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

AAPW: The case of the missing wedding present

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

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.

If you would like to ask APW a question please don’t be shy! You can email: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also 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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  • ColoradAHn

    As a bridesmaid for a couple of (expensive, out-of-town, many-event) weddings, I felt very, very tempted to not give an actual gift because I felt like all the time and money to have my presence there for the bride was a much more meaningful gift. Way more than the new popcorn-maker that was on her registry. Plus, each event required a gift: engagement, shower, bachelorette. I mean, my gosh, how many gifts can a person keep in their house?!

    Also, my love language isn’t gift-giving. I tend to think it’s tacky and it makes it look like you’re using money to show your love. I know that’s not how other people think, so I do give gifts freely and often. Perhaps consider what your friend’s love language is and that may very well be why she did not give a gift: her best gift was her quality time during your wedding. Also, do you really think that if she gave you a gift tomorrow, you’d be completely and totally happy? I don’t think so. So I would focus on the bigger picture here. In the grand scheme of things, you’ve got many wonderful, intangible gifts: you just got married! You had a beautiful wedding! Your best friends were there for you! Those are really the biggest things that would make YOU happy in the long run.

    • Noelle Bakken

      Same!! Gift giving is at the very bottom of the pile for me as far as love languages go, so I have to remind myself (often) that not everyone has the same feelings as I do about gifts. I’m also the kind of person that tries to keep my possessions to a minimum, so that also plays strongly into my feelings about gifts.

      Learning about the different love languages was actually a big eye-opener for me when I learned some people prefer different ways of expressing affection and care (who knew? ;)).

      • Cassidy

        Me too!!! I am pretty bad at gifts and cards, but I’m the person that will participate in 50 craft weekends to get your decorations made, or coordinate your birthday dinner with 20 of your closest friends. I’m an acts of service person. I’m still not great at the gift things – I will very likely be signing the card and writing out the check in the care outside the reception – but I try! Not saying it’s the case here, but if I heard that a friend that I had thrown a shower, organized their bachelorette, helped with DIY projects etc. was upset that I didn’t put a card in the box, that would stink. Because, in my book, I put a lot of effort into showing I cared!!

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  • Lawyerette510

    No one, I repeat no one, who is this invited to your wedding is obligated to give you a gift. If they were required to do it then it wouldn’t be a gift, it would be a fee.

    Why is one person who was your bridesmaid and (probably) supported you in many other ways and perhaps even with other gifts at other functions such as showers something that kills the high of the experience of getting married. A gift is a gesture that communicates support, she gave you the gift of devoting resources to being your bridesmaid, why do you also need a tangible object to go with it?

    • Violet

      “If they were required to do it then it wouldn’t be a gift, it would be a fee.” Dingdingding, we have a winner!!!

    • Eenie

      I’d rather have someone attend my wedding than get me a gift. How would the LW feel if when asked to be a bridesmaid she said: “Well if I do that I can’t afford to get you a gift, so no I won’t be your bridesmaid.”

      • Lawyerette510

        Yep. I was so pumped for the folks who attended our wedding, the escort cards were actually personalized notes thanking each person or couple for their presence and saying what it meant to have them there. But that said, I express love by gestures and communication.

      • LisaG

        Yes! We had one person RSVP “no” to our wedding even though she lived in the same city and was not out of town that weekend. She later told other friends that should couldn’t come because of “financial reasons” which I assume means she couldn’t afford a gift. I wish she hadn’t felt that way but I didn’t know until after the fact.

    • Katie

      OMG, thank you. This letter instantly rubbed me the wrong way. No one is actually required to give you a gift EVER. The underlying tone of entitlement that the LW uses here is so off putting, I. can’t. even.

      And Liz, I totally agree with your overall answer (per usual!) except I really don’t like this: “It can sting when it feels like very close friends don’t make you a priority.” Being a bridesmaid and a best friend to a bride (who may, or may not, have been very demanding and entitled during wedding planning) is HUGE and performing the role with grace and kindness is more proof of a friend’s priorities than a set of china ever could be.

      • Liz

        I think it’s important to leave room to have ~feelings~ about not getting a gift. Because even KNOWING, logically, that someone isn’t required to give me a gift doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes hurt if they just…. didn’t want to.

        • A

          I think the issue is more that the LW *doesn’t* seem to know and, in fact, seemed to feel like she was entitled to the gift that made people’s hackles go up so hard. If she had said that she feels sad or disappointed or even a little angry, but knows it’s irrational, I imagine the response would be very different.

          (It’s possible that she wrote this without perfectly selecting her words or in “vent” mode though.)

        • emmers

          Truth! There were some folks who didn’t get us gifts where I was a little hurt/surprised. I didn’t make a big deal of it, for all the reasons folks are saying, but I felt it sometimes!

          • Totally agree. We definitely had a couple people who didn’t get us gifts or even a card and I was a little shocked/hurt by it too. Especially some people where I had gone all out on their gift for their wedding in the past because of what our relationship meant to me. I’m not even a gifts as love language kind of person, but when you’re my bff and you’re getting married I want to celebrate that and give you something awesome that you’ll use forever and think of me.
            So like yeah, I can see the feelings-bomb associated with it not about the gift itself but about the implications to the relationship. But you have to realize that gifts are not required and that its never ok to say something about it. The issue here is a feelings issue, not a breach of etiquette.
            I would try to frame it like being in a wedding party is expensive and time consuming and a big deal and she probably considered that her gift. She was there to share the day with you, and her lack of bringing a gift is not as big a commentary on the relationship as her agreeing to stand in your wedding.

          • This is why I didn’t confront my friend about lack of gift or card because, yeah, I can’t see it ending well and it’s so much more about your friendship and its current status than etiquette.
            It costs so much money to be in a wedding and if a friend is supportive, no matter what, then that’s honestly worth so much more…

        • Yancey105


      • Lauren from NH

        Though I agree with Lawyerette and others that gift giving is never an obligation, I feel compelled to offer a little redemption for the LW who is maybe a gift oriented person who was especially looking forward to receiving this gesture from her close friends and family. That said, I also find the tone and wording off putting.

        • GBee

          I understand that some people are gift oriented and see gifts as a way to express love. However, I don’t think it has to be a tangible item to be considered a gift.

          The bachelorette party and bridal shower I planned was a gift. Cooking the food for the rehearsal dinner was a gift. Helping with decor and planning was a gift. IMO these gifts were a lot more thoughtful than grabbing something off of the registry.

          ETA: I shouldn’t say buying something off the registry is less thoughtful. I suppose if I had children or a crazy busy career, I wouldn’t be able to lend my time the way that I have.

          • Lawyerette510

            I’m with you in viewing time and effort as gifts, but for people who are really gift oriented it generally manifests as tangible objects being what they respond to and what registers with them. My dad and sister are both this way, for instance I was the moh for my sister, planned a huge (30 women invited, 25 attended, fronted the money on all the hotel rooms and many of the meals, collected money owed, and begged that we not be thrown out of the hotel because my sister and two of her friends were streaking) bachelorette weekend for her that was totally not my style but suited her to a t, ran around like a maniac the day before the wedding getting last minute things for her, was verbally abused by the groom’s dad and all kinds of other things. Also, I got them a cookbook. I saw my main gift as all the effort I put into it, but got her the cookbook also because I know she’s gift oriented. Sure enough, she wrote me a thank you note for the cookbook but not for anything else.

          • While I agree those are gifts, they also can be seen as a completely different love language — acts of service or quality time. I agree with the overall point, just saying from a love language POV, I can see why the gift-oriented person would feel those are a separate thing.

        • Lawyerette510

          Absolutely if her love language is gifts then she’ll have feelings about not receiving one from a bridesmaid because she’ll feel less loved, and I think there are great conversations to be had (and that have been had here on apw) about how to navigate feeling disappointed in a loved one’s actions around your wedding.

      • MABie

        I WAS THIS BRIDESMAID!!!!!! I was a BM in my very best friend’s wedding a couple of years ago. She was an extremely difficult bride, and I talked to her for hours (hours) every. single. day. about her wedding for a year and a half.

        My fiancee and I were COMPLETELY broke at the time. We were both living on one person’s student loans. It cost us $2500 for me to be in/attend her (extremely extravagant) wedding…out of the $7500 that we had to live on for SIX months. I did not get her a gift. I do not feel bad about it. We could barely afford to eat.

        If she ever “confronted” me about not giving her a gift, I would be devastated. A part of me wants the LW to confront her friend about this; I would definitely want to know if my best friend, for whom I had been a faithful and dedicated BM and on whom I had spent several thousand dollars, was writing to major wedding websites about me not getting her a gift.

        • Yancey105

          My daughter was completely broke at the time she was a bridesmaid too. I had to lend her some of the money because she did not want to be the one who didn’t contribute. And I think that’s were my anger, yes anger, that when it was time for my daughters wedding her bridesmaid gave her less than half of what she received. The bride knew of my daughter’s hardships and the financial burden of a $350 gift, so it was double the insult.

    • Mrrpaderp

      To be fair, LW did say “wedding card or gift.” I interpreted card as just a card, no cash/gc included. LW does say “wedding gift” elsewhere, but maybe she considers a card-sans-cash a gift. Personally, I don’t care so much about gifts of stuff or cash, but I would be pretty hurt if a close friend couldn’t be bothered to send me a card to wish me well. I agree, though, that “confronting” someone about a lack of gift is in poor taste.

      Also, technically folks have a year after your wedding to get you a gift/card. If BM is planning to send something within a year, and you (rudely) confront her about not getting you anything, you can be assured that you gift either will never come or will be much more conservative than it might otherwise have been.

      • Meg Keene

        For the record, we had LOTS of friends come to our wedding and not give us a card or a gift. I don’t know how many, because I never checked the gift list against the invite list, because… I couldn’t see any reason to. But there were lots, and it never crossed my mind to not be fine with that. Coming to the wedding WAS the wishing me well! (Which isn’t to say other people might not have feelings about it, and feeling your feelings is always an ok thing, but it really happens and it doesn’t mean much.)

        We were the first of our crowd to get hitched (after the people who got married around 19). Our friends were pretty broke. A lot of them traveled to come, or helped out, and I kinda figured that was the gift.

        THOUGH, I’ll tell you. The people who gave us a heartfelt card, and couldn’t afford a gift, or the people that bought us the $5 measuring spoons because that’s all they could afford… those are the gifts I’ll remember forever. (And cards I kept.)

        • “But there were lots, and it never crossed my mind to not be fine with that. Coming to the wedding WAS the wishing me well!” RIGHT. That’s exactly how I feel about our wedding. I was a little shocked when bridesmaids also gave us really nice gifts because it seemed like too much.

          The most materialistic person I know

        • LisaG

          We had a spread sheet to track guest info (RSVPs, table assignments, contact info, etc.) and we also had a column for gifts/cards so we could keep everything straight for writing thank yous. So that had the unintended consequence of easily being able to see who hadn’t sent anything. Honestly, I didn’t care if people only sent a card but not a gift or money. But a few key people (like one of my aunts who couldn’t attend) didn’t even send a card. Having such a close family member completely fail to acknowledge our wedding was quite hurtful.

        • Larkin

          Exactly! I don’t even remember for the most part who got us gifts/cards and who didn’t, but I do remember who came and who didn’t. To be fair, I’m also totally not a gift/card person, so those things (both giving and receiving) don’t really mean a whole lot to me.

      • ML

        I feel like showing up in person (and especially being in the bridal party!) negates the need for a card to say “Congratulations!”, unless the card is used as a way to deliver the gift (cash or gift card). I just don’t see the point, especially since the majority of cards I received didn’t contain long, heartfelt notes. If a person came up to me and hugged me at my wedding, I remember that 100x better than a card. That’s just me.

        • laddibugg

          less cards received means less for me to throw out.

        • I get your point about cards that are just signed, but as a “words of affirmation” love languages person, I just LOVE cards/notes/letters/emails with personal, kind messages. I save them all. And re-read particularly encouraging things when I’m feeling down.

      • Jennifer Dziura

        What’s the point of a card when you were at the wedding and all seventeen events before the wedding? You were there! IRL!

    • joanna b.n.

      Any chance there’s a backwards reaction of thinking that maybe by the time the wedding rolled around the bridesmaid was fed up with all that was asked of them, and that’s what the lack of gift/card symbolizes? Which, true, it shouldn’t/probably doesn’t, but maybe this is really where the ick feeling is coming from…

    • Essie

      i completely agree with this. and when you think about how much it costs to be someone’s bridesmaid (dress, shoes, hair, makeup, whatever hens nonsense you get up to, etc, etc), and how much of her time and love a bridesmaid gives to be there for her friend on her wedding day, the idea of expecting a gift on top is pretty gross, imo.

    • duhhh

      THANK YOU! Jesus, you would think it’d be an honor just to have close enough friends to be your bridesmaids and have them share what is supposed to be one of the most special days of your life. What an ungrateful itch.

    • Seriously. I had one bridesmaid, and I got a really nice gift for HER after all that she did for me. The whole tradition of wedding gifts needs to be scaled back, anyway. They were important in the past because marriage was so closely tied to starting out adulthood, especially for women. You really needed the home furnishings back then. Now there is no clear link, what with so many getting married as self-sufficient adults, and women finally having the option to live independently before marriage.

      Yeah, some people’s weddings time out such that they need the gifts the way young couples used to always need them. But if all the money that now gets dumped into wedding gifts went instead to 18th or 21st birthdays or graduations or whatever, everyone could enjoy that generosity during the stage of life that wedding gifts were meant to support — when you’re starting out with nothing, swimming in debt, working a bottom-rung job, and drinking wine out of plastic soda cups from the gas station.

      • Riot

        That’s such a good idea about 18ths and 21sts, Erin.

  • Rosie

    Last year one of my best friends dropped the ball on my birthday and wedding anniversary – I was a bit upset but shrugged it off because she’s a great friend in every other way. She later apologised to me and told me that she’d been having a hard time that year, and it made me extremely grateful I hadn’t got in a huff about it. Even with very good friends you don’t necessarily know the whole story.

