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Over the past few years, my now-fiance and I have been invited to approximately 15 weddings and of those weddings, we've declined four. Most were due to legit work conflicts, but a handful were simply because our expenses couldn't take the hit of yet another weekend of travel—and the couples weren't exactly our nearest and dearest. In addition to RSVP'ing 'no' in a timely manner, I hand-wrote each couple a heartfelt letter explaining our absence and sending them love. I thought I had done my part.

It was only a few months ago, when speaking to a wedding expert who shant be named, I learned the error of my adolescent ways: "You didn't send a gift!?" she exclaimed, with the same horror as if I'd absconded with the groom. Apparently, in the world of grandmotherly wedding rules, it's a cardinal sin not to send a wedding gift—even and especially when you can't make the celebration.  

This misstep bubbled to the top of my consciousness anew when I received a pitch for a newly-conducted wedding expense survey by Bankrate.com. The website polled nine wedding industry experts on the subject of gift-versus-attendance, and they unanimously agreed on one rule: one must always send a wedding gift. Furthermore, the study polled average American wedding guests and found that 57 percent would send the same gift as if they attended the event, and 17 percent would give a gift of lesser value. 

Now, I totally understand that if you're super close to the couple, sending a gift is something you'd want to do as a gesture of love and apologies for your absence. But I really, really hate that this practice is a widely accepted "must"—and on a sliding value scale, no less. Ick!

If a guest is RSVP'ing no to your wedding, there's a very good chance that lack of spending money plays into that decision—and being judged for not sending a gift really adds insult to injury. It's like this dark, little class warfare cloud that hangs over weddings and it bums me out to my core. 

Now, don't get me wrong here: I'm no anti-consumerism martyr and I love few things more than a beautifully wrapped gift box of tableware. But these stats have me noodling on ways to message on our wedding website that we'd be just as thrilled for a homemade gift or a card with well-wishes. And that if you can't make it, you honestly don't have to send anything. 

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