I don't know if someone got us a wedding gift… should I send a thank you card?

By: Virginia L.CC BY 2.0

 

Now that the wedding is over, we have a list of 10 couples who came to the wedding, and did not give anything. It concerns me, because I am hoping that nothing got lost. It just seems odd.

I just don't want to mess something up, etiquette-wise. And I don't want to ASK these people if they gave something, in case they didn't. But the WORST would be not thanking them if they did give something but we just didn't receive it.

What do you do when you don't know if someone got you a wedding gift? -P

I totally get this. I remember being very concerned with getting my "thank you" on. I had an Excel spreadsheet to keep very detailed notes on all gifts received from every wedding event. I was even known to stop EVERYTHING I was doing to write a Thank You card seconds after opening newly-delivered wedding gift packages.

Now I know that wedding etiquette states that guests have up to a year after the wedding to give the couple a gift. But I totally remember seeing the blank spots on that Excel sheet and having moments of panic — trying to remember if I had failed to document something in a moment of excitement, if I had lost a card while tipsy at the wedding, or if I was stressing all for naught. There was no way I was just going to wait around for a year to find out what was what.

What's a newlywed to do!? As P mentioned, you can't be rude and ask, "Yo, did you get us a gift? Or are you planning to get us one in the future?" You also can't be rude and not thank someone for a kindness! No worries: Here's my fail-safe plan for navigating that tricky wedding dance of mystery gifting and thanks…

Send a general "thank you" note to the people for whom you have no specific gift info

For example, if you don't know if they gave you a gift, but you do know they came to your wedding:

Thanks so much for coming to our wedding! We had a blast partying all night with you. Let's make non-wedding-related plans to hang out soon.
All our love,
The Newlyweds

Maybe you have no gift info for a person who was truly active in your wedding:

Thank you so much for everything you've done on this crazy road to the wedding day! I don't know what I would have done without your help with X, Y, and Z. Once all the wedding craziness dies down, I owe you a thank-you drink of your choice.
All our love,
The Newlyweds

After that it's up to them to (hopefully) realize you aren't thanking them for a specific gift. Which then will leave it open for them to (hopefully) respond with "Oh hey, did you guys happen to get my gift of X?" And then y'all can figure it out from there.

Ultimately, even if they don't notice you didn't mention their gift, at least you've sent some kind of thanks. That may be enough for them to feel loved and appreciated. Thereby skipping any kind of drama and hurt feelings.

If there was never a gift or a lost card, no worries! Getting gifts is not what weddings are about anyway. Your guests' support and presence at your wedding was totally gift enough, and by sending a "thank-you" for coming, they have been thanked for that.

So what do you do if you don't know if someone got you a gift? Bluntly ask? Vaguely thank them anyway? Wait and see?

  1. I live in the land of stationery etiquette and would say precisely the same thing – just thank them for being there or any helpful actions that you might have noticed and go from there.

    12 agree
  2. Wonderful advice! I hate that etiquette rule- who REALLY waits a whole year to give a gift? Makes things confusing. I've even heard the rule that newlyweds also have a year to send out thank you notes, which in my opinion is even worse. Definitely get those notes out as quickly as you can!

    11 agree
    • My friends have been known to send the gift 6 months after the wedding. Life happens, it's the thought that counts. However, the same slack is not extended to newlyweds. If I remember correctly, the etiquette books I read gave newlyweds 2-3 months tops to send their thank-you cards.

      2 agree
  3. Thank You notes aren't only given to those who gave presents, but they're a thank you for attending your special day.
    There's also no requirement to buy someone a wedding present if you attend their wedding, so I'd focus on thanking them for attending your special day.

    11 agree
  4. This happened to us (complete with Excel spreadsheet!), and one of guests did exactly that: we received a text that said "thank you for the card, did you get the voucher I gave you?" Unfortunately the voucher had gone missing, but we were still able to thank him for his presence and the kind thought by sending him a general thank you card :)

    1 agrees
    • Mwahahahahaha! It's working, it's working! ;)

      11 agree
  5. This is brillant!! So far, we've been receiving gifts one or two at a time, so I've been able to send thank yous almost immediately. However, I can totally see this happening to us after the wedding, haha. It's an excellent way to solve a sticky situation!

