Finances & Money Frugality

Too Cheap To Give a Wedding Gift?


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“Did you grab the card,” asked my wife as we got out of the car. The look on my face told her that I had not. I promised that we would give it to the wedding couple later, or even mail it. But I knew that card, and the money inside of it, was never going to get to their intended recipient. We were going to a wedding, and we weren’t bringing a gift.

Back up eight months to when my wife’s sister became engaged. My wife was asked to be in the wedding, with the date yet to be decided. A tentative date was set and reset several times.

As time marched forward, the husband and wife began looking for a home to purchase. Wouldn’t it be cool, they thought, to have the wedding reception at their new home before they moved in? It would be a really special way to share with all their guests where they were going to start their lives together, plus they could save some money on a reception location.

One evening our phone rang and the sister-in-law delivered the news: a closing date on the house had been set, so wedding plans had been kicked into high gear. The wedding date was now set in stone, eight weeks away. The bridesmaid dress had been selected and to guarantee delivery in time (if they didn’t have it in stock), it needed to be ordered TODAY.

To the formal shop we went. Our wedding expenditure whirlwind started out on a positive note. The dress selected was on clearance, and they had my wife’s size for $80. I know how much dresses can cost, and although it was an unexpected expense at that particular time, I felt pretty lucky.

Next up: shoes. We went to Payless Shoe Source and found a pair of silver heels that would work perfectly. We shelled out another $30. Again, knowing how much shoes can cost I felt fortunate. However, the stereotypical male in me still though it seemed a waste for a pair of shoes that would most likely be worn for less than 12 hours total.

Of course the wedding party needed to have matching jewelry to the tune of about $40.

Almost done, right? Wrong. So very, very wrong.

  • The bride wanted the dress shortened. Alterations: $150 (on an $80 dress???)
  • Bustier because the dress was strapless: $60
  • Bridal Shower #1: $40 gift
  • Bridal Shower #2: $30 gift
  • Hair and Nails: I have no idea, I was simply numb at this point, but it was triple digits.

On THE wedding day, the bride asked the bridesmaids to go to a particular department store and buy a black half jacket to go over the dress because it was a little chilly that day. The answer by all involved was a polite “NO THANKS.”

While the wedding and the expenses were expected to be incurred at some point, it was thrust upon us without warning earlier than anticipated. A total of over $500 had to somehow be absorbed into the budget within an 8 week time frame.

When we got back to an in-law’s house where we were staying after the wedding festivities had concluded, I picked up the card and said to my wife, “Here’s the card…should we just mail it to them?” My wife read my mind and said exactly what I had been thinking.

“I think we’ve spent enough money on this wedding.”

Did we owe it to the wedding couple to give them another gift? Or was it OK to say enough is enough? What do you think?

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • I think you had spent enough, especially buying the gifts for 2 bridal showers, as well as all of the other expenses. Enough said and done!

  • There is nothing wrong with saying “Enough is enough,” in a nicer way, of course. I think you went above and beyond what was expected of you. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t have been so generous.

  • Weddings are expensive, but they don’t occur every day. I understand that your wife paid a lot for her participation in the wedding, but would she have preferred not to be in the wedding party? Although everyone views it with resentment it’s actually supposed to be an honor. If I were in your wife’s situation and could afford the gift I would definitely provide one. If you can’t afford it that’s a different story, but if you don’t want to do it on principal that you already spent a bunch of money… eh… I don’t think it’s a good excuse. Just my two cents.

  • It’s funny, Lee, that it didn’t even occur to me until I wrote this post that we DID give them not one, but TWO gifts – at their bridal showers (which you noted)!

  • Thanks for the support, Joshua! We didn’t say anything to them at all, quite honestly….I always wonder if they even noticed that they didn’t get an official wedding gift from us.

  • I can see your viewpoint, One Frugal Girl, and the unwillingness to send the card and monetary gift does smack just a little bit with spite for the thrusting upon us quite a bit of expenses in a short period of time. She did, however, consider being in the wedding very much an honor. It was just viewed (and not just by us) as rather inconsiderate to have set a tentative date much further in the future (giving us more time to prepare financially), then call one day and day “It’s GO time!” That amount of expenses in such a short period of time was rather difficult for us to absorb…

  • I knew the burden we were placing on each of our bridesmaids and groomsmen and tried to keep the costs down as much as possible. Neither of our families really have much money (extended family and friends included), and some of those in our bridal party were downright broke, so we helped out where we could.

    But when it comes to gifts, we kept a tracking spreadsheet (from a wedding planning book) to track ALL gifts including showers, so we knew where to send thank you cards. That’s the only way we knew who didn’t give a gift, but nearly 10 years later, I can’t name who did and didn’t, except for some that stood out (e.g. $100 from my college roommate!) or things we still use or have around (e.g. a milkshake maker).

    But some people in the couple’s families may be more keen on keeping track (and grudges) on those who didn’t give in the way they feel is proper. My gram hounded me to send a thank you to someone for a gift they sent, but I couldn’t find any more cards as she sent it so late, and just kept forgetting it (and forgot what she gave us). In the end, this will haunt me as the woman passed away, and I’m sure my gram will always remember it. To each their own I guess.

  • My mother remembers more about who gave my wife and I wedding presents than we do, cleverdude…..everytime my parents come to visit she finds something and asks “Do you remember who gave you this?” My answer is, “No…but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.” LOL…thanks for sharing – great to hear from THE original CleverDude. 🙂

  • Assuming you could afford it, I think you should have given the couple an official wedding especially given it was your wife’s sister. It seems cheap not to be generous with family.

  • Call me old fashioned, however, I feel that the couple should not expect any gifts from anyone. You and your wife did enough by being in the wedding. That should be a gift in of itself! When I was married we did not expect that much from our wedding party. I am sure they received more than enough gifts from other family members.

    Also, you bought two bridal shower gifts?! Wow! Each family /area interprets etiquette differently but my understanding is (maryland area) that IF you do have two bridal showers (one for brides side the brides family showers her with gifts and vice versa). Bridesmaids should not be forced to give the couple two shower gifts so you both were very generous.

  • @Kay Lynn, my issue is that I think we had been more than generous and understanding given being invited to multiple bridal showers and the condensed timeline that was forced upon us. Part of our unwillingness to give the third gift was certainly due to the financial pinch of having to deal with all of the wedding expenses in a short period of time.

  • @Oliva – It makes me happy to have you agree with our position. 🙂 I was certainly confused as to why we were invited to two different bridal showers – I understand why my wife would have been invited to one, but the second one still baffles me.

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