Monday, November 7, 2011

I draw the line at cheap gifts for groomsmen

Hey ESB,

It's '99 Chanel dress girl again. 

Update on that: the dress came and did not fit at all, BUMMER, but it's in the process of being fixed and I can't wait to show you all pictures. Also, I went with the white and gold shoes you thought were hooker-ish, sorry. 

But anyway, today brings me to a new dilemma for you and your sassy readers. 

I don't think I mentioned previously that my fiance and I are 21 and 20 respectively. I know, I know, hold the tirade of warnings, please. Anyway, being halfway through college kind of equals not very rich, and my groom-to-be kind of has a really big heart and kind of wanted to get all the guys (all 8 of them) $40 pocket watches as groomsmen gifts. 

Here's the thing; that is WAY out of our budget for gifts (though we are paying for gifts for our attendants out of our own respective pockets), and pocket watches just seem like not that great of an idea to me on several other levels. Groom-to-be is open to suggestions, so, what do you all suggest for a cheap, but not cheapy gift? Groomsmen range from age 16 to 28. I'd put the budget at $15 a head. 

I have faith in your interwebs searching abilities! 


Why would I spend 5 hours searching for ($15?!) gifts for your groomsmen when you had NO INTEREST in following my advice about the shoes??

And yeah, you should at least wait til you graduate from college to get married.

A Boy And His Owl by Donna McKenzie on etsy


  1. This reads as a little spiteful, ESB. "Didn't follow my advice on your shoes? SMACK across the wrist."

    Look, bridelet, what you can't pay for with money, you need to pay for with time. So take your fifteen dollar budget to a craft store, second-hand store, Etsy, Groupon, or whatever else you have access to, and get working. Classic groomsman gifts like beer steins, ties, and flasks are either inappropriate for your underage wedding party or too expensive, so roll up your sleeves and get creative. Cheap things will generally look and act cheap, so trying to do things on a college-student budget will mean that you're ending up with shoes that belong on the set of Dallas and thank-you gifts that you need to make yourselves.

  2. You can't go far with $15 and a 16-year-old in your midst, so I'd embrace your age- and money-related limitations and throw a little humor into the game. Get the 16-year-old a calendar of Courtney Stodden photos, the 28-year-old some denture glue, etc.

  3. See, the thing about not having money is that you can't buy nice things. That's not being mean or small minded, it's just the way it is.

    So you have to let go of the idea that you can somehow work around that. (There is an exception if you have lots of time and some amazing skill for making something awesome. The old advice is mostly true. Fast, cheap, and good: pick two.)

    I mean, it is good that you are not going into debt, but you have to understand that $15 is *really* limited as a gift budget. There just isn't much that's interesting in that range. Just like shoes under $50 mostly look really cheap. I'd say gift certificate to itunes or something. And whatever you do don't engrave your names and the date on whatever you give them, cause no one wants that.

    And the odds are stacked against youngin's getting married. The best odds for a lasting marriage happen around the mid-twenties onward. Just the facts.

  4. a bit over budget and from the dreaded jcrew, but nice, useful, and fairly cheap:


  5. chicken little, being an attendant in a wedding is kind of a pain in the ass (not to mention, costly), and although an astronomically expensive gift is not required, a $15 gift is like a slap in the face. if you and your fiance do not have the budget to offer something nicer to those who are STANDING BY YOU on your wedding day, then perhaps there shouldn't be EIGHT of them. next, you're going to be asking us how to inform your guests that they'll be paying for their dinner.

  6. We gave our groomsmen Leatherman pocket multitools. They're like swiss army knives, but better. You can get fancy ass ones, or bare bones cheaper ones. I think the bottom line ones cost around $20. They are manly...(aka they can cut rope, open a beer and fix a lose screw) and our guys (ranging from backwoods tough guys, to city dwelling hipsters) all loved them.

