Weird Wedding Traditions of Winnipeg: Presentation

July 7th, 2011 by Emma Durand-Wood

[Updated editor’s note: I don’t think I explained myself well enough the first time around, but my beef with presentation is not the concept of giving money as a wedding gift, which in my books is just fine. It’s the term “presentation” itself, and how it is used in these parts. Read on!]

Okay, a couple weeks ago I looked at wedding socials, those ubiquitous Manitoba nuptial fundraisers.  Today I want to talk about another strange wedding-related tradition that is so common here in the Keystone province: presentation.

Before I moved to Manitoba, I received an invitation to a wedding that would be held in Winnipeg. The invitation was beautiful  – on heavy, creamy cardstock with engraved lettering, wrapped in a silky ribbon – all the stuff girls care about. Beneath the usual day-time-place details was a single word on its own line: presentation.  I had no idea what this meant! I asked around, to see if anyone had ever encountered such wording on a wedding invitation. One friend thought maybe it was something to do with a dress code. Another thought maybe it meant there would be a formal receiving line. And then I called my mum, and she laughed and said, “It means they want money, not gifts”.

I’m not going to say I was flabbergasted (this was before I knew about socials, after all!)  but I was quite taken aback. What had the world come to? First, it was bad enough that people started printing their registry information on their invitations. Now they were just asking for money flat-out?

Well, it turns out that this is a totally common practice in Manitoba. In fact, there is a whole spectrum of ways to stipulate that you don’t want gifts, you want cold hard cash – and you can do it right on the invitation. For instance, you might see one of the following tucked away neatly, in a wedding-y font, at the bottom of the invite [snarky comments mine]:

  • Presentation
  • Presentation Optional [So nice of you to give me a choice!]
  • Presentation Preferred [Good to know.]
  • Presentation Accepted [Phew!]
  • Presentation Only [I KNOW!!!]

You’ve got to admit, if it weren’t so totally against even the laxest of etiquette guidelines, it would be totally genius. I mean, one little word cuts through all the awkwardness and tiptoeing around the subject. Guests are of course, not obliged to bring gifts to a wedding, but almost all do. And often they like to give something the couple needs or wants, which sometimes is money.  It’s crude for a couple to say “we prefer cash”, but “presentation” elegantly does the dirty work for them. But that’s just it… it’s awfully mucky in that territory.

Back in the olden days, if you wanted to know what the couple wanted, you’d ask a family member or close friend for a suggestion. When registries (still considered distasteful by some) came along, same thing – you’d ask someone close to the couple where they were registered. I don’t know why this policy doesn’t still work when a couple wants cash, as many who are joining established households or saving for a major purchase such as house, understandably do. I guess people have decided that any oral discussion of money is taboo… but putting it in writing isn’t. I don’t know.

I find the whole idea of presentation strange, as the word itself indicates that you would be physically presenting the money to the couple, when as far as I know, most people just drop their card stuffed with cash into a basket or box at the gift table. I’m sure that’s how the term originated, but from what I understand, it’s not done anymore, except in certain cultures where cash gifts are traditional. Speaking of gift tables – I went to a local wedding, for which the invitation specified presentation preferred, but I brought a gift. (I realize that bringing a gift to the reception is considered bad form too – hey, I’m not perfect!)  When I gave it to the people manning the table with the card basket and guest book, their body language made it clear that a physical gift was very inconvenient and that they hadn’t really planned a spot to put gifts! Serves me right, I suppose.

I’m not the only person who is intrigued by this whole concept. As I was doing a little research for this post, I came across a recent article from the Journal of Folklore Research, by two researchers at the U of W, Pauline Greenhill and Kendra Magnusson.  “Your Presence at Our Wedding Is Present Enough”: Lies, Coding, Maintaining Personal Face, and the Cash Gift” goes into great detail on presentation practices of Winnipeggers. (You can access it online through EbscoHost on WPL’s electronic resources, if you’re a nerd like me and just have to read the whole thing!) The abstract of the paper reads:

“In the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the word presentation-signifying a cash wedding gift as an alternative to material objects, and usually stated on the lower right-hand corner of the wedding invitation-has become recognized, if somewhat controversial, across class, linguistic, and ethnocultural boundaries. Both implicit and complicit coding methods overshadow or disguise the transactional nature of the cash gift in order to make the request more polite. Presentation is echoed in such forms as rhymed cash requests and themed receptacles, which likewise disrupt the economistic undertones of the cash gift while maintaining the personal face of the wedded couple and their guests. We argue that such customs offer layered codes that not only reinforce the taboo on requesting cash, but critique capitalism’s invasion of this rite of passage and its associated events”

The term “presentation wedding” is used throughout, and that just makes me shudder. As if the defining characteristic of the wedding is the type of gifts the couple is demanding they receive.   I personally have never heard someone describe a wedding as such, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I do.

