Wedding gift for Boston wedding - anyone know current customs?

gellchomApril 20, 2010

We are invited to a Jewish wedding in a suburb of Boston; about 200 people at a country club. The bride is the sister of our son's fiance.

We live in a midwestern city, and I know customs vary around the country and by community (look at some of the strings on this forum about gifts), and even then there is a lot of variation. In our community, I would think that a "thing" or cash gift of between $100 and $200 would be typical for this situation.

I'm not trying to keep up with the Joneses, but I want to make sure I'm neither being cheap nor putting pressure on the groom's family to send my son and his fiance too big a gift next year or anything. I've never even met that family other than the groom and I don't want to be rude in either direction.

Does anyone have any recent experience with Boston? Is it all cash for wedding gifts, and even major items place settings of china on the registry are given as shower gifts? Or do people give things like that as wedding gifts? Any clue about typical range? I gave them a small engagement gift (wine coaster and stopper) but I don't think I will be invited to any showers.

Thanks in advance for any helpful information.

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Depending on their china or silver....a place setting is nice. And ought to be in the range of $100, to $175 or so.
these people will soon be "family" generous.
I don't think any community is "all cash"....and frankly...for someone close, I like to chose something special...perhaps a couple of serving pieces of her silver. I still remember who gave us the gravy ladle and pie server!
Linda c

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 1:11AM
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My neighbor has a way of determining how much to spend on a wedding gift. She doubles the amount the couple are spending per plate at the reception and either buys a gift for that amount or gives that amount as a cash gift.

I tend to look at the registry, if they have one and choose something that fits in the $100 to $200 dollar range or else I look at what they've registered for and choose something that they have't thought of.

Really I would go with what you usually do for a family wedding

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 9:05PM
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I honestly don't know anything about what would be an appropriate gift in Boston. In fact, as far as Houston (where I've lived my whole life), AFIK there's no "custom" gift. Not that I'm up on all that stuff!!

The thing is, I give what I feel comfortable giving rather than trying to figure out what the couple expects or what the local tradition might be. If money is the custom there, they'll already be getting a lot of checks. Why not make your gift one of the few personal items that stand out and get remembered? I have a few quotes below from a very wise person who frequents this forum. See if you can figure out who said all this:

When I got married, I did not have enough experience to know what would REALLY come in handy as my family and entertaining needs grew. Even then, I could see the difference between the gifts our peers gave us -- "unique," fun, or short-term stuff (e.g., a bed tray and a subscription to a book review) -- and the things the "grown-ups" got us: serving pieces, carving board, tablecloths, dishes, flatware, etc. We liked and appreciated all of it, but I could see the older generation had the better idea, and theirs are the gifts I am still gratefully using almost 26 years later.

Registries tell me colors, styles, etc. I often give a silverplate water pitcher (there's an example of something you don't know you'll need but never have enough of, if you entertain). I look at the couple's registry to decide whether to choose a very simple or more ornate style. 

Not many young couples need giant serving platters or dishes, flatware, and crystal for 12 or 18. But years later, when they start to take their turn hosting holiday meals and family get-togethers -- for a family that will probably be getting larger -- they are going to need all that stuff -- at least many people do. Twenty-six years ago, I never imagined serving 29 people dinner in my home. But that is what we are doing tomorrow!
So even though at the time it seemed like we would never use all the platters, bowls, and pitchers, I have used every one of them many times over the years.

The nicest bonus is that every time I use the "boring" items, even all these years later, I think fondly of the person who gave it to me. That is a very lovely experience you don't get if all you get is cash or things you registered for yourself. My favorite gift was a big, fancy silver plate platter from my great aunt. She had received it as a wedding gift when she married into our family in the 1950s. I certainly didn't have occasion to use it much in the early years of our marriage, but I use it all the time now, and I think of her every time I see it.

