Do I send a wedding gift when I'm not invited to the wedding?
October 14, 2005 8:49 AM   Subscribe

A (former) friend is getting married. I'm not invited to the wedding. Yet I still feel the need to send a gift.

We were coworkers and very close friends for 5+ years. Her difficult personality eventually caused a lot of tension in general at work, and quite a bit of interpersonal tension between us. After she left the job (following her engagement and move halfway across the country) a few months ago, I also discovered some shady professional behavior that, in my opinion, ventured into unethical territory. In any case, I've been frozen out of her life since then. About 75% of the time, I'm relieved that she's no longer a part of my life; about 25% of the time, though, I genuinely miss her. I also genuinely hope the very best for her marriage and hope that she finds the happiness that's seemed to elude her otherwise.

The wedding is coming up in a few weeks. I'm very clearly not invited (I've run into a former coworker and a mutual friend who both received their invitations last month). Part of me figures it's best to simply write it off; I know that friendships, like relationships, sometimes just don't work out. But as I said, I also really do wish the best for her and her fiance (he's a good egg) and would like to send them a gift saying so. My own partner, though, pointed out that at least some of this may be motivated by the desire to make her feel guilty -- which, I have to admit, I secretly relished just a little once I allowed myself to think of it that way.

Anyone have two cents they'd like to throw in?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total)
You're not considering sending a gift because the couple would love to hear your good wishes. You're considering it because you would love to send it. You're talking about imposing upon someone's wedding for purely selfish reasons.

And if you're going to soapbox about ethics and proper behavior...
posted by cribcage at 8:58 AM on October 14, 2005

Do not send a gift. If I were the one getting married and you sent a gift after I had severed contact with you [for whatever reason, good or bad] enough so that I did not invite you to my wedding, a gift from you would seem passive aggressive at best, and aggressive/assholish at worst. If you have a need to pass on your good wishes, drop her a sincere note saying that you wish her every happiness. If you'd like to be friends with her in the future, guilt-trip-gifts do not set a good precedent. Weddings are a bad time for messing with people's emotions, everyone is too high strung about everything as it is.
posted by jessamyn at 9:00 AM on October 14, 2005

My own partner, though, pointed out that at least some of this may be motivated by the desire to make her feel guilty
Yeah, that's my first impression. It may be hers,also.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:00 AM on October 14, 2005

I would think you can safely send a nice gift with a not-snarky note (in other words, I'd leave off the "happiness that's seemed to elude her otherwise" language, since that could sound a bit smug). She's getting married, she's probably not even really thinking about you, so I can't see how she'd make this about you.
posted by occhiblu at 9:01 AM on October 14, 2005

If you're willing to part with the money, what's the downside? Unless your gift is some large monstrosity that draws attention to itself, your gift will probably go under the radar screen for the most part. If she feels any guilty, I imagine it'll be a fleeting guilt that makes her think you were probably a nice guy afterall rather than some sort of soul-crushing experience.
posted by mullacc at 9:04 AM on October 14, 2005

I wouldn't send a gift. A letter congratulating her on getting married with best wishes and happiness for the future would be a nice gesture imo, as well as let her know that you still think and value the friendship you had.

Why the need for a gift unless you do want to make her feel bad?
posted by twistedonion at 9:05 AM on October 14, 2005

If you decide to send the gift, wait until after the wedding, otherwise she might think you're gunning for an invitation. Are you?
posted by SashaPT at 9:21 AM on October 14, 2005

I wouldn't send it. The chances are too great that she would take it in a negative light (as the responses above indicate). If you genuinely want to wish her well, I would ask the people who were invited to the wedding to pass on your good wishes to her. That way you're not angling for an invite, you're not obviously guilt-tripping, and if she sees the light and wants to change her ways and resume contact with you, you've left the door open and she can contact you via your mutual friend.
posted by widdershins at 9:34 AM on October 14, 2005

If you are truly sending her a gift for altruistic reasons then she doesn't need to know it's from you.

