Dear Margo: Accidentally Liberated

My stepdaughter and her boyfriend moved out after I asked for a more substantial rent contribution. Did I do wrong? Margo Howard’s advice

Accidentally Liberated

Dear Margo: For the past two and a half years, we have allowed my 24-year-old stepdaughter and her 25-year-old boyfriend to live with us. During this time, we have charged them very minimal rent ($50 a paycheck from each when they were working). He had two part-time jobs, and she had a couple of short-term jobs that always ended in disaster. Any extra money they got was spent on dinners, expensive clothes and DVDs, rather than saving.

Recently, my wife found employment, and we were going to have my stepdaughter watch our 5-year-old. That was a debacle that would have ended badly, so my wife quit to watch her. At this point, I’d had enough and told them we would be raising the rent. They were required to pay $400 a month for both of them. I gave them six weeks to get things in order and for my stepdaughter to look for a job. Instead, after a couple of weeks, they snuck out in the middle of the night and left town to go live in a cramped apartment with his family. Now I am being portrayed as the bad guy. Was there something I could have done differently? –Bad-Guy Dad

Dear Bad: I think you did things just right. These kids sound like hot messes, and irresponsible in the bargain. Sneaking out in the middle of the night was a nice touch — especially considering you are family. I’m sure you wish them luck in the boyfriend’s parents’ apartment. One can only hope somewhere along the line they grow up. Do allow yourselves to feel relieved that their maturing process is taking place somewhere else. (As the wonderful jazz drummer Bobby Rosengarden used to say: “You got a fluckey.” You may have to say this out loud to get it.) –Margo, thankfully

“This Is Certainly Less Traditional.” I’ll Say

Dear Margo: My husband and I are in the phase of our lives where friends’ children are starting to get married. More and more, we are seeing gift registries where they don’t request toasters, blenders, china, etc, but are asking for “contributions” to their honeymoon, a down payment on a house, etc. In other words: money! Am I an old crank who is just out of it? I always thought “envelopes” were for mafia weddings. What do you think of this? –Fuddy Duddy

Dear Fud: First, let me say that there are many cultures that favor “envelopes” as the gifts of choice — which does make a certain amount of sense. You are not alone in your reluctance, however, to make a gift of cash. One woman told a reporter writing about this trend, “It sounds cheesy to me,” and said she’d rather give something they can have forever to remember her by. A young woman who was using this new kind of registry (to pay for a European honeymoon) responded, “The only difference is that friends are helping us buy experiences, rather than things.”

Because couples are marrying later and living together first, one can assume they most likely already have household things. It is heresy, I know, but I have no objection to this. We are not living in the days of Emily Post … although her grandson, Peter Post, also thinks this relatively new practice is OK. Console yourself with the idea that it’s easy on the gift-giver (no shopping) and it’s what they want. If you can’t get with this program, by all means send whatever you would like. No one will call you names, but neither will they toast you in Paris! –Margo, liberally

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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127 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Constance Plank says:

    Don’t worry what they say about you. Time will have his parents understanding that the kids are deadbeats.

    I think you were lucky to have them move out at any price!


    I don’t much like the trend for money, either. Therefore I give less generously to a “gimme money” than to a registry where, say, they ask for wustoff knives. (My very favorite kitchen tool and quite $$.) But, that’s my choice.

    You can always, totally properly, decline with thanks and send a congratulatory card! Cost, maybe $3.


    Constance in the Sierra Foothills

    • avatar David Bolton says:


      The selective logic that goes on with most weddings these days just baffles me. It’s okay to spend thousands of dollars on one day, but suddenly common sense prevails when it comes to not wasting money on presents the Blessed Couple can’t use or doesn’t want. Again, I want to stress to anyone who expects to receive a gift for any occasion—especially for a wedding, which usually involves at least some amount of tradition—that you allow the gift-giver to select what they want to give you rather than try to dictate. And to try to flout these rules in the name of the “modern” wedding is just a reflection of the entitlement attitude that so many younger people have these days.

      LW1: While I think you ultimately did the right thing, I also think you should have done this two years ago. Letting the stepdaughter and BF sit around and mooch did no one any favors—and even though they were paying something, it wasn’t enough to make them establish any real responsible behavior so they could learn some real lessons about money management. One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned has been to never devalue a service that you’re offering, because the person on the receiving end will not understand its true worth to you. I don’t know what the situation was that made them move in with you in the first place, but short of a serious illness—I wouldn’t allow it again.

      • avatar amw says:

        It isn’t all young people, but you’re absolutely right. The sense of entitlement so many (of all ages really) possess baffles me.

        • avatar Lindsey M says:

          I don’t understand how a cash registry is any worse than a traditional registry. If you don’t like registries, fine. But it makes absolutely no sense that you’re offended by the cash suggestion but not the toaster/blender/etc. suggestion (and at the end of the day, registries are nothing more than suggestions — each gift giver decides themselves whether they want to give a gift at all and if so, what that gift will be). It just seems super stupid to register for things people don’t need because of this reason — that would seem to be the most foolish act of all.

          • avatar amw says:

            I’ve seen registries that offer both, that way a guest that is generous enough to give a gift to the couple can do so in a way that is most comfortable for both

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            Because Lindsey—this is what giving cash is like.

            At Christmas…
            Person 1: Fifty dollars? Oh, you shouldn’t have! Here, open my present, Person 2!
            Person 2: Fifty dollars? Oh, you shouldn’t have!

            At Valentines…
            Person 1: Fifty dollars? Oh, you shouldn’t have! Here, open my present, Person 2!
            Person 2: Fifty dollars? Oh, you shouldn’t have!

            What I’m trying to get across (without much success, apparently) is that it can be quite fun to give a gift. The best gift I’ve ever given was to an ex (and it made him bawl—and I mean, like REALLY cry). And it wasn’t cash, and it took a HUGE amount of personal effort and time and other people to work out. The worst gift I’ve ever gotten (from the same ex) was a check for $300, that took long enough for him to find a pen that worked. Yes, I understand that I’m not building a new life with My Special Someone and blah blah blah—my point is that his gift was such a blunt statement of non-commitment on his part to have any emotional investment in the idea of giving me a gift at all. If I’m going to ask someone to my wedding—they get to choose what they want to give me, if anything—period. If they PERSONALLY and PRIVATELY ASK me what I want, or if I would like money towards something, then I have the option of saying “yes, that would be a lovely gift” or “no, that’s not necessary,” etc. Making a public statement that monetary gifts would be appreciate for help with a honeymoon, down payment is tacky. Period. It’s NOT the same as a gift registry—which I personally don’t like either, but for which I’ll at least cut some slack and allows the gift-giver some ideas for taste, style, etc.

            I don’t pay attention to gift “lists.” Ever. Not for birthdays or Christmas or anniversaries or Valentines. I buy someone something I want them to have or I think they would like or that they could use. I give lots of thought about what gifts I give, and I usually have a great time doing it.

          • avatar Count Snarkula says:

            David, you and the Count have so very much in common…

  2. avatar Linda Myers says:

    My son and his wife moved out within 24 hours after requesting their help over a year ago. Haven’t heard a lot out of them since, I was told I ruined their plans.

    You really just have to let it go rather than thinking you were maybe in the wrong, and hope someday connections will be different. I just may be stubborn, though I believe I did all I could too help with maybe the best help was in finding the point of saying no.

  3. avatar Tanya Brown says:

    Re: #1

    Bad guy, eh? Says who?

    The rent you were asking was, as far as I know, pretty minimal. You gave them plenty of advance notice. They responded by sneaking out in the dead of night, rather than having an adult-to-adult conversation along the lines of “Thanks for your hospitality for the last couple of years. We really appreciate it. However, Billy Ray’s parents have offered to put us up for awhile, so we’re going to move out.”

    I’m probably projecting, but they remind me of some of my grifter relatives. There’s never enough money to be responsible, but plenty of money to blow on crap. They drift from “emergency” to “emergency,” many of which are a result of poor planning. Naturally, if you refuse to bail them out, you’re a bad guy.

    Change your locks, sleep with a clear conscience, and let the boyfriend’s family enjoy their company.

  4. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  You are not the bad guy.  The rent you requested was not exorbitant and if these people are old enough to live together they are old enough to pay their way to do so.  My guess is the $400 includes not only utilities but groceries as well.   Its unclear why the childcare arrangement was a debacle but I gather your 5 year old was not properly supervised by your step-daughter which would have been enough for me to send their behinds out the door no matter how much they were paying in rent

    I’m amazed at how some people expect no more of 20 plus year old people these days than they do of 15 year olds.   Those who are critical of you in these circumstances appear to believe that your step-daughter and her boyfriend are children who still need parent’s financial support.  I’m at a loss to understand what age is the new *normal* for people to grow up these days. 

    Yes, times are tough…jobs are not growing on trees….sometimes families have to join households to make ends meet.   Thats fine assuming all family are pulling as much weight financially and in household duties as they can. 

    LW#2:  I’m with you.  I understand that  in some cultures  cash is the traditional wedding gift but I do not  think that is what is going on here.  These are your friends, you know what their *cultural traditions* are and I expect if you knew it was the cultural tradition to give cash to the bride and groom you would happily oblige.   I was not raised in a particularly *posh* or *Emily Post* household but my upbringing taught me that cash was a gift which showed little thought for the recipient.  This is ingrained in me  to the point that while I give cash as Christmas gifts to teen and young adult family members because I know they need it…I always  try to find something *extra* to add to show that I gave more thought to them than writing a check. 

    I’m not such a purist as to think that a wedding registry (as long as it is not emblazoned on the wedding invitation or an insert thereto) is out of bounds but I think asking for cash on the registry is out of bounds even if it has a designated purpose like a honeymoon, down payment on a house, groceries for a month,  insurance premiums, rent etc.   Of course, if you call the bride or groom’s parents and inquire what would they like for a gift and you are told…*well they are saving for a downpayment on a house* that is one thing.  If you are given an unsolicited  *request* (even through a registry)  for cash, I would probably send the cash and be surprised if they sent me a thank you note. 

    Query:  Does Peter Post think thank you notes are obsolete too?

    And you know, if all of these young couples already have all they need in the way of toasters and mixers and espresso machines…why can’t they afford their own damn honeymoon or down payment on their house?    


    • avatar Chris Glass` says:

      Katherine – I always give checks as a gift for weddings to be used at the discretion of the couple. I usually enclose it in a nice card about a week or so before the event. This serves a dual purpose the couple has it ahead of time if they choose to use it for wedding or honeymoon expenses. It saves duplicating a gift that will have to be exchanged.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Katharine, “I’m at a loss to understand what age is the new *normal* for people to grow up these days.” NO KIDDING! Me, too.