Now, even if you do want to give the couple money — because after all, it is a totally appropriate and welcome gift — how much do you give? I noticed a plea from Ace Burpee on Twitter a few months ago, asking what the going rate is for presentation these days. Several people responded and all used a formula based in part on what they were “getting” at the reception. One person based her amount on the price of the meal, plus an extra $10-20. Another said if it was open bar and dinner, $150 a head. Yet another said “pay for your plate then $100 or more”. Again, I find the idea that you somehow must pay your way at the reception, which is essentially a gift from the wedding’s hosts to their guests, extremely unsavoury. Ick… another horrible aspect of presentation.

I’ve only experienced the tip of the presentation iceberg, I’m sure. To reiterate, I’m not against giving money as a gift at weddings, nor am I against couples discreetly letting it be known that if anyone is interested in what they want or need, it’s money. Most guests are hoping not to give the clichéd 4th toaster, and are glad for a little guidance coming from the right source. But for goodness’ sake, that source should not be the couple themselves, and it definitely should not the invitation.

What do you think? Is “presentation” evil or genius? Or both?



49 Responses to “Weird Wedding Traditions of Winnipeg: Presentation”

  1. tk says:


    I got married to a man whose family was NOT from MB so there were alot of questions on what ‘presentation’ meant. I was hoping that most OOT people would go the ‘easy’ way and if they wanted to give a gift – it would be a cheque, but i had a registry prepared just in case. i will say that i spend the first week back after my honeymoon returning over a grand of gifts because, quite frankly we didnt need them and holding on to the gift cards for groceries and essentials. but alot of of MB friends did understand (the term and the bulk of our cash gifts were from this province. but it was awkward to say the least when we got phonecalls and emails asking what the term meant. Google, people!!!!

    regardless it’s a clever socially acceptable term i think.

  2. tk says:

    as for asking discreetly, sadly, the OOT portion of DH’s family had almost no idea who i was and wasnt terribly close to my husband’s immediate family (but, a case of blood being thicker than water, they were all invited). understanding that they came from OOT also meant that we didnt expect them to want to give us a gift, once transportation and stay costs were considered so we were hardly expecting yet another *5th*! blender to show up..i cant imagine being compelled to show wrap and lug things across the country when an envelope would do – especially the wedding being from a money-giving culture. but i guess alot of his family didnt know that so the term (i thought) would help.

  3. Anny says:

    I find that most couples are just hoping to recuperate the cost of their wedding, spawning fundraisers like socials and invitations that bear the word “presentation.” I’m okay with both traditions. What I actually have a problem with is couples who plan a wedding that is beyond their means and therefore making someone’s gift or contribution this unnecessary decoration on the cake.

    When I attend a wedding as a guest of the real guest, I always give presentation. Gifts should be meaningful, and I can’t give a meaningful gift to someone I don’t really know. When giving presentation, I’ll usually give the estimated cost of my place. Crass? Maybe. Practical? Definitely.

    For a friend, though, there can be some differences. Money is a useful gift, but with a close friend, something personal is so fun to do. I like gifts of time spent or affection or service. I’m thinking of setting up a photo booth at their reception!

  4. I have never heard of this before, but I guess that is because I have yet to be invited to a wedding in Manitoba. The whole concept seems pretty tacky to me.

    I agree with you, I have no problem with giving cash as a wedding present, or it being discretely mentioned throughout the family if someone straight up asks what the couple would like for a gift, but I think it is tacky to print any registry info or “presentation” on the invitation itself. In terms of how much the gift should be if you give money, well I have no idea. When we got married in Nova Scotia a couple years back we received amounts ranging from $25 for a gift per couple to $400 for a gift per couple, I think it probably averaged around $50 gift per couple. I don’t think people should be expected to cover the cost of their meal or bar or whatever. But this is coming from a rural Nova Scotia standpoint where weddings usually have a meal put on by the firehall wives, and rarely open bar, usually a cash bar, which is considered tacky by other provinces. Honestly, I felt that a gift is a gift and it should not be expected at all. But we had a very simple, small wedding and were not counting on gift money to pay for it.

  5. mrchristian says:

    I am going to get “presentation” added to my business cards 😉

  6. Courtney says:

    I always think money is an acceptable gift at a wedding (if there is no registry) but there is a lot of controversy surrounding the amount, like you mentioned. Before we got married I saw a lot of talk about this topic on wedding boards and most people (from Manitoba -> East, I think) said either $100/person or cover the cost of the meal. A) If me, my spouse and two imaginary kids went to a wedding, NO WAY would I give $400 as a gift and I would be embarrassed if we received that much as a gift from any one family. B) The cost of a wedding meal varies so widely, how can a person ever accurately know what that dollar amount is? My limit for wedding gifts is $100 and always will be. This is why we didn’t do guest favours at our wedding – the food and entertainment was our thank you to our guests for coming. I usually throw most favours out anyway so we didn’t want to spend the money.

    I find the concept of presentation interesting but more in a cultural sense. I went to an Indian co-worker’s wedding in Vancouver and it’s tradition to give the couple money. Instead of a basket or a bird cage the couple sits in the in the mosque (temple?) with their backs to their guests and you drop your envelope of money over their shoulder into their lap. I thought it was nice and personal.

