A few years ago I got a wedding invite. Like a lot of wedding invites, it looked like the bride and groom had been price-gouged into sending out something that looked more like the announcement of a Restoration Hardware. It was on grey matte, 32-point cardstock with raised purple lettering and a beveled edge. I don’t know how one even bevels cardstock, but they found a way. It was the only piece of paper I could ever feel actively judging me. It cost more than my lunch to mail.
The RSVP card — complete with custom postage stamp — politely told me that “In lieu of shopping for gifts, you may conveniently make a donation to our Honeyfund!” Then gave me a link to honeyfund.com/danandrachel*.
Curious, I typed it into my phone and was presented with a lovely array of gifts I could purchase for their upcoming trip to Tahiti. I could chip in for a couple of business-class plane tickets. Or pay for them both! I could spring for a couples’ massage. I could buy them scuba lessons. I had a venerable catalog of things I’d likely never be able to buy for myself but was being encouraged to buy for them.
Dan and Rachel were clearly confused about what a wedding gift really is.
When you’re in the part of life when the only thing you get more of in the mail than student loan notices is wedding invitations, getting that invite isn’t like winning a vacation on Press Your Luck. It’s getting a Whammy.
Because what that violet-embossed fuck-you really says is:
“You’re invited to a wedding on the other side of the country! To get there you’ll need to take at least one vacation day and fly during peak times, then pay for the only hotel in a 30-mile radius, where we’ve booked a special rate for you of $289 a night! You don’t rate a plus-one, so you’re on your own paying for that. You’ll also need to find places to eat and drink while not at the wedding, possibly rent a car, and definitely need to buy us a present!
For your trouble, you’ll get to watch me profess my eternal love to someone I met on a dating app 16 months ago, a banquet dinner, and an open bar that closes at 9:00 PM.
Now here’s a link to some amazing adventures you can buy us!”
You see how that last part gets a little face-slappy, right?
The one… ONE… saving grace of going into a debt-frenzied wedding was the ability to passive aggressively show your general resentment about it by leaving them with a big box from Oster.
You know Oster. It means, “I spent my entire last paycheck to come to this wedding, so here’s something that’ll heat bread real fast.”
And now you’re robbing me of that joy and want me to kick in for your scuba lessons? You can’t really be serious.
And the sad fact is… often the couples are not serious. Depending on how said “Honeyfund” is set up, it can function more as a way to encourage people to give cash than to ACTUALLY pay for scuba lessons or massages or anything having to with a honeymoon. For some, it’s a sly-handed way of asking for money towards the cost of the wedding, effectively making the “wedding gift” more of a cover charge.
I’m not saying that’s what everyone does. But much like the Red Cross and literally every TV church ever, your money isn’t always going where you think it is.
Now you might say, “If you hate shelling out for weddings so much, then just don’t go.”
Sure, I COULD do that. But a wedding invitation isn’t so much an invitation to a wedding but an invitation to give a wedding present, with the offer of a free dinner and open bar in return. Failing to either attend or send a gift, I’m now squarely on the list of “friends” who “didn’t even come to our wedding… OR send a gift.”
You might also point out that weddings are painfully expensive, and it’s the least I can do to show some empathy toward the exorbitant expense and help them out a little. And I get that sentiment; I really do. But the easier thing to do is NOT HAVE SUCH AN EXPENSIVE WEDDING.
Your friends, if they care, would show up to a backyard barbecue with canned beer and folding chairs. And if you care, you shouldn’t expect anything from them but their presence a long way from home. Or a short way. Weddings aren’t transactions; they’re celebrations. And if you truly want a sincere experience, leave the Honeyfund link off your invite.
*Dan and Rachel are not their real names. But we alllllll know a Dan and Rachel.