    • avatar John Lee says:

      Katharine, I understand that you feel like asking for a $100 kitchenware is totally proper but asking for an “up-to-the-guest” amount of money is somehow offensive.  But I think you’ll have to admit that it’s a bit old-fashioned, if not impractical and weird.

      Really?  If someone has all the basics in the way of toasters, mixers and expresso machines, they don’t need help with a downpayment of $60,000? 

      • avatar Barbara says:

        If you need help with your $60,000 down payment, BUY A LESS EXPENSIVE HOUSE!! Don’t expect everyone else to support your excessive aspirations.

        • avatar John Lee says:

          A $300,000 home anywhere in California or New York or Florida or pretty much anywhere with good job prospects (20% would be $60k down payment) would be a two bedroom home built in 1970s in an average neighborhood.

        • avatar David Bolton says:

          I agree with Barbara—and as I’ve stated before, if you want to go in with some of the other guests to send the couple on a surprise trip or to have a surprise gift of money towards a downpayment, a car, etc—I’m all for it. A registry is one thing, if you want to give guests an idea of your style, taste, etc. To dictate that you want money removes all of the fun from the gift giving process.

          • avatar John Lee says:

            David, fair enough with the statement that it removes the “fun from the gift giving process”.  You are right about that.

            I’m just more practical and am willing to forgo fun in order to be more financially responsible.  I’m sure we’ve all read or know of typical college graduates with huge student loan debt (typical life stage of people getting married).

            Again, it’s my stand that it’s OK to ask for money in place of a traditional registry.  If you think all wedding registries are tacky, money or household goods, then I have NO argument with you.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      @Katharine: I had been previously married, Rusty had lived on his own, and then we had lived together for one year before getting married. We had all of the essentials (though nothing lavish)…but we certainly could not have afforded a down payment on a house…and our honeymoon was two days and three nights of kicking around Austin, Texas (made a lot less expensive because neither of us imbibe, and we drove there from Houston).

      But then, we were married by “hanging judge” Ted Poe, at the courthouse, with Rusty’s mom and best friend present. We didn’t want a big to-do…many of the people in his family weren’t doing any better than us financially, and some much worse. Still, you might be surprised at how many of these kind and generous West Texas people wanted to know where we were registered, and were willing to let Pat, my lovely MIL, go to Macy’s or Neimans in case it was there (there is no mall in Big Spring, and a lot of them would genuinely be lost and very uncomfortable in places like that) and purchase place settings, and crystal…and then reimburse her for them. Things they really couldn’t afford…and we really didn’t want or register for.

      It took us three years to be able to afford a down payment on a house…and we’ve never had a two week honeymoon at some barely affordable hot-spot…and that’s perfectly fine with us. I don’t have a diamond either…we are not friends of the loathsome diamond industry. We’ve been together 17 years, and we’re still in-love. Who could ask for more?

      But I am rather surprised at the reactions to gift registries on this thread. When I was married the first time, over thirty years ago, it was strongly suggested that I register, and all of the higher end department stores, jewelers (many sold china, crystal and flatware at that time and previously, and I know some still do in coastal cities) had bridal registries going back decades. I grew up in Chicago…which is not the “rube” town so many seem to think it is (think Gold Coast, the Opera, Michigan Avenue, the Art Institute, etc.) and registering was A Thing To Do. Well, I didn’t…again, poverty stricken (but much less pleasant and far more ignorant) in-laws. One also registered for linens back then.

      As for asking for money, I am torn on that. I always give money…unless I know the couple extremely well, and am aware of something very special they might desire. It is not so that they will remember me…it is to make them smile. Frequently registries contain far too many pricey gifts…wishful thinking or wealthy relatives, friends of parents, or business associates of mom and dad. Also, so many people are asked to travel to weddings today, and that extra cost can be very hard to absorb, plus a gift, and lodgings.

      I don’t know. Sometimes I think that couples who have been co-habiting for years, who have everything that they could desire…and who are having that $50,000, or even $100,000 It’s Her Special Day blow out (how often do you hear about it being “his special day”? The groom has been relegated in far too many cases to wailing wall, ATM machine, Schmoo and fashion accessory) might be a bit more tactful in their requests for cold, hard cash. You know….maybe not mention that extended luxury honeymoon at Atlantis…or the down payment on the McMansion.

      Or, as Rusty said, put this on that Wedding Announcement Website: “No Gifts Necessary”. If I saw that, I’d think “cash”, and that’s what I’d give. A lot of couples did that in the ’70’s and the ’80’s…and it wasn’t offensive…and it always worked splendidly.

      And do remember…most unwanted gifts can be returned. Brides in particular have become such entitled, spoiled, evil little monsters of late. Blame the noxious wedding industry, and the diamond merchants: promise rings, pre-engagement rings, engagement rings, wedding rings, engagement ring upgrades, Milestone rings, Journey rings, anniversary rings…and now, Push presents (preferably, you guessed it, something with diamonds) for doing what only women are biologically designed to do, and what, hopefully, she agreed to in the first place. I always thought the baby was the reward. O, well.

      There are also Divorce Rings (they have a deliberate gap in the band. NO, I do not lie). Should we have the man reach from beyond the grave, and provide widow rings…or should he just pre-arrange for that one?

      O, sorry, sorry, sorry…I wandered. My point was that gifts can usually be returned…but brides are too lazy to write thank-you notes…so how can you expect the poor dears to actually return an unwanted gift?

      I did…except for the inexplicable four pairs of wooden salt shakers and pepper mills I somehow received. And the three-foot-wide styrofoam plaque with the raised design of pioneers and ox-carts in…mmm…corpse brown and delicately hand washed with spotty gold spray paint.

      My favorite gift was the soup pot I got instead of a Bible and crucifix (the person always gave the latter to all couples, no exceptions…until me. And no, I am not Jewish, though I am a devotee of many Jewish traditions, and philosophies)…but that is a story for grown-ups…

  5. avatar John Lee says:

    I’m lucky I get to play my Asian card when it came to my wedding gift. Even though I’m probably 75% American (culturally), I was fortunate I “got away” with asking for Red Envelopes with minimal shock and complaint.

    I have two thoughts on this.

    1. It is sad that in this day and age of financial irresponsibility, old fashioned people still feels it more OK to spend money on a new set of $100 knives or $200 whatever unnecessary kitchenware instead of contributing money to help pay for a down payment for a house, a honeymoon that every newlywed goes on or paying down debt. My more American wife was initially afraid to offend people, so she went to some expensive house ware store and picked out for our registry, ridiculously expensive (to me) knives, pans, pots, etc when we already have everything we need to live (except a house that we own). Fortunately, I was able to convince her otherwise and go with my Asian culture on this particular situation.

    2. Old (fashioned) people can complain all they want, this is not just an Asian, Italian or whatever culture phenomenon anymore. I have two WASP American friends in their late 20’s ask for support for financial contributions (or charity donations) in lieu of junk they don’t need. It’s here to stay.

    • avatar Katharine Gray says:

      For all of those old (fashioned) people who object to being ordered as to what form the wedding *gift* should take, I can only remind you that there are two responses to a wedding invitiation.  Yes or No.  If yes, it is good manners to send a gift.  If your response is no you owe them nothing more than the RSVP with your regrets but a card would be nice.  

      And to all the young (modern) brides and grooms…old (fashioned) people don’t have to attend your wedding at all and quite frankly are probably looking for a good excuse not to waste their time doing so.  Being told to give cash is a good excuse for me to say *I regret*.  Whcih means I don’t need to send you any cash or even a bad Elvis velvet painting.   Saves you some rubber chicken.  Saves me the waste of my time  watching your insufferable selfishness unfold into a life of *me me me greed greed greed* as well as the cash.  The fact that you don’t have to pay for my wedding meal ought to be gift enough for you these days.

      (I was told by one couple when we inadvertently declined the invitation…oh that was ok…two less meals to buy).  Of  course, they had already been gifted by us. 

      • avatar D C says:

        I haven’t been to a wedding in a few years — I’m sure if my husband and I had the same wedding today that we had in 1981, everyone would think we were complete losers.  We chose the time of our wedding, 3pm, to avoid the expense of a dinner.  We actually had a reception.  We received our guests, served them punch and cake, mints and nuts, and mingled and talked with as many as we could for as long as wel could.  We had a 4 hour window on the venue, so there really wasn’t a whole lot of time, which saved us a lot of money.  The venue was something I wanted very very much, and we COULD have used my father-in-law’s church and fellowship hall and had it all night long.  My mother couldn’t afford that, and neither could I.  I had the wedding of my dreams.  My dreams just weren’t very extravagant.  We’re coming up on our 30th anniversary in December.  Maybe the two are somehow connected? 

      • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

        I am not sure how asking for cash is any more selfish than putting items on a gift registry that you want.  It is just the form of the gift.  You are still free to give them what you want, just as you do not have to give them that expensive set of china on the gift registry.  To suggest that those who request cash are somehow insufferably selfish is illogical. 

        • avatar Sadie BB says:

          When it comes to money, logic has its limits…for instance on a romantic occasion presenting a $1000 gold bracelet is just not going to have the same effect as presenting $1000!

          And your culture may be fine with requesting money as a wedding gift. Mine isnt. Neither culture trumps the other, however much words like ‘tacky’ (for cash) or ‘old-fashioned’ (against cash) are flung about

    • avatar Karrin Cooper says:

      Wow ok WHERE to start (and still be polite):

      1. I would fall over in adoration if someone gifted me with a set of Wustof knives! Are you kidding me?! It is every chef’s DREAM!

      2. My husband and I WORKED to buy our home. We SAVED for our honeymoon and no I am not ‘old fashioned’ by any means. However, as you stated ‘”It is sad that in this day and age of financial irresponsibility'” (your words) that one feels it is ok to ask for money instead of working for what they want. So that rather makes your statement a bit ironic, no??

      • avatar John Lee says:

        1.  Giving Wustof knives, whatever they are, sounds really expensive.  With the average American having what, at least $1000 in credit card debt (prob more like $5000, I didn’t check), that would be the definition of fiscal irresponsibility.  I’m sure it’s a chef’s dream, but maybe using that money for a house payment or paying off debt would be a better idea??

        2.  Um…  I have zero debt and am as financially responsible as humanly possible.  No school loans (I got a full scholarship) and worked during my summers.  I saved up enough to pay for my wedding and honeymoon without having to incur a cent in debt.  No credit card debt ever and I grew up as a son of minimum wage working poor immigrants.  How does asking for money to pay for a house, instead of asking for Wustof knives make anyone not fiscally responsible?  What irony?

