Thank you cards for friends who didn't give a wedding gift?
January 7, 2014 11:55 PM   Subscribe

A surprising number of our wedding guests (both friends and family) did not give us a gift. I was really happy they could come and I'd like to thank them, but I'm worried it will come off like I'm chiding them for the lack of gift. On the other hand, I got a note like this once and that's how we all realized the gift had gotten lost in the mail. Have your ever purposefully not given a wedding gift or forgotten to give one? How would a thanks-for-coming card come off to you?

Part of me is perplexed by the lack of gift or card because it seems so out of character for all my kind and generous friends and relatives. I know it's not worth thinking about, but despite myself I have come up with a series of ever-weirder explanations (they all coincidentally forgot; wedding gifts recently became rude where I live and no one told me; they formed a pact against wedding gifts; they're doing a group sociology experiment on us; they all secretly dislike me etc). Clearly there's a bit more going on for me here mentally than confusion about basic thank you note etiquette (I'll spare you the paragraphs), so I'm having trouble thinking about this clearly.

bonus sub-question: Have wedding gifts become gauche amongst the west coast tech world environmentalist hippie set? That would clear up a lot of my confusion.
posted by Gravel to Human Relations (42 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The common wisdom amongst my circle of friends is that you have "up to a year" to give a wedding gift. Well, to me that's just an invitation to forget to ever give one. It's comforting when you're on the way to the wedding and realize you forgot to get a card. You think "Oh we'll send it in the mail next week!" Of course next week the last thing you're thinking about is a damn wedding gift. It'll occasionally pop into your mind but pretty soon it's been a year and you're too embarrassed to send a gift past the "deadline." Then the couple in question starts treating you awkwardly.

A "thank you for coming" card would read as "where's our gift you cheap sonofabitch?" to me.
posted by hamsterdam at 12:09 AM on January 8, 2014 [14 favorites]

"dear friend/family/relative:

we would like to thank you for coming to our wedding. we were so happy to see you, and to share our special day with you, and are honored that you were able to spend the time with us. we hope to see you soon!

love, gravel and spouse."

for the bonus question:

i am mid(ish) thirties, but i also had a mother that was sorta nuts with the social stuff, so i was told never to come to a wedding without a gift or without sending one. many other people had more laid back parents, or even possibly parents who didn't go to a lot of weddings. it could also be that they were nervous about all the socialness of the wedding, and thought they would deal with the present later. depends on the person.
posted by koroshiya at 12:15 AM on January 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I didn't give a friend a wedding gift because I was too broke to get her and her husband anything nice. I still feel really weird about it. If I'd gotten a thank you note, I would have felt super duper weird.

But that's just me.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:01 AM on January 8, 2014 [13 favorites]

You thank people for giving gifts and within that can say how nice it was to see them and thank them for making the effort to come.

Normally your guests should thank you, or whoever hosted the event, after the wedding, for inviting them, what a nice time they had, how happy the couple looked etc. Increasingly this is less common though, partly because when peer couples fund/organise their own wedding it feels less like it is being 'hosted', compared to the old skool way of parents of the bride definitively hosting the wedding.

It is not normal, in my experience, to thank people just for coming unless there are exceptional circumstances or it was a particularly effortful or costly business coming to your wedding. I would not write a thank you for coming note on its own as standard. I certainly wouldn't write one to someone who did not bring a gift. And, as hamsterdam says, if you did it would run the risk of not being read at face value.

On your last question: Perhaps I'm slightly old school on this. It is more of a thing now to make gift giving optional when you send out invites, but for me this is still like when a guest brings a nice bottle of wine to dinner at your house and the host says "you really shouldn't have" - it's a kabuki dance, in which the host doesn't want to seem like they expected it but something kinda is expected nonetheless.

A wedding gift is, fundamentally, a token of goodwill. The only exception to that in my experience is where people divide up their wedding into a main group of guests and a follow on group who only get invited to part of an evening do - in effect they are second tier guests.