    • Amy March

      Wait what? I was unaware as a friend there is even a ball to drop on someone else’s wedding anniversary. To me that’s for you and your spouse to celebrate.

      • Eenie

        The difference here may be best friend vs. friend. I would totally send a note or small gift to a handful of people on their wedding anniversary. It could also be about how their relationship works (they give gifts for every little holiday).

      • Amber

        Uh, yeah. I don’t really acknowledge anyone else’s anniversaries, family, friends, whatever. Not even on Facebook.

      • MABie

        I always acknowledge my best friend’s anniversary with a card or small gift, but I would be so weirded out if I found out that she — or anyone else — expected it. I do it primarily because her first years of marriage have been extremely difficult for her, and I like to recognize her commitment to her relationship in the face of some very challenging issues.

        In my family, we don’t even celebrate my parents’ anniversary with them. They do their thing. It is considered their anniversary, not ours; a private event, not a family event.

      • ML

        Exactly! I routinely forget my sister’s anniversary until after the fact, and I really don’t have friends’ anniversaries logged in my memory or my calendar… Even for my best of friends when I remember, it’s just a text or email. Never a card or gift!

      • TeaforTwo

        Agreed. Frankly, I don’t even want to talk to anyone else on our anniversary: I think Meg has written here about how anniversaries feel like a secret holiday for just the two of you, and that sums it up perfectly.

        It may sound crazy, but our anniversary feels really personal: we’re the only two who really know how the year has gone, how it’s been good and how it’s been bad, and what it is we’re celebrating. Having anyone else get too involved in that would feel like having someone join us for our honeymoon.

  • scw

    I agree with liz on this one, especially about the use of the word “confront.”

    if I were the LW I’d ask myself whether it is really the lack of gift that is upsetting me or something else about how the friend acted as a bridesmaid (maybe she wasn’t available enough during the planning process, maybe you don’t like her boyfriend and wish she didn’t bring him to the wedding, &c). I’m not sure I’d talk to the friend about my disappointment in either of these situations, but I could see where wanting to confront the friend comes from if the gift is standing in for other disappointments. if it really just is the gift, though, maybe try to let it go.

  • Alice

    I completely agree with Liz’s assessment here. People aren’t required to give gifts, and the fact that this bridesmaid didn’t give one doesn’t make her any less of a friend. However, I do think it’s worth acknowledging that, for me, at least, a card, even without a gift, can make a big difference and be a thoughtful gesture. I’m a full-time vet student right now, and totally broke, so wedding/birthday/baby gifts can get a bit challenging. But, I will always always send a thoughtful card. Which is all to say that, while the letter writer has no business expecting a gift, I do get why she would be hurt that she didn’t get a card with something nice written to acknowledge this milestone in her life. That said, some people just suck at cards, but are still extremely loveable in other ways.

    • Greta

      I suck at cards!

      • Another Meg

        I read this before Alice’s comment and immediately assumed Alice talked about playing poker.

        Oh man, afternoon nap time.

  • anon

    Also, depending on how long ago the wedding was, it’s possible she’s ordering/mailing you a gift and you just haven’t gotten it yet.

    If that’s the case, you should STILL not bring it up. I was in that exact situation with my best friend. I hadn’t gotten anything from her after the wedding, but assumed she had sent something off-registry because she is the kind of person who wants to pick something nice and specific for people herself. But, I was really worried about it because I have had several packages get lost in the mail (I had to track down other packages that were sent from my registry) and I thought if she sent something, it could be lost. I had also been talking to her about packages getting lost, so I thought she would understand my worry. And I was totally like, “She’s my best friend, we can talk about this” and maybe if I had focused only on being worried about the mail, it would have, but I also added “It’s not a big deal if you didn’t get me anything, I don’t want to assume you did” and that made her REALLY upset. Like the top two most upset I ever made her. And the package DID eventually come (two weeks after it was supposed to get here, because like I said, my mail is messed up). I should have waited for her to say, “Hey, did you ever get my gift?”

    And getting back to the LW, if you do just wait and see what happens, I bet you’ll get to a place where you don’t care anymore. I had people promise me gifts that never came through, and I ended up forgetting about it (until letters like these make me remember haha!)

  • Laura C

    To me it was less the word “confront’ than the “I know I should” in front of it. I mean, obviously the LW doesn’t know that or they wouldn’t be writing a letter asking about it, but still, that’s a distressing view to me.

    For the record, there were definitely members of our wedding party who didn’t give us gifts, and I have very intentionally not kept track of that. (I mean, I have a list of every gift we got so I could figure it out, but it’s not information I walk around with in my head.) Because it doesn’t matter! They were there, and they were there physically not just for the wedding but for pre-parties and emotionally through the whole process, and it wasn’t an insignificant amount of money for many of them to be there.

    • scw

      I purposely did not use the “gift” section of the APW spreadsheet and just kept a list of thank yous to write in a word document, because I don’t need to know if someone didn’t get us a gift. a friend just recently mentioned that he hadn’t gotten us something and I’d had no idea. plus, most people traveled for the wedding so that was plenty gift for me!

  • Eenie

    Like other people have said, there’s a chance it got lost. Write a thank you note to her for the time and energy and other monies she spent helping you celebrate and leave it at that. If she did send something and you don’t mention it in the note, she’ll bring it up This really isn’t worth the headache. Let it go for the sake of the friendship.

    • Lisa

      This this this. I went to a wedding last year and never received a thank you note for the gift I brought. Instead of assuming my friend is a horrible monster who doesn’t thank people, I chose to believe that the card got detached from the gift, and she had no way to know who brought her the lasagna carrier and bottle of wine.

      And we wrote notes to people who gave us gifts in other ways, too. Some of our friends played or sang at our ceremony, and they got thank you notes for their time and presence. That was more than enough for us!

      • emmers

        Truth! When we got married, someone gave us a small gift that they didn’t wrap, that actually never made it to us. I can even see it in the photos of the gift table, but we never got it! You never know what is happening, so the benefit of the doubt is always great.

      • Eenie

        This is my worst fear and I always put a note inside the wrapping paper/attached to the gift. Not that I need a thank you or want them to know it’s from me, but if I got a gift without a card or name I would feel really bad about not knowing who to thank!

      • Allison

        We had a couple of gifts with no card. We asked around, put up a “who brought us the lovely X” post on Facebook, and nothing. We did send out thank you notes to everyone who came – gift or not – but I still feel pretty bad about not thanking specific people for their gifts. I hope they took the same approach you did.

        • Ashlah

          We got an unsigned card with cash in it. We also tried to track down the giver, but had no luck. I make myself feel better by assuming they went anonymous on purpose…for some reason.

        • Lisa

          Unfortunately, no. However, my friend’s husband has been battling some big demons that led him to divorce her after less than a year of marriage, which has completely torn her up. Since I don’t know how long exactly it’s been going on, I find it much easier to accept the lack of effort on their parts.

    • Glen

      Yes, this! We received a set of lovely Riedel wineglasses from someone, but the store didn’t include a note and wasn’t able to tell us who sent it (I can’t remember whether they didn’t have a record or if it was against policy or what). There were a number of no-gift guests, and I really didn’t want to ask and accidently make someone feel bad or come off as gift-grabby. And no one came forward and said, “hey, did you get those glasses?” I still feel horrible that we couldn’t thank whoever it was properly.

  • Excellent answer. And I’m glad you highlighted this bride’s use of the word “confront”. Bringing up this matter is just wrong. A confrontation would be beyond wrong. No guest is obligated to provide a gift, so best this bride let the matter drop and focus on the friendship.

  • Meg

    Yeah being a bridesmaid can be expensive, especially if you have to travel for the wedding I wouldn’t worry about it.

    I had one friend who forgot to give us a gift (which we didn’t mind at all or even notice) and then sent us one at our 1 year anniversary. It was so sweet :)

  • A

    I’m also seeing that she was a bridesmaid in a wedding *and* went on a big Europe trip in a short period of time. Unless she’s fabulously wealthy*, that would take a lot of savings and ultimately a toll on most people’s finances. There’s nothing wrong with her prioritizing both your wedding *and* her vacation. She still prioritized you! She loves you! She’s just not showing it in ALL the ways you might have preferred.

    *Even if this is true, which is doesn’t seem to be, it still wouldn’t obligate her to get you a gift

  • Amy

    One of my bridesmaids (who is also now my sister in law, and happens to be one of my bffs) did not give us a wedding gift — and it was strange, because she’s such an awesome, thoughtful lady. I’m not going to lie — It bugged me a little, but I wrote it off, because it wasn’t worth the effort/drama. Fast forward to three months later, when we’re discussing her sister’s wedding (for which we were both bridesmaids) when I mention getting the bride and groom a wedding gift. “Wait, what?” she asked. Turns out that she genuinely did not realize that gifts for both the bridal shower and the wedding are customary– she thought that the shower gift (and, as a bridesmaid, the gift of the shower itself) covered any gift-giving “obligation”.

    I’m not saying this is the case in LW’s situation, but we can’t expect everyone to know all of the etiquette guidelines, or be able to adhere to them all the time. Hanlon’s razor says “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Stupidity is a strong word here, but you can insert anything else, and the sentiment is the same.

    • Amy March

      It does! Buying a shower gift and throwing you a shower is enough! Why would not getting another gift from someone who has done so much even bug you?

      • Yep. This 1000%!

      • LisaG

        Totally. I had a sort of combined bachelorette/shower and I was genuinely surprised that some of the ladies gave me a gift at the shower and another one at the wedding the next day. It was very sweet of them but I totally did not expect it. Just attending the bachelorette/shower was enough of a gift!

      • NatalieN

        Yup!! My little sister who was a bridesmaid was like “So, I can afford to get you a shower gift or a wedding gift, which do you want?” I told her she didn’t have to get either, but shower would probably be more fun because then I get to open it in front of her.

        • Amy

          This is the best of all possible ways that the situation could play out, in my opinion.

        • Lisa

          This is what I did for my sister. My husband and I wanted to get her and her fiancé something that we really felt would stick around forever and decided to invest in getting them their knife block, which ate up the the whole budget for wedding presents for her. I honestly don’t think she cared that she only got one present!

    • Lisa

      Exactly. Especially for those of us on the front end of friends and family getting married, it takes a while for us to navigate, learn, and ingrain all of the etiquette surrounding weddings.

    • Larkin

      This is why I think bridal showers are weird. I don’t understand having a separate gift-giving event followed by a big party where there is an expectation of a second gift. I’ve always assumed that if I gave a gift for the shower, then that covers my gift obligation. Why on earth would you need to buy two gifts???

      • laddibugg

        I kinda thought the shower gift would be something simple and cheap like………a rolling pin, and the more extravagant gift was saved for the wedding. If you’re inclinded to buy two that is.

        In some circles people buy the bride lingerie for her wedding night, but c’mon, most of us have a drawer already if that’s our thing ;-)

    • BR

      It’s still tough for me to buy into the idea that buying someone a gift for the shower and the wedding is ‘etiquette.’ Would you be upset if someone who lived nearby declined attending the shower? What if you found out it was because you expect two gifts out of them and they could only handle one?

    • Corinne Keel

      A shower gift is a wedding gift, an engagement party gift is a wedding gift. i would never expect two or more gifts just because I had more parties leading up to an event.

    • darnray

      To be fair, there is no obligation to get a gift in any circumstance, And it is customary for bridesmaid to be let off the hook of gift giving because they are doing so much anyway. So, your SIL wasn’t wrong in her assumption.

    • merryswan

      Did you get her a gift, to thank her for being your bridesmaid?

      • Amy

        Yes, I did. Two for each of my bridesmaids, if it matters — one after my shower, and one the night before the wedding.

  • Amy March

    Wow. Just wow. No you should not confront her. No she doesn’t owe you a gift. No, bringing her boyfriend does not increase her gift giving “obligation.”

    If this letter were about feeling unappreciated, and no gift was a part of that. But it isn’t. It’s about wanting even more from someone, and it’s just wrong.

    • Not Sarah

      Yes to her bringing her boyfriend doesn’t increase her gift giving “obligation”. The arrangement my boyfriend and I have around wedding gifts is that the person whose friend it is writes the check, puts both of our names in the memo, and we both sign the card. So if the bride/groom are my friends and not his, the check is from me and no $ contribution from him and vice versa. If we’re both friends with the bride/groom, then we write one check with an amount contributed by both of us.

      • Eenie

        We do the same! He likes giving money and I like picking random things off the registry (kitchen spoons and spatulas, measuring cups, etc.).

  • Amber

    Ummmmm I’m pretty sure it common practice to send/receive gifts up to a year after the wedding. I attended a wedding in June and just sent the gift at the beginning of August. Also it could be a non traditional gift, like Try the World subscription, which isn’t a conducive to wedding day gift tables.

    As many have said, being a member of a bridal party is expensive but, most importantly, gifting is not a requirement of any guest.

    • Anonymous

      I’d like to second this post. Old-school etiquette gives you up to a year and on more than one occasion, I’ve fully taken advantage of that timeline. As a member of a wedding party, there are plenty of last minute items to attend to (last minute alterations, buying “compliant” shoes and nail polish, finalizing travel plans, keeping the mother-in-law and other bridesmaids in line), in addition to any priorities you may have in your own life. Often, I just didn’t have time prior to the wedding to purchase the thoughtful gift I wanted to buy for my friend – even if I already knew what I wanted to get him or her. Therefore, I often would buy the gift after I returned from the wedding and tried to piece back together all of the tasks I had been neglecting in my own life.

  • A

    And not to pile on more (really!), but not sure what the bridesmaid bringing her boyfriend has to do with a gifting obligation? I guess the LW believes in the “pay for your (and your +1’s) plate” concept? That idea is squicky to me.

    But on a different level, I do get it, having someone you don’t know well at a wedding costs money. Our best man brought his wholly unpleasant girlfriend to our wedding where she ended up making a scene because he dared to (platonically, obviously) slow dance with my husband’s sister, who he’s known since childhood. And then he man broke up with her a month after the wedding because, again, she’s wholly unpleasant.