        I never demand gifts of any kind.  That’s not the debate – anyone asking for a money gift is no more making a demand than someone asking for registry gifts.  People are complaining about the money gift pretending they are offended because they felt like it’s a demand.  Just admit it’s the money aspect and nothing to do with a demand because a wedding registry is just as much of a demand, if that how you want to take it.

    • avatar Donna Sampson says:

      I have to agree with you John Lee. What is a wedding gift about? It’s about helping the newly wedded couple get a start in their lives. Since more and more people have started their lives on their own before getting married, then the start they need help with is not the “smal affordable gadgets” part, but the house part. Why give them another toaster they don’t need when they DO need money? I was brought up to appreciate whatever anyone gave me, but I usually give couples money because I know they need money. When my oldest was getting married, she had a registry. Most things they needed were more expensive than one person would buy. A vaccuum cleaner, for instance, is something they needed, but was more expensive than one person would buy. If people gave money, then she could take the money  the Jones’ gave, the Smiths’ gave, and the whoever’s gave, put it together and buy the vaccuum cleaner. It’s not about being greedy, but about being real. The need is money, not more gadgets.

      • avatar Karrin Cooper says:

        Really? I got 2 wonderful gifts at my wedding that I treasure far more than money: a bottle of fine smooth Tequila that I still have half the bottle in the fridge 3 years on. Everytime I toast with it I remember my friends who gave it to us. The second was from a very lovely couple I adore that were thoughts for the Bride and Groom. Every morning when I get up I see them on the wall. It makes me smile thinking of my friend Royce who not only gave me away at my wedding in all his Clan Gunn glory, but passed a year ago. So no sorry….can’t agree with the money thing. WORK for what you want, don’t expect others to pay for it for you.

        • avatar John Lee says:

          “WORK for what you want, don’t expect others to pay for it for you.”

          LOL, how are you and others not understanding that asking for expensive Tequila or Wustoff knives or whatever people have on their registries these days just as much of not “working for what you want” as it is of asking for money, if that is how you want to intrepret the request/registry of wedding gifts of any kind????

          If you are railing against wedding registries as well as money gift requests, then believe me, I would not have a single problem with it.

          But my problem is that people are perfectly fine with a young and likely not financially well-off couple asking for random expensive gifts, most of which they already have an older set of, but somehow are not ok with asking for money.  And yes, I guarantee you that 50%+ of items on a gift registry is more expensive than if they shopped around themselves with the money you could give them instead.

          Again, people will probably not get the point so I’ll state it one more time.

          If you don’t like money gift requests and wedding registries, I don’t have a disagreement with you.  But if you think it’s ok to have a wedding registry but not money gift requests, then we have a disagreement.  And you’re on the losing end of the argument as Americans in general (and Asians, Italians, Polish, Nigerian have for centuries), including Margo, are getting used to the idea.

          • avatar Tiffany says:

            John Lee, you’re right on with this argument. Whether in the form of a $100 set of knives or a $100 check, you’re still out the same amount of money. I DO find it rude when people specify on their invites that they prefer money to gifts (I think it’s rude to assume people will give you something and then to tell them what to give) but if I’m going to a wedding and hear that what the couple really needs is help with a down payment or help with their honeymoon, I’m happy to give cash. It’s supposed to be FOR THEM, so I want to give them something they actually need/want, and it makes no difference to my checking account. Besides, I’m very confident that if I had a great gift idea in mind and did that instead, the couple would be happy with it; but if the choice is between something on a registry that I have no emotional attachment to and money they could use any way they’d please, I’d just as soon give money.

          • avatar Brooke Schubert says:

            Tiffany and John Lee-I agree completely.  Look at it this way, when you go to a wedding you usually at least vaguely know the couple and their needs.  If you have a gift in mind that you know is just perfect for them, then by all means give it-I’m sure it will be treasured and appreciated.  If you have no idea what to get the couple and have the choice of picking some random, meaningless thing off a registry or just tossing some cash in an envelope, I’ll go with the cash every time.

            My only pet peeve is when the invitation orders you to do one or the other.  Forget that crap, I’ll choose whatever gift I please.

            I’m 33 with a home of my own and if I ever do get married, I don’t want or need a single gift other than my friends’ presence.

          • avatar John Lee says:

            Well said Brooke.

            One thing I want to add is that if any couple were writing in to Margo angry or complaining to their friends because they got some other gift while they requested money, then I would recommend they learn some manners.

            I asked for red envelopes for my wedding, and I got some items from people who knew me well to give an useful gift (well, I also got some useless gifts as well from people I didn’t know well).  Regardless, I thanked them all with very thoughtful individualized Thank You note.   It’s a gift and I’m happy for their thoughtfulness.

            But I definitely am supported of asking for money in a “wedding registry” in lieu of household items, if a couple so chooses.

      • avatar John Lee says:

        It’s not about being greedy, but about being real. The need is money, not more gadgets.

        Exactly Donna.

        Again, I would never demand guest give ANYTHING as gifts.  But if they want to give a gift, give me money instead of 25% marked up kitchenware that my wife and I already have an older, perfectly functional set of.

        And if I didn’t have an ice cream maker that I desperately need and you feel like gifting me?  Give me $50 and I can go buy one on sale instead of registering for $75 retail.

        Again, if someone is against the idea of wedding registry and money gift requests, I have no problem with that!  Go to the wedding, have a free meal and email a thank you to the couple!  But if you want to give a gift, don’t be offended that the couple asks for money instead of $100 set of knives.

      • avatar Koka Miri says:

        Thank you John and Donna! (& Margo, I think you outlined the whole scenario pretty logically for us). Everyone who says “gift-giving is more fun…for me!” can by all means buy a gift if they’d like, and a reasonable bride and groom will find the thought behind it sweet, but frankly, it’s about the couple who are to be married, not about you as the guest. You are there to celebrate them. So while I definitely agree that it’s tacky and selfish to expect a present, or to demand (or imply that you demand) a gift, monetary or otherwise, I’m not sure why it offends so many people to actually give something the newlyweds can use. I don’t want to turn this political, but our economy is terrible and it’s really hard to save these days, even with what is officially considered a middle-class salary. Weddings – the food, decorations and cake all bought for their guests to enjoy – are expensive. If the spirit of your generosity is in the right place, as a guest celebrating someone else’s big day you should be contributing to their happiness, not obligating them to take back unwanted kitchenware or craigslisting the weird piece of pottery you found for them. So I think it rings a bit false to say that it’s impolite to mention that monetary gifts are welcome in place of the standard registry, especially since online registeries show exactly how much each person spends anyway. 

      • avatar D C says:

        Ahh the vacuum cleaner.   The other bridesmaids and I gave our bride that at her shower.  Then, at the end of the wedding, the couple snuck out the other side of the church to avoid all the well-wishers throwing rice over them.  Not sure what the aversion to rice was — back then we didn’t know about birds dying and all that.  They just thought they’d pulled one over on us and probably laughed all the way to the airport.  The Groom’s grandmother sat there in a wheelchair, crying, when she found the couple had split.  She wasn’t well, and lived a long way away, and figured she never see her grandson again. 

        I couldn’t take that. 

        The bride and groom had given me the apartment key so I could get in to water their plants.  I gathered up all the unused rice packets, so beautifully put together with netting and ribbon by the wedding party at a pre-wedding gathering a couple of weeks before.  I sprinkled rice in the drawers, in the furniture, in the bed, in the pockets of their hung-up clothing… and then I placed the brand new vacuum cleaner in the middle of the entry way with a note that said “Now you have a reason to use it!” 

        The bride and groom were not happy when they returned.  I might have gone overboard, but the rest of the wedding party was all in.  Oh well… they got over it, something like 20 years later.  I got invited to their 25th wedding anniversary party.  We laughed about it. 

        • avatar Deeliteful says:

          DC, that is just too funny! I’m sure if you did that today, the couple would file a complaint of malicious mischief against you or sue you for “emotional” stress.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      John Lee: I very much enjoyed reading your post, and I thought that you selected an entirely appropriate time to play your “Asian Card”, as you put it. However, you are very correct in saying that in many cultures, gifts of money have always been expected. I know that envelopes, usually white, were given at Polish weddings (my mother’s grandparents were from Poland, and her family was still very Eastern European culturally when she was married), either collected in a special basket, placed on a “tree”, or even sometimes pinned on the bride for dances. I do realize that red is an auspicious color in Asia, hence the color of your wedding envelopes.

      As I stated previously, I almost always give money…what more sensible, unselfish and practical gift can you give a newly married couple? Especially if you don’t know them well. I don’t care about co-habitation (it isn’t my business and I don’t make that kind of moral judgment), or children, or previous marriages, or lifestyle…if I accept the invitation, then I send or bring a gift (usually send in advance…they may need it). Sometimes if I have to give my regrets, I still send a gift.

      I think what a lot of people are responding to might be that haughty attitude of entitlement displayed by far too many couples who make very explicit demands for cash ***and*** register for over-priced items and make it very clear that their expectations must be met. It’s a bit symptomatic of today’s culture of The Wedding being a day when the Bride (and to a far lesser extent, the groom) must be deified, and everyone participating or attending the celestial nuptials must bow down in sycophantic awe and worship by opening their wallets, and forsaking their own lives, for the Divine Couple.

      I’m certainly not saying you are one of these, and I find comments about sending money rather than items as gifts not being any fun rather boorish, actually. I can take satisfaction in knowing that they’ll definitely be able to use my gift, hassle free, for whatever they want. And I don’t really care if they have something to look at so that they’ll “remember me when this you see”. That smelled faintly of narcissism. My suggestions regarding a more tactful approach to not getting items as gifts, added to a few posts that supported these ideas (I love “your presence is gift enough”) are meant to not be so off-putting to the writ-in-stone crowd.

      And it really doesn’t matter if you give a $100 set of knives (though at this stage of my life, married 17 years, and a pretty fair cook, I could certainly use decent cutlery) or a $100 check, or $100 hideous crystal candy dish that you just know the couple will love…you’ve spent the same amount of money. I think it takes some thought, and stepping outside of your own personal box on these matters. The world is not the same place as it was in the ’50’s or ’60’s…or even the ’70’s and ’80’s. And when you scrape away all of the inglorious, flamboyant and too often ridiculously extravagant trappings of the modern wedding…it isn’t about you…it’s about them and their dreams, hopes, and lives.

  6. avatar NYCGirl says:

    It sounds like the stepdad raised the rent without discussing it with his wife.

    • avatar etienne westwind says:

      I hadn’t caught that vibe, but rereading, you might be right. Though, if my daughter had been such an unsafe babysitter for my five year-old that I had to quit my job, I’d have been tempted to skip the rent increase and go straight to you have a month to find your own place…

    • avatar Chris Glass` says:

      I think it might have been discussed but mom didn’t have the backbone to stand up to her child. After two years of supporting deadbeats with no real privacy it was time to raise the rent or kick them out. The only way some kids will grow up is when everyone cuts the apron strings.

