Follow-up after a wedding gift was sent - is six weeks too soon?
October 1, 2013 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Is it too early - or is it a jerky move - to ask friends if they got a wedding gift I sent six weeks ago?

(Somewhat similar to this question, but a slightly different angle.)

Some friends got married in mid-September. They went on a one-week trip after the wedding, and have been back for about 1.5 weeks now. I sent a wedding gift (not from their registry) in mid-August, specifically choosing to send it in advance of the wedding so as to not pile on to the craziness of the wedding weekend itself (adding to stuff to deal with at the reception, etc). I have tracking on the package, which shows it being left at the front door with no signature or other proof of delivery. This is less than ideal because I don't know how secure their front door is for package delivery (they live in a large metro area). These are long-term friends, but we have fallen out of the habit of staying in close touch, so I haven't spoken to them since the wedding nor are we likely to have any casual email/phone contact. We live in different cities and traveled for their wedding. They did not mention the gift at all when we encountered them in person at the ceremony (nor would I expect that, necessarily).

I am inclined to write a quick email asking how the honeymoon went and then also checking that they got the package. However, I can't tell if it's aggressive on my part to ask? Or is any faux pas on my part equal to the one they are making in not sending a prompt thank you? And are they really late at this point?

Part of the other problem here is that I'm a stickler for writing prompt thank-you notes - always within 2-3 days of getting something (my wedding thank-you notes and those for my bridal and baby showers were all done in less than a week, I realize I might be abnormal here). When I get a package in the mail I always, unless some technicality of the relationship with the gift-giver precludes it, let them know immediately by email or text something along the lines of "We got a package from you today - it was so kind of you to send it! I will be sure to write you a note to thank you properly very soon, but I wanted to make sure you knew it arrived safely today and we appreciate it very much."

I completely realize that I might be the outlier here, and I truly don't want to cause stress to friends who are likely slammed with getting back into real life after the wedding and honeymoon. I am not upset or angry. But if something I planned for and paid for didn't make it to them, then I'd like to know so I can file a claim or follow up in a timely manner. And I would hate for them to think we never sent a gift, when in fact we did.

Feel free to tell me I'm crazy, I just need a reality check!
posted by handful of rain to Human Relations (35 answers total)
I would definitely drop them a quick email asking how the honeymoon went and about the package. If there was an issue, it will only get harder to sort out the situation the longer you wait. They're not at all late-- I think traditionally, you have a year to send out thank you notes. But in the age of internet shipping and without a secure acknowledgement that it arrived safely I think you're fine in wanting to check to make sure it arrived safe and sound.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:58 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

A quick welcome home + inquiry email is acceptable here.

But since you asked for a reality check: For the formal thank you note, Emily Post says they have three months. I think that's fair.
posted by mochapickle at 3:01 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Miss Manners says two weeks.

That being said, I think it would be kind to allow them a longer grace period as long as it doesn't interfere with your ability to file a lost parcel claim with the shipping company.
posted by lalex at 3:04 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oops, despite being a neighbor of Miss Manners, I've definitely erred in suggesting a year. Even given the more lenient (and realistic) time frame of three months, I still think a gentle query is fine.
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:08 PM on October 1, 2013

I think even a gentle email at this point is really awful and potentially shaming if they got it, and they almost certainly did. Your need to file a claim if it was lost weighs far, far, far less in the balance than your obligation not to shame and pressure them about not sending a thank you note, which is how your "gentle inquiry" will read.
posted by jayder at 3:28 PM on October 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

Or is any faux pas on my part equal to the one they are making in not sending a prompt thank you? And are they really late at this point?

They are not making a faux pas at all. It was nice that you sent a gift early, but you should not start "counting" from the day it was delivered as they were in the middle of planning a wedding. They haven't done anything wrong here by not acknowledging the gift yet. Please lean towards three months (from the wedding or the end of the honeymoon) rather than two weeks. My handwriting is slow and messy, so mine took a long time to do just so they were legible.

That said, verifying that they got it is okay as long as it is done in a casual and non-accusatory way.
posted by soelo at 3:35 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Feel free to tell me I'm crazy, I just need a reality check!

You sound anxious about this. While your habit of texting someone when you've gotten something from them sounds like a good plan, I think it's atypical. To me, nine days home (basically only one weekend, if they are back to work) after a wedding and a honeymoon is not that much time and I would feel needled if someone emailed me with some sort of "How's it going, by the way did you get my gift...?" email. You sent the package early for your own reasons but they will probably be writing all the thank you notes at the same time, so this setup was going to result in a later thank you note in any case. Put another way: this is not, at all, a faux pas on their part, and I'd chill and wait a few weeks longer.
posted by jessamyn at 3:38 PM on October 1, 2013 [12 favorites]

I agree with jayder to wait before asking them--definitely wait. I was the poster of the previous question you linked; in other words, I'm pretty fast with thank you notes. However, most people I know take at LEAST three months to send notes (especially now with a lot of couples waiting for wedding pictures to include in their thank you cards). And with other people--well, I still haven't received notes from others whose weddings were years ago! With a couple of them, I do wonder if they ever received my gift, but I have to assume that they did. I think that some people put off writing notes for so long, and then they're thinking, "well, I've waited this long, so now it's even more awkward/weirder to send one, so I can't send one now...."

