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“Am I a Selfish Bride?”

I got married exactly one year ago to my now-husband. We decided to get hitched at City Hall and because he’s foreign, the whole thing was organized very quickly, with both our families flying to the west coast on a week’s notice, from different countries. We sent out a last minute email to our very large group of good friends saying that we were getting hitched at the courthouse but we were having a reception that night. The whole thing was very informal (just like we wanted it) and all our friends came and we all had a great time.

The problem is, only two of our friends got us wedding gifts. I don’t care about the gifts/material objects per se but I do feel slighted that only two of our friends got us a gift. We have a very large group of friends who we socialize with on a weekly basis. Other than this, our friends are wonderful people, always there for us and I honestly couldn’t ask for better friends. Maybe it’s because we didn’t have a traditional white wedding? Ours was very thrown together last minute, however everyone was happy and able to make it. Should I feel hurt that no one thought to give us a gift? It sort of makes me feel like they don’t take our marriage seriously. I have never heard of not getting someone a gift who comes to your reception and you see on a weekly basis. Am I just being selfish or is my annoyance legit? — Selfish Bride?


I’ve answered similar questions to yours in the past and my answer remains the same: while it’s certainly appropriate and good etiquette to mark loved ones’ special occasions with a thoughtful gift or generous gesture, gifts are not mandatory and should never be expected. More specifically, when it comes to occasions where guests’ presence is the true gift, then the absence of a material gift really is not something to get your panties in a bunch over. In your case, SB, your guests had to scramble to attend your last-minute wedding. There were probably cancellations of other plans, possibly high travel expenses, and the simple inconvenience of suddenly shuffling schedules around to accommodate you and your husband. And yet, everyone from your very large group of friends made it. Regardless how many of them may have had tickets to other events that night, or already-accepted invitations to other parties, or plans to go out of town, they all made your last-minute wedding a priority to show you love and support. And you feel slighted?

The part of your letter that really gets me is when you write this: “Should I feel hurt that no one thought to give us a gift? It sort of makes me feel like they don’t take our marriage seriously.” First of all, I’ve never understood when people ask me whether they should feel hurt about something. Cultivating feeling takes energy. If you’re going to exert energy on something, wouldn’t it make much more sense to spend it cultivating positive feelings rather than negative feelings? Oh, the energy I could save it I didn’t spend so much of it trying to squash negative emotions, and here you are wondering if you should spend yours creating it! No! You shouldn’t. That goes for everyone. If you’re sitting there on the fence trying to decide if you should be mad or hurt or upset about something, get off the fence and go do something productive and positive. In fact, go do something nice for someone! The world could use more random acts of kindness.

As for the second part of your statement — the part where you question how serious your friends take your marriage if they didn’t give you a gift, I have to wonder how in the world you think a few pots and pans, a set of bath towels, or a new clock radio would add legitimacy to your marriage? I mean, really? I would think people’s attendance at your wedding/reception would say a lot more about their feelings for you and your union than whether they picked you out some kitchen knives. Furthermore, who cares what other people think about your marriage? I mean, unless they are actively trying to sabotage it or they’re giving you the stink eye when you’re all together or what have you, then what they think about your marriage is actually none of your business and doesn’t really matter. It should have no bearing whatsoever on your happiness or the success of your relationship. What counts is how seriously YOU take your marriage. So quit worrying about everyone else and focus on that. Focus on what you share with your husband and how wonderful it is to have a large group of friends you get to see on a weekly basis. You’re so lucky. If I could trade the wedding gifts my friends and family gave me to have them live close enough to see on a weekly — or even monthly! — basis, I’d do it in a nanosecond. To be surrounded by love, support and friendship is such a wonderful thing. That’s the real gift. It beats the hell out of a few potholders and bakers racks, I’ll tell you what.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 129 comments… add one }

  • avatar Jessica March 31, 2011, 3:26 pm

    and.. why feel this way a year later?

    .. good points Wendy.

    You could also chalk it up to everything being last minute, maybe they already had to cancel plans to attend your one week notice of a wedding anyway and didn’t have time to grab a gift.

    • avatar maynard March 31, 2011, 3:50 pm

      yeah my first thought was ‘why do you give a shit a year later?’

      have you been wondering if you should be pissed this whole time?

      • avatar Jess March 31, 2011, 5:47 pm

        i think because traditionally people give gifts up until a year after the wedding. i think?

  • avatar jottino March 31, 2011, 3:27 pm

    I agree!!

    I don’t think it’s “selfish” so much as it is “greedy.” How can you not be concerned with the gifts or material objects when you’re concerned that you didn’t get any gifts or material objects? I agree with Wendy; in a last-minute situation, attendance at the wedding was as big a gift as anything. It was probably costly for many of the guests, in both time and money. I think it’s terrible that you suspect your friends might not take the marriage seriously, especially considering that you socialize with them on a regular weekly basis (I assume your husband is also included – otherwise you might be onto something). It sounds like you have a large group of friends that will practically drop everything to support you. Because they didn’t bring a toaster as a carry-on makes you doubt them? A group of friends like that sounds fantastic.

    If it was that big a deal, and you really wanted presents, why not throw a housewarming party? Or hold out for a baby shower, if that’s in your future plans.

    • avatar MissDre March 31, 2011, 3:43 pm

      “How can you not be concerned with the gifts or material objects when you’re concerned that you didn’t get any gifts or material objects?”

      She’s NOT concerned about the lack of material objects. I totally understand where she’s coming from. It’s like if your boyfriend doesn’t get you something on Valentine’s day. We don’t really care what he gets us, but we still want something, because it shows he thought about us. That’s probably what she’s thinking here.

      But Wendy is right that the gesture she should be focusing on is everyone attending last minute to support her.

      • becboo84 BecBoo84 March 31, 2011, 4:44 pm

        I’m with you on this one. I do understand what Wendy’s trying to say, but I also understand where the LW is coming from.

      • avatar SpaceySteph March 31, 2011, 6:23 pm

        Agree to an extent… but imagine you and your boyfriend got together a week before Valentines Day. Would his lack of a gift signify he didn’t think of you, or that he didn’t have time between the time you became his gf and the day to get you a gift?
        The parallel is admittedly not perfect, but its there. Her friends scrambled to attend her short notice wedding; their lack of gifts does not mean the same as if her friends had received Save The Date cards a year in advance, just as your boyfriend not getting you a Valentines day present does not mean the same thing if you’ve been “official” a week as it would if you’d been together for awhile.

        There’s only so much that can be pulled off in a limited timeframe.

        • avatar MissDre March 31, 2011, 6:35 pm

          I see what you mean. I’m not saying that everybody should have instantly rushed out to buy her some big expensive gift. I was just trying to say, I understand why her feelings were a little hurt, and I definitely do not think she is materialistic or greedy.

        • avatar elisabeth April 1, 2011, 10:14 am

          I think it’s also worthwhile to note that the LW’s friends made the scramble to *travel* to the west coast for the wedding – presumeably they were not there all ready. Those travel expenses could (and perhaps should) be counted as the gift! Isn’t it standard to not anticipate gifts at destination weddings? No, this wasn’t overseas (for the LW’s family, though it sounds like it was for her husband’s?), but certainly the travel expense works the same way here.

      • avatar jottino April 1, 2011, 9:32 am

        When i said “How can you not be concerned with the gifts or material objects when you’re concerned that you didn’t get any gifts or material objects?” I meant more along the lines of not seeing attendance as a gift, or a gesture which showed her friends’ appreciation and support. She did say that “only two of our friends got us wedding gifts,” which shows that she’s still kind of looking for the actual physical object. She didn’t see the people attending the wedding as the guesture that shows they thought about and wanted to support her.

        If it were me, I would be overjoyed that anyone even showed up to a last minute reception via email invitation. And if I saw these people regularly, and was so close to them, it could always work itself into the conversation, like “Oh, look at what X gave me for the wedding! Isn’t it beautiful?”

        Eh. Maybe I just don’t understand because I’ve never been in that situation. Or maybe it’s not the whole story. I’m bothered by the “not taking the marriage seriously” comment.

