They Didn’t Invite Me to the Wedding, but Now They’re Demanding a Gift.


AAPW: Is she serious with this letter?

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

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Q: My husband’s sister just sent him the following email: “Did you guys forget to give them a gift? Do what you like, but I was generous with your kids, even if I wasn’t invited. You will be getting an announcement as soon as the photographer is done editing.”

My niece was married five weeks ago and invited close friends and immediate family members. Although we were not invited to attend, we had no hard feelings and understood her desire to have a small wedding. We are very fond of our niece and her new husband.

At present, we are not in a good financial situation as we are living off a first-year teacher’s salary and dipping into our savings account to make ends meet. We have been putting aside money for a wedding gift with the understanding that we have three to twelve months to send one (depending on what advice column you read) and had planned on sending a check once we had enough saved.

I don’t believe that we should have to explain our situation to a family member who has never been in our shoes, and would appreciate your advice on responding to this tactless email that has made us very upset.

—Stunned At the Lack Of Decorum
A: Dear SALOD,

You’re right, of course. Totally rude, completely uncalled for. But the best you can do at this point is probably whisper ranty complaints between yourselves, maybe get someone on the Internet to confirm that you’re right (hi), then just move on. Don’t bother trying to justify yourselves to her—like you said, your financial position is your own personal information, and it’s likely that telling her wouldn’t appease her any, so why bother.

Folks are sometimes rude around weddings. (It’s basically why I have job.) Specifically, folks who care very deeply about the ones getting married (like, for example, the mom of the bride) are often the rudest. It could be that these are people who are tactless all the time, but more likely, it’s the stress and pressure of the wedding and a crazy fierce desire for the best for your kid, all combined into a formidable beast.

That obviously doesn’t make her right. She’s wrong here. But it does give you the room to not take this personally, step back, and be the bigger person.

Send a chipper reply back. If you want to make her squirm simply say, “Nope, we didn’t forget! Can’t wait to see the announcement!” If you’re more generous than I am (and want to save yourself the potential headache of another rude email), you can include a little notice that, “Our gift will arrive in a few months.”

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Green

    Wow… Liz, as usual, you have such kind and generous suggestions. Letters like this make me wonder about all the questions the larger APW community doesn’t see!

  • anon

    “Nope, we didn’t forget! Can’t wait to see the announcement!” I love this answer.

  • Laura C

    I’m not saying it’s wrong, but anyone who can send this response is a far, far bigger person than me. I’d still send the gift and a nice card to the couple, but the grabby mother would get a saltier response. Which I’m not saying is ideal, just reality!

    • Sara

      Same – I would be super polite to the couple because I know its not coming from them, but my sibling or sibling-in-law would get a much blunter/sarcastic response. I’m not known for holding my tongue though.

      • TeaforTwo

        Except, it’s kind of coming from the couple, right? Why else would the mother even know they hadn’t sent anything? I certainly didn’t run through an itemized list of wedding gifts with my family after the fact.

        • NatalieN

          That was what I thought too, and still think could have happened… but some people have pointed out that their mother’s asked specifically “what did so and so get you?”

          • Jess

            My mom does this for CHRISTMAS, let alone weddings. So, yeah. This comes down to a “know your people” concern.

            It cold have also been worded from the couple, ‘Hey, we haven’t seen anything from Aunt OP and just want to make sure it didn’t get lost in the mail/stolen off our doorstep/whatever,” and got misrepresented. Which is still… weird for me, but better in intention?

            The OP probably knows if this feels like a Mom thing or a Couple thing.

        • Sara

          Well, yes and no. Since they weren’t invited, I could see the mom asking if they had gotten anything from the LW or them commenting offhandedly like ‘oh I thought we’d get a card from them’. But since the couple didn’t question the lack of gift, I wouldn’t assume they were upset about it or were questioning LW’s motives.

        • Danielle Antosz

          Mom also might have asked what they sent.

  • Amy March

    The only thing I would add to Liz’s advice is to feel free to send whatever you have now- there’s no need to wait until you have “enough” saved because anything you are moved by your generosity to send is more than “enough!”

    • Danielle

      That’s true! We had plenty of relatives give us $20, because that’s what they could afford. We were grateful bc we understood their financial circumstances.

      • Eenie

        And sometimes isn’t it just the card that’s nice? Christmas card from my aunt with $5 in it – it’s not really the $5 I look forward to, but the fact that she designs her own card every year on her computer (she’s 80), prints them, folds them, and sends them out to her nieces and nephews.

        • raccooncity

          Also, the message inside! I was way more disappointed to see a card with nothing written in it than a card with no money in it.

          • eating words

            Yes, cards! A friend sent us the *awesomest* handmade card and it meant as much to me as any gift.

          • KPM

            Yes! The only exception was a friend who had bought a beautiful card and gave it to me with a check inside saying “The card was too nice to write in!” but knowing she flew across the country despite a tight budget and little time off work meant just as much :)

        • Danielle

          That is so sweet!

          We actually framed one of our wedding cards (an adorable picture of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger talking about love) and hung it up. It was just so beautiful and I didn’t want to get rid of it or hide it in a drawer.

          • Natalie

            A couple of our friends are artists who hand-drew wedding cards for us, and I treasure those so very much. I know those cards came with gifts, but I don’t remember the gifts, only the beautiful, thoughtful cards. Which I keep meaning to frame.

        • Liz

          Cards with a sweet message FOR LIFE.

        • Erica

          Exactly. If I were on hard times, I’d give a card with a meaningful note and short well-worded explanation of meager times. Not just give -nothing-. If i had received just a card from some instead of nothing, I would have found it equally as meaningful as any registry gift. Although, I do believe in the explanation. Some couples have taken the ‘just a card’ the wrong way before, as in ‘we purposefully purchased you 0 gifts’.

          • Amy March

            See, I would never, ever, ever, mention “meager times.” It is no one’s business why they did or did not get a gift from me, and it is not my job to manage whatever feelings they may have around that.

          • Not Sarah

            But if I send you “just a card”, I am purposefully purchasing you 0 gifts. And that is my choice to make, regardless of how you feel about it.

        • M.

          Aw :) That is adorable, and that’s exactly it! It’s the thought and effort, that someone loves you and wants to show it however they can.

          I had a friend drive to our wedding a few hours each way just for the afternoon, and she gave us, in her words, whatever cash she had in her wallet which I believe was $13. The card was adorable, her note in the card was the SWEETEST (she is always the sweetest) and she was so excited to be there and for us to be married and to do what she could, and that is what I remember and “feel” when I think about her. She made such an effort for us.

