Do I Have to Get My Friend a Wedding Gift If I Never Received One from Her?

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“When I got married, I was kind of surprised that one of my closest friends didn’t get us a gift. Yes, I was one of the first of our friends to get married, but all my other friends got us a gift. She wrote us a lovely card—so she obviously put some thought into it—but when we checked the envelope for a check (or even a gift card) we were surprised to find…nothing. I heard somewhere that guests technically get a one-year grace period. Well, it’s been five years, and it’s been radio silent on the gift front. I know this is trite. And it has not affected our relationship in the slightest (thank God). But now that she’s getting married and throwing a similar-sized wedding, I’m kinda like…uh…what do I do? Do I have to get my friend a wedding gift if I never received one from her?”

For all the great things that come with weddings—open bars, dessert tables and drunken dance circles bouncing to the rhythms of Flo Rida—there’s also the whole weird transactional element. “Come on down and support our love with free food and drink…oh, and get me a Crock-Pot or I’ll tell everyone that you’re a cheapskate!”  

Ugh, and then there are the rules. You heard someone say a gift should amount to your plate, as if you’re supposed to know how much your lobster tail cost. If it’s a destination wedding, cut the check in half. You’ve also heard to give cash if you can, registry if there’s anything left on it and never, ever—no matter what you do—go off registry. How gauche

As we know, weddings can bring out the thorniest of interpersonal dealings. Emotions are running high and people can get…weird. While everyone’s losing their damn minds complaining about the color of the bridesmaid dresses, the “cousins” table they’re seated at or how the DJ is “above taking requests,” the only thing you can control is you. Which brings us to our answer to your question: You should do what you think is right. And because this question is weighing on your soul so heavily, we have a feeling you probably think you should be gifting your friend at her wedding.

Yes, it’s kinda weird your friend didn’t get you a gift as is tradition, and considering she’s now having a traditional wedding herself, you’d think she’d follow protocol. But who knows? As you said, this was five years ago, and you were one of the first of your friends to get married. Perhaps this meant she was younger and had less of a slush fund to throw around. Or maybe she thought no amount of money was worthy of your glorious union and instead opted for some thoughtful words. 

But context aside, this is, above all, an etiquette question. So we brought in the big guns, aka Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette, for her two-cents on whether you should get your friend gift: “Yes!” Meier begins unequivocally, “We never reciprocate bad etiquette with bad etiquette! No matter what someone did or did not gift you, it's important to give a thoughtful wedding gift to not only show gratitude for being invited, but also as a congratulatory gesture to the couple.”

Our go-to connoisseur of all things events, wedding planner extraordinaire, Jennifer Brisman, piggybacks Meier’s take: “When someone gets married, a gift is warranted. You do as you think you should, and not based on what you received (for better or worse).”

Consensus: You should definitely give a gift. How much or what you give? That’s up to you and what you think is an appropriate reflection of your relationship.

But one more thing. Don’t take for granted the card your friend wrote you for your wedding day. You’re right: This is trite. But instead of thinking of it as blip in your relationship, think about the positives. It did take thought to have a card ready, it was a lovely note and her presence at your wedding and in your life are your gift. That, dear reader, is not trite at all.

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Executive Editor, Frazzled Mom, Bravo-Holic

Dara Katz is PureWow's Executive Editor, focusing on relationships, sex, horoscopes, travel and pets. Dara joined PureWow in 2016 and now dresses so much better. A lifestyle...