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Should I bring a gift to a potluck wedding?

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This topic contains 45 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by avatar ele4phant 3 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #840421 Reply

    So, my sister is getting married this summer. Super small, only family. I think 25-ish people.

    It was decided that she wants every family to bring a side dish. This was a last minute decision. No where on the invitation does it say to bring a dish – it actually says “dinner to follow.” I personally find this very tacky and having a hard time not saying anything to her. Especially since the guest list is so small and it is already BYOB. But it’s not my day, so I’m going to keep my mouth shut.

    I just want to know, do we still bring a gift? Is it rude NOT to bring one?

    #840423 Reply

    rule with 99.9% of weddings: if you go, bring a gift (exception is when gifts are expressly discouraged). Even if you find her actions tacky that doesn’t excuse you to be tacky also.

    #840424 Reply

    I didn’t even think of it that way.
    Thanks for the different perspective!

    #840425 Reply

    Gossipy much?? If I were you I’d be reflecting why it would bother me so much that sister requested guest bring side dishes and BYOB. Its small. Treat it no different than family getting together for a holiday. Side dishes are not costly at all. Also, get your sister a wedding gift and be happy for her on her special day. Dont be a sourpuss. You can go online right now at Belk or Kirklands and shop their clearance for some super elegant gift that wont dent a budget.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by avatar Poppy.
    #840427 Reply

    I mean, I’m way more lax on wedding etiquette than others are. I think some people would be HORRIFIED at the thought of a potluck wedding, and think it’s SO gift grabby of the couple to make their guests provide their own food. And technically, by the book, this is an etiquette faux-pas.

    But you know what, this is your sister. She’s getting married; that’s exciting. This sounds like a really small, casual wedding, so just make an easy side dish and bring along with a card with a check in an amount you feel comfortable writing.

    If this was her birthday, would you find this kind of a party off-putting? Most wouldn’t. You’d probably make a side-dish, bring a bottle of win, and get her a birthday card without a second thought. So don’t let adherence to tradition or etiquette get in the way of celebrating a joyful occasion.

    It would be one thing, I guess, if the bride was someone you didn’t know well and it was a huge wedding. That does sound like a logistical nightmare and definitely some skimming off the guests to get a wedding they want without paying for it.

    But that’s not this. This sounds like a very a modest family gathering. Your gift doesn’t have to be huge, but put aside “the rules” and enjoy this moment for her.

    #840428 Reply

    (a) It is not a “last-minute” decision if she’s getting married in the summer. Okay, week-of, I might be a little annoyed. Day before, I’d be pissed. But it sounds like you have at least weeks, if not months, to think of one side dish you can bring.
    (b) This wedding sounds awesome! No fancy dress to buy, no destination travel expenses… you can just throw some quinoa in a bowl and enjoy lots of quality time with family.
    (c) Of course you should still give her a gift – she’s your sister! Don’t be stingy with family.

    #840429 Reply

    And yeah, just to back up PDX816, if you want to play it straight by the etiquette book, not getting someone a wedding gift is a no-no.

    Just because someone else is playing it sloppy with etiquette (whether on purpose they are just self-centered people, or on purpose because they have a different perspective on the utility of some forms of etiquette, or whether it’s totally inadvertent and they are just naive), that does not give you the tacit permission to be rude in return.

    #840432 Reply

    Okay, you never, ever have to bring a gift to a wedding. It’s more correct to mail it to their address, the thought being that they have enough to juggle on their wedding day. However, that wasn’t really your question.

    Your question was whether to give a gift at all. The answer is yes, she’s your sister, so you give a gift, but what it is and how much you spend is no one’s business but your own. You know your sister pretty well, I’d imagine. Go for sentimental rather than pricey.

    Yes, potluck after the fact is bad manners. It’s a bait and switch, where instead of being a host you’re essentially asking for more gifts, and after your guests have accepted, so it’s harder for them to say no. As they’re really close friends and family, though, perhaps they already know your sister’s presumably tight financial situation and will be happy to help. If your sister has just decided to put the dinner money towards a trip to Hawaii, though, be prepared for a lot of wincing.

    #840434 Reply

    It is a little unfortunate that she decided to switch to a potluck dinner AFTER the invites went out.

    IMO – if she had it set-up that way from the outset, to me that’s above reproach. Others may disagree, but I think a small family potluck style wedding is a valid and lovely choice.

    It does get a little fuzzier since the invites are already out.

    But – this was already a small, family-only wedding. There should be more leeway there, I think. This is a minor bobble, not a huge offense in my mind. And it’s not last minute, there are months to get the revised plans out there.

    And again. It’s your sister. Getting married. If it were me, I’d be gracious about it.

    #840437 Reply

    Thank you for the responses!

    My thinking was that it was, I guess…different…to ask your guests to supply the food for your wedding, family or not.

    It’s helped me see it as not as big-of-a-deal seeing it from other perspectives. I can just make something super simple.

    #840438 Reply

    I don’t see what the big deal is about changing to a pot-luck months in advance. But I’m a Minnesotan and you can’t walk down the street without passing a pot-luck somewhere, and I’m also a “weddings and wedding ettiquette are boring and over-rated” kind of person, so what do I know?


    If you’re really sore over the pot-luck thing, just subtract whatever you spend on the potluck from the amount you would spend on a gift. But either way, yes, give something.

    #840440 Reply

    Yes, my “last minute” comment was misleading.

    I should have phrased it differently. They planned on supplying food, but changed it after the invites were out. Definitely have time to plan a dish!

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