  • avatar cat-i-z March 31, 2011, 3:28 pm

    “I have to wonder how in the world you think a few pots and pans, a set of bath towels, or a new clock radio would add legitimacy to your marriage? I mean, really?” ~~~~~~ LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar Candice March 31, 2011, 3:32 pm

    ha! I would take the presents over the lousy friends any day. Friends grow apart and move on but the presents last!

    • avatar nikki March 31, 2011, 5:26 pm

      To the people who “thumbs-downed” this, I think the post was tongue in cheek.

    • avatar LTC039 April 1, 2011, 11:49 am

      That is a very true statement. Friends come & go very easily…

  • avatar Green_Blessings_Goddess March 31, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Never underestimate the power of greed.

  • avatar ReginaRey March 31, 2011, 3:34 pm

    I don’t understand this part: ” because he’s foreign, the whole thing was organized very quickly, with both our families flying to the west coast on a week’s notice, from different countries.” Why does him being foreign mean the whole thing was organized very quickly? It leads me to wonder if perhaps THAT is the root of the LW’s suspicions that her friends don’t take her marriage seriously. Did she get married very quickly? Did she get married so her boyfriend could stay in the U.S? These might be reasons for your friends to not take your marriage seriously. But as Wendy said, as is right now, not getting gifts at a last-minute wedding certainly doesn’t mean that no one takes you seriously.

    • avatar cdj0815 March 31, 2011, 3:39 pm

      “Why does him being foreign mean the whole thing was organized very quickly? It leads me to wonder if perhaps THAT is the root of the LW’s suspicions that her friends don’t take her marriage seriously. Did she get married very quickly? Did she get married so her boyfriend could stay in the U.S?”
      ReginaRey, I was thinking the exact same thing.

    • avatar honeybeenicki March 31, 2011, 3:39 pm

      I had that same thought about why the wedding was organized so quickly. It struck me as a little weird and I’ve wondered if maybe her friends have approached her before or after the quicky wedding about that.

    • Dear Wendy Wendy March 31, 2011, 3:51 pm

      I don’t think it’s that strange that the couple had to plan a fast wedding. Usually, when a couple applies for a marriage visa, there’s a long wait, during which time they are interviewed, etc. When they get the news that the visa has been approved, there’s a very short time-frame they have to get married. Don’t quote me, but it might some something like 30 days or something. Does anyone have personal experience with this? Definitely, when one member of the couple is foreign, there are restraints that couples of the same nationality don’t have.

      • avatar callmehobo March 31, 2011, 4:10 pm

        I’ve heard that it’s 90 days to get married after obtaining the visa.

      • avatar LennyBee March 31, 2011, 4:18 pm

        It is 90 days, a couple of my friends recently had to get married before their actual planned big white wedding because of marriage visas and deadlines. But besides the deadline, couples typically also have to consider that the foreign spouse can’t apply for a work permit until after the wedding, and that permit takes awhile as well. So even if a couple wants to wait the 90 days to give wedding guests more notice, or to have a bigger, more planned celebration, it may not be feasible for one person to be unemployed and not even able to apply for jobs for at least 3 months.

      • avatar SpaceySteph March 31, 2011, 6:40 pm

        I have plenty of coworkers (3 different couples, in the past 3 months) who got engaged and then married within about a month. One couple got married quick at a church with the ceremony in the auditorium of the church and sent evites. Another couple got married at a courthouse and then had an afterparty at a bar for which they sent an outlook invite, and another couple just happened to find a last minute cancellation at a reception hall 5 weeks from their engagement that they scooped up and planned the rushed wedding to fit it in.

        In each case, the couples are both US citizens of mid-twenties to mid-thirties ages… they just wanted to do it quick. And I don’t think it lends less credibility to their weddings. As one groom said “Weddings expand to fill the space they’re given.” They wanted inexpensive, not overblown affairs, and thats what they got. Plenty of reasons to do it quick and dirty, marriage visas being just one of them.

      • avatar Quakergirl March 31, 2011, 6:58 pm

        It’s 90 days– or at least it was last year–which is still not a lot of time at all. My uncle’s now-wife is Ukranian and he is a U.S. citizen (yes, I know that sounds weird…especially because he’s like 25 years older than her, but I swear they met legitimately and are ridiculously perfect for each other). Once she was issued her fiancee visa (which took about a year and was a grueling process, even though they had been dating for over two years before they got engaged), they had only 90 days to get married. It was actually fairly hellish because they didn’t have an exact date to plan a wedding around without knowing precisely when she’d get her visa approved, so everything was last-minute.

        They got married in CA near where he went to college and a friend officiated. It was a really small wedding, and because of all the chaos with the date, very few family members ended up being able to go. Pictures looked beautiful though, and of course it’s great to have a new member of the family and see my uncle so happy now, even though I couldn’t be there to share their day.

    • avatar Jess March 31, 2011, 5:49 pm

      agreed

  • avatar honeybeenicki March 31, 2011, 3:38 pm

    I had a traditional wedding with a large group of my family and friends (2 years ago Monday =) ) Sure, most people brought us gifts; however, none of that mattered to us as much as sharing our special day with everyone. I don’t know that you’re necessarily being greedy or selfish to expect gifts, since it is the general etiquette, but you really do need to take into consideration that it was very short notice for everyone, so a lot of preparation wasn’t really possible.

    I don’t think that your friends don’t take your marriage seriously just because they didn’t bring you a gift. I think the fact that they showed up to celebrate with you and continue to support you shows that they take it seriously. I know its easy to get hurt feelings over weddings and gifts and everything, but this is really something you shouldn’t dwell on.

    On a side note, when we sent out our Save the Date cards, we included an insert honoring the best man who was on his second tour of duty in the middle east for the military (due back only 3 weeks before our wedding – thankfully he made it home!) by indicating that we were having a care package drive at our wedding (outside in the lobby near the bar) for anyone who was interested in donating items to send to Marines overseas. It was just our little way to give back. I actually received a few calls asking if they could donate cash or a large amount of items in lieu of a gift (which I was more than happy about – my husband and I lived together for 3 years before getting married so we really didn’t “need” anything).

  • avatar MissDre March 31, 2011, 3:39 pm

    Sometimes people just need someone else to give them a bit of a push to put things in a more positive perspective. I think it’s perfectly normal to want wedding gifts. Often times we internalize things, so it’s not unheard of for her to wonder if maybe her friends don’t care about her, or something along those lines. We all do it in different situations.

    So I’m sure the LW will feel better now that Wendy has given her a new outlook on the situation.

    • avatar spot March 31, 2011, 7:19 pm

      Props to MissDre for sticking up for the LW. I agree that the LW wasn’t completely out of line, but I also agree with Wendy about appropriate expectations, especially in a last-minute wedding,

  • avatar spaceboy761 March 31, 2011, 3:40 pm

    Eh. If a wedding reception was had, I think it was a little tacky to not bring a gift. If I’m going to a party for anything at all (let alone a wedding), I’ll always bring a gift even if it’s just a 12-pack of beer or a $10 flower bouquet from 7-11 or something. I was raised to think that it’s rude to show up empty-handed.

    If the guests sprung for last-minute flights, they could have at least dropped the whopping $15 to pick up a nice bottle of wine at the duty-free. Or at least a card…. that’s what separates us from monkeys.

    Feel free to pepper with little purple thumbs.

    • avatar MissDre March 31, 2011, 3:45 pm

      I agree with you! Turquoise thumb it is!

    • avatar anna728 March 31, 2011, 4:52 pm

      I think the kind of gift you’d bring to a dinner party is kind of weird as a wedding gift. I wouldn’t bring wine to a wedding reception. Not that wine isn’t a nice thing to give someone, I just wouldn’t think to for that occasion.

      • avatar spot March 31, 2011, 7:23 pm

        I agree. A nice serving dish from crate&barrel for $40 would be appropriate and easy to get on a whim.

    • avatar TheOtherMe March 31, 2011, 5:54 pm

      … ” Or at least a card…. that’s what separates us from monkeys.” ..

      LOL I adore you !

    • avatar twiglet April 2, 2011, 5:26 am

      it’s part of my culture too- you don’t turn up with nothing in your hand-BUT I actually think its time to challenge this , as we are no longer talking about a home-made cake, jar of jam, etc, but a huge amount of the world’s resources being wasted on “gifts”, which we are now programmed to expect, or feel obliged to provide.

