Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weirdo Etiquette Question


Dear ESB,

Recently, my dad got engaged. I am very happy for him and excited he has found someone to share his life with. This is all pretty run of the mill stuff until I get to the part where it's my dad's 4th marriage.

I am the one and only product of both my parents 1st marriage and they have been divorced for most of my life. This will be the 3rd time I have watched my dad get married in roughly 25 years. All of the marriages, including the one to my mother lasted 5ish years. 

His fiancé is quite a bit younger than him, about 6-7 years older than me, so in her middle-late 30s. No big whoop, but given her age, this is her first marriage. She is, in the exact opposite style of my cheapskate self, pulling out all the stops. Photographer, wedding planner, personalized wedding favors, those pieces of fabric that go over the chair with the ribbon that make the chair look like a ghost, all that shit. Additionally, she is having a wedding shower. Now while I wouldn't necessarily be having one if I was the 4th wife of the dude I was marrying, I get it. Princess for a day and all that. However, the other day I had the realization that I might be expected not only attend their wedding, which is fine and will likely be a ton of fun, but that I might also be expected to give them a shower AND wedding gift! I immediately started combing the internet for people in the same boat with wonderful advice on the subject and came up with nothing.

Admittedly, I am guilty of being a little over practical and possibly rigid (Capricorns forever!!). That said, the idea of giving my dad a card full of money and some tacky-ass napkin rings from their registry at bed bath & beyond for his 4th marriage honestly fucking flabbergasts me. It feels bizarre to even consider. As an aside, I don't have a super great relationship with my dad to begin with due to some crappy childhood junk, but I am definitely in a pretty good place and would give us like a 5/10 after lots of therapy and one very patient, wonderful listener of a mother.

I guess I am wondering if the concept of a 4th wedding gift for your dad is in fact as asinine as I feel like it is or if maybe our strained relationship has something to do with my strong opposition to this. It has nothing to do with money at all, it's just a matter of apparently deep-seated principle. So, is it a total dick move to not get them anything? Lots of people came to my wedding and didn't bring a gift, including my dad, and it wasn't an especially big deal to me but I have a feeling that bringing nothing might get me on her perma-shitlist. Normally I'd just DO something for them as my gift but I think that might be out (They were going to do an iPod DJ thing, so I offered to bring records and DJ and the suggestion is sort of just hanging there, ignored, in the abyss) or not her style, so I am at a loss here. 

I thank you for any wisdom, insight or potentially needed bitchslap into reality you and your wonderful readers can provide me with!

*****

Just buy them a fucking present. ONE present.

(You have my full permission to skip the shower.)


Image: Quote Studio via her.

41 comments:

  1. They're only going to be married ~5 years. I wouldn't be too worried about getting on her shitlist.

    Sorry. Just some capricorn humor for you ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am in the same exact boat except it's #3 for both my dad and his (now) wife and THANK GOD they kept it super low key, so we can all go back to ignoring it.

    I'm stubborn-as-hell and would not buy a present in your position, nor would my stubborn-as-hell sister, however, I know my husband (and her husband) would make us buy one to be the bigger person and blah blah blah.

    You sound more mature than we are, and we have a good relationship with our dad! So, yeah, buy the present.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You don't have to break the bank here, but like you mentioned this is HER first wedding as much as it's your father's 4th, so, I mean, it would be nice if you could perhaps get a little welcome to the family (even if it'll only be for 5 years maybe) gift. Like a nice floral arrangement or perhaps necklace with your father's initials? Something cute like that...that makes it about her, not the wedding? Maybe?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Donate to a charity in their name. That way, at least your money is going to a cause you can support. I highly doubt that after three marriages he needs more kitchen stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree. This way you are being generous...just to people who probably need it more than someone who can afford ghost chair covers. But you also save face which seems to be the only thing you're really concerned with.