Because modern wedding lists have made wedding gifts feel a bit like a shopping list and because many couples marry later when they are already set up opting out of gift giving/receiving is seen more as statement that the experience and participation rather than the gift-as-object counts - subtly or overtly a lifestyle statement of sorts. However, in etiquette terms I don't think we are at the point yet where it is OK that guests decide, without a cue from their hosts, that bringing a gift is optional, absent a statement from the hosts saying gifts are optional.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:03 AM on January 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Can you just ask your nearest and dearest about this? I would totally ask my best friends and say something awkward like, "I need to ask you something weird and rude, will you promise to take it at face value? Promise? Promise?? Okay, I was overjoyed you came to my wedding and not expecting a gift at all, but I have been plagued by worry that things might have gotten lost in the mail, that didn't happen right?"

Yeah, it's super rude to bring up but I feel like this is one of those rude questions you can ask someone if you are really close.
posted by cairdeas at 1:05 AM on January 8, 2014

I am with those who think a thanks for coming card would be um, unusual. It is the duty of a guest to be grateful for a party, not the host. If I had not sent a gift, I might consider it one more reminder to send something. I would be appalled if my best friend asked me why I had not sent a gift.
posted by Cranberry at 1:18 AM on January 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

I agree that sending a "thanks for coming" card could seem a passive aggressive way of guilting them about not sending a gift.

I would say, in general, wedding gifts are becoming less relevant these days. Did you and your partner live together before you got married? A lot of couples these days live together for years before getting married - they already have all the traditional wedding gift stuff they need.

I think it you lived together for years before getting married, if your guests travelled a long way to be there or were generally not well off, not getting a gift wouldn't be totally unreasonable - even if its not strictly the correct etiquette.
posted by missmagenta at 1:40 AM on January 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm here to wave the flag for non-gift-givers!

How this happened:
I went to one wedding as a kid, and it was a second marriage. Not much in the way of gift giving there, and it was pretty informal. Between that and my adult life, I just never got the memo that you're meant to give a gift at a wedding. It never occurred to me that it was an expected thing.

Anyway at the weddings I've been to as an adult, I've given a gift here and there where I thought of something personal to the couple I could give. But once, I had to travel a long way and was broke. Another time, I helped out a lot with the wedding so felt like my gift was my time. Plus, ALL the people I've seen get married were living together already. They don't need toasters, cutlery etc. They want to hold a big party so they do, and if I can contribute in a meaningful way, I will.

Anyway I'm not sure if I'm in a tiny minority - the posts above have made me think maybe I am! But I thought it might help deflect those "my friends don't like me" thoughts :)
posted by greenish at 1:51 AM on January 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Anyway I'm not sure if I'm in a tiny minority - the posts above have made me think maybe I am!

This is highly dependent on culture. I have the impression that it's not as much a thing in Europe as it is in the US.
posted by empath at 1:59 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I feel like you can send a thank you card if you like. Just write it like a Christmas card-- "Thanks for coming to our wedding. We got married, we went to X for our honeymoon, and we moved in together in house Y in city Z, where spouse W got a new job V which he's hoping will be great. Etc." Throw in a nice photo, and call it a day.
posted by alexei at 2:05 AM on January 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

I've gone to five weddings and could only afford gifts for two of them. Two required a new dress and shoes, flights and hotel stays. Another, I had to purchase a bridesmaid dress and shoes, get my hair done and I was in between jobs. I just couldn't afford it.
Although, I do know I gave a framed photo of a couple a month later. It was a great photo I took at the reception.

As for thank you notes... can't remember if I received Thank You cards. I would appreciate the setiment since attending (or being in) a wedding can be time consuming and cost money for the guests.
posted by KogeLiz at 2:13 AM on January 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

2nding what empath said in response to greenish.
If you're US-based, this might seem like a big deal.

Alexei has the most elegant solution.
posted by Prof Iterole at 3:14 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe you had your wedding somewhere that required extra travel or accommodation expenses for a larger proportion of invitees than is usual? e.g. did you have the wedding somewhere other than where you, and the majority of your friends and your family live? Maybe you had it over the holiday period when accommodation and flights were especially expensive for out-of-towners?