  • avatar Desiree March 31, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Weddings are becoming altogether too materialistic anyway. A mound of presents does not legitimize a marriage anymore than a huge engagement ring guarantees true love.

    • avatar spaceboy761 March 31, 2011, 3:49 pm

      Whitney Cummings: “A marriage is not just a piece of paper. It’s a piece of paper AND A DIAMOND, goddammit.”

  • avatar LTC039 March 31, 2011, 3:51 pm

    I’m wondering why she is bringing this up a year later? & yeah, it is courtesy to bring a gift, but not mandatory.

  • avatar cmarie March 31, 2011, 4:17 pm

    I agree with the advice but I just have to say that I don’t think she’s “cultivating” negative emotions, she already has them. I think what she was asking is if her negative emotions warranted. Weddings are a time to celebrate the couple and I do understand her nervousness that her friends maybe aren’t taking the marraige seriously, the worry about lack of gifts is probably just a symptom of underlying insecurity. Did they at least give you a card? Gifts are nice but not required, especially since it was last minute and informal (which might be why they didn’t give a gift as well, they didn’t think you wanted one since you pretty much just threw the wedding together) but a card is mandatory.

  • avatar ape escape March 31, 2011, 4:22 pm

    it was A YEAR(!!!) AGO? Geez Louise.

    I’d probably feel a little slighted, too, but damn. If you’re still this upset a year later…that sounds like a bigger issue than your friends’ faux pas…and holding on to a grudge like that sounds kind of exhausting.

  • avatar _jsw_ March 31, 2011, 4:39 pm

    I might have interpreted this differently than others, but I don’t think the LW wants gifts for the selfish reason of getting things… I think she’s wondering if the lack of them indicates a lack of support for her marriage by their friends. So, yeah, she wishes they’d given gifts, but more because of what she feels that gift would imply, not because of the need for a particular material item.

    To that, I’d say what Wendy and others have already said: the sign of their approval (and their gift) was the attendance of the no-advance-notive wedding and their continued friendship. Not all gifts come in boxes.

    • avatar _jsw_ March 31, 2011, 4:52 pm

      Wow. I wrote this earlier, walked away, came back and posted it, and now I see a lot of others said it before me. Apologies for not re-reading before posting!

      • avatar MissDre March 31, 2011, 6:19 pm

        I said the same thing, but you said it better than I did!

    • avatar plasticepoxy April 1, 2011, 10:23 am

      “Not all gifts come in boxes.”

      So true, and unfortunately, easy for us to forget.

  • avatar LeahW. March 31, 2011, 4:50 pm

    I normally don’t own up to my more judgmental thoughts, but when I read this letter my first thought was, “well, they didn’t buy gifts because it wasn’t a real wedding!”

    Of course, as soon as I thought this I caught it and reminded myself that all it takes for a real wedding is for two people to get married, and all you need for a wedding reception is for loved ones to help celebrate the marriage. But by getting rid of all the common wedding conventions your guests may have simply forgotten about getting a gift, which is a bit of a convention in and of itself. Plus, although we can all agree that a gift is SUPPOSED to be freely given, many people do consider it a quid pro quo for the bride and groom (or their parents) footing the bill for an expensive meal and party, both of which you didn’t do.

    Worst case scenario, even if your guests agree with my judgmental thought and don’t think you had a “real” wedding that warranted getting a gift, that doesn’t mean they don’t consider it a very real marriage. They prove that by calling you husband and wife and treating you as they do any other married couple. You might be out some gifts but you didn’t have to pay for a fancy wedding either, which sounds like it was more your style!

  • avatar anna728 March 31, 2011, 5:00 pm

    I think that as a guest to this wedding, I would have probably assumed a gift wasn’t expected. Yes, it is traditional to bring gifts to a wedding, but this wedding was not only last-minute, but informal and not traditional. So the informality probably made guests feel that it wasn’t expected, and the short notice meant guests who might have given one anyway didn’t have time to get a gift together.

    For my dad’s second wedding (also the bride’s second), it was very casual. Ceremony and reception at a friend’s cabin, by a judge. Her three kids and I were the bridesmaids and groomsmen and we didn’t even buy outfits for it- I just picked a dress I already had. It was very casual, and they were older, too, so less need for gifts, but I don’t think anyone at all gave them one. I didn’t.

    I wouldn’t take the absence of gifts to mean they don’t see your marriage as legitimate, but rather as a reflection on the last-minute and casual nature of your wedding.

    • avatar Kerrycontrary March 31, 2011, 8:49 pm

      I agree. When people have an informal celebration of their union, such as a picnic, I wouldn’t assume that formal wedding gifts are required. In this case I think its especially true since none of the guests attended the ceremony.

      • avatar anna728 April 1, 2011, 5:51 pm

        yeah only reception and not ceremony definitely makes a difference too

  • avatar demoiselle March 31, 2011, 5:13 pm

    I had a non-traditional wedding–courthouse with family and small dinner afterwards, followed a week later by a get-together with friends at a beer garden. Aside from a few gifts from family and a bottle of wine, we didn’t get presents either–not even from my half-siblings.

    Anytime you do something untraditional, people get confused about what is expected of them. That’s one factor. Perhaps another thing is that by doing something laid back you seem to signal that you aren’t hung up on traditional trappings.

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Gifts do not mean much in the long run. Enjoy your relationship–I wish you both happiness.

    • avatar princesspetticoat March 31, 2011, 11:46 pm

      “Anytime you do something untraditional, people get confused about what is expected of them. ”

      I like that. I think it sums up what happened in this situation perfectly.

  • avatar AKchic March 31, 2011, 5:19 pm

    Did you really want 7 electric can openers, 4 coffee makers, 2 blenders, 2 hideous paintings of cats, an orange pillow with some weird bug on it, matching his and hers Shrek slippers and a set of Barbie dishes? Maybe a box of wine?

    Do you remember the economy last year? The job problems? The energy bills? The high price of groceries? The taxes? Sweetie – you were lucky to have all of your friends and family attend your reception on such short notice. My first wedding had all of 2 people attend (the witnesses), neither of which were my friends or family. I went to work right afterwards. My second marriage had a few friends and my grandmother (my own mother skipped it to put in overtime at her office two blocks away). Nobody from my 2nd husband’s side could make it because of the cost of airfare from NJ to AK.

    Be thankful you have a husband who loves you, a family that would spend so much money to see you on short notice, and friends that would be there at the drop of a hat. Money and material possessions aren’t worth near as much.

  • Jess Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com March 31, 2011, 5:23 pm

    Well I think the main issue here is that more formal weddings include a gift registry. And that is the thing that clues everyone in to the fact that you WANT gifts (and exactly which kind).

    It’s unclear if the friends are local or were also flying in. I don’t have an etiquette guide to point to but in my own case (and I DO feel a bit guilty), I have not given gifts to friends that had a destination wedding that required me to lay out close to a grand in travel costs. To be fair, it really WAS a huge financial effort on my part to make that happen. I couldn’t spare anymore and I hope they understood. I did give them a card though :-)

    • avatar Jess March 31, 2011, 5:54 pm

      thats exactly what I was goign to mention- the registry. My friend isn’t having one with the hope that people will give her cash/gift cards. I think in reality she’s just not going to get very many gifts. I still think giving money is tacky… I don’t know if that will ever feel “right” to me.

      • avatar MissDre March 31, 2011, 6:26 pm

        Why is it tacky? I think the traditional point of gifts back in the day was to help new couples set up their home together. In this day and age, most people live together before marriage. So they already have the things they need. Money goes a long way in offsetting the cost of a wedding, or helping a couple put a down payment on a house.

        That’s why at a lot of weddings they will have an ornate birdcage or a wishing well with envelopes next to it. And you can anonymously leave cash for the couple. Like AKChick said above, who the fuck wants 4 electric can openers when you’re drowning in debt from feeding all the guests that your mother said you HAD to invite so they wouldn’t be offended….