    Is it my favorite thing in the world that we paid for her plate and her presence? Not really, especially with how transient she ultimately was in our lives. But at the end of the day, we offered our best man a plus one because we love him and he was starting to maybe get serious about her and it was among the least we could do with all he’d done for us with the wedding and beyond. Even if the situation wasn’t this bad (most +1s are pretty uneventful), hopefully the LW can view his presence as a joy to her friend and not a giant “$” when she thinks of him.

    • A

      (Originally wrote “our best man broke up with her” and forgot to delete the word “man” when changed to a pronoun. Wasn’t saying that he broke up with her, LIKE A MAN or anything. :p)

      • Sara

        He man facilitated their break up?! :)

        • scw

          HE MAN. I am howling.

    • ML

      Even though I know a gift should not be seen as a fee for attending, I will admit that I still hold a small grudge against my husband’s friend who RSVPed for a +1, but then did not bring her, and did not get a card or gift. I know the two should not be related, but I just lumped it into a big ball of “thoughtlessness” and it has tainted my view of him (I didn’t know him well at all before). I don’t know if my feelings are justified at all, but I tell myself it’s okay because I would never dream of confronting this guy or telling other people about his “transgression.” My husband is the only person who knows I feel this way.

      • Boomz4

        RSVPing incorrectly and fucking up yo numbers is definitely something you are justified at being upset over. BUT, like most stuff, not worth the stress to dwell on it. Sometimes people are thoughtless – shrug it off and remember it next time you have to decide how much time, money or effort to put into something of theirs.

  • Sara

    I will say, if you thought that she HAD given you a gift or a card with just a congratulations message (as I did when I was broke) but it wasn’t anywhere to be found – that might be the time that you reach out and possibly ask if something was missing. But other than that, no. Write a thank you note thanking her for her presence. Do not make people feel bad for spending their day with you but not getting something tangible.
    I will say, one of my friends did do that, and it turned out the couple had sent a check. So when they got the thank you note, they called the couple very confused. It must have gotten lost somewhere.

  • Amber

    Kind of disturbing for someone to write “I know I should confront her.” Like the reply said, what does that accomplish?

    We told people they didnt have to give gifts and we meant it. (and we didn’t have have engagement parties or bridal showers or any of the other present grabs, and we didn’t have a wedding party to force people to buy clothes or any of that). I would still expect a card though, which didn’t happen from multiple people at our tiny wedding, so that did sting to not even get congratulations from friends and family.

    But seriously, you’ve asked this woman to spend hundreds to look how you want her to look for your wedding and then you want to cause drama because she didnt get you a gift?

    • Violet

      Oooh, this might be assuming some things. In no place does she say she asked the bridesmaid to wear certain clothes or partake in certain activities.

      • Amber

        Yeah, it’s assuming. A majority of people have their bridesmaids dress a certain way at minimum, if not force hair and makeup and beyond.

      • K.

        At the very least, she had to attend the wedding, in a position of honor. Even at the chillest of chill weddings, that requires a certain amount of logistics handling, wherewithal, potential stage fright, and (yes) money.

        • Violet

          I know. I was going based off of that this is APW, so many brides and grooms here try not to “force” their wedding parties to spend “hundreds,” which is why I felt this was a little strong on so limited info. But hey, I’m just making assumptions about APWers. ; )

          • K.

            Oh totally! Just noting that probably my most stressful wedding was one where I didn’t have to wear a specific dress or do my hair a certain way; it was supposed to be very laid back, but ended up requiring all hands on deck in a way that no one saw coming. Not that it wasn’t wonderful, but it was definitely stressful and stealthily very expensive, though the brides still think we barely spent anything (which is what the whole bridal party would prefer!)

          • Eenie

            Aw. Sounds like a great group of people!

          • msditz

            Oh man this is the wedding I am MOH for right now. When I was asked to participate a year ago it was with the chill attitude of, “it will be no big deal! I don’t care what you wear, I just want you to come!” As this wedding gets closer I am realizing it is not at all the “chill” event it was presented to be. I am happy to participate, but I am constantly having to readjust my expectations (and budget!) around this wedding.

    • Liz

      I sort of… don’t understand this comment? On one hand you admit that you were hurt by not receiving cards from friends, but then zig zag snap about how the LW is causing drama?

    • MABie

      Amber, I am not sure if this will help you feel better, but I wanted to contribute something from my own experience. As I mentioned in my comment above, I did not get a close friend a wedding gift when I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. I did not even give her a card. I thought it would make her feel weird if I *just* gave her a card. Now, all of these comments are showing me that she probably would have appreciated a card. At the time, though, I thought it would make her uncomfortable, and I was worried that it would draw attention to the fact that I hadn’t gotten her a gift…like it would send a message that being in her wedding was such a burden to me (which, keeping it real, it was) that I was refusing to buy a gift.

      Not sure if that’s what’s going on with any of your close buddies or not, but I just wanted you to know that they may be trying to save you from feeling bad, rather than trying to make you feel bad!

      • Greta

        If someone said no gifts, I probably wouldn’t get them a card. Because I just told them congratulations in person at their wedding. I’m not a big card person though, but I get that other people are. I give gifts at most weddings I attend, but I never give cards.

        • raccooncity

          This mini-thread has made me consider getting a guestbook! I was not interested in that concept, but now I’m worried without cards I won’t have well-wishes I can look at forever.

          • Rebekah

            I used a shutterfly coupon code to make our guest book, filled with my favorite photos of me and my now-husband. People made fun comments in their signatures next to specific photos, and I love to look through it to remember who was at our wedding, to reread their well-wishes, and also to indulge my narcissism. It has become one of my favorite wedding details.

          • Lawyerette510

            I think if you want well-wishes you can revisit easily and easily hold onto, a guestbook (or poster or whatever) is the thing to do. We got a poster instead of a guestbook, and it’s framed and hangs beside a big social studios collage of wedding pics in our hallway, and I love walking by and reading the notes on it. This is the one we bought (but in a different color scheme) https://www.etsy.com/listing/125643783/wedding-guest-book-alternative-radiah?ref=shop_home_active_23

          • Lisa

            We did this (similar to @Lawyerette510:disqus) because we wanted something we could easily see and remember. I made a “wedding wall” in our new condo after we got married with the guest book and photos of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. on their wedding days.

          • Not Sarah

            Oh my gosh that looks amazing!

          • Lisa

            I love it! Unfortunately the owner has taken the shop down because we had a great experience with her, but there are so many similar types of guestbooks on Etsy. I love the wall art guestbook! (Which my MIL totally poo-pooed when I showed the original idea to her. I showed her the picture, and she said, “Will you ever even read that?” I responded by asking how often she gets her traditional book down and reads it to which she said, “Never.” “Well, if it’s affixed to the wall, I think I might at least glance at it every once in a while!”)

        • Corinne Keel

          I am not a big card person either and this thread is really surprising me with how much women near my age (20s/30s–I’m 29) are into them. I am getting married in a few weeks and we have started getting gifts (yay!), thoughtfully written regrets emails (sad—but (yay) still good to hear from people), well wishes in texts (yay!), promises of shared drinks, dances, fun times (yay!)…i guess what I’m saying is, cards are nice but I am just overjoyed excited about all the ways people are thinking of us and “giving” to us in whatever form. I hope others view my presence at their weddings and/or my electronic communications in this way–from a positive standpoint of what I did—not by looking at what’s missing.

  • LJ

    I think it is okay to be disappointed about the lack of gift, but never to confront.

    But does anyone get into that paranoid situation where someone who usually is a gift-giver didn’t appear to send one, but you’re worried they may have and it never made it’s way to you? Our post office is TERRIBLE, and I would hate for someone to think I am ungrateful for not sending a thank you note… When really the gift never made it? Is there a good way to approach that situation?

    • Eenie

      You could send a thank you note for their time or travel or vacation they spent to see you. They may notice the lack of mention of their gift and ask if you got it/enjoyed it.

      • Yup! If you thank them for their time/support/presence you should be covered on the grateful vibes (& they may say something if they did send a gift :))

      • Meg

        Yes guests who did not send a gift still get thank you notes too. Also this is a good idea.

        • anon

          Really? I was always told that sending a TY to someone who didn’t send a gift seems like you’re sniffing for one (the whole 1 year gift thing…), especially for a local wedding. Was I steered wrong??

          • Liz

            Thank you notes are only required for gifts (including gifts of service, time, whatever else), but not necessary for just “thanks for showing up.” I have no clue why anyone would think a “thank you for coming” was anything but thoughtful and nice, though.

          • Meg

            I don’t know what the emily post approved etiquette is, but they made the effort to come and deserve a thank you IMO

          • Lainey

            Okay, but to play devil’s advocate…if I host, say, a birthday party for myself, I probably wouldn’t send someone a thank you just for attending, especially if I provided all the food, drinks, and entertainment and they didn’t travel too far to get there. I’d be thrilled they came and thank them in person, but sending a thank you would definitely seem a bit “much.” I’d definitely send them a thank you for a gift though! What makes a wedding different? Or would you send a thank you in that circumstance as well?

          • Eenie

            I think the difference is a wedding is only going to happen once (or very few times in cases of divorce), and it’s not just a party. They were there witnessing our commitment and affirming that they are a part of our community and will support us for the rest of our lives. It’s been said multiple times that this is not required.

            To play devil’s devil’s advocate: I remember writing thank you notes to every classmate that attended my no gifts childhood birthday party because my parents wanted to stress the importance of thanking people with a written note.

          • Meg

            I wouldn’t throw myself a birthday party so it’s hard to say.

          • Another Meg

            I think it really depends on how you word it. And your audience. I am a thank you note sender pretty much at all times, and we had a destination wedding, so everyone got a thank you note. If we didn’t receive a thing as a gift, I thanked them what they did- helped set up, stood up with us as a member of the wedding party, came and danced with us and generally supported our fledgling marriage by coming.

          • M.

            We sent thank you notes to everyone who was there regardless of gifts/cards. As others said above, even the few locals made an effort and shared a special day with us, and everyone else traveled between an hour and over an ocean. Even if none of them gave a gift they’d all have been thanked in a note, because what an amazing thing they did for us!!! So much love!

          • Meg

            yeah our thank you note was actually a christmas card/thank you note combo so we were good on anyone getting miffed over it.

          • Ellen

            This has come up a few times here, and the answer mostly seems to be: know your people. The Miss Manners position, I think, is that the reception is a thank you for attending and a further note just re: attendance looks like you’re pointing out the lack of gift. I found that soothing and went with it (basically it let me know that I’d shown appreciation and wasn’t going to run the risk of being misunderstood). Folks here, though, have had success with notes too and haven’t reported any bad feelings. Assuming you’re confident you won’t be misunderstood by your people, it seems like a fine thing to do if it’s important to you, but unnecessary if not.

    • Amy March

      Sure- the gift giver can contact you to confirm you received it when they don’t get a thank you, or you can check and see if a gift from an online registry has been lost in transit by sleuthing tracking numbers. But aside from that, no, I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask.

    • About a month before our wedding, I got a note on the door from Fed Ex that they delivered a box (no tracking number or other info, just a generic “we delivered something”), but no box. I guess someone stole the box off our stoop (which is also kind of upsetting for different reasons), but when I called Fed Ex they were like “we need to know what was in it and where it came from” and I was like “I don’t know, it was probably a wedding present.” I got passed to several chains of management, nobody could figure out what the box was or where it came from and eventually I gave up.
      Whoever sent it probably thinks I’m a rude person who doesn’t send TY notes, but they never said anything. Still kind of haunts me, 2 years later.

      On the flip side, I wrote a bunch of thank you notes before my wedding for gifts we received beforehand. I had a system of moving the card/packing slip to a box when I wrote the notes. Then after the wedding I found a stack of cards from pre-wedding presents that I thought I had written TY notes for, but couldn’t remember. I decided to just send TY notes again and to thank them for coming (or say “we missed you but you were there in spirit”) and also for the gifts to cover my bases. But I wonder if some got 2 TY notes and think I’m crazy.

      • Liz

        Have you tried the good ol’ Facebook callout? “Hey, anyone send us a gift but didn’t get a thank you? We had a weird snafu with FedEx…”

        • Tried facebook, put a note on our wedding website, told both sets of parents in case they got wind of us being jerks who don’t write thank you notes. Never a peep.
          I even went through the registry looking for something that was marked purchased that we never received, hoping to track it down, but no luck. Could have been anything, from anybody. A mystery!

          • Liz


          • Eenie

            It was me. I sent you something and then stole it off your porch.

          • Finally I can say what I’ve been holding on to all these years. You’re a jerk for going off registry and I’m glad you didn’t get a TY note! ;-)

          • Eenie

            FRIENDSHIP OVER.

    • anon

      Agreeing with others. I’m the anon who talked about approaching her best friend about this exact same issue upthread (downthread? I haven’t refreshed so I’m not sure where it is), and it going very poorly, so I say don’t say anything and wait for gift-giver to approach you. But solidarity on being stressed about this – due to my terrible post office, I am stressed to this day that some people didn’t get thank-you notes for the wedding gifts they sent us!

    • ML

      I also have the terrible fear that people who DID send gifts did not receive a thank you note because of a post office issue. I would just hate for anyone to think we were ungrateful and didn’t even acknowledge the gift. After the wedding, if a friend was a little chilly towards me, I’d wonder, “OMG, is this about the thank you card? Did she get it??” It’s irrational, but there you have it.

  • pajamafishadventures

    You know, I love the friend that I am Maid of Honoring for. Dearly. And I want her to get all the stuff she needs to make the house her and soon-to-be-husband just bought feel like home. But I bought a dress, spent my own money on a shower (and shower gift), am spending my own money on a bachelorette, am spending money on a hotel to actually be at her wedding, will be spending money on hair, makeup, and nails, spend a lot of money on gas getting from where I live to where she lives to where wedding stuff is, and I’m running interference with her mother. Accepting the responsibility of MOHing is a far more valuable gift just in terms of raw time and money (not even factoring in sentimental stuff) then I could ever get her off her registry. Now unless her personality does an entire 180 in the next 60 days our friendship is going to survive all this intact and perhaps stronger but if she comes up after and “confronts” me about not buying her a gift, that would sink the relationship so fast because it would say to me “what you did isn’t enough.”