I think giving a gift is still the norm (but where I live we bring it to the wedding, we don't post it), but I can imagine that if someone had a large expense to attend a wedding, in terms of travel or accommodation, that this outlay and effort would be made in lieu of a gift (I've heard that sentiment expressed by friends in the past).
posted by JeanDupont at 3:59 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

What's really going to be awkward is if this doesn't work. Sure, you want to thank them for coming, but mostly you want to know why they didn't send a gift. So, if they take your note for face value, you still have the question and you have no other plan to get an answer.

Many times, if the wedding involved significant travel for your guests or of you are older or were previously married, people will ask for no gifts. Was your wedding far away (incurring a lot of expense) or are you already established with household items?

You could have a family member (like your mother, for example) ask around with family members. That's still awkward though, because saying "where's my present" is just not an easy thing to do.

The odds of that many things getting lost in the mail are pretty slim. I would assume that they chose to not send a gift, but meant nothing negative by it.
posted by Houstonian at 4:08 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could send out a post wedding "announcement" card with the best picture from the day and a caption like "Gravel+Partner, are hitched at last!"

The trick is to send them to everyone on your guest list, and even some people not on your guest list who might appreciate a picture.

No thank you required, it's not asking or gifts, and it would serve as a reminder for anyone who was going to send a gift but forgot, etc.
posted by donut_princess at 4:31 AM on January 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Have you ever purposefully not given a wedding gift or forgotten to give one?

I only give gifts for people's first weddings that I actually attend, where I'm invited to an actual wedding ceremony/civil union where vows are exchanged etc. I never give gifts at, say, a post-wedding reception where I wasn't invited to the prior real wedding. My 3 divorced guy friends who remarried this year in their late 30s did not get a gift from me; I gave them each a gift off their registries the first times they got married (and I don't know their new wives at all).

How would a thanks-for-coming card come off to you?

So much depends on the way you word the thing. Any whiff of passive-aggressive "where's my gift?" stuff would sooo not have the desired effect. That being said, in my circle, handwritten thank-you notes are always a do. Anything with a preprinted, mass thank you message would be a don't.

Have wedding gifts become gauche amongst the west coast tech world environmentalist hippie set?

Aren't "west coast tech people" supposed to be fairly well off? In the US professional classes, generally, people tend to give wedding gifts of at least $100. I've seen young professionals pool their resources and give a bigger gift of some kind of awesome "experience" for the couple, like skydiving or a cooking class (don't gag).

Finally, little known fact, but old school etiquette maven Miss Manners has always been clear that nobody owes anybody a wedding gift. Wedding gifts are always optional. So your guests are not technically in the wrong. I guess the real issue, OP, is why does the lack of gifts from certain folks feel like such a slight to you? I don't think you were wrong to expect wedding gifts from your (reasonably well-off?) tech friends, but maybe they're not quite as "generous" as you thought. Or they just don't see you as someone they need to either thank/curry favor with and/or impress?
posted by hush at 4:38 AM on January 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

East coast US here. I've not given a gift on three occasions: (1) a destination wedding where it was clear that attending at all was the gift; (2) my best friend's wedding where I basically was the wedding planner and day of coordinator; and (3) a wedding I went to when I was in a bad financial spot that cost a lost to attend, but I gave a card saying I'd be sending a gift sometime in the next year, which I did. For numbers 2 and 3 I received a thank you note - for 2 it was basically "thanks for making sure my wedding actually happened" and for 3 it was "thanks for taking part in our special day."

I'd personally send thank you notes to everyone. I find it very strange that so many people didn't give gifts. Two thoughts: (1) did you have a bridal shower where those people gave a gift? And (2) did you have a card box at the wedding that could have been raided by unscrupulous staff?
posted by melissasaurus at 4:51 AM on January 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I totally understand your urge here - I am a compulsive thank-you note writer and love to send notes after dinner parties and things. But don't do it in this case. Even if it is meant with the best of intentions, it will make most of the non-givers uncomfortable.

