Wedding traditions aren’t right for everyone. Here, a roundup of advice from columnist Carolyn Hax to readers who want to break with custom.
February 2013: How to request cash in lieu of wedding gifts?
My daughter would like to request cash vs. the usual wedding gifts.
How would you go about wording this request? We are trying not to sound too harsh. I thought I read about this idea in one of your previous columns. — T.
Trying to soften me up?
Dearest T. The phrasing you seek is as follows: “The bride and groom don’t want your stuff, they just want your money.”
“Too harsh,” right? That’s the point: There’s no polite way to bill guests for liking you, pat their pockets for loose change, or coerce them into paying your bills. So, please don’t try. Thank you.
If you read about this in my column, then you read some version of this. My answer hasn’t changed; I just repeat it occasionally since the question won’t die.
When couples have a good reason not to want vases and candlesticks, then their proxies can say so when asked for registry info: “Heckle and Jeckle are combining two households/downsizing/relocating overseas, so your presence is present enough.” Because it is, right?
Or, to your friends, good ones, when they ask: “Cash always fits.”
January 2013: What’s in a name?
I would like to take my husband’s last name after we marry. I will probably use my maiden name professionally since I’m in academia and have published with that name.
However, friends have given me a lot of grief about it. I’ve been told it is “outdated,” and why doesn’t he take my name, or hyphenate, or whatever.
I want to do this, and it is right for us. How can I explain that to friends who talk about setting women’s lib back decades or giving up my own identity?
You can tell them to blow it out their portholes. Liberation means freedom to decide what to call yourself, vs. having society dictate it — and that includes the society of friends who want you to make their political point.
Congratulations and good luck.
November 2012: Is a registry needed if asking guests to donate to charity?
My boyfriend and I (both men) are getting married and are setting up our online registries, sending invitations, etc. We recognize that we’re fortunate to live in a state that allows same-sex marriage, so we’ve decided that in lieu of gifts we’d like guests to make a contribution to a gay rights organization.
We both have fairly conservative branches of our family and wonder if we need to offer an alternative. My position is that we don’t; my boyfriend thinks it would be considerate. I’d rather have a guest who doesn’t support gay marriage skip the wedding altogether or not bring a gift than get some bogus coffeemaker and tacit disapproval. Maybe I’m just overanalyzing everything. What do you think?
If I put on my happy hat, then I want to advise you to back off the buyers of the “bogus coffeemaker” (which . . . makes fake coffee?). When a conservative relative who opposes gay marriage actually goes out and buys a kitchen gadget for a gay relative’s wedding, that could just as easily be cast as progress to be encouraged, vs. insufficient applause to be swatted down.