    2 agree
  6. I also had the Excel spreadsheet! We needed it, with about 150 guests attending. :D

    1 agrees
  7. Why not put a cute sign on the gift table with some blank cards asking guests to be sure they leave a card so you can keep track.

    2 agree
    • Someone did this at a baby shower I went to once. They had a little book and asked everyone to write their name and what they brought as a gift inside, and they also had blank envelopes at every place setting that everyone was asked to self-address to make thank-you writing easier for the mom-to-be. A bit unorthodox but very clever – and I'm sure it lightened her load in the final weeks before her baby was due!

      3 agree
      • I don't mean to rain on the parade of what seems like a good idea but this is frowned upon among the Emily Posts and Judith Martins of the world (i.e. asking that guests address their own thank-you cards). Then again, etiquette is changing every day and it does solve the problem of wondering if someone gave you a gift.

        5 agree
      • I would have to disagree with this idea. It could embarrass people who couldn't afford a gift or could only buy a small gift to have it listed in the book for everyone to see. It's way better to have a friend write in each card as the gift is opened ,what was given.

        3 agree
  8. We're going to send thank you cards to everyone on our guest list, even if they didn't come. Even if they can't make it they are still special to us and part of our community family and I want to thank them for being part of our lives. So I totally agree with the idea of sending cards even if they didn't give gifts or you don't remember if they did.

    10 agree
  9. We thanked everyone who came to our wedding, gift or no gift, card or no card! We did change the wording slightly if we knew there was a gift, but wanted to make sure everyone knew we were glad they came. We got a gift after the fact from one couple, so we just thanked them again!

    4 agree
  10. Blank cards on the table is a GREAT idea, Mary!

    1 agrees
  11. Love the idea of thanking people who attend. Also, is it possible one of the couples who didn't leave a gift at the wedding gave something at the shower?

    This article reminds me of something I've been wondering as a guest. What IS the gifting etiquette? Some friends and I attended a shower recently and we each had a different idea of what was expected in terms of how many gifts to give, the registry, the wedding, and so on.

    3 agree
    • I wonder about this as a bride! I'd rather that FH and I don't have to scrounge deep into our most frivolous desires in order to keep a "full" registry up for people to pick through. We have limited space and desire for 200 new things. But, if we're to expect multiple gifts from people, that's what we'll have to do.

      1 agrees
      • The traditional etiquette is that you give something small for a shower and later something larger for a wedding (from both yourself and your date), but I think it varies a bit by region and also you never *have* to bring a gift. I think requirements pretty much stop at being a charming guest and maybe a card.

        Also, as a bride who got pressured into an extensive registry: resist! 10 months later, some of the lovely but unnecessary items are still in their boxes and I feel so guilty. If there are things you'd genuinely like to have, by all means register–but don't let people tell you haven't asked for enough stuff. (talk about a first-world problem!)

        4 agree
      • We had this issue too. There was basically nothing we needed / wanted / had room for, so we opted out of a shower altogether and tried to get people to donate money in lieu of gifts (to charities or to us, in that order). Only a handful of people wound up getting us physical gifts, all of which were either handmade or off our incredibly sparse back-up registry.

        1 agrees
    • Ideally it's a gift for the shower (doesn't have to be terribly expensive, I plan around $50 depending on my relationship with the couple) and cash/check for the wedding OR a more expensive gift. If you are giving an actual gift at the wedding instead of cash then it is best to send the gift to their home instead of bringing the gift to the wedding venue. If you want to give a gift for the wedding instead of money, I suggest bringing a card to the wedding expressing your congratulations and noting inside that a gift was (or is being) sent to their home.

      0 agree
  12. No one is going to get upset with you for sending a thank you card. If there wasn't a gift, tell them about a wonderful moment you guys had together at the wedding, or just thank them for helping you start your married life off on the right foot.

    1 agrees
    • Yeah, even as a guest I'd rather be thanked for something personal or a memory from the wedding than the toaster I picked up last minute, ya know? :) Or, wait to send the thank-you note until after you've used the gift. So you can say something like "it was so lovely making toast as a newly married couple" or something like that.

