The Gift List

Minimum £300 for a gift please. As soon as Anna has typed the words, she winces, remembering what her mother said.

“It’s because none of the guests are your friends.”

She wheels back in her chair and focuses on the items on her desk; her line of vision is instantly drawn to the faint scratch-marks in the surface. Anna grumbles. Jasper has clearly been in here working again. She must get that buffed over; she hates scratched surfaces.

Taking a sip of coffee from her Anthropologie mug, she spits it out. Cold. She frowns, deepening the lines already present on her face and creating small, empty caverns in her lower cheek. Instinctively, her hand runs through her hair as she catches a glimpse of her reflection in the opposite mirror. Her roots need touching up again.

Twisting her lips into a contorted pout, she reads over the Facebook message that she has now re-written fifteen times. Deciding on her gift list has been the easiest part of this whole wedding headache ever since she fired the wedding planner, however, informing everyone in the correct way is a little trickier. Within the pink, leather-bound notebook to her left, a meticulously co-ordinated collage of Pinterest-perfect wedding pictures fill the pages, from the designer wedding dresses to the hanging flower-chandeliers (she has seen at least two influencer weddings on Instagram with them). The gifts should match the wedding, obviously and why shouldn’t she expect her guests to put the same amount of effort into her day as she has? Besides, she’s paying for it.

On impulse, Anna changes the words Gucci purses to Louis Vuitton purses, but instantly regrets this, so she types out both designers’ names. Why not?

A new car or anything car-related. This one might be hard to sell. What if someone gets her a car air freshener as a pathetic joke? She deletes the second part of the sentence.

Therefore, I am expecting everyone to spend at least £400 on a gift. I’ll accept slightly lower amounts if you message me first. After meeting some of Jasper’s university friends, it was clear they needed concepts like this spelling out for them. Especially Melissa. Anna wonders if this will put her off attending.

After re-wording a couple of sentences, including adding a few “do not buy” examples, she briefly hovers her manicured finger over the send button and then presses it. Her thin lips curve into a smile, like a scratch-mark on her face.

Three weeks later, Melissa wheels forward on her office chair to re-read the message her husband has sent her. Adjusting her glasses, she fumbles for her coffee flask, steam fogging up the rims of her glasses as she takes a sip. She is transfixed and eagerly clicking on the link attached to the message.

“Melissa, I need one-hundred copies of these now please. What’s that you’re reading?” Her colleague, Kate, lingers beside her desk, her words jolting Melissa back into reality.

“Yes, of course, sorry, it’s just, do you remember that wedding I got invited to? You know, my ex’s wedding?”

“The one with the bridezilla you mean?”

“Yes, well that gift list she sent out has gone viral.” Kate leans closer to the screen to read the article.

“At least they kept her anonymous. I guess that’s karma for sending out such a stupid request… Christ, she asked for new floor tiles for the entire house? Who does she think she is?” Kate scoffs before continuing, “weddings are just ridiculous these days. I bet she is a right cow though. Her poor fiancé must be whipped.”

“I feel sorry for her, she has no idea what she’s getting into with Jasper… are those what you need printing?” Melissa takes the pile of paper and her colleague walks away. She scrolls down to the comments at the bottom of the article and reads one: what are the ugliest floor tiles a person could send this arsehole?

Melissa tries to envision Anna’s reaction to all of this. She imagines Anna sobbing, strewn across the disgusting floor tiles after returning from her poorly-attended wedding, whilst Jasper has sex with the bridesmaid in their spare room.

The article I found linked here regarding a bride who sent out a ridiculous gift list to her wedding guests – it makes for entertaining reading! I had a lot of fun with this prompt and aimed for a different genre of fiction – with the nature of the tabloid article, I wrote in a more chick-lit, rom-com style, not a genre I am accustomed to but enjoyed experimenting with. As someone who has recently been married, I have dived head-first into the minefield that is wedding planning and how expensive everything is. I am familiar with the many bride clichés (after doing these things myself), including incessant Pinterest board-making and having a wedding planner “bible” by one’s side constantly. The average cost of a wedding in the UK is £30,355 which seems obscene (considering this is only the average, so many couples spend more than this amount!). Moreover, guests are being expected to pay more and more for the weddings they attend; after expenses from accommodation, travel and outfits, gift lists on top of that can lead to a huge dent in the credit card all in the name of celebrating a loved one’s special day.

At first, I thought about how I would react if this bride invited me to her wedding, but I wanted to explore the kind of person who would make this list, because I found it hard to believe they could just be a shallow, villainous woman. The purpose of Melissa was to give a bit of context to Anna and to also reveal the real villain of the story.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against Anthropologie and I do own one of their mugs. It is a posh shop though.

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash.

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