    • GBee

      I am in the exact same situation. I am the MOH and I’m not planning on purchasing a gift for the wedding. It would crush me if anyone said “hey, so I know you spent a lot of time and money on the bachelorette party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner (I’m cooking the food for it), hair, dress, and day after brunch… but you couldn’t also spring for a toaster?”

      Anyone can give gifts. What I have provided to the bride (emotional support, time, etc) has been way more valuable than a check or a place setting!

      • Another Meg

        I hope you (or anyone else who’s chiming in about not giving a thing as a wedding gift) still get her a card or write her a letter. I received a few of these in lieu of gifts from party members, and it was awesome.

        • While I agree that these things are awesome, I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for not writing a heartfelt letter either. That’s just not everyone’s thang!

          • Another Meg

            Totally agree. I’m in a bubble of folks who love stationary/making things/writing and forget sometimes. :)

            But if you aren’t planning to give a thing for a wedding, giving just a card can be helpful for letting the couple know. From the other end, it was nice to be able to check someone off the list- I didn’t really care if people gave a thing, but it was helpful to know I hadn’t lost something or that nothing was lost in the mail.

            And I want to be clear- I didn’t feel that anything- card, gift, letter, whatever – was expected or necessary, but there’s this moment of panic when you think that you might be leaving someone out.

          • K.

            YES. The main reason writing thank you’s is difficult for me isn’t the time or the effort, but because I need to be appropriately sentimental and heartfelt. Just…not my style, to put it mildly. I’m doing it, because I’m truly appreciative and I know that’s the way most people expect thanks after a wedding gift (i.e., it’s the right thing to do), but I’m gonna cringe the whole way through it.

        • ML

          I said it above, but I just am so surprised people feel like a card is necessary from people who showed up at your wedding, especially people who stood up with you at the front! What could the card say that shows more support and happiness for your marriage than the act of being there?

          • Another Meg

            It’s not necessary, but my wedding day was a blur of love. The cards I received were a way to remember important moments from the day.

            As I mentioned in a reply above, I am in a circle of friends who like to write and make art, so I received some kick-ass cards. Not everyone’s thing, and that’s cool.

            The practical side of giving a card is letting the couple know that your presence is your present. For anxious, list-keeping brides like myself, the cards let me know that UPS hadn’t swallowed (another) package. And that I could go ahead and write my thank you note for the dance party and support.

          • Cathi

            I’m 100% on your page with things.

            Getting a card meant I could be pretty sure something didn’t get lost, first and foremost. But I also didn’t spend a lot of quality time with people at my wedding. While I don’t go through the cards ever (maybe I’ll do that tomorrow, it’s my anniversary!), I do spend time on a weekly basis staring at our “guest book” matted picture hanging in a hallway and read people’s brief words, and remember that they were there and wishing us well. The physical reminder of their happiness for us is very touching, for me.

          • Eenie

            This really comes back to the whole love languages thing. Some people would appreciate the card (and feel a little hurt without one) while others wouldn’t care.

    • Sarah

      Yup, I made similar sacrifices (though probably not as extensive as yours) but since I had just moved 400 miles away before the wedding and was starting my first real job after grad school my friend said “I really don’t expect a gift.” Of course 8 years later I now wish I bought her something special.

      • Eenie

        Get her something now? It’s never too late! Plus no one else is probably getting her a 8 year anniversary gift besides her spouse!

        ETA: My friend and I are notorious for sending late birthday gifts (two – six months late). It’s awesome, cause I don’t know when it’s coming and it’s not smashed together with all the birthday gifts so it makes it more special. And there’s no hurt feelings because the expectations are that it will not be arriving on time.

        • eating words

          I am totally a late gift-giver, too. Totally missed my nephew’s second birthday but sent a great present about four months later, and it was a hit. Bonus: more surprise!

          • Eenie

            He probably didn’t even realize it was his birthday. But how could you snub him like that?! (kidding)

          • eating words


        • Sarah

          Ha, of course I thought of this at the one-year mark and never followed through. At this point I’ve been to her baby shower as a surprise (travelling from 400 miles), gotten her a few small kids’ gifts, etc. She planned my small wedding shower and offered to plan my baby shower (with he sister and my mom). I’m sure in a few decades we’ll be buying each other’s kids shower and wedding presents too. Guess over the long haul these tit-for-tat things no longer matter.

    • Annie

      Feeling very much the same. My friend is a wonderful, generous person, but she makes about three times what I do and I don’t think she gets that her wedding (destination, on a weekday) is a big expense for me. She recently mentioned lingerie gifts at the bachelorette party, and I was a little taken aback. Is that a thing? Do I really have to ask the other bachelorette party guests to pony up for another gift?

      • Eenie

        No. The bride normally doesn’t plan her bachelorette party, but if you already know her expectations don’t line up with the plans…have a conversation about what is important to her. Cause even if you aren’t required to get her lingerie gifts at the party, she can still feel disappointed.

        • Annie

          Excellent points. That sounds like the most tactful approach.

    • NTB

      Yep. This, 100%.

  • Lulu

    I’m going to confess that I have been this bridesmaid, for a reason I hope is somewhat forgivable: the friends in question mean so much to me, and are so intrinsic to the very fabric of my life, that I cracked under the pressure to find an object that signified all I felt and hoped for them at that really special time. I’m holding out for something that speaks to me, even if it’s an orthopedic bed for our retirement commune. I don’t think they’ve ever doubted my love or support. With some time and some patience, people can surprise you– in good ways.

    • Amy March

      There’s nothing to forgive!

    • Violet

      You didn’t commit a crime! Nothing to confess!

    • Another Meg

      Everything everyone else has said, and also you technically have one year to give a couple their gift. So even if you find the most perfect thing six months after the fact, you’re within the traditional etiquette timeframe.

    • emilyg25

      I’m sure just having you there to support them was more than they ever hoped for. You have nothing to feel bad about!

  • Sarah

    I do get being bummed at missing a card. I agree that being in a wedding (and sometimes even attending them) is a financial burden and probably costs them more than your salad bowl set. But I really value handwritten notes so this would make me kind of sad. But agreed–no way to confront this issue without sounding like a brat.

    • MC

      Yep. One of the saddest things for me post-wedding was that some of my friends who couldn’t make the wedding that didn’t send a card, or a FB message, or a text, or ANYTHING – and I had kind of expected that they would send a card in lieu of their attendance, y’know? But I didn’t confront them – I just sat with my hurt feelings for awhile and then moved on. And I think the reason some of those friends bailed is because they felt so guilty & bummed about missing the wedding that they didn’t want to put something in writing acknowledging that, not because they don’t care about me and my marriage. SO. Lots of thigns under the surface of cards and gifts. (Although I have made it a priority to send or give a card for every wedding now!)

      • ATLawyer

        To MC–THIS THIS THIS is what has been so hurtful for me, post wedding. We are about 4 weeks out from our wedding celebration, which was kinda-sorta destination wedding in that we did it at a quaint B&B in the Northeast, and most of our friends live in the mid-Atlantic or Southeast (so it was accessible by train, plane, and automobile, or some combination thereof). We invited 105 and only 45 could make it- due to a variety of reasons. For example, we had 6 friends get pregnant last fall (which, yay!) but they were due this spring/summer and unable to travel that far to attend. We sent all of them our well-wishes, with baby gifts and a baby book for their bookshelves and congrats cards, and they haven’t sent us so much as a card. What gives? Other friends/close family (aunts/uncles) of ours who couldn’t make it for either work, financial, or other unstated reasons. For the most part, I was fine with that, but I was really expecting/looking forward to getting cards from them that I could add to a wedding scrapbook. I’ve kept all the wedding related stuff in a pile, and I’m realizing just how few cards we actually got from the not-able-to-attends. It’s sort of like, we went to yours, and/or we invited you to our already pretty small wedding (which means we considered you a close friend)… you can’t even send us a card? Seriously?
        Admittedly, some of my issues with feeling so bummed about the lack of cards stems from feeling like a lot of this is because we announced we had gotten married about a year prior (at a courthouse, due to moving/job transfer issues). So, at no point during our entire marriage have these people ever sent us so much as a card. I kept thinking many were waiting til we had the celebration this summer. Nope… I guess it just feels like people didn’t treat us the same because of how we went about it, which is what worked best for us in light of a major move to a new city and wanting to save up to pay for the festivities ourselves. I guess I was disappointed that so many couldn’t make it, but I understood that life gets in the way. For me, the real issue is feeling like they were just absent entirely by not sending well-wishes in a card or even an email. My husband doesn’t seem to care about it really, but I’m bummed.

        • Another Meg

          I was in a very similar situation- we got married at a courthouse, a year later had a huge wedding that about half of the guest list attended. Not everyone even bothered to RSVP. Several RSVP’d no and didn’t send a gift or card. We looked at it this way, and YMMV:

          We have a family with some very entrenched “etiquette” and religious beliefs. Maybe they didn’t feel it was a “real” wedding that they were invited to, therefore, normal etiquette doesn’t apply. We also decided that our wedding is one day in our big, epic love story. So if they didn’t really acknowledge this part, that’s ok. There are a lot of ways that your people can support your marriage. Attending your wedding/sending a gift/sending a card is one of them, but it’s far from the only one. Now, I have a year of hindsight. With that, I try to keep in focus the people who came. I bet those 45 people who showed up for you made your big day freaking awesome.

          I’m sorry that you’re bummed. I hope that there is a good way for you to move past it, because, unfortunately, that’s really all you can control in the situation. Hugs.

          • ATLawyer

            Thanks, Another Meg. That actually is a really helpful perspective that I hadn’t considered just yet. I think the ones that I am feeling hurt and dwelling about the most about are the ones on my side of the guest list, like cousins (I only have 6) where I went to theirs or would/will go to theirs, as applicable I also feel like I’m focusing on this a little too much as a symptom of a larger issue in some specific friendships where a couple of previously (very close) friends have sorta “disappeared” or become distant in the last year or two, without any reasons provided. I was looking at this thru the lens of, “Well, a card is the bare minimum I have done/would do for them to acknowledge/celebrate a marriage, and they didn’t even do that,” which, when piled on top of “and they are being super MIA and I don’t know why!” feels that much more hurtful. It’s possible those friendships are winding down or evolving because of age and distance, but it’s hard not to feel hurt about it in this moment, especially without much explanation.

            BUT, focusing on the positive, you’re right- the people who were able to and did show up to celebrate with us were AWESOME and stuffed their faces/danced the night away with us. In general, people (both who could and couldn’t attend) were extremely supportive and helpful and made us feel like we had a community supporting us that weekend. I got to spend some QT with every guest there, which I will cherish. And you’re right that our marriage is not a moment or 1 day, but (hopefully) a lifetime of memories.

          • Another Meg

            Oh man- so many non-responders were in keeping with weirdness I already felt about our relationships. Eek.

            And while I’m positive now, I had some moments of being REALLY upset before the wedding. I should have mentioned that.

            And then the wedding happened, and you’re right- I got to spend more time with the people who came. Which was awesome!

          • Amber

            I am not in any way trying to make your hurt feelings insignificant, I totally get it, but as a person who goes out of their way to be considerate of others and send cards and make plans and give gifts I’ve also been disappointed because people either aren’t as appreciative as I expect given the effort I put out, or they don’t reciprocate in a similar manner. Its taken some serious reflection and yes I read the love languages which really hit it home for me to realize that just because I would act a certain way in a situation does not mean other people will or are obliged to. I send cards, give gifts, plan surprises as a gesture of love. If you expect card back because YOU send cards then that seems to negate the genuine feelings and thought you put into sending them in the first place.

          • ATLawyer

            To be clear, I don’t generally expect people to send me cards. Also, I see your point that not everyone expresses love the same way. I guess the main issue here is the lack of any expression whatsoever that is hurtful.

        • Amy March

          I think this is a really good thing to keep in mind for people who are considering splitting up the gettinglegallymarried part and the party part- it’s entirely possible your people invited to the celebration will view it differently, because the reality is that it is different. And while you see it as they are close friends invited to a small wedding, it’s also true that your priority wasn’t inviting them to be present at the time you actually got married.

          I think there are lots of different ways to accomish goals of getting married/celebrated/etc, but you can’t necessarily decide that you’re both not going to include them in witnessing the legal part and expect them all the behave as though they have been included in everything.

          • ATLawyer

            Yikes, I don’t love your tone, Amy. This was not an open invitation for people’s opinions on how I went about getting married and what my priorities were or weren’t at various points in the planning process and who was/wasn’t included in it. You appear to be of the belief, or repeating the belief held by people who think that I tried to “have my cake and eat it too” when it came to my marriage and wedding celebrating. We’re probably just going to have to agree to disagree on that. My husband and made a very tough call based on literally dozens of factors, and getting married at a courthouse was the choice we made. But, I think I’m not entirely off the reservation for feeling hurt that people dropped the ball and, after a decade plus of friendship, didn’t so much as send a card (at any point in the intervening year plus of marriage).
            I think very close friends (ie with decade plus of friendship under our belts) should fall into the category of extending grace and showing love, even if what I did was different from how they did it or plan to do it when they get married. I tried to be gracious that when anyone said they couldn’t or wouldn’t attend. The people I am frustrated with and hurt by are the ones who never sent so much as a card in their absence. When they buy houses, I send housewarming cards; when they adopt a puppy or have gotten engaged or graduated from school or had surgery or whatever it was– I sent a card. Whether I got married at a courthouse or on the moon, the bare minimum they could’ve done was send a card wishing us well. That’s all I’m trying to say- that the absence of any card was hurtful.

          • laddibugg

            Did people know you were getting married before you invited anyone to the celebration? Most folks don’t want to jump the gun.
            Regardless of the reasons why you separated the two events (and there is nothing wrong with doing so), a lot of people do feel differently about being invited to one affair and not the other than you wish they would.

