(Closed) Is a gift expected when not attending a wedding?

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: Sending a gift when not attending a wedding?



  • Post # 16
    427 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: March 2016

    No, a gift is never expected if not attending in my opinion. I personally have never sent a gift to an aquaintance wedding I didn’t attend.

    BUT I do get the thing about it being family, her examples were specifically her family. So if the question is if YOU should for this girl, I think that’s a no. If you WANT to, that’s up to you.

    We had a friend decline but send us a gift, very surprised, but grateful. Also for some extended family that didn’t attend, a few sent us gifts which was nice, but weren’t shocked as generally for asians, family tends to always show up on the $$ front as tradition.

    Post # 18
    3286 posts
    Sugar bee

    A gift is never expected. 

    Post # 19
    407 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: June 2016 - Beach

    From my experience I have received gifts from people who are not attending but I MOST cetainly didn’t expect to get gifts. For example, my FI’s Mom is having health issues and is unable to travel, she lives on the other side of the country and was disappointed she couldn’t go but sent us a check unexpectedly. I would prefer to have them there but sometimes that is just not the case.

    Post # 20
    14095 posts
    Honey Beekeeper
    • Wedding: November 1999

    I always send gifts whenever I’m invited to weddings.  I like to show the couple that I support their marriage with some tangible gift, especially if I can’t make it to the actual event.

    Post # 21
    2521 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: July 2014

    I usually send one unless I get the invite and am like “why did I get invited to this wedding?”  I think it polite, and what you are supposed to do.  

    However, I must say that out of everyone who couldn’t come to my wedding, only a small number of them sent a gift and I didn’t think anything negative about it.  

    Post # 22
    1521 posts
    Bumble bee

    Growing up my mom always sent a gift if we weren’t going to be going to a wedding or bridal shower, so I’ve sort of taken that on myself. I think it’s nice to send a little something to the couple even if you can’t be there… We had a few folks send us gifts who couldn’t be at my bridal shower and it was so nice to receive them and be thought of.

    Post # 23
    2803 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: May 2016

    I didn’t expect any gifts from people who couldn’t come. I was very surprised at how many people sent gifts… Like VERY generous gifts. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy at the love and thought 🙂 

    Post # 24
    942 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: May 2016

    I didn’t expect a gift for those that did not attend mine but it was very nice for those that did send well wishes card/gift.


    Post # 25
    1692 posts
    Bumble bee

    A lot of would-be etiquette mavens get this wrong, and Anna Post may be among their number. I haven’t been able to decide whether she just doesn’t communicate very well, or if she really believes that proffering material gain is more polite than offering social grace. If the latter, then the divine Emily her great-grandma-in-law must be spinning in her grave.

    Old-world courtesy is to refrain from forcing yourself on others, by NOT giving presents to people unless you are intimately acquainted with them. It’s not a new trend: it’s well attested traditional proper conduct. On the other hand, best wishes for an impending marriage are obligatory from everyone who has even a nodding acquaintance with bride or groom. Such best wishes normally take the form of a congratulatory note, nowadays most often written inside a greeting card because few people have proper social stationery. Gifts, although NOT obligatory, MAY be sent to anyone who considers you to be a friend. An invitation to the wedding-breakfast (a.k.a. dinner, a.k.a. “reception” although that is in fact inaccurate), even an invitation that you decline, is a clear indicator that the happy couple consider you to be a friend. A ceremony-only invitation indicates just the opposite. So in short:

    If you receive an invitation (or any other notice of a wedding) you must send a note/card.

    If the invitation is to the breakfast/reception, you may send a gift.

    If the invitation is to the ceremony only, you must not send a gift.

    Polite people do not differentiate the gifts they give, on the basis of what they are getting out of the deal. If you send a cheap gift with your regrets, and an expensive gift with your acceptances, you send the message that your gift is payment for your meal, turning the whole happy hospitable celebration into a rather tawdry commercial transaction.

    Post # 26
    2245 posts
    Buzzing bee

    Yikes, I don’t think I’ve ever sent a gift when I didn’t attend.  I haven’t missed the wedding of anyone I’m really close to though, except one in Hawaii I guess and I didn’t send a gift.  Now I’m thinking I should start sending gifts when not attending though …

    Post # 27
    267 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: November 2015

    I generally think that the official etiquette is that a gift is never required, whether or not you attend the wedding.  Of course, most people would agree that they always give a gift when they attend a wedding.  


    In the past, we have always given a gift off the registry in the $50 range or a check if we cannot attend the wedding.  It totally depends on our financial circumstances and the level of friendship.  Most times we have not been able to attend a wedding, it was not a very good friend and we more or less chose not to be there.  Once I had to back out of attending a close friend’s wedding because of a last-minute family commitment (and I felt awful!!) and I gave her a gift in the same amount as if I had attended her wedding.  If I ever had to miss a very close friend or family member’s wedding, I would give the same gift as if I was going to attend.

    I do not think this is necessary, but I think it is very nice. At the very least, I would always send a card to let the bride and groom know you were thinking of them on their day.


    In your particular circumstance, I think this friend definitely expects a gift so if you are interested in maintaining the friendship, you should give one.  But perhaps you may not care to maintain the friendship!


    Post # 28
    1836 posts
    Buzzing bee

    View original reply
    bellanotte11:  I don’t think you can expect gifts from people who RSVP “no.” Some will send one, some won’t. I do send a gift when I can’t attend (and when I’m close to the bride, like in the scenario you posted with the sister, I would indeed be sure to send a “good one”).  Ha ha, this send-a-gift-even-if-you-aren’t-attending thing is why when people invite a bunch of folks from out-of-town who are unlikely to come they get accused of soliciting gifts. I will say this though — if I can’t attend and finances are tight I might send a less expensive gift due to lack of worry about covering the cost of my dinner.  If you decide not to attend this friend’s wedding, I’d send a gift, but it need only be a modest one if you aren’t financially well-off. 

    Post # 29
    1887 posts
    Buzzing bee

    I don’t think a gift should ever be expected, but when I’m invited to a wedding, I always send one whether I can make it or not. I’m usually saving money by not going to the wedding, so I figure I should at least send a token off the registry to thank them for inviting me and wish them well.

    Post # 30
    302 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: March 2017

    Gift isn’t expected but people tend to think you should still send one. I don’t send a gift if it’s obvious you invited me because you thought I wouldn’t come and I would send you a gift. And yes, people do this. If you’re my friend/family and I just couldn’t work out coming, I send you a gift.

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