    I totally get couples who have lived together for a while not wanting to register and preferring the cash for a large purchase, but I find it difficult to buy a gift with no registry. My cousin is getting married next weekend and I have no clue what to get them. Probably money. heh. I wanted to put “Registered at ATMs nationwide” on our invitation but it didn’t fly. 🙂

    Also, why is it poor form to bring a gift to the reception? Where else would you bring it? I’m obviously not up on my etiquette. 🙂

  7. Michael Richard says:

    There really is a lot of confusion about presentation. The fact is that this is a tradition that applied only to Ukranian Weddings.More young people decided that this was a good way to pay wedding costs and presentation began to be used at more nuptuals–regardless of beliefs or traditions.

  8. Emma says:

    @Michael – I think lots of cultures traditionally give money at weddings (see Courtney’s comment, plus I think Italian and Chinese weddings also do – but I could be wrong). People can do what they like with the money, I just take exception to the crass idea that the underlying goal of the wedding is to raise enough funds to cover the costs of the very event!

    @Courtney – I agree – for lots of people, $100 per person is prohibitive (especially if they have had to travel, take time off work, stay in a hotel, etc., to attend), but that seems to be the “going rate” around here – not that I subscribe to that idea. I think a tangible gift is almost always preferable – something to commemorate the day. I love to look around at the wonderful things we received as wedding and shower gifts and remember who gave them (for instance, I think of you when I see my lovely SC Portmeirion bowls!) But I agree, it is hard to give a personal, meaningful gift to someone you don’t know too well – and in especially in that case, money is great. Oh, about the reception – traditionally, you’d send or have your gift delivered to the bride’s house before the wedding. I can see how this has fallen by the wayside, but if it has one perk, it’s that then no one has to worry about transporting all the gifts at the end of the reception.

    @Mr Christian – ha! Great idea 🙂

    @Little Gray Bird Isn’t it fascinating the regional customs and norms around the country? And I totally agree – the best gifts are those that are truly gifts – given out of love and thoughtfulness, not obligation or expectation.

    @Anny The best weddings I had ever been to were the most intimate, and those are usually also the smallest and most simple. I wish people would remember that it doesn’t have to be all about the show!

    @TK I just find it so fascinating that there are words that have either no meaning or totally different meaning based on which province you live in, “presentation” being one of them. Makes for some interesting stories later, to be sure!

  9. Susana says:

    I am from Venezuela and now in Winnipeg and that is exactly the same thing they do in Venezuelan wedding invitations, they ask for cash straight forwardly, and now it has spread to other types of parties as well

    Personally, I prefer a registry

    Then again, showing empty handed is something I find as tacky as “gimme money”

  10. Well, I’m not one to comment too much on touchy subjects but I’m getting married in September here in Manitoba and so this is top of mind.

    Being a born and bred Manitoban, I have always been familiar with presentation and never really had a problem with it. I love the idea that a couple is building their lives together and a registry or presentation will help them do that.

    That being said – my fiance and I are in our mid-30’s living together and really do not need anything. We are fairly frugal people and I collect a lot of vintage and thrifted items. So the thought of a new coffeemaker just to replace a perfectly good coffeemaker seemed like a waste. I hummed and hawed about presention because I worried it was too presumtuous but friends and family assured me it was so common-place for our mostly Manitoba family. I also thought about writing a note like ‘although your presence in our special day is enough, if you choose to give a gift we would love a contribution towards our honeymoon’. Again, I really wasn’t sure the right way to go – we’re going to use any gift money towards a nice trip and/or home renovations. But we definitely didn’t plan a bigger wedding than we could afford. I’m really just happy to have everyone there.

    What am I trying to say? I guess that it’s a tricky thing and with this being a long-standing Manitoba tradition I can see how it seems to others but we’re all okay with it…

    My two cents,


  11. Emma says:

    @Lenore, it is tricky! I just added a little update to the top of my post, because I’m not sure I explained my thoughts properly and I don’t want anyone to think it’s the money itself I have an issue with. I think money is a great gift to give — or receive 😉 — as a wedding gift. It’s just the use of the term “presentation” that gets my back up! I found it to be a very special experience to choose what to spend gifted money on. We got a great kick out of buying something that we knew the giver would approve of. For instance, a friend of ours who is an amazing cook was tickled to hear that we spent money he gave us on a set of really good knives. But I digress. Anyway, I agree – it’s the fact of being surrounded by so many loved ones that’s so special. I’m SUPER excited to read about (see see pics of, natch) your big day soon!!

  12. Karen says:

    O.K. Let’s get this straight. Asking for anything is tacky. the idea of a wedding is to get MARRIED and to celebrate with those who know and love you or your family. If you can’t afford the cost of the wedding then scale down. My wedding was completely paid for before the day, by myself and my fiance. It wasn’t the most extravagant wedding but it was lovely. To instruct you GUESTS on what to bring as if you would to friends you invite over for dinner is rude. No exceptions.

  13. Emma says:

    @Karen Hear, hear!

  14. Thanks for your reply Emma – I’m pretty excited myself! I understand that this will always be a hot topic for some…what can you do??


  15. Hah, I’m glad you wrote this.

    It blew my mind on the Internet some years ago when I learned that so many people consider it so awfully tacky to ask for cash at weddings. Hell, apparently in much of the U.S. it’s considered unbearably tacky to put your registry information with the invitations.

