How to ask a prickly question about wedding gifts?
May 19, 2010 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Prickly wedding etiquette question: We got married a little ways back, had a wonderful wedding, an unforgettable honeymoon, and are now back in the real world again. We're ready to sit down and write our thank-you cards, and have run into a slight... hiccup.

After tallying all of the cards, registry gifts, and other random knick-knacks and handcrafts that we received, it appears as if two of our very closest friends didn't give us so much as a card.

Now, this isn't about some misplaced notion of entitlement. We're decently comfortable, and won't starve to death for lack of an ergonomic silicone oven mitt. Some of our friends are social workers and community organizers, and we'll treasure the cards they gave us for their heartfelt inscriptions.

These two friends are slightly flaky, sure, but we've known both of them for over a decade, and talk to them on a daily if not semi-weekly basis. One was in the wedding, and the other travelled quite a bit to be here, so we very much doubt this was some sort of passive-aggressive move on either of their parts. Both of them are very successful. One of them even asked us "is a check ok, or do you really want something off of the registry".

I'm mostly worried that this was some sort of mistake or mix up during the chaos of the wedding, and that gifts were lost. The venue had placed a locked gift box on a table during the cocktail hour, and then removed it before dinner was served, and for the rest of the evening people were giving envelopes to us.

So... what do we do? Do we pretend like nothing happened and send generic "thank you for your generous gift" cards? Do we frame it as "things were kind of mixed up and we may have lost your present"?

We've spoken with both of these people since the wedding multiple times, and they were both grateful to be included and very happy for us, so we don't think there's anything untoward going on here. Meanwhile, both my wife and I are very definitely... troubled by what to do with this, and its coloring our relationship with these friends.

Posted anonymously on the (extremely unlikely) chance that either of these two friends could identify us.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do we pretend like nothing happened and send generic "thank you for your generous gift" cards?

I would just send an even more generic "thank you" for participating in such an important thing for you. The gifts don't really matter anyway, do they?
posted by me & my monkey at 4:05 PM on May 19, 2010 [15 favorites]

If I recall correctly, Emily Post gives you a year to come up with a wedding gift. So unless it's been a year (in which case you are seriously tardy on your thank-you notes, ahem) then it's possible they may simply not have gotten around to, haven't figured out what exactly they want to give you, figured they would wait and see if there were any holes left in your registry that they could fill, or any other number of reasons.

It's also possible that they just didn't give you a gift. And that's their prerogative, even if it may seem mystifying to you.

Don't bring it up. If you value them as friends, just let it go.
posted by ambrosia at 4:08 PM on May 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

Just don't send a card and don't worry about it.
posted by BaxterG4 at 4:08 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, maybe since they are so close to you, they didn't do a gift. I mean, sometimes with friends this close, it feels weird to give a gift at a big event like a wedding. Maybe that's just me.
posted by k8t at 4:09 PM on May 19, 2010

They matter to some folks, but the "thank you for taking part in our wonderful ceremony" works for the possible mis-matches.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:09 PM on May 19, 2010 [7 favorites]

There is also the old-fashioned thought that you have up to a year after the wedding to give the newlyweds their gift. It could also have been simple forgetfulness and they forgot, or it got lost, or any number of other things.

If you're concerned about it, call the venue and ask, or if you want to risk the friendship.. I'd say call them as your LAST resort, if you're genuinely curious and know they will not care about your inquiry.
posted by Hwin at 4:09 PM on May 19, 2010

("They" being gifts in my prior comment)
posted by filthy light thief at 4:10 PM on May 19, 2010

The gifts don't really matter anyway, do they?

But if they sent checks and the checks never get cashed, they'll figure out that something went wrong.

However, isn't the etiquette that you have a year from the wedding to give a wedding gift? Maybe they just haven't sent their gifts yet.
posted by amro at 4:10 PM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do NOT send a thank you card if you don't have a gift from them. You'll communicate something you don't intend.

I imagine there are two possible scenarios:
1. They did give a gift and it got lost.
I know of several cases where this has happened, and in some cases both parties assumed the worst of the other party (no gift/no thank you) for YEARS before the mix-up was discovered.

2. They did not give a gift.
I have been this person in a couple of cases with close friends and it was always because of feeling overwhelmed by finding a gift good enough to honor our relationship - so, if they didn't give a gift, don't assume it means bad things about the friendship. Plus there is some traditional belief that guests have a year after the wedding to send belated gifts, so they may just be counting on that window.

