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Originally published Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 5:30 AM

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Couple wonders about gay wedding-registry etiquette

The couple wants wedding guests to donate to a gay-rights organization, but worry about the reactions of their conservative family members.

Syndicated columnist

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Word. I would not want to go to a wedding where donating to X feels like a requirement... MORE
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DEAR CAROLYN: My boyfriend and I (both men) are getting married and are setting up our online registries, sending invitations, etc. We recognize that we're fortunate to live in a state that allows same-sex marriage, so we've decided that in lieu of gifts we'd like guests to make a contribution to a gay-rights organization.

We both have fairly conservative branches of our family and wonder if we need to offer an alternative. My position is that we don't; my boyfriend thinks it would be considerate. I'd rather have a guest who doesn't support gay marriage skip the wedding altogether or not bring a gift than get some bogus coffee maker and tacit disapproval. Maybe I'm just overanalyzing everything. What do you think?

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: If I put on my happy hat, then I want to advise you to back off the buyers of the "bogus coffee maker" (which ... makes fake coffee?). When a conservative relative who opposes gay marriage actually goes out and buys a kitchen gadget for a gay relative's wedding, that could just as easily be cast as progress to be encouraged, versus insufficient applause to be swatted down.

Wearing my justice hat, I can see that incomplete gestures — "I don't like gay people, except this one I happen to know really well, he's OK" — are begging to be called out for the hypocrisies they are.

Under my etiquette hat, I recoil (imperceptibly to the naked eye) at the idea of forcing your guests either to pony up for your chosen political cause or stuff it. Are you going to engrave on the invitation: "Donate to this cause as a gift to us, or stay home"?

Fortunately, the sheer impracticality of your idea trumps all. You can't make the donation a condition of attending your wedding, so don't. You can't (or at least shouldn't) put any gift information in the invitation, so don't.

What you can do is tell people who inquire about a registry that you'd love people to donate to X in lieu of a gift. If you'd like to expand your bogus-housewares collection, then you can open a small registry as well — which, again, you tell guests about when they ask.

DEAR CAROLYN: I'm sharing an apartment for three months with my best friend. I love living with her, but have discovered she's a slob. I'm no neat freak, but generally like to wash dishes with some soap, instead of just running water over them so the crumbs go away.

I don't even mind doing the majority of the housework since I'm the one who cares about it, but how do I ask her to either do things "right" or not do them at all? Or do I just lie low and rewash dishes before we have guests over?

— Roommate

DEAR ROOMMATE: It's just a season, right? Get by and then get out.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living.

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