          Another friend drove 8 hours each way during her nursing school finals and in the middle of her husband relocating across the country, and stayed only for the ceremony and a quick hug at the reception before she had to start heading back. There was a card I think, and a small gift came later, but nothing compares to how much she wanted to be there and how she moved a freaking mountain to be in that room with us. Who needs a gift if you have someone who loves you that much?

          • Lisa

            Exactly! One of my best friends used her only “golden weekend” (two days off in a row from her residency) for the months of September and October to take a red eye to our ceremony and then fly out the day afterwards. The amount of effort she put into being there for us was worth so much more than any gift she could have bought!

      • Raissomat

        I actually felt guilty accepting 50.- from my spinster aunt for our wedding (also not invited). She’s living in a studio apartment since 1999, too broke to become a cat lady. Now she gets cards and updates from us all the time.

    • Roselyne

      This! Or something handmade. Honestly, we were very thankful to everyone who gave us money as wedding presents, but the gifts that stand out years later are the homemade lap quilt, the hand-carved wooden spoons, and the ‘breakfast kit’ made by my husband’s cousin (casserole dish with a recipe card for a spectacular breakfast casserole, ingredients included). None of these presents (well, other than the quilt, I imagine…) cost very much in materials, but the thought was so appreciated, and we think of them every time we use them. It’s honestly not about the money (for sensible people). Don’t feel like you have to meet a dollar amount for it to be ‘acceptable’, especially when this is such a rough year for so many people.

      • Alexa

        I certainly agree with the intent behind this—handmade gifts are amazing—but as someone who has been a first year teacher, time for crafting is probably even less available than money for the OP at this point. And that’s okay as well.

        • Roselyne

          Oh, absolutely! But my point was: gifts that are thoughtful but don’t cost a lot of money are totally welcome! Like my last example: a casserole, recipe card, and basic dried ingredients: MAYBE 25$ (it was a really nice casserole dish!), and maybe an hour to put together? If that? It’s not a huge commitment, but it was super thoughtful and that sticks. Obv everyone should find something that fits their lifestyle and interests, but… for most people, an hour and 25$ is more doable than a several-hundred-dollar cheque.

          • Alexa

            Yes, totally with you. :) (Although, part of me is shocked that there are circles where people give several-hundred-dollar checks. I guess we had one or two people give us one hundred, and that seemed incredibly generous to me. I understand, rationally, that there must be a wide range based on economic status, but wow…)

          • Not Sarah

            I think that as one’s income increases, one’s default gift giving amount increases as well. My default wedding present is $100 USD now and if my boyfriend is friends with the people too, then we’ll write one check for the two of us for $200. (Our current process is each person decides their own amount to contribute and we write one check. If the person isn’t friends with the wedding people, then they don’t contribute, but they sign the card.) If the wedding is in Canada, they get whatever the current exchange rate from $100 USD is. I think I gave $30 at the first wedding I went to and approximately $125 CAD at the last one ($100 USD at the time).

          • Megan

            Same – I just hit a moment where my default went from $50 to $100. I started going to weddings and buying $25 worth of little things on the couple’s registry so it looked like a lot… :) But I’m happy to be more generous as my salary increases! Especially since weddings cost so much more now than they did 10 years ago!

          • Not Sarah

            Oh I hate buying presents (gift giving is so not my thing), so I buy a cute card and write a check lol!

          • emmers

            I love the $25 registry shopping strategy.

            Two of my most-useful-favorite things people got from our registry were some less than $10 rubber scraper spatulas (from an old roommate) and about $10 olive oil pourers (from an old friend). We use those things literally every day. I’m so pro-registry because even if you can’t give much, but want to give something, why not give the couple what they’ve explicitly said they would like, via registry?

          • Not Sarah

            Most of the registries I’ve seen haven’t had items at the amount I was willing to pay – they were all expensive items :( I think it’s really important for people to have a variety of price points on their registry!

          • emmers

            Truth!

          • Eenie

            As someone who is currently registering, this is my issue. Anything under $50 we’ve already bought ourselves. We’re late 20’s, good incomes, I’ve been asking for kitchen stuff for 8 years, we have two fully furnished kitchen/bedroom/bathrooms. So what do we do, put a bunch of unnecessary $20 items on the registry? Not register at all? This is a legit question. Right now only 1/4 of our registry is under $50. I don’t even want anyone to get us a gift at all, they’re already traveling for the wedding, but people have already begun asking about the registry.

          • BSM

            We also didn’t really want or need a lot of cheap stuff, so the vast majority of our registry started at about the $50 price point. We just used some nice language on our wedding website (where we linked to the registry and honeymoon fund) to impress upon people that they really didn’t need to get us anything. The wording was modeled after Meg’s, which I’m sure you could find with a quick search here. We’re 4 months post-wedding, and I haven’t had any issues with it come back to me.

          • Eenie

            We have included similar language. I’m glad to hear it turned out well.

          • Not Sarah

            To fill in my comment a bit more…I’ve seen registries where all of the items were over $100. That was in some cases because the small items were super popular and other cases, they just didn’t exist.

            If we were to register right now, we would probably ask for a new set of plates (mine are wearing down from knife usage and my boyfriend’s are super heavy / too big for the dishwasher), a fancy summer duvet, and I don’t know what else. I’m sorry I can’t help – we would have the same problem!

          • Eenie

            We have a total of four items over $100. Most of our stuff really just hits the $75-$100 range. And if it’s cheaper to get a set of pots, do I break them out just to have the lower price points? UGH REGISTRIES. I just don’t want anyone to think I expect them to spend any money on a gift at all. Which, anyone who knows us would know (I hope!). But we also get a discount on the stuff after the fact…

          • Not Sarah

            UGH REGISTRIES. I go through this problem with Christmas every year. Haha yes one of my friends went through and bought stuff off her registry BEFORE the wedding because it gave them a discount :(

          • Amy March

            Break them out!

          • MDBethann

            I broke my pots out and registered for the set. In the end, I took the individual pots back (some people got them for me) and exchanged it for the set at Bed Bath & Beyond. In doing so, I scored an extra pot as a “gift with purchase” and got all of the pots for less than if I had bought the remainder individually.

          • Eenie

            GENIUS.

          • Vanessa

            I strongly support your (or anyone’s) decision not to register for small stuff you don’t actually want.

          • Megan

            Some people say it’s tacky to ask for just money for the honeymoon, but I saw one couple do it in a way that I thought was cute. They itemized things they would do on their honeymoon that you could “buy” for them (i.e. vespa rentals for an afternoon to drive around the island or drinks and snacks on the beach). They set the prices at different ranges (kind of like a kickstarter app – you get a different “experience” for whatever level you decide to pay). One friend said it was still tacky, but I liked the creative approach – and they even sent a photo with the thing you “paid for” in the thank you card!