I think you just have to ask, as tactfully as possible. If they say there wasn't a thing, you just have to assume the best of their motives, per #2.

I would ask maybe in an email or in person/phone. "We were so glad everybody made it and especially were glad to have you there for the wedding. We've been doing our thank you notes and thinking back over the day and we're just so happy and grateful. I just want to double check with you -- we don't have anything on the list from you, but there was some confusion at the venue and I just want to be sure there wasn't a thing that got lost somewhere along the way. If there WAS something that got lost please let me know!"
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:12 PM on May 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

I would send a card thanking the one for being in the wedding, and the other for coming. Both of these amount to time spent and expenses incurred that they willing did out of love and support for you. I don't think that it is generic to thank your friends for these things; pretty specific actually. This will also clue them in to ask you if you received their check or whatever, if one was put in the mail or left at the reception. Sometimes gifts and/or cards do get misplaced. One of my aunts helped transport our gifts and found a small box under her seat weeks later.

Also, sometimes people delay giving wedding gifts for any number of reasons (cost, absent-minded, also that saying that you have a year to give a wedding gift). One of my best friends occasionally mentions that she still "owes" me a gift (I've been married almost four years); this always makes me laugh.
posted by JenMarie at 4:13 PM on May 19, 2010 [7 favorites]

Where I'm from, it's acceptable to send a gift up to a year after the wedding, without being considered impolite. Some people actually prefer this, as it gives them a chance to find out what the newly-married couple actually needs rather than a registry gift selected pre-wedding.

Also, they participated, and verbally gave you good tidings on several occasions. Perhaps they simply don't think a card is necessary or expected, and/or aren't in a financial position to get you something nice.

Both of these are plausible reasons why you might not have received a gift from them, that you shouldn't be offended by -- and at the same time, perhaps you're right and they did provide something you can't match to them, or that got lost.

So, assume the best intentions and write something personal, like "Having you [be at the wedding/be part of the wedding party] meant the world to both of us; you are a dear friend, and even though we'll be nesting in the next few months, we promise to emerge eventually, eager to [something that you two historically enjoy doing with this person] with a vengeance! Thank you so much for what you've done for us, and who you are."

They, in turn, will assume sincerity on your part, and will not think "why didn't they mention my present, maybe they lost it" or "oh, they wrote this generically because they're angry I didn't buy them a gift."
posted by davejay at 4:14 PM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't send a card and don't worry about it. If they're that close to you, and the gift was misplaced, they'll ask you about a check that wasn't cashed or if you enjoyed XYZ thing. Also, if they're that close to you, gave a gift, and don't get a thank you card, they may just assume that you didn't send a card *yet* or to them at all because you know that they know that you're grateful.

In other words, the non-note thing does not have to be awkward.

I'd also just put it out there that unless you are very, very close, you don't really know anyone's financial situation, and it's possible that participating in the wedding, travel, etc, did not leave them with a lot of money to spend on gifts. The gift was that they were able to be there.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:14 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

The options seem to be
a) they didn't get you a gift.
b) they got you one, but it was stolen
c) they got you one and you lost it

If you send them a thank you card in case a, you come off as passive agressive. If b or c is true, and you try to communicate that you didn't receive a gift, then they may feel obligated to get you another present or waste a lot of time trying to figure out what's going on.

So no, don't send them any kind of card. Life is too short to spend any more time worrying about this. You got a lot of great gifts and you had a great time with them. Shrug, write it off as one of those things that happens, and move on.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:14 PM on May 19, 2010

Oh, and don't let this color your relationship with them; it's ultimately just social ettiquete. My wife and I have, for the last few years, completely and epically failed to buy a wedding gift for someone who is very dear to us, and we've finally realized that the only way we can possibly make it up to them sufficiently to express how much we love them is to go behind their back, find out something they really need right now, and surprise them with it.
posted by davejay at 4:15 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I personally would be really taken aback if I hadn't bought a gift yet and someone called to say they didn't have anything from me on their list. Yes, it seems practical but feels rude to me. Mileage varies. Ask meets guess. Etc.
posted by JenMarie at 4:16 PM on May 19, 2010 [13 favorites]

Do you have close, discreet friends in common with these people? Ask them, and if they said these friends sent no gifts, then write the friends thank you notes telling them how much it meant to you that they came to your celebration.