Also, some of our loved ones are apparently just more absentminded than we had given them credit for, because we had an awfully small family wedding and gifts/congratulatory cards were still turning up out of the blue months later.

Lastly - try not to think about it, seriously. We kept a list of things/cards we received for the purposes of ensuring everyone was thanked promptly, but I scrapped it once all the notes were sent. You don't want to keep track of this stuff, even mentally; it'll make you feel weird and color your relationships with people unnecessarily. Sometimes people are too broke to give something, sometimes they derp it up, sometimes they just really don't get into cards/gifts - and it's completely pointless to ponder that or wonder why.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 5:39 AM on January 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

The note will strain your relationship with people who deliberately didn't give you a gift and not signify anything in those who didn't know they were supposed to give you a gift. Not worth it.

In terms of why someone would be non-gift-givers, if your attendees are dirt poor or are white people who grew up in atomized exurbs far from extended families or community networks, maybe they don't know about wedding gifts. People who were brought up in ANY other cultural milieu are going to have had wedding (and liminal birthday and bar/bhat mitzvah, and confirmation) gift giving very well instilled. Anyone matching that description who hasn't given you a gift is a giant flake, or sticking you in the eye, for sure. Not the end of the world but worth knowing about them. More Californians who couldn't fly to my wedding in NYC gave us presents, than people who came and did not give us presents.
posted by MattD at 5:46 AM on January 8, 2014

Please -- don't send thank-you notes to people for coming to your wedding. People should thank their hosts, not the other way around.

When it comes to etiquette, it is actually correct that a wedding gift may be sent up to a year after the wedding, but as hush said, no one owes anyone a wedding gift.
posted by Dolley at 5:46 AM on January 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you had a destination wedding, and/or a lot of people travelled a distance to be there, their presence was your gift. And in that case I think it's appropriate to thank them. In my 20s, I had a terrible time figuring out how to attend weddings that came with a $500 travel price tag. If I had done that, and you wanted to thank me for being there, I think a perfect way to do that would be a nice email maybe with a photo of me or the whole group at the wedding.

The common wisdom amongst my circle of friends is that you have "up to a year" to give a wedding gift.

Though I think that is the common saying about gifts, when I tried it for a family wedding, my mom clued me in that that's, like, century-old Emily Post stuff for elite-class weddings, not something that really applies to regular people today. It is true on paper, but in reality, most often life doesn't actually work like that, and it ends up that people just forget to do it.
posted by Miko at 6:12 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you really do just want to thank people for showing up don't send a thank you card, just send a blank card that does not say or imply thank you.

It would say, "Yesterday I was thinking [way you helped make the wedding extra special/memorable]. It was so nice to see you and I am so glad you were a part of this event and are a part of my life."
posted by Saminal at 6:18 AM on January 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

You don't send thank you notes to people for attending your wedding. It's not expected and it IS passive aggressively asking, "Where's my present???"

If you want to chase down if a butt-load of your gifts got lost, check your registry. If things are showing as having been purchased, but you didn't receive them, call the store and discuss it with them.

It may be that the folks you hang with just haven't gotten around to it yet. It may be that everyone is broke and just can't afford it.

Oh well, if you truly love your friends, you'll forgive them this transgression. Also, I promise you, you may receive china, but you'll never use it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:27 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Echoing what melissasaurus said, did you have a wedding shower/household shower/bridal shower before the wedding where you received gifts? If so, count out receiving gifts for the actual wedding.

If you didn't have a shower or you didn't receive gifts from certain people at the shower, maybe give it a bit more time?
posted by horizonseeker at 6:40 AM on January 8, 2014

Ah, the "lost in the mail wedding gift." I think there must be a huge number of these gifts -- perhaps stashed in some overwhelmed mail delivery person's garage? Over the years I have always given a wedding gift, even if I didn't go to the wedding. I've always sent the gift to the bride, since piles of presents at the wedding are a definite pain in the ass to the bridal party. The number of thank you cards from the bride and groom that I've received are ... well, I haven't gotten any, actually.

