Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cash or kind?

Gifts, that is.

Would it be better to have tangible, stereotype newlywed gifts or is cash/are cheques a wiser option so you can spend it anyway you wish instead of the possibility of being stuck with wedding gifts that may not be to your liking? Some brides would be clueless with a waffle-maker or a juice extractor. What would a couple do with five sets of pots and pans or 3 dozen flatware sets if they don't host parties often?

I've been cleaning my parents' house for quite sometime -- clearing out items that are no longer being used so I can either sell them in a garage sale or donate them to charity. In my clutter-clearing adventures, I've discovered an array of items that may have well been saved "just in case" but were hardly used. Or never used.

I believe this is mostly the case with Filipinos, especially those belonging to my parents' generation who tend to keep the more beautiful, more expensive things, especially those with "sentimental value" locked up in cabinets and drawers for fear of being lost, broken or tarnished (and are difficult to restore as if they were new).

An aunt now lives in Boston with her husband but they got married in Manila in the 1980's. She had about a dozen or more pairs of godparents and they were mostly politicians at the time so you could consider their wedding as one that was grand. Since she moved to Boston, she had to leave some of her wedding gifts here at home and as I clutter-cleared her house, I was surprised to find four punchbowl sets (I hear they were a fad in the 80's, haha).

In my parents' home, there are a lot of tea sets, glassware and flatware I don't remember ever being used.

Some of the things in my parents' house that have yet to see daylight.

In my own home, I have wedding gifts still in their boxes because well, we haven't found use for them yet.

So what's my point?

We get gifts that we don't use -- often or at all!

But don't get me wrong. I'm far from being ungrateful. When I attend weddings, I make it a point to find out what the couple needs -- his and her towels, perhaps? An espresso-maker? A funky lamp? And believe me when I say that having a wedding registry is a lifesaver. For one, it saves you the effort of mind-reading the couple because their registry list already tells you what they need or want from a particular store. Two, it already indicates the price of the items so you don't need to go through the entire store looking for one that fits your budget. And three, some stores even deliver the items straight to the newlyweds' home so you don't have to lug them to the reception.

In the 1980's, even probably during the 1990's, asking for cash in lieu of gifts is something that would have been thought of as tacky, even downright despicable. But nowadays, some couples are not only spreading their cash request through close friends and relatives but saying it in their invitations, albeit not outright "your gifts are ok but we prefer cash." Hahaha.

This "cash preferred" mindset for this generation may be a sign of the times where couples are more wise in spending their hard-earned money on things that they would really use. But some people are offended with a "cash box" by the registration table that makes guests feel as if they're "paying" to attend the reception.

My personal take on this topic is this: If you can't afford a lavish wedding and are expecting a "return of investment" from your guests by asking for money, I say postpone the wedding until you have enough money to spend on your wedding AND AFTER the wedding. Choosing to get married is one thing, but expecting gifts is another thing. People don't get married to get gifts. People get married because they're in love and they want to celebrate their love with people who matter to them. And people who truly matter need not bring gifts, they just need to be there.

If you invite people to your wedding and they bring gifts, good. Yes, even those you probably will never use. If they don't bring gifts, be grateful that they still attended your wedding.

I've heard of recent newlyweds who lost everything they had during Typhoon Ondoy and yet they're thankful that they still had each other. Awww. Sniff.

So for you out there who treat weddings like a business (unless you're a wedding vendor), repeat after me: "The most important things in a wedding are these: Me, my future spouse, and our love. (Oh, and someone to officiate the ceremony. Ok, throw in a few witnesses)."

On a final note, maybe you can look at gifts from my own experience -- when I was still single and I prayed for God to help me either accept that I will forever be single or if he could send me not the perfect man but the perfect man for me, God didn't hesitate to send me Rahyan. And if I thought long and hard enough, among all my wedding gifts, my husband is probably the best gift ever.

Cheesy, I know, but true. :-)

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