“What The Hell Is a Wishing Well Wedding?”

If you ever had to attend a wedding or any of the parties that surround it, you’re going to appreciate this email. If you’re the couple who’s referenced here, you’re probably not :)

I want your comments/tips/thoughts afterwards!

Hi there,

I have a question for you. I have an engagement party this weekend. On the lovely commercially printed invite are the words “wishing well optional.” Now, I lived in Canada for 20 years up until 2 years ago when I moved back to Australia. I have never heard of a wishing well or been to an engagement party over there. I mean, a party for this type of thing seems so unnecessary when there will be a hen night/ bucks night and a wedding within the next year.

The thing that has got me is the “wishing well.” My friends are well set up. Both have jobs, they have a home they are paying off which is modest and I am sure they will own outright eventually and I am pretty sure no debt as she is a smart saver. I am stuck on this concept.

Do I give a couple who has everything cash? It says “wishing well optional” but then am I a tight wad friend if I do not give to the wishing well? The thought of forking over cash ( I thought $30) seems gross to a frugal weirdo like me. I do not however want to be the lame friend who gives a home made card and a punch in the arm “good luck” type of thing.

They are paying for the party and all the booze etc at the party. I wanted to get some opinions on this. It is not being able to afford sticking some money in the card, it is more the idea of supporting a grossly extravagant concept.

What would you do?

I love this email for a number of reasons. First, it shows how worldwide money is and how far its predicaments spread. Secondly, it’s funny to hear that bachelors/bachelorettes have been  internationally turned into farm animals  ;) And lastly, I love me a good debate on cash giving!!

I wrote her back pretty much saying that, yes, it all sounds pretty extravagant and sucks that she now has to (or at least feels like she has to) give gift upon gift at all these parties she’s attending, but also that I’d probably just plunk down the cash and do my best not to stew in it. And $30 seems fine too.

Is that sweeping the issue under the rug? Maybe. But here’s why I’d do it:

  1. I don’t like drama
  2. It’s *their* day and can celebrate however they see fit – even if it’s ridiculous to the rest of us
  3. I have much bigger problems to stress out about and fix
  4. If you’re going to give a gift anyways, why not give them what you know they want?

Why are Wishing Wells so popular?

Now, I’m biased here because I personally LOVE giving and receiving cash gifts (have you ever seen anyone turn money down?? :)), but it also solves the problem of trying to give someone something when it appears they already have everything they need too. And let’s just assume they do, even though we all know appearances can be deceiving.

In fact, at our own wedding we gave the option of contributing to our “honeymoon fund” so we wouldn’t go into debt with it. I’m sure people found that tacky, but we had the obligatory registries at Bed Bath and Beyond, as well as Target for the *ahem* budget conscious guest as well. So it was totally up to the guests to do as they please. The cool part about the honeymoon thing though was that the site we used to form it offered the ability to tie your financial gift towards objects like “dinner outs” or “massages” or even the plane tickets we needed to get there. So that helped make it feel like a “real” gift as well. Though again, I’m just as happy receiving cash money anytime, anywhere, from any person!

But I digress…

Point is – money makes people feel all kinds of things. And in a perfect world we want that feeling to be a positive one and not stress you the hell out. So while you now know *my* feelings on such a dilemma, I’d love to get yours so it’s more well-rounded and our dear reader here can help make up her mind as to how to proceed this weekend.

Oh, and what IS a wishing well btw?

Here’s what good ol’ Wiki has to say about it:

A wedding wishing well is a fancy donation box that is gaining popularity among bridal couples (up to 60% of weddings have them), who have often lived together before marrying, or who have been previously married, and do not need any of the traditional wedding gifts. They are also sometimes found at showers to collect monetary gifts for the guests of honor, as well as wedding wishes or marriage quotes, poems and messages of congratulations.

Wishing Wells looks like this:

wedding birdcage cards(This is a bird cage style by Etsy seller LoRustique)

And, coincidentally, I literally JUST came back from a wedding myself this weekend and actually saw a wishing well staring right back at me! Which I then plopped in our card and (*gasp*) the cash that accompanied it. We used to give physical gifts, but again after seeing how much we loved receiving money ourselves at our own wedding, we decided that’s what we’d be giving going forward too. And because I hate always wondering and thinking of how much to give people (so stressful!) now my wife and I just give the same amount every time to the bride and groom: $100. Life’s been easy ever since :)

(I also have a universal tipping rule of 20% too, no matter the service. This sometimes means morons get more than they deserve, but it’s all about saving mental energy in the end.)

Now I’ve only ever seen these boxes/birdcage wishing wells at the actual wedding day ceremony and not an engagement party, so if they’ll be at both for our reader here, then I’ll agree it’s probably a bit much. Unless whatever you give at the engagement party will count for your wedding gift too? (Yeah right!). But seriously, there are a million wedding events these days, like the bridal shower, bucks/hens nights, rehearsals and dinners, etc. etc. If we were to give money at every single event, that’s a lot of coin to drop for 1 couple! you’d think one gift registry should kinda cover all wedding related events, right?

And what’s an “engagement party” btw?

If you’ve never heard those either, like myself? It’s a party held to “celebrate a couple’s recent engagement and to help future wedding guests to get to know one another.” Kinda old-timey if you ask me, but then again I could just not be hip to the game… I almost spit out my coffee though when I came across this gem in a discussion board: “I actually think that engagement parties are so 80’s. Just get married already.”

Okay, so the two options I see here for our dear reader is as follows:

  1. Don’t go to the engagement party and then you don’t have to worry about it
  2. Go and just drop in a few bucks and then try to forget about it

Sure you can go and not give anything since it’s technically “optional,” but you’ll probably feel bad/ annoyed the entire time and it’ll just ruin the event(s) for you. Try to have a good time and celebrate!

Okay, now for real I want y’all to chime in and give us your thoughts here on this wish thing… What would you do in this case? Speak up and say something? Bring/make a gift instead? Budget your gifts into 3 equal parts which add up to the cost of 1 normal wedding gift in the end? ;)

Share your views below and let’s hook up our friend here… I’m going to get the popcorn.

[Wedding cake topper pic by Sailor Coruscant]

(Visited 322 times, 1 visits today)

Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!


  1. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank April 27, 2015 at 5:33 AM

    $30 would be fine with me as well. Just give something that you think is normal. Mine would be ranging from 30 to 50. It’s fine to give much because it happens just once. Give something and enjoy the rest of the ceremony.

