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Etiquette

Family Vendors.......

My wedding was last weekend and it was wonderful - we are so happy with how it all came together. We aren't taking a honeymoon until spring, so we were planning on starting our thank you notes in the next few days. However........

My family's "thing" is crafts, most are artsy and my cousin even has an Etsy shop. She volunteered immediately after we got engaged to do decor for my wedding since she knows I don't have an artistic bone in my body. I was hesitant to accept after lurking here, plus, I don't care about decor and was planning to cut most from my budget anyway. However, it really is what my family loves doing and they've done it for all the other recent family weddings. My cousin seemed sad when I hesitated, so I caved and said sure!

Before the wedding I emailed my cousin (who refused to be paid for the work) and offered to pay for a spa  day for the two of us as a thank you, since she wouldn't let me pay her. She sent back the loveliest email, basically refusing the spa day because this was her gift and she didn't need anything from me for repayment. OK, I thought, I tried! The decor looked gorgeous on the day and I was super happy with it.

So today my mom forwards me an email from Cousin. Cousin states in the email that she wanted to make sure I knew all the work she and my family had done for my wedding, and proceeds to lay out a loooong list of stuff (she even lists the electricity used at my Uncle's house when they were crafting there..??) And basically ends the email saying, you know, make sure that I know this. My mom forward me the email and says we should get everyone presents for what they did (even for my Uncle, who didn't help but did lend his electricity..?) I have a big family so in total all these gifts would be about $500. Which obviously wasn't budgeted for, and certainly is more than I was planning on spending on decor in the first place.

Sorry this is so long. I wrote my mom back and let her know that while we were so, so grateful, and the decor was gorgeous, we feel bad now for putting everyone out, and that $500 isn't something we have lying around to spend. I suggested more modest gifts to fewer people. Her email back was short and clearly mad.

Guidance here? I may have messed up. I will feel so bad if I messed up. I guess I will pony up the money, if I did. And maybe, if nothing else, let this serve as another one of those warnings: don't let your friends and family work at your wedding.
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Re: Family Vendors.......

  • Two thoughts, though only one is really appropriate.  The inappropriate one: I'd be super tempted to send the spa day email exchange to my mom.

    The more appropriate one: get your thank you notes out to this group ASAP.  Mention the craft effort specifically.  Perhaps say you'll follow up with any photographs that highlight what cousin and fam did.  And though I generally don't like to cave to people who demand public or OTT thank yous, if you still have the funds you would have allocated to a spa day, I might consider sending the cousin et al. a gift from that amount.  Maybe a restaurant gift card or flowers or a bouquet of fruit or cookies, anything you could send to the households involved in this.  (I wouldn't necessarily strive for individual gifts since it's clear they see this as a group effort.)

    Sorry this turned out to be the gift that wasn't.  But it's a good reminder that taking on family vendors or efforts can be more complicated that what it appears on the surface.
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    Anniversary


    anniewalkerxSP29

  • JaxInBlue said:
    Two thoughts, though only one is really appropriate.  The inappropriate one: I'd be super tempted to send the spa day email exchange to my mom.

    The more appropriate one: get your thank you notes out to this group ASAP.  Mention the craft effort specifically.  Perhaps say you'll follow up with any photographs that highlight what cousin and fam did.  And though I generally don't like to cave to people who demand public or OTT thank yous, if you still have the funds you would have allocated to a spa day, I might consider sending the cousin et al. a gift from that amount.  Maybe a restaurant gift card or flowers or a bouquet of fruit or cookies, anything you could send to the households involved in this.  (I wouldn't necessarily strive for individual gifts since it's clear they see this as a group effort.)

    Sorry this turned out to be the gift that wasn't.  But it's a good reminder that taking on family vendors or efforts can be more complicated that what it appears on the surface.
    Thanks for this. I actually did tell my mom about the spa email exchange - I was basically like, "Are you sure they want gifts? I did try.."

    I mean at the end of the day I could scrounge up $500 to get some of them presents, but the sad thing is it will come out of our wedding gift money. I don't know why that's sad. I guess because it's not where I was hoping to spend it.