          • Anon

            We also put gift cards on our registry (so if you wanted to spend like 30 and there was nothing, you could do a gift card), and target’s registry let’s people register for like a portion of a gift, so you could get like 1/4 of that 100 dollar blender or something, other stores may have similar things.

          • Caroline

            There are always things like dish towels, cloth napkins, extra pillow cases, hand towels or whatever that get gross and need to be replaced somewhat regularly. If you have space to store them for 6 months or a year you might be glad for fresh ones relatively soon.

          • Karen

            Do group gifting on Zola… then they can chip in for bigger items between several people!

          • Danielle Antosz

            Totally with you. We have plenty of stuff, and if we want it we likely bought it. I included verbiage along the lines of: “The only gift we ask for is the gift of your presence. If you would like to purchase a gift, we are registered here and here.” Or something similar. I think for the baby shower (which we did a FB event for), it said “Gifts are greatly appreciated but not at all required. We just want to celebrate the pending arrival of baby with our friends and family.”

    • Natalie

      I agree with this whole-heartedly.

      Honestly, if I knew relatives were struggling financially (like living off one new teacher salary!) and received a large check from them as a wedding gift, I would feel weird/badly about it. Of course I’d be grateful for and touched by their generosity. But I would also kind of wish that they hadn’t scrimped and saved and struggled (as it sounds LW is doing) to give me a large gift. Many of my (poor grad student) wedding guests did not give me a gift, and I’m glad they did not, because I knew they were struggling to make ends meet. I would rather they spend their money on something they need than on something I don’t.

      • Lisa

        Yes to this! We had one friend who sang at the ceremony and brought us a bottle of wine to “toast our marriage.” She apologized that it wasn’t more, and I told her that her presence and music was more than enough. I wouldn’t have wanted her to go above what was comfortable for her just to show us how much she cared. I knew she already did because she was there!

  • Wow…I’m shocked at the rudeness. I’m a petty person and I’d hold out until 11 months after the wedding to send a gift, but I know that’s not the most mature way to handle things.

    • Eenie

      Put yourself in the couple’s shoes. I’m sure they’d feel horrible if they knew the mom said this to the aunt. It seems like the LW has a great relationship with the niece and there’s no reason to tarnish it! Send a card and what they can afford, the new couple will be grateful for whatever generosity they receive.

      • I JUST said it wasn’t a mature way to handle it, it was just my first impulse after reading about the mother’s rude behavior. What exactly are you trying to convince me of?

        • Eenie

          Not trying to convince you of anything, I thought I was agreeing with you! Just pointing out it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the couple most likely has no idea the mom said this.

      • Sarah

        Yup, my mom is annoyed her cousin can’t come to my local bridal shower Sun cause her husband is having knee surgery the week before and “he’ll be fine alone for a few hours.” I doubt she’d do this regarding a gift…but moms can get touchy about events involving their grown kids. Niece and husband would likely be embarrassed.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      Oh my petty runs DEEP. I probably would have said since you’re so generous, go ahead and get them one from us too thanks!

  • Leela

    LW has already handled this better than I would have. If I had written this letter, it would have included the phrase “and then I responded with a steady stream of expletives.” Great advice from Liz. I love the idea of the chipper response.

  • A

    Along with everything else, can I just say how much I *loathe* tit-for-tat gift giving entitlement? My mom, who I love and have a great relationship with but definitely can be a formidable beast about these things, was SO mad that people considered their travel to our wedding their gift because “I traveled for their wedding/their kid’s wedding AND got them a Le Creuset dutch oven!” Which…is great, but it shouldn’t mean everyone needs to get *me* a gift of equal monetary value when travel was already a stretch. Or even if it wasn’t, it was still a lot of money! But my mom is by far the most well-off in her family and she knows that. So all around, a crappy reaction but not uncommon…the idea that generosity has to beget equal generosity through monetary metrics rather than spirit.

    Thankfully she kept her complaints to herself (and me, who stupidly answered honestly when she asked not thinking there was an agenda) but definitely with the “The niece would be mortified” crowd.

    • Danielle

      My mom was also the Gift Police. She and my dad have shelled out possibly thousands of dollars over the years on gifts for other people’s weddings, baby showers, etc, and she wanted to feel like the generosity was reciprocated.

      I do not share the same sentiment (a gift is a gift… something you give freely), but did let her know when her friends gave us generous gifts. It made her happy to hear that friends and relatives were equally generous to us.

      She really liked keeping track! This is something I chalk up to “mom wedding insanity” – a mix of her normal behavior, with added amplification of special wedding crazytown.

      • Jess

        This is SO my mother. I’ve been very careful to tell her when her friends have sent us engagement presents so that she knows not to feel sad about us not getting anything (but also, seriously, we appreciate the thought, but do not care whatsoever about “gift equality”).

    • AP

      My mom is like this with Thank You notes. I swear she gives my cousin and his family Christmas gifts every year just so she can spend January complaining that she never got properly thanked. (Granted, sometimes he and his wife don’t even acknowledge the gifts. But at this point, I’m like, “Mom, just stop giving them gifts if it makes you so mad!”)

      • Anon

        Ugggghhhhh! I HATE THIS! We, for a variety of reasons, never sent out the majority of our wedding thank you cards. I felt bad. We felt bad, we did see almost everyone and thank them in person, or via email, but still didn’t send out the card. Now I hear about it (and get passive aggressive comments/actions about it (like how my MIL sent me two boxes of thank you cards and pre printed addresses along with my baby shower gifts from her family- this could be seen as a nice thoughtful gesture, but it was at least half passive aggressive). For me, I can’t think of much less gracious than being pissed about not getting a thank you card. Especially if I know the person received the gift (which is the only reason I like a note/text/email, I just want to know that Amazon didn’t keep it for themselves!). But yeah, there is one person in particular who I would just like to say, you clearly are getting these gifts for us out of some sort of obligation, please let this note free you from that obligation forever.

        • K.

          This is an extremely unpopular opinion even in APW circles, but I don’t understand the ubiquity of thank you cards. I feel like there should be more than one way that is considered societally acceptable for expressing gratitude. Why is my crappy handwriting and forced/often templated note more meaningful than a nice long phone call or in-person hug? I mean, I ended up sending my wedding thank you’s because I knew it was an expectation and I wanted to make people happy, but the fact that there are no alternatives (and NO ONE seems to think there are any suitable alternatives; you’d think my saying that I don’t think hand-written cards are always the end all be all of gratitude was the same as calling for my 4 month old puppy’s head sometimes) is bs. Why wasn’t your other expressions of gratitude enough?? They should have been!