Send the gift with a card wishing her well and sign it "A friend." Do not sign it "A former friend" or anything like that.
posted by oddman at 9:37 AM on October 14, 2005

Make sure it's something she can use, though. A registry item or even a small sum of cash can be useful enough to outweigh any mixed feelings. If you decide to send a gift. How she takes it depends a lot on what her state of mind is right now, but making it something she wants and can't think to herself "what is he trying to say by this gift?" about is better.

I'd definitely go with a modest gift rather than a card though. If someone I've cut off is going to send me something, better it be something I can use than a card, which seems like a plea for further communication. Of course, a simple (very simple) note with it is fine.

Another option would be to ask one of your friends who is invited if you can help them with their gift, but that seems childish to me. If you want to send a gift, why go to such lengths to hide out?
posted by lorrer at 9:38 AM on October 14, 2005

Oddman's idea is not good. Just help by funding another friend's gift, that seems less spooky/stalkerish/f*cked up if you're going to go that route.
posted by lorrer at 9:39 AM on October 14, 2005

If you really care, send a card with good wishes. If you just want to make her feel guilty, don't send anything.
posted by geeky at 9:42 AM on October 14, 2005

I agree with jessamyn. I got married a little over a year ago, and we got a gift from a recently-estranged friend, who'd found our Amazon wishlist. Although the gift may very well have been sent in the spirit of rekindling the friendship, it felt more like manipulation, especially in the context of who this person was and how she had acted in the past. We felt put on the spot--we had to make a decision about what to do, how to respond, how to phrase the thank-you note, all that. Again, the context is important, who you are, the nature of the friendship, the nature of the breakup, but know that a gift, even if sent in the spirit of friendship, may be resented.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:51 AM on October 14, 2005

About 75% of the time, I'm relieved that she's no longer a part of my life; about 25% of the time, though, I genuinely miss her.

Would you rather be happy 75% of the the time or 25%? Don't send a gift, it's just inviting her back into your life.
posted by sohcahtoa at 9:52 AM on October 14, 2005

Wow, I would have sent the gift not realizing that gifts have now become weapons. But since so many have written in to say otherwise, I would probably just send a nice card one with a carefully written note inside vetted to make sure it cannot be taken the wrong way.

I say this because you were close friends at one time and you like the groom.

Dear Alice and Bob,

The two of you make a lovely couple; the happiness you radiate enriches everyone who knows you. Congratulations on your special day and best wishes for a wonderful future.

Sincerely, Me

posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:08 AM on October 14, 2005

I'm the same (gravy) boat as SLoG: I would have leaned towards sending the gift as well (and it would never in a million years occur to me that doing so would be seen as angling for an invitation), but seeing the responses here does give me pause. Once the wedding has come and gone, if your desire to pass on good wishes is still truly there, then a brief, sincere note to the couple seems appropriate. (I also think a modest gift off the registry might not be completely out of order at that point either, but I'm willing to acknowledge that I'm in the minority on that one.)
posted by scody at 10:52 AM on October 14, 2005

I vote with Jessamyn. Send a note if you must send something.
posted by JanetLand at 11:17 AM on October 14, 2005

I'm very clearly not invited
No note, no gift. If you're not in regular contact, one of the most important events of her life is not proper occasion to make an appearance, given the situation.
posted by VulcanMike at 11:41 AM on October 14, 2005

Don't send anything. Although you can't tell whether you weren't invited on purpose or simply forgotten it is unlikely the lack of a gift or note from you will be noticed. There's nothing wrong with accepting the fact that some friendships aren't made to last.

Also, I can't help getting the feeling that the sending of a gift is really to make you feel better, rather than the bride. Why not take the money you would have spent and donate it to a charity?
posted by tommasz at 12:35 PM on October 14, 2005

No gift. No note. Move on.
posted by deborah at 12:45 PM on October 14, 2005

This woman doesn't want you in her life. 75% of the time, you don't particularly want her in yours. Both of these are your own admissions.

Why bother with a gift, eh? Do you want her to come running back to you and be friends again? Not bloody likely.

Spend the gift money on yourself and go partying one night. :)
posted by madman at 1:28 PM on October 14, 2005

From what you've said, it seems like she's not a good person. I wouldn't pull the malevolent fairy act.
posted by brujita at 12:43 AM on October 15, 2005

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