      1 agrees
  13. Thank you so much for this article!! I have been stressing about this issue since our wedding last month as we have a lot of people who did not give a gift or even a card. I love this idea and it is a great way to open the door in case something was lost, etc.

    3 agree
  14. So if you know definitively that someone did not give you a gift…do you still send the note? As in, a couple asked if we still had stuff on our registry (we had almost nothing left), and we said we'd ensure there was – I rush to the dept store and scan a bunch of stuff (including Christmas housewares…it was December and our wedding was the previous July). No action taken by said couple, and we're almost at our one-year anniversary. Sort of…odd right?

    2 agree
    • I'm in a similarly odd situation. I had some friends who couldn't make it to our wedding at the last minute, but our Amazon registry says they bought something for us that I've never seen. I feel like it would be rude to ask what happened to it, but I am slightly baffled.

      1 agrees
      • I'd let them know about it. It could be that Amazon dropped the ball on delivery or something, and your friends might need to track the package or contact customer service or something. (I suppose you could contact Amazon, too…I've never had to do this so don't know how it works). Your friends might be wondering why they haven't seen a thank-you note for the gift they were sure they sent!

        2 agree
          • +1. Half the reason I enjoy receiving thank-you notes is the basic knowledge that they received the gift and it didn't get lost someplace (esp. if it was shipped without me to escort it)

            5 agree
          • I second the suggestion to contact Amazon's customer service via their website. They're actually quite prompt and helpful in assisting customers. I've gotten gifts from my "wish list" that I no longer wanted and they were super helpful in assisting me with a return, issuing credit, etc. They're discreet and the gift-giver never finds out about this.

            1 agrees
  15. This article looks super useful!

    We got a present which is signed 'from James'. Sounds good, except we got three James at the wedding!
    We're puzzling over the game of trying to work out which James was the most likely to buy us this rather expensive and wonderful present. But I think we're just going to poke them gently on the day (we got it a couple of weeks ago pre-wedding) and see which one says 'Did you like my gift?'

    3 agree
  16. This is when having wedding helpers comes in super handy! After my wedding shower, I completely misread the gift list and couldn't figure out why Mrs. Whatsit was listed as attending but not as having brought a gift. I set my mom on her to find out. I think my mom pulled a "it was so nice to see you, did you bring the platter?" to find out that "no, I brought the saucepan." Maybe not the most subtle, but an easy way for me to make sure my notes were correct without embarrassing myself in front of a very kind and generous lady. Bridespeople and family members are great at this stuff!

    6 agree
  17. Great advice! I kept an Excel spread sheet too. WHAT A NERD! It started out as the guest list (full of addresses and who's side they belonged to) then the list blossomed into the "Thank you" spreadsheet. Funny thing, my brother got married about a year after I did, his fiance borrowed my spreadsheet to make one for their wedding.

    2 agree
    • Oh, my Excel spreadsheet was passed down to me from a friend, and then I passed it on to one of MY friends. It's a total thing. ;)

      0 agree
  18. Something else to consider: Did the people who didn't send a gift have to travel to get to your wedding? Because that could eat up the funds that would otherwise have gone toward a gift.

    7 agree
    • Yeah– I agree with this. I have to say, often times the cost to attend a wedding can be a lot– gas, lodging, eating out, time off work, etc., and the budget doesn't always allow for a gift on top of my attendance. I love my friends, but I have rarely bought a wedding gift. Instead, I view my attendance and long term support as my gift to them–I do genuinely believe it's the best gift I can give. I'll talk with you at 2am when your dogs dies; I'll treat you to beer to celebrate your grad school degree, and I'll babysit for free so I can bond with your little one and support your adult time, but buying you four matching forks from your list holds no meaning for me, so I don't do it. Then again, at my wedding, we neither registered for nor expected gifts, so my non-gift-giving choice may also reflect my own offbeat values.

      8 agree
  19. I actually did ask a guest if she brought a gift. She was a guest on my husband's side, so I basically said something like, "Hey, I'm working on thank you cards and I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything. I'm definitely making sure to thank you for flying across the country and helping with our photography, but did you happen to give something to Husband that he forgot to mention to me?"

