Giving a gift when you aren’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?

But what about giving gifts when you haven’t been invited to a wedding-related bash. 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?

We had a few questions sent in regarding this topic

Our first questioner, Mrs X, was not invited to a friend’s engagement party. She was a bit offended and even wondering if the invite had been lost in the mail! However, she 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 for giving the gift. Is it a passive-aggressive ploy to guilt them into a wedding invite? Or are you genuinely happy for them?

The Southern Bride 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”.

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 get a present if it was 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”.

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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 throughout 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 has 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

Have you been in this situation before? What would you do?

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7 Comments

  1. I have a question about giving gifts to friends’ children (or childrens’ friends) when I/we aren’t invited – I understand completely and didn’t expect to be invited to the weddings; however, I wanted to send a small something just as a gesture of friendship and like your column said, to show that I care and that I wish them the best. However, I’ve done that 3 times in the past few years and have not received thank you notes… and I’m “old-school” about that (surely the etiquette hasn’t changed on thanking people for gifts?!). I know for a fact that all 3 of these couples received my gifts. Now, I have another one coming up and am hesitating, but I feel that it’s not fair to ‘punish’ this young couple for the previous few who did not mind their manners (?!). I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this.

  2. For both of our daughters’ weddings, if you were invited to a shower, you were invited to the wedding. There were others who for logistics reasons weren’t able attend a shower but were invited to the wedding. We did have to limit the guests as we hosted in our back yard but they both felt this was the best way to handle.

  3. My husband and I got married over 30 years ago in a church wedding with only five people, including us, in attendance. All of our friends and relatives sent us gifts. So when two of my nieces got married and didn’t invite anyone from our side of the family, I sent them each a small but meaningful gift. Maybe they regifted or threw them out, but the thought was there. I do wish them the best.

  4. Hello, Regardless of the situation and family dynamics: I am old school. No invitation means no gift. Period!! End of story!!!! Not even a congratulatory card. Nothing!!

  5. My husband and I have been married 27 years he has a daughter from his previous marriage which ended 34 years ago. Our Grandaughter is getting married and we were not invited. Should we still send a gift. If so how much should we spend

    1. Yes. I am sending a gift to my great nephew and his wife and I wasn’t nvited.
      I was invited when the wedding was to be last December with two hundred people attending, but they couldn’t because of Covid. The rescheduled with a much smaller group.

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