        • avatar Jess April 1, 2011, 3:55 am

          I know, it just seems like gifts should be thoughtful, not just paying them. It sort of feels like paying for going to the wedding. I don’t really know how to describe how I feel about it. Growing up getting money for my birthday was always designated as for my “College Fund”, so it didn’t feel like just getting money. It just seems impersonal… and they know *exactly* how much you spent. If you give them china at least you can imagine that every time they look at their wedding china they will think of you.

          I was thinking of getting her a gift from the foreign country I live in in lieu of cash. But I guess she won’t want it? Ugh, I’m a poor graduate student, it seems weird just forking over $50 to a friend because shes getting married. I cant attend the wedding, btw.

          • avatar MissDre April 1, 2011, 11:25 am

            China can cost thousands of dollars. But that’s not the point LoL. I guess the way I feel is, if I get money, I can spend it the way I want. Like my mother, she got married 2 years ago. And she and her husband used the money to build a deck in their backyard. My brother and his wife got married, and they put the money toward the business they are starting. Money can accomplish things. Stuff is just stuff, and it accumulates dust.

            But you know what? Everybody is entitled to want what they want. If one person wants presents? Then they should get presents. If another person wants money? Then they should get money. It doesn’t really matter. The point is to give something to show the couple you care, and to help them on their way.

      • avatar TheGirl April 1, 2011, 11:39 am

        If your friend did not register, she should expect a lot less gifts, and a lot of gifts she doesn’t want. NOT CASH. Trust me. My in-laws are all serious WASPS and apparently I did not register for anything that was fancy enough, so I got a lot of things I didn’t want – and I had a registry! Apparently my practicality was not appreciated… so instead of the ceramic teapot that was dishwasher safe, I got a super expensive silver tea set that I will never use, and now have to clean every month for the rest of my life… and can’t even ebay because they’ll ASK about it when they come over!

        Anyway, the point of that is, registry or no, the people that want to give cash and were always planning on giving cash will give it, but anyone that wants to buy a gift will just get them something they don’t want. The rest of the people will think – no registry? Sweet! They must not need anything.

        • avatar MissDre April 1, 2011, 12:33 pm

          My brother and his wife included a poem in their invites to tell people they wanted money.

          If you were thinking of giving a gift,
          To help us on our way.
          A gift of cash towards our house,
          Would really make our day.
          However, if you prefer to purchase a gift,
          Feel free to surprise us in your own special way.

          • avatar MissDre April 1, 2011, 12:41 pm

            Another poem to include in your invite if you want money… in regards to my comment about the wishing well:

            Because at first we lived in sin
            We’ve got the sheets and a rubbish bin
            A gift from you, would be swell
            But we’d prefer a donation to our Wishing Well

            More than just kisses so far we’ve shared,
            Our home has been made with Love and Care,
            Most things we need we’ve already got,
            And in our home we can’t fit a lot!

            A wishing well we thought would be great,
            (But only if you wish to participate),
            A gift of money is placed in the well,
            Then make a wish …. but shhh don’t tell!

            Once we’ve replaced the old with the new,
            We can look back and say it was thanks to you!
            And in return for your kindness, we’re sure
            That one day soon you will get what you wished for.

            • avatar fallonthecity April 1, 2011, 3:26 pm

              Oh man, do people actually put these kinds of things in their invitations? That’s… I’m sorry to say I find it sort of rude. I hope I never get a wedding invitation like that — I would definitely decline that one.

              • avatar MissDre April 2, 2011, 11:13 am

                Well, 200 people showed up to my brother’s wedding so I guess they didn’t mind :)

      • avatar Natasha Kingston April 1, 2011, 12:02 pm

        When I got married, my favorite gifts were checks.

        • avatar _jsw_ April 1, 2011, 12:13 pm

          Not to rain on your parade, but you can usually get those for free at your bank.

      • avatar HmC April 2, 2011, 12:17 pm

        To add to the money discussion… some cultures pretty much only give money and/or nice alcohol as wedding gifts. Some Asian cultures, specifically, that I’ve noticed. It makes sense because it’s totally practical, particularly for a young couple. I think once you get used to the idea, especially if you grow up around it, it isn’t inherently tacky at all.

    • avatar SpaceySteph March 31, 2011, 6:57 pm

      SO AGREE about the flying. A very good friend of mine got married in her home state (NJ). She had a big bachelorette weekend in FL. I live in Texas. I went to the bachelorette weekend (flew, helped pay for a hotel suite we stayed in, and paid more than my fair share to cover some things to ensure the bride didn’t have to pay for meals/fun that weekend because some of the other girls were still in school). And for the wedding, I flew to Philadelphia, rented a car, drove to their hometown in NJ, got a hotel room … all to be there for their special day.
      And I had a great time, and I’m glad I did it… but after all of that I felt I had spent enough and couldn’t a gift. I also gave them a card, though.
      I felt guilty for a little bit, but then I decided that if they didn’t think all my travel was a gift itself, they weren’t very good friends. (For the record, I think they do understand and are good friends.)

  • avatar Kat March 31, 2011, 6:53 pm

    You know, last minute wedding reception = last minute change of plans to get to wedding. After you’ve gone through with the reception, eating your cake and toasting the couple, it seems silly to buy a gift. The wedding has already happened – so giving a gift late is still giving a gift late, which is awkward! I’m not surprised your last minute wedding didn’t get many gifts. It’s been a year to boot! Is someone in this circle getting married and you’re jealous because they’re going to get a lot of gifts and you didn’t? Maybe it shows a lot about your friends – they weren’t going to swing by Target en route to your reception and buy you something for the sake of buying it.

  • avatar Sarah Brown March 31, 2011, 6:53 pm

    I had a quickly-organized wedding to a foreigner as well (you have to, due to visa time constraints). Regardless (or perhaps because of this — wedding planning is not my bag), it was the most perfect day, and the only thing that I would change about it would be to go back and make it so that all our friends and family from far away could have been there to share it with us. The fact that we received presents later was almost a surprise, and while they’re lovely, they’re not at all the thing I remember about getting married.

  • avatar Addie Pray March 31, 2011, 7:45 pm

    Wendy’s posts today make me love her even more. Wendy, I love you. There, I said it.

  • Kristina Kristina March 31, 2011, 8:07 pm

    This is kind of off topic but I was wondering if it’s customary to send out ‘thank you’ cards to those who get you a gift at a wedding. I always send little thank you notes for various gifts/things people do for me, but most people don’t send them anymore so I was wondering if this is even done for weddings anymore?

    • avatar SpaceySteph March 31, 2011, 8:13 pm

      I send thank you notes for just about every gift I receive. When I was a kid my mom wouldn’t let me cash checks I received, take the tags off clothes, etc, until I had written thank you notes. It carried on into my adulthood, and every birthday I break out a fresh box of little blank notecards and send handwritten notes to everyone who sent me a gift. My grandparents love it; my boyfriend found it to be the weirdest thing when I sent him one after my birthday last year.
      While I admit I’m a little odd to do it so often, I think they are still pretty common for weddings and other large celebrations (baby showers, bar mitzvah, that kind of thing). One of my coworkers had a great idea for her wedding… they had cards made up with a wedding photo in them, like you’d have for a photo Christmas card, that said “Thank You!” and had a place for a little handwritten note. I plan to steal this idea for my own wedding one day (I’m not engaged, I just thought it was awesome).

      • Kristina Kristina March 31, 2011, 8:16 pm

        Yes, some people think it’s odd when I send them thank you notes, but I like to show my appreciation.

        And I love that idea for the wedding thank you notes with a photo as well!

        • avatar fallonthecity March 31, 2011, 8:56 pm

          I think that anyone who thinks thank you notes are odd… are odd! :) I think hand written thank you notes are very gracious. I always, always smile when I get one. I like sending them and I wish it were still customary for more people.

          • avatar SpaceySteph March 31, 2011, 9:19 pm

            Hah my dear bf was like “what a waste of a stamp!” and I’m like… but wasn’t it exciting to get something in the mail that wasn’t junk, a bill, or for your roommate?! Besides, a stamp is 44 cents and you did just buy me a present, so I think I can splurge just this one time.

            • Kristina Kristina March 31, 2011, 9:21 pm

              Real mail is always the best!