          THERE I SAID IT. :p

  • Scalliwag

    This is very thoughtful advice, and probably way nicer than I would have been able to be.

    We had somewhat of an opposite situation recently. We got married in September and sent out thank you cards to all our guests for their gifts and/or attending. One of my husband’s friend’s texted him asking if we got her wedding gift. We’d kept track so that we would know for thank you cards and didn’t have any record, so we just said “yes, it was so appreciated” and left it at that. We were thrilled she joined us, so the idea of saying “no, we didn’t get your gift” didn’t seem a conversation worth having over the memory of an awesome day.

    • Sara

      Well, in that case she may have been worried it had been lost. I had friend whose gift was delivered to the couple’s home and the couple never received it (they suspect a neighbor). She was able to call the store and they resent one free of charge.

      • Scalliwag

        That’s a very good call out! In this case it was done through Paypal, so I’m chalking it up to she thought she did it, or she did it but it didn’t go through so wasn’t worth it. But physical gifts that definitely makes sense – especially if things are being sent during holiday season.

      • Natalie

        We lived in a bad neighborhood before we got married, and I was so worried that wedding gifts arriving by mail would be stolen off our front porch while we were at school, and the gifter would not ask if we received it and just think we were just rude in failing to send a thank-you note.

        • chrissyc

          Yes, I know what you mean! It wasn’t about the missing gift, but rather about the fact that I didn’t want to miss anything and be perceived as rude. I really appreciated when people bought gifts off the registry solely because I could see who had bought what when–so I could keep track of any potentially missing packages.

        • gingersnap

          I still, 5 years later, feel guilty about the wedding gift that the post attempted to deliver (signature required) while we were away on our honeymoon. I figured out from the tracking number on the doortag that it was returned to the store where we registered, but I had no idea who sent it, and I’m afraid they think I’m selfish and thoughtless for not acknowledging their gift.

    • CII

      Or the tag may have been separated from the gift! We received a lovely gift from a vendor (Amazon) after our wedding, but they didn’t include a gift tag (who knows if it was Amazon’s error or sender error) and so we had no idea who it had come from. Not everyone brought a gift (we specifically emphasized they were not expected), so it wasn’t so easy to identify who it had come from. Fortunately, our friend specifically asked “did you get X gift that we sent” — we were so thankful to her because then we could send a thank you card and think of them every time we use it!

      • eating words

        We went to a wedding recently where we brought in the gift and somehow forgot the card. So we sent a card later congratulating them on their beautiful wedding and explaining which gift was ours.
        Of course, it took us way too long to get around to this, and the day we dropped that card in the mail we received their thank-you note (and they had figured out which gift was ours).

      • KPM

        We had one gift that was a sort of similar situation and I was so relieved when the guest sent us a text asking if we had gotten their gift!

      • Aubry

        I still have a mystery gift from our wedding a year and a half ago! We received a Wok from a “Matthew” and it isn’t from any of the Matthew’s who attended! I specifically asked around, because I freaking love it! It is huge and so fancy, I use it all the time. I hope one day the mystery will be solved!

    • Ravenclawed

      It sounds like your friend might have been confused as to why you thanked her for coming, but not the gift specifically. I hope this isn’t the case, but she might think the note was a bit rude since it didn’t mention the gift (that clearly never arrived).

      • Amy March

        Exactly. If I gave you a gift and my thank you not just thanked me for attending, I’d assume you didn’t get the gift and try to figure out what happened to it.

      • Sara

        This happened to a friend of mine when they were thanked for attending and there wasn’t really mention of the check they had sent. My friend ended up realizing the check never was cashed and contacted the couple to see if they had even gotten it. They hadn’t! She was able to resend it and cancel the original one.

    • Liz

      Am I the only cynic who thinks maybe she was saying that because she felt bad that she hadn’t sent anything, and she was trying to pretend like she had? (Since it’s a Paypal situation, and not a physical package).

      • gonzalesbeach

        Usually if I pay for something via paypal- the seller then sends the product or gift card or gift something to the shipping address – so I’m confused. was the paypal was an account set up by the couple for their invitees to just email them cash?

    • Amy March

      I’m so confused why you would lie about this? If I ask “did you get my gift” I’m trying to make sure you did, in fact, receive a gift I tried to give you. I wouldn’t find it a kindness at all for you to lie to me about it and deprive me of the chance to follow up and make sure you got it.

      • Scalliwag

        This was situation specific to be sure. If it was a very close friend we saw regularly and for whom gifts would be a more regular part of the relationship, that would likely be different. Additionally, we’d already had what we felt was a somewhat awkward encounter with this guest over an RSVP for a plus one that was not extended. So the goal was to close the book on the wedding and move forward, since for us the gift or not was not worth continuing to discuss. This was also done via text, which I fully own was not the best medium, but the method through which most of that communication occurs.

      • BSM

        Agree. I love giving gifts, so lying about this would be confuse and upset me!

  • Mrrpaderp

    I have a policy that I don’t respond to rudeness if I can avoid it. She did you a favor by sending this over email instead of blindsiding you in person. Email is so much easier to ignore. I would probably respond (if at all) only to the portion of the email about the announcement. So something like Liz suggested, but just completely ignoring the fact that SIL inquired about gifts. If she confronts you in person over the holidays, I love Liz’s “Nope we didn’t forget!” followed immediately by a change of subject.

    • Emily

      I like this policy … I’m wondering if I can initiate it in my life.

      • Jess

        I don’t know if I have a strong enough constitution to ignore rudeness, but I’m going to try to find out!

  • Juliet

    If I found out my mother had done this, I would be beyond mortified. If I had to guess, I bet the couple has no idea. Doesn’t change anything really and Liz’s advice is spot on, but I just wanted to chime in with an “OMG MOM, STAP.”

  • NatalieN

    I’m all for giving the couple the benefit of the doubt in that they probably didn’t know that their mother/MIL emailed the aunt this way, but I wonder how the mother knew that LW and her husband hadn’t sent a gift yet? It’s quite possible that she asked “oh, what did LW get you?” that concept is weird to me though because my mom definitely didn’t ask me what her friends or family members got us for our wedding.

    • Juliet

      My MIL absolutely asked what her family members gave us and wanted details and amounts, and would then mention if she felt she had spent more on their children’s wedding gifts. I was very uncomfortable with this. Weddings can really bring up people’s anxieties. She would NEVER have said anything to the gift giver, though!

      • NatalieN

        Gotcha – all moms are different! Mine was verrry hands off of the wedding for fear of being the “mother of the bride monster” – her words not mine. So mothers being super involved/invested/wanting to know about gifts is something I know nothing about.