This is probably more a matter of local and ethnic custom than anything else. In many communities the northeast, for example, it seems that cash gifts are so customary that "thing" gifts are unusual (for wedding gifts \-\- these people also often give very large "thing" gifts for engagements and showers). But several posters who live in the south have reported that in their communities cash gifts are considered impersonal to the point of being a no\-no. Both are common here. I prefer to give a "thing" gift, but that's just my preference. 
    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 9:34AM
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I just wanted to add monetary gifts in New England are totally acceptable and very common.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 2:30PM
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I think you're right on target, and that either cash or a gift from the registry would be fine. My sense is that cash is a more usual gift for a wedding around here, though I don't know that for sure.

One thing I do know is that shower gifts here are much bigger than what I was used to when I lived in Cleveland, Ohio. (You're from Ohio, right?) I remember going to a friend's bridal shower with an electric frying pan, which was on her registry and which I thought was a nice shower gift, only to be surrounded by people giving place settings, silver, and Waterford. And much of that was from friends, not family. (I still can't bring myself to give crystal for a shower, but I guess that's beside the point.:)

Personally, I think a gift of $100 would be fine. I applaud your reasoning, too. You don't want to start any sort of serious gift exchange with people you don't know and probably won't know very well even after your son is married. I think it's really nice that you're coming all this way to honor your relationship with your son's fianc.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 1:35AM
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I'd agree that cash is more useful --
but also that it's very impersonal, and not a gift that is likely to be remembered.
It's also uncomfortably 'measurable', so the possibility exists that the amount you give is, by comparison, 'too little' or even 'too much'.

Since the bride will be becoming a member of your extended family, and you may see quite a bit of her later, I'd err on the side of generosity and 'memorableness' and go the silver, china or crystal route. I'd agree that a silver water pitcher or candlesticks/candelabra would be lovely, never incorrect, and useful down the road. You could also give a set of sterling napkins rings, two engraved with the bride and groom's names and two blank for guests or future children. Maybe give a set or two of cloth napkins (one casual, one fancy) and placemats for a shower gift?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 12:32PM
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Oh, May. You take my breath away! Thank you.

Yes, I am in Ohio. I grew up in Milwaukee and got married there. My husband is from New York. When we got married, my parents' friends gave us nice but not extravagant wedding gifts (e.g., a place setting or two of stainless or one crystal goblet), and only a few of their closest friends gave small engagement gifts (e.g. a ring holder, a cheese knife). My husband's parents' friends gave us things like place settings of china for engagement gifts, AND large checks for our wedding, even if they couldn't attend. Now, as it happened, most of my parents' friends had a lot more money than my in-laws' friends. My mom and I joked with each other that they must think my parents weren't very well-liked! But that was just the difference in the customs in our two communities.

I suppose that's what I'm remembering when I'm obsessing about whether the instincts I would rely on here in Columbus will serve me well for a Boston wedding.

At least, I WAS obsessing -- until you gave me confidence, May!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 2:34AM
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I'm from Boston. The answer isn't as simple as cash or gift. There are many different cultural groups in the area; at some weddings, gifts are usual, at others, cash. But you will most likely find a mix of actual gifts and cash at just about any wedding you attend, it's just that it will be slanted more towards one type of gift than the other, in part because the guests tend to be from various cultural groups and may default to what is common for their group.

For a Jewish wedding in Boston, you wouldn't go wrong with cash. I haven't been to a wedding here in a while, so I have no idea what the usual amount would be. If you want to give a gift, I'd tend to go the china, crystal or silver route, not the waffle iron or sheet/towel route.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 2:39PM
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Glad I could help gell!! I'll be interested to hear what you end up giving. :)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 9:13AM
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The invitation came yesterday, and I decided to send a gift right away so that I can stop obsessing already.

I sent a place setting plus a soup plate in their china. They picked such a pretty pattern (Lenox), it was an extra pleasure. They didn't register crystal or silver, at least not at any of the registries on, where I found them. I noticed that it was the first of their china that was ordered, so maybe that will make it extra exciting for this extra nice couple when it arrives.

I feel good about the choice. Thank you all for helping me.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 2:48PM
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I just wanted to chime in, in case someone comes along later--

I think that when you are clearly not a part of the predominant social circle, that there's a realization that your customs and expectations might be different. So you can follow your regular instincts, even if you are "in Rome."

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:52PM
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