    Thankfully, she knows me and Husband very well, so she understood exactly where I was coming from. This may or may not work with your guests. I couldn't have pulled it off with an acquaintance, but because she knows how disorganized Husband is, she followed my train of thought.

    If you think you can ask politely without offending, then go for it. Make sure to tell them what you are thanking them for though, so they don't think you didn't notice them. If you think they'll be offended, go with the generic thank you and leave it be.

    3 agree
    • Ha! That would totally work for us too, my husband is super disorganized. He actually found a card (with money in it!) from our wedding when he wore the jacket again months later. He'd just stuffed it in a pocket on the day and then forgot all about it. XD

      0 agree
  20. My husband's family is very traditional (in terms of etiquette) but my family not so much so we were very confused after our wedding. We had about 5 people that did not give gifts and when we asked we were told that we were not supposed to send a thank you to them so we did not send them thank you's. We only thanked the people that gave gifts. Another confusing thing is my Maid of Honor gave us a really nice gift for the shower but told us after the wedding that she had gotten us a card for the wedding but her dog ate it. She is my best friend and I have known her for 13+ years so I was very okay with how everything went. Now she is getting married this year and I am a bridesmaid so I was going to mirror for her what she did for us. :) Just one more thought also…I would never ever think of attending a wedding I was invited to without giving a gift! I think that that is so incredibly rude to not give a gift. Even if it is something small it is still something. When you get invited to a wedding and you decide to accept that invitation then you are making a choice of also getting them a gift. I would buy them a gift even if I really could not afford much as I would not want to be rude.

    6 agree
    • I think you should only invite people who you want to share in your special day. It shouldn't be about the gift. Would you rather have that person attend or receive a gift? I say this because one year I was invited to three weddings. That means a shower & wedding gift for each. If you live pay check to pay check, that's a lot! Are you supposed to decline spending that day with your friend because they expect gifts?

      0 agree
  21. Someone asked the registry question a few comments up and just thought I would mention that my sweetie and I decided to for go the traditional gift registry and instead do a honeymoon registry! We have enough stuff to furnish two households- we certainly don't need another crock pot… What we need is a nice vacation together! There are several websites out there set up for this (free and paid) (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say what site we are using) but this is a much better option for us. Hope this helps someone else!

    2 agree
    • Yep, FH and I did this as well! We brought two households together when we moved in together… we have too much stuff as it is and we aren't exactly fine china people (unless there's a TARDIS on it, of course). So we registered with Air New Zealand and are going to run off for a holiday somewhere warm next winter, six months after the wedding!

      0 agree
  22. We are having a small affair with very few guests, we will be thanking everyone who comes with a general thank-you for being part of our lives rather than our wedding.

    Before we settled on the general thank you, we came up with a plan to track who got us what. Sometimes things arrive at inopportune moments for excel or a notebook… what you got? YOUR PHONE!
    Open present
    Take picture
    Save picture with givers name!

    9 agree
  23. My MIL and I had already started addressing the thank you cards before the wedding- because we sent out thank you's to everyone who was there and "sorry you couldn't come" to those who couldn't come (and sorry + thank you to those who sent gifts anyways). We had the printed out excel sheet and had a "Gift opening" brunch a few days after the wedding with all the people who were still around. We wrote down what we got from whom, and we sent out a printed wedding a photo of the two of us (just one from my moms camera) at the nearest drug store the day after the wedding. That way, when we hit a "they didn't send us a gift" they still got a nice "Thanks for coming to the wedding, here is a picture of us on our happy day". All of our thank you's were out during the honeymoon, and everytime we go to a friend/families house we see that candid photo on the fridge or in a frame!

    4 agree
  24. As a follow up to the article, what do you do if you send a "Thank You For Attending It Wouldn't Have Been The Same Without You" card and then the guest sends a gift? Do you then also send a "Thank You For The Wonderful Gift" card?

