Wedding Gifts: Nope, Not an Option.


people who attend a wedding without giving a gift

My husband and me on our wedding day, June 20, 2009. Photo by Karlin Perez.

I’m going to admit something that could make me look like a petty jerk.

Ok, I’ll say it.

I remember the two guests at my wedding who never sent a gift.

I got married six years ago and I enjoyed my wedding, (especially my dress which came from somewhere similar to https://www.winniecouture.com/stores/wedding-dresses-chicago-il) . I’m not a grudge holder. Nope. No grudges here.

It’s out and I feel slightly ashamed. On one hand, I’m grateful people spent their time and money coming to my wedding and celebrating our special day. On the other hand, these people attended a nice event, ate a free meal, enjoyed an open bar, and had a good time on the dance floor. There wasn’t much arm-twisting involved. Once it was over, the least they could have done was send a $3.99 card from Hallmark wishing us well.

I am not alone in my animosity.

I recently attended a girls’ dinner with around 20 other married women. Every single one of them had at least one wedding guest who never sent a gift and these women still remembered exactly who the offenders were Planning a wedding, buying the dress and looking on a website like this to get rings can be very stressful so the least we deserve is a gift for all our hard work! That’s what me and my friends think anyway..

Some of these women have been married for as long as fifteen years and still have not forgotten.

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I’m going to be a tad sexist and assume the primary group of non-gifting offenders are men, who are often ignorant about etiquette and likely forget to send a gift after the wedding comes and goes.Depending on how close you are with the family is, it differs from the sort of gift you may want to give them. Even if you give them custom bobbleheads (bride and groom), hopefully they’ll like it as much as anything else.

Before my husband and I met, he was invited to the wedding of one of his engineering school classmates. He told me about how he RSVP’d that he was attending the wedding, but something unexpectedly came up and not only did he not attend, but he also never sent a gift. He was probably 23 years old at the time. When he told me this story, I was mortified at his inconsideration and rudeness, even though being inconsiderate and rude was not his intention. He chalked it up to pure ignorance.

The bottom line: if you RSVP that you are attending a wedding and you don’t show up, you better be in the morgue. And if you’re not in the morgue, you’re going to be mentally dead to the bride. I promise. Further, not only should you still send a gift, but it needs to cover the cost of the meals you RSVP’d for, because that money was flushed down the toilet by your failure to attend.

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Dancing and other tomfoolery at my wedding reception. Photo by Karlin Perez.

There also appears to be a positive correlation between people who get married young and people with a high number of non-gifting attendees. This is probably because the guest list includes many unmarried “youngsters” who are fresh out of college, struggling to make ends meet, and going online to check out a wedding registry genuinely slipped their minds.

Of the non-gifting attendees, the ones I find the most incredulous are the women who were once brides themselves. These women should know better.

One of my work colleagues recently told a story around the water cooler about a couple in her circle of friends who notoriously attend weddings without sending gifts. Apparently, everyone talks about it behind their backs and my colleague was a “victim” herself. A few weeks ago, she received an invitation for a coed baby shower where the non-gifting couple were the guests of honor. For the couples’ fifth daughter. My colleague was appalled the couple was soliciting gifts when they already had tons of “girl” gear and, more importantly, they were expecting gifts when they never give any gifts themselves. Life isn’t fair, but that didn’t seem just.

Giving a wedding gift is not optional. It is required. It’s not about the money; rather, it’s about the thought and consideration behind the gift. There are many inexpensive choices for guests who are low on cash to give a gift without going bankrupt. A picture collage. An original poem. A paperback book about love or advice about marriage. Movie tickets. Heck, a mixed CD. If you are struggling with what to get the bride and groom, you could look at something like – Unique Personalized Gifts. At the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts. Don’t be that person that turns up without a gift.

Something.

Playwright William Conegreve got it right. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

I can tell you the groom won’t remember the guest who didn’t send a wedding gift. But the bride will remember. She might never utter a word about it to her husband, her friends, or even her own mother, but she will remember. Don’t be the target of a bride’s scorn.

Cheers!

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    26 Comments on Wedding Gifts: Nope, Not an Option.

    1. Stella
      March 28, 2017 at 12:05 am (5 years ago)

      Petty. Do you really want to remember the guests who didn’t bring gifts your wedding? Sorry but I don’t think they deserve the honor. I’d rather think fondly of the good times and memories on that day.