Now, for my wedding, I did have a friend tell me that he realized he left off a gift card, but this was only after he knew that I had written thank you notes to everyone else. I was grateful for this. I think this is something you could ask perhaps after a while but I think if you hold tight, you will (likely) get a thank you note soon. I know this is a very awkward situation, but again, in my experience with weddings, most people do not send notes before at least a couple of months.
posted by juliagulia at 3:43 PM on October 1, 2013

I don't see anything wrong with shooting them a quick email asking if the package arrived safely. (I did that recently because I was fretting over whether a baby gift I'd made had arrived safely -- in my case, it was sent to a family member with whom I'm in touch pretty frequently, so I doubt they felt needled about it. And I was genuinely worried about the gift going astray.)

I might wait another couple of weeks, though, since they did just get back from their honeymoon and all. It could be that they're planning to send you a thank-you card at the same time they send all the other thank-yous out.
posted by sarcasticah at 4:05 PM on October 1, 2013

please wait the 3 months. since they are just back from their honeymoon and trying to adjust to their new lives they are probably quite busy. if you have a tendency to stress about this sort of thing, in the future it might be a good idea to send packages where they have to be signed to be received. that way you'll know for sure they got it. of course that could be a hassle in itself for the receiving party.
posted by wildflower at 4:19 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd go ahead with the email phrasing suggested by jetlagaddict --- part of the problem is, there's a cutoff for how long after a package was sent to when you are no longer allowed to make a missing-package claim. If you sent this domestically via the post office, for instance, I think the cutoff is possibly as short as six weeks.
posted by easily confused at 4:19 PM on October 1, 2013

I received several wedding gifts well before the wedding, and didn't send out thank you notes until after the wedding. The main reason was that I was planning on ordering special thank you cards (3 different cards, each with a photo from the wedding on it) and also mailing all of the guests who attended any photos captured of them at the wedding. They've only been back from their trip for about 1.5 weeks- I know I did not get my cards out anywhere near then. I think it is 100% fine to drop an email making sure they got it, though, and don't consider it too aggressive. I think they'll understand that you just want to make sure it was received. I know I would.
posted by coupdefoudre at 4:19 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're not asking for a thank you, you are wondering if a mailed package arrived safely. Definitely ok to ask.

If you handed it to them at their wedding then you would do nothing, but you didn't.

You could even say that you recieved an email letting you know it had been left at the door and are just checking that they received it.
posted by Youremyworld at 4:39 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was a zombie for two weeks after our wedding. I barely worked, our house was a mess, we both got horribly sick after the adrenaline crash. We ordered special thank you cards for the wedding, and they took a few weeks to arrive. We did not send thank you notes for gifts received before the wedding - we sat down to write the whole lot together.

Out of probably 800 packages I've mailed or received in the past few years, not a single one has gone missing. I'm sure it happens, but the chances are very low. If you don't want to be a pest, wait a while.
posted by barnone at 5:00 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think that it's perfectly fine to drop them a quick note that stresses that you just want to make sure it arrived safely. Packages go astray in my neighborhood pretty easily so six weeks of radio silence would definitely make me nervous. There are ways to phrase this that don't convey "WHERE IS MY GRATITUDE, INGRATE?!"
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 5:34 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think it's fine to ask, but I don't think it's fine to ask passive-aggresively because you're mad you haven't received a thank you note within a couple weeks of the wedding.

Ask in good faith or not at all.
posted by Sara C. at 5:54 PM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

Don't ask now, don't ask later. A gift is a gift and once it has left your hands it's gone. If it's lost, it's lost. (But it's not lost.)
posted by escabeche at 5:59 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you should definitely contact them and gently ask if they've seen the package. You're not fishing for gratitude--there's a legitimate chance they didn't get the package. I've had UPS packages stolen from my front stoop, even though I live in a pretty low-crime (overall) neighborhood. Some vendors will replace the stolen package, while others will not. Letting it go longer will not help your situation.

Also, where are people getting this 3 months business? That's totally made up. Someone cited Miss Manners above as advising two weeks. Emily Post says 1-2 DAYS. The point is, thank you notes are supposed to acknowledge the gift. They take about 5 minutes to write. You should send one when you get the gift, not let a whole bunch of gifts accumulate for 3 months and then try to write a a miserable pile of notes all at once and you don't even remember who gave what or if they sent anything at all.

