(Closed) What to do about guests who didn’t give gifts?

posted 9 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 17
103 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: February 2011

Do these guests socialize with a lot of other guests? Maybe if word gets out to them that everyone else has gotten a thank you from you, that will either spur them to actually give you the gift they are planning/waiting to give you, or to make sure you received the gift they thought they gave you, without looking like you’re soliciting gifts.

Post # 18
1870 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2011

I’m planning on sending thank-yous to people who attend but didn’t give a gift pretty much as soon as the wedding is over (attendance in itself IS a gift, people!)–mostly to make sure I can get it out of the way.

If they do get you a gift later on, then send another one. No one’s ever complained about receiving two thank-you notes.

Post # 19
5496 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2010

@Jenny I totally agree with you. I sent all thank-you’s within a few weeks, even to those two who didn’t give a gift. Like you said, attendance IS a gift. I don’t understand how somebody couldn’t send a thank-you to somebody after a wedding to thank them for coming! After those two got the thank-you’s, we were surprised with gifts from them. I sent them both another thank-you. 🙂

Post # 20
1568 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 1996

Etiquette is so important to me that I’m fairly resistant to even thinking about people who come to a wedding without a gift, let alone the people who did it at my wedding. I’ve got it on my to-do list to write a brief note thanking them for coming, especially the ones who traveled a long distance to be at the wedding, but it’s way at the bottom of the list, to put it one way. People who gave gifts have received their thank-yous much faster.

The way I was raised, though, the best “revenge” is to be the better person, so I do want to write the thank-you notes in part to cause people to remember that manners exist. And, of course, to sincerely express gratitude that they took the time to come to the wedding – again, especially those who had to travel.

Post # 21
1 posts
  • Wedding: September 2010

it’s been one month since our wedding, and we received gifts from only about 15 of the 100 guests at our wedding, mostly delivered from our registry prior to the wedding. the reception was a blur, and i’m not even sure if a table was designated for gifts, but at the end of the night someone had put a small stack of gift bags and cards in our cabin (we got married on a ranch) … of course we told guests that gifts were unnecessary, but i’m still a bit surprised that virtually none of our friends did so much as bring a card! the gifts we received were from family and family friends.. even of our 10 person wedding party, we received gifts from only 3 of them. i don’t care gifts per se, but the thought would have been really nice. we did get one card sans gift, and i adored it. 

what i’m starting to wonder (but trying to not think about) is that perhaps something (someone?) at the wedding reception got the best of a few things. there certainly isn’t a graceful way to ask our “wedding coordinator” (who was TERRIBLE, we found her online, and she had no idea what she was doing) if maybe she knows if something happened? i don’t want to point fingers, but i’m starting to wonder if there was a mix-up…

for the record, we didn’t have any showers, and our engagement party was a surprise we announced at a dinner party we threw… so there weren’t prior gifting opportunities. and we made a point to make the wedding as financially comfortable as possible for our wedding party and friends that helped out… we paid for their lodgings and let them choose their own bridesmaids / groomsmen clothes, as well as rented housing for our friends’ band that played the reception and our friend that served as officiant. we even paid the airfare for another friend not involved in the wedding party so that he could come. he didn’t even say thanks, let alone bring a card. 

kinda bummed out. 


Post # 22
548 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

I will be sending a Thank You that says something along the lines of “Thank you so much for sharing our special day with us.  We are so glad that you could come.”

Post # 23
570 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2012


Post # 24
56 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

Gifts are always great, but that is not the reason you have a wedding with guests in the first place. They should never be expected, but they are nice!

Post # 25
5 posts
  • Wedding: March 2011

I don’t really like all of this etiquette talk about gift-giving. I know that traditionally for American weddings, gifts are not required and it’s not “proper” to tell people where you are registered. But I think that a wedding is a special day for the bride and groom to start a new life. It should only be right that the people they love the most help send them off. Weddings are expensive and I know that polite brides will say that gifts don’t matter and they probably mean it, but let’s be real for a minute. People don’t (usually) invite guest to solicit gifts; they invite people they want there. Bride and groom or family pay big $$$ to throw a lavish party for guest to enjoy and be apart of a momentous event. How hard is it to send a card and blender to show your support?


Anyway, maybe it is because I’m Vietnamese and we don’t register for gifts, because the only gift the bride and groom get are red envelopes filled with money to help pay for their wedding plus extra for a honeymoon. Typically, money is given based off what the per person price is. And this money also covers their children who can’t afford a gift. For example: At my cousin’s wedding, my parents gave $500 to cover the cost of my parents, my brother & me. And no, we are not wealthy to be giving money like this. For friends of family, they also give money, but maybe not as much. Like I said, we aren’t wealthy and we don’t expect people to shell out big $$ for us, but are relieved that some relatives will. It helps cushion the finances. And my fiance and I also give cash for friend’s wedding. Call it tacky or not proper, but it helps right?

I hope we can start rewriting these “rules” and do what feels best. If you want to write a note, go for it and don’t feel you have to justify anything. 

Post # 26
2906 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

1. It’s ok if they didn’t give gifts. ( I know you know this and wrote it in the first place, but some of the follow ups have been confusing.)


2. Writing a thank you for attending is totally awesome.


3. Just an old story, I wrote to a couple who came to my Bat Mitzvah and thanked them for coming–it was so good to see them.

They called as soon as they got it and freaked out since they had gotten me a gift–a necklace in a card envelope. I did receive it, but they forgot to sign it!

