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

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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?

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

  1. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!)

      • 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.

        • Same here. We are having a really really small wedding and I am not sure what I should register for because between the two of us we don’t really need anything or would expect people to buy it for us. Like all I want is a sturdy-last-for-years pots and pans set (like my parents have). My FH was under the impression that we had to send out announcements so that his relatives can send us gifts, but I told him we should wait until after so it’s not confused with an invite and that they are in no way obligated to send us anything.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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!

          • +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)

          • 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.

    • I was apalled that this happened so frequently at my son’s wedding. We had instances where people brought entire families, ate and drank all night and gave N.O.T.H.I.N.G. And yes, the one year mark has expired. Call me old fashioned, but in my day, we would have respectfully declined an invitation, or at the least, hired a sitter if finances disallowed providing a gift. I am confident I will get flack on this, but I find it downright hurtful to the newlywed couple to not give some small token of esteem. It is the equivalent of coming to a dinner party empty-handed. Just tacky. Also so prevalent today – no generosity and no thankyou cards are becoming a new norm. People, just don’t.
      On another note, leaving expensive gifts and cards out unattended is a no-no. People in catering particularly know from experience that gifts – especially cash envelopes go missing all the time.

  5. 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?’

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

    • 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. 😉

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

    • 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

  10. 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.

    • 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?

      • Perhaps, yes. Weddings can be expensive ventures and often a couple sacrifice to invite you. If you cannot provide even a small token of esteem, perhaps the invitation should be respectfully declined. It is just bad form and hurtful to a couple to do otherwise in my opinion.

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