  2. Emma | Money Can Buy Me Happiness April 27, 2015 at 6:15 AM

    The world has gone mad! Seriously – if this couple have everything they need perhaps they could ask party guests to donate to the victims of the earthquake in Nepal.
    I don’t mind giving wedding gifts but engagement gifts are a bit much, then again we purposely had an overseas wedding with our parents as the only guests so it would be no fuss, no stress. I’m just not that type of person.

  3. Brian April 27, 2015 at 6:50 AM

    If you don’t support the concept then don’t go.. Personally, I would probably give around $50 (which seems like the goldilocks amount to me). That’s probably the easiest thing to do.

  4. Maureen @ A Debt Free Stress Free Life April 27, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    I’m with you. I’ve got more important things to worry about. Personally I think a shower gift and a wedding gift is sufficient. And, you give what you can afford, not because you feel you need to give some amount of money someone else determined is acceptable.

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:36 AM

      Yes, good point about *what you can afford*. I used to give $20 when I was a poor college student, then upped to $50 when I had my first “real” job, etc, and now we’ve settled on $100 since we’re more financially stable. Gotta make sure it’s not gonna screw you!

  5. MyMoneyDesign April 27, 2015 at 7:19 AM

    Isn’t getting a present or money kind of the point anymore when someone throws a party like this? I’d say suck it up and just give them a card with some cash in it.

  6. AMW April 27, 2015 at 7:31 AM

    Personally, I have never been to an engagement party where gifts were given….it’s just a celebration. Of course, I have only been to two. If I were going to one with a wishing well, I would give the $30. Of course, the frugal part of me might cut down on the shower gift if this happened. I am in the wedding industry and am shocked and delighted (because I profit) at how over the top people will go for one day. It is an annoyance to me when you hear the bride and groom discuss in front of anyone how much cash they are hoping to garner from the event. It is a given that they will receive gifts but it is a bit unseemly that they are looking for guests to “recoup” their “investment”.

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      Oh wow, I bet you see all KINDS of interesting discussions being in the industry! I think my financial brain would explode listening to all that, haha…

  7. Dee @ Color Me Frugal April 27, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    Since it says the wishing well is optional, I’d say you are not obligated to participate. But, as J points out, you’ll probably feel bad and/or stew about it all night long. I personally think it’s tacky to even make any mention of the wishing well on the invite, but I suppose they are doing that to help pay for the costs of the engagement party. Which, as you mention, is probably not an entirely necessary event. I think if this were me I’d ask myself what would potentially bother me more: giving $30 for something like this, or not giving it and potentially feeling bad about it. There’s your answer. Do whatever you feel you’ll most happily be able to live with.

  8. Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life April 27, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    $30 seems like a reasonable amount, especially if the couple has all the household stuff they would need. I’m leaning towards this for our wedding ceremony one day in that we already have been living together for a few years, and another set of china would not be appreciated. And like you said, if you don’t like the idea, you don’t have to show up and you’ve saved everyone the little drama party that can ensue.

  9. diane @smartmoneysimplelife April 27, 2015 at 7:53 AM

    Admittedly, I’m somewhat ambivalent about the whole nuptial nonsense so I’ll play devil’s advocate.

    I can see the value in wedding gifts when the couple is starting with nothing more than a ‘glory box’ or ‘bottom drawer’ but when said couple has been living independently of their parents for years and have all the bits and bobs for setting up house, it seems a bit… gauche, to expect presents at every event to mark the occasion of their marriage.

    It should be about celebrating the occasion with friends and family not about putting on a show and totting up the ‘spoils’ at the end of the evening.

    I guess there’s lots of money to be made from all this craziness so it’s bound to continue…

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      Great SAT word! Had to look that up :) Gauche.

  10. Jon @ Money Smart Guides April 27, 2015 at 7:54 AM

    When my wife and I were married, we had most everything we already wanted/needed. We married in our 30s and both owned houses. We did the registry at a few places just for those that wanted to buy a gift, but even with that, the majority of people gave us cash, which I LOVED. I wanted to just ask for cash, but my wife said that would be tacky. I disagree. If the couple is set and has what they need, why ask for crap they don’t need? I’d have no issue if a friend getting married says to me “we only want cash”. It makes my life 10 times easier. No shopping, just fill out a check!

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:42 AM

      Doing the registries was the only time my wife and I actually argued throughout the wedding process. I didn’t want any extra stuff but she wanted us to have stuff that was “ours” and not just mine or hers. Which I get. Eventually I just gave in and did my best to help out and not add stress to it all :)

    2. kcmama April 28, 2015 at 12:24 AM

      You see, this is what I don’t get. Gifts used to be given because people had nothing and had little means to obtain items to start living in their own space. Family and friends wanted to help them out. Nowadays it is quite common to find people who have been marrying later after working and living on their own for a while and they are already set. If guests have to give cash because the bride and groom have everything they need then there is no need for a gift! This is a custom, that like some really old and outdated laws still on books, needs to be dropped.

  11. Hannah April 27, 2015 at 7:57 AM

    All I have to say is that wedding etiquette is the worst, and I went to a wedding in October and it turns out I forgot to give the gift, and its sitting on my desk right now (found it when I was doing an annual purge of my filing cabinet this weekend). To mail or not to mail, that is my question!

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:45 AM

      HAH! Yes – mail it! Some people will remember forever that you didn’t give one, as sad as that is. Plus there’s something like a 1 year ‘allowance’ for when gifts can be given, which I thought was pretty hilarious when I heard it. We actually got gifts 6-8 months after the wedding ourself! One even from my groomsman – hah!

      1. Hannah April 28, 2015 at 7:21 AM

        These guys aren’t the type to hold a grudge (I was just texting with her last week talking about a potential vacation), but I put the gift in the mail anyways. I added an addendum to the card on lined paper explaining that there is a one year allowance on gifts according to my buddy J.

        1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 10:48 AM


          You’re welcome :)

  12. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life April 27, 2015 at 7:58 AM

    I’ve had it with all the bridal “add ons”. It might be “their” day, but it isn’t “their right” to dictate my budget. That said, I have a really hard time figuring out what to give or do instead.

  13. Elise @ Simply Scaled Down April 27, 2015 at 8:01 AM

    Maybe I’m on the opposite spectrum here, but I remember almost every gift we got for our wedding and who gave it to us (7 years ago), but I couldn’t tell you one thing we spend the cash from our wedding on. Now that we are so far removed from the day I love the actual that we got lots of presents and not ton of cash.

    And as far as how much money, if your friends have a problem with a $5 gift its time to look for some new friends! I wouldn’t think twice if someone gave me a free redbox rental code in my engagement card, the fact that they went out of their way to celebrate with me would be enough…but again…maybe because I’m cheap I don’t expect others to act lavishly for me.