    A group gift is a great suggestion. I worry it might not be enough in their eyes, but I don't know.
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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited September 2015
    Any "generosity" she was feeling is canceled out by her need for you to know about that long list. I have to admit that I don't get exactly what she wants from you in exchange for knowing that, especially because you offered her the spa thing and she turned it down. She volunteered (and probably voluntold) her family to do all that, for free so she forfeits any right to play martyr, or any "compensation" from you at this point besides a basic thank you, which you already gave her. I think you've done enough for her at this point and would just give her back the decor and let her sell it on Etsy. How much the electricity is worth is anyone's guess.
  • @Jen4948 you've hit on the thing that's bothering me - what was the purpose of that email really? Does she really want gifts? It just seems strange, but that's my mom's interpretation.

    My current working theory is that while she was happy to volunteer her time, the others were less happy about it, and she's communicating my need to make them feel appreciated. Which of course reflects poorly on me (it might seem like it's my fault they were voluntold) so I feel terrible.

    Thanks for the advice, while I'd like to take it, I'm leaning towards gifting everyone. Weddings are funny things, people get really emotional about stuff they normally wouldn't care about and I don't want this to become a weird wedge between us.
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  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    Sorry... would they not have been otherwise living and hanging out in the house during the time period when they were crafting? If so, how the hell are you responsible for the electric bill? What kinda decor we talking about? Unless it was hand-blown glass or some other specialty that would cause a huge spike in electricity, fuck that. Glue guns and sewing machines couldn't have caused that much of a bill, especially since she already does this for her business.

    I'm trying hard to imagine the text of this email, because I don't understand what prompted it or its purpose. Any chance you want to post a portion of it here? Or just paraphrase the opening part where your cousin explained (hopefully) why she was sending it?
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
    anniewalkerxhuskypuppy14SP29lc07
  • @dreadpirateroberts haha @ hand blown glass. No, it was like, a few directional signs, a box for escort cards, babys breath decor things for the ceremony, and simple centerpieces. Don't get me wrong I can see how that could turn into a lot of work, but typical crafting stuff.

    I'd rather not post the email, just in case this gets seen by someone..but it was pretty much what I described in my OP

    @OliveOilsMom brilliant suggestion on how to word the thank you notes
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    [Deleted User]
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Whatever you do at this point, I wouldn't discuss it with your mom.  She shouldn't be in the middle.  I'd just tell her that you're on top of it and let it go at that.
    JediElizabethSP29[Deleted User]
  • My guess is that your cousin has been questioned as to why she didn't get you a "real gift".  She may be feeling defensive, or guilty.  Your Mom could be the cause of this.
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  • Jen4948 said:
    Whatever you do at this point, I wouldn't discuss it with your mom.  She shouldn't be in the middle.  I'd just tell her that you're on top of it and let it go at that.
    I will probably do this. Good advice, thanks.
    CMGragain said:
    My guess is that your cousin has been questioned as to why she didn't get you a "real gift".  She may be feeling defensive, or guilty.  Your Mom could be the cause of this.

    Hmm..one theory I didn't even think of. I doubt it though, because the email highlights less what she did, and more what everyone else did. And they got me "real" presents. (I consider the crafting totally a "real" present)
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  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Yet another reason in 24th long list of reasons not to hire friends or family.
    CMGragain said:

    My guess is that your cousin has been questioned as to why she didn't get you a "real gift".  She may be feeling defensive, or guilty.  Your Mom could be the cause of this.

    This was my first thought. She, for one reason or another, feels she needs to justify the magnitude of her gift.
    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

  • huskypuppy14huskypuppy14 Boston Suburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Send out the TY ASAP, but do not get them gifts, and tell your mom to butt out. Your cousin offered, you took her up on her offer, you tried to get her a gift and she refused. What anyone else in your family did is not really your concern, because the agreement was between you and your cousin, not the rest of the family. All that is needed is a nice thank you card.

    Why would this thank you gifts cost 500 dollars anyway? How many people are we talking about?
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  • Send out the TY ASAP, but do not get them gifts, and tell your mom to butt out. Your cousin offered, you took her up on her offer, you tried to get her a gift and she refused. What anyone else in your family did is not really your concern, because the agreement was between you and your cousin, not the rest of the family. All that is needed is a nice thank you card.


    Why would this thank you gifts cost 500 dollars anyway? How many people are we talking about?
    Replying via mobile not sure how the quotes will fare...

