Post # 1
I’m a long-time lurker (got a lot of useful info here helping my sister prepare for her wedding last year) but I had a hard time deciding whether or not to post this here or in Etiquette; I hope this thread is OK here!
I recently got a job as a professor at a small college, and now that I’ve gotten to know some students, I have started receiving invitations for weddings (I know this may sound weird or possibly inappropriate to some of you, but we are a small institution and it is fairly common for students to invite us to events like weddings). My colleagues have suggested that I can expect 7-10 invites a year, on average. For a number of reasons, I can’t give my customary wedding gift if I receive that many invitations a year. I already consulted with my colleagues who gave me answers ranging from “I just send a card” to “I give them a small object.” I’m not satisfied with either answer, as I always like to get a couple something, and I very rarely know both parties well enough to pick an actual physical gift that will be pleasing to both of them.
I am personally comfortable with giving larger gifts to students I know well and stay in close contact with after graduation (I would only attend a wedding if I knew the student well since each guest costs so much), but I am really unsure as to what to give a student that I knew, but not terribly well, if I am not attending the wedding. I don’t want to cause offense, but I don’t want to bankrupt myself or create awkwardness/raise eyebrows among my other colleagues by giving gifts that are out of proportion to what most other professors give.
Keeping in mind that I do NOT live in a high-cost-of-wedding area of the country (the Northeast/LA this is not), would $25-$50 + a card be seen as insulting given the situation? Thank you all very much for your perspective.
Post # 3
@MarriedToMyWork: Just think of the student as a friend, and how close that friend is, as to what you give. My guess is, for those whose weddings you would attend, they are in the “good people with whom I am professionally acquainted” category, like a fellow teacher who has moved to a different school, and you see/correspond with periodically. If you aren’t going to attend, a card, or a gift card from the registry, or just a thank you note, saying congratulations.
Post # 4
Maybe even a favorite book with a note inside or something? I don’t think you need to go as far as the $50 or so thing – I’d just do something small and personal.
Post # 5
@MarriedToMyWork: if you do not atrend a wedding there’s very little expectation of a gift. A nice card with well wishes and a small token is more than enough.
Post # 7
Not pricey gifts are not always small. When things were a little tight with me one years I gave a bouquet of kitchen items like wooden sppons, spatulas, tongs and things of that nature that everyone needs. I got great compliments on it. I made it look really pretty with some nice ribbons and bows. In fact I have also given this as birthday gifts to some of my foodie friends and they love it. Total cost is normally about $20, but they are items that everyone uses.
Post # 8
I would look ahead before I started any pattern of gift giving. You may be setting a tradition that you cannot afford.
Even if it is a small institution, there is a “duty” or “courtesy” aspect to these invitations. Most of the students probably do not expect their profs to attend, especially to out of town weddings.
If thse students are not friends with whom you maintain a regular social relationship, I would treat them as work colleagues and send a card with your well wishes.
Post # 9
If you were my prof and I was your student, I’d probably only “expect” a card. Maybe (at most!) a $25 gift card to Applebee’s or something.
Granted, that’s if you didn’t attend. If you attended, I’m imagining we’re more like colleagues at that point, so I would “expect” a little more.
I put expect in quotationsbecause really, it’s not the gift that matters, just what I would think would happen.
And for the record, I did go to a small school.
Post # 10
If you are not attending the wedding you only need to send a card with warm congratulations. Let them know you are there to support them as they begin this new adventure in their lives. That is worth a lot.
If you wish to give a gift, perhaps something like a gift certificate to a local cafe would be appropriate. Students often don’t have extra cash and your gift of a “lunch date” at some quaint little spot would be very appreciated, especially if it is a place they wouldn’t ordinarily go to eat during their busy day. They’ll remember the day long after they’ve forgotten that you gave them $25.
Or a certificate for tickets to a movie. Send it along with wishes that they never stop “dating” and making time for each other.
Post # 11
I would just send a card.
Post # 12
@MarriedToMyWork: I invited two of my faculty to my wedding. I received what I thought was an overly generous gift from one and nothing from the other. I am very grateful for the gift, but I did not expect anything from either (both cannot make it). I am a graduate student, so my relationship is somewhat different since it sounds like you are at an undergraduate institution, but I think a card is very thoughtful at any level.
Another thought is that you could give something related to your area of expertise that is a nice reminder of your course/you and that could also be something ornamental for their new home. If you work on China for example, you could give a pair of kissing fish figurines meant to bring good luck to the new couple for each of the invitations you receive.
Post # 14
@MarriedToMyWork: I wouldn’t give $50 cash (or $25). What I would do is find their registry and get something in your price range for them. It is silly and psychological, but $25 will go to gas, but a set of serving dishes I will get so excited for. Especially if it is paired with a nice card.
We are 3 days from our wedding and we have gotten mostly gifts from the under $100 crowd, and that thrills us. Money is great, but a lot of students really need stuff.
Post # 15
In my opinion, if you aren’t attending and don’t know the couple well, a gift is stictly optional (I know not everyone shares this opinon). I think that just a card is fine, and a card plus a $20-40 registry item is very generous.
Of course it’s different if you choose to attend the wedding.
Post # 16
Thanks for the feedback, everyone! Your feedback has made me more open to purchasing gifts off a registry and helped me figure out how to handle my situation going forward. I appreciate everyone’s time.