    So I started explaining Manitoban wedding traditions to them (the social, the presentation preferred, just how many invitations I’ve got with registry information included) and I had quite literally hundreds of people on some wedding forum losing their minds in horror.

    To me, it just makes sense and — as you note — cuts through the awkwardness. Makes everything easier for everyone. Hey, if nothing else, Manitobans are a practical lot.

  16. shmerica says:

    To my Ukrainian family, the word Presentation on an invitation means that a Presentation will take place at the wedding reception. This is when the guests line up (to traditional music and the clapping of many hands) and take turns shaking the hands of (or hugging) the bride and groom and the wedding party. It is traditional for any gifts of money to be given at this time, in person, to the bride and groom.

  17. Roger says:

    I’m a Portuguese background Manitoban. Every wedding I’ve ever seen has said Presentation. Not only that, it’s usual practice for bides to have a bridal shower with many of the closer friends and family with a gift registry and receive physical gifts. This is in addition to having a presentation at the wedding. So many of the close friends and family buy a gift for the shower then give money at the wedding.

    I don’t think its even that uncommon for people around here to receive gifts at a shower then a presentation. My sister has attended a few of these for non-Portuguese couples in the past few years,

    Now I’m marrying a girl originally from Montreal, in Montreal. Not sure if her family seeing presentation would be appaled. I went to her cousins wedding and didn’t understand why some people gave them physical gifts. I had never seen that at a wedding before.

  18. Shannon says:

    The use of the term ‘presentation’ started with the tradition described by Shmerica. In the case of a real Ukranian presentation, including ‘presentation’ on the invitation allowed people to know what was happening in advance. Because even if you brought a perfectly lovely toaster, there’s still some social awkwardness in proceeding down the line and being the only person who doesn’t have cash.
    I agree that the EXPECTATION of gifts/cash is extremely tacky. I was in the bridal party for a friend’s wedding. I don’t have much money, and she said the amount I contributed as fine as I had ‘covered my plate’ (I guess the time/money for gas I spent running around helping with wedding preparations was accepted as ‘friendship’, but it wasn’t possible to throw a $30 plate of food my way for spending the entire day at her wedding without tacking on a guilt trip).
    However, people bring presents or cash to weddings. Even when you tell them not to. I attended another wedding that specifically said no gifts or cash on the invitation (second marriage for both, and they had more than enough stuff). Guests were dismayed when there was no place to stack their gifts.

    @ COURTNEY – It’s considered impolite to bring a gift to the reception because someone is then responsible for transporting a huge stack of gifts to the newlyweds home. I think you have a year after the wedding to deliver gifts?

  19. Bre says:

    tacky? yes, but much more acceptable to me than hosting your own social. I think its more common these days because couples have lived together for 5 years already and don’t need all of the house stuff that people generally give.
    Whats worse is the fact that its becoming more common in Manitoba to have a cash bar…and that’s fine, but tell me on the invitation. When it doesn’t say cash bar, I assume its open….and then I drive 30 minutes out of civilization to some “cute” wedding destination where there is no ATM, only to find out that we have to pay for drinks (and take money out of the card, because I’m one of those people that decides what to give people based on what scale the wedding is).
    Are we getting cheaper?

  20. Lila says:

    Give me a break!! What is so tacky about “presentation”? In many European cultures people just know to give money. At least this way, you can tell people your preference is to get cash. I personally did not appreciate getting the cheap toaster I got. That to me is tacky!! Presentation is genius!

  21. ERIKA says:

    I think brides have become horribly greedy! i’m getting married soon and we’re having a wedding we can afford and paying for it all ourselves and we’re not requesting “presentation”. I give money as a present at weddings i attend, even when it’s not on the invitation. i think it’s horribly rude to request that people give you money, they should’ve HAVE to give you anything – most will, as it’s polite & customary, but you shouldn’t expect it.

    I have seen SOOOO many greedy brides who have a shower, then a social & then write presentation on the inviation & you hear of them saying how they only made X amount at the social. it’s really tacky & unfortunate, if you can’t afford the wedding you’re planning without demanding cash gifts from your guest, then scale back or invite less people, it’s just disgusting!!!

  22. Jojo says:

    I’m from Winnipeg and I really like Presentation. It’s easy and I can carry my gift in my wee evening bag. No worries about a place for the gifts or how to get them home and the couple then have the luxury of buying what they need/want (and when so many couples are combining their stuff from their respective homes, this is a HUGE job) – heck, they can even use it to take care of a couple of mortgage payments if that works best for them. My husband and I bought an AMAZING bedroom suite plus linens – exactly what we needed! Should the Bride want one, the physical gifts for the couple are taken care of at the Wedding Shower and everyone gets to share in the experience

  23. Lyn says:

    I like the presentation idea. It shocked me when I first moved here, but now I accept it as part of the culture. I like a registry better, but a request for money in lieu of gifts saves the couple a lot of hassle with returning things they don’t want or need. Classy? Maybe not. Practical? Definitely.