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:46 AM

      Free redbox codes would be pretty hot, haha… Great stocking stuffer ideas too actually!

  14. Kate@GoodnightDebt April 27, 2015 at 8:08 AM

    I’ve never heard of this. People have card boxes and then hope the cards are stuffed with cash, but I’ve never seen it so blatant to say ‘and here is where you put your money.” People are going to give what they are going to give. Guests should know the couple since they are attending the wedding, so it should be pretty easy to understand the couple’s circumstances and why they might have a small registry.

    I would split my expected gift in 2 or 3, like wedding gift layaway. :) I don’t like the thought of contributing more and more often because the couple keeps wanting to have parties. That’s their choice. If they can’t afford to have parties, then stop having parties.

  15. downunder sugarglider April 27, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    As an Aussie – we are always having engagement parties – but your comment is great – they are SO 80’s! I have never heard of the wishing well being at the engagement party – or even gifts being given. It is usually just a celebration party. The last wedding I attended had a wishing well – and it was great for us as we were a bit removed from the couple and so cash was so easy. They also wanted “honeymoon funds” and their trip was not lavish – just a week in the nearest big city. But NO to the engagement wishing well from me!

  16. Heather April 27, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    Interesting! I don’t think I’d feel comfortable asking for cash, but I certainly like receiving it! Now that I’m paring down my things and reducing clutter, I’m really cautious about what “stuff” I bring into my house.

  17. Nicola April 27, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    $30 doesn’t seem bad to me and I like giving gifts :) also giving cash is an easier option! Plus if they’ve got everything they need already, buying some unwanted gift that then gets put away isn’t such a great idea.

  18. Brian @ Debt Discipline April 27, 2015 at 8:31 AM

    We usually go with a gift at an engagement party if there is a registry and cash for the wedding. When invited to these things the gift is expected. I get it. I could easily declined if I don’t want to spend my money on the gifts.

  19. Kathy April 27, 2015 at 8:46 AM

    I personally find it tacky for a couple who have been married before to ask for more gifts whether it be in the form of cash or a registry. For a first wedding, I give one gift regardless of how many parties I’m invited to. Depending on how close to the couple I am it is usually in the $50-$100 range. I’ve never heard of a wishing well but I guess its ok if that is the only thing they are asking for.

  20. Revanche April 27, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    You know what would have been nicer? If they really meant it was optional, to just say they weren’t doing it at all. People who wanted and could afford to would give them a gift of cash anyway and the ambivalent guest would not be put in a position of wondering what you’d think of them for opting out, even though you “gave” them a choice. (What a crappy gift!) Unfortunately for us, any cash gift given is supposed to be at least $100, more if family, so it gets expensive fast.

    Engagement parties are a formal cultural requirement in my family/culture (though PiC and I managed to skip it anyway to my family’s chagrin). Friends in my generation who did have it never expected gifts, they’re totally optional and so we NEVER MENTION THEM. Makes it simple: if something is optional, we don’t bring it up. You’re going to celebrate what’s still kind of a big deal with them by being there, not by opening your wallet. Then again I suppose that would prompt more confusion from people who have a different set of etiquette rules :)

    In the end: I enjoy giving cash regularly but for some friends who go over the top (um, talking about $300-500!! What the…) I don’t want to feel like we’re just recycling the same $100 bill between us so we’ll pick something nice from their registry. We even agreed with couple friends who got married in the same year not to give each other gifts at all because it’s just going to be giving and returning cash.

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:50 AM

      Good point about just not mentioning it altogether! It does come across as the opposite of “optional” when it’s specifically listed like that. Unless it’s a known fact that wishing wells are always at engagement parties, but considering I had to google all of that something tells me it’s not the case ;)

    2. Darrell April 27, 2015 at 3:28 PM

      I like having it state optional. If you don’t say that, social norms make you think it’s expected.

  21. Mr. SSC April 27, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    The closest I’ve experienced this was at a wedding reception where the bride was Indonesian. There is a tradition for the couple to go around to each of the tables with a bucket and a bottle of liquor and you could “toast the couple” and toss in some cash. While it still felt forced/obligatory, it was at least interactive’ish with the couple. Plus there was music playing and a train of people escorting them around and dancing. Her family donated thick, cash-filled envelopes, exclusively. Very festive!
    If/when presented with that wishing well option, I’d agree with you and put some money in, toss it in the pile and enjoy the rest of the events. There are better things to occupy my brain with than “should I/Shouldn’t I, how much is enough, etc..”

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:53 AM

      Nice! I came across something similar at a wedding last year too: The bride and groom went out on the dance floor to dance, and then when some song came one (the “trigger”) everyone from their culture got up and threw $1.00 bills at them like they were making it rain, haha… Then also stuffing it in their pockets, down the dress, and all over. It was def. entertaining to say the least :) And totally makes it optional when you have to go out of your way to get up there and give! So those who found it important it did, and those who didn’t know what the hell was going on didn’t or tried to join and have some fun. Good times though all around!

  22. Kemkem April 27, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    I’d never heard of an engagement party or wishing well. I thought getting engaged was a private thing. If you insist on having a party for that, then you shouldn’t expect any gifts, monetary or otherwise. In my culture, money is the gift given at weddings. There are no BB&B or Target etc..etc. I would give one gift only , at the wedding.. I always give cash, l hate shopping.

  23. Jennifer April 27, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    I’m from the Northeast where cash is pretty much the only gift ever given at the actual wedding. I’ve been to bridal showers that had wishing wells before, but they were never for cash – you were always asked to bring a small kitchen item for the bride to use (measuring cups, spatulas, etc). I have to say, I’ve never been to a wedding where I wasn’t super excited about the couple to be and was always happy to give both shower and wedding presents. And although I’ve never been married I had a baby a few years ago and my friends were equally generous to me at my baby shower – I got so many nice, thoughtful presents that touched me so much. I still tear up thinking about that day.

    All that being said, a few years ago the Washington Post ran an article about now that people are getting married when their older, wedding registries are essentially a list of things they want but would never buy themselves – i.e. they have Ikea wine glasses but put Waterford on their registry. The author said it would make more sense to have showers and registries at the start of adulthood – say around college graduation – when people have an actual need for things and aren’t just upgrading. I thought that made a lot of sense.

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:55 AM

      I like that kitchen item idea! Fun and not a budget breaker so everyone can participate. Then every time the bride or groom uses their item they’ll think of whoever gave it to them!

