Media Article – Wedding Gift Giving

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Edmonton Journal - Edmonton Event Planners

Gift-Giving Can Be Tricky, says Edmonton Wedding Planner

By Chris Zdeb, The Edmonton Journal

The average Canadian bride and groom live together before marriage so they usually have all the kitchen gadgets and other housewares they need. What many really want for a wedding gift is money, but it’s uncouth to say so on the invitation.

There are ways to tell if that’s what they want, but if it is, how much should you give? And if you do decide to give a gift, how much should you spend? Do you have to buy a gift if you’re already missing work and forking over big bucks to attend a destination wedding?

With the I-Do season in full swing, we asked Edmonton certified wedding planner Christina Frizzell of Sweet Bliss Weddings about some common gift etiquette quandaries.

How do you know a couple wants money?

If they’re not registered for gifts anywhere, you can assume they’re looking for money. If you want to be sure, ask one of their parents or anyone in the bridal party.

How much should money should I give?

“If your budget allows, and you’re a generous person by nature, or if you’re very close to the couple, I would say the absolute minimum would be to cover the cost of you attending their wedding, but it’s always good to put in a little extra so the couple actually comes out with something as opposed to coming out even at the end,” Frizzell says.

An afternoon wedding or brunch, for example, costs less than a wedding with a cocktail hour, dinner and dance. The style of wedding invitation and venue will also give you a clue as to how formal or expensive a wedding is.

Frizzell would spend $100 to $150 (closer to $200 if she was buying a gift with her husband) on a close friend or relative; $100 on a casual friend or relative; and $75 to $100 on a co-worker or distant relative.

“But again, you have to use your own personal discretion on does this meet my budget? Is this something I can afford?”

Do you have to give a gift?

Unless the invitation specifically says ‘No Gifts Please,’ yes you do.

What should you buy if you have no idea what to buy?

Let the couple’s gift registry be your guide. If only big ticket items are left, consider splitting the cost with another guest or another couple.

What if you have an idea for a gift that’s not on the registry?

If you’re close to the couple and have an idea that’s out-of-the-box that you think they’d like such as a cooking class if they love to cook or a gift certificate for horseback riding, if that’s a favourite activity, they would probably appreciate it. But run it past the couple’s parents or someone in the bridal party just to be on the safe side.

If you can’t attend the wedding do you still need to buy a gift?

If a close family member is getting married, yes. If it’s a friend or acquaintance, “I don’t think you’re obligated,” Frizzell says.

If you’re already missing work and paying to attend a destination wedding, do you have to buy a gift too?

Unless the invitation says no gifts, you should buy one. But present it to the couple either before the wedding or after they return, because some gifts — an expensive bottle of port or wine — may not get through customs, or they may have to prove they didn’t buy that jewelry where they got married.

What about making a donation to a charity in the couple’s name instead of buying a gift?

It’s been done, but it’s not a big trend, as of yet.

If you’re already spending quite a bit of money for a bridal shower gift do you have to spend a lot on a wedding gift?

The shower gift and wedding gift are two separate things. The bridal shower gift is a gift for the bride, or a household item. The wedding gift is for the couple. The cost of one should not influence the cost of the other.

If someone didn’t give you a wedding gift are you obligated to buy them one?

According to wedding etiquette, a guest has up to one year to give you a wedding gift, so don’t jump the gun. “Take the high road,” Frizzell advises, and buy them a gift even if they didn’t buy you one.

Photo courtesy of Ed Kaiser, The Edmonton Journal

Check out the online article here.

**Update** This article also ran in The Montreal Gazette and in the Vancouver Sun on June 29th and 30th, 2011.

Project: Share the Love!

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Who doesn’t love a good Love Story? No one!  Let’s face it, with all of the worry and stress that we face on a day-to-day basis, we need a feel-good story every now and again.

With that in mind, I would like to try out a new project that I’m calling “Project: Share the Love!” and I need your help (yes, I see you! Don’t hide on me!)

I personally think that the people around us probably have the most cute, amazing Love Stories, but that no one really gets to share them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come up in conversation very often, does it?

So, here’s what I am asking you to do:

  • Write out your personal Love Story – it could be the story of how you and the love-of-your-life met, or a proposal story, something romantic that happened to you, or just a wonderful moment where you felt loved by someone (anyone!)
  • Send it to me at: christina@sweetblissweddings.ca (Don’t forget to include a photo, or you can request to remain anonymous)

See? Easy and painless!