          • ATLawyer

            Yes, we got both engaged and married in 3/14 and immediately began telling people– in person as we were able, and then via phone or text. We never hid it or lied about it- we just asked people to let us be the ones to break the news to close family and friends throughout 4/14. By 5/14, everyone who was invited to the wedding knew, and by 5/14 we announced it on facebook. The wedding celebration plans were announced via a save the date in 10/14, for a 7/15 event.

          • laddibugg

            I agree with this. It’s not wrong to do things this way, but people have to realize that everyone views your choices the way you want them to.

            I’m not sure why people get so defensive when you point out how people can view situations from different angles.

          • ATLawyer

            “People” get defensive because there’s a certain amount of name calling/rude nicknames for situations like this that goes on on other wedding forums/websites. I’m well aware that people have different viewpoints, especially on this topic. My posts have been about feeling hurt at the lack of sending so much as a card to acknowledge a marriage.

        • K2

          “For example, we had 6 friends get pregnant last fall (which, yay!) but they were due this spring/summer and unable to travel that far to attend. We sent all of them our well-wishes, with baby gifts and a baby book for their bookshelves and congrats cards, and they haven’t sent us so much as a card. What gives?”

          Babies. Babies are what gives. My kid turned 1 4 months ago, and the thank-you cards from his birthday, only half of them written out, are still on our mantel. (I know it’s awful. My husband wants to give up on them because it’s late enough that sending them now is worse than not sending them at all, but I insist we keep trying.) When you have a small child in your care, the smallest things are monumental tasks. (Today’s phone call to the credit card company was 28 minutes, with a toddler screaming and screaming and screaming through all of it. We were finally disconnected, presumably because a representative had picked up and I couldn’t hear him/her over the screaming, without my having accomplished anything but traumatizing my child.)

          Some babies sleep often and independently, and their parents can write lovely notes during naps. Some sleep crappily and only when attached to their parents. Some sleep, but on such schedules that getting to CVS to buy a card, or the post office to buy stamps, is all but impossible.

          I am admittedly writing from the perspective of someone who is completely overwhelmed by parenthood at the moment, but come on. Cut the new parents a break!

          • ATLawyer

            Fair enough-and, totally get it, and believe me that I give parents of young children all of the grace and respect and leeway- y’all are saints. Just so I don’t seem like a monster, the people I was venting about though were first time parents who didn’t become parents until May to July, so it felt like there was adequate time to have sent a card at some point before the madness began. But perhaps the madness began well before the birth as they were preparing for it, and it slipped their mind(s). Thanks for your input!

          • I sent wedding thank yous about a year after the wedding and felt MORTIFIED by it, but you know what? I got some really sweet responses about how much people liked getting my thank you note. I waited because I was trying to find the right words to describe my thankfulness (an impossible task) and I finally decided to do my best and just write and send them. I decided that imperfect was better than no thank you. And it seems from the feedback that imperfect and horribly late was well received (from my crowd, anyways). And who doesn’t like a surprise thank you that you weren’t expecting? (And my story is just from a wedding….I have no good excuse for my lateness. Personally, I definitely don’t expect a thank you for a present from anyone who has a baby!)

          • Lisa

            I was SO GOOD for the first few weeks after the wedding getting thank yous out to everyone, and then… I got to the really emotional ones (our friends who played, special family members who traveled so far to see us) and clammed up. I keep remembering the one year rule and telling myself that there’s still two months where I can finish them. (Nothing motivates me better than a looming deadline.)

          • Lisa, Deadlin es motivate me too. I can be quite a procrastinator sometimes. Of course, I procrastinate by doing productive things that “need” to be done to avoid the one thingthat most needs to be done. Sigh. Good luck with your thank yous! (And it was the emotional ones that got me too…)

  • I don’t think you should confront her at all. While you may be disappointed that she didn’t get you a gift or a card (that you know of) she did honor your wedding with her attendance and participation as a bridesmaid. Is that not enough? This is just my perspective, but I went into our wedding reminding myself that no one owed us anything – not their attendance, or a gift or anything else. I was grateful and thankful for the gifts/cards/etc but it wasn’t a requirement for me. Having that mindset helped me manage my expectations and feelings towards those who gave gifts and those who didn’t.

    • emmers

      I love this! Such a healthy mindset.

    • Boomz4

      Exactly! I would be devastated if I found out that someone I love and care for decided to RSVP “no” to the wedding because they couldn’t afford a gift and were afraid it was bad etiquette. Id feel horrible if I found out that someone I love and care for stretched their budget too thin in order to bring a gift. When we tie the knot, all I want is for the people we love to show up and give their support. Anything more than that is gravy.

  • macrain

    My sister was my MOH and never got me a gift. She had planned a wonderful bachelorette party for me, so I thanked her for that with a note and a gift prior to the wedding, as I did with all my bridesmaids. When it was time to send thank you notes, I didn’t think an additional one was necessary.
    I think this is actually pretty common. I know it stings for the LW, but she should focus on all the wonderful ways her friend helped make her wedding special to know that that friend values her. As we’ve talked about before, emotional support when you are getting married is priceless.

    • eating words

      This makes me feel better about not getting my brother and his wife a wedding gift. I got them a cool present for their engagement party, and I spent lots of time helping them the week before the wedding, and… I just couldn’t figure out a physical gift that felt appropriate for my one and only sibling.

  • Nell

    Also. . . according to some old-school etiquette that I’ve read, you have a year to give a gift.

    There have been MANY weddings that I have attended where I have had to wait a couple months to give a gift (most of the time because I had a high credit card bill after spending a bunch of cash on flights, hotel, etc). If you JUST got back from your honeymoon, it sounds like she is still in the clear. Give. Her. Time.

    I do have a gift question though — we have a very thoughtful and expensive gift in our possession that either came from a whole grouping of cousins, or just one couple within that grouping. We can’t tell, because it came without a card (we only know where it came from because of a gift receipt). What is the etiquette around finding out who gave a gift after it has been given? If a bunch of people went in on it together, they should all get credit, but we can’t tell.

    • Greta

      We received 3 gifts at 9 months, 10 months, and 12 months after our wedding. That being said, I agree with most other posters – do not confront, and let it go!

    • Megan

      I would just reach out to the couple within the grouping (since you’re positive they were part of giving this gift). Let them know you’re writing a thank you note for your lovely gift and you wanted to make sure you send one to everyone who gave a gift. Then nicely ask if the other cousins were part of giving the gift. As long as you’re on good terms with them, there shouldn’t be an etiquette breach.

      • Liz

        Yep, I’ve been in this position and just asked! “Who can I send the card to- I want to make sure not to miss anyone!” isn’t awkward or uncomfortable at all.

  • Poeticplatypus

    It isn’t a gift if you expect to get it. That defeats the purpose of motive behind gift giving. Does this mean it stings any less? Nope, but I find that in life it’s better to never expect and always accept. When it comes to gifts and monetary tips.

  • Sosuli

    I’m agreeing with the general sentiment so far – but wondering whether there is anything else going on in this friendship that may have contributed to this feeling of disappointment. I would encourage the letter writer to think about how they felt their relationship with MOH went throughout the wedding – was she supportive? Did she participate and plan showers etc.? Was she enthusiastic? Did you maintain your relationship as best friends? If the answer to all those question is yes… then you’ve already had a gift from her. And one that will keep giving in a beautiful friendship if you don’t ruin it with unreasonable expectations of material goods. If no, then maybe you have other issues to discuss than the gift.

    In an inverse problem, my MOH-to-be recently asked if she could give us a financial contribution toward the wedding as a our wedding gift. My instinctive thought-reaction was “whaaaaattt…. you’re flying transatlantic, planning activities, listening to my BS rants, paying for your hair and makeup… and you want to give us money too?” I don’t feel like I could quite make clear to her how I totally am not expecting her to get us a gift as well, and in my surprise bumbled something about how we’ll probs ask for honeymoon contributions. But thinking back, I really don’t want to put any more financial strain on her when’s she’s in the process of moving to another continent… Should I bring this up again and just tell her I appreciate it, but her effort and support is a gift enough and to please not give us money? Or any gift at all, really?

    • MABie

      I think so! I am sure she would appreciate it. Just frame it the way you’ve framed it here.

      We were extremely clear with our bridal party that we did NOT want gifts from them. Maybe some people would think it was tacky to bring that up, but I don’t care! They are doing so much for us already. It made me really uncomfortable to think of them buying us a set of bowls on top of everything else.

    • Amanda L

      I guess my thought here is that she knows her financial situation, and if she wants to contribute to your honeymoon fund, you should feel comfortable that it is not putting her in the poorhouse, regardless of other financial outlays for your wedding. I say this as someone who last month travelled three states away, with my husband, paid for three nights of hotels and four days of food to attend my cousins wedding. We also wrote a check as a gift.

      I think you thanking your wedding party with the rehearsal dinner (and whatever thank you gifts you might be giving them) is enough. You don’t need to make a big deal about telling her she doesn’t have to give a gift.

    • Liz

      It probably depends on your friend and your relationship with her. I’ve had the, “That’s so generous, but you’re already doing SO MUCH, I’d feel much better if you didn’t contribute even more,” conversation. But limit it to just ONE back-and-forth. “No, I insist,” “No, IIIII insist,” gets old and tired, and at the end of the day, she knows her situation and what she’d like to do with her resources.

      Adding: if it feels weird bringing it up again, I’d say, “Hey, I was thinking about what you said, and…”

      • VKD_Vee

        But limit it to just ONE back-and-forth. “No, I insist,” “No, IIIII insist,”

        Lady, you are a wise, wise sage…

      • Sosuli

        Thanks and yup – very good point on not pushing it. I mainly feel like I need to bring it up again, just once, because I feel like my response last time may have come across as yespleasegiveusallyourmoniesforthehoneymoon when in reality I was just a bit frazzled.

  • My love language is gifting and even though I’ve felt bummed about gifts (or the lack thereof) in many situations in my life, I can’t identify with where LW is coming from here. The “I know I should confront her” line (and the “and she brought her boyfriend” line) really jumped out at me because that’s not at all something I see as a given in this situation.

    Like Liz and many others have said, being a bridesmaid is a HUGE commitment, so yeah, they get a pass. But ALL GUESTS get a pass. I loooove gifts and yet I truly felt like attending our wedding was enough. While the cards we got were very nice, they also weren’t like…more meaningful than those people’s actual presence at the wedding and the memories we have of them at the wedding.

    Also, I was a bridesmaid a couple years ago and while I did bring a card, I didn’t send a gift until a few months later (at Christmas actually) because being a bridesmaid is expensive and also because when there’s so much going on with traveling to be in a wedding, getting a gift is often just not the top priority. (Because…it shouldn’t be.) Wedding gifts CAN come after the wedding, and I’d be appalled if someone confronted me about this at all, but my eyes would pop out of my head if I was still planning to send something and they confronted me right after the honeymoon.

    • raccooncity

      Being a guest can be a HUGE commitment! We aren’t able to make a friend’s wedding this summer because of a bunch of reasons, some financial, but we decided to send a card. I was laughing because we decided to give them money, and because of travel, hotels, etc, we put more cash in there than we’d ever given a friend, and it was still less than half of what our costs WOULD have been.

      Obviously I would have rather gone, and I would rather my guests come to the wedding empty handed than send us $$ in the mail, but it really made me realize what a gift attendance at a wedding really is, just in time for my own.

  • LisaG

    “I know I should confront her” —>
    “I know I should write her a thank you expressing how grateful I am for her friendship and how much I enjoyed having her be a part of my wedding day.”

    There, I fixed it for you.

  • Essssss

    I don’t get this “she has 6-12 months of
    etiquette time before she’s really in the doghouse.” No one is ever obligated to
    give a gift. Yes, it’s nice, but getting married does not create a sudden entitlement, nor should we expect.
    That way, it’s a delightful surprise. I mean, when was the last time everyone
    you know gave you a birthday present? Elementary school? Yes, you tend to throw
    down a ton of time, energy and $$ for a wedding, but that does not equal the
    requirement of a gift. It equals the hope for some amount of loving energy, in
    some form, to be directed back at you. Here are some reasons I haven’t gotten a
    gift for a wedding: 1) I was a broke-ass graduate student who traveled on my
    own dime to attend. 2) There was nothing left on the registry that I could
    afford. 3) There was a cash registry but I was embarrassed by how paltry my
    contribution would seem. 4) I was MOH and spent several days of my time
    (including annual leave at work) to make a cake, do flowers and bachelorette it
    up prior to the wedding. 5) We were only invited to the “after party.” In most
    of these situations, our friends had registries that prefaced with something
    like, “your presence is our present.”

    Now that I’m planning a wedding myself,
    do I kick myself for not giving a gift? Not really. I contributed my time,
    support and love to each of these couples. But I do think once you plan a
    wedding it makes you much more generous about other people’s, because you
    understand how hard it is. Whether that’s always getting a gift, RSVPing
    promptly and with a nice note, or offering help, I’m now more aware of how much
    it means to me when other people do these things. I’ve been blow away that some
    of our friends who can’t attend have already sent us gifts. And I’m sure some
    who show up will not. That’s not what matters. A room full of love and
    community is.

  • Meredith

    Anybody have a suggestion on how much to spend on a not that close friend who didn’t attend our wedding (but was invited), thus didn’t give us a gift? I tend to be a very equal gift giver. Many friends who attended our wedding gave us cards with $50 (which I was surprised about because I felt that was too generous of them, we’re young!) so, we’ve given them the same for their weddings. So what about the weddings we attend of friends who didn’t give us a gift for whatever reason? How do you decide what to give them? Maybe I’m the only one who thinks about keeping gifts equal…

    • Liz

      Give whatever you want to give, without consideration to whether or not they’ve given you anything before. Two different events, totally unrelated to one another.

      • Meredith

        Thanks! I over analyze stuff and suck at gifts (not my love language). You’re right, unreleated events!

        • Eh

          I want to second Liz’s response. This goes for lots of scenarios: equal isn’t fair. There is no tit for tat. There is no need to compare one event to another.