    • avatar Kerrycontrary March 31, 2011, 8:51 pm

      NOT sending a thank you card for a wedding gift is extremely rude in my circle of family/friends. People even get offended if you take too long to send you the thank you.

    • avatar Kat March 31, 2011, 9:01 pm

      My family only sends thank you notes for graduation gifts, nothing else. My boyfriend’s, on the other hand, sends them for EVERYTHING – from house warming gifts to easter chocolates. It’s a little disconcerting for me, I feel kind of embarrassed to be thanked again for a gift.

    • avatar honeybeenicki March 31, 2011, 9:07 pm

      I always send a thank you note for every gift I receive and especially did for those who sent me a wedding gift (or even those who just gave a card) plus the people who helped me organize and pay for it (it was my mom and her ex-boyfriend who is still like a father to me), all of the wedding party, the officiant, etc. I think a lot of people just think its no longer necessary, but I was taught to always send a thank you when you receive a gift and have been teaching my stepkids the same thing (they even went to their mom’s and informed her that they needed to send thank you cards to the people who sent them birthday gifts).

    • avatar anna728 April 1, 2011, 6:02 pm

      I think it’s becoming less common in younger people. I don’t send thank-you notes for things like birthday presents, but I did for the gifts I got when I graduated high school. I think a wedding, being one of the most formal events there can be, it definitely a case to still do thank you notes. I wouldn’t think twice if I didn’t receive a thank you note for something, but I would send them anyway because I know others care more than I do.

  • avatar fallonthecity March 31, 2011, 8:31 pm

    I think in some places it is general etiquette to bring a gift to the wedding whether you’ve given a gift before or not. Maybe that makes this situation a little different. Where I’m from (grew up in rural Tennessee), it is not conventional to bring gifts to the wedding. It’s considered… not rude, but sort of inconsiderate to the bride’s family, who will have to pack all that crap up, drive it home and store it until the couple get back from their honeymoon. This is what bridal showers and the mailman are for. I have never gone to the wedding where I have not attended a bridal shower and given a gift, or sent the gift in the mail beforehand… and I think I would feel embarrassed to give one after the wedding. So, I don’t know what I would have done in this situation — especially if it was very informal and last minute. I probably would have not attended the reception unless it was a VERY close friend, because I wouldn’t have been able to scrounge up a nice gift at the last second, and wouldn’t want to be accused of eating food at the couple’s expense but being stingy about a present.

    Anyway, maybe you should give your friends the benefit of the doubt. If they were willing to drop everything to be there for you, and they continue to spend time with you, it’s obvious they support you.

  • avatar Jen March 31, 2011, 8:48 pm

    OK, let me explain. First of all, the reception was held at the same bar we go to every Friday night. All our friends had to do was walk a few blocks (everyone who came to our reception was local and the same people we hang out with on a weekly basis). So there was no out of town guests (other than his family who gave us a gift). No one was put out by travel arrangements and no one dropped plans to come to the reception. We would have been seeing everyone on that Friday night anyway.

    A few things: I have been dating my then-boyfriend for 4 years and he was like a brother to our group of friends. There was nothing suspicious about our relationship, nor did our friends suspect anything suspicious. I only mentioned he was foreign as a way to explain the fact that we had a quickie wedding. And no, I dont care about pots and pans. And no, they wouldn’t add legitimacy to our marriage. It was an honest question of ettiquate. Having been to dozens of weddings and always buying gifts (or sending them when I couldn’t make it), it was mind boggling to me that only two people gave us a gift. We didn’t get a card or anything. And for the people who are amazed that I am thinking about this a year later, it’s because the same friends who didn’t get us a gift, are now getting married and it’s fresh in my mind.

    Getting married (for most people) is a brand new experience. I was just writing b/c something had been on my mind. I didn’t know whether it was appropriate or not, that’s why I wrote Wendy. I think Wendy’s response was super judgmental and sort of mean. I’m assuming you got gifts for your wedding and that’s why you have such a hard time putting yourself in my shoes. I have everything I want, it wasn’t about the objects. It was about the gesture.

    • Dear Wendy Wendy March 31, 2011, 9:01 pm

      Yeah, I got gifts. I also gave my guests several months notice to plan, and Drew and I paid thousands of dollars for a reception. Traditionally, guests give gifts to off-set the cost of the reception. Considering you didn’t spend anything on your reception — I’m assuming — I can understand why perhaps guests didn’t think to give you a gift. I totally understand why your feelings would be hurt, but come on. If the “gesture” is what was important to you, what about the gesture of you having an actual party for your wedding? Showing up at the local bar you go to every Friday night isn’t exactly making a special occasion out of a special occasion. I mean, I’m not knocking you. To each her own. But I can understand why your friends maybe didn’t think to make a big deal of your wedding when you didn’t seem to.

      All that said, I can put myself in your shoes. I really can. I had guests — good friends — who didn’t give us a gift (or a card). And you know what? I couldn’t care less. That they came to my wedding and celebrated my marriage was “gesture” enough.

      • avatar honeybeenicki March 31, 2011, 9:12 pm

        I think you hit the nail on the head of the idea of wedding gifts – its kind of a way to offset costs. I know I’ve heard often that you’re supposed to give a gift equivalent of what your dinner(s) would cost although I have no clue how I would ever know that at a wedding…

        I also had some friends who didn’t give me a gift, including my best friend. She was; however, the matron of honor so I gave her a gift and since she helped plan, organize, decorate, assemble invites, and all the other matron of honor duties I didn’t expect one from her. But even the ones who weren’t in the wedding who didn’t give me one, I didn’t really feel slighted although I guess I can see where LW is coming from with almost no one giving gifts if thats what she expected.

        • avatar plasticepoxy April 1, 2011, 10:39 am

          I hate to contradict Wendy, but gifts aren’t supposed to offset the cost of the wedding or the reception. Traditionally they’re given to help the new couple set up their household.

          That’s why Ms. Manners gets her panties in a bunch anytime someone says, “Their gift was only worth $20! Aren’t gifts supposed to equal the cost of the meal?” or a similar complaint about not getting a gift or getting a “good enough” gift.

          It’s something nice that wedding guests can do, but not ever, ever required.

    • Jess jess of citygirlsworld.com March 31, 2011, 9:24 pm

      Well Jen/LW, hearing more detail from you, I’ll say this. It may be true as Wendy and others say that you shouldn’t feel upset, the gesture of showing up is all that counts, etc. BUT, I certainly understand why you do.

      I can see where a small casual affair amounts to a small casual gift. But surely SOME gesture, even after the fact would seem to be well inside the bounds of etiquette especially since it sounds like you’ve given gifts at their weddings (or are about to). Sure, the cost of the gift should maybe be in proportion to the scale of the affair. But I don’t see how NO gift is appropriate.

      At the very least, I think many girls in your shoes would feel upset. I would try to make some peace with it since there is nothing it will do but fester inside you–hurting only you, but I don’t think it would be a bad thing to reflect on these friendships just a little…

      • Dear Wendy Wendy March 31, 2011, 9:35 pm

        You say: “But surely SOME gesture, even after the fact would seem to be well inside the bounds of etiquette especially since it sounds like you’ve given gifts at their weddings (or are about to).” But that’s the thing, the LW didn’t have a wedding. She made no special occasion out of her special occasion. Even the reception sounds like it was just people showing up at the bar they all go to every Friday night. Yes, gifts or cards would be awfully thoughtful and certainly called for, but I can kind of understand why friends maybe didn’t think of it if nothing about the night was purposefully made special for the occasion. I truly do understand how the LW would have her feelings hurt, but it sounds like her friends are a little dense and needed a bit more pomp and circumstance to get the message that they were celebrating a wedding.

        • avatar moonflowers April 1, 2011, 3:37 am

          Even if the friends weren’t dense, perhaps they were afraid of coming off as more psyched about a wedding than the bride and groom themselves were? It would be awkward to make a huge deal out of it if the principal players themselves didn’t seem to, as Wendy said, and that could’ve kept them from making bigger gestures. It’d be like wearing a ball gown to a baseball game or something – disproportionate to the occasion.

