(Closed) Should guests decline if they can't "cover their plate"?

posted 9 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: Should a guest decline if they can't afford to cover their plate?

    Yes! Not covering your plate is rude!

    No! If I invited them I want them to be there with me, gift or not!

    No, as long as it seems like they put some effort in.


  • Post # 77
    2865 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: October 2011

    I read an article recently in The Washington Post that stated that the “cover your plate” rule was not only a rude one, but one made up by brides!  That there is no history of this “etiquette” until recent years.


    Post # 78
    349 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: September 2013

    Lord no.

    I wouldn’t want anyone to feel they have to give anything, just coming to a wedding can cost enough and we’ve actually written that on the invitations.

    The people you invite to the wedding should be the people you want to share the day with.  Gifts are nice but IMO are the least important part of the day

    Post # 79
    1002 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: July 2013

    @laughs:  I’ve invited people for their company, not their gifts. I do think everyone should AT LEAST write a thoughtful card, though. Showing up empty handed isn’t appropriate, IMO… at weddings or otherwise.

    Post # 80
    169 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: June 2013

    I would prefer to have people there to be there, that what I would get in return.

    Post # 81
    1286 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: March 2015

    Um, I think it’s rude if a bride expects to have a guest cover the cost of the plate, rather than it being rude if you don’t give a gift that would cover the cost.  You should attend a wedding if you’re fully on board to celebrate the marriage because that’s what the couple should want from their guests.  If you get any comments from a couple saying otherwise, than they’re just being rude!  My SO attended his cousin’s wedding, which was held at French Laundry and cost $1000 per person.  I’m sure she didn’t expect guests to come with checks for $1000.

    Post # 82
    13815 posts
    Honey Beekeeper

    It IS, of course,  customary on the part of guest to give a wedding gift, but traditionally,  gifts are always  voluntary, unsolicited, from the heart,  and according to what the person wants to give and is able to give.  Miss Manners says gifts, even wedding gifts are never  mandatory since it takes  the  entire meaning out of the gift giving custom.

    Of course, I am also a realist. “What one is  able to give” is, in the end, not all that objective.  I could “afford” to give more than I do, but to deny  there is any kind of  social  context at all would be kind of silly. 

    The newer Emily Post (her great-granddaughter) , with whom I often disagree, does actually claim a wedding gift is required,  even if you don’t attend a wedding.   Even if you follow that philosophy, it is just  something that guides the guest, not something that gives the recipient “rights” to expect anything.      As far as the guest of honor or the hosts are concerned there are supposed to be no expectations at all.  You throw the affair you can afford to throw in order to entertain your friends and family on a special occasion.  You are grateful for whatever people give.

    Post # 83
    3380 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2014

    @KateByDesign:  Based on some of the other “rules” I’ve learned here and only here, that doesnt surprise me in the slightest.

    View original reply
    @weddingmaven: That’s exactly what I thought Miss Manners would say. That settles it for me!

    @laughs: Not to sound like a broken record, but no: we do not expect anything from anyone. I’m actually very uncomfortable taking money from *anyone*, even growing up for things like birthday gifts. I’d really rather they just attend.

    I understand why you asked this: I have a very good friend getting married whose parents are incredibly well off (owners of a fast food chain everyone in my area will have heard of), and as their only daughter, her wedding is going to be just incredible…….and since I became aware of the cover-your-plate rule, I’ve been questioning whether or not I should go. We will absolutley attend and give what we can, as I know my absense would really break her heart.


    Post # 84
    444 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2013

    The cover your plate rule is so not cool. So if I have a really good friend with really rich parents who can afford to spend $500 per plate, I’m expected to spend $500 on the gift even though that’s way out of my budget? What if I traveled to get there, too? So I can only go to weddings where the couple spends $50 or less on each guest? So basically if I’m poor I can’t go to rich people’s weddings? Hell no. Invite me if you want me there. Don’t invite me if you don’t want me there. I will give you a $50 gift whether you serve me steak and lobster with gold on the side or cake and punch on a paper plate. What the couple decides to spend on their wedding has nothing to do with what I choose (or can afford) to give as a gift.

    I am inviting guests to my wedding because I want them to share in the celebration of love and have them witness a lifelong committment. If they bring a gift, that is awesome. But really, I just want them there. I don’t even know what I’m spending per head and I certainly won’t care whether their gift is over or under that. I don’t see my guests as dollar signs.

    Post # 85
    1413 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2000

    There have been a couple weddings where I could not afford to give a gift, so I did not go.  Typically, they’ve been out of town weddings where I have to book airfare and hotel.  A wedding invite is an invitation, you don’t HAVE to go if you can’t. When I can’t attend a wedding, I still send a small gift around $50 from their registry. 

    Post # 86
    1781 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: June 2014

    I would be SHOCKED if even half our guests gave a gift that would “cover their plate”.  The ones that will give money will double their plate, easily.  But we’re doing a high end, small venue.  We’re spending money on awesome food and a cool venue with premium alcohol because we want to.  Some of our friends and family barely make rent every month.  Some of our friends and family could quit their jobs tomorrow and their kids would never have to work a day in their lives.  We want to throw a fun party and invite the people that we love and want to hang out with.  I don’t care how much they’re going to spend on us, I care that they want to spend the evening celebrating with us!

    Post # 87
    381 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: February 2014

    So how does this work? You ask the bride how much she spent per person, then give a gift accordingly?  I’m a cheapskate and our wedding is going to be very low budget, but if anyone asked me this I’d be offended. Or find out the going rate for their venue, estimate how much the food would cost, then write out the check at the reception?  What happens if I get to the reception and it’s a plated four course gourmet dinner instead of a casual buffet, and I can’t afford an extra $100? Do I just leave without eating, since it’s more than my budgeted amount?


    Yes, I’m being snarky, but could someone who agrees with this logic explain it to me? How do you know how much your plate is, and therefore know to accept/decline as needed?

    Post # 89
    1426 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2013

    @laughs: A card and a modest check is lovely. Especially if you write something nice in the card.

    Post # 90
    292 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: June 2013

    I had never heard of the “cover your plate” thinking before joining wedding websites.


    When my Maid/Matron of Honor got married, I had just moved, was trying to get settled in, and job hunting. My gift was incredibly thoughtful, but did not come close to covering my plate. She was aware of my life situation at the moment and wouldn’t have cared if I showed up empty handed. But to think that some brides would have rather I stayed home breaks my heart.

    Post # 91
    2203 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: April 2014

    What???? Absolutely not. I once gave $25 because I was dead broke, my friend understood and she still wanted me there!

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