to the "wedding kitty" at the reception if you like." Not wanting ot be the cheap relative I am assuming we should put $75-$100 in as a donation. I told hubby we can't afford to attend the shabang right now, and that two people who own their own houses free and clear, are retiring early because they are financially set, and can manage to travel and whatnot should not be even mentioning a "wedding kitty" since people probably would have given them money anyway. I think it is tacky to have added any reference to a slush fund. I guess I would feel it a better idea to just say no gifts please, or donate to ______ society or our favorite charity, or even we are trying to save up for ________. Is it tacky to put this on an invite from a couple who is older and very set financially? Just curious, as I have already decided we have more sagacious ways to spend $800, so not attending the wedding...
Is it tacky for people to add these little "nuggets" when they are registering or inviting to a celebration, does it make a difference if the person has the resources and doesn't need this or that?
:) I agree..it isn't worth getting in a tizzy about...I think it is cheesy and funny...but just wondered if I was in the minority on thinking we all need to be more thankful for the people in our lives than what they can do for us. I am the first one on board for a generous gift if someone needs it, or I just want to do it! My friend and I have been joking about garage saling for some serious Winnie The Pooh and Mickey stuff. In fact, best bet we could wrap some anonymous gifts to slip into the pile at the baby shower!
So What Happened?™
I should add that I spoke with MY SIL about the aunt/wedding deal. I actually adore his aunt (who I should add was already married in Belize last month, so this is just a get together in the US to celebrate...to make it "more affordable" for the rest of us). His aunt is one of those people who has never had kids, or anything but time and money for herself...so really expects everyone to put everything aside to honor her. She never quite gets it when people have other oblgations, and feels like she should be first priority, and we could all figure it out if we love her enough. She will be upset that some of us aren't showing up. The restaurants and hotel she chose are not kid friendly, and the whole cost thing escapes her because she thinks nothing of spending that kind of money for her special day. She doesn't expect people to get a gift, but she thinks that some people will anyway, so she put that one the invite card...I still think people would have donated if they wanted...now they feel like they have to by that comment on the invite. I still think it should never have been included because if I want to send money...I will either way. I don't think I need a prompt.
Additionally, an email was sent out from his aunt with ~
If any of you have ideas for decorating Saturday afternoon -- we're riding the
Caribbean theme. I've asked a steel drum band to play for the first part of the
reception. We can get into the space on Saturday p.m.
Also, the plan is for a "cake buffet." So if you could bring a cake, that would
be swell. Don't worry if it's a problem. I'm sure we'll have enough.
R.K. answers from Appleton on March 22, 2011
I think the wedding is more tacky. So many of us are struggling now, prices keep going up. This wedding couple are fortunate to have a comfortable life and don't need the kitty. I would send a card congratulating them and regrets you can't attend, no gift.
The baby shower? I can see the point about detailing what she wants so many Moms don't like the character stuff and it would save her the time taking stuff back. You could send a card with regets and a gift card, or a gift for an older child. So many people get newborn or 0-3 clothes for a shower and all of a sudden baby has outgrown everything. You could pick up a cute outfit in 3-6 or 6-9 month size or contribute to a large gift like a stroller, high chair, pack-n-play.
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S.S. answers from Chicago on March 22, 2011
the whole situation is tacky. If I was you I would buy them a gift card and send it in a card and say happy wedding sorry we couldn't attend. Finances just don't allow for it now. Hope you have a wonderful day.
L.B. answers from San Francisco on March 22, 2011
Wowsers you've got some tacky ones! Personally I think you should thank them both cause no matter what you are like, honey they just make you look more WONDERFUL! ; )
J.M. answers from Boston on March 22, 2011
Oh my goodness. Both horrifically tacky.
I wouldn't go to the wedding (a polite RSVP is fine).
I don't know what I'd do about SIL. It's important not to create family drama, so I'd probably bite my tongue and get on with life, but sheesh.
Mamas, can we all agree to teach our children better manners than this?!
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S.M. answers from Washington DC on March 22, 2011
Yes, tacky and tacky.
Theoretically, registering itself is kind of tacky because it si basically asking for gifts, although it is common practice these days. It is a commercial process invented by stores. Gifts are about giving and showing affections and brides and moms to be should be greatful for anything they receive. I would probably just get the new mom a useful gift NOT off of her registry out of spite. She should suck it up and be grateful.
Older adults with established homes should not ask for wedding gifts at all and I would NOT give them money. I might give them a card with a lovely inscription. Truth is they aren't saying "we don't need gifts" they are saying "we don't want you to pick any gifts for us, just give us your cash"!!!!
Also tacky is organizing a group event and not paying for it. If they are inviting you to attend, they should pay. What are people thinking these days??
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L.F. answers from Chicago on March 22, 2011
Of course both of those scenarios are tacky. Supposedly, etiquette about mentioning gift registries on invitations has changed because Babies R Us, Crate and Barrel, etc says it's okay. I get so annoyed when I am instructed what gift to buy. It's a gift, not an admission fee for the "happy celebration". I'm glad to hear that you're not attending the wedding. You can wish them well without going broke.
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M.B. answers from St. Louis on March 22, 2011
ALL very tacky! I am embarrassed for Princess. How ridiculous. Yes you are right, if she got something she didnt want she should take it back and shut her trap.
And if "Wedding Kitty" wants everyone to attend, she needs to flip the bill for your hotel. I wouldnt go.
Your inlaws are something else.
