– Ask Cheryl – Invited but Barely Know the Couple, Do I Still Need to Give a Wedding Gift?

Today’s question comes from a reader who feels she has an out when it comes to the etiquette rule that you should send a gift if you are invited to the wedding, and I might agree . . .

Hi Cheryl,

My husband and I recently received invitations to two weddings from couples we hardly know. We are not planning to attend either wedding. Do we still need to give a gift?

Thanks,
Margarita


Hi Margarita,

Traditionally, etiquette states that if you are invited to a wedding, you should send a gift, whether or not you can attend. However, since the wedding gift is a token of affection and support for the couple getting married, the above etiquette “rule” assumes that you have a relationship with the couple or even the couple’s parents. It also assumes that they want you to share their special day. Since you hardly know them, it begs the question, “Why were you invited in the first place?”

Is this someone from work or from your church who invited you out of a perceived obligation? Will you see these couples again regularly?

If you do not anticipate seeing these couples or continuing a relationship with them, I don’t think you should feel obligated to give a gift. Gifting is always at the discretion of the gift giver, so you should not feel pressured. Make sure you RSVP your regrets, and then possibly send a card or note of congratulations. However, if you think you will continue a relationship with these couples, I would also send a token gift in the $50 price range. Perhaps these couples are fond of you or your husband and genuinely want you to be present on their wedding day.

Knowing when a gift is required can be confusing. To answer more wedding gifting questions, check our guide, When Do I Take a Gift: Wedding Edition.


If you have questions or comments about gift giving, bridal shower, baby shower, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length, and grammar or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations, and more.

2 thoughts on “Ask Cheryl: Invited but Barely Know the Couple, Do I Still Need to Give a Wedding Gift?

  1. Here’s a new one (to us and probably others) – LONG story short, my husband recently found thru DNA testing (and it’s been confirmed in other ways) he has 2 siblings his parents gave up for adoption prior to marriage & having him. (He has half sisters that were also notified they shared the same Mom.) We’ve emailed & are Facebook friends with the 2 new siblings, but they live on the opposite side of the country, and to be honest, husband isn’t that interested in meeting them. (I think he’s embarrassed about his parents, who died decades ago.) The new sister recently sent a wedding invitation to her wedding in a foreign country to her long time live-in fiancee. They have 2 homes – northern US & southern US. So we don’t really know them, altho they do seem very nice. We won’t be attending, but should we send a gift with our RSVP (decline) to these people we haven’t actually met and who don’t seem to need anything? IF yes, that’s fine, but how much $ or do you have a suggestion? Thank you.

  2. Hi Kathy,
    You’re right. That is a “new one.” Usually, a wedding invitation warrants a gift, but your situation is certainly different. You should not feel obligated to send a gift, but you can if you want to. I’m assuming this couple is mature since your husband’s parents passed decades ago. When couples marry later in life, they often don’t want or expect wedding gifts. I imagine the sister invited you to the wedding because she wanted to foster and grow the relationship and didn’t want you to feel excluded. She is family now. I think it’s more appropriate for you or your husband to write a warm note, thanking her for inviting you and extending your best wishes. You could also suggest that you plan to get together sometime in the future.

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