  24. Sara April 27, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    We also did the honeymoon fund / BBB registry for people who weren’t comfortable giving cash. But god bless our family, because 99% of our guests gave cash gifts either through the site or in a card. It was AMAZING. We had a frugal wedding, but the gifts made it almost a break-even event.

    And we also had a card box at our wedding (it was an actual mailbox that we painted to look like the one in Up that has Carl and Ellie’s hand prints!) but I’ve never heard it called a wishing well before.

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 10:55 AM

      Awwwww that is SO CUTE!!!

      My 2 y/o is obsessed with that movie so I know exactly what you’re talking about w/ that mailbox :) What a great idea!

  25. Wedding Tour 2015 April 27, 2015 at 9:52 AM

    I just attended a bridal shower in Long Island, NY. A “wishing well” was listed on the invitation (without “optional” alongside it) and it carried an entirely different meaning. In NY, a wishing well gift is an odd household item you’d never give as your primary gift because really, it’s considered too small. Think kitchen towel, tea strainer, etc – though I saw some lovely bedsheets thrown in as well. Wedding culture varies so much depending on where you live – as do the costs associated with throwing the party or participating in it.

  26. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar April 27, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    We were forced to have an engagement party. I didn’t want one. It was more of a get together but I wish we said “no gifts.” we also had a bridal shower, and a baby shower. It was too much! Barely fit everything in the car after each one.

    Now that we have baby #2 on the way, we will not be doing any of this crap. I’m kind of hoping for a girl because that would mean that we already have everything!

    The worst for me is a friend who gave us way too much money for our wedding. Then we felt like we had to give the same amount for them! I guess it was a 0% loan, so really, we made out since they got married 2 years after us!

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 11:01 AM

      Haha… That does get weird, yes, when you’re swapping cash like that :) Congrats on baby #2! We’re 2 for 2 in the boy section, so hoping if we go another round we get a young lady as well. Our last baby is turning 1 this week – so crazy!

  27. Ronda April 27, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    I’ve never actually heard it called a Wishing Well, but most weddings have a box or something for cards and money, which is great. Sometimes money is the perfect gift. Having it at the engagement party, however, is WAY over the top, IMO. As was stated, if you’re close to the bride and groom, you may also be invited to a shower and/or bachelor(ette) party, which have become quite expensive in some cases. Plus, if you’re really *close* friends, you may be lucky enough to spring for a tux or bridesmaid’s dress as well. Asking for an engagement gift too is just TACKY. Weddings are already dreadfully expensive for your closest friends–a couple of my kids are feeling quite stretched right now because several of their friends are getting married, and it is costing them hundreds of dollars. My son actually gets to BUY a new suit that he doesn’t really like because his friend wants that instead of tuxes for the groomsmen. And another soon-to-be-wed friend is having a bachelor party that will cost a couple hundred dollars a head.

    But I also want to take this opportunity to rant a bit about another practice that has become commonplace, at least in our circles–passing the hat at the reception! Recently, we’ve seen this all the time, and it irritates me a LOT. Once I have already bought a nice gift (or given money) and sometimes have spent a good bit traveling to the wedding, then they hit me up AGAIN for a honeymoon donation? I’m sorry….back in my day, we paid for our own honeymoon, and we didn’t go into debt for it, either! If we didn’t have a lot of money, we took a less expensive honeymoon. I find it really annoying that it’s okay to beg for money. We are supposed to be at the wedding to support the couple and rejoice with them, not to finance their lavish vacation! If it is offered as a replacement for the wedding gift, as you did, that’s fine, but asking me for another gift on top just ticks me off. Much as I may love the people, I’m not really willing to totally blow my budget just because they decided to tie the knot.

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 11:03 AM

      Yuck!! Never heard of a hat being passed around, but wow. That def. seems much. I don’t even like it when the pass it around twice at church! Haha… They used to do just 1 time, which I happily donate too, but the last few years have now brought around two rounds of basket passing.

  28. Sara April 27, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    I would go to the party and not put a damn dime in the ‘well’. I am not a cheap person and give generously at weddings but having a money collecting receptacle at an engagement party rubs me the wrong way. Why should you get money for getting engaged? Ridiculous and tacky – IMHO.

  29. Carrie @ Season It Already April 27, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    I love this topic! We, too, did a Honeymoon Registry. We already lived together and didn’t need another toaster. :-) People knew how much we like to travel, so it really suited us anyway. I agree, cash is what most people want.

    Even if it *seems* like someone already is set and has all of the money, it might not be true. Or it may be true, they may be great at budgeting, but now they have some extra expenses that it might be nice to have some extra cash to pay for (i.e. The Wedding!).

    Sometimes, it’s just nice to be able to spend it on yourselves as a new married couple – put it toward a nice bedroom set or a honeymoon. We used a generous gift to buy something we really needed to replace – our furnace!

    I agree – if giving something for this occasion feels icky to you, just don’t go. It all depends on your relationship with the couple. You could drop a card in with a voucher for drinks or Champagne for you to go out and celebrate together in a more intimate setting. You’d still be spending money, but it might feel more personal to you.

    My brother and his now wife threw themselves an engagement party. She did put out a basket for “cards,” but we did not contribute. We drove from out of town to attend and we were both going to be in the wedding. (The average bridesmaid spends $900 on a wedding when it comes down to bridal shower, bachelorette, gifts for the occasions, wedding gift, dress, shoes, hair and/or nails, etc.) We also knew that we were going to be relatively generous on the shower an wedding gift and that we’d be helping out before and during the wedding.

    Now that we just give cash for weddings, life is so easy. Nothing to think about, nothing to wrap, nothing to carry… and the gift is never returned. ;-)

  30. Samantha April 27, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    We did have an engagement party because it happened to be near Valentine’s Day. But ours was a simple lunch at the church, to have our families meet, and we specifically requested NO GIFTS. I think stating that you will have a bucket for cash, whether its “optional” or not, is super tacky. I would definitely not give cash for this party, because you already will have to buy at least one gift for the shower and more cash at the wedding. If you aren’t comfortable with it, don’t attend.

  31. Erin April 27, 2015 at 10:57 AM

    Engaged couples have gone off the damn rails. I already hate, and do not attend bridal showers – I’m sorry, you’re getting a wedding gift from me already, I’m not giving you TWO gifts just because you decided to legally unite yourself – I am not sure if an “engagement party” is the Australian version of a bridal shower, but I’ve noticed that some people in the US have started to have ALL THREE – engagement party, bridal shower, wedding and this doesn’t even include the bachelor/bachelorette party. I am so sick of people who decide they want to do something particular in their life (get married, have a baby, etc), asking for a gift because of it. You are getting the reward – husband/wife, baby, etc – WHY should I buy you something because of it?

