Giving a gift when you aren’t invited?

wedding gift etiquette wasn't invited

We know that giving a gift is expected if you are invited to an engagement party or wedding, but what happens if you aren’t invited? A couple of the Southern Bride community members have approached me anonymously wondering what to do about gifts when they haven’t been invited to a wedding-related bash. So today we are asking: do you need to give a gift if you’re not invited?

Giving an engagement present when you’re not invited to the party?

Our first questioner, Mrs X, was not invited to a friend’s engagement party. She was a bit offended (even wondering if the invite had been lost in the post), but was putting her hurt feelings aside to ask whether getting them an engagement present was the right thing to do.

 Personally, I wonder whether the friend has number constraints on their guest list – if you are considering getting them a gift, they are obviously considered friends, so there might be more to it. However if you aren’t close friends, I would examine your motivations about giving the gift. Is it a passive-aggressive ploy to guilt them into a wedding invite? Or are you genuinely happy for them?
The community suggested some other ideas on how to deal with this situation too, and come across as “the bigger person”.  Jessica suggested “buy them a drink next time you are out together”. Miranda would buy them a card, because “I think it’s something worth celebrating, not because I want them to feel bad about not inviting me”.

wedding gift etiquette if not attending

Not invited to the wedding – do you buy a present anyway?

Something similar happened for Miss F:  “I was expecting to go to a friend’s wedding but haven’t received an invite (I know she’s sent them already). I am a bit disappointed but know there’s limited space and all that so of course I won’t say anything. Should I still get a present anyway? A little part of me wants to get them something so they feel guilty for snubbing me”.

It was an emphatic no in the community to getting a present if it’s out of spite. Heather pointed out “you should be giving a gift because you care, because they are friends and you want to wish them well. If your intention with gift giving is to make them feel guilty for not inviting you that is in very poor taste. A small token gift as a friend would be lovely but nothing else”.

Tina related her experience from planning her daughter’s wedding: “…I had to limit the numbers I could invite and family took up most of the list and then a few friends. I still feel guilty that some of my good friends couldn’t go that had been to everything through my daughter’s life, and many of her friends couldn’t go. It wasn’t that she didn’t want them there it was just logistics, nothing else. Don’t feel put out that you didn’t get an invite because she probably feels terrible she couldn’t give you one and uncomfortable and not be able to talk to you about it. I know that’s how I felt. It all depends on the bride and groom’s limited funds, not because you are not important to them. Suck it up and wish them all the best and be glad you are friends anyway and if you give them a present make it about them, give it from the heart, not out of contempt. When you give her the present, mention to her that you really do understand that she couldn’t invite every one, and not to feel guilty but you’d just like her to have this little token of your love and friendship.”

I think Tina’s comment hit the nail on the head – Miss F is feeling a bit hurt and it is awkward for both the bride and the non-invitee to discuss it openly. Miss F just needs to accept that the couple have had to make some tough decisions, and it’s not a reflection on you or your friendship.

Last thoughts on when you’re not invited

I’d also suggest – don’t play dumb about it – “Oh, you are having an engagement party/getting married? Oh, I had no idea!” It’s probably just as awkward for them as it is for you, so just keep it light and non-defensive.
 
Have you been in this situation before? What would you do?

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