Manners & Misdemeanors
The Truly Rich Lady On Freebies, Loot Bags, and X-Deals
When do exchange deals become tacky?
IMAGE COLLAGE BY SANDY ARANAS
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Dear Truly Rich Lady,  

What are your thoughts on celebrity weddings with everything sponsored by companies who want a piece of the couple's popularity? I think it is so tacky! It’s like using a celebrity guest list for a marketing product launch. Surely the couple can afford their loot bags! And it’s not just weddings, but parties for mothers, children, and even gender reveals. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

Certainly Unamused

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Dear Certainly Unamused,

Tacky, indeed. And also strange.

I find it twisted that, in the world we live in, it is the rich that are offered many free things. They can very well afford most things (all things, as a matter of fact, if they are Truly Rich Ladies), but because of their prominence, influence, and something marketers call reach, they get the good goodies. 

A six-course meal at a buzzy new restaurant on the house. Overseas trips (accommodations and travel assistants included) to watch spectacular fashions show for free. An whole cruise ship filled with beautiful friends. A random cake monstrosity with the note: “Compliments of ABC Bakeshop!” arrives unannounced at my doorstep. And, yes, even the elements of a wedding, from party favors to the gown, can be provided to the bride and groom gratis. 

On a level from fine to ick, the inexpensive things are okay, the pricier stuff registers a low frequency of suspicion, and anything wedding-related just reeks of cheap. You see, nothing is really free (unless explicitly stated in writing, signed, and notarized). There is an expectation that the receiver will support or, in the case of the wedding, publicize whatever goods or services are provided. It can be as harmless as taking a photo beside the free wedding cake (the image will be published in a magazine), or annoying like mentioning a laundry list of corporate sponsors during a speech, or downright horrifying like a stunt (one of those stupid wedding games—but branded!) in the middle of dinner.

I mean, I already get hives on my arms whenever I see vulgar logos anywhere near my person. The uncomfortable feeling becomes even more pronounced during a wedding ceremony, which is supposed to be a very personal, very intimate affair. When your captive audience is exposed to the words, “This wedding is brought to you by...” on a program card, video, or announcement, all dignity evaporates. You can feel the love exiting through the back door in shame.

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There is also the rich factor to consider. As my Kooky Auntie Martha says, “Si-si, the rich are very rich because they are misers—like me.” The Truly Rich are known for never spending their own money when someone else can (foolishly) fork over theirs for a venture or a high-rise or, in this case, a wedding. Why spring for first class seats when a hungry brand, seeking approval, is willing to pay for them? And why ask the cook to bake a cake when three boxes are sent over regularly?

But what will all these cost the Truly Rich Lady? Am I expected to buy the whole collection? Should I look more favorably toward these generous corporate suitors? Am I expected to tell all the sugar-starved Titas of Manila about a chocolate confection even if I am not that impressed?

I am eating a slice of cake as I write this, and I think it tastes more delicious because I did not pay for it. Free things! Everyone loves them! But are they in good or poor taste? My rule: When an exchange of invisible currency is involved, what is free becomes, as you say, tacky, tacky, tacky!

Love, 

C.C. Coo

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