34 Comments

  1. Audrey

    I would automatically assume these friends have hit hard economic times, as many of us unfortunately have. My question is: did they give you a greeting card? Even if I could not afford a gift, 99 cent cards can still be bought and a thoughtful note written to the happy couple.

    I am also afraid that they may have sent you gifts and they were somehow lost in the mail. This isn’t overly common, though, so I doubt that happened to all of your friends.

    I wonder if a thank you note for their presence at your wedding would be appropriate here? Or no thank you note at all, unless a gift is sent?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      No you shouldn’t send a thank-you note for their presence. It risks seeming like you’re rubbing in the fact that they never sent a gift. Your lost in the mail suggestion is a legitimate concern. Unfortunately, there is no way for a bride to inquire about that. The sender, however, can after some time has passed without receiving a thank-you note inquire with the bride, groom, or family of the bride or groom if they received the gift.

  2. We didn’t receive gifts from several of our friends when we were married 3 years ago. While it wasn’t a huge wedding, a large number of guests had to fly in to come, and seeing them was gift enough! And when it comes down to it, how many skillets do you really need at this point in your life?

  3. Nina

    Hmm. I do agree that *telling* your friends to send you a gift is pretty awful, but I also think if I’m invited to the wedding of someone I genuinely care about, I ought to come up with a gift! During my own bad financial period, I gave a couple of teeny-tiny wedding gifts–they cost barely anything, but I really wanted my friends to have something from me to commemorate the day. Or, as Audrey says, at least a card.

    But I agree with the original advice too–some people don’t really know wedding traditions or don’t think they are important. As long as they are good friends to you, gifts really shouldn’t matter.

  4. Elizabeth

    Wow…I cannot believe that someone would even send this question in? Is this legitimate?

    My fiance and I are getting married next Fall and I do not care about gifts – I am just looking forward to having our friends and family celebrate with us. We have everything we need already. A wedding day is a celebration of a couple’s love for each other and the people they choose to share their lives with. It shouldn’t be overshadowed by “expecting” a gift from anyone…especially when they were guests, even if it is proper etiquette.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      You’d be surprised how gift-grabby people can be. I just got an e-vite to a birthday party that says in between the dress code and the location “I really like presents!” Can you believe it? I almost gagged.

    • Trish

      You have truly captured the the significance of your weddding day! Gifts are always appreciated but the gift of love is more special!!

  5. Thank you for posting this gift etiquette. I can’t believe how many people, brides and guests alike, think they have a year in which to send a gift and that they’re entitled to a gift. Sure, wedding guests are expected to send a present, but there are always extenuating circumstances and, gifts should be given and received from the heart, not out of some sens of obligation. Weddings gifts aren’t admission tickets.

    Agreed that they should, at least, send a card!

    If you’re worried about the possibility of lost gifts, I think the guest might inquire with you as to receipt, especially for a check.

  6. Lilli

    “I don’t think I’d be able to just not mention anything to a friend for the rest of my life. ” Seriously?! If you are so certain that you won’t be able to let it go then mention it – I can assure you the friends in question will be make sure you aren’t in their lives long enough to mention it more than once.

  7. Gloria Burke

    My nephew recently married. His wife’s grandmother just passed away. Is it appropriate to address the note of condolence to his spouse, or should it be to both?

    • Alicia

      I would address it to your neice in law and then in the note mention your nephew. But in reality you can not go wrong in terms of sending a condolenge note to her as people truly appreciate these things.

    • Heather

      I agree with Alicia– They will be touched by the fact that you sent a card, and they probably will not even notice who it’s addressed to.

  8. Cynthia

    NEW QUESTION: (Sorry, I can’t find a place to start a new topic)
    I know there’s a lot of disagreement around children at weddings and receptions. We are not inviting small children (under 12) to my daughter’s wedding, as the reception is at a facility that is just not child-friendly. Here’s the problem: I have a large extended family, and we are inviting my first cousins and their spouses, the children of my first cousins (all adults, and all married), but NOT my cousins’ grandchildren. Just those invited cousins, etc. number over 50 people. If we were to invite the little ones, we would add, at a minimum, 28 children under the age of 5. This is an evening wedding, and the reception is at a beautiful museum. I addressed the invitations to Mr. and Mrs. John Doe (did NOT put in the name of a toddler). Just received the response card, where the guest has put “Husband, Wife, and Toddler 3 people attending”. I feel I cannot make an exception, because everyone who doesn’t bring their children will wonder why this relative got to bring hers. I guess the solution is for me to pick up the phone and call the guest? (We tried to do everything correctly to indicate the degree of formality: style of invitations, hour of the wedding and reception, and the way the invitations were addressed. I knew NOT to put “no children” on the invitation, and hoped that people paid attention to the other things….)

    • Alicia

      Bride, Groom or you calls the couple and says oh so sorry the invites were unclear small children are not being invited but we are so looking forward to seeing the two of you.

    • Lilli

      I agree that a phone call is best, but this sounds like a situation where most of the guests need to arrange childcare to attend the wedding. Maybe the bride and groom could set up 2-3 babysitters for the group and then let the couple know about the arrangements.

      • Winifred Rosenburg

        A better way would be to offer to help them find a babysitter for the evening so they can leave the child at home. Allowing them to bring the children, even if they are in a different room, still has the problem of being unfair to people who actually followed directions and made their own arrangements for their children. Most likely, the couple could easily find a babysitter themselves (last I checked there wasn’t a shortage) and was hoping you would be too passive to tell them no.

        • Ashleigh

          Agreed. Especially since the reception is going to be held at a museum. There probably aren’t very many childproof “extra” rooms that small children could be corraled into.