    • avatar bright eyes says:

      Yea it depends on who is calling him the bad guy. Because if the Step Daughter and the Boyfriend moved out suddenly in the middle of the night… who is arround to call him the bad guy? Unless it’s Boyfriend’s family… but then they will learn soon enough!

  7. my husband and i lived together for almost two years prior to getting married. my thoughts and feelings on living together being irrelevant here, but i can’t help but put my two cents in for a second. i think living together first is a fabulous idea provided you have no strong cultural or moral objection to “living in sin”. we flew through many of the hurdles of combining lives that could possibly put a major hurting on a fledgling marriage.

    we did not specifically ask for cash but fortunately, we have very understanding family and friends who gathered that we already had everything we *needed* and the majority of the gifts were “envelopes”. this money could not have come at a better time. a month to the day before my wedding day i had surgery for an ailment that had taken eight long months and countless medical bills to diagnose. we were able to go into our marriage knowing that we could pay off those bills, have a small nest egg and still afford a few fabulous dinners on our honeymoon.

    i don’t find it tacky to give money as a gift. money can’t buy you love or happiness but sometimes it can buy you peace of mind. i don’t know if any of those relations and friends who gave monetary gifts truly knows how grateful we were. for the first time in months, i was able to lay my head on the pillow and not wonder how we would pay off my medical bills. i could stop feeling guilty about dragging debt into my new marriage (although, necessary debt because without the surgery i wouldn’t have been around to marry lol) and i could enjoy my honeymoon without counting every penny and laying awake beside my new husband worrying.

    i say, what’s the harm? it might seem tacky to you but it might be the gift of a lifetime to the bride and groom.

    • avatar D C says:

      Thank you for that comment.  It helps to show that not everyone is a greedy troll.  Some people are just practical. 

  8. avatar callie123 says:

    LW 2: In my opinion asking for money contributions instead of “stuff” is not wrong. In today’s society it is becoming more and more common for couples to live together before marriage and if you are living together you are going to accumulate all the “stuff” that you would need for daily living. Asking for a money contribution towards something that the couple really needs; like a down payment on a house, or something they want; like a honeymoon, is to me more practical. If they couple has everything that they need or want for their house, then anything that is given, with the exception of personalized items, will most probably be returned anyway and they would eventually get the cash that way.

  9. avatar etienne westwind says:

    When you add in utilities, groceries and renter’s insurance, I paid more than 400 a month to live alone in a one bedroom apartment in the late nineties, so it’s not like LW1 was gouging the couple. Just trying to give them a taste of reality.

    Didn’t we have a letter similar to LW2 two weeks ago? Well, aside from the Italian=Mafia crack… Anyway, even when confronted with a more traditional registry, nothing says you have to follow the suggestions therein. Same for money requests. Though at least money is something you know the couple will use.

  10. avatar cleanslate says:

    I will not be asking for money when I get married in February because my family would be mortified if I did. And, to an extent, I understand. My mother is a southern woman who takes propriety seriously.

    Having said that, money is truly the only gift I want, for two reasons:

    1. I’m 41 years old, have owned 2 houses, and have everything I need. My fiancee is even older, has owned even more houses, etc.

    2. Our wedding will be in my hometown in NC, but we will be living thousands of miles away in western CANADA, where my fiancee is from. Shipping the gifts from the southeast US to western Canada will cost more than most of the actual gifts.

    So my wedding website says nothing about gifts whatsoever, and we’re not registering for anything. Our photographer has a registry option, as do many of the honeymoon packages we’re looking at, but even those would be seen as inappropriate by my family. And that’s a damn shame too.

    • avatar cleanslate says:

      I will add, in response to some of the other comments, that I am not **expecting** any gift at all, including cash. I welcome guests to my wedding, and I hope that everyone who is invited will attend, regardless of their ability or desire to give anything.

  11. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#2: I’m in agreement with those who say if you have so much stuff you don’t want a lovingly chosen present from good friends and family so you can remember their delight at your wedding, then fine. I’m happy to stay home from your (probably over-the-top) wedding. Pay for your own fancy honeymoon. Wedding presents were never meant to be the vehicle to give a privileged couple the trip of a life time. They were meant to be a way to help a couple get started together and to have some wonderful tokens of love.

    We’ve lost that in the entitlement society. I don’t participate. I choose presents that I think will appeal to the individual. If you want to return them, that is your prerogative. I do have to say that my nieces and nephews have commented from time to time that I gave them things they would not have thought to request but that they use all the time. I love that they get good use from what I’ve sent and they think of me when using them.

    For the responder who convinced his wife they didn’t need the overly-expensive knives, you must not be a cook. If you have ever really used a great knife, you will understand the difference.

    • avatar cleanslate says:

      You don’t have to stay home just because you aren’t bringing a gift. Your presence would be welcomed and appreciated, I’m sure.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      Unless the person is demanding that you bring cash if you attend, I don’t see why you can’t attend a wedding in which cash is requested, but you bring a different gift.  If there is a demand that you must bring a cash gift, then that person does not deserve your attendance. 

      It has nothing to do with entitlement.  People use registries all the time for gifts.  That is socially acceptable, but a “cash” registry is not.  There is no logical reason for the distinction.

  12. avatar Jrz Wrld says:

    I’m not a fan of the whole blatantly soliciting for cash, but … I love to shop. In particular, I love to shop for books, as I’m an avid reader. When my parents threw me a birthday party, I don’t think anyone was offended when (in response to direct queries only) I asked for gift cards to a popular bookstore. They knew they were giving me a kind of 2-for-1 gift: the delight of shopping for the books and then actually getting to read them.

    I always give checks at weddings for the most part, unless I know there’s a gift the couple would really enjoy (like the gift card to a gourmet restaurant I got my cousin and his wife). I don’t go by registries (except for baby showers) because usually the couple has everything they need and I know too many people who get carried away with their registry and then regret it. I would prefer to give a gift that the bride and groom can use for practical purposes or invest in their future together. I DO think it’s tacky to be pushy about whatever gift you indicate you prefer.

    However, I would like to note that the woman who said she’s prefer to give a gift that would remind them of her forever sounded a tad ego-driven. It’s about helping a new couple get started, not about staking a place in their memories.

  13. avatar Jim Martin says:

    I said “You got a fluckey” out loud as many ways as I could think to say it, and I still don’t get it. HELP! PLEASE!

  14. avatar S Brown says:

    LW2: When my close friend’s daughter married the man she’d lived with for nearly three years, the couple registered for everything but toilet paper because they wanted “all new”. They also asked for cash for the honeymoon and a house. They invited everyone except the sacker at the grocery store to the wedding but a much smaller number to the cheesy reception. The only “thank you” cards sent, to my knowledge, were for the gifts received at the three bridal showers saying that the happy couple were already using the gifts two months before the wedding. Now it’s Baby Shower time for these two fully-employed people. Invitations included a message that cash would be nice for the “Babymoon” they were taking. If many of us are feeling squeamish about “modern” customs that seem to be only gift and cash grabs, it’s because that’s what they are. If you’re close enough to the couple to want to share and celebrate milestones in their lives, you probably are already aware whether or not cash is what’s needed most.

    • avatar K Coldiron says:

      See, it’s experiences like this that make me wonder how people who politely suggest that money would be better than items that they already have can be tacky and greedy. What an awful couple you describe.

      I didn’t need any stuff when I got married, so I repeated “your presence [at the wedding] is your present”. My mother-in-law circulated that nothing or a lovely card would be just fine, but if the person insisted on a gift, cash would be better. So we had a nice little unsolicited egg to spend on the honeymoon. Was that tacky?

      • avatar K Coldiron says:

        (Also, my thank-you notes were all done by the time a month had gone by, and I wrote one to every single person who attended and everyone who sent us gifts.)

        • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

          No it was lovely and kind and just what should be done. All of this gets so difficult. It took me so long to “get” comfortable with money gifts. My husband’s family is Italian and it is their tradition. In my family it was a “horror”. I do see both sides and I spend time (often far too much) considering which way to go. The only thing I disagree with in this whole conversation is the idea of not attending and sending no gift at all. I was brought up that if you are invited, you send a gift whether you can attend or not. I will only add this, the importance of thank you notes will never, ever go out of style or become “old fashioned”. NEVER!

    • avatar etienne westwind says:

      Babymoon? Can’t say I’ve heard of that before.

      There are all kinds of people in the world. And using large invitation lists to turn weddings and the like into loot grabs is not limited to the current generation.

      • avatar JCF4612 says:

        Babymoon? It’s a first for me, too. How totally nauseating. Bet this barf of a

        • avatar S Brown says:

          A “Babymoon” as it was explained to me is a nice get-away trip for the expectant parents to celebrate their pregnancy and to enjoy themselves before they’re “tied down” with the new arrival (just in case grandmas and grandpas don’t live up to their pledges of free babysitting). No, I’m not making this up. I couldn’t.

          • avatar etiennewestwind says:

            Can’t say I’m impressed with that attitude toward either the baby or the grandparents-to-be…

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            Yeah, I had never heard of a “push present” until I was surfing the net the other day and was like: “oh for God’s sake.”

          • avatar amw says:

            Oh well isn’t that nice…

            Just when you thought you’d heard it all…

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        And to exacerbate your incredulousness, I give you the Push Present. Yes, fathers everywhere, now you are expected to gift the Mother Of Your Children with something shiny, pricey, and preferably studded with a few carats worth of diamonds to reward her for doing what biology intended only the female of the species to do. You know, what you both hopefully agreed on. Except that The Industry would have her believe that you actually Inflicted This upon her, and that the hopefully healthy little life she just produced, and some sweet flowers, is Not Enough for her inhuman suffering brought on by your maleness and cruel insensitivity.

        Though, upon reflection, at the current price of gold per troy ounce, and diamonds, Push Presents could become an expensive proposition. An excellent argument for insistence on birth control by the male. Hmmm…

        • avatar Artemesia says:

          when I had my first child nearly 40 years ago my husband gave me a pretty ring — no one talked about ‘push presents’ etc etc but a man who cares about and appreciates his wife should certainly do something special to celebrate this great moment in their lives as a couple for which she bears the greatest responsibility and certainly the pain and effort. it is just a sweet thing to do. a man who begrudges a gesture like this, sounds pretty nasty.

          of course demanding such a gift undoes the whole thing — and let’s hope there are not registries LOL

          when our second child was born, he bought me an antique silver serving dish which is still used at family events and will some day go to our eldest grandchild the daughter of the daughter whose birth was celebrated.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Mmm…Artemesia…I hope you’re not assuming what others have mistakenly done…that I am a man. I am very female, with two biological children.