          I come from a family with seven children (I have two siblings and four step-sibs). My step-mum is a strong believer in equal being fair so all of us got the same amount of money for our weddings. (My husband and I were grateful for the help, I am just using this to illustrate my point and not as a complaint.) When my oldest two step-sisters were married my step-mum was a single parent and couldn’t afford much. After my dad and step-mum got married, my dad pointed out that they could afford to give more money to the rest of us for our weddings because their financial situation was improved. My step-mum said that wasn’t fair to the oldest two and insisted that we all get the same amount. (My dad and step-mum fought about this for a while but then they announced their decision to the rest of us so we knew everything upfront.) My husband and I were the sixth to get married and we were married more than ten years after the oldest two were married. In addition to my dad and step-mum’s financial situation being different now than when the first two were married, things also cost more now than they did when the oldest two got married. So in trying to be fair by being equal it may not have been fair or equal depending on how you look at things.

          • Not Sarah

            Yeah, I think that factoring the cost of inflation into things would make them actually equal, if their goal is equality. Giving $1k to each kid 10 years apart doesn’t buy the same things, for example. My boyfriend’s dad was surprised at how much a friend’s wedding cost because theirs only cost $X, so I punched (1.03^(2015-1983))*$X into a calculator and he went “Oh” because the amount wasn’t that different form what the friend’s wedding cost.

          • Eenie

            My parents ran into this with helping to pay for college. I don’t know how many hours my mom spent doing calculations like that but at the end of the day the three of us just trusted that they made the best effort to be fair and were happy for the help.

          • Not Sarah

            My parents did that too. I think they spent too much time trying to be fair – they actually gave the child whose college degree cost less (me) more money after they graduated. They also disagreed amongst themselves on how to pay for these things, which didn’t really help the situation.

    • rg223

      I was in the opposite situation – I attended a friend’s wedding while knowing I was probably not inviting her to mine. I gave the couple the standard amount of cash I always do, because I don’t really consider it a tit-for-tat situation.

      But, here’s some other ideas too. You made it sound like you wouldn’t normally give $50 if you hadn’t received that from other friends in the first place, so you can give whatever you feel is appropriate. Or you could also give something on or off the registry at a certain price point – I doubt your friend will look at the registry to tally how much you spent, and if it’s off-registry then she’d have no real way to.

    • Rebekah

      Agreeing with Liz and using my own life example to back it up. I got married 2 years ago. My cousin and her boyfriend traveled to be there and gave us $150, but had to leave early because they were feeling ill (she surprised us with pregnancy news later that month!).
      A few months ago she and her boyfriend eloped, specifically not including other people. They announced it by changing facebook statuses. My husband and I had just moved and both changed jobs, so I was able to send a card (it’s something my family does for most occasions and most relatives, so not out of our norm) and $40. It’s what we could afford at the time.
      She texted me a thank you when it arrived.
      Point being: Different events. There’s no quid pro quo, although it can definitely feel like it.

  • NatalieN

    Honestly, I’ve been a bridesmaid in several weddings, and MOH in one – they all require travel time, and dresses, and showers… etc, and that gets expensive! (plus all of those weddings I was a completely broke college student). The only one I ever got the bride and groom a gift was when I knew literally everyone in the rather large bridal party, knew we were all pretty broke college students, and was like “Hey let’s do a group gift” we all chipped in like $15 and managed to get them a groupon for a hotel stay where they were going on their honeymoon (They knew where they were going and when, but didn’t have hotels – I checked). But that only worked because I knew everyone, the other weddings were full of people I didn’t know or met causally once and had no means of contacting.

  • Kara Davies

    It’s a wedding, gifts to the couple are *not* required. Being a bridesmaid is a privilege, and often an expensive one (flights, hotel, food, car rental, dress, shoes, hair, make up, you know the drill). Count her presence there on your big day her present.

  • VKD_Vee

    a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.

  • Kayjayoh

    [picturing the original letter writing, reading these comments with her cheeks burning in shame]

    [hoping that she learns and grows from this]

    • Violet

      Truly, I would not be surprised if seeing this kind of reaction in the comments actually prompts a defensive response, because WOW has it been ROUGH on LW today. I get it, and I think all this needs to be said, but woah, it will take a strong person to be able to take all this in. Hope you’re that strong person, LW!

    • Eenie

      I thought everyone was being a little hard! We also don’t know the whole story and maybe this was a particularly rough day/week/month. Ending with “Maybe I just need to adjust my own expectations” told me she was probably just venting and frustrated with the situation.

    • macrain

      I think it’s the gift thing that’s got everyone riled up, but it could easily be something else! For me, I wanted people to show up for me, and I had a hard time when some of them didn’t, even if I knew it was unreasonable for me to be mad about it. I still was! The LW is not some kind of monster because the gift is the thing that’s bothering her.

      • Ellen

        I think it’s the “I know I should confront her,” that’s setting things off. Being upset, knowing you’re not being reasonable, and looking for advice to help yourself get over it is one thing; displaying the belief that you should confront someone about a topic most commenters wouldn’t advise even discussing is totally another.

        • Liz

          I agree. Mulling that part of the letter over, though, I would think that idea is less coming from a IF I DON’T GET A GIFT, I WILL DEMAND ONE place and more coming from a misplaced understanding that if something bothers you, you should speak up about it. Which is almost 100% entirely always correct…. except when it comes to gifts.

          • Violet

            That’s how I read that, too. So many advice columnists advocate for, well, advocating for yourself. But yeah, not for gifts.

    • Rachel

      Way harsh, Tai. I really don’t think you need to condescendingly shame the LW in addition to everyone’s responses here.

      I agree that the LW’s reaction is unreasonable and that she absolutely should not confront her friend but this response is just mean.

      • Kayjayoh

        Wait what? I’m either missing a reference, or you are responding to the wrong person. How on earth was *my* response mean or harsh?

      • Kayjayoh

        OK, I see this was a reference to Clueless.

        But seriously, me noting that reading this thread was probably going to be hard for the LW and hoping that she learned and grew from the experience is mean and harsh? Your barometer is broken.

    • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

      People this greedy are shameless.

  • Vanessa

    “Your wedding is not an imposition” goes hand in hand with “you should not expect any of your guests to buy you a gift”.

  • april

    Liz’s advice is spot-on here. For our wedding, several members of the wedding party gave modest gifts, one gave an outrageously generous gift, and one gave us a modest gift about 6 months after the wedding. But the most memorable gift may have been from the best man. We were hanging out in his hotel room the day after the wedding when he fished a king sized Twix bar out of his backpack. He told us that he had bought it to snack on during his long flight home but wanted to give it to us instead. We tried to give it back (dude, keep your snacks!) but he insisted – I think it was just a moment where he really wanted to give us something. It was really funny and sweet … literally … and that’s how gifts should be – given gladly rather than out of a sense of obligation.

    • CMT

      Aww, that’s adorable!

  • Phoebe

    My best friend also didn’t get us anything, and I probably could have written this letter the month following my wedding. I didn’t expect a gift but was disappointed to not get a card from her. It took me a while to realize/ remember that it’s just not the kind of person she is; she is thoughtful and kind in other ways but doesn’t always follow social norms. We are still close, and I am glad that I never brought it up, even in a joking/teasing manner.
    Edit: minor correction

  • Larkin

    No one is obligated to give you a gift, no matter what their relationship is to you. You’re throwing a party to celebrate your marriage and inviting people to share it with you. If they choose to give you a gift to celebrate, awesome! But they definitely don’t have to. I get that maybe it hurt your feelings, and that’s fair, so try to think about it this way: Was she otherwise a great friend and supportive bridesmaid? Did she already spend money on getting a dress/jewelry/hair/makeup/travel so she could share your special day with you? Then that shows she loves you and values your friendship more than a gift could. Sometimes people can’t afford to buy a gift in addition to spending money on all the bridal party things, and sometimes people just aren’t gift-oriented and it doesn’t occur to them that a present would be important after all the time and energy they’ve put in. If the overall quality of the friendship is lacking, then it might be worth sitting down to talk through your feelings. But if the overall quality of your friendship is good and she was a supportive presence at your wedding, then take a deep breath and let it go.

    Trust me, “confronting” her about not getting you a present (especially if your friendship is otherwise strong and she was helpful/supportive at your wedding) is only going to leave a sour taste in her mouth about the whole thing and possibly damage your friendship.

    • joanna b.n.

      Yes. The whole picture is what matters.

      I (sadly) could have written this letter a few years back, although my concerns were more about the cards we didn’t receive from close friends, and whether one had gone missing. And, in thinking about it in the grace of years passing, I can see that what really matters is the overall – the many ways a person can show love. And the card/gift question is a weird case of myopia. I personally happen to be insanely in love with receiving cards/written words from my people on special days, and to me someone close to me not giving one on my special day might represent an intentional slight. But hello, as a bridesmaid, traveling hither and yon, showing up in every other way, it seems obvious that giving a card almost seems dumb. I was there, with you, every step of the way, what do you need a card for? Is what I am telling myself and the LW in hindsight.

      Also, if you care a lot about cards (and/or gifts?) on your special days, let your important people know. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to find ways to express love in your preferred modes…. if they know what matters to you. That’s what I’ve found.

  • A Bit Oppositional

    Perhaps this is unconventional, but I view gifts as inversely correlated with closeness. Older relative who watched you grow up but doesn’t know you that well? Big registry gift. Closest besties and sibs? A bug hug and a meaningful look in the eye will do. Those who are closest to us can give us so much more than material goods.

    • K.

      I’d say my gift getting experience was aligned to this. Most expensive thing on our registry? Purchased by my dad’s latest business partner who we’ve never met and was not invited to the wedding. My sister-in-law? Verbatim to my husband upon seeing our registry: “LOL, yeah, I’m tooootally going to buy you an immersion blender. Dork.”

  • Lindsay Rae

    While I recognize that it is absolutely not mandatory to give a gift, I was very surprised with the amount of people (mostly college friends in their mid-20s) who did not give us a wedding gift. Some, who traveled very far and had flights, hotels, rental cars, etc., brought us something like a picture frame or a book with a sentimental note. One wrote a beautiful letter about how honored he was to be there. These were so lovely and appreciated. It was completely understandable.. and it was true that we would rather them be there than mail us an envelope. But some people brought absolutely nothing. Of course it is not mandatory, but if you wouldn’t show up empty handed to someone’s dinner party,how could you to someone’s wedding reception?

    The MAIN issue I have with this is I’m not sure if the envelope or gift bag was misplaced… having the person believe they gave a wedding gift but none was received. (I think this was even an episode of HIMYM!) And sending a thank you for their presence at our wedding (which we did for ALL of our guests, even those who did not bring anything) might make them think the gift was received. One person mentioned they forgot it at home, or gave it to someone else to bring, and we never received it. Where did it get lost? We haven’t confronted anyone about it (and never will) but it still doesn’t sit well in the long run.

    • Amy March

      It really sounds like the MAIN issue is that you wanted more gifts. Thanking someone for their presence at your wedding, and not a specific gift, is a pretty good prompt that you might not have received it.

      • Lindsay Rae

        Ouch. Definitely not searching for gifts.
        A close friend – who I know it would be out of her character – came without a gift, and it made me to wonder if it got lost at the reception. (Two others were found at the reception days later and were mailed to me by the venue coordinator, so it’s not an unreasonable thought.) Another friend told me that she had both her card and that friend’s card at home. So the first friend probably thought the second friend eventually gave it with her own, which she didn’t.
        In each card we thanked all of our guests for their love and generosity – which I believe came in the form of their presence, a check, a dance on the dance floor, whatever they wanted to give. So I don’t feel that wording wouldn’t be a prompt because I was not cold to the people who didn’t give a gift. Probably the only thing that would is if there was a check in the envelope that was never cashed.
        It’s also important to mention that my wedding was in New York City and from what I’ve read on APW the gift-giving ideas and expectations are totally different across the country.

    • Not Sarah

      To counter: I know plenty of people who would show up empty handed to someone’s dinner party. And I’m totally fine with that. It’s just how my circle of friends work.

      • Eenie

        In our circle of friends you even show up to birthday parties sans gifts…

        • Not Sarah

          I received THREE cards for my birthday this year, which I was incredibly surprised by. I don’t remember the last time I got a birthday card. (I’m 27.) One of my friends always brings a small present, but no one else would. I personally mostly hate gifts, but I will always write a check for a wedding.

      • Lindsay Rae

        I don’t mean my best friends who I see almost every weekend at someone’s house or back yard or for someone’s birthday at a bar – although usually for that we take turns buying the birthday person drinks. There’s definitely no obligation or expectation there, we do do it for holidays.
        I think as I said below this has to do with ideas and expectations that may be regional. My wedding was in NYC and I think that has a lot to do with my stance on this. But I do want to point out what I wrote in that I was surprised.. not pissed or disappointed or cutting these people out of my life. Since it’s something I personally would never do, I was just surprised.

        • Amy March

          Even in NYC, it’s not obligatory to give gifts, and sometimes people don’t.

          • Lindsay Rae

            Amy, I’m not sure if you’re reading what I wrote. I still stand by what I wrote in my comment and all of my responses that I believe and understand that there is no obligation. I’m allowed to be surprised that people did not bring me a card. I’m still their friend.. I did not freak out at my reception or after when I discovered they did not. I am just surprised. Because it is not something I would ever do. And from what I gather in the other comments, other people feel the same way that not getting a card wishing well is disappointing. I can tell you disagree. Which is totally fine for you when you are/were in this situation. In the culture of my group of family and friends, it’s just not something you do.

          • Amy March

            Except, apparently, it is? Because people just did it to you?

            I really do get the sadness, I just think it’s important to view the obligations you take on personally (I would never attend a wedding without a gift) versus the ones you expect from others.