So, in the end, I found out that gift was from them, and several others who attended (which was really meaningful for me) and didn’t give gifts (their presence was a present, after all) still got cards thanking them for making the trek out to see me and support me.


All around it turned out well, so, yes, I think it’s a fabulous idea to thank them for coming. 🙂

Post # 27
3525 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2010


I have one couple who’s actually a partner at my firm that came to the wedding and did not get us a gift. And like you, I realize that they don’t HAVE to get us something. But I also find it hard to believe they didn’t even get us at least a card and wonder if it got misplaced since there was a bit of a cardbox mixup at the beginning of the wedding.

So I plan to just write thank you for coming!

Post # 28
510 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2010

We’ll be sending out thank you notes to guests who give gifts… that’s generally how we always do it. Any brides send out thank you notes for wedding gifts given before the wedding (i.e. wedding is out of town, so a few guests already sent us a check/gift to avoid having to travel with it)? I want to wait, because we plan on getting cute thank you cards done – with the two of us on our wedding day holding a thank you sign.

Post # 29
9 posts
  • Wedding: September 2010

@Violachap: I recommend getting started on your thank you notes as soon as gifts start to arrive. You’ll feel so much better to have some out of the way after the wedding. That said, it probably depends on how many guests you’ve invited to the wedding… I had to write over 100 thank you notes and was very glad I had some completed beforehand.

Post # 30
4 posts
  • Wedding: December 2010

I just joined so I could add my statistics since these boards were so helpful when I was planning (especially when I was worried about how many would actually come — FYI it was 50%, which was even fewer than RSVP-ed yes). Then after my wedding, I found this board and was comforted to see that many people had my experience with receiving gifts. I have to say, I was surprised!

I was surprised by two things: by the number of people who did not give a card or gift, and by the amazing generosity of the people who did give. We received almost everything we hoped for, and we were truly embarrassed by many people’s generosity. I usually give in the $50 range because that is what I can afford. But the majority of our guests gave between $150 and $250. Thank you, everyone! We also got several gifts that were monetarily small, but which meant a lot to us because of the people and the meaning behind them. We love everything we got, and it goes to show you that a $20 gift can be very memorable!

So like everyone else here, I am hurt not by the lack of “stuff”, but by the lack of thought. Especially in a few cases. Here is my experience a few weeks after the wedding. When I list numbers, it is based on the invitations, not the number of people:


Guests who came: 27 gave something, 9 did not

Of those who came and did not give, 3 really should not have — we would have been embarrassed. Their coming was a huge gift. The remaining 6, well, I was surprised, but I’m over it. One said she was mailing something, but I’m not holding my breath. Another was a close relative who says it’s on the way (but she sort of complains about it….we didn’t bring it up!)

Of those who did not come: 11 gave something, 24 did not

Here is where I get upset. Of those who did not come and did not give — even a phone call, e-mail or card — there are a few who really hurt our feelings by overlooking this big deal in our lives. One aunt and uncle. Many of our friends to whom we have given thoughtfully in recent years. My fiance’s parents’ “best friends” (my parents’ best friends were absolutely gushing at our wedding, and they are truly like family to me….maybe it’s different in my husband’s family). Some friends who have seen my husband experience some pretty crappy life circumstances, which he magnificently overcame, and to whom we gave GENEROUSLY at their weddings within the past year. And they’re very wealthy. It bugs me because I get defensive over my husband, who is AMAZING. He deserves better, and these friends have always been takers when it comes to him. But his other friends who came are wonderful, wonderful people, and their presence was the best gift we got.

Other things to know: 2 gifts came a couple weeks after the wedding (I think his mom’s Christmas letter reminded them), and there are also those 2 that are “on the way.” So they do dribble in. We might see a couple more. I personally like sending gifts after the fact so that I can write how much I enjoyed the wedding. And now I know, as the bride, that it’s fun to get a few more visits from the UPS man when you think it’s over!


At first, I was surprised, a little shocked by at least a couple people. Not in every case–we know some people’s circumstances prohibit them, and maybe they are embarrassed about not being able to give substantially so they don’t even send a card because they feel bad. I get it. I was pretty angry about a couple of people’s rudeness. But a few weeks later, I’m totally over it.

I am going to send thank-yous to those who came and did not give, to thank them for coming. I will wait until the holidays are over.

Post # 31
56 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

to resurrect this topic, i think it’s a bit ridiculous to send a thank you to a guest at your wedding when they haven’t given you a gift (UNLESS you’re trying to gently remind them). They should be thanking YOU in that case. You invited them to a delicious dinner, unlimited drinks and evening of entertainment on your bill. When i’ve had people over for dinner, they’ve sent me thank yous for being a gracious host. I can’t imagine sending cards out to thank people for coming over.

  When you’re invited to a wedding, you bring a gift. No ifs, ands, or buts. Maybe things are different outside of the east coast, but if you’ve chosen to attend a wedding, you most definitely bring a gift. Would you go to a friend’s house for dinner without bringing a bottle of wine, or some dessert? No, i hope not!

It’s the same premise. If you were going out to dinner you’d have to pay the bill, why would you attend a wedding, drink unlimited drinks, eat great food, and not bring a gift? That’s crazy.

This topic makes me livid! Attending a wedding and not giving a gift is extremely rude. If you’re that down and out, stay home and make up some excuse as to why you can’t go, and then send the newleyweds a nice card acknowledging their new marriage.

Couples send out save the dates and invites almost a year before the wedding, if you can’t put aside $5 a week to get them something decent, then really, just don’t go. the couple will understand.

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