I was recently surfing my way through eBay when I stumbled upon an auction with the title,
"Wedding Donations -- Please Help." The auction was listed under "Antiques: Other." It piqued my curiosity, and at first I thought, What a clever title. It made me look! But to my surprise, it wasn't an auction at all. It was just a solicitation for donations. The entire description read: "Please help me with me wedding." (Note: The second "me" is surely meant to be "my", and a little proofreading might have helped further the enterprising bride's goal. But then again... maybe not.)
In spite of there being nothing to get in return, the opening bid price was 99 cents. But the shipping for the nonexistent auction item was Free!
As someone who loves weddings, I admit to a pang of empathy for a bride using whatever creative means of fund-raising that she can think of in order to realize the wedding of her dreams. But just how far should a bride go? Is asking for donations from strangers, especially under the guise of a legitimate auction, acceptable behavior?
We've all heard about the bride-to-be that insisted that all of her bridesmaids lose ten pounds before the wedding, or about the one who sent out "thank you" notes, only to complain in those notes that the bride and groom were left in debt for the "fabulous reception" because guests had not opened their wallets wide enough during gift-giving. (Wow to that one. Just...wow.)
But the solicitation from strangers seems to be even more distasteful than the acts perpetrated by the ungrateful newlywed or by the "looks-are-all-that-matter-when-you-marry" bride-to-be. It feels unseemly and presumptuous for any bride to assume that the world somehow owes her a wedding. What's next? Brides on street corners with raggedy, cardboard signs? Please help. I'm hungry for a big, fat wedding.
Whatever happened to financing a wedding with old-fashioned effort instead of with handouts? Isn't it more honorable to hold bake sales, sell unwanted goods at flea markets, or even get a second job, from which all earned funds are squirreled away for the wedding? I think the answer is "absolutely". There are better ways to fund a wedding than to run a pseudo auction asking for donations. Still, if an auction holds appeal then why not have a real auction and sell something tangible? The description could include a sincere explanation: "I am selling these handcrafted bookmarks (pencils, gumballs, bracelets or whatever) to help finance my wedding."
That type of auction would work for me. In return for whatever hard-earned dollars I spent, I would get a bona fide item that I could use or give away at will. And I would have the pleasure of knowing that my purchase helped a bride in need. Honestly, I wouldn't feel the least bit upset about that approach, as long as the seller wasn't creating a nonexistent "wedding" as a sales pitch. The bride had better be prepared to back up the real wedding aspect of any wedding-inspired auction with some good, old-fashioned documentation. Otherwise, someone is bound to discover the truth and expose the fake bride's lying hide all over the Internet. It's never a wise idea to scam buyers with the struggling-bride or struggling-groom approach if you aren't actually a struggling bride or a struggling groom. One can run, but it's not easy to hide from something like that, especially in today's ever-shrinking, electronic world.
But why, in the first place, is it that brides and grooms wait until someone has popped the question before even thinking about the wedding? Everyone, male or female, would benefit from a bridal-funds hope chest. Saving over the years for something as monumental as a wedding makes things even more perfect when that glorious proposal does happen. And as every kid with a fat piggy bank can attest, even little amounts add up over time. Besides, a wedding is not much of a surprise. Even though marriages have declined over the last fifty years, the majority of Americans still make their way to the altar at one time or another in their lives. It's not like it really sneaks up out of nowhere. Planning ahead is definitely an option.
Unfortunately, we as a society are not so much prolific planners as we are impulsive "enjoyers". We seem to want what we want when we want it, planning not required. So it's likely that a long-term, wedding nest egg simply never gets nurtured, at least until the engagement ring is sprung from the box. But even without a wedding-funds security blanket, there simply has to be a better way to underwrite the nuptials than by resorting to blatant solicitation. On the other hand, at 99 cents a pop, I guess it could have worked for the bride who sold nothing and asked only for donations instead. One would need about 30,000 people to pony up that "opening bid" amount in order to amass the average cost of a modern-day wedding. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. When this "Antiques: Other", item-less auction came to a close, there were zero bids, even at the opening steal of 99 cents.