  24. Cathi-Anne says:

    I can understand it. In the day and age that we are in people aren’t living with their parents until they get married and then moving into a new house that is theirs to share for the first time. So because of this most of us already have microwaves and blenders and all those traditional wedding presents. What gets me is being the youngest in age and definitely the least financially stable of anyone I am related to or friends with (wow that’s sad but it is true) and when there is a presentation it feels like asking me to value our relationship in a dollar amount.

    My cousin is getting married next month. We were friends as kids and then drifted apart but I will still go to his wedding for those times we spent as kids. He is 22, so am I, we both have siblings that are 24 neither of whom are married and yet he is. Good for him I’m happy and hopeful it will last because they are very young. But I’m hoping that because they are so young they can realize that most of the people that are coming to the wedding as friends and not the older parts of the family just can’t afford presentation.

    I am in school and living on my own, there is no way I would spend more than $12 on a meal including a drink right now because I can’t afford it. So yes I’ll go to his wedding because I want to be there for him but I’m not giving a $12 presentation because I think giving nothing would go over better than giving what I can afford.

  25. Kailtny says:

    As a born and bred Manitoban, I am familiar with the concept of presentation, but dislike having it printed on the invitation. I understand that many people use presentation to cover wedding costs, but frankly to me that’s asking to have debt, especially if you’re a young couple who could use wedding presents/money to help out with your new life.

    I have no objection to cash, just the asking for it, and in this age of easy communication it’s easy enough to find out what the couple wants. My husband and I were moving 1400km the week after our wedding, and knowing this most of gifts gave us cash or gift cards, without us stating that would be preferred. We did receive about 5 actual gifts at the reception, all very thoughtful and appreciated, and some guests bought presents from our registry (set up for out-of-town and older guests who prefer real gifts), where we had an arrangement with the store to pick the gifts up at their closest location and our convenience, so we wouldn’t have to transport them or have them delivered when no one was there to pick them up.

    And my Aunt who forgot the card in purse for over a year? I love her and am just happy she made it to the wedding. A wedding shouldn’t be all about the gifts.

  26. Rochelle says:

    I agree 100%, I would rather give a gift because it is from the heart. I never new that this was just a Manitoba thing. When my sister got married she never put anything… My mom said it was rude to ask! I have a wedding and it is a ‘Presentation’ wedding… So ballsly!

  27. Tiff says:

    As a Manitoban I’m used to this practice. I also think the idea of physical gifts at the wedding makes no sense, it’s just too many things to keep track of and if something goes missing and the gifter does not get a thank you card for the gift they will be upset. As it is I have heard many stories of people stealing gifts and presentation boxes, unfortunately, in this day and age it happens, whether its by a guest, a worker of the reception (catering staff, etc.) or by some random person wandering in off the street. Presentation boxes are just easier to monitor then a whole table full of gifts.

  28. Nex says:

    I’m uncomfortable with giving money, at most of the weddings I have been to, both gifts and money were given and accepted. There is usually a BBQ the day after the wedding where the bride and groom open their gifts. Only once have I seen “presentation” on an invitation.

    There was one wedding where I called the couple to ask what they needed, were looking for, or where they were registered….since I didn’t know the wedding party or parents.
    They didn’t have much and hadn’t been together long, so it didn’t seem unreasonable. My friend actually said, “We want money.”
    It seemed really rude, so after a shocked pause I replied “I don’t feel comfortable giving money gifts, is there anything else you need.” “No, we want money.” Well I gave them an art item that they had admired (they collected others by the same artist)…maybe that makes me a jerk?

    I understand the preference for cash if you already have a fully stocked home, but some people are really greedy. After family weddings I saw my relatives return a lot of items they had on their registry, the Bay gave them credit. At Eatons it was ridiculous because it was a cash refund, without any proof that the item even came from Eatons! After several huge bridal showers, and a ton of wedding gifts, one of my SILs had the gall to ask my helping in finding where she could return one white Correll casserole dish. Correll had changed all their packaging a year or two before, so no stores would recognize it as their merchandise.

  29. Lisa says:

    I have lived in Winnipeg my whole life so the concept has never crossed my mind that it would ever come across rude. In fact for my wedding we are doing “preferred presentation”. The one reason is we have lived together for awhile now and do not need more household items. I dont expect hundreds of dollars from one person, and I also dont expect for them to pay for themselves, but I do appreciate the money to help with the overall cost of the wedding and to help with the honeymoon cost.

    I am not saying that I should be planning my wedding around the thought of recieving money from other people. I have planned everything with a budget that we can afford to pay by ourselves with money saved. But a gift of money, again, helps with the large cost of such a celebration.

    I do see now how this can come across to some people, especially out of town guests. But I think it is still a nice concept, as a gift you are helping support the wonderful celebration, possible honeymoon, or towards the couples future. And that can be a pretty good gift.

  30. Kim says:

    People put too much thought into weddings. What’s the big deal? So you give a “physical” gift, or so you give money, or so you give nothing at all and just go to the wedding. Big deal. If someone wants money why shouldn’t they be able to ask for money? If you’re going to think someone is rude for asking for money, then don’t go to the wedding! How is it more rude for a wedding couple to ask for money than for guests to complain and think it’s “AWFUL” if there’s a cash bar? Give me a break. If you don’t want to give money, then don’t go. The last thing people need is more crappy toasters and coffee makers.