    • avatar fallonthecity March 31, 2011, 9:32 pm

      What I think is weird is that only two out of a large group of friends got you a gift. Is it possible that your friends didn’t really understand that it was supposed to be an actual wedding reception since it was something that was already planned? Maybe they thought you were sending an extremely informal, “YAY! We’re getting married!” e-mail and didn’t register that you were actually inviting them to a part of your wedding celebration. Do your friends usually get wedding gifts for people? If so, I think a likely explanation is that most of your friends may have assumed, because your wedding and reception were very informal, that you did not want the hoopla of the usual tradition.

      I’m not trying to knock you for how you feel, so I hope you’re not reading it that way — I can understand how you might feel slighted, especially if the friends who didn’t get you a wedding present are telling you about their registries and inviting you to bridal showers, indicating that they might expect a gift from you. I agree with Jess in her comment above that you should reflect on these friendships a little. However, if your relationships with your friends are otherwise good, it’s probably best to try not to keep score. Sometimes friends can be boneheaded about this kind of stuff, and we have to forgive them for that.

    • avatar _jsw_ March 31, 2011, 10:10 pm

      Thanks for replying, Jen.

      After hearing more details, and especially that your friends really weren’t put out at all, I completely agree that something – a small gift, a card, something – should have been given. Even if the entire affair cost you nothing and cost them nothing to attend, I still think some small token would have been nice.

      Should you expect it? No. But it’s the decent thing for them to do. Whenever friends or co-workers have a baby, for example, I’ll get them something, and it has nothing to do with offsetting the cost of anything. It’s just a decent gesture. Same in your case. Not a $200 gift, but, come on, a card and a gift card to Starbucks or a restaurant (or whatever) is cheap and easy and appropriate.

      So yeah, I very much see why it would bother you. They’re not bad people to have not gotten you anything, but… I think they should have done something. Regardless of what the reception cost you.

    • avatar HmC April 1, 2011, 12:00 am

      Just a minor thought to add to what others have said… Jen are you maybe the first in your circle of friends to be getting married? I remember before my friends all started getting married, and I was in my early twenties, I really had no clue about wedding etiquette. I recall completely disregarding one invitation (didn’t send back the rsvp ‘no’) and another wedding or two where I didn’t bring a gift because I didn’t even think of it. Now that I’m older and have seen more firsthand how formal many wedding traditions are, like the one about bringing a nice gift to off-set the cost of the wedding, I would always bring a gift.

      That said, I can understand how you might feel a little offended, and I don’t think it’s that weird to feel that way. I’m kind of sensitive and I often second-guess myself and my feelings, so I relate to analyzing what someone’s actions might mean or not mean. But, what can you really do now? Get confrontation with them about why they didn’t give you gifts? That would be a total no win for everyone involved.

      Console yourself with the fact that you had a super informal wedding and that’s probably why you didn’t get many gifts, make peace with it and put it behind you. Focus on the many other ways that your friends demonstrate how much they care about you and your husband, like hanging out with you guys all the time and coming to your last minute wedding. There’s nothing else you can really do. Be happy with what you have!

    • avatar Jess April 1, 2011, 4:00 am

      Yea, I think they didn’t give you gifts because your marriage wasn’t traditional, and therefore they didn’t think the tradition of gifts would be included either. You basically eloped. Still, I think you should have gotten cards at the very least. I think if you had had a wedding and hosted a reception (paying for meal, drinks, a cake, etc) they would have brought you gifts. I don’t think they look at it like the marriage wasn’t real… but that it wasn’t a real wedding. :/

    • avatar Amber April 1, 2011, 8:53 am

      I’m going to assume your friend is having a more traditional wedding with invites sent out in advance and more than likely a wedding shower being hosted by family or friends. When you have a wedding shower you register for gifts (and if you don’t you risk being given gifts that you don’t need, want, or know what are) so that the people attending the shower know what to get you. When you have an impromptu wedding (even when time constraints are present due to forces you’re not in control of) people tend to forget the gifts. Especially if the invite is an email and the location is the neighborhood bar. Did the guests pay for their own meals, drinks? Did you send the email out the week before, day before? You also mentioned you’ve been together for 4 years. How long have you live together? Even if it’s two years, what do you get a couple whose been together for 4 years, living together for 2 when there is no registry? I would assume they had everything they needed and the lack of registry, invitation, etc was the proof of that fact.

    • avatar anna728 April 1, 2011, 6:15 pm

      With this further information, I am all the more sure I wouldn’t have given someone a gift in this situation. Unless you explicitly used the word “reception”, I don’t think I would have even realized that’s what it was. Hanging out at your usual neighborhood bar doesn’t scream “wedding”. If it’s not apparent that it is a wedding, it is not apparent that guests should bring weddings presents.

  • avatar atraditionalist March 31, 2011, 9:40 pm

    you want traditional wedding favours hold a traditional wedding-with invites, not some last minute “hey tonight the drinks are on me because I got married!” Honestly, you didn’t really hold a reception. What is there to bring a gift to? Your marriage is no less valid and gifts do not validate it. That being said, if I had been one of your friends I probably would have bought you flowers or nice wine but certainly not something more expensive.

    • Dear Wendy Wendy March 31, 2011, 9:42 pm

      I wonder if the drinks were even on them. I’d be curious to know…

  • avatar Jen March 31, 2011, 10:20 pm

    Wendy, you have no right to say that I didn’t make a special occasion out of a special occasion. You weren’t there. You dont know the significance of the setting or the reason we come there every week. But I guess this is all part of writing a stranger for her advice. Also I dont agree that guests give gifts to off set the costs of the wedding. I guess that is what your wedding was all about though. No judgments. To me, a gift is a gesture to celebrate the beginning of a life together. And believe me, I was SO grateful to have all my friends there and know that is what made it special. Anyway, pointless to go back and forth with a total stranger. Thank you for your advice. But I think you were pretty harsh and judgmental.

    • avatar fallonthecity March 31, 2011, 10:28 pm

      :\ I wonder what you were hoping to hear from Wendy when you wrote in?

      • avatar sarolabelle April 1, 2011, 9:03 am

        She wanted to hear what she wanted to hear “yes, you have a right to be upset! Forget those friends”

        LW – honestly though, be upset….whatever….if this is the only thing you’re stressing about in life then you are luckier than most.

      • avatar TheGirl April 1, 2011, 11:47 am

        Wendy gives tough love sometimes! That’s why we love her!

    • avatar _jsw_ March 31, 2011, 11:14 pm

      As I said above, I do think you have the right to feel upset that essentially none of them got you anything. Not because they needed to get you something substantial, but because it would be an appropriate gesture to do something when two good friends mark a momentous occasion. We give friends cards on their birthdays. We give housewarming gifts. We throw baby showers. Is it unreasonable to hope for a wedding gift or card, no matter how slight? I don’t think so.

      I get what you were saying – you’re not irked that you didn’t get a big pile of goodies; you’re upset that it seems like none of your friends did what friends tend to do when a special occasion has occurred.

      I think you are right to feel that way, but that you’d also be right to let it pass through you after a short time. Surely, they didn’t do it as an intentional spite. And yes, they were there on your special day. But I’d be bothered if so few out of such a (presumably decent sized) group thought to get you anything at all. Just as much as it’s the thought that counts, the lack of thought counts as well.

    • avatar Addie Pray April 1, 2011, 12:36 am

      This is getting really good, and I’m loving it!

      Jen/LW, it sounds like you are seeking validation for your hurt feelings. Wendy is the wrong person for that. But don’t worry, I am here, and I have a copy of Emily Post on Etiquette. (I have an old edition from the 1920s — which is amazing, by the way! — you may need to go check out a modern version). Emily is good at validating hurt feelings. … Ok, I just skimmed the chapter on weddings. Unfortunately it says nothing about the etiquette of bringing or not bringing presents to a wedding, sorry. This chapter is focused on the bride’s dos and don’ts. (No offense, but Emily would disapprove of your wedding; she leaves no room for originality.) *But*, it does mention presents (so we can assume she approves of presents) and it doen’t say you can’t be upset about not receiving presents. Let’s interpret that as validation of your hurt feelings. Ta da! Validation!

