(Closed) Sending gift with a "NO" response

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
3770 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013 - Brookfield Zoo

I don’t know the rules of etiquette, but personally I would send a gift even if I had to rsvp no to a wedding.. but for a shower, I would not send a gift if I weren’t attending.  I feel like a wedding holds more weight than a shower.


Post # 4
4352 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@Odess:  I don’t think you’re socially obligated to send a gift. Its a nice gesture though and I know many people do it.

Post # 5
1116 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I say yes to both.  I send gifts if I am invited to a shower but can’t attend and to the newlyweds if I can’t make the wedding.  But I think that is my personal preference.  I can say that I had my shower 2 weeks ago and most of the people who didn’t make it did not send gifts and so far all of the no rsvp’s I’ve gotten so far have had no gift or checks.

Post # 6
11752 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

You’re never obligated but I personally think it’s a nice thing to do.

Post # 7
46408 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I make decisions about whether or not to send a gift based on my relatonship to the couple ( or one of them) not on whether I am able to attend or not.

If I were attending, I would send a gift.

Do I wish them any less well, just because I can’t attend? No. I send a gift.

Post # 8
963 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

I think you’re generally supposed to send a wedding gift if you can’t make it. For a shower on the other hand, I think it’s okay to just decline without a gift.

Post # 9
10571 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

It depends on how close I am to the couple.  I have done both.

For a shower, I would only bother with a gift it were someone I was quite close to.  I can always spend a bit more on a wedding gift if I can’t go to a shower for a not-super close friend or family member.

Post # 10
3265 posts
Sugar bee

The rule of thumb I use is; If I would have gone but I just wasn’t able to, I would send a gift.  If I would have declined anyways, I do not.

An invitation does not mean you must send a gift.  I’d have sent Oprah an invite for sure, if it meant she HAD to send me a gift.  Maybe the Queen too.

Post # 11
735 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

Etiquette requires that you acknowledge the wedding by sending a congratulatory note (not even a card) if you aren’t able to attend the wedding. If you are close enough to the couple that you would like to mark the happy occasion with a gift (and if you know that your gift will be welcome, because traditionally a bride and groom wouldn’t be comfortable if an acquaintance gave them a gift) then you should send one. But you are not obligated to send a gift just because a third cousin of your mother (whom you’ve met once) felt the need to send an invitation to every living relative she could track down. 

Traditionally it is slightly insulting to send a gift to a shower that you can’t attend. That’s because a traditional shower gift is a small item to help stock the kitchen -like measuring cups – and to send that in your absence implies that he bride and groom won’t be able to buy these small items on their own.  Most modern brides are happy to know that their guest is thinking of them, so she wouldn’t be offended… But it is far from required to and a gift if you don’t go!

Post # 12
3618 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

We always send a gift regardless of our decision to attend or not. The exception would be when we are invited to people we barely even know. Then we don’t attend or send a gift.

Post # 13
13010 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I always send a gift.  My gift is to wish them well in the start of their new life together, and I don’t wish them any less because I opted not to go to the wedding. 

Post # 14
7561 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2013

If it’s a friend, I send them a gift if I can’t attend. If it’s one of those random “Why did they invite me?” things, I don’t. 

Post # 15
9955 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012


As the others have said, a lot is dependent upon how you know the Happy Couple… acquaintance, close friend, or relative.  That is what will dictate more than anything else your obligation for giving a gift, and how much you spend.

According to the Post Institute and Peggy Post’s book *Wedding Etiquette*


It used to considered obligatory for anyone invited to a wedding to send a gift, whether they attended the wedding or not.  This is still true when the recipients are friends whom you see from time to time or who live nearby…

Because invitations still carry a gift-in-return obligation, it is more proper to send a wedding announcement, which carries no gift obligation, to mere acquaintances or distant friends you haven’t seen in years.  If you do send an invitation to people who are not close to you and they do not attend the festivities, you should not expect a gift in return.

Any formula wherein a wedding gift should cost at least as much as the bride and groom are spending on entertaining each person at the reception is a MYTH.  Such extravagance is impractical, uncalled-for, and ostentatious – and therefore in poor taste.  Fortunately, guests are learning that they have no such obligation.  It is not the cost of the gift but the thought, the sentiment, and the practicality that count. The cost of a gift is based on the guest’s affection for and the relationship with the bride, the groom, or their families. No one should be made to feel that he must spend more than can be afforded.  That doesn’t mean, however, that guests have the green light to be stingy in purchasing a gift.  Each guest should simply give what he or she can afford, along with love and best wishes.

Wedding gifts are generally delivered to the bride’s home or the home of her parents before the wedding, and are addressed to the bride in her name.  Gifts may be sent out as soon as a guest receives an invitation, mailed by the donor or sent directly from the store where they were purchased.  Sometimes gifts are delivered in person.  When gifts are sent after the wedding, they are sent to the couple at their new address, if known, or to their parents’ home.  When a couple is living together before their wedding, gifts are either sent to them at their home address or to the bride’s parents if they are hosting the wedding.  The circumstances are the guide.

In some localities and among certain ethnic groups it is customary for guests to bring a gift to the wedding reception rather than deliver it ahead of time.  Gift packages should be put on a table set up for them.  The newlyweds are not expected to open these gifts during the reception, but they should delegate the tasks of making sure they’re safe at the reception and of packing them up and transporting them from the reception to a safe place.  In other cases, checks are handed to either the bride or groom in the receiving line or sometime before the end of the reception.

— — —


Unless culture and custom dictate that shower gifts should be the equivalent of wedding presents, gifts given to the bride or engaged couple at a shower should not be elaborate.  Traditionally, shower gifts were handmade for the occasion and such gifts are still treasured.  If the shower has a theme, gifts should be appropriate to the shower.  At a bath or kitchen shower, for example, guests comply by bringing towels or small appliances.  Sometimes, guests contribute to a joint gift for the bride or the couple.

Shower gifts are to be presented to the bride, or the bride and groom, at the shower.  If an invited guest can’t attend, it is not obligatory that she send a gift.  (Often, close friends or relatives wish to, however, which is fine).  If a non-attending invitee does send a gift, she should send it directly to the shower hostess – not from the store directly to the bride.  (In this way the gift can be part of the celebration, and opened along side everyone else’s).  The gift should be accompanied by a card to let the guest of honour know the name of the donor.  Shower gifts are opened at the party, and each donor is thanked personally then and there.  The bride may write thank-you notes later if she wishes:  It is much appreciated if she does, but it is not absolutely mandatory – unless the donor was not there or did not receive thanks from the bride in person (at the shower).

Sometimes the invitation asks each guest to bring a gift for a Wishing Well, in addition to the shower gift.  The Wishing Well gift is a small, inexpensive item, such as a measuring spoon or cup, an herb or spice, or a bar of scented soap.  These presents may be wrapped or not, accompanied by a card or not, and put into a small model or replica of a well.  Under no circumstances should these be large items, since the shower guest has invested in a shower gift and most likely a wedding gift too.

NOTE – There are a whole other set of Gift Giving Guidelines for gifts to Encore Brides (Showers) and Second Marriages (Weddings).  If you need to know that stuff… just let me know.

Hope this helps,


Post # 16
2781 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

It depends, if you aren’t attending due to prior obligations, then send a gift. If you aren’t attending because you aren’t close to the couple and don’t really understand why they invited you, then don’t send a gift. Either  way, regardless of reasons RSVP!

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