Down With Wedding Gifts
Matthew Yglesias thinks we should give graduation gifts instead
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2013 11:16 AM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The custom of giving wedding presents began when people were getting married quite young, likely broke, and in possession of few household goods—so why are we still giving them today? If anything, many of today's married couples are merging two households and have too much stuff. The tradition is "outdated, inefficient, unfair, and unnecessary," and it's time for it to die, writes Matthew Yglesias in Slate. Think about it: Most of the time, engaged couples register for all the things "they haven't bought for themselves because they think they're overpriced," putting wedding gifts "in the pure realm of deadweight loss."

Plus, there's the fact that more and more people aren't marrying at all, and thus will never receive their own gifts even though they keep on doling out gifts to friends. "Married people already live longer and earn more than single people; we don’t also need to benefit from wealth redistribution," Yglesias writes. If you want to give a gift that's actually helpful, bestow it upon someone who just graduated from college, he suggests. After all, "the 21st century’s debt-laden new grads are at roughly the age and life circumstances that the wedding-present tradition is suited for." Click for Yglesias' full column.

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Showing 3 of 33 comments
fractal
Jun 12, 2013 4:12 AM CDT
I don't usually give an "expensive" gift, but whatever I give is excellent quality. And if they really don't need anything, I get them a gift certificate to a quirky shop that they may never think to go into on their own. For those close to me, I usually get bed sheets, since I have a knack for finding great sheets at a great price. Three days ago, I bought a gift for the child of my best friends. I found $951 Sferra sheets for $125. My daughter tried to talk me into giving them to her, instead!
793tango
Jun 11, 2013 6:00 PM CDT
There's a lot of sense in this.Not only are todays marrying couples merging two households, any number of them are already living together and already have all the household goods they need. Still traditions and customs (especially wedding traditions) die hard.Maybe if the couples themselves start changing their priorities it will be come more acceptable to do something else to honor newlyweds besides giving them a dozen silver tea services or fancy coffee makers.
apocalypso
Jun 11, 2013 1:58 PM CDT
"The tradition is "outdated, inefficient, unfair, and unnecessary," and it's time for it to die". If the writer had any brains or balls, he'd be saying that about the entire institution of marriage, not just the idiotic and unnecessary gifts involved.