      But now what? One option would be to ditch all of your friends. They were assholes, after all. The other option would be to try to get over it, find peace and happiness, and go on with your life and your healthy relationships. Hey, you could write Wendy a letter about that when you’re ready for that.

    • avatar jena April 1, 2011, 1:00 pm

      If you didn’t want advice why did you write in?

    • avatar anna728 April 1, 2011, 6:23 pm

      You gave her the right to say what she thought when you wrote in. If there is some special “significance” to the bar you chose that makes it seem remotely more like a wedding reception you should have explained that. I think the thing about offsetting the cost of the wedding or helping the couple begin a household are the basis of the tradition, which may or may not be the current reason (just like the reason for the bride’s father walking her down the aisle is now done as tradition, not for the original reason). No need to accuse Wendy or anyone else of having their wedding be “all about” offsetting costs just because you didn’t get the advice you wanted. Anyway, it shouldn’t be a big surprise to see people didn’t sympathize when the gist of the letter was that you were upset about not getting presents.

    • avatar twiglet April 2, 2011, 6:38 am

      if you go there every week, and they would all have been there anyway, were they even attending your “wedding?” are you sure they weren’t just at the bar as usual with an extra reason to celebrate that week?

  • avatar AnitaBath March 31, 2011, 10:51 pm

    I’m inclined to say that, if only TWO people brought gifts, some aspect of the situation gave off a vibe that gifts were not necessary/a big deal. Assuming you even invited only ten people, if only 20% of those people bring gifts, it seems less like the other 80% were being thoughtless. Now if only one or two people didn’t bring gifts, I could see how it would seem more of a solitary occasion of someone just being thoughtless, but when the people who didn’t bring gifts greatly outweighs the people who did, it seems like there was some aspect that was in your hands that suggested they need not do so.

    • avatar fallonthecity April 1, 2011, 8:02 am

      This.

  • Kristina Kristina March 31, 2011, 11:11 pm

    One more thing I have to add is that the LW herself ended the letter with, “Am I just being selfish or is my annoyance legit?”. And in her updated postings, it still seems that she doesn’t want to accept the selfish part of her reaction.

    • avatar _jsw_ March 31, 2011, 11:16 pm

      I don’t think she means selfish in the sense of acquiring material goods. I believe she means it in the admittedly self-focussed sense of expecting a gesture from friends.

      • Kristina Kristina March 31, 2011, 11:25 pm

        Okay, true.

  • avatar Jess April 1, 2011, 4:04 am

    This kind of reminds of me of a letter I saw on the knot.com where the writer wanted to elope and still get gifts from her friends and family. The response was, you can’t. If you don’t invite people to a wedding and a reception you can’t expect gifts, that’s just the way it works.

    • avatar silver_dragon_girl April 1, 2011, 3:51 pm

      That was my thought. “This sounds exactly like an elopement and a small party afterwards.” But you don’t get gifts when you elope.

  • avatar Emsz April 1, 2011, 7:00 am

    Here’s the deal: you wouldn’t show up at an impromptu birthday party without at least some sort of gift (I know I wouldn’t). I don’t get how it’s NOT rude to show up at a reception without some sort of a gift. Even if you don’t have the time to shop for a gift, why not at least give the promise to buy something later.
    Personally, I totally understand how the LW feels, because if previously they did show up to other people’s weddings with gifts, it would feel weird if they didn’t show up to yours with a gift. Especially if you’ve previously shown up to their wedding with a gift. The informal nature of the wedding should have nothing to do with it.

    • avatar Addie Pray April 1, 2011, 7:42 am

      Ok, but now what? She’s felt like this for a whole year already – how many more years does she want to harbor all this anger/annoyance.? Doesn’t she want to get past this already? If not, then clearly this is a friend dealbreaker for her. Well, now she knows: she only wants to be friends with people who follow rules of etiquette (well, the one she picks). That’s ok, everyone is entitled to their dealbreakers. So cut ties with those friends and move on already, LW! …

      • avatar _jsw_ April 1, 2011, 11:07 am

        I don’t think she’s dwelled on this for a year. I think, as she explained in her reply here, that others are getting married and so this is now fresh on her mind.

        I also don’t think she was looking for approval to hold a grudge against her friends. I think she just wanted someone to agree that they should have done something.

        Some of us agree with that. Others don’t. This is an opinion-based site, so that’s to be expected.

    • Dear Wendy Wendy April 1, 2011, 8:24 am

      People keep saying that the wedding was informal, but there wasn’t a wedding. At least, not a wedding that the friends were invited to. They were invited to a “reception” — one that sounds like it wasn’t even a real reception. In my mind, a reception means you provide something for the guests — food, music, entertainment, something. Maybe I’m wrong here, but it sounds like everyone just showed up at the same bar they hang out at ever Friday night — the bar they already had plans to be at before the “reception” was announced — with nothing really out-of-the-ordinary done by the bride and groom to mark their occasion. If they wanted their “guests” to feel and act like guests — including giving gifts — then they should have acted like “hosts.” The way the LW explains it, that was not the case.

      I’m not saying that a gift wouldn’t have been appropriate. I would have given the couple a gift, for sure. And as I’ve said over and over, I understand why the LW might have been hurt that only two friends thought to celebrate and recognize her marriage with gifts. But, given that there wasn’t a party in the sense that we think of parties — you know, with an actual host and guests — I don’t think it’s right to say it was “rude” or bad etiquette for the friends to show up at the bar without presents.

      Really, I’m not sure what kind of response the LW wanted from me here. What could I have possibly said to make her feel better about the situation? I tried to give her perspective that would help her appreciate her friends rather than feel angry and hurt by them. Should I have told her instead that she has every justification to feel snubbed by them, that their behavior definitely means they don’t take her marriage seriously and that she should probably stop being friends with them? Maybe she wanted me to tell her to flat-out ask her friends why they didn’t give her gifts and whether she was off the hook for giving them gifts for their weddings? I mean, I don’t know. Clearly, this is a woman who wanted to be told she was “right,” but in this case, where does being “right” get her? The justification to continue holding a grudge? Well, Jen, if that’s what you want: go for it. I’m certainly not going to stop you.

      • avatar sarolabelle April 1, 2011, 9:26 am

        Don’t feel bad Wendy. I think your advice was good and I agree with it (as well as many others)

      • avatar Emsz April 1, 2011, 9:35 am

        There is nothing you could have said to make the LW feel better. I think deep down she realises that her feelings are probably irrational. But that’s the thing about feelings: even though you realise your feelings are irrational, they don’t just go away.

        Here’s another thing: in her mind there WAS a wedding, or a reception, or whatever you want to call it. Sometimes we want people to read our minds, you of all people should know that because you probably get hundreds of letters a week about this sort of thing.

        This is hard for me to say because I think I know how the LW feels. Last year I invited people I spent a lot of time with who I consider my friends to my birthday in a totally casual way. Honestly, I totally understood if they wouldn’t show up, because it was on a Friday afternoon, and most of them are from out of town and would go home to their families over the weekend. I KNEW ALL OF THIS, and still it hurt when none of them showed up. If I’m honest, it felt as though they didn’t care, which I know they do.

        I got over it. It was only a birthday party, and they are my friends. For something like a wedding (which for the LW it was) I can expect it takes a while longer to get over it.

        Probably not the most articulate thing I have ever written. I don’t think you could have said anything to make her feel better.

    • avatar anna728 April 1, 2011, 6:34 pm

      Actually I would definitely show up to a birthday party (impromptu or not) without a gift. I have never shown up to a birthday party *with* a gift since elementary school, with the exception of my godson’s and cousin’s little boys’ birthdays. So I guess that makes it only ever for kids. But neither has anyone besides my closest family members given me a birthday present since I was in elementary school, and those are the only people I’ve given birthday gifts to either. Perhaps within some social circles gifts are the norm, but not in any of mine.

      Then again for a wedding I would bring a gift. As in an actual event I’d be attending, not some confusing time hanging out in a bar.