  31. Kristie says:

    We are getting married this summer and I was just preparing our invitations and an information sheet to go with. We won’t be registered anywhere and I was just looking how others say they are looking for presentation, and I found this site. It didn’t come across to me as being rude until I read this. Myself and my fiance both have everything we need for the house, we haven’t lived together and so we actually have doubles of things as it is, I didnt want to get triples+ of things so I wanted to ask for presentation. We are planning our wedding to be very affordable, we aren’t looking for presentation to cover the cost of our wedding. But we are moving into a house right after the wedding and so if people are wanting to get us something, money is preferred. Now to decide how to say that, or should I say it…hmmm…

  32. Alex says:

    Presentation shouldn’t always be considered as simply paying for your food and drink at the wedding. My sister used the money she got from presentation to pay for her honeymoon! Which is a lovely group gift if you ask me.

    And yes, ‘presentation’ was specified on her invite. So was ‘open bar’, for the record.

  33. Pauline says:

    I am from Winnipeg, but no longer live there. When I did get married in Edmonton, I put presentation on the invitation.

    A presentation is when during the reception, all the people attending have the opportunity to personally congratulate the couple. Usually this is done in a line. At the end of the line is a table for gifts and a basket for monetary gifts.

    I have to say that the gifts I did get at the wedding, in my mind, were more like wedding shower type gifts (towels (not my color),a blender, an electric frying pan, crystal (I hated the design)).

    Thirty years go by and I can tell you I always give money at a wedding! If the reception includes alcohol at least $100 per person is perfect. If you are very close to the bride or groom, more is right. What I don’t like is a wedding that involves travelling to an exotic destination. This is fine for the immediate or very close to the family. Usually these are quite over priced. If I am going to spend $1,000 or more I want to choose where I am going.

  34. Derek says:

    It was always my understanding after attending country Ukrainian weddings back in the 60’s that it was traditional for the men to pin money to the brides dress in exchange for a kiss. Then, the practice changed and rather than damaging the dress the custom became “presenting money” as the Bride and Groom and wedding party lined up behind banquet tables at he front of the hall. The band was always playing a traditional Ukrainian dance piece. Money went into a large bowl on the table then the men went down the line and received a kiss from the bride and brides maids-the women went the opposite way and were kissed by the groom and grooms men. Also, this was the time that you were presented with a piece of traditional wedding cake.

    Over the years the practice has become rather “commercial” and “adopted” by everyone getting married and I know a lot of people resent the “demand” for money!

    My wife whose Mother was Ukrainian agreed with my recollections of the practice and probably attended at least as many weddings as I did.

    I suspect that research would find that “presentation” as well as “socials” are a “prairie” thing again based in the Ukrainian and Polish communities as part of the Wedding celebrations. I seem to recall that socials were described to me as an event that provided a chance for everyone who knew the couple getting married to attend and celebrate that upcoming nuptials when attendance would be limited.

    I know that Connie Kaldor a folk singer out of Saskatchewan actually wrote a song about ‘socials” which described them in some detail.

  35. Kismet says:

    Acceptable in the modern world
    We really dont need to have a pile of new junk, and often when people spend on wedding gifts, it ends up overpriced. As a couple, we can spend the money the most efficiently.
    I think money has become widely acceptable

  36. lollylocks says:

    Same tradition in Thunder Bay Ontario – only a day’s drive from Winnipeg! Haven’t seen it since I moved away.

  37. mnh says:

    I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t see the problem. I moved here from BC myself, had little knowledge of Manitoba and their ways of life prior to my arrival, but it was pretty easy for me to roll with these (and other) concepts. It’s just what people do here, have for years, and I feel it’s a bit rude to come in and pick these traditions apart as if we know better or what’s socially acceptable in their own territory. If it’s so offensive, don’t go/participate. I really don’t think it’s tacky – it’s to the point, practical, and lets people know what’s up so they don’t have to track down the right person to ask. Who am I to judge? Times have greatly changed when it comes to weddings.

  38. Courtney says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t ask for money on my invitation ever.. I want people to come celebrate with me, not give me stuff! I would be happy with people just coming to celebrate. If you’re giving money, I would be happy to see a $10 .. If a wedding had 50 people and everyone gave ten, there’s $500 right there. & that’s definitely an amazing thing to have after all the wedding expenses. And no one should complain about what they get as a gift!

  39. Ceanne says:

    Having grown up in Winnipeg/Manitoba, I do not find this tradition–which has comes from our deep history of Ukranian background–offensive or tacky in any way. In fact, I think it is very practical and caring. The tradition is to help out the couple getting married. To help give them a good start…this is often better done with cash gifts that can be used towards their home, or what they wish. I also see no issue with helping the wedding hosts recoup some of the costs ie. when I give presentation it is figured out by what I feel the cost of my meal is plus what I feel I wish to give to the couple–depending on how close I am with them, close family and friends would get more. For those who have not grown up in Manitoba, it’s hard for you to understand because that is not your understanding of our culture–every province has a slightly different historical culture. It’s like our “socials” they don’t happen any where else. But I lived on the East Coast and they have “Ceilidh’s” for any good (or not good reason). Please don’t judge :), just accept we are all different…again, it’s just to help out the couple getting married and I would think that all people going to someone’s wedding that they cared about would want to do what they could… 🙂

  40. Kim says:

    Hello, I came across this post as I was searching for the proper etiquette for wording a bridal shower invitation to let guests know that the couple isn’t registered and we are requesting monetary gifts.