      • jenniferdaku
        March 28, 2017 at 7:16 am (5 years ago)

        It’s absolutely petty. Nonetheless, it is what it is. Absolutely didn’t overshadow the good memories of the day. Cheers!

    2. Sara Glomski
      September 24, 2015 at 8:48 pm (7 years ago)

      SO TRUE! My mother will never ever ever ever forget the 3 people who RSVP’d yes and didn’t show. And I know exactly who came and didn’t bring a gift. 😉

    3. Heather Serra
      September 3, 2015 at 1:12 pm (7 years ago)

      DAMN! Tell it sister!! My guy and I went to his brother’s wedding this past July and I’m sure that if it weren’t for me, he would’ve totally skipped the gift thing. Granted, their family, and maybe it’s no big deal to them, but etiquette is big for me. Like you said, a poem, a mixed tape, a photo collage. Being broke is no excuse for laziness. Be creative!!

      • jenniferdaku
        September 8, 2015 at 6:23 am (7 years ago)

        I’m all for creativity. Being a wedding guest doesn’t mean someone has to break the bank. Thanks for stopping by, Heather!

    4. Joanna
      September 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm (7 years ago)

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I don’t like holding grudges or even thinking about it because it seems selfish…I still remember the multiple people who didn’t bring or send gifts. I just feel like you need to bring a wedding gift if you’re going to a wedding. It’s just what you’re supposed to do!!

      • jenniferdaku
        September 8, 2015 at 6:24 am (7 years ago)

        Exactly! I have no idea why some people think it’s an option and, like I said, I think people legitimately forget.

    5. Lynn
      August 31, 2015 at 12:54 pm (7 years ago)

      My husband and I got married 6 years ago and none of his guy friends got us anything…no card…no nothing. Some of them asked to bring guests we didn’t know and we agreed because we wanted them to have a good time. So 25-30 people got a good dinner and free drinks all night. I will never forget that…

      • jenniferdaku
        August 31, 2015 at 1:03 pm (7 years ago)

        I can totally relate. Some of my husband’s friends called us the WEEK OF THE WEDDING to ask if their “flavor of the week” could come as a date. Um, no. As space was already limited and we had to exclude friends and family members, I wasn’t about to fork over money so a stranger could attend our special day. Most of these guys didn’t send gifts. Back to what I said about the main offenders being men. As I wasn’t born into the DuPont family, we had to finance the wedding ourselves, like most brides and grooms these days. Guests seem to have a sense of entitlement about who should be invited, what they should get to drink, etc. Cheers!

    6. Gilly Maddison
      August 31, 2015 at 12:48 pm (7 years ago)

      How rude! Maybe the envelope stuffed with money fell down the back of something? I guess not.I don’t blame you for feeling annoyed – weddings cost an absolute fortune and even a small gift shows appreciation for being important enough to be included.

    7. Kristine
      August 29, 2015 at 7:06 am (7 years ago)

      OMG! I thought I was alone in this! How crazy – I would never show up without a gift. At our wedding, a couple of his buddies forgot and either dropped the cards off the next day or mailed it to us… We only had one couple who did not give us anything. And you are right – after two years, I still remember.

    8. AJB
      August 26, 2015 at 1:00 pm (7 years ago)

      100% remember the few people that didn’t give us a gift. Seems so silly that we remember these people but like you said… even a card would be enough.

      • jenniferdaku
        August 26, 2015 at 9:05 pm (7 years ago)

        Word! (And yes, I feel horrible for remembering!)

    9. Emily
      August 26, 2015 at 12:21 pm (7 years ago)

      Dear lord, please tell me I’m not one of the two!!!

    10. Ali A
      August 26, 2015 at 11:23 am (7 years ago)

      Literally cannot fathom going to a person’s wedding and not bringing a gift. I have heard of this happening, though – and it’s absurd! The only time I didn’t give a gift was when I got an invite to a former coworker’s wedding and RSVP’ed no because I didn’t know a single soul going AND it wasn’t even in New York. I probably could have given SOMETHING, but at least I didn’t go to the wedding – and we weren’t even close. But yeah, people have no manners. It’s crazy.

      • jenniferdaku
        August 26, 2015 at 9:07 pm (7 years ago)

        People who don’t attend a wedding and don’t give a gift get a “get out of hell free card.” It’s the people who eat and booze it up while not giving anything, and having the audacity to think their “presence is the present” who are appalling. Thanks Ali!