  • avatar Fairhaired Child April 1, 2011, 8:42 am

    My feelings on this is that maybe the friends didnt get any gifts because, generally for this sort of thing there is a kind of registry or something to give them a clue of what to get. It goes with the invite “Our reception is being held at blah blah blah.. and we are signed up for a wedding registry at blah blah blah” and then it will be shown that gifts, though the wedding was quickly planned and informal, would be appreciated and expected.
    It may also depend on the age of the friends – if a lot of them are just out of college/school starting out a new job etc, and planning on saving for things in their own future, they might not have the money or care to spend the money to run out and buy a wedding gift. I’m in this boat now where one of my friends from college is getting married and I’m going to be in her wedding as a bridesmaid and I have NO CLUE on what kind of gifts to get her, thankfully she is sending a registry list out later because otherwise I’d show up with a lame toaster and go “oh hey thanks for being cool for 4 years with me and er.. here’s a bright pink toaster to annoy nick with.. CHEERS!”

    • avatar Fairhaired Child April 1, 2011, 8:48 am

      Though I do agree, they could have all at least chipped in to get some kind of balloons or a card that they all signed to go “yay for finally making that jump!”

      Also – YAY for Dear Miles

  • avatar TheOtherMe April 1, 2011, 8:59 am

    Dear Miles,

    Today is April fool’s day, my question is, should I beware of pranksters ?

    -T.O.M.

  • avatar bek7bek April 1, 2011, 10:31 am

    I can agree with all sides of this thread. My SO and I live together and we have almost everything we need for our house. If we married and this required our guest to travel, their very presence would be a gift and a blessing. However, I can understand where the letter writer is coming from. As the last of my unmarried friends, for the last 10 years I have attended weddign after wedding spent countless amounts of money on gifts, travel, showers ect. And the least I would expect from one of these brides and grooms would be a simple congratulatory card. So yes, my feelings would be a little hurt.

    • avatar bek7bek April 1, 2011, 10:32 am

      I need to add…
      but…I would never say or do anything to indicate my feelings towards my friends.

  • avatar _jsw_ April 1, 2011, 11:00 am

    Wow. I really didn’t read nearly as much emotional content into this as I think others have. I don’t see any reason to internet-yell at either the LW or those who have replied on either side.

    I don’t think the friends are horrible people for not getting a gift when going to a last-minute get-together after a wedding/ceremony they didn’t attend.

    Nor do I think the LW is a bad person for feeling hurt that no one (except for two) did anything other than essentially do what they would have done every other Friday night.

    I suspect that the reason why the reception was so informal and so similar to other weekend evenings is because the wedding ceremony was so rushed and because the LW did not want to make it in any way difficult for her friends to attend – and also because it’s hard to get a venue on such short notice. So, because she was marrying someone from another country and because it was therefore so rushed, she did what she could.

    And the friends attended. And that’s great.

    But I do think it’s wrong to think poorly of the LW simply because she is upset that her friends (as opposed to family, who had to fly in) didn’t have to do anything different in their lives to attend the reception and yet didn’t even bother to get a card or anything then or in the year since then. As I’ve said before, we get others gifts all the time for things that aren’t pay-backs for a meal we’ve been given.

    All I think the LW was looking for was some vindication of feeling poorly about her friends essentially ignoring a major event in her life without so much as even needing to put thought into how to get to somewhere else or to arrange to be there at a time they weren’t used to. Even five minutes spent getting and signing a card would probably have meant a lot to her.

    I agree they’re likely young or not experienced at attending these sorts of events. I agree they weren’t obligated to get anything or at least nothing of significance.

    But come on, these people are her friends, and friends with her husband, and they couldn’t even manage to get a card? That would sting. And as others have said, it would sting regardless of whether it “should.”

    So, LW, I do think it’s OK to feel bad about it, and I also think it doesn’t mean anything bad about your friends, and I think you should let it go and realize that the only reason you’re in a position to feel this way is that you were given the official blessing to marry your husband here. Having him is better than not getting that approval and never having dealt with this.

    But yeah, I do think it’s OK to feel a bit hurt about it. And then to let it go.

    • avatar Natasha Kingston April 1, 2011, 12:19 pm

      I think the issue I have is along the lines of what Wendy said in a comment above. Is she just writing to ask if she has permission to have hurt feelings? If so, that’s a little silly; you feel the way you feel, and that’s it. But in honesty, I feel that she was looking for something more, and she just didn’t want to say so.

      Wendy said she understands WHY her feelings were hurt, and tells her to move past it and appreciate that these people were able to make it at all, that people getting you gifts means that they are taking your marriage more seriously. But in her comments, Jen seemed angry that there wasn’t a different follow-up, despite the fact that in her letter she gave NO indication that they took planning a WEDDING seriously- it’s not until the comments that she’s suddenly saying Wendy has “no right” to make claims about whether they made the event special. Really? YOU wrote to her and gave her express permission to make whatever commentary she wanted on your situation.

      I’m sorry, but if you need to parse things this much, obviously writing to a stranger is not going to help you. Jen’s feelings ARE hurt, end of story. Everyone has a right to feel how they feel, but it seems like if the only reason she is bringing this up now is because a friend is getting married, she is trying to decide whether she needs to get them a gift. I feel like there is an ulterior motive to all of this.

    • Jess Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com April 1, 2011, 3:32 pm

      Yes! And one of the reasons I wrote what I wrote earlier was to come to LW’s defense a little. I think commenters were quick to imply she was being greedy, where in reality I think many of us would feel a BIT hurt about not getting gifts. Whether it was a real wedding or a reception, planned or last-minute, local or far, etc. No, she shouldn’t wallow or take it all to hear. But yes, it’s “reasonable” to feel slighted and I think its normal to want to understand why (could be any of the many possible reasons that commenters mentioned). I hope she got some good ideas here and didn’t feel entirely like she was being ganged up on. Everyone means well. Wendy especially. This really is a warm fuzzy supportive group.

  • avatar jena April 1, 2011, 12:56 pm

    From what I understand of the letter, the LW sent an email to the guests saying “wedding reception tonight” and is now, a year later, wondering why she only got two gifts? Were I a guest, I’d have thought a) wow, so informal she may not want gifts, or b) omg, wedding reception in 4 hours, payday next week what to do what to do c)do they have a registry? no? well I guess since it’s so fast…

    They probably didn’t know what to get you or if you wanted gifts.

  • avatar MissDre April 1, 2011, 1:28 pm

    Dear Jen/LW,

    I just wanted to tell you that I understand where you are coming from. Getting married was of course a very, very special day in your life. And yes, it’s ok to feel hurt that the majority of your friends did not think to get you a gift.

    Whatever their reasons for the lack of gifts, they love you enough that they came to celebrate with you. Focus on that. People aren’t perfect, so focus on the positive and remind yourself of all the other things they have done to support you and show their love. In fact, tell yourself right now 10 things about your friends that you are grateful for.

    Acknowledge within yourself the hurt feelings, but take it as a bump in the road, and move on with life. It’s not worth it to keep reliving the negativity.

    Smile. And congratulations on your marriage.

  • avatar sarolabelle April 1, 2011, 1:30 pm

    LW/Jen….

    I would suggest when you buy a new house with your husband that you throw a housewarming party. People should bring gifts to that and if they don’t then I guess you know that your friends aren’t the gift giving type.

  • avatar silver_dragon_girl April 1, 2011, 3:54 pm

    This strikes me as a sort of “buyer’s remorse.” I feel like the LW thought she didn’t want a big, fancy, wedding, thought she didn’t need all that tradition, and now, a year later, she’s regretting it. So she’s focusing on the fact that she didn’t get any gifts and projecting her disappointment onto her friends.

    That’s not to say that she doesn’t love her husband or have a good marriage; I’m sure she does. But you really only get one chance (hopefully) to have that big poofy wedding, and I think it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit regretful if you didn’t, and now you never can.

    • avatar anna728 April 1, 2011, 6:46 pm

      I was just about to write the same thing! I know I would be really disappointed if I missed my chance to plan and enjoy my wedding.

  • avatar lauren April 2, 2011, 10:29 am

    brilliant wendy: “Cultivating feeling takes energy. If you’re going to exert energy on something, wouldn’t it make much more sense to spend it cultivating positive feelings rather than negative feelings? Oh, the energy I could save it I didn’t spend so much of it trying to squash negative emotions, and here you are wondering if you should spend yours creating it!”

    there are a lot of victims out there.

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