      Delete
    2. This, totally this. I do agree that you should give something (to avoid the shit list and any general bad feeling) but you don't have to go nuts. Can you find out if she supports/likes any particular causes (animals, health issues, conservation stuff in the place where she is from??). That way you look thoughtful but the money goes to something useful (not napkin rings), which may help you feel less irritated.

      And yes, skip the shower.

      Delete
    3. This is what my husband and I did for his dad for his 2nd marriage. Granted, it was just a 2nd (and hopefully last!), and we love his new wife, but they're insanely well-off.

      We didn't want to NOT get a gift, but buying them, well, anything seemed weird. So, a modest donation to a charity close to their hearts it was! They thought it was the most thoughtful thing ever.

      Delete
    4. Donating to a charity is not a gift to them.

      Delete
  5. Wait, your dad didn't bring a present to YOUR wedding? I would skip the gift on principle, and if you want to split the difference, I love the idea of a donation to charity in their name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since when are fathers of the bride expected to give a gift?

      Delete
    2. Since the bride paid for her own wedding ;)

      Delete
    3. I would assume if the reason he did not bring a gift was that he paid a big portion of the wedding cost, that would have been explained in the question. I would think anyone whose gift was not essentially "paying for a big piece of the wedding" would typically be expected to bring a gift, although it's not a requirement. But, if it's not a requirement for him, I don't see why it is for her.

      Delete
    4. Anon 2:19--Since when are daughters of the groom?

      I wouldn't. No way, no how, shitlist or not. A card or donation to charity seem reasonable, but I probably wouldn't give them anything.

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. I laughed so hard at that too.

      Delete
  7. Yep, a charitable donation ought to take care of that. Or even just a nice card that says how happy you are that your father has found her, welcome to the family, blah blah.

    I tend to think that immediate family are close enough that a gift isn't really necessary.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I echo just giving a card!

    Do you really think they would ever come back to you and question why there wasn't cash in the card? don't sweat it.

    Also, no way you need throw or attend a shower, use any of a bazillion possible excuses if you're asked.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like the idea of getting the bride something for her, like maybe a gift certificate to a spa, and a nice "welcome to the family" card. Overall, it sounds like you're being more than gracious.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My fiance and I just went through something similar with his father. I find it weird/difficult to buy gifts parents anyhow - doubly so when it's a wedding gift ... We wound up getting them some fancy infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar, since they both enjoy cooking. Nothing expensive, but it was a nod to their shared interests and I think they honestly appreciated it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think the idea of getting "them" a gift is silly. Especially considering this IS the 4th go-round for your dad. I'd probably get HER something- a nice piece of jewelry something- small and sweet- a "welcome to the family" type thing, but your dad? Nah.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The amount of thought going into *not* buying them a gift sounds exhausting. Wouldn't it be easier just to buy them something and be done with it?

    ReplyDelete
  13. While reading I was thinking that this is a lot of stress over some towels or cookie sheets. He's family and you can afford it. I'd give a gift and move on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stress and consideration are two different things.

      Delete
  14. I get you have a not so great relationship with your dad, but it kinda seems like you're taking it out on his new wife. It's not her fault he's been married 3 times already. I think the spa gift for her is a great idea. And I think a thoughtful card on the day of the wedding addressed to both of them should be more than plenty. Good Luck!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Buy them a gift card to Bed Bath &Beyond and call it a day.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Suck it up and get a gift. How much does that really put you out? Seriously. Also, maybe this is why I feel sensitive to this, but I'm getting married next week to a man who has already been married once and though we're having a small wedding in Mexico and I'm not doing weird things with chairs, I do hope that people don't feel like my wedding somehow deserves less respect (or whatever) because it's my husband-to-be's second wedding. It's my first fucking wedding and I'm excited dammit. Your latest mother in law is NOT a douchebag for having a wedding shower. She's just happy to be getting married and she's celebrating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *stepmother. your latest stepmother.

      Delete
    2. Please, not stepmother. Not unless the OP wants to call her that. The bride-to-be is only 6ish years older than the OP. That wouldn't make her a stepmother in many people's books...

