Weddings are expensive as hell. Even if you opt to go a DIY discount route, the costs of providing food, drinks, and decorations for a wedding party quickly pile up and form a fat, daunting bill to settle.
To add to that stress, the financial costs don't even begin to sum up the many emotional factors that go into planning a wedding. Do you really have to invite your racist uncle just because the rest of the family is there?! Is it tacky to tell your fiance their completely harmless ex from eight years ago can't be invited?! There are so many questions at play and dynamics to handle that many couples choose to funnel that wedding money into eloping in privacy, and later throwing a smaller party.
While it's fairly standard practice for wedding guests to bring gifts for the couple (often dictated by a registry), it's technically not required in most cases. To add to this, the concept of attending a reception party is different than attending a full-on wedding ceremony and reception. All this is to say, the etiquette and expectations around wedding gifts varies, and it can already be incredibly expensive to attend weddings as a guest if you are traveling, or buying new formal outfits.
At the end of the day, the most important priority should be that your friends see and support you on your wedding day, but that isn't the priority for everyone.
In a recent post on the Am I The Asshole subreddit, a woman shared how she threw a wedding reception party with her husband shortly after eloping. The party itself was small, but costly, and involved many of the same elements as post-wedding reception. One of the key differences, however, was how few presents they received. This upset her greatly, enough so, that she passive aggressively brought it up in the toast. Since her husband thought she was overreacting, she decided to bring the situation to the court of Reddit.
"AITA for calling friends out for not bringing a card or gift to my post-elopement wedding reception?
Amidst significant family drama, my husband and I decided to elope and then host a 35 person garden-party wedding reception at our home. The reception was on the same date as our original wedding had been planned and tbh it cost just as much as a small wedding reception (approx 7k), had great food, black-tie servers/bartenders and an open bar."
"We noticed, though, that the majority of our guests did not bring a gift or card. Particularly, a few of my lifelong friends did not bring a gift or card. I get that it’s technically a guest’s discretion to bring a gift or not but come on! So I mentioned it I passing a few times that only one item was purchased off our registry and our card box was virtually empty."
"I also thanked “the few” who brought gifts for their generosity in my toast. My husband thinks that me mentioning this, and being upset about this was in poor taste (although he acknowledges that we spent the equivalent of $200/pp on the party). AITA for thinking ppl should bring a wedding gift to our wedding reception?"
"Edit: wow, apparently the internet feels very strongly about this lol. I guess IATA.
Just to clarify a couple of things: our invitations were very clear it was a wedding reception. People did not know at the time we had eloped."
"Lots of you asked what the family drama was and suggested I was to blame for it. There was drama on both mine and my husband’s side actually. My husband’s dad and brother are alcoholics who have been sending him really abusive swear word-filled emails/texts for just over a year now after he stuck up for me at a family gathering. They are both the type to do something ridiculous and cause a scene so we didn’t want them present when we said our vows."
"My parents are split up and there was all sorts of unnecessary drama about me inviting my dad’s wife of 15 years as well as my mom. We just didn’t want anybody doing anything to ruin the ceremony so we opted to have it by ourselves without them. We can always kick someone out of the reception, but wanted our ceremony to be special and memorable."
actualdisasterbi thinks OP was completely in the wrong for mentioning gifts during the toast, particularly since they didn't throw a full wedding.
"My husband thinks that me mentioning this, and being upset about this was in poor taste"
He's absolutely right. It is IMO tacky to be so passive-aggressive about gifts, especially in this case since you didn't even have a wedding. You literally threw the equivalent of a backyard barbecue and wanted to be rewarded for that."
valloyossa thinks OP overreacted, but also recognizes that it was far more costly than a "backyard barbecue" and that it is relatively tacky to bring no gifts.
"Although I agree with op being ta I must say none of our backyard barbecues costs 7k. It is also in poor taste of the guests to not bring presents or a card at the very least"
offgridlady brought up a very good point: the guests didn't ask for the reception to be expensive.
"I agree... I think it is in bad taste when people mention a wedding was $200 per person thinking that they should somehow be reimbursed for that. A gift should ALWAYS be appreciated but NEVER expected. Let’s be honest how many people ACTUALLY want to go to a wedding. Those people didn’t ask you to spend $200 per person on them. You chose to have black tie waiters ... you chose to spend $7k. No one owes you anything."
FSUalumni thinks OP should have made her expectations clear, since post-elopement receptions don't have clear etiquette.
"YTA. Elopement parties are a weird social situation without set standards. If you wanted gifts with your elopement, you needed to make that clear beforehand. Being passive aggressive at the actual event is TA move; they couldn't change anything at that point, and your comments just make you seem greedy. Besides, wedding celebrations should be about celebrating your union, not counting the gifts like a child on Christmas. I'm excited about my own impending wedding and the registry, too, but if someone doesn't get me something they're not gonna hear about it from me."
randomsparklyunicorn also agrees that many of the guests were probably confused about whether to bring gifts or not.
"Completely agree. I am guessing a lot of people were unsure of what was expected/etiquette here. I can picture myself googling beforehand and not getting a straight answer. Either way, once the people are there without gifts, you just have to be gracious and stick to the plan of celebrating the marriage!"
little_honey_beee thinks that OP's toast and mentions in passing truly seal in the fact that she was in the wrong.
"Typically when you elope, you don't get gifts. And mentioning it in your toast is tacky. YTA on this one.
"So I mentioned it I passing a few times that only one item was purchased off our registry and our card box was virtually empty. "
"I just saw this sentence. Yes, you are definitely TA for that. If I had a gift for you, like a check or something, and I heard you mentioning this, I would have kept the gift myself. You're not entitled to a present"
CONTROL_N thinks OP handled it badly, but also thinks it's tacky to show up to a reception empty-handed.
"I definitely think OP is TA, but if someone has an elopement reception with alcohol, catered food, etc (OP said they spent 7k), I would not dream of showing up empty handed. I eloped and did not have any reception, thus I never expected any gifts. But I am going to an elopement reception next week where we were invited by formal paper invites and the event is at a reception hall. I think it would be very tacky to not bring a gift, in that case."