      • Meg

        my mom wanted my spreadsheet I had to keep track of gifts (that I made for thankyou note purposes) so she could decide who to invite to my little sister’s wedding based off what they gave me :O

        • M.

          o.O

        • NatalieN

          oh my…. unrelated, (NOTHING against your mom), but this would be something that I’d define as “gift grabby” – inviting people specifically based on how good of a gift giver they are, as opposed to people who have multiple wedding showers/baby showers who I’ve sometimes seen called that. Again, I understand that it’s your mom trying to make sure that your little sister and her husband get items for their new married life.

          • Meg

            oh man do not worry about offending me haha, I would not have shared this gross fact if I were sensitive about it haha

        • JDrives

          Wut

      • JDrives

        My MIL asked us too, in a kind of nosy “How well off are they” kind of way. It threw me.

      • pistachio gelato

        My mother did this too. She would never confront anyone for not giving me a gift but since I’m her only child and all of my parents’ siblings had at least 2 kids and they’re all older than me, my mom felt that since she’s shelled out so much money over the years during Christmas, Chinese New Year, birthdays and weddings, that when my turn came, it was their turn to return the gestures. Not the best sentiment to have but it’s human nature.

    • laddibugg

      Oh, my mother is an asker…she definitely would ask this question. She’s always asking what my boyfriend and sometimes other friends have given me for birthdays/Xmas/anniversaries (and what I’ve given them). But then she doesn’t want me to get HER anything so I can’t say she’s that materialistic.

    • april

      Haha – my mother in law totally asked what people had gotten us. I’m pretty sure she also took it upon herself to purchase the gifts given to us by her sons/my brother in laws (who, for the record, were just barely out of college at that point, were already in the wedding party, and were totally not expected to give us anything). Gift giving is just really important to some people …

    • chrissyc

      I agree, I’m definitely giving the couple the benefit of the doubt here. My parents and my in-laws are good at not sticking their noses in our business, and even they ask occasionally what people gave us. (It’s usually in the context of, “[[Family friend’s son]] is now getting married, and I want to give them a comparable gift, so what did [[family friend]] give you?”) I think it’s very possible that the mother asked and/or sneaked a peak at the thank you list.

      • NatalieN

        Yup. I can see it both ways, the mother asking “what did my sister get you?” but I also could see the bride approaching her mom and making a comment like “I wonder if aunt was upset that they weren’t invited, they didn’t send us anything.”

        • chrissyc

          Ooh yeah, that’s a good point–often gifts are important not for the gift itself, but because they can be an indicator that all is well. Or even the bride could have asked her mom (not realizing that her mom would confront LW), “I never received anything from LW; is that normal or do you think it’s lost somewhere and now LW will think I’m rude for not writing a thank you??” I would probably ask my mom if I was concerned about a missing gift–but also, I would trust my mom to keep it between us!

  • Erica

    I have this problem in reverse!

    Gifting is my love language, and I have always approached weddings with the attitude of giving a gift, no matter if you attend, when invited to a wedding. It’s how I show my love and enthusiasm for the couple!!

    I was therefore incredibly surprised (and, not going to lie, somewhat hurt) to learn from experience on the receiving end at our own wedding that there was SUCH variety in guest gift giving. While we did get gifts from the majority of our guests, I am particularly miffed by persons who attended the wedding (even some quite close relatives), and did not give a gift.

    I understand that it isn’t a “tit for tat” situation, and wasn’t expecting that; however, my personal culture is so strongly ingrained around giving that it was difficult for me to not read into the action of not giving. If it were me, I would feel that in not giving a gift as an invitee I was trying to speak my opinion strongly and silently through my own inaction (or feel self-conscious about it until the gift was given, if giving were my intent). I’ve been silently coming to grips with the fact that not everyone thinks that way. I DO understand that each person comes from different financial situations and abilities, and am not complaining about caliber of gift.

    For some, there are logical justifications. My mother, for example, probably gave the most to our wedding (in personal sacrifice, set up, monetary funding of the wedding, and emotionally supportive) but did not get a physical gift; I consider what she gave far more valuable than another check or registry item (and we have had a conversation about it). My aunt threw my bridal shower – perhaps she saw that as her gift? Many others traveled by plane; their gift was their presence? Still, others traveled by plane and STILL gave us cash and/or a gift. A well-off, local, fun and kind uncle attended and gave nothing. A long distance attendee informed us he was not coming 3 days prior and didn’t get a gift. The majority of those who declined did not send a gift. And yet, there is also the unspoken 12 month grace period etiquette.

    However, I STRONGLY agree with Liz’s advice. I’d NEVER bring it up directly to my guests/invitees. I’d be mortified at the lack of tact that this communication would display.

    tl/dr: some invitees just don’t get gifts; as a gifter, WTF is up with that? But I’d NEVER EVER mention it.

    • Elle

      Seriously? Wow. You are never entitled to a gift. Ever. If my family traveled via plane (think of the costs: taxi to airport, plane tickets, taxi to the hotel they’re paying for, food, transport while they are in town, I could go on) – I would NEVER expect a gift. Goodness. You don’t know anyones circumstances. You’re smart for not mentioning it, cause you would look pretty horrible.

      • Liz

        The tone of this comment is coming off as pretty harsh to me, Elle.

      • Erica

        I tried to make the point that I didn’t feel entitled, and I STRONGLY consider guests costs. Sorry that it didn’t come across clearly to you. My point was that, as a gifter, I was surprised at the range we saw in gift responses, and also, that NO gift nor note speaks loudly to me.

        • Elle

          Understood.

    • BDubs

      As a fellow lover of giving gifts, I do understand where you’re coming from.
      It’s nice to feel loved and thought of, and receiving a token is a blissful physical representation of that.
      When experiencing a major life event, it is kind of the etiquette to be sent presents, even if it’s not explicitly the “rules” of the game.
      I’m so sorry you felt snubbed.
      For people who don’t express love via cards and presents, I guess it just doesn’t occur to them.
      Weddings and even engagements tend to bring out the weird and rude in people. I don’t understand why.
      I hope you can focus on the positive and set aside the times you didn’t get the acknowledgement you expected.

    • K Robertson

      I’m not much of a gift person myself, but my husband definitely had a lot of these same feelings after our wedding, even though he knows that there was no offense meant, people have endless valid reasons for not giving a gift, etc… If you’re someone for whom gifting is important and gifts are a big communication of love it can definitely sting a bit.

    • Kayla

      “Their gift was their presence?”