  7. i'm going to vault straight over value judgments and address just the question: if i had $15 to spend on a gift, i'd head straight to the best secondhand bookstore i could find and buy a beautiful edition of something that would be meaningful to the recipient. ($15 won't buy you a first edition, but it should buy you something leather-bound and respectable, particularly if you have the time to hunt around a bit). in your very best penmanship, write a long, heartfelt note inside about how much it means to you that the recipient is standing with you at your wedding. resolve in secret to purchase said recipient something fancy on your fifth anniversary. done.

  8. Ok, I say go for something fun like...

    Seriously cute socks

    Personalized Bottle openers They are fine for the young ones too... I think.

    Anything from this well priced shop of personalized gifts ....go Etsy!

  9. If your fiancee is paying for his own closest friends' gifts out of his own pocket, he can really do whatever he wants, can't he?

    Advice: get ready to accept now that your husband is more generous than you. This sounds like the kind of dilemma I get all the time with my husband, where I've got this beautifully worked-out budget and he's got this beautifully generous heart. Sometimes I drag up my beloved budget, but most of the time I'm just happy my husband is not a skinflint because even if it means I have to make tweaks through the whole rest of the budget to accommodate for his generosity, I'm on the receiving end of that generosity so much that I'm just grateful for it.

    Also, if you're also getting $15 gifts for the bridesmaids, make sure you put a lot of thought into them. For $15 apiece they should get something that really shows you care about them and have thought about what they'd like and need. And write them a nice long thank-you card, too.

    I hope you're not spending a fortune on like, chair bows, though. I hope you're prioritizing the people in the wedding over the details.

  10. I love the secondhand bookstore idea.

  11. Back off, and let your groom DO HIS THING. I hate when brides micro-manage every aspect of the wedding. This isn't your realm: It's his. These are his best friends, and he is paying for their gifts out of his own pocket. $40 per gift is reasonable, so GET OVER IT, and move on. xo.

  12. Maybe something sentimental that you both enjoy?

  13. I know this is the last thing you want to hear, but one of the perks of waiting until you're just a little bit older to get married is that you can actually afford to buy the things you want

  14. Shut up about the young bride - she's getting married, why make her feel shitty about it?

    And being an older bride does NOT mean that you will get better attendant gifts... the last time I was a bridesmaid I got a coupon for a free Coldstone Ice Cream... not a joke. the bride was 34.

    No one asked what kind of wedding you were having (Ie. backyard picnic, big fancy affair) I think if you are having a fairly small shindig you could get away with getting something smaller on the "cheaper" side. Otherwise, save a little bit more money and wait until you can afford to buy them a nicer gift!

    Otherwise, maybe you can look around the area - maybe there are some super cheap tickets to a baseball game? I know on Tuesday nights we can get tickets for $15 a pop. Could be fun?

  15. Here's the thing; that is WAY out of our budget for gifts (though we are paying for gifts for our attendants out of our own respective pockets), and pocket watches just seem like not that great of an idea to me on several other levels...

    In this instance your opinion shouldn't have any say. It's his groomsmen, his money, his decision. Not yours. He wants the pocket watches, let him get the pocket watches, if anything, help him find some at a more affordable price.

  16. ESB, I love it when you use your typing fingers to make words.

  17. We got our groomsmen pocket watches for about $40 on Amazon. It may be a bit pricey, but they're awesome and they boys' faces all lit up. They're timeless, a cool accessory and remind them of the fun they had with us. And, ahem, they last.

    Besides, are you letting him have a hefty say in what you choose for your side? Maybe agreeing on a price is a good thing, but maybe being cheap for your friends isn't.

    If he wants to be uber generous, let him be. Maybe he's figured out a way to pay for it.

    And if you're sticking to your $15 budget for your side, be thoughtful. Be considerate. Be sentimental.

  18. ummm... wait until you finish college, really.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm American, but I live abroad and I just have to say that I find it crazy how young people get married in the States, people in Europe tend to wait later and are together longer before getting married, and guess what? Marriages last longer here!

    also, let him get the bloody watches.

