Work Abroad but earn in USD

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gifts for Weddings in Argentina

Cash is King

It seemed odd to me, that for the several weddings I have been to in Argentina people asked for cash as their wedding gift. I have always been taught that cash—while extremely useful and certainly an appropriate gift from an uncle or grandparent—constitutes a quite tacky gift between peers. Yet every couple whose wedding I have attended in Argentina has asked for money. So this led to several heated discussions between my girlfriend and I over whether money is an appropriate wedding gift to ASK FOR.…

Times are changing, Lourdes (my girlfriend) would argue. People don’t get married then go to live together, they go to live together and then they get married. Thus the old adage of newlyweds “building a house” together doesn’t really apply, because most newlyweds will have already done most of that. So blenders and dishes and furniture are no longer gifts of preference because many couples already have that. This I understand.

What I have trouble wrapping my brain around, though, is the idea that the wedding costs a lot of money and that therefore I should, in essence, make a donation to the cause. This has been an argument used to justify cash gifts. The problem, though, is that I didn’t decide to put on the wedding in the first place. Many couples elope and decide to do things on their own or with small groups of more intimate friends and family at a very low cost. Cost, therefore, is all up to the people putting on the wedding and if they cannot afford it, they shouldn’t do it (although many a politician might disagree with that). Also, I didn’t decide what to spend the money on for the wedding. I don’t even know if I’m going to like the food (which I didn’t at any of them save one) let alone the ceremony. So what I feel basically is that I’m being asked to attend a ceremony by a friend (or acquaintance) of mine, that will be catered to their tastes and that I should give them money to use for their honeymoon or bill paying or for the wedding and reception itself.

I have thrown many a party in my life and I have never asked for people to pay to come in the door. There might have been a couple of parties I attended in college where some drunken guy with a baseball hat on backwards was asking for 5 bucks for a plastic cup at the keg but besides that I have not heard of asking for cash as a wedding gift. But maybe I’m in the dark. Maybe this phenomenon is all too common and I just haven’t paid enough attention. I wonder, though, is it common in both the US and Argentina? What about other countries in the world?

I await your feedback…

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Blogger Don Gonzalito said...

In my opinion, asking for or giving cash presents is distasteful, regardless of the circumstances.
I have heard of it in Argentina, and even been in a situation where money was being collected for such a practice, but I excused myself and offered a regular present instead.

4/15/2008 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disclaimer: I am a tacky American married to a tacky Argentine. We did not ask for, but did in fact receive cash gifts at our wedding from both friends and family.

My general stance is that wedding gifters need to get over themselves. It isn't about you! At all. Give the bride and groom what they want - be it cash or a set of dishes - share in their moment, enjoy the party, don't judge and move on.

4/15/2008 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I`ve lived here all my life and I also find gifting money distateful. Though I want to point out that the first time I heard abour massive money-gifting was when my uncle told me about a birthday party an American cousin of his threw (I was shocked when he told me they were told to gift money). Unfortunately, it has become quite common. I can almost understand gifting money if the couple is not throwing away lots of cash in a party and they do really need the money for, for example, moving to a new appartment. However, most times it is as you said, and they want you to help pay the party. But i`ve heard about something more tacky: a month ago some relative of mine (third cousin or something) got married and my parents recieved a participation (like a notice of the wedding but not an invitation to the actual party). For some reason they felt oblidged to give a gift and went to see the wedding list they had at some store. What they found out was that the list contained, for example, 6 different DVD players of diferent value. Apparently, the couple choses randomly different items according to the price, and then they return everything and just pick whatever the like..... it is horrible! It is like making you gift money but in a roundabout way. To know it did not matter at all what you chose, just the price is not nice. My mom told me she had to chose between 5 DVD players.... she chose the one that had a mid-range price. I find all of this even more distateful. So what can I say, I`m from Argentina and I do not understand this new fashion.... but at least I am not the only one. I just know I won`t do this at my wedding.

4/17/2008 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to be common praxis here in Germany too

4/19/2008 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Like many I used to think gifting money for weddings was distateful. I recently got married with a Colombian girl in Colombia (I am Argentinian). We are nwo living in London and are planning to have wedding party in Argentina when we go visit it in December. Real gift's for us will be pointless, for one we have everything we need in London. More importangly we couldn't possibly carry dozens of gifts with us to London. I now see things very differently. Typically heated issues like this one change a lot when you are at the other person's shoes and have no choice...