If not, I personally would not be offended by a friend who took me out for lunch and said, sincerely:
"Sally, I have something awkward to ask you. Before I do, I want to say that both Spouse and I loved being able to celebrate our wedding with you. It's cheesy, but having you there on one of the happiest days of my life made it extra special, and I want to thank you so much for coming. But you know how neurotic I get about thank you notes, and while I was looking through our wedding gifts I didn't see a gift with your name on it. I didn't at all expect you to bring anything but yourself. We invited you because we wanted you to be there, not because we wanted something material from you. Again, your presence at my wedding meant so much more than a material object. I just wanted to check and make sure that nothing was lost, because you're really important to me as a friend and I don't want you to think I'm rude for failing to thank you for anything."
posted by sallybrown at 4:19 PM on May 19, 2010 [8 favorites]

Is the issue that

1) These "friends" did not give you a gift and thus might be horrible people


2) These dear friends, in all likelihood, gave you lovely and generous gifts that were lost or stolen, and now that you are writing thank you notes, you fear that if you leave them off the list, they will think you are horrible people?

If it's the former, let it go--it really doesn't matter. Maybe they have a money crisis you don't know about. Maybe they just forgot. If they're your friends, forget it. A wedding is not cause for extortion; you get a gift, you don't, no big deal.

If it's the latter, I'd ask them about it in a totally non-judgmental sounding way--Hey, we were writing thank you notes and didn't know what to write for you, and worried that, if you gave us a gift, it had been lost or stolen. Your presence was much more important than your presents, so if you didn't get us anything we're TOTALLY cool, but we wanted to ask so to make sure you didn't think we weren't grateful. Or something. It's still a little tricky, but if you've known these people as long as you have, hopefully you can smoove it over.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:19 PM on May 19, 2010

I don't remember where I heard this advice, and don't run in social circles where many of the people I know are getting married so other people can chime in if they think this is a bad idea.

What I heard was, you wait the appropriate length of time to start sending thank you cards (and my understanding is that this could be around a year after the wedding) and then send out thank you notes to everyone you have a present from. Then, you send out a quick email to everyone involved in the wedding that thank you cards have gone out and if someone who got you a present did not get a card then they should get in touch because either the present has gone missing or you mailed the card to the wrong address, and either way it should be straightened out.

If you didn't send your friends a thank you note and they don't get in touch with you after the email goes out then that would answer your question or possibly there has been some sort of mishap and after your email they will get in touch with you.
posted by andoatnp at 4:29 PM on May 19, 2010 [19 favorites]

Can't you ask another friend, on the quiet?

"Look, while we're talking about my wedding, there's this thing that's worrying us about Mutual-Friend. You know that we don't care about the material stuff, but it's just a bit odd and we don't wanna be rude by not thanking them appropriately if there's been a mix-up. But we can't trace a gift to them. Can you either enlighten me or quietly investigate for me, please?"

(And I had never heard about the one-year-til-your-gift's-'due' thing until I came to AskMe, so I personally wouldn't use that as a basis for any decision.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:31 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll go against the grain and suggest that you tactfully ask. I was in the opposite position once, and it's almost as awkward.

I was invited to a not very close friend's wedding a few years ago. I ordered a gift from the registry and had the store ship it to the bride's house a few weeks before the wedding. A few weeks, then months went by after the wedding, and I never received a thank you note. I know this person to be a complete stickler with etiquette, so I know it wasn't just that she never got around to writing the notes. I was left to wonder if (a) the note just got lost in the mail, or (b) the store failed to ship my gift, or didn't attach my name to it. Since we weren't close friends and I didn't see her much, I never asked her about it. I also didn't want to seem rude, like I was demanding to know where my thank you note was. And now I'm left to wonder if she never got it, and I was rude enough not to give her a gift. Awkward any way you look at it.

Bottom line: if she didn't get my gift, I would have been happy to know it so I could dispel her of the notion that I was indecent enough to enjoy the free booze at the wedding but not send a gift, and I could have straightened things out with the store.
posted by c lion at 4:39 PM on May 19, 2010

It sounds like they both undertook considerable effort and spent some money to be part of your wedding. Maybe they couldn't afford to buy a gift in addition to all that. I've been there.
posted by mai at 4:47 PM on May 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

Just to reiterate: the following are situations I know of:

1. Friend got an expensive gift for couple, which was stolen from reception. Couple never asks, never sends thank you, friend never asks about thank-you. FIVE YEARS later through a conversation with other friends they both discover this fact.

