What’s the Etiquette on Confronting a No-Gift Bridesmaid?

AAPW: The case of the missing wedding present

Q: Since returning home from our wedding and honeymoon, my husband and I have been reliving our wedding day high from writing personal thank you notes to our guests. One issue has been killing my high… one of our guests did not give us a wedding card or gift. It wouldn’t bother me so much except that she is my best friend from growing up, a bridesmaid in our small wedding party, and she brought her boyfriend to our wedding. Maybe she thought that she didn’t have to give us a wedding gift because she was a bridesmaid?

I know I should confront her but I don’t know where to begin. Even a majority of friends who could not make the wedding sent us a congratulatory note and/or gift. If she were in dire financial circumstances, I would totally understand but she just returned from a European vacation. I don’t want to impose any societal etiquette on her. Maybe I just need to adjust my own expectations?


A: Dear Newlywed,

Yeah, it is really likely that she assumed she didn’t have to bring a gift since she was a bridesmaid. That’s a common thought from what I’ve seen, and not off-base when you consider that your wedding party has invested quite a bit (whether money or time or emotional energy) into your wedding day otherwise. You mention not wanting to impose old-fashioned etiquette on her, but even when I crack the spine on my old books, the renowned names in wedding etiquette say to give your bridal party a pass on gifts.

Even if she wasn’t specifically thinking that way, there could be any number of reasons she didn’t bring a gift. And trying to ascertain her financial state from the outside-in isn’t a great idea. Trips to Europe or no, she could be broke. Or not broke, and a wedding gift just didn’t factor into whatever financial decisions she was making this month. Or maybe she forgot. Or maybe she really sucks at gifts. There could be any number of reasons that your friend didn’t give you something.

But zero of those are reason to approach her about it. And it makes me really nervous that you use that word “confront.” People choose not to bring gifts to weddings for all sorts of reasons, and addressing her about that choice won’t do much more than make for an awkward situation. Besides, there are very very very few times when it’s a good idea to ask someone why they haven’t given you a gift (and most of those times, we’re talking strictly about your partner). That’s just not how gifts work.

I get it. It can sting when it feels like very close friends don’t make you a priority. But it sounds like this particular friend is wonderful to you in other ways—otherwise, why would you have chosen her as a bridesmaid? At the worst, gift-giving may be an unfortunate blindspot for her. That’s easier to forgive than confront.

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