Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: What are your thoughts on wedding gifts when not invited to the wedding? A family member had a destination wedding six months ago. We were told they weren’t having any guests but later learned several couple-friends of theirs accompanied them. They spent nearly eight months doing extensive renovations to their new home, and then sent out invitations to a cookout to come see their new digs. When we arrived, this “cookout” was fully catered, had valet parking attendants and had over a hundred guests. There was a gift table – not everyone brought gifts – but I would say there were 25 or so on the table.
I have heard through the grapevine that this family member is very upset that we didn’t acknowledge her wedding “properly.” We sent a card at the time and had a bottle of champagne delivered to their hotel room.
Have I missed something? Are understated, long-after-the-fact wedding receptions now a thing? It didn’t occur to me that it was a gift-giving occasion as it was so long after the wedding and the invitation didn’t mention the wedding. The wedding we were not invited to attend.
The word is this person is not speaking to me until I “make things right.” We often go a month or two without contact so I don’t know if we just haven’t talked or if she is not talking to me. Should I clear the air or ignore?
Oh my goodness, ignore – because that’s the proper way to accept the gift of having a jerk drop voluntarily out of your life.
Since when do a card and champagne constitute a failure to acknowledge a wedding? One you were not invited to attend?
Maybe you need to get along with these people for the sake of the family, but if that’s the case, then it’s incumbent upon the couple to talk to you directly. Their choosing to have invisible hoops for you to jump through, and then to punish you silently for your failure to jump through them, conveniently keeps all the responsibility with them – because technically you don’t know anything about this.
Plus, the word of the grapevine is not only cowardly, be it on the part of the rumor-monger if it’s not true, or on the bride’s part if it is – it’s also not binding. Again, how can you be accountable for something of which you have no direct knowledge?
So treat the couple as you always have. That is, act as if nothing is wrong because you did nothing wrong, and let them come to you with any grievance themselves. If they act frosty to you, then act as surprised by that as you have every right to be. “You didn’t even say hello to me. Is something wrong?”
Email Carolyn at email@example.com.