  9. emares

    Im the mother of the bride and we’re concerned that some of the wedding cards were either misplaced/lost or perhaps stolen from the reception?? The bride and groom opened up gifts and their cards the next day and off the top of their head were missing any acknowledgement from approx 10-15 people. No card or gift. I certainly understand with difficult financial times that a gift of money can be a hardship, but no card or any other acknowledgement seems strange. Any suggestions? We contacted the “day of” wedding planner as well as the reception hall, nothing has been reported. Questioning these guests seems very awkward to do but the fear again is…were they misplaced/lost or hopefully not stolen?? I suppose that’ll all come out in the end if their check wasnt cashed but unbelievably many gifts were cash. Help! We need to address this situation tactfully and as soon as possible. The couple doesnt expect a gift but certainly want to acknowledge one if it was given…

    • What if the bride and groom contact a guest who didn’t bring a gift to ask if this person brought a gift? How do you imagine that awkward conversation will go? What’s worse, what if that guest has a gift to give, but was waiting to bring it by later? I bet that guest would get offended pretty quickly.

      I am also curious as to what this line of questioning would accomplish anyway. What if a few cards were stolen (I hope not)? What can the guest do about it if s/he gave cash?

      No, it is best to immediately write notes for those gifts received. A person who did, in fact, give a gift but received no note will likely quietly inquire as to whether the gift was received – that’s when you’ll know if some cards were misplaced.

    • Alicia

      Well first I would give it a few weeks. A guest has time after the wedding to give a gift. ( It used to be a year but that is excessive but it is not uncommon to aim a gift to arrive at the couples home in the weeks after they get home from the honeymoon) If when all the thank you notes are out an crosschecked with the guest list then send a thank you note for attending to those who did not give a gift. If they gave a gift and it was not mentioned in the thank you note they will then say something to the couple to make sure it was recieved.
      But wait a few weeks as many people aim physical gifts to arrive following the honeymoon.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I agree with Laura. As far as I can tell you don’t have a lot of evidence of cards being lost or stolen. Most likely the guests were planning on sending their gift after the fact or were clueless and didn’t give a gift at all. Either way, the only polite thing to do is send out notes for the gifts you did receive and then wait and see if any guests inquire about not getting a note.

  10. Lauren

    I got married just two weeks ago and we had a very small, intimate wedding with just about 50 guests. I was also surprised to find a handful of our close friends attended, and not only did not bring a gift, but did not even bring a card. I’m definitely not concerned with gifts, but I cannot imagine ever attending a wedding and not bringing a card.

    • Jerry

      Unfortunately there isn’t anything you can do. While a guest owes a present, etiquette also states that the newlyweds cannot comment on a guest’s failure to bring a gift or a card. (Nor can the newlyweds outsource this task to a friend or family member.)

  11. Alicia

    Guests often send the gift after the wedding and in particular after they expect the couple home from the honeymoon. Be patient my best guess is that a lot of those gifts will roll in over the next month. I now I often aim gifts to arrive three wees after wedding so couple is home and settled.

    • Kris

      My husband and I wed in Germany in September as we live in Germany and he is German. In addition to our family and friends in Germany, we also invited my close family and friends in the US, but only a few made the trip, quite understandably as it is costly to do so. We are going to have a party in May in the US to celebrate our marriage and are planning to invite our family and friends in the US. I don’t know if this should be called a belated reception (I think not, as it’s more than 6 months after the wedding) or simply called a party? Also, what is the proper etiquitte for gifts? I know gifts are not to be expected so many months after the wedding, but for those that do wish to give gifts, should we have a gift list prepared in case anyone asks for it?

      • Alicia

        It can be a party or a reception either word works. No matter when one never expects presents. If you write a list for yourself to know what to say when people ask you what you would like that is fine but not required.

      • Winifred Rosenburg

        I agree with Alicia. FYI if you had a wedding registry, they typically stay active for 1-2 years after the wedding date so you can refer people who ask to your registry.

  12. Donna

    I have a story that will make your jaw drop!!! I have an (ex) friend (and after reading this you’ll understand why me and many other people are no longer her friends) who had a PRIVATE wedding, no one was invited…then called people a few weeks later to tell them she got married and ASK FOR A PRESENT!!!!

  13. Anita

    I am having a wedding party (no wedding ceremony) in City A and a reception a week later in City B – the wedding party has my friends and co-workers while the reception has my fiance’s friends as well as all our common friends. Some of my friends who my fiance knows were also invited to the reception and will only be going for the reception (City A is very expensive to travel to), some to both events. However, some friends I invited to City A only asked if they can come to the reception instead. Some of these guests I agreed since they will not be in the country during the wedding but some have not really said why they want to come to City B only especially since they do not know my fiance. What can I tell them? Its awkward inviting them on behalf of my fiance’s family.

  14. Cyra

    Hi Anita,

    I’m a bit confused as to what the difference is between your wedding party and your wedding reception. Since there is no actual ceremony, it sounds like you are actually having two wedding parties (a reception, by definition, comes immediately before or after an event). Regardless, you should invite whomever you wish to whichever party you wish, although it would have been best to not let people know there were other parties happening.

    It is rude of your guests to ask for invitations to the party for which they have not been invited and you are perfectly within your rights to say, “I’m sorry, we’re not able to accommodate any more people, but I do hope to see you at…..”

    Hope this helps and best wishes!

  15. Anita

    Thank you Cyra.

    Essentially, no real difference between the wedding party and the reception party – just to accomodate families from two separate cities. Thanks for the advise – I really hope I have the courage to say I cannot accomodate…I find it really strange people ask! Unfortunately, the other party was mentioned by other guests while making plans etc. but I have not mentioned this except to say his family is hosting a reception party for us.

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