5/02/2008 07:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple months ago we received a wedding invitation from an affluent young couple from the Buenos Aires area that contained a card indicating that we were not to give gifts as they already had everything they needed. We were instead directed to deposit money in a specific travel agent's account for their honeymoon. That was a first for us. (By the way, we have received five other Argentine wedding invitations, and not one of them ever even mentioned that a gift was expected, though of course we did give them.) When we checked with young couples in the US afterwards, they assured us that it was not uncommon to request honeymoon funds there. Times change, and I hope to change with them (but am not yet ready for "money trees" at anniversary parties, please).

5/05/2008 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Mis Empanada said...

I am an argentine girl and I live in Spain. Here, people are used to opening a bank account before their marriage, so that the guests can (or must)deposite money. The "correct" amount per person is about 150 € at least!

So, unless the wedding is of a very close person, you beg not to be invited!!!!

5/06/2008 07:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! I have been reading these comments as they come in & I have to say my mouth is on the floor, I cannot believe people talking about this as if it is normal (or acceptable).

Maybe that is the problem I have with it - just because people are doing it (in ARG or Spain...) - doesnt make it right! People do lots of things regularly, doing it doesnt make it acceptable/right!


Some people have made some excuses, lets examine them further.

"we dont need stuff here, we live there (too hard to move the gifts)"

That's easy then, tell people you dont want gifts (if you say its too hard for you to move them)! This is not an excuse to say GIVE US MONEY! Tacky!

How about the "listen to the married couple, if they ask for money then give it to them!"

NASTY & TACKY! How about give us some smack cuz my wife is a druggie, how about give us diapers because my baby craps a lot... Some things are ok to ask for & SOME ARE NOT. Which gets to the summary...

YOU CAN NEVER ASK FOR MONEY and be respectful of your guests/gift-givers, doing so shows no manners and forgets the point of a wedding gift is for something PERSONAL which cannot be anonymous cash.

5/07/2008 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that many couples do make a home together before marrying and the fact that people are getting married at a later age does make this a tricky issue.

I learned that it is never appropriate to demand a certain type of gift, be it for Christmas, a Birthday or Wedding. However giving something to a bride and a groom that they already have is pointless. If one feels that a gift of money would be to finance the wedding than perhaps they should consider gift cards so that a couple can go and choose something that they need or would like to have that they might no get otherwise. This is a practice that is quite common now in the States.

5/13/2008 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a Brazilian opinion.
One should never ask for money and one should never give money.
Does it happen? Yes, it does.
Is it polite? Not at all!
People confuse modern behavior and impolite behavior.

6/26/2008 01:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm Argentine, live in Australia and the custom here is a bridal register. As most people live together before the big day, they have everything they need. So rather than receiving 50 phone calls with "what would you like", and b/c in Australia we're so prudish about being direct we reply "ph don't worry about it".

The reality is that whether you are a guest or the host it is expected to give/ receive a present. That's why the register exists.
I'd rather spend $150AU on something special for the happy couple that they want that's on the register, or something better I find along the way. The reigster is used as a guidline or if you really don't know. It avoids waste from the happy couple's perspective, and saves you as the guest trying to figure out what to give them.

We've been to 10 weddings these last 12mths (yep very exy) and we've bought gifts that they will remember us by 10-20 years away. I've seen some silly things on registers like cutting boards for bread. What...I'm going to be remembered each time they slice bread??

And yet I've seen some well thought out gifts that they can enjoy for years to come.

I've also noticed the recent trend toward giving trees ($ and Honeymoon) and must say they are distasteful. At 1 of these weddings we were asked to contribute. I was horrified.

We were engaged recently and a friend gave us $100aus and not even a card! Just the note in an envelope. It felt like they couldn't be bothered and just remembered as they parked the car. I felt offended. I politely said, oh there's no need, your presence is enough. Which it was. Sometimes it's best not give anything than offend.


1/26/2009 04:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow.. stumbled here looking for gift ideas for an Argentinian.. but can´t help to comment. In Asia its completely normal, it´s not distasteful, it´s culture. People give money in red pockets as a symbol of wealth and fortune for years to come. Yes, culturally there´s a minimum amount people give, but that´s not obliged but close family and friends give it anyways as a gesture of goodwill. And i know someone will say, money as goodwill? you must be joking. But no, at least it´s honest and it´s useful. And if you´re really against it, then just give an ordinary gift or grace them with your great presence. They´re not going to kick you out just for that. really. no big deal, just be polite.

3/02/2010 11:15:00 PM  

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