    1 agrees
    • I just posted about this! This happened to us. One of our friends had traveled to our wedding but not given a gift, so we sent a thank-you card–we really appreciated her effort to travel so far to be with us. A couple of months later, she and her beau emailed us an online gift certificate to the store we registered at. At that point, I emailed her back to thank her for the gift and invited her to get together for coffee, etc. She and I communicate a lot by email, so it wasn't unusual to send her an emailed message.

      I think it's up to you whether you mail a card, call, or email the person in question regarding the gift–whatever means of communication feels best to you and that they'd appreciate–but my policy is: it's never tacky to send too many thank you cards.

      0 agree
  25. Several of our guests traveled to our wedding and didn't give us gifts. We sent them thank-you cards anyway, thanking them for being part of our special day. I knew these people had made some time and money sacrifices to be with us, so I didn't mind at all that they didn't give us gifts. I was genuinely grateful that they were with us, so I couldn't see a reason not to send a thank-you card.

    One of these guests sent us an online gift certificate a few months later to a shop we had a registry with. Since I'd already sent her a thank-you card, I wrote her a nice email thanking her for the gift certificate.

    4 agree
  26. This happened to me. An aunt came to the wedding, but no card, no gift, and I was worried that it got lost. She had travelled from NY to WI, so our thank you card was something along the lines of "thank you so much for travelling all that way for our wedding! having family there was very important to me." We then received a gift at our 1st anniversary.
    I know that thank you notes take A Long Time, but I was really happy that I had taken a couple of minutes to send this "thanks for coming" card.

    3 agree
  27. I'm a big spread sheet girl too and was surprised when (thanks to said spread sheet) I realized that we were missing a few cards. Our reception had been on a boat(!) with lots of nooks and crannies, so I was worried that maybe those cards had gotten lost. I'd also heard of cards going *ahem* missing (ie. getting stollen) so it was important to me to check in to make sure that things hadn't gotten lost or stollen.

    Framing it as 'the day was such a blur / just wanted to make sure it didn't get lost' moves the message from the guest to the hosts and making sure that things did not go missing. :-)

    2 agree
  28. This happened to me once. I got a friend of mine a really nice plate and received no thank you note. She is not the type to flake out on things like that, and I had heard another friend mention that she had received a thank you note from her. But I was shy about asking, and figured hey, she's always been a great friend to me, so whatever.

    Then recently she told me that the department store had called her to let to know that "a wedding gift" had come in for her – two years after her wedding! Turns out it was…my plate! So yeah, shit happens, things go awry.

    1 agrees
  29. Perfect timing. I am writing thank you notes this month, and had this exact question. When I googled etiquette a couple of weeks ago, multiple sites mentioned that some people who hadn't brought a gift would interpret receiving a thank you card as prodding to give us something. Ergo, no gift, no thank you card.

    I had no idea people would feel this way … is it common?

    We were very clear on our website that we didn't really need gifts … and we suggested charities to give to instead (all of which tracked who donated for us). There was also a backup registry.

    We had a few folks who didn't give us anything or donate anything but we enjoyed their presence. If I said "thank you for coming" at the reception, do I still send a card?

    (Wish I'd seen this post last week!)

    0 agree
    • some people who hadn't brought a gift would interpret receiving a thank you card as prodding to give us something

      This is where etiquette blows my mind. If someone sends me a card that says, "Thank you for X!" I literally cannot fathom reading that as "…but why didn't you Y?" I simply can't imagine a world in which people think this way. That's not to say people don't, but I simply can't comprehend it, so I certainly can't advise on it.

      2 agree
      • Thank you for replying to my late-reading post! and I agree, it is the weirdest twisted interpretation of "thank you" I'd ever heard of… I will cross my fingers that our friends and family feel the same way, because both me and Mr would rather send a tidy note acknowledging our delight that someone showed up to help us celebrate.

        1 agrees
  30. I put someone in charge of the gifts at each event. This allowed them to focus on that while I was able to mingle. I did have to ask them on a few occasion about gifts but with that set up we were able to keep it all straight!

