(Closed) what to say in a note when giving back a wedding gift

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
737 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

So… you aren’t going to get legally married?  Or you just aren’t going to have a big wedding?  Have you sent out the invitations (or save the dates)?

If you have NOT sent StDs or invitations, you still plan to get married, just at the courthouse instead of in a big dress with 200 guests… then you may keep any gifts that have been sent to you.  You do not need to send a formal announcement about the wedding that won’t happen.

If you have sent out a mailing that indicates the receiver will be invited to celebrate your wedding with you you need to send a small note to everybody on your guest list and inform them “The previously announced wedding of denise.mendez.391 to future hubby has been canceled.”  You would return gifts to the senders.  (If the gift is from someone who aware that you still plan to marry, they probably will give the gift right back to you.)

If you have decided that you “don’t need a piece of paper” (or something) and have decided that you will live together/be common-law partners/somehow get on with the “marriage” without the ceremony and legal commitment there are probably many gift givers who won’t feel the need to give you that blender after all.

ETA – that last paragraph sounds a little harsh.  What I mean is that most folks don’t give “Congratualtions on living together” gifts, so when you return the blender, they’ll probably think that you’re polite and proper for doing so, but won’t feel the need to tell you “Oh, honey; keep it!  You’re still getting married even without the wedding.”

Post # 5
857 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@denise.mendez.391:  In that case, I think you could keep it. Send them a card with a photo of you guys at city hall and thank them for giving you the “generous gift that we used to make it official with!” or something like that … I know if I gave $ to a couple, they ended up not having a wedding, and I got that in the mail, I would be STOKED! 

Post # 6
5983 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2018

@denise.mendez.391:  You don’t have to return it, since the only appropriate time to do so would be if no marriage occurred and you and your FI split up…in fact, returning the gift could be seen as a personal slight of their generosity.  They wanted you to have it because they were happy for you, not because you invited them to some drafty hall to eat rubber chicken, get drunk and dance badly, if your getting married, the money is yours, send a thank you note instead.

Post # 7
3887 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I would return it with a note along the lines of “As we have opted to have a short civil ceremony and no reception, we do not feel right in keeping your gift.”  Let the sender decide if they are still going to make the gift to you– chances are, they will, but let them have that choice. 

Since we are all such etiquette freaks, and since etiquette dictates that you give a gift if you attend the reception, then it stands to reason that some folks will feel upset over giving a gift when there is no reception.

Post # 8
6124 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Did you sent out any wedding invitations at this point or STDs? 

If you didn’t, I think you can still keep it, but send them a nice thank you card.


Etiquette says that wedding gifts are not mandatory even with a reception.

Post # 9
611 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

@Nona99:  +1!!

OP, by absolutely no means should you return it… although sometimes people don’t treat them this way, wedding gifts are NOT compensation for hosting a reception, they are meant to be a celebration of and token of goodwill for your marriage. Note I said “marriage,” not “wedding reception.” If I gave someone a gift and had them return it because they decided to elope instead of having a big wedding, I would be hurt. ESPECIALLY if the couple I gave the gift to had had tough times financially and I had wanted to try to help them out.

Post # 10
286 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Since its money for helping with the wedding, I would feel the need to give it back.  I mean, if it was a blender I’d keep it because thats to help with house warming and married life which you still have!  But since a civil ceremony is drastically cheaper, the person might feel like ‘oh I gave you money to help with the wedding and you didn’t have a wedding… lovely.’  (And okay, 100 isn’t that much, but it’s one of those situation where the principle of it all outweighs the amount)


I’d say something like:

_____ and I have decided that we are going to have a small civil ceremony in leui of a larger party.  We sincerely appreciate your contribution to our big day, but we feel that since we have downsize it is only right to return your money, and send along our gratitude!!

Post # 11
433 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2012


Did you get married? Yes. Did they give you a gift to honor your marriage? Yes. The fact that you didn’t have a big ceremony doesn’t matter. Keep it!

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