First sign of trouble ahead.

With just two more months to go to the engagement, the boyfriend and I are ramping it up.

I decided it would be good to gain some hands-on experience with the gubahan of the gift trays in case I would want to go DIY for the wedding. So we’ve started to look for gift trays. We’re thinking to buy the gift trays and sell it off later after the wedding because we haven’t found someone or a vendor who can rent it to us at a price that’s worth us not actually buying it.

Recently the boyfriend was asked by his family how the preparations were going. So he listed the items he’s bought to gift me yada, yada. Then they asked the bonus question: “So what will she be giving you?

Now this is the part that needs explanation.

Remember how I said in this post that I didn’t even want to hold an engagement ceremony? I was, and still am of the opinion that it’s a waste of money. But I later agreed, having in mind that our two families have yet to meet, and on one term: it will be a small affair.

Now different people have different understandings of what a “small affair” is. My understanding is:

  • it’s just between our two families, and perhaps some elder persons to head discussions (my grandfather on my side, his uncle on his)
  • no gifts will be exchanged (just the engagement ring and tanda), and
  • I wouldn’t even have to get an outfit especially for the occasion or hire a makeup artist.

That’s how informal I envisioned it to be. It would be just as informal as say, coming to visit for hari raya.

But he insisted he wanted to present gifts. So we discussed, and our agreement was fine if he wanted to present gifts, but there will be no gift exchange. Meaning I will not be giving any gifts in return. Just a hearty buffet to fill hungry stomachs and satiate taste buds.

I know the tradition is to exchange gifts. But if we were to really follow tradition, there’d be another 101 things we’d have to do. One of the terms of my agreement to the engagement ceremony was that there will be no gift exchange because I didn’t want to spend unnecessarily. If he wanted to get gifts, I shouldn’t be pressured into doing the same, should I? To me, what’s necessary is our families getting to know each other and discussing the wedding.

I totally understand how this might sound to people. Unfair? Stingy? Cheapskate?

Well yes, in fact I AM trying to be “cheap”. To save money for bigger things like the wedding and the house.

I don’t know why this wasn’t communicated to his family earlier — an oversight on our part. Because they were surprised and questioned our decision when the boyfriend informed them that I wouldn’t be presenting gifts.

With proper explanation, I suppose they could see it from my perspective. But the boyfriend felt a little cornered at the time and didn’t do much to help the impression they probably got, sadly.

On one hand if I don’t give in, this whole thing will kick off with them having  a bad impression of me, and it’ll probably nag at me for a while. On the other hand, I hate being pressured into doing something I don’t want to do. And in addition I’ll have to spend on things I didn’t set a budget for.

Some people might suggest getting inexpensive gifts. But just for the sake of satisfying the requirements of tradition? What’s the point, really? I might as well make it worth the while and get stuff he’ll actually appreciate. Don’t get me wrong, I have no qualms getting gifts for the love of my life. He deserves all the gifts in the world! But the real problem here — besides that getting gifts wasn’t even part of the arrangement in the first place — is TIMING.

With this springing up on me just two months from the engagement, I don’t have the budget for it. To be getting everything in two months would be hard on the pocket. Not forgetting that Eid, which is in a month’s time, would also require some spending.

Also, truth be told, I just started saving. Not just for the wedding but my personal savings. I could’ve started saving a year ago after I was done paying for my degree, but I went on a shopping binge instead and found it akin to moving mountains to save. I now wish I would’ve started saving earlier. Well, you live and you learn.

I’m still contemplating if I should get the gifts. I’m kinda leaning more towards getting them, on the basis of making a good first impression, but it’s not final. We’ll see.

LESSON #01:
Keep family updated on plans, even if you’re planning the event on your own.



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