So ... do I send a card or make a phone call saying "I hope my present wasn't lost in the mail" meaning "where the hell is my thank you?" Always awkward.... "oh, it was wonderful, thank you, I meant to write" but meaning "why are you making me feel bad?" And no matter how you phrase your "where's my present? is it lost?" question, it's going to feel bad to the person you're asking.

There doesn't seem to be any real solution to this. People didn't give you wedding presents. Why? Who knows. What can you do? Shrug and join archy and mehitabel in saying whatthehell, whatthehell, and move on.
posted by kestralwing at 6:59 AM on January 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think it really depends on how your "thank you" card is designed and worded. If it is very obvious that the thank-you is intended to be a thank-you FOR A GIFT, then I think you should not send that style of card to people who did not give a gift, it's inappropriate. To be more specific, some pre-made thank-you cards have a picture of a present on the front of the card, and some wording inside saying "Thanks for your generous gift" - yeah, DO NOT send that card to those who didn't send a gift, it will be weird.

However, I think it would be gracious, and appreciated by the guest, if you do send a card thanking them for attending the wedding. I am surprised by the number of people saying you don't thank a guest for attending your event - why wouldn't you? Especially when some guests must travel quite a ways to attend.

At my wedding, some friends did travel a significant distance to be there for me, and I considered their presence as their gift to me. I sent a thank-you to everyone that attended, regardless of whether a gift was given or not. For those who did not give a gift, I expressed appreciation for their time and presence. "We would like to thank all our family & friends for celebrating with us. It was a beautiful day & a great party! We hope you enjoyed yourself as much as we did."
posted by Ardea alba at 7:09 AM on January 8, 2014

This no thank you note stuff must be entirely regional because in California where I am from (LA and San Diego) not sending a card to thank someone for attending a wedding (a joyous but often extremely inconvenient and expensive experience) would be considered categorically rude. I do not agree at all that it is the guests' responsibility to thank the host after attending an event, and I would be very disappointed to have attended a wedding that was expensive and costly to get to without that being acknowledged by the couple in question. At the VERY least set up some time to catch up with these non-gift givers and express to them verbally how much you appreciate them coming to the wedding. Whether those people respond by talking to you about their gifts is up to them. If they feel guilty or weird about it, that's also on them. You are allowed to thank people for attending your wedding.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:50 AM on January 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Personally, if I've been invited to a wedding and am unable to give a gift, I'll tell the couple in question so as to avoid any perplexity of this sort.

That being said, if I were to later receive a card from them saying e.g. "Thank you so much for coming and sharing out special day" I would be tickled pink.

But I'm weird, so.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:56 AM on January 8, 2014

I think that a note thanking them for coming is lovely. The recipient's interpretation of it is not your issue, as long as you've worded it gracefully. I would be thrilled to receive a hand-written note.

And yes, I think that some people assume they have up to a year to give a gift, and then they forget. Or maybe they can't afford a gift if they have spent money on travel and clothes. Being IN the wedding is expensive, too. My husband's sister had our whole family in her wedding and while it was a touching gesture, the bridesmaid and flower girl dresses along with the tuxedo and shoe rentals cost more than a thousand dollars -- we could only scrounge up a minor cash gift after all of that. So, it's possible that people that were in your wedding thought counted as their gift (I still think that giving you a congratulatory card would have been nice).

Anyway, all this is speculation. I see nothing wrong with sending out a nicely-worded thank you note. I do think it's rude of people who came to the wedding and could afford a gift not to get you a little something.
posted by Ostara at 8:05 AM on January 8, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the feedback! I've read a few places about thank you notes for all guests regardless of gift-giving being nice. But they didn't give the perspective of non-gift givers. Based on these answers, I've decided it's not worth the risk of coming of coming off passive aggressive.

Thanks for all the good possible explanations too! I didn't have a destination wedding or any pre-wedding shower events, and I also consider helping out or significant travel to be their own gifts which I won't feel at all hesitant to thank people for. It could be that people consider us already established or that they aren't into gifts and cards. But I'm chalking it up to absent-mindedness.