Yes, it's definitely a faux pas on your friends' part. That said, you don't point that out to them--that's not really the point. But you can and should follow-up in case the package was lost or stolen.
posted by pompelmo at 6:01 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have had two wedding gifts get stolen en route, and in both cases I did not ask after them, and assumed that the recipients had just never written a thank you note. And found out more than a year later, in both cases, that they never got the gifts.

So I think it is permissible to let them know they should have received a package from you, and if they haven't, they should let you know.

The exact phrasing you use to convey this in a no-pressure way is going to be down to your own personal style and your relationship with them. And I think it's fine to wait another month or two before saying anything, as others point out they are still within a grace period.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:03 PM on October 1, 2013

I think you are an outlier. Maybe even crazy. BUT, you may be right too. Being right is not going to help though. Wait another 3 or 4 weeks then drop them the honeymoon email and slip in the gift thing.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:04 PM on October 1, 2013

I think the only way you can phrase this so it doesn't come across as a passive aggressive complaint about lack of gratitude is to send an email or text saying something like, "I just learned that the gift I sent you was left on your doorstep. I'm sorry about that. I would have expected them to wait for a signature. I hope your doorstep is more secure than mine and that it arrived safely."
posted by lollusc at 7:12 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

You should send one when you get the gift
I think the rules are a little different when you get 100 gifts in a single day and are dealing with a very big life event at the same time.
posted by soelo at 7:34 PM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

It likely arrived just fine, what minute percentage of packages actually don't get delivered? barely a blip I'm sure. By asking, you are 99% going to receive a "Oh, we're so sorry! We did get your gift, but haven't sent out the thank you letters yet! Sorry!" Which, if I were in your shoes, I would prefer not to get.

If you can't let it go, I think I would just ask another attendee of the wedding if they've received a thank you card for their gift-- if they haven't either then it's even more likely they just haven't got around to it (and maybe never will).

If the other attendee has got a thank you, then you face the apology loaded question again-- but if they haven't got it, what are you going to do anyway? Buy them another present, or worse, if you're particularly paranoid, you start thinking "Maybe they think I'm bluffing about sending a cool present early, and they now think I never really did!".

You did a nice thing, let that be enough and let it go :)
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:36 PM on October 1, 2013

Our thank you notes when out 2 days after we returned from our honeymoon. That said, I'd rather not receive a gift than have someone point out that I didn't immediately respond to their satisfaction.
posted by 26.2 at 8:49 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, where are people getting this 3 months business? That's totally made up. Someone cited Miss Manners above as advising two weeks. Emily Post says 1-2 DAYS.

The Emily Post link you cited in your comment begins: "When should notes be written? Contrary to popular myth, the happy couple does not have a year’s grace period. All thank you notes should be written within three months of the receipt of the gift."

There's nothing about 2 days. OP should relax.
posted by mochapickle at 10:42 PM on October 1, 2013

I'm in the "follow up now" camp, only because of the possibility of the package actually not being there on the doorstep anymore. That's a valid concern and not at all needy. I'd phase it as such:

"Hey! I hope you had an awesome honeymoon! I bet you're back and catching up with everything now; I'm sure that's crazy! I just wanted to confirm that you did receive my package, though, because it's showing on shipper website as left at the front door, but not signed for. If you did receive the package, great! Take your time opening and enjoying all your gifts! If not, let me know, and I'll see what I can do with shipper to resolve the lost/stolen package.

Take care!
handful of rain"

Any feedback or additions would be appreciated, but that's pretty much something I think should work and doesn't come across as needy/expecting a reply at all.

As for your expectations/desire for a quick letter/reply... sadly, I'd have to say, let it go. I mean, I'm a bit needy at times and hate it when people don't get back to me/return my texts/whatnot, but I have to remind myself that everyone has different paces and do things in a different timeframe than I do, so it's not exactly fair to expect them to do what I would personally do.
posted by dubious_dude at 10:44 PM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think you can wait a little bit, but I disagree with this:

If it's lost, it's lost. (But it's not lost.)

We had someone buy something from our registry that never made it to us and I feel awful that someone thinks we received it and didn't thank them! I can see that it's gone from the registry but not who bought it, so, because no one inquired if arrived, I can't let them know and they may think I'm an ungrateful brat.
posted by Pax at 4:02 AM on October 2, 2013

Or is any faux pas on my part equal to the one they are making in not sending a prompt thank you? And are they really late at this point?

They are not late and haven't committed any social offense. I think you can check on your package, though, equally without offense, by acknowledging they are busy and saying you only need to hear back if there's a problem...
"Not to pile on while you are in post-wedding recovery and unpacking from the honeymoon, but could you let me know if you did NOT receive a package from us last month? Tracking said it was left at your door with no signature, and I was a little worried about potential loss or theft. But I'll assume all's well unless you tell me otherwise."

