impoverished in indianapolis-

Dear Gabby,

I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding this spring. There’s a bridal shower scheduled for May, then the wedding in June. I’ve already shelled out over $200 for a dress and shoes. Plus the wedding is out of town and I’ll have travel expenses. Is it expected that I give the bride a gift for both the shower and the wedding? I’m not sure I can afford this!

Impoverished in Indianapolis

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly, reaps sparingly. And whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Dear Impoverished,

Gabby’s giving herself a big hug just thinking about this wedding. Weddings are so great! There’s the happy bride and groom, glowing and so into each other. There’s dancing and laughing guests, the mother of the groom giddy with relief. The music, the flowers, the flower girls – all beautiful. Maybe a little champagne…okay, maybe a lot. And somewhere behind the Boston fern are the bridesmaids and the father of the bride, all weeping over the bills they’ve been handed to make this event so beautiful.

Weddings are wonderful, but they also can be a real financial challenge – for both the guests and the couple getting married. It’s so easy to get caught up in the festivities that the reality of how much money is being spent doesn’t hit until the hangover. But the long and short of it is, even though you’re spending a lot to be in this wedding, bridesmaids should give both a shower and a wedding present. That’s part of what you sign on for when you agree to be in the wedding. Usually, it’s the bridesmaids who throw the shower party which, depending on how elaborate it is, could very well be seen to be the gift itself. However, most still give a shower gift to the bride. But since the shower and the wedding are two separate events, all bridesmaids should still give a wedding present. That doesn’t mean, however, that it has to come with a payment plan.

Heartfelt gifts don’t have to carry giant price tags. Any craft or art that you are good at is a really personal offering for the couple. A hand-painted ceramic plate, silk wreath, or watercolor painting, for example. Or how ‘bout a favorite bottle of champagne for their honeymoon or even a blanket for their sofa? There are some easy no-sew fleece designs you can do yourself—or if you’re a knitter – even better! Gabby received a crocheted blanket for her wedding and every time she uses it she thinks about the person who stitched it, loop by loop. The point is, giving generously of your heart doesn’t have to make you poor in the pocket.

As Paul reminds us in 2nd Corinthians, “God loves a cheerful giver.” If, however, the burden of dresses, shoes, hotels, showers and gifts is more than one gal’s pocketbook can bear, then you need to be upfront with your friend. Better she should know your situation than to think your lack of generosity is a reflection of your affection or esteem for her. That way, with a full heart, you can firmly hand the tissues to father of the bride, get out from behind that fern and show everyone how the chicken dance is really done.

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