    11. LauraInFlorida
      August 26, 2015 at 11:17 am (7 years ago)

      Loved this post and couldn’t agree more! I have a slightly different perspective on this, as my first (and only!) wedding ceremony did not take place until I was in my 40s. My husband (who is a bit older) and I paid for everything, and approximately 40% of the guests traveled from out-of-town, so we had a large rehearsal dinner as well (inviting every guests who traveled to be here). Several of those guests (who didn’t want to leave at the end of either reception, as they had no place pressing to go) brought no gifts or cards. Several guests living in this same town brought no gifts. Our wedding was at 1 PM, with an afternoon reception. We were floored when the invoice for the reception’s beverages arrived: we anticipated many would opt for wine or beer, since it was early and much of the reception was outdoors. Instead, guests consumed a LOT of liquor. I also wanted to add I agree with you about it being the thought behind the gift and not the amount being spent. Some of our favorite gifts were unique and not expensive at all, but they are special as they were chosen just for us. We also registered for a number of items in a variety of price ranges. One final thought: I wonder if people assumed the two of us already had everything we needed, since we older at the time of our marriage. We registered mainly for everyday dishes and glassware, as between us we have several sets of china handed down from our parents and grandparents, but we had no everyday dishes, and neither of us had a nice set of glasses!

    12. Sarah J
      August 26, 2015 at 1:19 am (7 years ago)

      Oh my gosh I COULDN’T AGREE MORE with your post! We got married out of college and a handful of our friends had to travel to out wedding. Traveling was 6 hours not a plane flight. There were several guests (not just one or two) that didn’t ever give us a wedding present. Someone told me that their traveling to our wedding was the gift which I guess I accepted as my answer because I feel guilty for being hurt. Two years later and it’s still a bummer that I obviously remember but you try and move on. Gotta make this post go viral!

      • jenniferdaku
        August 26, 2015 at 6:15 am (7 years ago)

        Thanks Sarah! I was a little worried that I’d be crucified in looking like a spoiled brat with this post, but it’s important to speak my truth (AND obviously this is something that all former brides think but don’t always want to publicly admit.) No, attending a wedding is NOT the gift. Whoever said that needs to get over themselves. They also ate and drank on the bride and groom’s dime. Again, it’s not about the value of the gift, and if those people thought traveling was expensive, they still could have sent a “congratulations” card. I mean REALLY!

        • Lynn
          August 31, 2015 at 12:58 pm (7 years ago)

          you are ABSOLUTELY correct in feeling hurt. It feels like they weren’t there to celebrate with you, only to take advantage of free food and booze…

    13. Laura
      August 26, 2015 at 12:05 am (7 years ago)

      I totally agree! And the same story can be said about brides that don’t send thank you notes for the gifts they do receive!

      • jenniferdaku
        August 26, 2015 at 6:17 am (7 years ago)

        I can’t even wrap my mind around people who think they are justified in not sending thank you cards. To this day, I still have a chick who never sent a thank you card for a wedding gift and I have NO IDEA whether she got the gift. (And she never acknowledged it with a text message, email, or even a verbal “thank you” so I know she received it.)

    14. Barbara
      August 25, 2015 at 10:15 pm (7 years ago)

      I’m curious what your thoughts on thank you cards are? Do you send thank you’s to everyone that attended the wedding, even if they didn’t give a gift?

      • jenniferdaku
        August 26, 2015 at 6:22 am (7 years ago)

        I was just talking to a friend about this subject tonight, Barbara. She sent thank-you-for-coming cards for guests who flew from the other side of the country to attend the wedding who never sent a gift. It’s a nice gesture, but not required by the formal rules of etiquette, which only mandate that a person send a thank-you for a gift. Same way I wouldn’t send a formal thank-you-for-coming card to guests who attended a dinner party, birthday party, housewarming party, etc.

    15. swapna
      August 25, 2015 at 8:55 pm (7 years ago)

      RSVP doesn’t quite work in India! Its kinna a buffet where the caterers charge in the end depending on the # of plates used! haha. What annoys me is people expecting gifts when the wedding invite clearly says “no gifts please!” (yeah! Thats a thing!). I don’t understand why people think theres some ambiguity attached to this line. I mean, why write it if you secretly want people go get something anyways?

      • jenniferdaku
        August 26, 2015 at 6:19 am (7 years ago)

        This fascinates me, Swapna. I have NEVER received an invitation that said “no gifts please” for a wedding, but I have seen them for birthday parties. I guess the bride feels that someone traveling to the other side of the world to attend a wedding is already spending a fortune. And surely, the guests should respect the couples’ wishes. Thanks for stopping by!