    1 agrees
  31. What makes me so very sad is, I have been to about 5 weddings in the past two years and given a gift at each one. I never received a 'thank you' card for attending or a 'thank you' card for the gift. Many of my relatives and friends who have recently attended weddings expressed the same to me. When did it become OK to receive a gift and not to say 'thank you'! It leaves me wondering if they DID even receive it, open, like it, hate it, care that I went through the thoughtful process and effort. What's up with becoming a thankless wedding culture!?

    3 agree
  32. What I would REALLY like to know is how to word a thank you for when guests give you cash/checks/etc. I don't to be like 'yo thanks for the benjamins'. What's a really good way to word it?

    0 agree
    • What I said was, "thanks for much for your generous gift, we have already put it to good use." Sometimes I said "check" but I never said cash.

      If you did something (or are going to do something) specific with it like a honeymoon, you could mention that. "Your gift will help us be able to take/enjoy our honeymoon." Or some such.

      2 agree
  33. To avoid missing people, I addressed my thank you note envelopes as I did the invites – took longer in the moment, but now I know that if I still have an envelope kicking around for so-and-so, they didn't get their thank you! This doesn't solve the no-gift question, which we are also pondering over. I will steal the idea of thanking people for coming, which is a gift in itself, of course! :) We also ended up with a stray bottle of wine with no card on our gift table, so the giver will not get thanked…am I allowed to put out a call on Facebook asking the giver to please stand up? Is that done?

    0 agree
  34. Agreeing with the sentiment that if you're unsure if there was a gift, a thank-you for attending will suffice. We just finished writing our thank-you cards (phew!). I, too, had the ever-handy Excel spreadsheet with copious notes including mailing addresses, culled from hounding people via every form of social media I could think of, and even so, I panic that I've forgotten someone or failed to mention the awesome gift they gave.

    In our thank-you cards, though, we didn't really mention gifts, anyway (and if we did, it was pretty vague – if someone gave us mixing bowls, we referred to them as "kitchen goodies." Any money was a "generous contribution." Etc.). From the beginning we de-emphasized the giving of gifts; we wanted to focus on presence, not presents. We had a really tiny wedding because we wanted to spend time with people. Of course, some folks wanted to give gifts and we were okay with that, but ultimately, what we said thank-you for in the cards was time, energy, support and love. I hope that everyone ends up being okay with that. ^.^;

    0 agree
  35. Very nice! Also, don't let anyone bully you into opening presents before you are in a position to keep everything organized! While my husband and I were changing out of our wedding clothes, my Bi…I mean, *Mother-In-Law* told everyone at the reception that we were going to open presents..and THEN she told us. THEN she got pissy because names and presents got mixed up.

    0 agree
  36. I have a similar dilemma from the side of the gift-giver… We gave a present to our friends who got married recently, and the card they sent thanks us for a contribution towards their honeymoon (they asked for a gift of guest's choosing or cash for the honeymoon, but we'd found something we hoped they'd love for the 'gift' category). So now I'm worried that somehow the card/gift got separated, and that they think we didn't get them anything…. Is there an etiquette-friendly way to ask them if they got it? I totally get that it was chaos afterwards, as I was there the following morning to help pack up.
    Had we not got a card, I wouldn't have been at all worried, as I would have assumed they weren't doing them!

    0 agree
  37. We don't know quite what to do….A family gave my son a graduation card last night. They wrote a lovely note and wrote, small at the bottom, $15. The problem is there was no money in the card. My son searched around and thought maybe he had misplaced to no avail. I don't really want to ask the mom where the money is and I don't want him to send a thank you for the money when she might find the money in her purse in a week. Any suggestions because I'm baffled?

    1 agrees
  38. We had an intimate wedding our group is very close. Unexpectedly, there was a rowdy kid in attendance who removed all the cards from the gifts and we don't know who gave us what. I would like to explain the situation to everyone and still thank them for coming but my husband doesn't agree. He thinks we should send a "blanket thank you" everyone. What would be the proper way to show our gratitude?

    0 agree
    • If you let everyone know the situation, I'm sure there wouldn't be Anyone who would have a problem telling you what they brought and helping you sort it out.

      0 agree
  39. This is so helpful! We got a few gifts with no cards, and I am hesitant to ask around for the reasons OP mention (don't want people to feel guilty/attacked if they were not able to give a gift).

    0 agree

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