2. Friend got a distinctive gift for couple, which she had promised them, and which was to be used in the wedding -- but it was never delivered by the shipping company despite them saying they had delivered it. To friend, the web shipping info looked like the gift was delivered, so she assumed the couple had just decided not to use it in the wedding; she felt she couldn't ask why. To the couple, they couldn't understand why friend had failed to send the thing, but felt they couldn't ask. Six months after the wedding both sides figured it out.

If you have good reason to think they got you a gift, or if you can find a way to put out tactful feelers, or whatever -- ask.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:50 PM on May 19, 2010

If you do want to bring it up (and I think "thanks for being in our wedding/thanks for traveling to share our day" cards are fine), you can bring it up in conversation. Jazz it up with a little white lie.

"So, my Great Aunt Mitzie called me last week and wanted to know if her card had gotten misplaced the night of the wedding - she noticed that I hadn't cashed the check she gave us. Turns out a few things got misplaced. Blablabla..."

For whatever it's worth, one of my best friends got married last summer, and I'm just now sending her a gift. I was on unemployment, and simply couldn't afford anything at the time. However, I had mentioned something to her a week or so after she got home from her honeymoon. I felt kind of awkward bringing it up, but I didn't want her to be in the position that you're in now. If they haven't gotten you anything (especially after asking if a check was ok), I'm surprised they haven't said anything.

Also, stuff does get lost! I had given a check to an old work friend when she got married, and when it still hadn't been cashed after 6 weeks, I called to make sure that she had gotten it. Turns out it had been misplaced (a couple cards ended up at the bottom of a random box of stuff that got left in their trunk).
posted by AlisonM at 5:02 PM on May 19, 2010

I think it's fine to ask. They're your friends, they'll be cool about it, and they'll definitely want to know if you didn't receive their gifts. There have been a couple of times I've sent gifts to people for showers and haven't received notes, and I'm still wondering if they ever received them.

If your friends did send you something and don't get a note, they'll be in the exact same position as you, wondering what happened. Someone needs to step up, and it might as well be you. You aren't going to ruin your relationship over something this minor.

If you don't feel comfortable coming right out and asking, I like the idea mentioned above of an email saying thank you notes have gone out (maybe as a BCC-style message to just these friends), and that if they didn't get a note, it means the gift has gone missing or something else went awry and to get in touch to straighten it out. And of course the email can thank them again for celebrating with you.
posted by bethist at 5:10 PM on May 19, 2010

This happened to us too - we just wrote cards saying something like "Thank you for sharing our special day with us - it meant a lot to have you there". If they did give a gift, they probably think you are just being tasteful by not specifically mentioning what it was. And if they didn't get a gift, it will be appropriate as well.

In our case, some people were probably overwhelmed by having to travel to the wedding, possibly buy something to wear, and stay somewhere for the weekend. Even though it wasn't a destination wedding, but the economy sucks and I'm sure we've all been to a wedding when our wallets were tight!
posted by beyond_pink at 5:17 PM on May 19, 2010

Some good suggestions upthread. One other tactic though...if you are comfortable enough with your friends that you will sit around chatting about the wedding, you could mention that there might have been a snafu at the reception and you are worried "some" gifts might have gotten lost. Without mentioning names or asking specifically, it at least plants the seed that there could have been a mishap. That way, if they DID gift you with something and don't receive a thank you note, they would likely chalk it up to the reception snafu and ask you about it, without getting offended that you hadn't thanked them properly.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 6:07 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

According to Emily Post's Etiquette:

"It is pure myth that guests have up to a year after a wedding to send gifts..." BUT

"couples shouldn't question a late arrival. Nor should couples ever ask why they didn't receive a gift from an invited guest. However, a guest who does not receive a thank-you note after a reasonable time -- usually three months post-wedding -- may contact the couple to learn if the gift was delivered."

If you don't think there's anything untoward going on, then try not to let this color your relationships with these people. They are your friends and they love you!
posted by TrixieRamble at 6:41 PM on May 19, 2010

I really like andoatnp's advice, except possibly for the idea of waiting a full year before sending out cards. It seems to get around a lot of the awkwardness of targeting these two friends, in case they really just didn't send a gift.