    The traditions mentioned above have stemmed from not only the rich Ukrainian culture of Manitoba, but also from the sheer practicality of Manitobans. Manitobans love to get together and celebrate….in a big way. Such celebrations originated with the immediate and extended families, and friends planning and hosting the events. Over time, it has become the tradition that the bride and groom plan their own wedding, but friends/family realize the expense and therefore the presentation rule has become “cover your plate and then add a gift”. Also, it’s called presentation because at the wedding reception a presentation line was formed where the guests presented their envelope to the bride and groom who were flanked by their wedding party at the presentation table. As lively music played (usually a polka, still popular Manitoban reception music at weddings of all heritage)the guests danced up to the table and the men kissed all the bridesmaids and the women kissed all the groomsmen. This kissing tradition has changed over recent times, for obvious health reasons, but the presentation line is still used at some weddings.

    Manitobans also have social evenings (socials) which are still very common, but are no longer fund raisers given the high cost of alcohol, hall rentals, and our delightful Manitoban government capping the amount you can raise on raffle prizes. I recently attended a social evening that had 500 guests. Its just a traditional way Manitobans celebrate, regardless of funds being raised.

    As for the practicality of Manitobans that I mentioned earlier, over the years people have realized that the tradition of gift giving that originated in our European mother countries or America, is just very impractical. Case in point – my sister’s in-laws gave her several brass items as was the tradition in their mother country. Brass trays, brass candlesticks, brass ornaments, brass pots – all non-returnable at your local department store, went into the charity bin or were thrown out. Although the gift was acknowledged, let’s be honest. When it comes to the old saying “Its not the gift but the thought that counts”, well we all thought those gifts were totally thoughtless.

    For my own wedding, I went against tradition and requested no showers. My mother’s circle of friends, relatives and neighbours were aghast. They threw a shower for me anyway as it is a tradition that they couldn’t ignore, partly because it’s a social outing they enjoy and also because they are trying to help the bride. I received many thoughtful gifts that were useful but also gifts that were of no use to me such as the traditional Royal Doulton tea cups and saucers favoured about a hundred years ago (sarcasm) for tea time. Again we had a good chuckle, acknowledged the gifts, and passed them on to charity.

    In closing, my point is, by giving cash you are saving the bride and groom a lot of work running around returning things, and giving the most practical gift of all. In my circle, we find a bridal registry far tackier as you are saying “if you are going to give me a gift, only the following are welcome”.

    As for the bridal shower we just hosted, we decided not to put anything on the invitation regarding gifts. When people RSVP’d they asked what the bride and groom would like. When we said cash was the preference EVERYONE said, oh thank God. That’s the best.

    I think the most gracious guest, of any age and era, realizes they have to keep up with the times, and acknowledge that what one person may consider a thoughtful gift, will be totally useless to another. You can’t expect that everyone should still be enjoying tea time out of a nice china cup because that is what you like. Yes, it is all about the celebration, but if you’re giving a gift why not make it a practical one?

  41. JT says:

    I’m from Winnipeg, now relocated to Southern Ontario. I can’t believe ‘presentation’ is a Winnipeg term. I was shocked to learn of this from your article. My friends in Ontario did not know what I was talking about when I used the term with them.

    I have no grievance with the term, nor putting it on the invitation. I’m the kind of person who would much rather give money as a gift than anything else and I’m 99% sure most newlyweds would rather have that. My only criticism is when people put ‘PRESENTATION ONLY!’. Where its bolded, in all capital letters, and followed by an obnoxiously unnecessary exclamation mark. When I lived in Winnipeg a few years ago I received an invitation with that at the bottom. It actually made me cringe and made me want to go out and buy a gift for them out of spite. I never did do that though, but it did infuriate me.

    On the subject of ‘wedding socials’ or as they are called in my adopted home of Ontario, ‘buck and dos’ or ‘stag and dos’, I believe it is a wonderful idea. My big complaint is when the hosts get mad that tickets were purchased, and the event turnout was lower than anticipated. People fail to realize that they are taking a risk with hosting a wedding social and that if they don’t make as much money as they hope, that is their loss. It’s not a guaranteed moneymaker. I remember a friend actually had the gall to sell two types of tickets, the ticket where people bought so they could come to the social, and the kind of ticket people purchased just to support the cause but had no intention of attending the social. The way I see it, if I bought the ticket, I reserve the right to attend. Why would anyone in their right mind have the nerve to ask friends for free money because they are getting married?