          • Violet

            (Butting in, cause… I dunno why. I respect you both and just want everyone to get along?) I’m fairly sure you’re in the North Jersey area, so obviously I’m not going to take up a line of geographical differences. But isn’t it extremely likely that Lindsay Rae has gone to her friends’ weddings before and has seen their gift culture? And given the facts she lays out that gifts were, in fact, left at the venue, there is cause for concern that still others didn’t make their way to her? And that what she’s saying – that she was surprised and is a bit concerned as a result- is how she feels?
            I dunno, there’s obviously some statistical probability that your interpretation is correct, but only if you don’t believe the bulk of what Lindsay Rae is saying. I think you’ve mentioned writing in to an internet forum is a great way to get another perspective, and you like offering one. (And hell, I think a lot of us love reading your interpretations.) But then it’s up to the other person to decide if that perspective has merit. She’s said it doesn’t; doesn’t that wrap it up?

          • Liz

            I agree, Amy March, that you can’t worry about what other people “should” do, you can only worry about your own self “should.” But I think some of the folks commenting are just talking about how things made them feel, not whether or not it was right that they felt that way. Sometimes things bother me even when I know they shouldn’t. (and then I vent online/gchat my husband/text a friend and get it out of my system, and watch Unreal with a Kit Kat)

    • Kelly

      Ugh, I have the same problem! At least one couple said to me, “We’ll give you the gift back at home,” (it was a destination wedding) but we never got anything.

      And I know I should let it go, but I’m still upset over the friends who came to the wedding FOR FREE (my sister paid for their hotel room and transport) and didn’t even get us a card.

  • honeycomehome

    Another thing to realize, after you’ve gotten through these 160+ comments on why you shouldn’t expect a gift or confront your friend, is that friendship is long (hopefully). If you’ve known your BM since childhood, she’s already given you many gifts throughout the years and if you remain friends, there will be many more. Many, many more than the gifts you’ll get from more distant relatives or co-workers who did make sure to place a package on your gift table. She’ll talk you through fights you have with your husband, she’ll throw you a baby shower, she’ll meet you for happy hour so you can vent about your boss. She’s going to be at your parents’ funerals and your kids’ birthday parties.

    And though she’ll probably also make annoying financial decisions and spend money on vacations when you think she should save for a house or forget your birthday but remember #nationalcupcakeday, that’s part of the deal of having a friend. Everyone messes it up from time to time.

    Unless she’s repeatedly or intentionally hurting your feelings, it’s likely not worth mentioning.

    • Sarah E

      Well said.

    • Boomz4

      I don’t understand people who feel entitled to physical gifts.

      My BF and I have talked about it many times and both of us agree that we just wanna have a really great party with the people we love, when we do finally tie the knot.

      We just had our housewarming party this past weekend for the house we bought together last month. We 100% did NOT expect anyone to bring gifts. Kind of figured one or two people would bring a bottle of wine or something, but we were genuinely surprised when several of our guests brought gifts. It meant much more to us than it would have had we expected gifts. We simply were happy to have so many of our friends show up to celebrate with us and see our new home.

      Now – the reason I stumbled on this article is this… my older brother is getting married this spring. I don’t know his fiancee very well, because I live on the other side of the country and only met her when I went home for a weekend of family camping this summer. She ended up asking me to be a bridesmaid, which I thought was very sweet, and I accepted. I want to be 100% clear here that there is NO resentment or anything here – I am genuinely happy to participate in their wedding. However, between $300 on the dress, probably another $50 on shoes, and anywhere between $1200 and $1600 on flights for my BF and I, by the time all is said and done, we will have spent almost 2 grand. I can’t decide whether I should get them a gift on top of that or not. It’s not like we are hurting financially or anything, but we do have our own priorities, particularly now that we are new homeowners and do intend to marry sometime in the next few years. I know that regardless of what we choose to do, neither my brother or his fiancee are the type who would be upset about it or make an issue of it. In fact, I kind of suspect they would feel a bit bad if we got them your typical $250-350 gift, knowing we have already spent so much to attend.

      I am trying to figure out what the general etiquette is. I’m reading in some places that Bridesmaids are not expected to give gifts. In other places, I’m reading that they are….

  • elle

    Kind of in the same vein as this discussion – is there an appropriate way to ever tell people NOT to give you gifts? I’m thinking ahead to my future wedding. It would be my second wedding and my guy and I both have great jobs and truly don’t need anything. What would be an elegant way to say, thanks but no thanks?

    • Sarah E

      You can come up with all kinds of elegant wording, in my opinion. People will still do what they want, in the end. We said something along the lines of: “We are very fortunate to have a household together, and thanks to our loving families, have everything we need right now. We consider our wedding to be a celebration of our community as much as of our relationship and therefore truly consider your presence to be your gift to us– both on this occasion and in our lives. If you would still like a way to mark the occasion, we ask that you bring a framed photo of you, your family, or all of us together, so that we may fill our current apartment and any future home with the faces of our loved ones.”

      Photos received: About a handful, out of ~150 guests. A couple good friends gave us handmade art/keepsakes to hang on the wall. About 10 or so BFFs/cousins gave us a tangible gift anyway (we loved them all), and most people who wanted to give something gave cash.

      It’s absolutely possible to graciously request no gifts. You’ll still receive a few– graciously, of course.

      • elle

        I think that’s beautifully put! I’m OK with still graciously accepting gifts… I am definitely one of those people myself that brings gifts to a “no gift” occasion (I’m a really good gift giver and really enjoy it!). But I knew folks around here would have lovely ways of phrasing my thoughts ;-)

        • Amy March

          No way! Don’t give your guests instructions you wouldn’t follow. Totes unfair :)

      • TeaforTwo

        Yep! I was too old school/uptight to have any mention of gifts at all on our wedding website or anywhere else, but I wanted to keep things low-key, and so when people would ask, I would say that an ornament for our Christmas tree (we were married December 14th) would be very meaningful, as it would help us build a holiday family tradition.

        We decorate our tree on our anniversary, and I had envisioned pulling each ornament out of the box and thinking about the giver, and one day explaining to our kids that X ornament was a wedding gift from auntie so-and-so, and Y was a gift from cousin such-and-such.

        I really, really did want Christmas ornaments as wedding gifts, and I loved that it would also relieve some perceived financial pressure on our friends.

        We received many traditional gifts and cheques, and a whopping twelve place settings of Christmas china. (Which I laugh about because I spend 364 days a year storing twelve extra place settings, but actually I totally love that we have special holiday plates.) The couple who gave us the china did, however, tie a simple Christmas ornament onto the box ;)

        • Boomz4

          OMG I love the Christmas ornament idea! That’s so fucking cute!

  • MABie

    Yall, I feel like I might be able to shed some light on non-card-giving. As I mentioned in another comment on this thread, I once failed to give a gift to a couple for whom I was a bridesmaid. (Lots of reasons for this, but the primary one was that being in their wedding ate up 1/6 of the money that my fiancee and I had to live on for an entire year, and we just could not afford another penny.)

    But I also did not give a card!! Honestly, the reason was that I felt it would be insulting to them to just give a card. I thought it might look like I was sending a message that their wedding was such a burden to me that I couldn’t buy a gift. I was also just embarrassed; she was having a $100k wedding, and all of her other BMs were very well-off. I was the poor bridesmaid. It took me ages just to find the right shoes because I really couldn’t afford anything beyond like $30, and everything I showed her was rejected.

    I LOVE my friend. I send her cards and gifts on their anniversary every year! I was just trying not to make her feel uncomfortable. Now I am seeing that I probably DID make her REALLY uncomfortable. But please, don’t think your friends are necessarily being rude or trying to hurt you. They may be trying to spare you, or they may be super embarrassed about their own situations.

    • Ann

      I totally agree! This could have been written about me. A while back I was in my friend’s wedding as a bridesmaid and planned on sending her a gift afterwards, mostly because I didn’t understand it’s expected before or at the wedding (which, by the way, I’m gathering from this thread that it is? I’m getting married in two weeks and literally having a realization as my living room gets filled with boxes…) Anyway, I had a card purchased for the day of and was planning on writing a heartfelt note in it, but in a moment of panic I turned to a fellow (married) bridesmaid and said “Wait, is it weird to give just a card with no money in it?” and she said “Actually, yeah, I had some of those at my wedding and didn’t understand it.” So (a) apparently bad advice, (b) I didn’t want them to have a package sitting on their stoop while they were away on their honeymoon so I waited a while after they got back, (c) maybe I looked like I didn’t care even though I cared a lot! People just can be awkward about social norms, regardless of how well you know them, especially when it comes to weddings.

      • MABie

        “(which, by the way, I’m gathering from this thread that it is?)”

        Yes! I’ve learned a lot about wedding gifting norms from this thread. I’m 30, and I’ve been to a fair number of weddings, and now I’m like, fuck…I’ve definitely done some things that probably upset my friends, even though I really was doing my best given (1) my own limitations, and (2) my base level of knowledge about these things. :O(

        Also, as to your story about what the other BM said…that could have been me! I actually STILL have the card that I bought and had with me at that wedding, but chose not to give her. I shudder to think of what would have happened if I had consulted any of the other BMs about it!! (They were really mean and scary.)

      • Emily W

        “People can be awkward about social norms.”


    • TeaforTwo

      Yep, I have been this bridesmaid, too. For my brother’s wedding.

      I was 19, and broke, and had spent hundreds of dollars on hair, makeup and a hideous burgundy polyester halter dress. I also had NO IDEA about weddings or wedding parties. So I didn’t give a gift, and I didn’t write a card, and when I read letters like this one, I wince a bit and hope that my SIL didn’t take it as an intentional slight.

      As to the card issue: I love receiving cards, but I am not always great at writing them, and when someone I really, really love gets married, I often freeze up about what to say and how to express it all. And so I hope that in my years of knowing and loving the couple, I have said enough warm and lovely things spontaneously that they know how much I adore them, and what I adore about them, and how many wonderful things I wish for them. Cards just aren’t my love language; showing up is.

  • Corinne Keel

    I don’t want to pile on, because I know lot of folks have already said the first thing that came to my mind: Gifts are never required. However, two things: 1. a thank you note is most certainly in order for anyone in the wedding party anyway, regardless of whether they brought a gift; 2. give it time! don’t assume that someone has dropped the gift-giving ball because they show up empty handed. I often give gifts after a wedding, either because I’m busy, didn’t have the registry information, or just plain forgot about it until later (which sort of goes back to being busy).

  • CP2011

    My initial reaction when I saw the headline was “why would your bridesmaid need to give you a wedding present! They were your bridesmaid!” I don’t think any of our wedding party gave us a gift and I likely would have felt bad if they did– I mean they traveled, lodged and bought attire all on their own dime– which likely ended up being a lot more money than the average gift.

  • TechLibbie21

    My fiancé was in a wedding two years ago, which I attended with him. We sent a nice gift off the registry with a note attached to it. After the wedding, the groom called my guy **wanting to know where our card was.** Mr. Tech explained we had sent a gift off the registry and we wrote a note there. To our utter shock and total surprise, apparently this wasn’t good enough. Mr. Tech was roasted for not having spent enough (after being in the wedding party and dropping 1k on the bachelor party, which included paying for the groom), I was shredded for not having written a handwritten card, and, I swear I am not making this up, the 15 year long friendship they had ENDED over this.

    We have sworn up, down, and sideways that no matter what, we have no expectations when it comes to others attending our wedding because of this. If even one of us starts to get presumptuous, the reminder about what happened goes out. We are not entitled to anything, they aren’t required to do anything, and everyone who attends will get a gracious thank you note, whether or not they gave a gift.

    • Eh

      I bought a gift for a friend off her registry but I felt weird about not bringing a gift/card to the reception. So I bought a card and wrote her well wishes. Then I felt weird that the card didn’t have money or anything in it (I still didn’t put anything in it). it would have probably been less awkward for me if I just didn’t get the card. lol

  • So, what about a long-time friend of over 15 years who couldn’t get us a card? It’s hard to not compare when I know she made Art for other friends who were married this same year…

    • Essssss

      It’s hard not to compare, and its great that you can see that you’re doing it. But, do you want to stop? Are you willing to have a purely positive feeling about this friendship, without that sharp edge? Are you interested in seeing this person as the true friend that they are, and to see the actions that they take to be that whole, complete human? Or are they just a person who couldn’t be bothered to get a card?

      You get to choose the conclusion that is more interesting, and helpful. Here are a few options: 1) She couldn’t (even) get you a card, even though she did so much for those other people. Ouch. Or 2) She, like everyone else in the world, is human. Who knows what was going on that kept her from putting in the time she might have, but she made a choice, consciously or unconsciously, as people do. She has been a friend for 15 grand years of life’s ups and downs. She contributes to you. And there is reason to be grateful for other amazing things that she brings to your life such as (fill in the blank).

      Which feels better? You get to choose.

      • I appreciate your thoughtful and inspiring response. In the past year, we’ve grown so far apart and recently, with patterns established, it isn’t always the most positive relationship. No contributions to speak of, really, and the benefit of the doubt has been given such a regular and rigorous exercise, it’s pretty much exhausted.

        So, when this came about I took it very hard, and possibly more personally than I should have.

        • Essssss

          Sounds like you’re thinking about it in all the right ways. Friendships aren’t perfect or easy, and one action can feel like more because of other experiences!!! Wishing you grace and wisdom in how your relationship moves forward.

      • I came back to understanding and just letting it go. There’s no need to generate these feelings, period, other than a way of feeling it, and moving on (and back to building up the friendship again).

  • CMT


  • Chelsea

    I can’t APW actually took this woman seriously enough to publish her letter! Is this The Onion or APW?

  • Aimlesstraveler

    I am wracked with guilt three years later about failing to give a gift at my childhood friend’s wedding. To be fair, I had just been laid off (like a few days before the wedding) and my financial situation had been tenuous at best for years at that point. I thought things would improve and I’d be able to send something during the year limit… But they didn’t. They still haven’t improved all that much. She sent me a thank you note for coming and I feel like the time is past. We’ve never openly acknowledged this. She somewhat recently bought a house. Can I buy her a housewarming present and write a note about how this is making up for my lapse 3 years ago? Or should I let it go?

    • Rebekah

      That sounds like a great idea if you’re in a position to be able to do that now. You could even say, “For your new house and your slightly-less-new marriage, from the bottom of our old friendship.” Or whatever you like :)

    • Amy March

      Let it go!!!!!