Wait, you have to pay for your meal too??? Good greif!!!
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S.T. answers from Washington DC on March 22, 2011
i dunno, i find myself in the minority here by quite a bit. the SIL is tacky in her life overall, i guess, but since she's been totally trained to be that way, it's not surprising. but putting her preference on the gift register? why not? i personally don't care for registries at all (also a minority position, but i love the weird surprises that result from unsolicited gifting) but if people have them and consult them, what's wrong with having some specifics in there?
her wording does leave something to be desired. but she's a spoiled princess. it's how they talk. they're not going to be sweetly delighted with anything they receive gift-wise, so this is one of the few cases i'd opt for a gift card and be done.
the destination wedding is clearly an occasion where they are taking it for granted that if you can afford to come you will and if you can't you will send a card with best wishes and a polite decline. as for the kitty, they're giving an option for those who feel they really must give something, not demanding a donation from their guests.
i really prefer occasions where gifts aren't an issue and aren't mentioned. oops. i'm a minority again!
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J.L. answers from Minneapolis on March 22, 2011
Neither invite was tacky. You'll find support in this position if you research the history of registries, and check ettiquette books. Many high end stores will also dictate what is or isn't tacky to request on a registry.
In the case of the baby registry, the point of a registry is to give the mother-to-be the opportunity to express her wish list and to let guests know what her baby bedroom and furniture themes will be and what types of toys and clothes she thinks she'll need.
Tacky would be for her to say something about getting Winnie-the-Pooh sweater or blanket or other items after receiving it as a purchased gift. Prior to the party is perfectly tactful, and in many ways a great favor to guests looking for gift ideas before they spend money on her and the baby. It also prevents people from constantly calling her to ask what she wants. Or worse, saves her the hassle of returning a double gift, or something can't use at all, back to a store later.
You as a guest are not obliged to buy her gift from the registry, nor are you obliged to spend a certain amount of money on gifts. If you want to buy her Winnie-the-Pooh even after she expressed that she doesn't want it (perhaps she's decorating the baby's room in a certain theme) that is your choice...but don't be surprised or disappointed if she's not happy since she let guests know at the appropriate time and place (the registry) that she doesn't want these items.
If you can't afford her tastes in gifts, it is perfectly appropriate to buy or make her something that fits your budget. It would be tacky for you to purposely buy or make something cheap out of spite. She may not be aware that is what you're doing when she gets a gift...but the karma'll be out there. You give a gift out of love and celebration for the new arrival. Lighten up and get into the spirit of the occassion...don't make it an opportunity to judge your SIL who you don't like.
As for the Aunt and her expensive wedding dinner... I agree, in this economy it is a real burden to put unrealistic expectations on less fortunate relatives, but this is unfortunately life.
Once again, their requests are not tacky in themselves. This sounds more like a "reception cocktail party" which means it would be very informal rather than a traditional wedding dinner. There is nothing wrong with that...especially since it is a second marriage scenario. They probably don't realize it creates a lot of stress and guilt for those who can not oblige without hardship. Or maybe they don't care, as they're not expecting huge turnout the way a young, 1st time couple would. Unfortunately, unlike the high buck baby registry, you only have two options in this situation; to accept or decline invitation, and risk the political or financial fallout that may follow.
In this case, I say the needs and well-being of your immediate family should come first. I would politely decline, and save your sanity and money. This doesn't sound like a family event on the order of a holiday dinner, or a long-standing family tradition. So, the political fallout of not attending probably isn't as great as if you were to miss Christmas or something like that.
If they press, be honest and say it is just a bad time for you right now to spend that kind of money.
As for the suggesting a donation to the "kitty fund"...pretty normal request at high buck affairs and parties, and not considered tacky. In fact, in some circles it has become "tacky" to accept gifts when you're at a certain stage in life where it would be considered "excessive" or "unnecessary" since you already have so much. To put things in perspective for you, in these cases, it is perfectly okay to not donate anything at all. It is not expected of you, and it is not tacky not to make a donation. They basically let the guests off the hook by giving them the option of making a donation or giving no gift at all.
Bottomline, don't take the invite personally. They're just covering their bases by inviting everyone, because it would be tacky for them not to do so. Hopefully they'll understand that not everyone will be able to afford the event, and will not take it personally if some decline.
Be sure if you don't attend, a wedding card and well wishes are still sent their way. That is always good protocol.
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P.F. answers from Dallas on March 22, 2011
Scenario 1 - WHOA! I think she is being tacky. I understand having nursery colors or themes and asking for items to help with that, but to not let people purchase clothing for the baby is just wrong. A lot of people enjoy getting to do this. If I were you I would either buy her diapers or just get her a gift card. However, I would be careful with the amount of the gift card because she just might be expecting more than you are willing to give her.
Scenario 2 - I have never heard of a wedding kitty. If I were you, I would just send a card and a check for whatever amount you see fit. I would not spend that kind of money if they are not close relatives.
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C.T. answers from Santa Fe on March 22, 2011
I think both of the things you are complaining about are not that big of a deal. Maybe it's a little tacky to tack on these "nuggets" of info when you register but I wouldn't really think twice about it. I wouldn't waste any time thinking about it, that's for sure. I think you are being a little sensitive to things (I sometimes am too sensitive to certain things too ;) ) . People are not perfect...we all have our little faults. Anyway, if the aunt's wedding just feels too pricey for you then you should skip it. If you think you can afford it and can think of it as a fun little vacation, then go and enjoy!
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