It’s only March and I’ve already been invited to three weddings this year. I’m a poor college student and I can’t afford to spend a lot of money on presents or outfits — what can I do to not look like a cheapskate? – Always a guest
CB: I feel you. Dressing for a wedding is complicated especially if you’re female. I’ve taken a leaf from the guy’s playbook of one-suit-for-all-occasions and utilize the Little Black Dress. Contrary to popular belief, you can wear black to a wedding — if you do it right. Formal reception? Pair it with stockings, great heels, and elegant but understated jewelry. Casual affair? Throw on some colorful leggings or patterned tights and boots with a matching scarf and no one will think twice about the fact that you wore the same dress to two weddings. It’s a recession dear, and you’ll be forgiven. We can’t all have a Kardashian’s bank account.
As far as gifts go, if you’re close to the couple, I’m pretty sure they invited you because they genuinely want to see you, not because they’re mining you for crap on their registry. A quick Google search reveals that “$70-$129″ is the expected price range, with “nothing less than $50.” Holy crap. I’d like to think I was never that presumptuous when I was planning my wedding. I registered for more than I ever actually wanted because the creepy guy at Bed Bath and Beyond kept telling me to add more stuff to the list. So, as a recent bride and a pretty forward thinking broad, throw that expected price tag out the window and do something personal, sweet, and unique. Sure, they’re registered for gifts for stuff they want, but something from the heart will always mean more. Be creative. Does the couple have a dog? Offer to pet-sit while they’re on their honeymoon. Maybe offer to bring them over a hot dinner for the day after the wedding — I know I was too tired/hung-over to boil water the day after I got married. If you’re the crafty type, cruise Pinterest for some great ideas for inexpensive gifts. A couple of my friends offered assistance for setup and cleanup at the reception as a gift. (Thanks again, Becky and Doug!)
But most importantly, go. Have a great time. Raise your glass at the toasts and tell the bride everything is wonderful because trust me – she’s going to need reassurance.
DCA: I got married last August. I couldn’t tell you what anyone wore to my wedding. I don’t remember most of the day, everything happened in a whirlwind. (Thanks in part to the champagne that started flowing pretty early in the day.) I’m going to back CB up on this one, a little black dress can be made up or down to cover most of your special occasion bases. I’m also a big fan of any solid colored dress for the same reasons. I have a bright pink sheath dress that has a modest neckline that can be worn with tights and boots in the fall or stockings and a statement necklace in the summer for a more formal feel. It’s from Target. I’ve had it for years.
Chances are the couple isn’t going to pull you aside and chastise you about your outfit either; they invited you because they want you to share their special day. Some exceptions to this rule include: snobby bridesmaids, fashion policing friends and uptight parents of the bride or groom. Sometimes you’ll run across a father of the bride who’s paying for the party and insists that you look, talk and act like he expects you too. Ask CB up there about the time her dad told me to “double time it” into the bridal suite on her wedding day. Don’t let frazzled parents ruin your good time, be you and you should be fine. As long as you’re trying and being respectful you should be solid.
Basically all that advice goes double for gifts. I was thankful for every gift I received for my wedding but at the end of the day the ones that stood out the most where the hand made afghan passed down from my godparents family and the little book with all my “day of” plans that my friend made me so I could feel like everything was under control. Neither of those cost a lot but they are the ones I remember most vividly. When in doubt just go with earnest and you should be fine. Or booze. Booze usually does the trick too.