    Ok, my two pence. out.

  19. Let the poor guy give his menfolk pocket watches. It's a cool idea, he gets input, and they'll appreciate it. You can go to Claire's if you want for your gifts, but let him have his day.

  20. Am I the only one who thinks wedding party gifts are optional?

    Look, being in a wedding is generally expensive and time consuming but you do it out of love. Still, as part of the wedding party, I would rather NOT receive a gift than get some $15 cheap thing someone thought up in a last ditch effort to be appropriate. I do not like gifts for gifts sake.

    But maybe I'm just trying to assuage my own guilt? I definitely didn't get my sister a gift for standing up with me. I did, however, let her pick out her own dress, didn't make her do anything weird, and refrained from yelling at her when she was late to every single wedding related thing. And I sent her a very emotional thank you note afterwards.

    Being nice and appreciative is a gift in and of itself, I think.

  21. I would never presume to tell you that you are too young to get married.

    However, I will tell you that weddings are expensive as shit and if you cannot afford the wedding you want, maybe you should get married but put off the party. Assuming that's not going to happen, scaling back on attendants before scaling back on thanking them might be a better idea. $40 for a gift is NOT a lot of money.

    You don't have a lot of cash? Neither do your attendants. They will be paying for clothing and accessories, gifts for you, travel, bachelor(ette) parties and other various things - all for you.

    If all of this is a moot point, I'll tell you what my fiance did: we did not have attendants but MK wanted to thank all of the guys in his life. He arranged a secret midnight meeting at a chapel in the woods (we got married at a summer camp) where he thanked them and read a poem and gave them all arrowheads. I heard that it was very raw and emotional - I'm sure all of them value it more than a $15 gift.

    But, again, $40 is not much for a gift so if your fiance wants to spend it, he should.

  22. Oh, and if you are of the Tom and Lorenzo school of fashion thought (which I am), platforms are not to be worn with gowns.

  23. Holy shit, you are TOO YOUNG TO GET MARRIED.

  24. Maybe I'm an asshole, but I think even $40/person is still pretty cheap for a gift. At $15 each, I'd just take them all out to dinner together and cover the bill. Or host a thank-you BBQ.

  25. while i don't think more money always means better presents, $15 per person is not a lot. as a few people have pointed out, are they paying for their own suits etc? it can be expensive to be in the bridal party and since they're as young as you guys, i imagine they're in a similar financial situation.
    perhaps waiting a little longer for the wedding so you have a bit more money? it will be a lot less stress for you and you can get college out of the way before you embark on married life.

  26. ESB's response is totally fair, but can we please stop giving this girl shit about how she's too young to get married? She's heard it all before, I'm sure. Is she gonna be all, "Damn, some chicks online think I'm too young to get married, let's totes postpone this bitch and get our bridal party kickin'-er gifts in a few years"? I kinda doubt it.

    On to the question...If you truly can't afford $40 a person, I think that the idea of taking them out to dinner or hosting a thank-you dinner of some sort sounds good. I also like the idea of taking them to a sporting event on a cheap tix night, and Lauren's books idea sounds nice too. I polled my husband, and he voted for taking them out to a fun dinner.

  27. #1 stop being cheap

    #2 the frequently mentioned "wedding appropriate age" battle pisses me off every. single. time.

  28. i personally think 30+ is way too fucking old to get married- gross! what a waste! why bother?

    you expect people to prance about the marriage ritual with you, buying things from your registry, pretending you aren't already building your 401k, haven't lived together for 8 years & are a virgin-

    and maybe you don't ever plan to have kids, whats the point!? why would you ever get married when you can just get older and save more money and gain more knowledge in singledom?!

    how 'bout that!? (not really, but it's obnoxious- right?)

    as far as age- to EACH HER OWN, LADIES. stop pushing your opinion through in comments to make these poor girls feel bad, when in fact you don't know jack shit about her!