    Full disclosure: I don’t have kids, and my husband and I had 10 people (all family) at our wedding. If we have a kid, I plan NOT to have a baby shower.

    /end rant/

    1. J. Money April 27, 2015 at 11:05 AM

      Rants always appreciated :) It’s good to hear all sides of these debates!

  32. PK April 27, 2015 at 11:43 AM

    I think a good rule of thumb is that if you need to google a concept to find out what it is and why you need to pay money for it, you need not contribute.

    You should get credit for everything you give across the whole event – wedding, engagement party, showers, promise ring ceremony, first date anniversary. Maybe a cool tech company can create software to keep your running total with some cool graphs, and you can always catch up at the last minute – at the actual wedding – if needed.

    IMO this type of madness is the result of the cultural soup that is the U.S. and Commonwealth – that soupiness is almost always awesome, but in these types of cases, where there are no established and ever-evolving “rules” of what’s culturally expected & acceptable, I long for more homogeneity. My wife is from Japan and wedding-related gifts are totally formulaic (and cash-based, for J’s greater happiness!) which eases everyone’s angst. Wedding gifts are quick and easy, and you can spend your mental energy on – wait for it – celebrating the wedding with the couple.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 10:50 AM

      Mmm… cultural soup…

  33. Crystal April 27, 2015 at 12:19 PM

    My friends and I are close enough that we know the word “optional” really means optional. I’d put a $20 bill or maybe even $40 in a card for the engagement party or actual wedding (especially if I know I will be eating at the events – it’s like a restaurant bill, lol)…if I already gave at the engagement party, they may get less or just a card at the wedding. If my friends are upset at what I give, then they really aren’t my friends anyway, so whatevs. ;-)

    For family, I feel about the same way. They either already like me and understand me or they don’t…so whatever I do will be more for me anyway.

  34. Done by Forty April 27, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    I’m with you, J Money. I’m just forking over the cash than worrying about how my friends and loved ones might think I’m a rich tightwad.

    Everything has a cost: including breaking social conventions.

  35. Sylvia April 27, 2015 at 2:04 PM

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought an engagement party was to announce your engagement to family and friends, not to receive gifts. It is a gathering to celebrate the love between two people.

    What if they wanted to get a gift for their engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, wedding or how many events they have? That is at least 4 gifts and I don’t think it is fair to the guest that they invited. My advice is to just give a gift for the wedding.

    As someone who is engaged, I think some people truly see a wedding as an event that other people should foot. Like I remember a couple a years ago a bride wrote a letter to one of her guest asking what did she do to deserve $100 in a card ($50 from each guest). She said how her and her husband paid for everything and the gift should have at least covered the cost of a plate, which was $200 each. So she was expected a card with at least $400 in it from this guest and the guest’s plus one. That is crazy!

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 10:52 AM

      Holy $hit! What a wacko! I feel more bad for the groom than the person who got the letter, haha… people are insane.

  36. Mysti April 27, 2015 at 2:50 PM

    My experience with the wishing well is that it is EXTRA, over and beyond whatever gift you are giving.

    It is always nice to have a box or something to put cards in at a wedding, so that the cards don’t get lost. But that is just what it is…a container for cards. The wishing well is a separate box (or alot of the time it actually looks like a wishing well!) where guests can throw extra money in to “wish the couple well.” Sort of like the dollar dance tradition…it becomes a way to make a few extra dollars. They pop up at all gift giving occasions too…not just weddings. I have heard of them at baptisms, confirmations, graduations. That is why the aforementioned reader had it on her invite as “optional.” It is ANOTHER way to gift to the celebratory people…but it is extra.

    As for engagement party….I think this is somewhat regional. I did not have one myself…as my parents were mad at me about my choice of husbands (but now that we have been married for 17 years, they decided he isn’t that bad). Nor did I have a bridal shower (I had a “man of honor” not a “maid of honor”, and Mom certainly wasn’t hosting one!)….nor did I have a bachelorette party (I was the first of the group to get married, and my bridesmaids didn’t have money). But typically an engagement party is just to celebrate the engagement…and may take the place of a bridal shower later.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:00 AM

      I’m glad your husband finally made the cut after all those years! Haha… You could have had a party then and brought in a wishing well ;)

  37. Carol in Mpls April 27, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    When did celebrating Special Life Events become such a money grab? I think too much reality TV has poisoned the well. “I want an extravagant to-do like X celebrity.” You control your own budget, and should never be bullied into spending more than you are comfortable spending. My crowd is past the wedding days, and I’m SO glad. Most of what I am reading here is utter nonsense. My thoughts:

    * If you are an adult, have a job, have your own house or live together, then you put on the wedding the two of you can afford. You don’t go into debt for a party. If it’s all about the wedding, then what does the actual marriage mean?
    * You do not fundraise for your honeymoon. You buy/save for what you can afford. I’m not asking for help buying my new sofa, am I, and it’s really special too.
    * You certainly do not get rewarded for getting engaged. You get congratulated, kissed and hugged. Nice cards get sent. You want a party to celebrate, then you throw it yourself, with no expectations for getting reimbursed.
    * If you are a bridal party member there may be a shower or two to participate in. I’ve never found that to be onerous. Considerate friends are mindful of the additional expenses you are undertaking on their behalf to be in the wedding. Any showers planned should keep that at the forefront.
    * There’s always been a box for cards at a wedding, but never was the expectation that you owed them money for the right to be part of the festivities. Same goes for the gift$ = cost of the plate$. That is just rude.

    In my circle, we had all lived on our own, but fewer had their own houses yet. We’d go in on group gifts from the registry, something nice, like a beautiful blanket, a useful item, like a card table set, or maybe some of the wine glasses or party items.

    One of my friends had a lovely birthday party recently, for herself. Had it at her house, and she supplied the food, wine, etc., and said “no gifts” on the invite. I brought a nice card and enjoyed myself with friends and family. Some did bring small gifts, but no faux social pressure to do so.

    1. Darrell April 27, 2015 at 3:32 PM

      My wife was in 6 bridal parties over the same summer! New dress, new shoes, bridal shower, bachelorette party, wedding gift, and a couple times, travel expenses. We got married later that year and I think the debt from JUST those weddings was $3,500, or so.