On the other hand, if these friends are close enough, I might just ask them (tactfully, while making it clear that it doesn't matter if they didn't give you something, you're so grateful they participated, you just don't want them to think you didn't thank them, etc etc). No use going through a whole song and dance if no one will be offended.
posted by alleycat01 at 6:49 PM on May 19, 2010

Just send a card and thank them for coming! That's what we did.
posted by Eshkol at 6:57 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

You didn't get a gift. Yet? who knows. I once sent a gift way late when I discovered the card and check in my bag months later. No gift = no thank you card. If they wonder, they'll ask. Assume the best-case scenario that they know that you know they can't afford it, or, it got misplaced. In the long run, it's not very consequential, as you pointed out. Weddings tend to bring out the etiquette rules, but you can choose to ignore them, esp. since the most important rule is to respect the friendship. and, Congratulations! and good on you for getting those cards out.
posted by theora55 at 7:12 PM on May 19, 2010

Thank them with a card, and let it go...
posted by dorothyrose at 7:12 PM on May 19, 2010

I've never heard of this one-year thing, and it makes no sense to me - six months is pushing it for thank-you notes, so one year for a gift? I don't buy it.

Anyway, I'd say ask. It's worse not to know. I've been in the position of asking whether a gift had been received after not getting a thank-you note and not seeing the money come out of the bank account, and it was good to know that it in fact had been received. Don't feel bad about asking them - if they didn't get you a gift, then they're the ones who should feel awkward, not you. But if you want to avoid awkwardness, then have a mutual friend bring it up. "Oh, I got a lovely thank-you note from John and Jane, have you gotten anything yet? Oh, no? What did you get for them?" And they can report back. Only give such an assignment to a friend who can pull that off without giving away the game. And if they say, yes, we did give something, don't call them the next day and make it obvious that your friend was putting out feelers.
posted by Dasein at 7:55 PM on May 19, 2010

One was in the wedding, and the other travelled quite a bit to be here,

Sad analogy: When someone dies there are people who send flowers & cards. And then there are the people who fly in from across the country to be with you. People who help you plan the funeral, feed you, hold you when you cry.

Those are a completely different class of friends from the people who send flowers and cards, you know? So it might have slipped their minds.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:10 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

"It is pure myth that guests have up to a year after a wedding to send gifts..." BUT

If it's pure myth, it is myth that is so oft-repeated as to become practice. This is the first I've ever heard that you don't have up to a year after the wedding to send a gift. Enough people have told me this over the years that I take it for a given, and have never been corrected in this notion until now. So, I really would assume as a matter of "common" etiquette that many people believe it to be fair to have a year to send a gift.
posted by ch1x0r at 8:11 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Say nothing. It's possible they didn't get you anything, and I think asking them could be seriously awkward. If they did get you something and it's lost, they'll either figure it out ("Hmmm, you didn't cash our check"), or better yet, they won't and it'll be water under the bridge.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:44 PM on May 19, 2010

If it's not a check, they won't be able to see that you didn't get it.

If you wait years, then a theft/shipping screw-up will be unfixable. If you somehow ask very tactfully (or send the "we've sent all our thank yous, please let us know if we've missed anybody" email) then problems like that can be fixed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:31 PM on May 19, 2010

If you get down to brass tacks, you're never entitled to a gift and they're NEVER necessary--within a year, within three years, never.

Unless the event is a bridal/baby/other shower, one should at least pretend that the presence of one's guests is sufficient.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:13 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd just send a card that was nice and vague (thanks for everything!), add something absurd, (The tapdancing walrus was such a tasteful addition to the ceremony) to milk a few yuks out of the situation, and then forget all about it.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:43 PM on May 19, 2010

I understand your dilemma, you don't want to seem like a collection agency sending your friends a second notice for the loot they owe you, but you also don't want to hold back from expressing your effusive thanks for the moving, thoughtful token of their deeply-held affection that you have a horrible feeling they might have given you.

Unfortunately I can't think of any watertight way of asking them about it that wouldn't sound like a recipreversexcluson (a statement meaning anything other than itself). No matter how convincing you were about doing this because you care about them, not because you care about gifts, the unavoidable effect would be to bring the issue of gifts into sharp relief despite the fact that the gifts themselves are the furthest thing from your mind.