            I am bemused by this commentary: “…but a man who cares about and appreciates his wife should certainly do something special to celebrate this great moment in their lives as a couple for which she bears the greatest responsibility and certainly the pain and effort…”

            Really? Let me ask you something…did you agree to have children, while fully aware that the biological process of childbearing fell upon the woman due to evolutionary process? Did you know it might hurt to some greater or lesser degree? I would guess that you did, and also that you did indeed expect a reward for your, mmm, efforts, despite any protestations to the contrary. After all, a man who wouldn’t reward his partner for her labors is just “nasty”.

            I was in labor for twelve hours with literally back-to-back contractions, fully dilated (but no sign of the baby), when my moronic ob finally decided to deliver him by emergency c-section. My reward was seeing my huge, squashed, but very alive, and ultimately healthy son. My husband (now my ex) gave me a balloon that said “I love you”, which was unexpectedly sweet, and which is in my boy’s forever box. My second son was delivered by planned, but absolutely essential c-section (don’t take the “you got off easy” route…I had internal adhesions that nearly prevented me from straightening for almost a month, and I’m no wimp about pain)…and my reward was my little funny lizard with his long gangly legs, huge hands and feet, astounding set of lungs…and his daddy’s tears of joy. I had a small bouquet of bright flowers…but that healthy boy and his daddy’s joy were more than enough for me.

            Men can’t have babies, and I’m not one of those women who think of pregnancy and child birth as suffering and sacrifice, or duty and obligation. Nor do I wish that men could “experience it just once” so that they could “understand what we go through” (cue back of hand to forehead and dramatic half-swoon). We are the biological carriers of the young in the business of reproduction. If you think you should be rewarded for what is simply natural, and has been for eons…then I well can imagine that there do indeed exist registries for Push Presents.

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            “a man who cares about and appreciates his wife should certainly do something special to celebrate this great moment in their lives as a couple for which she bears the greatest responsibility and certainly the pain and effort.”

            Yeah, that’s called “flowers.”

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            Actually, let me add one thing to my previous post…

            “when our second child was born, he bought me an antique silver serving dish…”

            Imagine how romantic and special it would have been if he had handed you a wad of cash instead and said: “Congratulations, honey! Have fun shopping!”

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            David, we are totally on the same page here. I was so thrilled to have my Big Head Buddha (9 lbs. 12 oz.) and my grumpy, gangly Micky Rourke (per-facial-wreckage) look-alike lizard (22.5 inches, 7 lbs. 11 oz.) I could not have cared less about a reward. For what? I’m the female, I got to experience the pleasure of carrying my little critters, and after labor and all that, I got to take home someone new and wonderful.

            Men really get punished in the whole engagement/bridal/anniversary/Journey/diamond thing. And now…the Push Present. Ladies, if you think pregnancy is an agonizing, sacrificial rite that you are forced to endure because it was inflicted on you by a nasty man, and that you deserve something from him for your pain and suffering, subsequent “disfiguration”, and the boredom, end of life, career stoppage, intellect destruction and holy hell that raising a child seems to be accepted to be of late (and apparently forty years ago as well)…then maybe you should just get a plant. A silk plant. Some believe plants can feel pain too.

            Good grief.

        • avatar amw says:

          Wow! That must be beyond ridiculous…
          I’ve heard some sweet stories of the husband’s giving their wife a gift…but not because it was expected or some type of tradition…

  15. avatar D C says:

    On Wedding Gifts:  If it’s for someone I care about and want to share in their joy, I don’t get my nose bent out of shape about what they would prefer to have, whether it be money or doggie treats.  Life is getting shorter and shorter and it’s too short to get my panties in a bunch because the evolutionary process continues and I’m here long enough to take note of it.

    On Immature Adults:  You did, indeed, get “a fluckey”.  Don’t worry that the boyfriends’ parents think you’re a meanie.  I imagine it botherers you because maybe you’re thinking somewhere down the line there will be grandchildren and you won’t get to see them as often as the other side.  You cannot please all of the people all of the time, so just get comfortable and curl up with the notion of that, and be happy.  If you cannot be happy with the choice you made and the outcome of that choice, you can always go back and tell the kids (because they ARE kids), “come back and we’ll pay for everything.” Somehow I think you’re odds of being happy with your current choice are better. 

    • avatar carol grzonka says:

      of COURSE, the byfriend’s parents think you’re a meanie. they know their son is a leech. and now they’re stuck with him AND a girlfriend.  and now i’m gonna be a meanie, too.  why didn’t they close the doors to these 2.  responsibility comes never to the well-taken care of. having to deal with an emergency such as no parents babysitting 25 y.o.’s  would mature them very quickly.  they might never see this as the real favor it is, but your future grandchildren will be better off for it.  endless adolescents make lousy parents.  your stepdaughter already proved this when your wife had to quit her job because of her inability to care for a 5 y.o.

  16. avatar Jim Martin says:

    It’s amazing how much energy and hot air gets spent on issues like what kinds of wedding gifts are appropriate. Why it matters at all is way beyond me. If I got an invitation and didn’t like anything about it I just wouldn’t participate. Trying to judge whether it is “right” or not just seems silly to me. The whole world (and it seems to be a very big one) of etiquette and why it matters may be one of the less noted differences between the sexes, or it may just be something I was blessed to be born without.

    • avatar etienne westwind says:

      I’ve met plenty of male sticklers for etiquette. Though there may be some sex differences on which points they’ll care most about.

      • avatar Jim Martin says:

        Thanks, Etienne. I’m glad to find out it’s not a gender difference, just a personal difference between me and most people who comment on advice columns. I must confess that one of the many reasons I much prefer Margo to her cousin Jeanne is that Margo features an etiquette question about once in a blue moon and Jeanne does it nearly every day.

  17. avatar Sweet Dream says:

    Growing up in Asia in the ’60s and ’70s I remember that my mom used to collect red envelopes. Everytime there was an invitation whether to a birthday party or a wedding she’d get one of those, stuff it with a little money and we went on our merry way and generally had a good time. We’d soon see the newly wed moving to a new house or setting aside money for the first born or whatever they might need to do. If it was a birthday the money might go to a college fund. In the end everything evened up because our friends and family would do the same to us. Life was not always easy but we are practical people. Also we never asked for anything, never even a hint that we wanted something as a gift. I saw plenty of people not bringing anything to a wedding because at that particular time they didn’t have much to spare. A gift of money is a practical gift as long as nobody feels it’s been wrestled out off their purse.

  18. avatar Michelles11 says:

    LW2…I am NOT opposed to giving money for a wedding.  What I AM opposed to is the “asking” for money.  Or even setting up a website to contribute to a honeymoon or downpayment for a house.  Just don’t register anywhere…I think most people will just give money in that case and the amount is up to them.  Then you send them a THANK YOU NOTE in a timely manner…I did mine as soon as I got back from the honeymoon and had them in the mail within a month after the wedding

    When you send your THANK YOU NOTE…YES a WRITTEN THANK YOU note (not an email, not a generic, everyone gets one thank you) to each guest you write something like this:  “Dear Mr and Mrs (the name of the person or couple) Thank you so much for joinging us in celebrating our wedding with us, we had a great time and so happy to see you there with us.  We’d also like to thank you for your GENEROUS gift which we used towards our new home (Honeymoon, household, whatever).  Whenever we enter our new home we think of all of our great friends and family who were there to help us in this new phase of our lives together.  We hope you had as much as fun as we did.  Thanks again and hope to see you soon!  Mr and Mrs Bride and Groom. 

    I think the issue is mostly that these couples SEEM entitled to gifts of money…even if they really don’t feel this way, these websites and such kind of make it seem like that.  Also the lack of appropriate ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the gift (monetary or otherwise) is also disheartening.  People love a thank you note just to even make sure that the recipient GOT the gift (so MENTION the gift in the thank you note, specify what you are going to do with it…) and that you appreciated the thought that went into to the gift (even if you really didn’t).  That’s how I would do it, and most people really really appreciate.  JMHO. 

  19. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    I agree that it is tacky to ask for money but I do not think that it is inappropriate to give money or a check to the couple. As stated before many couples enter a marriage by combining households. Giving cash does not mean that I am too lazy to search for a gift. I think that it allows the couple leeway to pay for unexpected expenses or save towards an eventual home.

    My feeling on house and honeymoon registries is that it is asking family and friends to contribute to things they can’t afford for themselves in hard economic times. Let’s not forget that many of these registries – especially for trips – fill the pockets of the vendor in the form of a commission.

  20. avatar amw says:

    I am 25 and my fiance is 28. We both own our own homes, one that we live in and one that we use as an investment property. We both worked very hard to get approved for a mortgage…we were both 21 and our age and length of employment were as much a part of that approval as was our credit rating. It is certainly something we are both extremely proud of…especially because we did it on our own without anyone’s assistance.

    We feel the same way about the wedding and honeymoon. Although monetary donations have been offered by immediate family members, it was never something we requested and certainly not something we expect.

    Those we have invited to our wedding (under 75 people mind you) are people we love and want to share our special day with. Gift or not, their presence is reward enough. I will have a guest book so I can personally thank each and every person that was able to attend.

    I think I’ve mentioned before how appalled we were to receive my fiance’s cousin’s wedding invitation. We were given an invitation two weeks before the wedding and at the bottom in bold letters it said, “In lieu of gifts, couple requests cash” or something to that effect.

    Because of that, I am unsure whether a registry is even necessary. Everyone knows that as far as common household items, we are well stocked. So at this point, whenever I am questioned as to the location of my registry or what we would like as a gift, I honestly answer, “Your presence is gift enough.”

    Having said that, I don’t believe its out of line to set-up an option to contribute to a honeymoon excursion or other expense…just so long as there are other options that don’t include cash donations for those that would prefer to buy something rather than contribute money. And for heaven’s sake, don’t advertise it! If asked, be honest…but any other reaction is just greedy!

    • avatar amw says:

      “I will have a guest book so I can personally thank each and every person that was able to attend.”

      And by this I mean a thank you card, sent immediately after we get back from our honeymoon! I think a guest taking time out of their schedule…and perhaps paying for travel expenses…warrants an acknowledgment.

      And if they were so generous as to give us a gift, it of course will be mentioned as well.

      It wouldn’t matter to me if it weren’t proper etiquette, I’d still do it. I may be young, but I love getting cards in the mail…an email just seems so much less personal.

      • avatar Barbara says:

        amw: I am with you. I write a thank you note immediately for any present. It’s a lovely surprise for people in their mailbox (who gets much paper mail these days?) and it lets the person know I appreciated their present. I do not understand people who are “too busy” or “forgot” or put it off for so long it’s too embarrassing to send now. I had my first baby the morning after my baby shower. (A little sooner than expected.) I wrote the thank you notes in the hospital. There is a way to do this and my mother taught me that if you do it right away, then it’s a lot less painful than having a whole pile of them or having to not only say thanks but explain the long delay.