  42. Mary says:

    I received an invitation to a ‘destination’ wedding requesting Presentation. Not only am I paying for the hotel, flight, my drinks and my food, but I am also being asked for a monetary gift. I can understand Presentation at a wedding where I am being offered a free meal and drinks, but guests should not be expected to pay the bride and groom who have have chosen a destination wedding where they don’t have to pay for their guests’ food and drink….Am I wrong to feel this way?

  43. Bride2015 says:

    Lol maybe I don’t understand etiquette. But personally my fiance and I have been together almost 10 years so we don’t need anything. Thankfully our wedding will be small, close friends and family and cost efficient so I’m impartial to gifts of any kind. Maybe it’s just me? But “presentation” on the invite makes life so much easier for us, and a no brainer for guests. Basically well be happy with what you give us. But if we don’t need it or we have to many? I’ll have no problem with a refund. I think weddings with presentation would make starting a new life together that much easier for the new Mr and Mrs. In any province. Again, just an opinion from a future bride.

  44. Snerd says:

    I am from northern Manitoba, and I am glad to have found this site, as “Presentation” is not a thing here, and neither are pre-wedding socials….. I was just invited to a wedding down south and hadn’t heard of this either! We usually give cash anyway, as nobody ever says, “No thanks, I have too much cash.” but I do find it tacky.

  45. Snerd says:

    (I mean I find “presentation” tacky.)

  46. Debbie Dolski says:

    As a Canadian of Ukrainian heritage, I have grown up attending weddings with presentation and it is not “Tacky” it is a cultural tradition which is dearly loved.
    Gifts are given to the couple at their bridal showers, and at the wedding the couple at around 10:00pm at their weddings have presentation.
    All of the guests will line up and the band will play some good Ukrainian polka’s or Ukrainian or polish folksongs and the guests will make their way up to a long table with the Bride and Groom standing side by side in the middle of the table with all the Bestman & groomsmen all standing beside the groom.
    Beside the Bride the maid of honor and bridesmaids will stand.
    In front of the bride and groom will be a large basket, box or bowl for couples to bring up their wedding cards with their presentation in it.
    We give money to help the couple to set up their home and to give the couple a good start at married life.
    In the old country the couple might be presented with bedding from the brides parents, and possibly some livestock and money.
    And all the people who attended would present something to the newly wed couple thus it was known as presentation.
    Today the custom is continued it is also a time to bestow your hugs and kisses and blessings and good wishes on the newly married couple.
    After the presentation a late evening lunch is served which might include hot garlic sausage, fancy sandwiches, cold cuts, cheese and pickle platters, rye Bread, fruit trays, cakes, Tortes, coffee and tea as well the bar remains open and normally their is “NO” charge for the alcohol beverages all night !
    So yes it is normal to present $150.00 to $200.00 dollars be couple at presentation, with family members presenting even more.
    And as a Ukrainian Canadian I have no problem with this as I know that all I give, is appreciated and it’s going to a couple that I wish only the best for!

  47. Roxy says:

    I don’t find this to be a tacky tradition at all. My fiance and I come from 2 very large families. We have 3 kids and seriously considered eloping but neither of our families liked that idea. So instead we are hosting a wedding with just immediate family and a few close friends which still equals 130 guests. We are doing presentation because we have already been established for quite some time, i would never expect someone to pay 100. Avg meal price is 25.00 although looking through venues I had discovered that not only do they charge up to 35.00 a person than tack on 15% tips, at the end of the night the hosts are responsible to flip the bill for the booze in addition too corkage at 10.00 to 11.00 per person.

    Still wishing we were eloping but sucking it up and paying the price.

  48. Rachelle says:

    I guess growing up in Manitoba and seeing it all my life I don’t find it weird. Previously being invited to weddings I always gave what I thought my plate was and something for the booze depending on open bar or cash. It’s always been my view point that the presentation was to help out with the cost of the wedding and if you are covering you food and booze it’s not more then going out for dinner. Then the Bride and groom just need to cover their others such as venue and flowers and cake and attire etc… physical gifts cause way more frustration and anxiety for me then giving cash, you know they can use it and a wedding can get pricey. It really just cuts down on stress for everyone involved and helps the couple get married wihtout owing $25K at the end of it.

  49. Kayla says:

    I stumbled upon this when planning to attend a friend’s wedding, knowing I would have to take out some cash for their presentation. To a Winnipegger, presentation is totally normal and not impolite to ask for. A lot of my friends are getting married in our late 20s, and so we have less need for physical gifts.

    That said, our friends are also doing things like email invitations and stuff that would be seen as probably quite shocking by strict etiquette standards. Sorry if it bursts anyone’s bubble. E-invites will do to paper invitations what the MP3 did to CDs.

    My message to other engaged couples scouring this site for help: it’s cool. You don’t have to play by the rules of past generations. You can have a wonderful wedding without all the stress of meeting expectations, just as you can live a life and walk a path that no one else has walked – and you will have your own path, even if you try to stay to a well-worn course.

    Ask for money to help make sure your cool love party is a good ‘un, especially because you are probably a broke, perilously employed or semi-employed millennial with family barking at you to get married and buy a house. Ask for money so that you can MAYBE pay for that honeymoon you want to book but can’t actually afford. Ask for money – but do so in a polite Manitoban way; by specifying “presentation preferred”.

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