      1. Carol in Mpls April 27, 2015 at 3:41 PM

        In 1989 I went to five weddings (one out of state, but not a “destination wedding”), and was in one of them, so the bridesmaid, shower, parties, etc. Another friend in my circle went to 13 weddings that same year. Sometimes you have to just say no.

      2. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:01 AM

        Holy hot dogs Darrell – that is a ton of $$!

  38. Shannon @ Financially Blonde April 27, 2015 at 3:26 PM

    I got married 12 years ago in the South where everyone loves to give gifts, but I’m from the North where people mostly give cash so we received both at our wedding, and I have to say that I would rather get $10 in an envelope than some of the gifts that we received. We had a number that looked like they had been regifted for generations and we couldn’t even figure out how to get store credit for them if we wanted to. We also had one person come to the wedding who never even gave a gift, and we still talk about him to this day. I think that as long as you give what you can, the bride and groom will be happy, and if they judge your gift, you probably won’t want them as friends in the long run anyway.

    1. Carol in Mpls April 27, 2015 at 3:44 PM

      A wedding gift is never required, it’s only become the standard. The fact that you mock him to this day is sad. His presence was your present, and you clearly did judge him.

      1. The Roamer April 27, 2015 at 10:05 PM

        I couldn’t agree more. Sheesh. This just is so …wow.

        People like to open all this discussion on how a guest is obligated to act or what the correct etiquette is but I have yet to see people discuss what is the proper behavior for brides and grooms….

        As for the concerned person if you truly believed that it is extravagant and unnecessary you wouldn’t feel guilty at all for not participating. If it really stemmed from a value you wouldn’t feel guilty. And therefore you would not give.

        The real issue is letting your life be managed by other people’s values. Which means that you haven’t really figured them out which means people are going to consistently shake your foundation.

        Worrying about what other will think and about what they will say is worrying outside your circle of influence.

    2. Mysti April 27, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      I hear ya. We got alot of regifted items…some with bits of wrapping paper attached…one with the old card still in it! We got one gift that has become legendary…other people tell the story of this gift.

      1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:07 AM

        Hahaha…. We got one gift that actually had a dead spider in it :) I assumed they wanted it to come across as an antique (it was this old vase looking thing) but either way it was pretty hilarious. We also got a card that said, “Dear Mrs. and Mr. Money, ….” and then was never finished being filled out, haha… My friend who gave it said he started it and then “his wife” must have closed it up and put it w/ the gift not realizing it wasn’t finished :) We still like to give him a hard time for it just to be funny.

  39. Kat April 27, 2015 at 3:32 PM

    I happened to go to a wedding this weekend also. They had a monetized dance opportunity – except in this case you paid to get a turn to dance with either the bride or groom. I thought it was great and you got to spend a few moments with them. All four members of my family participated.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:07 AM

      That is neat!

  40. Kalie April 27, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    I would probably give a small cash gift. In my experience, though, when people include the “gift optional” type clause, they really mean it’s optional. I think people include it to take the pressure off, not to pressure others into giving gifts.

    There is also something to be said for giving money to those who are good with money. At least you can feel confident that they’ll use it well.

  41. Adam @ AdamChudy.com April 27, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    I think it’s tacky to ask for money at an engagement party, but I would just toss in my card with $30-50 bucks and not think about it. Not really worth stressing about.

    I usually give around $50 for each wedding gift.

    Biggest pain is traveling for weddings. That’s where the real money goes.

  42. NZ Muse April 27, 2015 at 8:30 PM

    Ahhhh there’s a name for those! I have seen them at wedding receptions and referred to them as the ‘card cage’ ha.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:08 AM

      That’s the street name for them ;)

  43. Catherine April 27, 2015 at 9:26 PM

    First I think formal engagement parties are kind of weird. Don’t we celebrate the couple at the wedding? Honestly I’d skip the party go to the wedding and give cash…which you can place in the wishing well??

  44. Rachel April 28, 2015 at 12:09 AM

    I live in the UK where the traditions are slightly different, but there is definitely a move to greater extravagance in the wedding industry, probably from celebrity culture and TV shows like Four Weddings. The average cost of a wedding in the UK is roughly equivalent to the average annual salary. I find this crazy! For example, next month we are going to a wedding of a single income couple with 2 young kids and no savings where the bridal suite is costing £2000!!

    Now full disclosure, I am not married and very cynical. To me engagement parties are usually held when either the couple don’t plan to get married for a couple of years or they are after lots of gifts. A short engagement with no party is my preference but where there is one I have given gifts such a clubbing together for fancy restaurant/hotel vouchers as a token. I hate the idea of just handing over cash.

    When it comes to the actual wedding both my partner and I tend to be generous with the gift but want it to have more value than the cash amount, for example my sister and brother in law got a fancy cake stand (80% off – woop!) and some personalised art work. They are skint so wedding presents set them up with crockery, cutlery, sheets etc that are ‘grown up’ rather than the starter/student mismatched stuff they had and wanted to replace.

    Finally, despite what I said about extravagance there is a counter movement and the weddings I have enjoyed the most in the last couple of years are those where the couple focused on what they felt to be the most important parts to them and made it personal rather than an ‘off the shelf’ hotel package. I felt like they all wanted a good marriage more than a good wedding – and made me cynical heart think maybe this isn’t such a terrible thing to do.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:11 AM

      I just love hearing the word “skint” :) Totally a British thing!

  45. Free to Pursue April 28, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    I go with “A”. I wouldn’t attend. I think any party ahead of the wedding is very tacky (engagement party, wedding social–hey, I’m from Canada, eh, bachelor and bachelorette party, bridal shower, etc.). As for the wedding, I’m with J$ – $100 it is.

    The worst I’ve seen though is a wedding invitation that SPECIFIED the minimum amount to be paid to attend. Talk about tacky!

    In the end, I guess it’s just important to do what you feel comfortable with, whether you’re the host or the guest.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:13 AM

      Come on!

      If there was a specified amount, I would probably change my mind and either not go, or give like $1.00 more or less just to please myself… I probably wouldn’t be friends with those types of people though.

      1. Free to Pursue April 29, 2015 at 12:18 PM

        I know!!! It was my cousin getting married and I knew his wife had come up with the minimum idea, so I attended because I think he’s a great guy. If it were a friend though, I would have skipped the event without giving it a second thought. (And I would have shared why if they asked.)

        I still feel icky about it to this day. The classless addition turned a beautiful event into a money grab. Social faux pas. Worst of all, they likely would have made more had they not included that requirement because I’m sure I wasn’t the only one totally turned off by it all.