Time to put this out of my mind and go on with my nice friendships.
posted by Gravel at 8:23 AM on January 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

I am young and broke. I didn't give gifts at my older cousins weddings.

I probably would not expect gifts, in general, from same age or younger people on any occasion, not just weddings. Also, even middle-aged people I would not expect gifts from if, as is the case in many families, say one sibling is a teacher and one is a doctor, everyone is tacitly aware of this situation, and the doctor is already quite used to graciously picking up the check at dinners, etc. No one says this aloud, it's just understood. Poorer, younger or same-age people generally do not get nice, big expensive things for you. At least, that was the general etiquette when I was growing up. You expect a gag or token gift from them or none at all. Some people prefer none at all, since all they can afford will essentially be useless random little stuff the purpose of which is solely to say, "I thought of you. Now you will never use this again."

When faced with the choice to do gag/token gift or none, most poor/young people at a very formal fancy occasion will do none. Because it looks bad if you open the gifts and Rich Uncle bought you a car while Susie bought you soaps, you know?

That said, if you have rich older/same age Uncles, Aunts, very close friends, etc. who did not get you a wedding gift, especially if they did so for your cousin or something, I would say you have a right to be a little miffed.
posted by quincunx at 9:49 AM on January 8, 2014

If it helps, I'm part of that west coast techie scene and for whatever reason, even though people have plenty of money they just don't seem to be as informed or sensitive to a lot of social niceties like this. I'm from the midwest where there is a much larger culture of gift giving (and note writing and etc) that just doesn't seem to exist here. It's very possible that a disproportionate number of people in this area either eschew gift giving as impractical (especially if you yourself are wealthy/established) or old-fashioned, or simply just don't think of it at all because it's not a big part of social culture here.
posted by annekate at 9:56 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most of my good friends of my age didn't get us wedding gifts and I didn't give it a second thought. I wrote one of them, who asked if she should get me a gift (I said no) a long thank you note because she'd really gone out of her way to come- buying an expensive plane ticket and being a bridesmaid. Others of them I didn't write a note to.

I was surprised when some of my parent's friends who I barely know didn't get us anything, and a little worried that something had been misplaced and that they'd be angry not to get a thank you note, but I couldn't be bothered to over analyze the whole thing and just moved on, because I didn't actually care if we got a present from them, and I couldn't write a card based on nothing.
posted by cacao at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I should explain more- a lot of my friends don't have much money, and them coming at all was an honor.

My parent's friends do have money and are much more into social dances and obligations.
posted by cacao at 9:59 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I went to 8 weddings during the last calendar year, all friends' (peers in age) first weddings, and sent only...4 gifts. All of them after the wedding, because I subscribe to the "you have one year" rule, and all of them bought with money from an insurance payout after an accident (my usual budget was too strapped from the stress of traveling to 8 weddings).

The four friends who did not get gifts were, unfortunately, the friends I care for the most--I wanted to get something special and off-registry for them, so instead of clicking away to send a toaster/bathmat/cake platter, I put it on my list to find something really unique for these friends who I truly love and whose love for each other inspires me.

Four, six, eight, months later...nothing. I'm broke again, it's too much trouble, and now I feel too bad and weird about it to send any gift at all. So they just aren't going to receive gifts from me. I do feel guilty, but I guess I'm counting on the fact that I've never gotten married myself (no "gift debt" to pay off), I always travel for their weddings/showers/bachelorette weekends (I live in a somewhat remote area), and I try to be a generally good friend otherwise. I think it's okay.

But I would feel guilty and a little strange about receiving a thank-you card from any of those four.
posted by magdalemon at 2:01 PM on January 8, 2014

This literally just happened to me. I received the card yesterday.
And, yes, it made me feel like shit.
We had about a dozen weddings to attend that summer, we really did our very best, but we couldn't afford gifts for all of them. And, what's worse, I'm sure they gave us a lovely gift at our own wedding, but we just couldn't make it happen.
Getting the card - it was clear that they had had an obvious conversation about what to say - it was a lovely card, but I really wish they hadn't sent it. I don't think we needed to be thanked for showing up to a party that they paid for.
(Sorry, not trying to take out my anxiety on you, but it's been on my mind since I got the card in the mail and I was kind of floored to see the question posted here.)
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:34 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I feel really bad for you that your friends did not at least slip something in a card for you at your wedding! That sucks.