        And for those who haven’t gotten around to their thank you notes…yes, we do remember that we sent you a present you did not thank us for!

  21. avatar Lila says:

    Living at home, working part-time jobs or unable to hold down a job, and spending whatever money they have on fun rather than saving or contributing to the household. Classic irresponsible teens.

    Oh, wait. They’re 24 and 25 years old. I’m with Katharine on this: at what age do we expect our young people to be “grown up?”

    I know someone similar, only now he is pushing 30. He finally has a steady full-time job (for the past 2 years), so we thought he would soon be on his way to “real adulthood.” But no. Around the same time he got that job, he was skating the edge of financial disaster, always late on his rent, getting his utilities cut off, couldn’t maintain his car, etc – so he moved in with a friend, saying this would allow him to save up, get his finances in order, and then move out again within six months or a year. HA! What really happened is that he has more discretionary income so he spends it on himself, still has no savings, still owes people money, and can’t afford to move out of his friend’s house. The friend started charging him rent after the six-month point and he pays it – it’s a good deal at less than half of what he was charged for his own place.

    I have come to expect that unless the friend kicks him out, he will still be there when he’s pushing 40. There is no incentive to move out.

  22. avatar Tulip O'Hare says:

    I notice that there are no replies to the bride getting married for the first time in her 40s, or the 25-year-old who already owns a house with her fiance.

    Are they rude, entitled jerks too? Or are you all just here to complain about the mythical Kids These Days and how universally horrible they are, with nothing to say to any real-world stories of people who aren’t selfish AND really don’t need a double set of household goods?

    • avatar sueb1997 says:

      I’m 49.  Never been married.  I own my own home, have all the “stuff” I care to have.  In fact, I’m rather a minimalist, and don’t have lots of the gadgets that others have, but that is intentional.  I have my parents trained to not send me gifts, as they know I am trying to reduce my accumulation of stuff, not increase it.  Boyfriends have generally shared this view, or else gifts have been well-discussed to make sure it’s something truly wanted (my favorite gift from a boyfriend was a firewood-splitting maul).  When/if I ever get married, I can’t imagine allowing any guest (even though my idea of a good wedding would involve perhaps 5 or 6 people at the most — with perhaps a bigger reception/party later) to think they should bring a standard gift, no matter how traditional.  I would find receiving gifts to be more obligation than anything else, so I would discourage it.  I would not “request” cash, but at the same time I would understand that some people just don’t feel comfortable not giving a gift, so money would definitely be appreciated over gadgets.

      When I am a guest, I often feel torn about gifts.  I think most people have too much stuff, even given the hard economic times.  I also don’t approve of most gadgets that people have or want.  So my solution has been to give gift certificates — that way I’m not giving cash that just supports more blatant consumerism, but that is directed to a particular outlet that I support.  So, rather than a gift certificate to WalMart, I would give a gift certificate to the local plant nursery, or to a local restaurant that I know the couple enjoys.  It’s the best of both worlds, giving a gift I can feel good about giving, that I think will be enjoyed, but also gives the recipient leeway to choose what they would most like or need.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      If they have a set of household goods and are well-established, why not simply put: “your presence is our gift” on the invitation? I agree with the above posts that wedding presents are and have been traditionally meant to start the unestablished couple off in a new household together. Gifts aren’t prizes for the act of getting married itself—so if you don’t need a gift because you already have a house or two filled with stuff, then tell your guests to avoid giving gifts at all.

      • avatar amw says:

        Because technically, any mention of a gift is considered rude and presumptuous.

        That is why, if I’m asked about what we want or have registered for, I say those exact words.

  23. avatar S Brown says:

    I don’t think there are many people who endorse doubling or tripling household items merely to follow some rigid idea of good manners versus giving cash gifts. I think what people are objecting to is what’s becoming a new norm of greed and entitlement among some people. It’s fairly easy to distinguish this behavior from that of lovely couples of all ages who know their wedding guests well enough to make their wishes known as to gifts (if any) and who spend at least as much time thanking friends and family for sharing their day as they did sending “Save the Date” cards and wedding invitations. Apparently you haven’t been unfortunate enough to overhear a bridal party advising each other to “be sure to ask a lot of old people because they’ve got the bucks. Get a bunch of your mom and dad’s friends’ addresses.”

    • avatar amw says:

      Whenever a dear friend of mine discovered I was getting married, she called to tell me to invite EVERYONE and to be sure and register at places that were otherwise unaffordable on our meager budget. She even suggested we invite people I knew couldn’t come so we could at least get a gift!

      My jaw dropped! I couldn’t believe those words were coming out of her mouth, no matter how well intentioned she was towards me and my fiance, she clearly hadn’t considered the feelings of others. It’s a shame…people seem to forget themselves when a wedding is in the making.

  24. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW#1 What should you have done differently? Exactly what you did, but much, much sooner. You don’t want your five-year-old influenced by these two louts. Congratz for making a smart move.

    LW#2 Have run into this trend, too, including requests for gift cards to fancy restaurants and cash for a trip to South America. I continue to give precisely what I think would be suitable, typically in the way of tangibles. Almost always, I receive a warm thank you note. When no acknowledgment is forthcoming, I write the couple off. Inevitable invitations to baby showers and christenings for the ingrates, rate nothing more than a best wishes (i.e. rots of ruck) note.   

  25. avatar tj goldstein says:

    Letter 2 – I love it when people say.. ‘you are so damn selfish/rude to expect people to pay for your house loan or honeymoon!! How dare you!! How very dare you be straight forward and not beat around the bush in informing people what you would like as a wedding gift!!! How very very very dare you not throw everything out in your kitchen/bedroom so I can go and grab something on sale at Kmart, carefully peel off the price sticker and have it wrapped nicely so it looks more expensive than it really is so you think I’ve actually spent *heaps and heaps and heaps* of money on you so that I look like the best wedding guest 4eva!!1!’

    :: sigh :: These days, only *wankers* think gift registries and contributing to what the ‘happy’ couple really wants is rude.

    You are a guest at the wedding.. stop whining.. stop complaining.. stop being selfish and stop being rude. Simply do as requested and contribute however much you would like towards what they would like as a gift. It doesn’t matter how much you contribute… if the bride/groom is asking for a contribution to a honeymoon, your $25 might just go towards a nice seafood dinner in an exotic location…. whereas, your crystal cut vase will be shoved up in a cupboard for 3 years because buying cut flowers to go in it are too expensive… or, re-gifted to someone else.. hopefully no-one that you both know.

    If you can’t do that very simple thing… then you obviously aren’t much of a friend and/or relative.

    I honestly don’t understand the hardship. Is it really that important to make a grand entrance with an expensively wrapped present that they will more than likely stow away in cupboard for a few years until it’s safe to re-gift to another unfortunate recipient?

    As for all this rubbish of.. work for what you want.. learn to save for what you want… well, does that mean if the bride and groom did indeed ask for an expensive set of kitchen knives or saucepan set.. instead of a monetary contribution.. would you say the same thing? ‘Hell no I ain’t putting money towards that knife set! If they want something that expensive, they need to learn to work for it!!’

    • avatar Babbalou says:

      tj goldstein, I have to respond to your comment….I have no objection to people indicating a preference for what they’d prefer in the way of a gift, as long as they indicate their preference only when someone has asked what they’d like for a gift.  If they are asked, they can respond and let the individual know where they’re registered or say that they’d love to get cash gifts or refer them to a website that’s taking donations or whatever.  I do think it’s very rude to broadcast out to everyone, including those who haven’t asked, that you’d prefer to receive only cash.  While I sometimes have given cash as a gift, to say that’s all you want to receive seems a little like you’re throwing a party and asking the guests to contribute, which is never in good taste.  And I don’t have any particular objection to indicating in the invitation where the couple has registered although it’s not traditionally been considered good manners.  People are busy, and some find it convenient, and I have never thought purchasing a gift from the registry was mandatory.  I have always enjoyed shopping for gifts and have sometimes made gifts or put together a gift basket of things I know the couple would enjoy.  I’ve given cases of good wine, matching Chinese silk robes, beautiful handmade quilts.  You get the idea.  To me gifts are things from the heart and selected and given with great care and with love.  I have been married for 26 years and still have every wedding gift I was given, with the exception of the wine which we drank to celebrate the birth of our first child.  Looking at these gifts brings back such wonderful memories.

    • avatar Jon T says:

      I have to respond to TJ as well. “Simply do as requested?” I was under the impression that the people showing up to the wedding were guests, not independent contractors. Having said that, while I personally couldn’t set up a honeymoon registry, they are considered acceptable AS LONG as the newlyweds don’t list their demands, (excuse me, “registries”) in the invitation. That’s still a word of mouth thing, depending on whether the guest asks. Announcing gift requirements upfront in exchange for allowing people the privilege of buying the couple presents is still poor form.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      “You are a guest at the wedding.. stop whining.. stop complaining.. stop being selfish and stop being rude.”

      Oh, after you.

  26. avatar Artemesia says:

    The Dad whose stepdaughter moved out in the night should not only not feel guilty but he and his wife should feel good that they have finally done what they should have long ago.

    If it were me, I would simply ignore the pouty whiny ‘you are bad guys’ nonsense and act as if their move was a great thing and you are proud of them. Have them for dinner; praise them for taking responsibility for themselves. Be sunny and supportive.

    Sure somebody dropped the ball in raising this kid — but sometimes in spite of one’s best efforts kids don’t turn out to be the responsible young adults we hope for — lucky is part of it. This girl will one hopes some day grow up — providing free lodging for her and her layabout boyfriend is not the route to that. With luck, they will wear out their welcome at his family and be forced to act like grownups.

    Kudos for making the right move. And take to heart this story and raise the new little one to be responsible for herself — I hope she is already helping with household chores; as she gets older she should be cooking, doing her own laundry and in general being a contributing member of the household. And when she is ready for college, it should be made clear that upon graduation she is expected to: be employed and self supporting or in grad school. And that she is expected to live on her own or if at home to be either paying substantial rent or in school. Lots of kids slide if given the chance. We made these expectations clear to our kids when they were young teens — there was no question of either of ours slunging after college and letting us support them. They had internalized expectations. Part luck. Part careful planning.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I absolutely agree. Our 14 year old son has chores he now does automatically, and has taken it upon himself to learn to operate the washer and dryer and do dishes and several other things around the house. He gets an allowance…but if he doesn’t do his chores, it will be docked…and he knows this.