I've also had people send out ostensible "thank-you" emails after events which oh so subtly yet transparently were requests for money (or, in my case, more money than I'd already given). These really did damage my relationship with the senders, and I would shoot myself in the head before I'd send anything that could ever in a million years be mistaken for one of these messages.

I understand that some people feel "rude" following up on a gift they sent and haven't heard about, but in reality, it isn't rude at all and you have every right to do it. My personal experience is that it does start to feel demeaning (to me) after the first dozen times, which is why I now always send gifts using trackable services. But that wouldn't necessarily work for something like a wedding where misdirection, errors, or even theft can happen. So this is a situation where it really is their responsibility to bring it up themselves.

Although it's nice to send thanks for attending a wedding, I doubt that it would work as a substitute for a gift thank-you. Yes, some have rightly pointed out that it's not the gift that's important - to you. To the recipient of a thank-you letter it is the gift that's important, which is why you're supposed to make specific mention of the lovely [banana straightener] and how you plan to have such fun [straightening bananas] with it in the future. If you don't mention the gift directly, and they gave you a Mercedes, or the very last lock of their hair preserved before they started chemotherapy, then you are going to hurt their feelings. Like, WTF? Is something wrong? Do you hate it or something? Why would you hate it? That can't be it, we're just being paranoid. Do you think we should bring it up? I don't know if we should bring it up. Ohnoes, this is embarrassing. Why did we get them a stupid Mercedes? We're so stupid.

It would have been a good idea to note the what and who of each gift as it arrived wherever possible, but it's too late for that now. Best of all would have been to follow the rule about sending a thank-you letter as soon as a gift was received, although time off for the honeymoon would still have meant a number of gifts to sort through.

I probably wouldn't send a mass email talking about thank-you notes being sent out, because that makes it sound like you're issuing tax forms instead of a heartfelt and spontaneous outpouring of your uncontainable gratitude directly to the individual.

Whispering to a third party to pump for information might get you answers, but it risks embarrassing your friends a little bit.

It's true that you don't really have a year to get the gift, but that's more of a "get your act together" rule. If you can find your way to the wedding, why can't you find your way to the store before you go, kind of thing. But there are pragmatic exceptions, like you are hand-stitching a state flower quilt, or you are waiting for the exact make and model of banana straightener to come back in stock. So that could explain it. Or, they just think
posted by tel3path at 4:35 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hit send by accident. Sorry about the epic novel. The finished version wouldn't have been half that long.
posted by tel3path at 4:38 AM on May 20, 2010

The one year thing is very common in my circle, especially with close friends as they often want to take the time to find them something very special/personal or are making something like a quilt or a piece of furniture. You can send them a card thanking them for attending, but don't mention a gift if you haven't received one- that's just weird.
posted by emd3737 at 5:20 AM on May 20, 2010

Several of our guests didn't give gifts because they spent all their money on travel. No problem. But one of your friends DID say s/he was going to give you either a check or something off your registry. It would be too bad if someone stole the check and managed to get cash for it, and your friend sees is was cashed and assumes you got it...

What about this?

You: Oh, Chris, did you by any chance give us this fantastic toaster? There was no card attached.

Chris: No, I sent you a check. Didn't you get it?


Chris: No, I haven't had a chance to send you anything yet. The toaster isn't from me.

You: Oh, gosh, don't worry about it! You spent so much money being part of the wedding party/flying to our hometown that we certainly don't expect an extra gift from you! I am just mystified about this toaster.
posted by Knowyournuts at 11:52 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

If they're people you talk to on a regular basis, I think you could drop into conversation that you have managed to finish all of your thank you cards and send them out. When they don't receive one within a few days, they are likely to inquire why (if they did give something).

Maybe that's too subtle, but if you don't want to ask outright ....

andoatnp's advice is also pretty good, except for the incredibly wrong notion that you can wait a year to send a thank you. Thanks should be sent as soon as possible after receiving the item - etiquette experts are united on that. To quote Miss Manners:
Dear Miss Manners: Is there a specific time in which a bride has to acknowledge wedding gifts with thank you notes?

Gentle Reader: When they arrive. Not, as arrogant rumors put it, a year later, when the giver has forgotten the purchase and remembers only the ingratitude. And not when she is miraculously no longer "busy," a time period that Miss Manners has never known to arrive.
posted by timepiece at 8:53 AM on May 25, 2010

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