My friend recently got married and I sent her a card. I wished her well, but after five previous husbands I think the gift obligation has expired. She had four divorces and one husband died, so she gets special dispensation for the widow role.
Couples who have lived together for years and/or have been married several times often send requests for money to help pay for the honeymoon or mortgage or divorce lawyer. I handle these invitations based upon a strict set of guidelines. For the first wedding, give a nice present. The second also receives a gift as long as we’re good friends. The third wedding, however, starts to diminish in priority as far as me slobbering over a gift registry. I’m eager to meet for lunch or to share a celebratory bottle of nice wine, but don’t expect monogrammed towels from me.
Those of us who reach middle-age with multiple marriages are thankful when we finally get it right but we don’t need or expect gifts. We’ll be happy with a personal letter that says, “Congratulations! Don’t mess up this one!”
In the classic movie Fiddler on the Roof, the wedding scene was simple and loving. Family members and friends gave quilts, pillows, and kitchen goods to help the young couple establish their first home. Recent wedding movies, however, focus on the last days of freedom for the hapless future groom or bride. Somehow the theme has lost its loving feeling for the sake of some slapstick laughs.
I’ll stick with my favorite wedding movies: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Mama Mia, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. All celebrate the union of two people who love each other and want to share the occasion with loved ones. No one is pressured to show up with a toaster or a hideous collectible that will be donated to charity before the thank you note is mailed.
For those of you invited to a wedding ceremony involving middle-aged people who have been married many times before, offer best wishes and consider making a donation to the couple’s favorite charity. For anyone planning another wedding, go have fun and believe that the best is yet to come. Optimism is the perfect gift.