      But, of more importance, he knows that he is part of the family, and that he has responsibilities that he has to cover just as myself and his father do. He is also eventually college bound, and while we will do our best to cover his first four years, we are encouraging him to work hard toward his grades (he is extremely bright) because competition for scholarships is fierce, and every little bit helps. He knows that he will have to work summers during his first four years of college…and summers in high school if he likes (we are not believers in students working during the school year in high school…and being on the high end of the academic track entails mountains, and hours and hours of homework)…to fund his graduate work.

      He can come home if he wants between college semesters…but he won’t be laying about doing nothing. We are readers and thinkers, and I am fully intending to return to college to study chemistry and forensic sciences, and then hopefully find work. He is already a conscientious person, and we are already encouraging him to find his own way. With what we are giving him (neither of us ever lived by sponging from our parents) and a little good fortune, and hopefully, a continual growth of his own good nature, he will turn out all right.

      I think that LW1 was perfectly right in raising the rent, and gave the step-daughter-and plenty of time to get it together. He was really very reasonable. The fact that they did a midnight powder suggests that they wanted to give the impression of being put under o-s0-unbearable pressure and being chased out by an evil Mr. Meanie (O, and that they’re miserable sponges who can and will clear out at a moments notice when the well dries up and there is nothing left to absorb). He isn’t a bad guy. I hope his step-mooch has a wonderful time living in a sardine can rather than being responsible.

  27. avatar momis says:

    Letter #1: I don’t see anything wrong with raising the rent when it is clear that they are not saving money move out to a place of their own. I do think, however, that the first mistake was to allow that living arragenment. I’ve seen that in my family as well. My parents had to help my older siblings and younger one by letting them stay without paying rent but by helping with bills. The problem hasn’t been the money but that getting so many people with different (and sometimes difficult) personalities under one roof is just a recipe for disaster. I’m the most independent one of the four of us kids and I pray I don’t ever have to see myself in a situation to move back in because I’ve gotten used to things being a certain way, my own way.

  28. avatar Miss Lee says:

    My only experience with the help pay for our honeymoon thing was with a young gal where I worked.  I liked her quite a bit so when one of the things they listed, a tour, was something I would love to do if I ever traveled to France, I purchased it for them and a higher price than I have ever given for a wedding present…I am not well off.  Turns out that they get the gift in cash to spend as they would like and never did take the tour I bought.  I had hoped to be shown pictures and share the memories but not to be and I got over it.  We no longer work together and I certainly still have warm memories of her but I would never fall for this one again now I know how it works. 

    As for the step father, watching my niece work her parents for YEARS, he really got of lucky.  Smart man.  This whole delay in the growing up and taking responsibility for yourself bit the young folks have going on now isn’t healthy for either the kids or the parents.  It provides a great way to avoid what the real problem may be.   They may just deadbeats and leeches. 

    • avatar amw says:

      I wouold hope your co-worker at least sent you a letter telling you how thoughtful it was for you to treat them to something nice for their honeymoon.

      I thought that by adding “excursions” to your registry, the money paid for that and would be credited to your account at the resort/venue. Even if that wasn’t the case, if the bride and groom opted NOT to take the tour for whatever reason, you deserved an explanation. You gave with the intent of giving them an opportunity to something you knew you and they would enjoy…not to mention in anticipation of the story and pictures that would come with it.

      Such a shame…

  29. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    Letter #2: No, you are not a fuddy duddy. The practice of “expecting” gifts for marriage, birthdays, holidays, etc. has always been crass. And rude. The fact that it is so blatant now that people are actually demanding money does not shock the Count. Though it does sadden him. You are under no obligation to go along with what amounts to extortion. Nor are you obliged to follow any sort of “registry”. You may give what your heart tells you to. Or not. When the Count is invited to these crass showbizzy wedding “spectaculars”, he absolutely always declines. Using the proper verbiage. On house paper. In black ink. Margo, you and I usually see eye to eye. But dear heavens above, not on this one. Not even close.

    • avatar amw says:

      Expecting a gift is beyond rude. If it weren’t for the fact that I am such a new face to my fiance’s family, I wouldn’t have showed up at his cousin’s nuptials. To assume that we would all be reaching into our wallets…especially for a wedding that was planned in two weeks when the couple had only been together a meer three or four months…was unacceptable, hideous behavior. However, had they not made that assumption, I most likely would have either bought them something they could use or purchased a gift card so they could have picked out their own gift. As it was, I brought absolutely nothing but a fake smile on my face until I was able to politely get away!

  30. avatar blueelm says:

    I hate weddings. Honestly, if I’d known then what I know now I’d have told everyone to stuff it and eloped. Weddings: the only time when you can spend 10k on people, have them scream at you the entire time, and somehow be called selfish for it all.

    File under not worth it.

  31. avatar LeFleure says:

    Regarding Letter #1: I am very sure that you are being designated the “bad guy” in all this. Parents always get called the Bad Guy when they don’t go along with whatever the children want (my parents played villain often when I was growing up). However, you can hope that one day, they will see past this. There is always hope that age will bring wisdom – especially with children.

    Regarding Letter #2: We had something similar crop up at work. A coworker’s daughter was eloping and she sent out an email saying she was collecting to “fund the elopement.” I was aghast – not at the request for money but that it was so blatant. I told my Mother that if the request had come from our boss, in the form of a “We would love to celebrate the impending nuptals of so-and-so. Since they are young and eloping, we are collecting to give them a gift card for their trip,” I would have though that a lovely gesture. But coming from the mom, it seemed greedy. I’m not sure why – maybe it was the wording. At any rate, I see NOTHING wrong with hoping for gifts of cash, provided it is done in a tasteful manner. My husband and I were flat broke and pretty much without anything when we got engaged (and living on a Lance Corporal’s salary to boot!). We did a registry, at our families’ urging, for all the little things we lacked. When my dear MIL heard we couldn’t afford a short honeymoon, she suggest to some of her family that they pool money to give a long weekend away. We didn’t ask for it, it was a gift from the family. I think if done tastefully and circulated via word-of-mouth, then asking for funds (or those beautiful knives) is ok. However, including it in the invitation takes away from what the wedding is about – watching two people pledge love together. Remember – the invitation is strictly that – an invitation to the ceremony and any after-party (don’t get me started about not inviting people to join you at the reception, another gripe!). The gift giving is a seperate beast best handled by your Maid/Matron of Honor, Best Man and Family. They know you two best of all and all questions of gifts should be directed to them – yes, even from out-of-town family. And strangers? Why are you inviting strangers in the first place!

    • avatar K Coldiron says:

      “fund the elopement”. Ugh ugh ugh.

    • avatar etiennewestwind says:

      I’d be tempted to send the couple a dictionary with the definition of elopement bookmarked and highlighted…

      • avatar LeFleure says:

        Let’s just say I declined making an appearance at the “shower” and smiled politely and wished them the best when I saw them at work. Most wedding-gift moments tend towards the “awkward” anyway. I’m already vaguely dismayed that somebody wants to throw me an “adoption shower.” I told them No Thanks! I don’t need that stress. The kids will be enough. Hah!

  32. avatar P S says:

    LW1 – You did absolutely nothing wrong! Adults who live in the same house should contribute to the expenses as fairly and equally as possible.

    When I lived with my parents following a divorce I raised my own rent at one point. I didn’t feel they were charging me enough and frankly I felt to get a better idea of what it’d be like to support myself after moving out I SHOULD give them more so I could learn to budget it properly.

    Let’s just say they didn’t complain 🙂 As it is I don’t believe enabling is a good teacher.

    I agree with the commenter who said not to concern yourself with what your stepdaughter and her boyfriend are saying about you. Their badmouthing is only reflecting their own characters.

    LW2 – I think this is one of those things where the guidelines are evolving and we’re in the messy stage. I believe it’s impolite to ask directly for money for a honeymoon and what-not.

    I guess I see it as being similar to the above scenario. How is a couple planning a new life together supposed to learn to budget for that life if they can’t pay for their own wedding or honeymoon? What about future trips and vacations, especially after kids come along? Maybe the fact that they have to ask for the money is a hint their plans are overambitious, perhaps?

    I am not against giving the happy couple money that they could use for whatever they wanted. Several people gave us checks and cash when DH and I married, and we were very grateful for their generosity.

    The difference is, we didn’t ask for it. We didn’t even hint at it because we didn’t think of it. We fully planned to fund our own wedding and honeymoon. Friends and family members came through anyway, their idea.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the whole dropping subtle hints through parents of the couple either. I really think it should be the guests’ idea to offer cash gifts… I agree it’s not like it used to be with people marrying later, living together, owning their own things, etc. However I don’t think that’s a reason or excuse to hold a collective hand out and say gimme money.

    Maybe the new convention should be to shift the attitude about registries and gifts entirely to say they’re not required or needed, and let guests decide what the couple likes based on what they know of them… that kind of freedom can inspire wonderful ideas for gifts. Sometimes the most sentimental gestures are the unexpected ones. It also might help modify guest lists to become more about making the wedding an intimate celebration with loved ones as it should be instead of a production with a cast of thousands in the hope that will secure more goodies.

  33. avatar Taye says:

    Letter 2: My best friend got married a few years ago.  Because of the times their parents just didn’t have the money to pay for the wedding so my friend and her husband paid for it on their own.  The honeymoon too.

    Before they got married they had both lived on their own and right before they got married they moved in with her parents because her father was ill.

    So by the time they got married they already had three of everything and no money.

    We ended up giving them money for both the bridal shower and the wedding.  It seemed to mean more to them because the few extra dollars we gave them was a few extra dollars that they wouldn’t have to stress about.

    And if you’re leary about only giving a cheque then be creative.  I got the money all in rolled dimes, put them in a box and wrapped it with a great big bow.  The card said “because cheques are so impersonal”.

  34. avatar Frau Quink says:

    Ltr. 2: I have never been asked for cash gifts by my friends or by their to be married offspring.
               I would not mind at all to give cash. But I never give more than I can afford, and never in my life
              have I cared about what other people give. If you are fond of the people to be married, there
              is no problem. If I hardly know the people, a card is sufficient.

    Ltr. 1: Somebody raised these young people to be the way they are. It all starts in childhood.

  35. avatar Mjit RaindancerStahl says:

    I didn’t register anywhere for my wedding. Thankfully, the majority of my guests who felt Obligated To Give Something took the hint and gave cash. Which we needed more than the 3 blenders our friends got for their wedding.

  36. avatar Patti Spencer says:

    For LTW #2 = When my husband and I got married, we asked for gift cards to specific stores or cash. Then again, we were in an unique position of being married in Michigan and living in Virginia – we were also traveling by truck for the next week and knew we would have to have the items with us. A lot of the people who came to the wedding did not even check our registries – they just used some common sense and gave us money knowing that we did not want/need to carry gifts for a week or so! (People who traveled to Michigan left before we could ask for their help with the gifts!)