      Yes, their gift was their presence. And that is a wonderful, beautiful gift. Can you really not appreciate that people traveled to your wedding to show you love and support? How sad.

      • Erica

        I’ve since edited the comment to avoid the confusion you express around the question marks. I certainly agree with you!

    • Megan

      Interesting perspective – as a non-gifter and long-time wedding participant/guest, I can say that the more involved I am in the wedding (read:in the bridal party, wedding is for my sibling, etc) the less likely I am to remember to get a gift, never mind deciding not to get a gift. At my wedding, I will expect (but not feel entitled to) a gift from people I’m further from… cousins, aunts/uncles, parents’ friends. If my friends and close family give me gifts, great! If not, their presence is much more of a gift to me than a card or check…

      (Can you tell that my love language is quality time?)

      • chrissyc

        Yes, me too! I put much more effort into gifts for weddings that I can’t attend and/or am not close to the couple, because the physical gift is the primary way I show my support. When I’m able to give in other ways (being a bridesmaid, organizing a shower, etc), the physical gift is a much lower priority. I was honestly surprised at how many people in our wedding party gave us physical gifts; I really thought that them being present for so much of the wedding planning and the wedding itself was enough. But gifts is at the bottom of my love languages and quality time / acts of service are on top, so I can see how that wouldn’t be true for everybody.

    • Violet

      I think if you were miffed over not getting gifts, it is probably fair to conclude you did, in fact, expect them from everyone. Being disappointed is an expectation unfulfilled; I think it’s kind of implicit you expected something. But I don’t know, is having expectations really so terrible? Sure, if it crosses over into entitlement territory. Entitlement is a little different, though. It’s people thinking they *deserve* something, not just that they expect something. I think you’re in the clear.

      I generally expect the electricity to work, probably because on some level, I feel this is standard for where I live. A deviation from the expectation would result in SOME kind of reaction from me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a reaction.

      Your *kind* of reaction when something unexpected happens (or fails to happen!) is where you’re in control. Realizing that just because giving gifts is your love language doesn’t mean it’s everyone’s seems to be a way of framing this to yourself that has been helping you see your way through your reaction.

      As for taking it personally (i.e., your idea that they’re sending a message by not giving a gift), you could be right, or you could be wrong. If you’re right, and fun local uncle actually hates you, or your partner, or your marriage, what’s your next move? Nothing, probably. And if you’re wrong, then you’ll have spent a lot of mental energy on someone who just, for one of the many, many logistical reasons you outlined or others you didn’t, didn’t get you a gift. That’s it. No bigger problem. In which case, it’s kind of ”Move along, nothing to see here, people,” right?

      • Erica

        So well written! Yes and yes. No other actions taken, just working through my own response.

    • Not Sarah

      It sounds like your wedding was the start of a learning experience for varying love languages and learning to respect others’ differing love languages. I personally would never expect a gift, especially from someone who did not attend. Everyone has different spending priorities, budgets, and love languages. I went to a friend’s destination bachelorette party (expensive) and bridal shower (with a present), so I got a very small present for their wedding.

      “A well-off, local, fun and kind uncle attended and gave nothing.”
      You expecting a gift from your uncle because he is well-off in your mind is you trying to set his spending priorities and that is not fair. You don’t know his situation. I take a lot of frustration with people who try to spend my money.

    • april

      I think acknowledging that your own love language style is affecting how you perceive the gifting (or not-gifting) behavior of others is half the battle. For the people who didn’t give gifts, just try to remind yourself of all the other ways they show their love for you (making an effort to spend time with you, telling you they love you, etc.) It sounds like you’re already doing this – just keep it up, and the sting should lessen with time!

    • Amy March

      Well, and I think the other wrinkle here is that the aunt and uncle weren’t even invited to the wedding, so any gift “expectation” would be even less.

    • SLG

      As a non-gifter (like really, I don’t have very deep feelings about gifts I receive, and I often get stressed out by situations where I’m expected to give gifts to others), I really appreciate you sharing how you processed all this. It’s a good reminder to me that gifts may mean more to my friends than they do to me.

      Just in case it helps to get inside someone else’s head: I give gifts for most weddings I attend but not all of them, and here’s a non-exhaustive list of why:

      – They’re my best friend/sister, and I have spent many months of their engagement helping plan/administrate the wedding, plan & execute a shower, buying bridesmaid dress & shoes & etc., and not only do I feel like I’ve (gladly!) given a huge amount already in celebration of their marriage, but I’m also kind of overwhelmed by the idea of coming up with a physical gift that (a) is special enough to somehow signify our close relationship, but (b) I can still afford

      – I coordinated their wedding as a favor, and I consider that to be my gift (I used to feel bad about this, until I found out how much DOCs charge!)

      – I did something else for them as a favor (was part of their volunteer “catering” staff, helped clean up the wedding space after the event, did all their flower arrangements, etc.)

      – At one point I wasn’t making much money at all, but got invited to 25 weddings in 2 years (believe me, I counted). I was grateful to be part of all those celebrations, but I didn’t have the money to give everyone a nice gift, and I didn’t have the time to create something handmade (it was more than one wedding a month!).

      So there are a few possible reasons, none of them having to do with my feelings about the bride and groom. I promise you your guests (most of them, anyway :-) ) care about you and were happy to be included in your wedding.

    • lauren

      I know your stance is not popular on this site, but I have to speak up and I say I agree with you. I was *shocked* that none of my bridesmaids wrote me a card. I told them I didn’t expect gifts – for the shower or the wedding – but it hurt me pretty deeply that none of them wrote me a card.

      It wasn’t my most mature or generous or measured moment, but it really, really surprised me how few of our guests gave gifts. Even though my reasonable mind knows that wedding guests aren’t required to give a gift, my emotional mind was surprised and confused. Not nearly as hurt as the whole best-friends-not-writing-a-goddamn-card instance above, of course… but, I’m sorry, it hurt my precious feelings a little bit!

      • notquitecece

        I was once maid of honor for a friend and discovered much later that I still had the unsigned, unwritten card I had bought for my friend. In the chaos of helping with everything over the week of the wedding, there had literally not been 10 minutes to sit down and write a card…and then I was so wiped I just spaced.

        So, if it makes you feel better, imagine that your friends all *meant* to give you cards, but got overly excited about the wedding and had bad follow-through on account of all the fun/helping/hangovers. :-)

        • lauren

          I totally get that, but then they… did not ever write a card? Even later on? maybe I expect too much of my friends. they also didn’t help much, but that was by design – they are all chaos muppets. I didn’t want to set expectations for them helping and be disappointed, so I just avoided that :) maybe I should have clearly said “please write me a card” but that feels quite controlling!

