Showered with event questions
DEARAMY » Our oldest son is getting married (for the second time) next spring.
It is his fiancee’s first marriage, and I’m happy for her excitement (they are in their mid- 40s).
She has asked for my thoughts on wedding etiquette. This is a case where two households are coming together. They really do NOT need some of the more traditional-type gifts.
Is there a special way for our side of the family/her friends to honor her with a shower (or a tea) and not seem like it is just an opportunity for a gift?
I know you can request donations to a favorite charity instead of gifts, but it’s not like they are both wealthy.
They really could use gift cards toward a bigger gift (i.e. at Lowe’s or Home Depot), or cash gifts to help with a larger purchase. — Wondering MIL
DEARWONDERING » The first thing you need to do is to refine your own concepts for how to celebrate the wedding for this firsttime bride. It sounds as if you don’t want for any shower to seem like a gift opportunity — and yet, it also seems as if you do. And why not? One function of a pre-wedding shower is to “shower” the couple with gifts.
When planning celebrations, be aware that confusion about the intent or purpose will create a vacuum that guests will not know how to handle. So yes, you can plan a traditional tea (“no gifts, please” or: “the couple would be honored by a donation to Habitat for Humanity”); a “linen shower” or “kitchen shower” (every couple can use new household linens or kitchen items — they can register for what they would like to receive, and then donate their used ones).
People being asked to contribute money like to be told what the money is for: “Guests are being asked to donate to a household fund to help defray moving expenses” or “to put toward the newly married couple taking the kids on their first vacation as a family.” ( Whatever the funds are earmarked for the couple should use them for that purpose only, and the guests should be thanked promptly and specifically for their generosity.)
For this couple, I like the idea of a “DIY” or “life renovation” party. Guests can be told, “Because they are combining households, Elyse and Gary are requesting gift cards to (name their preferred home improvement store) to put toward making Gary’s house a new home for the whole family.”
DEARAMY » I liked your advice to “Worried Dad” about how to handle his mother’s smoking, and the possible effect on his baby. Neither one of you insisted that the mother stop smoking.
Your idea of a “smoking jacket” is a great one. We provided this for one of my parents (along with gloves), and everyone feels much better about contact with the kids. — Been There
DEAR BEEN THERE » I now know why all of those movie stars in the ‘30s used cigarette holders and smoking jackets!