    For LTW#1 – my mom had almost the same thing happen – you are better off with out them – as someone else said – change the locks and wish them the best – they will need it.
    My mom always seemed to put this curse on me – wait till you have kids of your own and they do this to you! Karma is a real itch!

  37. avatar jenn86 says:

    I always trust Miss Manners when it comes to etiquette. Her opinion is that people have become greedier, and greedier, when it comes to gift giving (or asking). Take for instance, how it seems to be becoming acceptible by some, to ask for a wedding guest to pay for their meal. But, no matter whether it’s 2011, or 1711, it’s still rude to tell people what to give you for a gift. Wedding registries are a fairly recent trend. There are some common decencies which should never change…no matter what century it is.

    • avatar maxie says:

      By fairly recent trend, do you mean the past 6 decades? It’s not the registry that’s a new trend, it’s how it’s used.

      In the 1950s (and maybe before?) you registered so everyone would know your china, crystal, and silver patterns, and would know what items you still needed. You registered at *one* store. Also, it was absolutely acceptable for someone to buy you one place setting or goblet or whatever. Now you register to select every expensive item you would like to have but probably couldn’t, or wouldn’t, buy for yourselves.

      • avatar Babbalou says:

        Maxie, I totally agree with you.  The change in how the registry is used is an excellent point and I think underlies the discomfort some of us feel with the registries these days.  I clearly remember checking with the local department or jewelry store to see what china, crystal and silver patterns had been selected.   Typically you only checked the registry if you were planning to give a gift of this nature.  The shift to walking through multiple stores holding a hand device and scanning everything that catches your fancy is a huge change.  I’m not sure how or why it’s all come about, maybe we’re more affluent in general, maybe the trend towards big expensive weddings even by very middle class people is a factor, maybe it’s just a natural trend – since once the door is opened to registering for gifts, why restrict the gifts to just table setting items?  And the change is fanned by store marketing folks and a popular culture that thinks traditional ways of doing things and traditional manners are old fashioned and without value.   

        • avatar Barbara says:

          This brought a smile to my face. I remember very well back in the 50’s when the girl across the street got married. She had been my sister and my babysitter. My mom took us to the downtown department store where we went to the bridal registry. We found out her silver pattern and my mom bought her two serving spoons, one from my sister and one from me. And my neighbor was delighted. I still remember the two thank you notes, one for each of us.

  38. avatar jenn86 says:

    I always trust Miss Manners when it comes to etiquette. Her opinion is that people have become greedier, and greedier, when it comes to gift giving (or asking). Take for instance, how it seems to be becoming acceptible by some, to ask for a wedding guest to pay for their meal. But, no matter whether it’s 2011, or 1711, it’s still rude to tell people what to give you for a gift. Wedding registries are a fairly recent trend. There are some common decencies which should never change…no matter what century it is.

  39. avatar fallacy says:

    Margo, I just wanted to say thank you for reminding me of my old friend Bobby Rosengarden. I loved his sense of humor and wordplay. He adored my son (another Robert) and used to say “This kid is Mt. Pleasant!” He’s sorely missed and very loved.

  40. avatar Jody says:

    Cash is King… especially in this economy. Why get upset about that? People of all ages who marry are looking to get a good start. Some marry quietly and suggest cash as a gift. Others marry in extravagant weddings and suggest cash as a gift. Why the judgment?

    When I got married in 1992, I had my china picked out, my crystal and a toaster too. The toaster broke years ago. The china (which I got little of) sits in my cabinet and I dust it occasionally. The crystal wine glasses get used more often than anything else, but even then I usually have to rinse them before serving.

    The cash we received (and didn’t ask for) helped us buy the washer and dryer that are still sitting in my basement. Not a bad investment after all.

    • avatar Jon T says:

      Jody, I don’t think anyone is objecting to giving cash per se. I’m more than happy to give cash if it will help the couple out. It’s when couples come out and demand cash in lieu of gifts. People tend to forget that a gift is an act of generosity on the part of the guests, not an entitlement of the hosts. Sure, ideally everyone would get exactly what they want as a wedding present. But an even more ideal situation would be when newlyweds remember to be grateful that friends and family thought of enough them to give them a gift at all. I received a few wedding presents that I haven’t used since. A couple of people didn’t bring anything. So what? I invited them to share in the day, not for what I thought I could squeeze out of them.

  41. avatar mjd4 says:

    Something seems odd about LW1.  Of course, it is perfectly reasonable to raise the rent or ask them to leave.  But, something about the the way teh story was told gives me the feeling something more is missing. 

    Like, how his wife got a job and “it would have been a debacle that ended in disaster” if step-daughter and bf had babysat, so wife had to quit.  I get not trusting them to babysit, but I don’t get the wife’s looking for a job and then realizing, “Oh no, we can’t trust them!  I guess I have to stay home after all!”   Did they try the babysitting thing and it turned out badly?  Or did LW and wife disagree about whether to let them babysit?   Did anyone think of hiring a babysitter?

    Sounds like he begrudges the lost revenue from his wife’s potential job, which of course makes sense if they failed to pitch in when asked, but it is not clear that is what happened.  It really feels like something is missing from this story. 
    I get the feeling LW and his wife did not agree about the whole affair, and he made a unilateral decision.  Not that it was a bad decision, in and of itself, but he is glossing over what the real problem is. 

  42. avatar mjd4 says:

    I don’t get offended by registries at Pottery Barn, and I don’t get offended by honeymoon funds.  Either way I consider it a suggestion not a requirement.  If you want the fun of picking something out and want to give them the fun of getting something they didn’t expect, then by all means pick somthing out.  If you are not sure what they would like and do not wish your gift to end up in the closet of stuff that gets brought out when the giver comes to visit, then give cash or consult the registry.  

    If you want to be offended at the nerve of young people today, then by all means do that, too.    

  43. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – The fact that you allowed them to stay 2 1/2 years (IMO) says you went above and beyond what you should have. Personally, I think the premise in these situations is to allow the person(s) to save up to get back on their feet and get a place of their own. So I personally would not have asked for any money, but then again I would have been thinking a mere couple of months to allow them to save up, not 2 1/2 years. Living with you for years should have provided them a chance to save up a ton of cash.  The fact that they didn’t speaks to their irresponsible nature.

    They are undoubtedly feeling a big case of regret living under the circumstances that they are now (that being in a crampt apartment with his family) living in. Probably wishing they had made better life choices. My advice….keep saying to yourself 2 1/2 years….2 1/2 years.    I’m going to assume that their presence in your home had an affect on your relationship with your wife in one way or another, how could it not? It was for the best that they left, whether it be on good terms or bad.

    Letter #2 – A newly married couple has every right to ask for cash. I don’t understand why people take offense to this. They can “ask” for whatever they want, but what they “receive” is a whole other kettle of fish! 🙂 I honestly believe we need to get away from this belief that we should give people what they want as a wedding gift and instead give them what we can afford AND what we want to give.

    Cash for a wedding gift is best because it allows the happy couple to buy what “they” actually want and need. So I see it as the best gift. However, no one should ever feel obligated to give vast amounts of money. Whether it be $5 or $500, the amount given is always up to the guest.     

  44. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1 – Whew!  I think you dodged a bullet and you should be thrilled they left rather than you having to force them out because they won’t pay rent.  You are NOT the bad guy.

    Ltr. #2 – I think registries are ridiculous and have gotten completely out of hand.  I was married in 1988 and didn’t register. My wedding wasn’t about presents, it was about inviting people to share our day with us.  I think my favorite gift was the box of kitchen gadgets we received.  Inexpensive, yet useful.

  45. avatar aerinpegadrak says:

    Why is everyone acting like the wedding guest’s only options are to suck it up and give cash or skip the event altogether? If Aunt Martha really wants to give the couple a chili pepper lamp and they’re not registered for one, is she just going to shrug her shoulders and pass up supporting the couple and meeting up with family? Of course not, she’ll wrap up the lamp and get ready to party.

    Ultimately, people are going to give whatever gifts personally appeal to them. Some people like giving practical gifts, others like giving things that are meant strictly for fun. If someone wants to give cash, it doesn’t matter how extensive or varied the registry, they’re going to write a check. If they prefer to give something tangible (as I do), it doesn’t matter how nicely, creatively, or toward what purpose the recipient asks for cash, the giver will do their best to find a good boxed gift. That’s the point of a registry: to provide guidance as to what gifts are needed and welcome so the giver doesn’t have to guess and the recipient doesn’t end up with six toasters. It’s a convenience for both parties, nothing more. We personally had a fairly large registry, and the majority of the guests gave cash. I find any sort of cash registry a little insulting, since 1) it presumes that I couldn’t have figured out on my own that they might be able to use some spare money, and 2) it presumes an entitlement to things like honeymoons and houses which are not natural rights, and for which a lot of people work very hard or might never even get at all.

    So get whatever wedding gift you want, Fuddy Duddy. A couple who declines to create even a brief registry as a guideline for their guests waives whatever small right they might have had to complain about getting the wrong thing. If the bride and groom have any class at all, they’ll accept whatever you choose graciously–even if it’s a chili pepper lamp.

  46. avatar Komment says:

    “Brides in particular have become such entitled, spoiled, evil little monsters of late.”

    Oh, oh, oh. Even if this is indeed tongue in cheek, I find this to be such a breathtakingly rude comment. My husband and I got married six months ago after a brief engagement. And you know what, we’re not bad people because we didn’t get married by a justice of the peace at town hall. We spent $25K on our small (50 guest) wedding, and you know what, every single dime (including valet parking for our guests, full open bar, lovely brunch after our late morning ceremony, etc.) came out of my savings account – my husband wasn’t my “ATM”. Every dime. And you know what else, in this depressed economy, I was glad to be able to celebrate with family and close friends and to support great local businesses (florist, photographer, caterer, etc.), all of whom did wonderful work for our wedding. Since our wedding was small, almost everyone was local, so there were few with travel expenses.

    I already owned a house at the time we got married. We both had complete sets of linens, kitchenware, etc. We didn’t expect anybody to give us gifts. I didn’t have a shower. We didn’t have an engagement party. In the end, we did set up a small registry of household goods, largely because we had several older relatives who wanted to give us something for our house who asked us to set up a registry so they could be sure we would get something we needed. We didn’t list the registry anywhere at all – our mothers told people who asked about it where it was.

    Some people gave us gifts off the registry. Some gave cash. Some brought cards with nice notes written in them. About a third of our guests didn’t bring a gift or a card. And you know what, that’s ok. What was important was that we celebrated together.

    Please do tell me how this makes me a spoiled, evil little monster?