By Jason Menard
The time is fast approaching when a white wedding will be a thing of the past – replaced by the dominant colour green. The days of the wedding gift seem to be fading rapidly into memory, as the traditional lavishly decorated box is fast being replaced by a non-descript envelope.
Perhaps it’s a case of people now getting married later in life, when they’ve already established a home and don’t need new household goods, but I find it a little sad when the closest thing to intimacy that a modern wedding gift imparts is its signature.
It’s sad that weddings have now become slaves to functionality and practicality. Heck, if marriage ceremonies were truly committed to being practical, the expense of a lavish church wedding would be banked in lieu of a cheaper, civil service. A wedding is a celebration of love and a new life together, but today’s wedding gifts seem less about an expression from the heart and more about balancing a ledger.
How many people have heard the familiar refrain that a wedding gift should cover the cost of the meal? Does it not cheapen the intention of the gift when it becomes a barterable commodity as opposed to a token of affection?
My wife and I differ on the subject, in that she’s nowhere near as perturbed by the trend. At our wedding, she was fine with either option, whereas I was much more interested in the gifts because they offered me more than just another household appliance or decoration – they gave me a tangible remembrance of my wedding celebration and the person from whom the gift came.
Money simply goes into an anonymous pile. And whether it’s used to defer the cost of a wedding, purchase something for the home, or saved to help start a new life together, it eventually gets lost in the shuffle and the unique nature of the gift is gone. However, an actual gift can stay in a family for years.
We still have the coffee maker given to us at our wedding, and I consider that one of the best gifts we got. Simply put, the person who gave us the gift was known for her coffee consumption – and by giving that gift to us, we continue to be able to smile at how perfectly a gift matches the giver. No matter how pretty the picture, a cheque just doesn’t have that same cachet – and, eventually, the only one who sees it is the bank.
To gauge the importance of a gift, let’s look at what the married couple gives to their guests. I’ve yet to go to a wedding where the newlyweds forked over a few bucks to each attendee – instead, they offer special mementoes and keepsakes to help you remember the day. Although I never wear it, I still have a pocket watch given to me at a wedding in which I was a groomsman, and when I stumble across it, the memories of that event come rushing back.
Admittedly, the issue isn’t so black and white today. People are getting married later in life. Many people have been living on their own or in relationships wherein they’ve already accumulated a significant portion of their home decorations. A few already have purchased a home by the time they tie the knot, so there may not be an apparent need for a wedding gift.
But that’s the beauty of the process. It’s challenging to find the right gift for the right person, but when you do it’s a magical moment. Our young kids have it right – without a full comprehension of what money means, a piece of paper signifies nothing, but a well-thought-out gift brings a smile to their faces that warms the heart.
Call me a romantic at heart, but I really don’t feel a wedding should be about a net balance. My wife and I were lucky in that we received financial support from both sides of our family – and we made sure that our wedding plans were, by no means, extravagant. As such, even if we received no gifts whatsoever, I would have been happy because my wedding was a celebration of my love for my wife in front of our friends and family – not a way to pocket some extra cash.
Our guests’ presence was gift enough and anything we received on top of that was gravy. While I can still look around my home at the odd gift we received during that time, it’s sad to say that I no longer have any memory of the money I received. Understand, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and I appreciate each and every gift we received whether it came in an envelope or in a box. I just worry that we’re going too far away from sentimentality.
It’s ironic, in giving cash on a wedding day, we’re bankrupting a significant source of the couple’s happy memories for the future.
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