Your Presence Is Gift Enough

October 6, 2014

But is it though?  Really?

Some of the weddings that I have been invited to recently, have had a wee card enclosed, insisting that it is not necessary to bring a gift, bbuuuuut if you did want to get us one, we’ll have a wishing well, aaaaand here’s our bank details in case the thought of leaving cash in a card in a bird cage, on a table makes you anxious.  It’s even acceptable to do this for engagement parties now it seems.  Help us celebrate our engagement, come along, have some booze and food, aaaaaand flick us a hundy into the wishing well.

You might be wondering where I’m heading with this post, which is potentially polarising my audience and offending some of my closest friends, but the other day I was doing some browsing through Instagram. Clearly procrastinating, because I no doubt had a trillion other urgent things to attend to, for example, painting my toe nails because they are looking very bare. Anyway, I came across a friend’s post from 53 weeks ago, which was an image of the thank you cards that she sent out to her guests after her wedding.  I did a quick Ctrl + F and had a mental thumb through my keepsake box, and concluded, that I don’t recall receiving such a card.  Let’s be real, I know I didn’t receive a card, and I know why I didn’t receive a card…because I didn’t give a gift.

I heard that, the sharp intake of breath, how dare I show up to such an occasion without a gift.  Or cash.  Or a gift, cash, and the deeds to my first born child and a kidney should it ever be required.  Before you start being all judgey, I’m not the kind of person who shows up empty handed to anything.  I don’t even show up empty handed to the gym (ask my trainer if you don’t believe me).  Do you like how I throw that in there, like I’m training with celeb PT Gunnar Peterson, when really, it’s my mate Kaz and I spend the whole 56 minutes saying “fark my liiiiiiiiife.  Skinny is ssssoooooooo overrated”.  Anywho, I digress.  The rule of thumb in our house has always been: you give a gift, or cash, equal to the value of your hospitality, however, in this case, we bought a gift, we just forgot to bring the gift.

By we, I mean she forgot the gift, and I say this like I’m absolving myself of responsibility, and I am, but it could have easily been me, because that is definitely something I would do.  Either way, the gift remained at home, and we didn’t realise until we were checking in to the hotel two hours up SH1.  The keeper of the gift moved house soon after this, and the gift spent some months in storage at her in-laws, amongst the dining furniture, super king linen and Christmas wrap, so the gift wasn’t actually delivered for a full 11 months after the big day.

Surely though, that’s neither here, nor there, the point is, in this instance, one must assume, that our presence wasn’t gift enough, and hence we were scratched from the list of those requiring a thank you card.

The end of 2012 and the start of 2013 was peak wedding time for me, and while it was a time of sunshine and happiness, it was also the start of the poorest time in my life (it’s ongoing).  At the end of 2012 I had just returned from an overseas trip, owing my parents and my best friend several thousand each, due to my inability to say “I’ll just get the one pair” when shopping for shoes in Europe.  At the start of 2013 I took a new job, which meant a $20k pay cut, and while it is always an honour, and a blessing to be invited to a wedding, it can also be quite an outlay for the guests.

Foresaking the new dress, shoes and handbag, which are not compulsory, because if I wasn’t such a try hard fashionista, I would have worn the same outfit to all five weddings, or at least “Gokked it” as my mum would say, there’s travel, accommodation, and also the cost of incidentals. Pre-wedding bubbles are a necessity, hair ties and a toothbrush from the dairy because I always forget mine, road trip snacks, lunch, brunch, midnight snacks, Maxigesic, Gatorade, the list goes on. There’s also the new trend of a Friday wedding, which as a contractor or as a new employee without any leave, meant a day without pay.

You know, I get the Wedding Register thing, I get the vouchers thing, I get the wishing well thing (let’s face it, I’m never organised enough to go to Harvey Norman and get the vouchers, so I get cash out at the ATM and stuff it into the card in the cab on the way to the weddng).  The couple getting married don’t want to end up with three toasters, four kettles and seven sets of sheets that don’t fit their spare bed. I get that weddings are one helluva big day, that they have to invite a whole lot of people that don’t even know their spouse’s name, and feed them, and fill them with booze that the venue has put a 400% mark up on. I know that all that lace and beading and boning and tulle and shiz isn’t cheap, neither are the Jimmy Choo’s that the bride will never wear again, or the blooms that no one noticed were the exact same hue as the buttons on the bridesmaid’s dresses. I understand that this is one big bill, and why shouldn’t people flick them some cash to pay for their flights to the Maldives.