  • Emily

    Crap, reading this I was thinking about wedding presents…and I am pretty sure I forgot to send one from September… Luckily no one has chastised me for bad behavior yet.

  • Anon

    Depending on how rage-y the email made you I might suggest picking a friend or two to send a revenge fantasy email to. When one of my husband’s aunts sent me what was an extremely passive aggressive bitchy email (cc’d to all his family members) in response to my email asking people to please not to post our pregnancy news on facebook (after his mom had shared our news with her extended family despite us explicitly asking her not to because I wanted to have my contract for work signed before it was public news), I was LIVID! Bitching to him made him feel bad and caused fights, but to prevent myself from sending her a scathing reply (that she totally deserved) and causing a family rift, I whipped up one doozy of an email and sent it off to two friends who will never meet her and who know of the situation. It was super cathartic to have that outlet, and to have them validate that it was in fact a horrible fucking email to receive, they also gave the sage advice that the best thing I could do was simply ignore her since clearly she thrives on drama. So, while Liz’s advice is spot on, if you still need an outlet, I suggest the revenge fantasy email/letter.

    • eating words

      Ooh, revenge fantasy email! I am going to steal that idea for a sh*t-tastic situation that I’m dealing with.

      • Anon

        It was amazing (the email, the validation of having it read, and the process of writing it).

    • Natalie

      Nice idea.

      Also, WTF?! Who thinks they have a right to share medical information about another person’s body without their permission? If any of my relatives did that, they’d be cut off from all information until I shared it with the world. You betray my trust like that, and you’ll find out about your second grandkid the same day I tell the mailman.

      • Amy March

        All kinds of people share the news that someone they love is pregnant because they are so excited about the happiness and joyful impact on their own life that they just can’t hold it in a minute longer.

        You can chose to see that as a gross violation of trust about medical information and be well within your rights, but you can also see it as genuine caring expressed in a way you didn’t prefer.

        Generally, I follow the rule of “if I’m not keeping a secret I shouldn’t be expecting anyone else to.”

        • Violet

          Do you make a distinction between keeping a secret and keeping something private? I do have things that I discuss with people but I ask them to keep private, or between us. If I asked someone to keep something private and they posted it on Facebook, I would take that as a signal that I could no longer trust them with private information. A pre-12 week pregnancy might be information I’d want help or support with from my closest confidants, but I would not want it to be shared more broadly.

          Secrets, which tend to be of the more fun and juicy variety, I’m with you.

          • Amy March

            Oh, I mean I definitely try to do both for sure. I don’t think its at all unreasonable to want the info not to be shared, I just think that, while it certainly can be a horrible thing, it doesn’t need to be. And in the context of a relationship where you are going to continue to need to interact with someone, trying to understand it through a more generous lens could be useful.

          • Violet

            Gotcha, gotcha.

          • Anon

            exactly, if we had experience a miscarriage I would have wanted their support, but I would not have wanted his HUGE extended family to know about it and be talking about it.

        • chrissyc

          I think you’re right that there may not be any maliciousness intended when people preemptively share big news like a loved one being pregnant. People do get very excited and don’t always contain themselves well. But I also think that if it were me, once somebody had shown me that they couldn’t/wouldn’t keep big news confidential, that would be the last time I’d share anything with them until I was ready for the entire world to know.

          • Anon

            Yeah, I’ve already said that we’ll probably share our 2nd kid news with them (if we ever have that news) when we are ready to just tell everyone (also we aren’t going to tell his mom when I go into labor because I don’t want a million texts from his whole family, or posts on their facebook page about it). It was clearly a huge burden for her (based on the 11ty billion calls we got with, well I’m just sitting here with grandma and wanted to call). My mom and BIL and SIL on the other hand was pretty chill about it and will probably get news sooner.

        • Anon

          Yeah, I mean it came from a place of being super excited for us and I recognize that. But we also were explicit that we were telling them in confidence because my funding and health insurance was dependent on my contract being renewed, and there was precedence for them not renewing for pregnant grad students, so there was a legit reason to keep it under wraps, but we didn’t want to wait till 18 weeks to tell our parents (especially because we wanted to tell them in person, and we don’t live in the same town). I mean I guess I believe that people I love should be able to hold something in confidence when I’ve asked.

  • Amy March

    I’m curious about what other people do in terms of gifts when they aren’t invited to a wedding. I find myself drawing a kind of line where if I really like you and didn’t expect to be invited to your wedding (brand new friend, co-worker, long-time hairdresser), I often find the registry on line and send a gift. And if you’re a very close friend who is having a tiny family only wedding I’ll send a gift. But if you’re a reasonably close friend and I just didn’t make the cut, definitely not. Just wondering how other people handle it!

    • M.

      We don’t send anything to weddings we aren’t invited to. We haven’t been in this situation yet, but if a good friend eloped or had a tiny wedding, I would definitely send something.

      I had a new friend take me out to a “new friend bridal brunch” (aka just brunch) when I was engaged. Now, two+ years later, she’d be at the top of my invite list, but when we met I was already engaged and planning was in motion. I thought it was a sweet idea, to recognize that we really liked each other, but more formal expressions of that surrounding the wedding were still premature.

    • Scalliwag

      I handle it in a similar way as you do – if I want to wish you well, but had zero expectation of being invited to the wedding, I’ll pick something small (usually $25 or less) off the registry and send a gift. I did that for former co-workers who I would have contributed money to office shower for if I was still at the company, as well as a friend of my sister’s. We did get gifts from people who were not invited to the wedding, and they tended to be of the same approach (and very much appreciated), so feels very common!

      I’ve never had a reasonably close friend where I didn’t make the cut, so can’t speak to that category.

    • Not Sarah

      I would give a card if I was a close friend who didn’t make the cut, same for the rest of the cases honestly.

    • NatalieN

      We made friends with a couple weeks before their wedding and a several months out from ours. The groom was our real estate agent/distant friend now close friend, so we sent them a wedding gift even though we weren’t invited (and didn’t expect to be). But agree, for friends that we’d known longer and just weren’t invited we didn’t send a gift, frankly it just didn’t occur to me.

    • TeaforTwo

      We received a bottle of Prosecco from a friend who we couldn’t invite (we invited so, so few friends because of our huge families) and I was so touched that it’s what I’ve started doing.

      • Jess

        This is such a lovely idea.

    • Vanessa

      I don’t even give gifts at all of the weddings I attend – particularly when air travel is involved. The only time I considered giving a gift to a wedding I didn’t attend was when a friend from college eloped. But within a month time frame the couple sent a post card and 2 emails with only the following three sentences: “We just couldn’t wait! We eloped. Here is a link to our registry.” I hadn’t spoken to my college friend in a couple of years so I probably wouldn’t have sent a gift anyway, but the messages left a bad taste in my mouth.

