Ask the Bride -- Gift Etiquette and Children at Weddings

Question: A dear friend's daughter is to be married. It is her first marriage. I have chosen not to attend because the young lady and her fiance have requested money to help with the remodeling of their "new" home. I find this is in bad taste and I cannot honestly be party to such greediness.

I was also invited to her bridal shower in which the request for "NO" gifts was noted but a "money tree" would be par for the course.

Is it me or is this the way young never before married, yuppie type couples wed? I am old fashioned, I guess, but I am a lover of tradition.

The attitude that their wedding gift from invited guests must be to pay for remodeling of their homes is vulgar. Whatever happened to the old days of paying for these things yourselves and learning from the struggle, working together, being poor, being in love? I have been married for 20 years and we were glad to receive the 5 coffee pots and 3 toasters along with other wonderful gifts (you just return the excess and get whatever else you need).

My husband is going to attend the wedding just on general principles but I am not. Oh, they didn't want children at the wedding either, which is fine. I have an 8 year old. To me a wedding is a celebration, starting a new life together, bringing together family and friends old and young. But that didn't bother me as much as the sheer greed for the bank. I love certain traditions and weddings are my favorite traditions, especially now that I am getting older and will soon have weddings to plan for my two daughters and son.

Answer: I think a lot of people agree with your point that many young people are rejecting tradition in favor of more selfish ideas. As twentysomethings ourselves, my fiance and I have chosen to respect tradition and etiquette as we plan our wedding, and there are many ways that today's couples can combine new ideas with the old ways.

Every etiquette expert would have told this couple that they were crazy for setting rules for gift-giving. If this bride had asked me, I would have suggested that they complete a gift registry at Home Depot, rather than request money. This way they could still allow the guests to choose their own gifts and the couple would end up with items that they really need. And yes, Home Depot and other hardware stores do offer registries, and these are becoming very popular. They could have also had the registry ready before the bridal shower as well as the money tree. But no one should ever state "money only."

Since this is your friend's daughter, I would not want to see you jeopardize your relationship with your friend over the daughter's lack of sense. I think you should go to the wedding, but don't give them a gift! It can be that simple. I think that would make more of a statement to the bride and groom than if you didn't attend. Sometimes the couple is so overwhelmed on their wedding day that they don't realize who all attended (or didn't attend) until they review the gift lists or guest book.

As for children at weddings, children are often excluded because many couples are on limited budgets or space and can only afford to feed or have room for a certain number of people. Even though one family may only have 1 child, some have 5 or 6, which can easily add 25% or more to the total number of guests. Also, many people are concerned that sometimes uncontrolled children could be disruptive of the ceremony or scripted parts of the reception. In these cases, only the children of the couple or close family members, or that are involved in the wedding, are invited. Other times only children above a certain age are allowed. Nowadays, it's up to the bride and groom to make their choice in this area.

Like I said, go and enjoy the wedding, at least for the sake of your friendship. I think you'll enjoy it anyways. And you can revel in the thought that they won't have the excitement of seeing a table overflowing with gifts or of opening tons of beautiful packages.