They might possibly think you're a bit of a worrier (I might feel that way myself), but they couldn't reasonably accuse you of fishing for a thank you. And you could rest easy knowing they know the gift was sent, without that matter being mixed up with questions of thank you note etiquette.
posted by torticat at 5:16 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in the camp of check with them casually based upon the fact that it was left on the doorstep with no signature.

I'd call and chit chat for just a minute and mention it casually, "So what's up with FedEx these days? I got the tracking form for your gift and they didn't get a signature and left it on your doorstep. What's the point of tracking?"

At that point, your friend will laugh and you'll know everything is okay, or she'll say, "You sent something to us? We never got it!"

Then you can make your claim as needed.

No accusations, no weirdness, just a good faith attempt to insure that the gift was received fairly.

Here's a story in the reverse. My cousin worked for a large movie studio. We registered for movie DVDs. She went into the closet at work, picked out some titles and threw them in a box. She had her assistant send them to us. Turns out they were sent Collect (I didn't know you could DO that.) We kept getting a bill for the shipping (about $40 for $20 worth of movies). I told the shipping company we wouldn't pay and that they should get with the shipper. But talk about AWKWARD!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:08 AM on October 2, 2013

You mentioned sending a gift that was off the registry. Do you know what address they used for their shipping address for registry gifts? Was it their home address or another address? I ask because I live in an apartment building in NYC where I can't receive packages - carriers have left packages at our front door multiple times and they've been stolen each time. If I were to register for gifts on a registry, I would have gifts sent to a family member's home that was more secure.

So if that's the case, that you sent a gift to their home address when their registry gifts were being sent to a different address, I would write and say something like "hey, I just realized that I had your gift sent to home address when you intended for gifts to be sent to other address, so I wanted to check that it was delivered safely."

If their home address was their intended delivery address, I wouldn't worry about it not being received.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 8:21 AM on October 2, 2013

Thank you all for the responses. It helps seeing the different takes on the situation, and also to realize that it's not a question with a clearly-one-response-is-right answer. I think most people got this, but I wanted to clarify I'm not - in any way - going for WHERE'S MY GRATITUDE INGRATES!! (although I really love that phrase, The Elusive Architeuthis!). I'm hung up on the thank-you note only because at this point I don't think there's any other method (short of me asking) for the delivery confirmation. But I'm for sure not fishing for thanks - I just cited my personal habits to set the context that I'm probably on one end of the spectrum.

I'm planning to wait a couple of more weeks, as it's a good exercise in me being patient, and then will check in along the lines of what lollusc suggested (shifting the context to the shipper's actions).

Thanks again, this was helpful.
posted by handful of rain at 8:21 AM on October 2, 2013

Most of our friends seem to think you have a year for sending thank-you notes--at least that's what they said when we apologized for not sending the notes when we saw them in person a couple of weeks later--so your friends may be running on that. However, I would not have been at all bothered if someone emailed me with something like "I've had bad experiences with package delivery before, so I'm paranoid: did y'all get my gift?"
posted by telophase at 8:45 AM on October 2, 2013

It likely arrived just fine, what minute percentage of packages actually don't get delivered? barely a blip I'm sure. By asking, you are 99% going to receive a "Oh, we're so sorry! We did get your gift, but haven't sent out the thank you letters yet! Sorry!" Which, if I were in your shoes, I would prefer not to get.

I agree with this completely. It seems to me that, by broaching this topic with them, you are weighing your own ability to file a lost package claim over their ability to write thank you notes on their own time. I don't understand why the need to file a timely lost package claim is so paramount. Their comfort and tranquility should take precedence.
posted by jayder at 4:26 PM on October 2, 2013

The 'need to file a timely lost package claim' comes from the limits to how long after something is shipped that you have to file a claim in case a package IS lost. I don't know exactly how long UPS or FedEx give you, but the USPS gives you 6 weeks after the ship date for domestic and 90 days for international. If a claim hasn't been made within that window, too bad. (For example, I am currently fighting with the USPS over a package that never arrived, and even though I paid extra to send it insured & recipient's signature-required and have checked with that recipient multiple times, it's a good thing I've started the claim before that deadline expires.)

There are some good suggestions here for phrasing your email: I particularly like dubious dude's version. Casual, friendly, gently asking ONLY if it arrived.
posted by easily confused at 3:05 AM on October 3, 2013

what minute percentage of packages actually don't get delivered?

Well, there was the 18 months' worth of birthday/Christmas/etc gifts I sent to my family to their old address. I just assumed they hadn't got round to thanking me for the presents.

The jerks living at their old address just kept all the gifts (in a smallish city, too!) and then moved by the time I figured out what I'd done.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:10 PM on October 3, 2013

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