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Don't Be a Bad Bride: Wedding Gift Etiquette for Couples

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Imagine this: You're invited to the wedding of someone you consider a casual acquaintance. Someone you like but isn't an "I-would-do-anything-for-you" kind of friend. What do you get them as a wedding gift?

In the case of Toronto native Kathy Mason and her boyfriend the gift was a basket full of fancy condiments and specialty foods with a card signed, "Life is delicious - enjoy!"

2013-06-20-basket.jpg

*Image courtesy of Barry Gray / The Hamilton Spectator

Apparently it wasn't good enough. The gift and the intention behind it went unappreciated by the bride reported the Toronto Star in an article titled "Wedding Gift Spat Spirals Out Of Control After Bride Demands To See Receipt."

The article goes on to reveal the contents of a nasty text and email exchange between the bride and the couple. What started off with the bride asking for a receipt (which is incidentally is completely inappropriate) turned into an ugly scolding for the inconsiderate gift followed by a barrage of emails. From the bride's perspective they didn't spend enough.

Here's an exert of the original text message:

I'm not sure if it's the first wedding you have been to, but for your next wedding ... people give envelopes. I lost out on $200 covering you and your dates plate ... and got fluffy whip and sour patch kids in return. Just a heads-up for the future.

While cash would have probably been the go-to gift here, the bride's reaction was completely extreme and plain rude. And the rudeness continues though email:

Gift-givers: "... to ask for a receipt is unfathomable. In fact it was incredibly disrespectful. It was the rudest gesture I have encountered, or even heard of."

Newlyweds: "Weddings are to make money for your future... not to pay for peoples meals. Do more research. People haven't gave gifts since like 50 years ago! You ate steak, chicken, booze, and a beautiful venue."

Gift-givers: "It's obvious you have the etiquette of a twig, I couldn't care less of what you think about the gift you received, "normal" people would welcome anything given, you wanna have a party, you pay for it, DON'T expect me to."

Newlyweds: "You should have been cut from the list... I knew we were gunna get a bag of peanuts. I was right."

One thing this email exchange does highlight is the cultural differences when it comes to weddings and gifting. One bride was Italian and the other Croatian. It's customary in both cultures to give cash as a wedding gift. To be honest, this is the route I would have gone.

But using the culture differences as an excuse for blatant rudeness? I don't buy it and it isn't an excuse for rude and childish behavior. In fact, I suspect that this isn't the first time this particular bride has lashed out and it probably won't be the last.

The takeaway?

Since wedding season is in full swing, this is probably a good time to review a little wedding etiquette.

If you're a bride or groom, say thank you. No. Matter. What.

If you're a wedding guest and aren't quite sure what to gift, stick to the wedding registry or give cash. If you're opting for cash, a good rule of thumb is to give a gift that is the approximate value of your meal.

But at then end of the day, how much to give at a wedding is determined by several factors including what you can afford, how well you know the couple and weather or not it's a destination wedding.