I just don’t enjoy the thought that I’m subsidising their tropical sex fest, when I can’t even afford to have my shoes re-heeled after I danced them off at a wedding two weeks ago.  The best wee card I’ve received said “we will use the money for a much deserved honeymoon”.  I’m confused, are there some newlyweds who are undeserving of a honeymoon?

Now that I’m all loved up, I’m looking forward to the coming wedding season, because $50 in a card always feels stingy from a single person, but $100 from a couple is quite acceptable. Also, the boyf is WAY more organised than me, and I know how this is going to play out, we’ll be running late, I’ll say to the taxi driver “do you think we could stop at a cash machine pleeeeeeease?” and boyf will say “babe-uh!” and I’ll say “what-uh?  What did you have to do?  You just had to iron that shirt and put on those pants?  Don’t even get me started on what had to happen to get aallll of this going ooonn *gesticulating towards my face and down to my body and back to my face*, while you sat on the couch in the cheap motel, drinking Corona and looking at your watch”. And he’ll say “I’ve got some cash, we’ll just put that in the card”.  Aaaand we’re done here.

It’s also had me thinking about our wedding.  Is it wrong to be planning it if he hasn’t asked me yet? As long as he doesn’t find the scrapbooks it’ll be fine.  Because while I’m sitting here, in my glass house, throwing stones, I better be hatching a plan about how to eloquently ask my guests for cold hard cash money.  My Nanna Jo will give me a pizza stone as a wedding gift.  I know this, because that’s what me, my sister, and our cousins, have got every third year for Christmas, for the last 12 years.  Don’t ask me to explain why it’s every three years, as I’m not too sure.  So do I not invite her because I’ve already got four pizza stones?

My cousins are farmers.  Shall I subtly find out which day of the month their milk cheque usually arrives, and plan to have my wedding the weekend following, to better my chances of getting a sweet ass donation posted through the letterbox on the gift table?  What about my friends that aren’t working?  Close friends that have popped out a kid or two and have gone from being a DINK (Double Income No Kids) household to a SICK (Single Income Coupla Kids) household, these are the sort of people who will potentially only give me a fiddy between them, shall I scratch them from the list?  I mean we all know how expensive cocktails are in Barbados.

How about we just say what we mean and mean what we say?  If we want gifts (one can never have enough harberdashery), we could just say nothing.  And then Nanna Jo can give us a pizza stone, and mum can give us a set of Egyptian cotton sheets that she bought my sister for Christmas two years ago, and put in the upstairs cupboard and forgot about.  And if we decide not to have gifts (let’s be fair, we’re not going to have much room in our luggage to bring back gifts from our destination wedding at Disneyland), we’ll just say “no gifts, please” – and we’ll mean it.

My dad had his 60th last year, and the invitation (A4 on standard stock, with a bit of ClipArt) said “No gift, please.”  It didn’t say, “Your presence is gift enough, but if you want to get me something, please deposit funds into this account because I’m thinking about taking the Mrs to Bali later in the year”.  Some people did bring gifts, because that’s what people do.  There were a few bottles of bourbon floating around, a gimmicky mug, an incredibly practical magnetic bottle opening contraption, and the standard tin of bickies with a Holden on the front, there was no stopping the people who were going to bring a gift, but there was also no obligation to bring one either.

On that note, I must away, I’ve got some scrapbooking to do, and I need to find a computer that takes floppy disks so that I can spend some time carefully choosing the appropriate clip art for the wedding invitations.

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Dani October 6, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Oh my god, this killed me! We are kindred spirits, you and I – perhaps with a little less eloquence from my end!

2014 – The Year Of The Cleanse | Hazel's House January 7, 2015 at 3:57 pm

[…] I am most excited to tell about, is that I declined my first wedding invitation! Contrary to my last blog about weddings, I do enjoy a good wedding. There’s nothing quite like spending a sunny day watching your friends […]

Leanne January 30, 2015 at 3:11 pm

I agree, no gifts means no gifts. Then situations where wrapping up six tumblers from a free petrol station promotion and palming them off as gifts will no longer occur.

Hazel February 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Stop it! Did that happen to you? Were they in the servo bag? I must confess that for Christmas, my dad got service station tumblers…they cost me $28 worth of Coca Cola product though, and he loved them!

Leanne February 2, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Ha! I wasn’t the recipient but I was there when they were being wrapped up. This happened several years ago now. I was just going to say that the person who did this (I protect my sources ;)) justified it by saying she had to pay for $20 worth of petrol for each tumbler, so going by that theory, those glasses probably cost her more than Waterford crystal in the end, just without the flash stickers.


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