  46. Wen April 28, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    I’m wondering if I can throw myself a “Fund My Retirement” party and invite all the folks I given gifts for showers, weddings, etc. Since I haven’t had any showers or weddings myself.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:14 AM

      Yeah! There you go!

      I would totally give some money and attend that party.

      But Warren Buffett better be there :)

      1. Wen April 29, 2015 at 2:12 PM

        He can be your plus one!

  47. Dani April 28, 2015 at 11:20 AM

    Honestly, I would look at it like this: lots of folks I know have birthday/engagement/whatever parties at restaurants anyway. I look at what I would be spending if I were to go to this type of party (since they’re paying the tab), and that’s what I’d give. I wouldn’t look at it as a gift at that point, because I’d be spending that money if they had chosen a different route (about $30, depending upon where they go, time of day, etc).
    I have to say that the couples that look to recoup an “investment” when they spend stupid amounts of money need to have a serious “get real” discussion. I still believe that it is highly tacky to include ANYTHING about where a couple is registered in the wedding invitation, and IMO, the engagement party should be a non-gift event anyway.

  48. Steve Kobrin April 28, 2015 at 11:41 AM

    I think you are right in pointing out how pervasive money issues are around the world, and how it becomes such a big deal when people get married. My motto for dealing with sticky messes like this is: when the situation needs a little class, bring it yourself.

    The most important thing is that people are publicly announcing a lifelong commitment to one another. That in itself is to be celebrated. We all know how many people quit on marriage, so to kind of “buck the tide” is a big deal.

    Marriage is a communal event. People certainly lead their own lives, but it is very important to uphold the standards of your community. Just as no man is an island, no couple is an island either. When people hold an engagement party, they are in a way sending notice that they are ready to join up. They should be welcomed with open arms.

    Generosity is a big part of that welcome. I think people should make a gift that they know will count. It is a good investment because, as future couples join the crowd, the new couple will be in turn generous to them.

    There is nothing wrong with a community in which people are generous to one another :).

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:15 AM

      “when the situation needs a little class, bring it yourself.”


  49. Amy @ DebtGal April 28, 2015 at 1:36 PM

    I think what bothers me about this is that weddings have become such huge, over-the-top affairs, with so many obligations for guests. Sometimes I just want to yell, “Get over yourselves, already!” Yes, I’m happy for you, and yes, I’m thrilled to celebrate with you. But why must I spend money on engagement, shower, and wedding gifts, and perhaps have to kick in for the bachelorette party, too? It can feel kind of disrespectful of the guests, at times.

  50. Mel April 28, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    I’m with the group who are familiar with wishing wells as a thing for actual gifts – like measuring cups or dish towels or cleaning supplies. And it’s usually actually this corny cardboard thing dressed up to look like a well… but it’s usually at a bridal shower, not an engagement party.

    1. Steph April 29, 2015 at 8:12 AM

      My sister made a wishing well from a round clothes hamper with lid, birds, flowers, ribbons, bucket. It was very cute.

    2. Steph April 29, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      How embarrassing would it be to show up with a bottle of Pine Sol and find a bird cage for cards instead of a wishing well?!?

      1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:16 AM

        Haha… That would be pretty good :)

  51. Kathy J April 28, 2015 at 4:59 PM

    As I haven’t ever attended an Engagment Party, I can say that it’s been a non-issue for me. However, I believe that ASKING for money, gifts, etc is selfish and greedy.

    When my sister and brother-in-law purchased their home after a decade of apartment living, they threw a housewarming party and specified “No gifts” on the invite. They were already set and were just so happy to share their excitement with family and friends.

    As for me, when I attend weddings (or send gifts out of state), I give a generous amount of various handmade greeting cards as my gift (usually 25-50 depending on who the gift is for) . I will decorate a box to store them in and they are not only from the heart, they are a one of a kind gift that they will not receive from anyone else.

    If you average a purchased greeting card for $3.50 (and this is sometimes a low price) , I am giving a gift of $87.50 (25 cards) to $175.00 (50 cards). What I mostly give is my time making them (which I love to do) and the amount I spend on supplies.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:18 AM

      I would love to get – and use – those! What a great idea.

      1. Kathy J April 29, 2015 at 12:50 PM

        J, email me an address and I will be happy to send you some of my cards. I’ve been a faithful reader for many years now and feel as if you’ve helped me out over and over and over. You’ve helped me CRUSH my debt, give me fantastic, sound advice, find humor in everything and be an all-around great guy!

        I’d love to ‘repay’ the favor and send you some. I know that you probably don’t want to give out your actual address, however, I REALLY want to send you some. Let’s figure out a way!


      2. Kathy J April 29, 2015 at 12:53 PM

        P.S. That’s my side hustle.

        1. J. Money May 5, 2015 at 11:28 PM

          Hey! Awesome! Totally emailing you in a few – so kind of you, thank you :) You’re too sweet.

  52. Fee April 28, 2015 at 6:24 PM

    As an Aussie who’s about to get married, I can assure you this is common, but not in the way you think. We had our engagement last month combined with my 30th birthday. It was a time for our extended families to meet our friends that they hadn’t already seen. We had an active registry for our wedding that wasn’t advertised & didn’t make any mention of gifts. We were bombarded with questIons about what we would like to receive in the weeks leading up to the party! My fiancé’s family culturally give money so they happily did that without us Asking for anything.

    We aren’t inviting people who aren’t family or close friends to our wedding. These people have already expressed that they want to gift us something which is why we have a small registry set up. There is no mention of how the should express this desire to give.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:18 AM

      Congrats on your engagement :)

  53. mobilehomegurl April 28, 2015 at 9:42 PM

    Wow!! I’ve never even heard of this “wishing well,” what a concept!

    I thought the engagement party was a way to treat the guests to dinner as well as formalize the official announcement. As for gifts, I always feel weird giving people money despite if they ask for it. Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned wedding registry? Guess times are changing! :)

  54. Zoe April 28, 2015 at 10:09 PM

    The British half of my family goes all gossipy-bananas whenever they get invited to a party these days, about how tacky it is to have a) a birthday supper at a restaurant without paying for all of your guests’ meals b) express a preference for cash as a gift in any circumstance c) have a shower or pre-party for a baby/wedding if you’re over 30 and have a job… I encourage them to roll with the times, focus on the fact that it’s a joy to be invited to a party, and pony up the dough. Many of us Westerners now have few opportunities for a blow-out community feast, and weddings are pretty much it. Except it’s not a community feast anymore, it’s a 30-something couple and their parents trying to pay for everything and still have this amazing wedding experience that we are programmed from birth to believe is the most important party ever and your one chance to do it up and feel spectacular. I am happy to be invited and to pay for my share of the drinks, food, venue, etc, and I expect that the world cultures in which it is not usual to contribute either cash or a supply (ie food) to a large party to which one is invited are a) in the minority and b) are among the wealthiest.