Then I will post your story on the blog.

Now, here’s the best part: Share the Love! Send the link featuring your story out to your friends. Make it your Facebook status. Tweet about it. Anyway you want to do it, do it!

Sharing your personal Love Story not your thing? No problem. But you can still Share the Love! by sharing the link with others in the hopes that they will want to submit their Love Stories.

My personal goal with this is to set aside a moment in our busy, hectic lives to remember that Love is wonderful and that we all experience it. If you believe this as well, I would love for you to help spread the word and Share the Love!

My personal Love Story…coming soon! :)

Valentine Poster - Sweet Bliss Weddings

Wedding Scams – Don’t Be a Victim

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Angry Bride on Wedding Day

If you are getting married and you live in the Edmonton area, then chances are that you have heard the news story about the wedding planner/decorator who scammed brides out of thousands of dollars and left some brides scrambling to find items just days before their wedding.

A local news station brought this story to light last week, and since then there have been 2 more follow-up stories as more and more brides come forward.

While the Edmonton wedding industry has come together to assist the couples who were taken by this scam, some less-than-reputable businesses have also used this situation as a “business opportunity” and brides may run the risk of being scammed a second time.  Regardless of what company you hire and for what service, the general principles remain the same:

1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions - You can ask a vendor whatever questions you need in order to feel confident in their abilities to deliver on the service that they are promising to provide. Questions like: “How long have you been in business for?”, “How much experience have you had dealing with x?”, “Are you licensed/insured?”, and “In the event that you are not available, do you have a back-up?”  are all valid questions and a legitimate business should not hesitate to answer. Also feel free to ask for references from past paying customers.

2) Ask to see a contract before you commit to anything - Every legitimate business should provide you with a contract and should allow you to peruse it prior to your agreeing to sign it.  The contract should not only outline the terms of business (total fee, payment schedules, etc.), but it should also include what services or items the vendor will provide you with, the contact information of the vendor, and a cancellation policy.  Some other things to keep in mind when entering into a contract:

  • Read the contract and make sure that you understand the terms as written. It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people sign things without reading them. Claiming that you “didn’t understand” what you were signing is not a defence.
  • Get everything in writing! Don’t rely on verbal promises. Make sure that whatever was negotiated between you and the vendor is also included in the contract.
  • Make sure that you have a copy of the contract as signed.  Not only should you have a copy for your records and as a reference, but should something go wrong, law enforcement or consumer services will need to know what the original terms agreed to were.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you don’t understand something in the contract, ask the vendor to explain it to you and/or word it more clearly in the contract before you sign it.

3) Never provide full payment up front - It is not uncommon for companies to ask for as much as 50% up front as a deposit or initial payment upon signing of a contract. In the special events industry in particular, most vendors will ask that they receive full payment prior to your wedding day. However, red flags should be going up if they are asking for the full amount right away.

4) Do your research - The internet is an amazing tool (as I’m sure you all know!). Use it to your advantage by looking up the company. And I’m not talking about going to their company website (although that’s a good start). I mean REALLY research the company.  You can start by seeing if they have had any complaints through the Better Business Bureau. Sometimes just Googling the company name will yield some reviews or other information. One or two complaints isn’t out of the ordinary for a company that has been in business awhile; but if the company has been around for say 2 years and there are numerous complaints on forums and blogs about them…stay away!

5) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is / You get what you pay for - I know you’ve all heard it before, but we just can’t seem to resist a bargain! It’s human nature! But if you find yourself faced with a smoking good deal, ask yourself:

  • Can this company logically charge this much for what they are promising? (Keep in mind that a business’ ultimate goal is to make money. If they are promising you a price that you can’t see them making a profit from, then something is wrong.)
  • What kind of service does this price buy me? (It’s not to say that every company that has lower-than-average market prices are out to swindle you, but if they are offering you such a low price then chances are that you are sacrificing service, cleaning and maintenance costs, or something else.)

As a consumer, the ball is always in your court.  You get to choose which vendors you give your business to, and that’s a powerful thing! You should never feel pressured or intimidated into hiring someone, and you should always ask questions if you are unsure of anything.

A wedding is one of the most expensive things that you will ever pay for, and it can also be an emotional time.  It is important to not let that emotion cloud your judgement or your intuition. There will always be disreputable businesses and scam artists, but you don’t have to be a victim!

*A similar situation occurred in Toronto a couple of years ago.  To see that story and The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada’s response, please click here.