    My cousin named about 12 other people (aunts, grandmas, cousins and spouses, etc) so it adds up in terms of gifts. I mean they are family and I love them, I don't want to ruffle feathers, so I'm torn. Helps to see that I'm not totally out of my mind to think that this is weird. It's so weird!
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  • Yet another reason in 24th long list of reasons not to hire friends or family.

    CMGragain said:

    My guess is that your cousin has been questioned as to why she didn't get you a "real gift".  She may be feeling defensive, or guilty.  Your Mom could be the cause of this.

    This was my first thought. She, for one reason or another, feels she needs to justify the magnitude of her gift.
    Yeah, it's like that quote... If you can't be a good example you'll have to be a horrible lesson. Don't let friends or family do shit, lurkers! Love, a lurker.
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    lc07
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    SP29 said:

    OP, you've done nothing wrong here. Cousins is being crazy.


    First, I would tell your mom, "Thanks for letting me know, I'll handle the rest" and keep her out of it.

    Second... your cousin offered to provide you with decor. You offered compensation, she declined. It was a gift. 

    As for the rest of the family, YOU didn't ask them to help out, so anything they did, they either volunteered based on their own free will, or your cousin guilted them into helping and it's on HER to deal with that, if there are any hard feelings. 

    It's not your problem that your cousin used your uncle's hydro. Does she not have her own house, or she lives at home? Again, that's on her to compensate her dad (if I am assuming correctly), or she should have asked him first. Her problem, not yours.

    I would send your TY notes out quickly, and be very appreciative. I like the wording @jacques27 used, thanking them for their gift and mentioning your appreciation of the help they provided. 

    I would not buy any of them gifts, except maybe your cousin to say, "I REALLY loved the work you did!" but even that would be something small. If the family wanted compensation, that should have been addressed prior to them helping, but considering you didn't know they would be helping, there really is nothing to talk about. 

    So, to summarize my jumbled thoughts (because I'm kinda pissed on your behalf), any family drama/issue is on your cousin and it's her problem to deal with, not yours (besides giving some verbal/ written thanks for any help they offered). 

    What also annoys me (in general too), is that all of this drama, which supposedly centers around you, is going on behind your back. You have no idea what the truth is, or who, if anyone, is actually upset. Why can't adults act like adults and talk to you directly if there is an issue, you know? I'm fully acknowledge that I do not like confrontation, and I tend to shy away from it, but I would still rather someone be direct and honest with me then pass things around between other people. 
    All of this.
  • Gifts require thank you notes, not thank you gifts. The PPs are correct. Write notes, mention the decor and any other gifts they gave you. Do not buy any gifts, save perhaps the originally offered spa gift for your cousin. Perhaps (doubtful) she has forgotten your generous offer, and her subsequent insistence that this was a wedding gift. It was not a gift "swap" between the two of you.
    SP29MGP[Deleted User]
  • I would do really long, appreciative thank you notes, but no gifts or payment. 

    Did you keep all the decorations, if not - I'd be willing to bet she will be reselling them anyway.  Especially all the crafty things that didn't have any type of fresh flowers. 
  • My SIL does those pinterest-y chalkboard signs (my mom REALLY wanted those for my wedding so I said fine if you want them you can figure it out), mom asked her to make them and offered to pay the going rate several times. Even after the wedding offered again and SIL kept saying no. Finally I sent SIL a facebook message that said hey would you like these back to resell on your Etsy site or if not I will try to resell them on my fb wedding page. She hasn't responded so I plan to sell them and give her the $$.

    Point of the story, your cousin is crazy and anyone enabling this (ie mom) is crazy, you tried to pay or gift payment and it was declined. If it isn't too late to give her the decorations back in case she can resell on her site that's great or if you can resell to other brides and give her the $$ like I'm trying that would be nice but I definitely wouldn't give a bunch of people gifts because someone bitched about it.

  • Thanks everyone. I let my mom know I would handle it. I wrote my thank you notes over the long weekend, and I'm going to send a few households that helped my cousin flowers as well. No other gifts.
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    SP29TheCheeseWench
  • no need for gifts flowers will do or even if you hosted them all over for a small dinner 
  • Share cousin's email with mom so mom can see that cousin turned down offer of payment and offer of spa day & said that this was a gift. Then go onto her esty account and write a review on her products. Then I would send everyone involved a thank you note for their time and work put into the decor for your cousin, as her if there are any other sites besides her esty account where you can write a review for her.
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