      • KPM

        Eww, yes. “Here is a link to our registry” multiple times would definitely equal no gift from me.

    • chrissyc

      I don’t usually give gifts if I’m not an invited guest. I always thought it seemed a little pointed: “I like you enough to buy something for your wedding; why can’t you invite me??” But I think you make a good distinction between a wedding where you don’t expect an invite (a casual / new friend, a friend who’s trying to contain the guest list to a reasonable number, or an elopement) versus somebody where you could reasonably expect an invite. I like the idea of giving wine that TeaforTwo mentioned–it’s thoughtful but doesn’t seem like a “statement.” (It doesn’t hurt that wine is my favorite present to receive.)

    • NotMarried!

      I’ve only once given a gift related to a wedding to which I wasn’t invited. It was my best-friends and was tiny, rushed, and private. She found out she was pregnant, so instead of planning the crazy-catholic wedding we’d been discussing for years, her and her then-boyfriend just got married.

      Generally speaking – If i’m not invited, I don’t send a gift.

      • Not Sarah

        Psst you have a gravatar photo here, so you’re not really anon :)

        • NotMarried!

          Thanks :)

          No worries, the wedding wasn’t secret and followed by a “short pregnancy” – it just happened within a couple of weeks and didn’t really allow for out of town travel etc which would have been necessary for me to make it.

    • Aubry

      Obviously this will vary by relationship, but generally if I’m not invited to your wedding you’re not getting a gift. Probably a card, but not a gift. Granted I’m still young and poor, and have no beloved nieces or extra hundred’s laying around so this might change in the future.

    • jubeee

      If I am not invited to your wedding, you won’t be getting a gift. Certainly no one gave me gifts who weren’t invited to my wedding, which is totally fine because I would never expect it.

  • NatalieN

    Re wedding gifts on a tight budget: I’ve figured out a skill in the past year or so, making wood objects like blanket ladders and trays, the start up cost was high but I was able to sell some last year to cover it. Now whenever we go to a wedding or party I make them a handmade breakfast tray. The cost isn’t high, but it does a decent amount of time and skill. But with 4 weddings last year and at least 2 already next year, bring on the homemade gifts!

    • JDrives

      Could I…get married again…and invite you…and insist that you give me this as a gift? This is gorgeous.

      Alternatively, if you could direct me to your Etsy store, that might be wayyyy less weird.

      • NatalieN

        Haha! I sold on etsy for a while, but then I had a mishap with having to ship a very heavy, very large ladder and lost any profit I made on it. After that I said I’d only sell locally – but email me at nrnaumu@gmail.com and we can talk -a friend mailed some of my trays to her family for Christmas said it wasn’t too expensive at all.

    • These are lovely! What a great gift!

  • KPM

    Ah, I feel for the niece! Since the letter seems like she wasn’t involved in the demand for a gift, she probably just had her mom ask “what did Aunt XYZ give you?” and answered “umm… I don’t think anything…” and may not even be aware of all the shenanigans. I know on my in-laws side there was careful matching of the gifts given to my husband and me in relation to the ones given a year ago to his cousins, but we did our best to stay out of that.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    Love Liz’s answer. Also: Grown folks are never obligated to explain their finances to anyone. Grown folks make their own money and pay their own bills. I second the notion to send whatever you feel like you are able to send, even if it’s just a congratulations card.

  • Anona

    I would be so tempted to respond, “No, I didn’t forget to give a gift. Did you forget your manners?” But Liz’s advice is good, too. :)

  • Karen

    If I had no money, I would go buy a very small item from TJ Maxx or something, like something for the house, rather than giving cash/a check… someone from my husband’s family gave us $5 and that was just awkward I thought!

  • Bethany

    I’m so confused why the MOB knows who has or has not given a gift! Is this a normal thing — parents monitoring the gift list? My parents know who gave us a few things (“oh, that’s gorgeous!” “Thanks — it was a gift from Ed and Jane. We really love it”) but I can’t imagine letting them know who didn’t give us a gift. Maybe I’m from an odd family?

    Then again, my husband’s parents have been hinting that we’re rude for not having sent out thank you notes. Yes, we’re later than I’d like (we got married Sept 5) but everyone at the wedding knew I had just started chemo and (we assumed) knew that we might be on the later end of actually writing good thank you notes (we really want to handwrite them rather than just do the generic pre-printed “Thank you for coming to our wedding. We love your gift!” that we got after one wedding two years ago that had no names or identifying characteristics other than on the envelope.

  • eas56

    I think Liz’s advice is spot on. I would only add that this situation has the phrase “family politics” ringing in my ears. It’s definitely petty, but might not be as simple as it sounds. This situation is all too familiar to me – at my wedding as the bride.

    My grand-parents (and therefore parents) were raised with depression-era economizing, and so taught me that any gift was to be appreciated, and used to best advantage. So I tend to view any gift as a gesture of good-will, no matter what it is.

    This is in VERY sharp contrast to my husband’s family. My in-laws insisted that we deal with all the cheques we collected after the wedding. So, we dutifully opened all the cards, and recorded all the cheques (some in CDN$, some in US$). Much to my surprise, there were significant looks between my in-laws, obviously comparing the amount certain relatives had given us to the amounts my in-laws had previously given to their children. More blatantly, my husband’s grandmother insisted we open her brother’s present to ensure that what he had given was comperable to the generous gift she had given to his grandchildren at their weddings. None of this had anything to do with me as the bride, but with “respect” and “ranking” within the family hierarchy.

    I am not saying this is right, or that you should conform to it in any way, but this might have more to do with politics than stress.

  • Agnes

    Seriously, how could anyone REQUEST a gift? In this particular situation it’s totally okay to send just a card, or a small and/or hand-made gift. If I ever get married I’ll have a very small reception, or even no reception at all and the thought of demanding gifts has never crossed my mind. Someone who wasn’t there to see the actual ceremony taking place absolutely does not have to spend a dime on gifts.

  • Katie D

    My husband and I just had our wedding in December. We clearly stated on our wedding website that attending or being part of our wedding was their gift to us. We opted not to register, but did set up a Honeyfund (which I do NOT recommend, most guests that attempted to use it ran into a lot of issues) for those that really wanted to give us a gift. I was floored by how many people gave us very generous monetary gifts. Shocked really. I appreciate every single one, but I don’t believe they should be a requirement. Liz was spot on and provided I think the perfect response. I suspect the bride and groom would be embarrassed to know one of their mothers made this kind of rude gesture.