    1. J. Money April 29, 2015 at 11:21 AM

      You’re right – as you get older there aren’t as many “events” to go to and hang out with friends/family/etc outside of weddings and funerals/etc. And it’s even better attending them when you don’t even have to plan anything! You just get to go and have fun and celebrate!

      Also, I’m stealing your gossipy-bananas line. That is brilliant.

  55. Steph April 29, 2015 at 8:08 AM

    I’ve never been to an engagement party but I thought it would be just a party. No gift needs to be given since there will be a shower where gifts are given. The wishing wells I’ve seen are actually made to look like wishing wells, not cages, and were meant for small gifts (ex. measuring cups, pizza cutter, baby shampoo, rattle) in addition to the regular gift.

  56. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green April 29, 2015 at 7:17 PM

    If only I knew what I knew back when I was planning my wedding. For LA standards we did the best we could to be budget friendly but the wedding wasn’t all about us, it was also about making the parents happy to show off. Chinese culture…especially since for my husband he’s an only child and it is the only wedding his parents get to be in. Cash though is widely accepted and definitely the norm!

    Weddings are extremely expensive and stressful. All it all blows over in a day.

    1. J. Money May 5, 2015 at 11:33 PM

      Interesting about the culture stuff. I bet it varies sooo much over the world!

  57. Susan April 30, 2015 at 8:50 AM

    I’m an Aussie who didn’t have an engagement party because I think they are outdated and just a present grab. Most people thought it odd.
    What gets me most is that people tend not to have an engagement party as soon as they are engaged, but months later!

    I tend not to give engagement gifts, and would prefer to give a gift over cash for the wedding.

  58. Lauren May 1, 2015 at 3:35 PM

    I’ve never been to an engagement party, but I’ve known people who have had them. Personally, I don’t see the need. As far as that thing goes, I would probably give a little something at each, but the wedding would be the highest amount. Or not go to an engagement party… at all. Doesn’t sound appealing or necessary to me, so it would have to say why bother? I’ll be there for the nuptials :)

    However, my sister did have an impromptu engagement party when she got engaged. However, it was more of a “Come out and listen to this band with me at the bar while we celebrate because I’m excited!” No gifts, nothing formal. Last minute, just meeting up for some music at the bar with close friends because you’re happy. That’s what I think it should be.

    1. J. Money May 5, 2015 at 11:34 PM

      I would get along with your sister pretty well :)

  59. Ally May 3, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    I guess I don’t get why this is such a big deal. It says “optional” which means you don’t have to give anything if you don’t want to. If you don’t want to get them anything, then don’t. Besides, a wishing well isn’t just for money, it’s for well wishes. Write the couple a heartfelt letter or a poem or a song. Or, like mentioned above, add a Netflix movie code and a $5 gift card to Dominos or Pizza Hut. Planning a wedding is stressful and I bet they would love a movie night so they can be together without worrying about the wedding. There are lots of things you could do that doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and if you don’t want to give them anything at all, then you don’t have to. I bet all they care about is that you attend. An engagement party is so the family and friends of the couple can come together and celebrate the good news. Not everyone views it as a money grab. If I ever got engaged, I would throw an engagement party. I love planning parties and it would be a great excuse to see family and friends that I don’t see very often. I wouldn’t expect a gift. In fact, I would most likely be handing out gift bags at the party so the guests would be the ones getting the gifts. Would I have a wishing well? Of course, but not for money or gifts (although I wouldn’t mind these) but for words of encouragement from loved ones. I think everyone is reading into way too much. I’d be happy if the invitation read “Wishing Well Optional” because then I won’t be surprised when I arrive and find a wishing well that I wasn’t prepared for.

    1. J. Money May 5, 2015 at 11:36 PM

      Good perspective :) It’s possible we’re all jaded after dealing with nonsense over the years, haha… You could definitely be right, who knows.

  60. Laurie March 8, 2016 at 2:56 PM

    I’m 66 & have been to many, bridal showers over the years. The Wishing Well here on Long Island is when you fill up w/little incidentals like kitchen gadgets even older people, or rich people or already co-habiting people still might not have (ex.’s ; a pizza cutter, measuring spoons, corkscrew, kitchen towels, wooden spoons, toothpicks in a fancy holder, salt & pepper shakers, napkin holders, a gravy ladle, small Tupperware-like containers, paper goods [plates & cups]), etc. BUT NEVER MONEY !

  61. Jacq October 9, 2016 at 7:18 PM

    One wishing well I experienced they requested you bring your favorite spice / spice mix, with recipe. Neat idea.

    A recent baby shower they had pre-printed cards to write wishes for the baby. I was at their house this weekend and the parents have the card strung on a faux clothes line decorating the baby’s room. That is a cool thing in my opinion.

    1. J. Money October 10, 2016 at 10:00 AM


  62. Kathleen January 3, 2019 at 4:22 PM

    I’m amazed at the difference in the meaning of “wishing well” from my generation to today’s! I’m 51 and when I read the words “wishing well” on a baby or bridal shower invitation I know that to mean…I bring a small unwrapped gift for baby/bride & toss it in the actual wishing well (rented or made out of a plastic laundry basket). It’s neither tacky or distasteful but a very nice way to stock the new mother’s medicine cabinet/baby supply cabinet or the new brides spice cabinet/pantry/kitchen etc… Asking for cash on top of a gift for a honeymoon fund or wedding fund etc was never done and would be considered very tacky and rude. If my husband and I couldn’t afford to pay for our own honeymoon then guess what, we didn’t go on one…imagine that! Lol.

    1. J. Money January 4, 2019 at 1:01 PM

      Now you’re just talking crazy ;)

  63. Troy February 14, 2019 at 11:00 PM

    Sorry guys but $30 is very frugal/tight. You gotta think, most wedding receptions cost about $130 to 150 per head. If its a cheap hired hall with the “Auntie Bev” doing the catering then maybe $30 is fine. but if its a reception place, at least you can give them what they spent on your head cost.
    Apparently in Vietnam, as the guest families arrive, they announce them and also ‘their donation’ to the wedding, whilst each family about to enter hears this and wants to one-up the previous family, they end up adding more.

    1. J. Money February 15, 2019 at 5:48 AM

      Oh wow, that’s hardcore haha…