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. 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!

    • 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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. 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?

    • 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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. 🙂

  8. 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.

  9. 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!)

    • 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.

      • 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.

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