  • emmeline

    It could be helpful to the LW that in some wedding cultures there is a one-year period after the wedding within which it is still acceptable to give a gift. And also in some wedding cultures, it is traditional for the bridesmaid/MOH to give a gift at the one-year anniversary, perhaps as a “hey look where we are now”, or possible because being in a wedding party can be incredibly financially crippling!

  • LizStanton

    Similar vein, but slightly different – I’d be interested on people’s thoughts on an anecdote from my sister’s wedding last year –

    A good friend of mine was invited, attended, and sent a gift following the wedding. Less than six months later she called me to complain that my sister had not sent them a thank you note.

    Of course, thank you notes are polite and a lovely way to thank people for attending your wedding (my sister did send out thank you notes, my friend just hadn’t received hers yet). But is it really okay for a guest to be so upset that they didn’t receive a thank you note?

    • Eh

      I am not sure if it is ‘okay’ for a guest to be upset that they have not received a thank you note for a gift; however people in my husband’s family find it very rude when thank you notes are not sent for showers, weddings, etc in a timely manner. My BIL/SIL had a baby shower, a baby, a bridal shower and a wedding (in that order) in an 8 month period and did not send any thank you notes. By the time their wedding came around, some family members were feeling that my BIL/SIL were ungrateful and this may have influenced their choice of wedding present.

    • Lisa

      I think back to that old rule that pointing out someone else’s breach of etiquette is in itself a breach. I completely understand being upset, but I feel that friend complained to you with the hopes that you would relay the message back to your sister and secure her note. Or maybe she was worried your sister hadn’t received the gift. The friend has a right to feel her feelings (I’ve been disappointed for not being thanked for gifts, too), but bringing up the disappointment to a key person comes across as manipulative and in poor taste.

  • AJ

    Only once I was unable to give a wedding gift, and this is when I was a bridesmaid. At the time I had just moved to a different state, several hours away, and was living on my own at the time and not making much money. But I was there for every wedding related activity that took place on a weekend, due to circumstances with the bridal party hosted (paid for) the the shower alone, and took time off work to travel for the wedding and help with last minute crafts. I was more than happy to do these things because I wanted to support my friend. However when the wedding came I just really didn’t have much money; so I only gave a card and apologized that I couldn’t give them a gift. She told me I was silly and that she didn’t need me to buy a gift because I had given her so much, and she meant it.

    Not knowing the particular circumstances aside, feelings aren’t good or bad, they just are. But if I were LW’s friend and she came looking for a gift, I don’t know, I don’t think I would want to be friends anymore.

  • NTB

    I told my bridesmaids – and all of the families in our wedding party – that the gift of their presence was “gift” enough, hoping they’d get the hint that HEY, WE HAVE WAY TOO MANY WAFFLE MAKERS ALREADY, please save your money for the out-of-town expenses (not to mention, dress, shoes, transportation, meals, etc. that I knew they would incur as guests who were flying in from IL, CA, and all over the country).

    Some of them still got us gifts, and we were very, very grateful for any and ALL gifts we received, including the gift of someone’s presence.

    People do what they can financially.

  • Diana Lang

    Something no one is mentioning here is that guests have a year to give the couple a gift. If the LW is so concerned with societal etiquette, she should understand that bringing a gift to a wedding is now often seen as taboo and Emily Post advises that guests send a gift to the couple’s home after the wedding. Perhaps the bridesmaid is waiting to send her gift until after the bride has written her hundreds of thank you notes, has found the perfect place for her new toaster/panini press/pasta maker, has caught up on work she missed during her honeymoon and has settled in with her new husband. But I agree that being a bridesmaid and putting out money for everything that being a bridesmaid entails is gift enough. There is nothing tackier than confronting a guest about their gift, or lack thereof.

  • kim

    OMG. Are you kidding me? Yes, to answer your question, you should adjust your expectations. And you should send her a thank you note. Thank her for being there for you on such a special and important day of your life. Thank her for the years of friendship the two of you have shared, and tell her you are looking forward to making many more wonderful memories together. Once the wedding fog has lifted from your brain, and once you have some perspective, hopefully, you will be very very happy that you did not “confront” your friend with such a petty (and potentially friendship-harming) complaint.

  • I love how she’s so concerned about “old-fashioned etiquette” yet doesn’t have any clue that the rudest thing in the world is whining to someone about how she didn’t get you a gift. Brat.

  • sethblink

    She didn’t give a gift or a card. You would think a non gift-giver might at least write a card. Which brings up another possibility. She did give a gift and it got lost. Just sayin’…

    In olden days, etiquette said you had up to a year to give somebody a gift. That’s old-fashioned, but still…

    Other than that, I agree with you. A gift is never required. A confrontation is not appropriate. Some people I’m sure, gave more than you expected. Unless you are giving them a refund, don’t ask for a recount from the frugal bridesmaid.

  • Kris

    I’m going to be charitable and assume LW wants to know if the post office stole her toaster. Once I assume that I have the following idea: write BFF a note sincerely thanking her for being there/standing with you/helping you get ready. If the post office did steal the toaster she sent you she will likely say something like “I got your card…but why didn’t you say anything about the toaster? Did you not get it?” If she says nothing about a toaster then there was no toaster. Mystery solved.

  • Sarah Jakeš

    When I got married, years ago, I gave my bridesmaids gifts to show my appreciation of them. Nothing extravagant, just little freshwater pearl earring and necklace sets. I did not expect them to give ME gifts, specifically because they had spent their money and time on my wedding.

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    What a spoiled greedy Bridzilla! Self centered little brat should consider herself lucky she’s still got any friends left after her tacky gift grab wedding! The average bridesmaid drops over $1600 and typically a ton of free labor for the “honor” of being a bridesmaid! After spending hundreds of dollars to for the “honor” of being in Bridzilla’s wedding and being at Bridzilla’s beck and call, the Bridesmaid is expected to cough up more money for this selfish brat? What she shelled out already isn’t enough!? WTF? How the hell do people get so greedy? Spoiled monster bride and groom deserve a good swift boot the their over indulged, entitled rear ends!


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  • BBfromBrooklyn

    Dear Mrs. Newlywed,

    While your world may revolve around your wedding, everyone else’s probably doesn’t. Maybe your friend already stretched her selflessness with being in your wedding party. Maybe she was supposed to spend 21 days in Europe and she only spent 19 because she had to save for your wedding. Maybe she thought you were being a Bridezilla and couldn’t bring herself to buy you matching casserole dishes on top of a dress she’ll never wear again. Maybe she’s not sentimental and thought her willing presence and lifetime of friendship measured her love for you more than actual measuring cups ever could.

    Maybe you’re still in bride mode, but my love, the wedding is over. Real work begins after the wedding, and you’ll probably need your age-old friend’s knowing laughter and acceptance down the road. Just like your husband isn’t perfect or going to make you happy 100% of the time, neither is your friend. Love is choosing to see the bigger picture.

    Former MOH & Bridesmaid; current wife.

    • Boomz4

      “While your world may revolve around your wedding, everyone else’s probably doesn’t.”

      THIS. 100%

  • Cait

    I wouldn’t be upset if someone in my bridal party didn’t give me a gift, I understand I am asking them to do a lot and spend a lot of money on my wedding. What did get me upset though was that one of my brides maids came to my engagement party and didn’t even bring a card. Whether there would have been a monetary gift or not. I was in her wedding and did EVERYTHING for this girl along with the maid of honor, and we didn’t even get so much as a thank you.(she really seemed like she didn’t even care about her wedding) So I guess I really shouldn’t have expected a gift, but a card saying congrats would have at least been nice. :[

  • Jennifer Dziura

    I didn’t have bridesmaids because I don’t demand that my friends do free work for me. My friends want to sit at a table and drink alcohol with their boyfriends, like civilized people, not like assistants or therapists or performers in a pageant. Demanding that someone do a bunch of free labor for you AND buy you a gift is super not cool.

    • raccooncity

      All times I’ve been a bridesmaid I’ve only been asked to be available all day the day of the wedding. That was literally it. I did do things for them that day, but I also have helped my friends move before too. It’s friendship – you help your friends on their most important days and drink with your boyfriend/girlfriend on other days. I never saw it as a weird slave labour situation. And aside from one crazy long lineup at McDonalds for breakfast, I think my friends would have chosen helping me with my wedding day (which was a fun day) over say, catsitting for me (another classic friend ask) any day of the week.

      Obviously I didn’t tell them to buy me any gifts though, but that said, we didn’t ask the guests for any either.

  • I’m confused about the expectations here. My understanding of wedding etiquette is that the couple doesn’t receive gifts from the wedding party – those people have already given gifts of time, energy, skill and likely money as well in helping make the wedding happen. (All that travel and those clothes and helping with things like hen nights is not cheap!)

    Instead, it’s always been normal and expected in my experience that the couple will present the wedding party with some small gifts – small jewellery items, or gift cards, flowers for the mothers of the couple, or other small tokens of appreciation.

    Is this a cultural difference maybe?

  • thechimes

    I thwarted this issue by telling my wedding party up front that they are not to get us gifts (shower or wedding gifts) because them being in the party is more than enough of a gift to us, especially when we are asking people to travel. This post really rubbed me the wrong way. :(

  • ReesyPiecey

    Why on earth should your bridesmaids of all people be expected to give you a gift! They already gave you a gift when the accepted…accepted to be your bridesmaid and then accepted to pay HUNDREDS of dollars to come to all your events, plan them, and buy a dress that is YOUR vision for YOUR day????? Get a grip on life if you expect them to get you anything besides their participation

  • Element_Girl

    Okay I know this all went down some time ago but I just CANNOT with people like this letter writer. No one owes you a wedding gift, get off your goddamn high horse.

  • JustJenna

    My brother and soon to be sister in law, who were both attendants In my wedding, didn’t give me a gift either. And I’d paid for everything them, tux, dress, shoes, makeup etc. They didn’t provide a shower, bachelorette party, n bachelor party for my husband, or anything. I was a bit stung. They’re getting married in 2017 and told me not to buy them gifts; they’d prefer I contributed to their honeymoon fund. The nerve! Yeah, that’s so not happening. I’ll go to the wedding and wish them a happy life together but I’m not funding them a honeymoon when they couldn’t be bothered to give me even a card.

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  • Steph S.

    I don’t think anyone owes gifts at a wedding ever, even the bridal party. Plenty of our friends didn’t bring gifts and I was totally fine with it. My bridesmaids and my maid-of-honor didn’t get me gifts and I didn’t care, especially because they paid their own money to fly halfway across the country to be in my wedding, and I was incredibly grateful for that.

  • Stephanie Hazeem

    I remember a few weddings spending well over $100 on my outfit. After shoes, the dress, etc… it’s not cheap… then missing a day of work…. It’s expensive… Sometimes by that time I really can’t afford anything but a card… It’s embarrassing… However, after spending so much money on the wedding, and getting to the wedding, if someone made me feel bad about not bring a gift I would probably never speak to them again.

  • saltybridesmaid

    This whole concept is super annoying. Be in my wedding. Buy a dress, shoes, jewelry. Get your hair and make up done. Take off of work. Engagement gift. Bridal shower gifts. Out of town bachelorette party, gift at party…. $1300 later and you want me to put cash in a card for you?!?!?!?! ugh. So totally don’t want to. I’m not broke. I’m just sick of spending all my hard earned money on someone else’s big day. But etiquette says give give give! So I’ll probably go pick up a stupid card and stop at the stupid ATM. Grrrr. Rant over :)

  • Yancey105

    This is an old post but let’s just say that I’ll agree to disagree with the replies on this post.

    My daughter was a bridesmaid to one of her closest friends, let call her Jane. Jane’s matron of honor “collected” $250 from each of Jane’s bridal party, including my daughter, to help offset the cost of the shower for Jane’s mother. Apparently it is customary for the bridal party to pay for the bride’s shower. The matron of honor also collected $190 each for the bachelorette party which took place out of state, 3 hour drive & tolls. Jane also chose a $250 dress for her bridesmaids to wear and instructed them how to wear their hair. My daughter also gave her $350 wedding gift. Yes, my daughter did not want to say no, even though she could not afford it because she was honored to be asked and wanted to make her “close friend” happy. She spent almost $900 when all was said and done.

    My became engaged and asked Jane to be in her bridal party. Jane wanted to shop online for the bridesmaids dress to try and get it cheaper, Jane refused to pay $100 to the maid of honor toward my daughters shower gift, (I hosted my daughter’s shower and did not expect nor request any assistance). Jane arrived 3 hours late to the bachelorette party, she refused to help pay for the cost of the hotel room and slept on the floor. She refused to have her hair as my daughter requested and gave her $150 for her wedding gift.

    So yes, etiquette states that you are not obligated to give a gift but we’re in 2016 and when you agree to be part of a bridal wedding party, it is expected that you are Ok with all of the things that go along with the traditions and fees. If you CANNOT afford to participate and it’s a warship you should say no. My daughter would have respected a refusal more than the insult of less than half of the gift she gave.

    And for all those that say that you don’t have to reciprocate with the same gift that you give and it’s all about the thought, BULL!!!!

    But this is just my opinion of course.

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  • Brown Eyed Girl

    This post sounds like it was written about me. My best friend from growing up got married last year. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding and I worked at a paid internship full time, and went to to school full time, and was on a strict budget. Hidden costs kept coming up, money was always needed right away. These weren’t always the brides fault, but it created a huge divide between my boyfriend and I when every other week I had to shell it $100 we didn’t budget for. Three days before the wedding, the bride sent out a message that we were going to have to pay $80 for our hair to be done, when in previous conversations she told me she would be covering that for us. I was so upset, as I had budgeted $100 gift for the wedding, and couldn’t afford to give a gift AND get my hair done. I ultimately chose the hair. Maybe it was selfish, but I didn’t want to make a stink about the cost so close to her wedding, and thought that my friendship, love, support, and time invested into making her day great was more of a gift then $100 bucks on her wedding day.