So, I'm older, but for me, I cannot imagine going to a wedding empty-handed (well, unless I had a gift delivered ahead of time).

I am surprised by all the people even in this thread who attended weddings without ponying up for a gift, honestly! You usually get invited to a wedding weeks in advance. You have time to figure out what you can afford to do. For me, personally, if I can't afford a gift, I figure I cannot afford to attend, and I don't go.

The reasoning behind this is simple: weddings are expensive! So, if I go, the couple is paying for my meal or drinks or whatever, and I am actually costing them more money by attending their wedding. To me, it would be rude to expect this couple starting out together to pay more for the pleasure of my company if I don't expect to also reciprocate with a gift . Especially if I have the money for new clothes and shoes for a wedding! Because anyone who does that, sorry, but you DID gave money for a gift. You just chose to spend it on yourself rather than the couple. Which, hey, fine if you are okay with that. No one is owed a gift. But you are in essence saying your attendance is their gift, and I am not comfortable with that personally.

Destination weddings might be an exception, I think, but that's pretty much it.

OP, did you have a registry? Maybe some items were backordered? Is it possible your MOH, Best Man, your family has envelopes to give you?
posted by misha at 3:32 PM on January 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

For me, personally, if I can't afford a gift, I figure I cannot afford to attend, and I don't go.

That's too bad. I would have been mortified if I found out someone I cared about didn't come see me get married because they were worried about gifts.
posted by ftm at 5:34 PM on January 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm about to get married and I would much, much rather have my friends spend money on coming to be part of the event than to send a gift and not come because they can't afford both. I definitely consider their presence a gift.
posted by Miko at 6:21 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have your ever purposefully not given a wedding gift or forgotten to give one? How would a thanks-for-coming card come off to you?

I don't always give gifts. If I have to travel a lot or if it's an exceptionally casual wedding or I feel that the people who invited me basically have everything. I often give something super practical and low-key like ocherdraco's fire extinguisher suggestion or a pancake-making kit for the honeymoon. It's possible some people think I am rude about this and that's okay with me. My background is more like greenish's. Put another, blunter way: my culture is different than the you must always bring a gift culture. That said, I think this is something that most of my friends know about me. I think your decision was probably the right one; as this and every other wedding gift thread points to, this is something that reasonable people can disagree about.
posted by jessamyn at 6:41 PM on January 8, 2014

Your question is reasonable, but by far the likeliest answer is that your friends didn't buy a gift. Did your friends have to travel to your wedding? Stay overnight in a hotel? IOW, were there expenses they had to meet just in order to attend your wedding? Times are tight and it's not easy for many folks to be able to pony up the money for a wedding. I also wonder sometimes if gift registries haven't contributed to this problem because people can be put off by the cost of the items chosen on the registries. In the "olden days" - my days - guests just showed up at the wedding with a toaster or a set of drinking glasses and the gifts were opened at the reception, where everyone ooh'd and aah'd over the gift (even if it was the third toaster) and it was done. I don't know, but it seemed to have more feeling in it then, but that's probably just an old lady talking.

If it were me, I'd send a card to everyone, whether they gave a gift or not, saying how happy you were that they came to your wedding - it made the day absolutely perfect in every way. And leave it at that.

If by chance someone did send a gift but they never see it in your home and you never mention it, they'll ask about it one day.
posted by aryma at 10:36 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd send a card to everyone, whether they gave a gift or not, saying how happy you were that they came to your wedding - it made the day absolutely perfect in every way. And leave it at that.

As a result of this thread, I think that we will plan to do this for our wedding. If, as many of us do see it, presence is often a gift in itself, then it seems right to me to acknowledge that with a nice note.
posted by Miko at 6:06 AM on January 9, 2014

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