      Delete
    3. Agreed. Of course the stepmom is stoked over the shower. She deserves all the silly fun that come with weddings. And congratulations on your upcoming wedding, Unknown. When my cousin was remarried, I was actually MORE excited for the second one. Because it was the right guy. I hope your fiancee's family is feeling/acting the same for you!

      Delete
  17. If doing something is more your style, and/or you don't want to give a "thing"/cash, I vote for sending flowers with a nice (short) note the week before the wedding: something along the lines of "Many happy wishes! So looking forward to celebrating with you this weekend." Or whatever.

    It does the pampering trick, is thoughtful, but also: doesn't require you to put that much out there. Which sounds like it might be a good compromise? Also, flowers are nice, and hard to take offense at.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Do whatever will make you happiest, given the likely scenarios for outcome.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Buy them that coin purse... buy ME that coin purse... too distracted by lovely coin purse to contemplate daddy issues (though I feel OP's pain and like the donation idea- I do that every xmas for my own dad and his wife).

    ReplyDelete
  20. Just buy them a gift for crying out loud! First of all - you're putting way too much energy into this. You are being stubborn and a bit resentful even, and I'm not saying that you don't have cause to be, but it's best to know when you are. I wouldn't worry about breaking the bank or putting too much thought into it, but how hard is it to buy some crappy item off the registry and keep the peace? I mean, I hear what you're saying, trust me! My dad's been married three times and this last round to the Wicked Witch of the West (South actually), so I get it, but what's the big deal about giving them a measly gift? Every year I buy my stepmother a xmas gift, even though she's not been the greatest person to me or my sister, but I do it to not fan the flames. And this is how I do it - while doing my xmas shopping I think, "oh yeah, the stepmum...here's something cheap" and I give it almost zero thought. Voila! That easy. Honestly I couldn't even tell you what I got her last xmas, that's how little thought I put into it. Point is...keep the peace. Give it a chance at least. It takes work, and I see you're already doing this to some extent, but you have to keep on rising above that shit over and over and over again.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Buy them a book. Books are lovely and useful and decadent and can be full of warm sentiments. Adam & Eve by Mark Twain, Symposium by Plato, The Amores by Ovid or Twenty Love Poems and Sonnets by Pablo Neruda. It's personal and generic at the same time. Thoughtful and 'daughterly' without being overly thought out; If it doesn't last, maybe they had something good to read in the meantime. If you feel bad about just getting them a book, get them something off the registry and a book. It cost nearly nothing, seems thoughtful and doesn't overshadow your jaded daughter look.

    ReplyDelete
  22. These people are old enough they don't need shit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. this attitude shits me. You're a guest, eating and drinking at their wedding. Buy them a goddam thank you for having me token gift at least.

      Delete
    2. woah, I don't think that's what wedding gifts are for. The idea that you have to 'repay' the couple for paying for your dinner is pretty mercenary. You're invited as a guest, not a paying customer.

      Delete
    3. Gifts have nothing to do with 'need' most of the time. Nor are they 'payment' for your attendance at an event.

      Etiquette dictates that you give a gift at a wedding.

      If you don't want to do this, you don't have to, but number of marriages under the belt, the age of the bride and groom relative to each other or to you, whether they are close family or not - none of these are reasons not to give a gift.

      Delete
  23. just buy a cheap gift off the registry and be done with it. they (or she) will remember if you give nothing and it will become a lot bigger than the 10 minutes it takes to buy napkin rings.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Minimum, give a congrats card. Skip a gift if you want to avoid future typical gift-exchanging situations (birthdays, christmas, etc)--sometimes it's just easier if no one is expected to gift anything. Or just grab something cheap-o off the registry.

    Alternatively, for $35+shipping, get her
    this lovely (and appropriate for her post-nuptial station) shirt. Your dad's a hockey fan, right?

    ReplyDelete
  25. I see you decided to spell weirdo the alternate way.

    ReplyDelete