  29. Your options:

    1. Listen to your fiancees wishes and get a small line of credit to finance these important gifts and/or cut from other areas of wedding spending to pay for them (Flowers? Hair? Makeup/mani? Favours? All of them are details that are more important and noticeable to you than anyone else!)

    2. Take the time and make something really special and personal for each groomsman (and your bridesmaids, you didn't mention them!)

    3. Ignore what almost everyone on this thread is telling you and run the risk of slighting your friends. They will probably still be your friends, but they might feel a bit hurt by being seen as an "expendable budget item."

    Ideally, people would not care about the value of a gift (don't we all wish it were like that!) but the reality is that you are going to make someone feel like a piece of dirt. If it were me, I would rather incur a debt than do that!

  30. This will take a lot of time, but could fit in your budget of $15 AND be meaningful and expressive of your FH's gratitude for his GMs' love, friendship, & support. He could dig through all of his (& his family's) old photos, collect, scan, and sort them into an online file, along with a heartfelt personal letter to each one, and then load each one onto a USB flash drive ($14.99 at Best Buy). Each groomsman gets copies of priceless photos along with how your FH feels about him...and a very useful flashdrive, which every college student (or grad student) can use. :) Rock those shoes, get married, and grow together! You can find the love of your life at any age.

  31. The price of a gift does not matter. What DOES matter is whether or not the gift is meaningful and memorable.

    Example: My husband was recently a groomsman in a childhood friend's wedding. The groom got all his guys gag gifts. Little buzzer rings that "shock" the person you shake hands with, squirt-y flower pins, whoopie cushions, etc. Cheap! Super cheap! But they were a huge hit with this particular group of guys and they lead to several HILARIOUS moments during the wedding as they used their gifts at opportune times.

    Memorable, meaningful.

  32. Seriously?

    Get married when it's right for you. Who cares what anyone else thinks.

  33. I got married at 21, just before my senior year. My guy was a grad student. We couldn't be happier with our decision to marry when we did, as broke students. Also, we spent $20ish on bridal party gifts. I scoured Etsy for the perfect earrings for my ladies and also made some flower hair pins for them. He got his guys some dapper hats from here.
    Y'all seem like the artsy type- make something!
    Young, broke, and hitched. Solidarity.

  34. Addendum: sure, being a married undergrad was a little awkward at times, yes, there were the not unexpected you-must-be-crazypants convos, but ultimitely- EFF THAT NOISE.

  35. @holli kristina I get you were trying to make a point, but that was the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

  36. @anon- grow a set and don't be anonymous.

  37. @holli kristina, yes. i loved your first post :)

    @the bride, do you girlfriend! and if it's possible for your future husband to charge his over budget gifts to a credit card, i vote for that. you can pay back the $200 difference soon enough!

  38. Thank you all for your advice/encouragement/concern... Based on all of this, I agree that 1) I should let my FH be generous, especially since it's his money and 2) that respect and friendship toward our best friends is worth more than money, even if that means more expensive gifts.

  39. Thanks for posting this! I'm trying to find information on this.It will definitely helped me in this process.

  40. Reader - I'm not going to tell you you're too young to get married. I had friends that got married at 21/22 that are still madly in love 10 years later, and I have friends that got married when they were "old enough" and the marriages were disasters. So, whatever - if you know, you know.

    I WILL, however, since you're still undergraduates, advise you to speak to a financial aid counselor about what this may mean for your college funding. Did you know, for example, that your parents can't put you on their health insurance if you're married? Knowing this, is one of you going to have a job that will allow you to have family health insurance that you can afford? Does the college you attend offer a reasonable alternative? Did you know that, with the new health care reform law, that your unmarried butt (in college full time or not) can stay on your parents' insurance until you're 26?

    This is just one example. Your parents will LEGALLY no longer have financial responsibility for you; rather, you will have financial responsibility for each other. Is this something you're prepared for?

    I just want to make sure you've investigated the ramifications. I don't doubt your love and commitment to one another, but there are practical implications and you DO need to know what those are.