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I am attending the wedding of a very close family member soon (45 days).

This family member and their fiancé need new phones, their current one doesn't seem to last 30 minutes of use with a full battery (frankly I'm afraid the battery might decompose in their pocket). I've offered as an early wedding gift to cover half the cost of the new phones. The family member rejected this offer on the grounds that it would put me in a poor situation with regards to my finances. I've told them this isn't true, and they opted to change the subject.

Given that the concerns of the family member are not true, how would I give a gift that was declined on the basis of welfare of the gifting party without being rude? There's currently no restriction as to the form of the gift, except that it cannot be cash. It can be a check, a gift card, or even one of the two phones. Whatever is most acceptable is what I prefer.

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    Is it possible that was just an excuse and there's some other reason they don't want to accept? Like maybe they cannot afford to come up with the other half?
    – Kat
    Jun 16 at 21:18
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    @Kat quite possibly.
    – tuskiomi
    Jun 16 at 22:13
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I'm not sure a single cell phone, or half the cost of two new cell phones, is a very good wedding present. Most wedding presents are for the couple's new home, or for their new life together. Kitchen things, board games, furniture, and so on. Something like a phone (which would only be for one of them) doesn't meet this pattern.

Half the price of two phones forces them to spend the other half, and that's generally not a good idea. Plus, you don't know why they're keeping their old phones still. It could be they can't afford new ones, it could be they hate the time and effort of choosing new ones and switching all their stuff onto them, it could be they don't like the current crop of new phones at all. A phone is a very personal thing and I'm not sure I would like someone to choose mine for me, or to make me change phones before I was ready.

So, what can you do instead? Give them something that will free them up to replace their phones themselves. This might be money or time. If you buy them something they were saving for (a small piece of furniture or significant kitchen appliance) then both the money and the shopping energy they would have put to that can go to phones. Or you can give them money (in a culturally appropriate way) that they could spend on the phone or on anything else they wanted.

This may not achieve your goal of seeing these people with new phones in their hand. But it is likely to achieve your goal of giving them a wedding present they enjoy.

My background on this: I have given literally dozens of wedding presents, I have had backstage commentary from brides and grooms who get gifts and who tell me what they want as gifts, I have been the bride, and what's more, my husband will not give up his Windows phone.

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  • "If you buy them something they were saving for" I'm curious as to why this category of things they are saving for excludes the phones?
    – tuskiomi
    Jun 21 at 16:32
  • the OP does not know they are saving for phones. And as I said, something that is only for one person is not a good wedding present. So you choose something that is, and there's a good chance doing that will also enable phone-buying, but it's not the point of the gift. The point of the gift is to meet cultural expectations around wedding presents. Jun 21 at 17:48
  • the OP does know in fact that they are saving for phones. That said, I think that the other parts of your explanation answer this.
    – tuskiomi
    Jun 21 at 17:53
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I've had a few friends and family members (cousins) marry by now. It's not unusual for Dutch brides and grooms to make a wishlist or express wishes to wedding guests. As far as I'm aware, the proper etiquette is that you stick to their wishes or you give them money so they can freely spend it on items from their wishlist after. In your case, this would mean that gifting them the monetary value is okay, as long as you don't mention it is to be spend on a phone, and on a new phone only.

In case of gifting money/monetary valure, freely spendable money is preferred over gift cards, though gift cards that can be spent in a lot of different places are more acceptable than ones that can only be exchanged in one (kind of) shop.

Another thing is that when giving money or gift cards, over here it's really appreciated if you do something funny/creative with the gift wrapping. Putting some care in the wrapping/presentation of your gift shows you care about making their day festive, and you aren't just "paying an entrance fee" for the party. ​Usually people get quite creative with the 'gift wrapping': I've seen 'money trees', stacks of >100 envelopes with only a few actually containing money, coins frozen in ice, origami folded bills... I've put together jars like this one that are pretty popular.

So, in your case, you've already made up your mind about how much you're going to give the newly wed couple: the monetary value of a new phone. The least rude way to do so is to just gift that monetary value in the way that allows the newlywed couple the most leeway in how to spend it (in your case, the check is more preferable than the gift cards, which are more preferable than just giving them a single phone).

Don't put any stipulations on the gift: Don't mention what you want to see them use the money for, let them choose for themselves what they spend the money on. They might have other priorities that you're currently unaware of. And for that extra bit of love an care, don't just hand them a check or stack of giftcards, but wrap it up in a fun way.

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  • Would it help to do a creative wrap that hints at "you could use this to get a new phone", or do you think that'd be too on the nose?
    – Erik
    Jun 16 at 8:13
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    @Erik in this particular case, I would advise against doing so: don't mention what you want to see them use the money for. I have seen it done, having the wrapping hint at what the money could be spent on, but that was mostly for gifts that were actually wished but the money only covered the costs partially or there's things like colors/makes/models involved that you want to leave up to the couple to pick. In this case, because the family member has made it clear they'd rather not have OP cover the cost of phones, I would advise against making any reference to phones, even in the wrapping.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jun 16 at 8:20
  • The stipulations are technical, not optional. I cannot send cash through the post.
    – tuskiomi
    Jun 16 at 14:23
  • @tuskiomi A check is close enough to cash, and you mentioned that in your post? I'm nowhere saying that cash is the only way to gift "money", but a check is better than a gift card, which is better than sending them a single phone. And even something sent by post can be "wrapped" with "care": a self made card or personal note do a lot more than a preprinted store bought card with just your name.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jun 16 at 15:05
  • Yes, a check works, I'm simply stating that the stipulation is not a choice.
    – tuskiomi
    Jun 16 at 15:08

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