It finally happened: the day you’d waited your entire life for. Your wedding came and went in a cloud of magical bliss, and after the long months of planning, budgeting, saving, spending, and carefully inviting, you’re finally back from your honeymoon and ready to open those presents that will make all of the hard, expensive work leading up to the day worth it.
The goal is, of course, to find yourself surrounded by gifts that can make your life a bit easier and provide plenty of use, which also remind you of all of the loved ones that you so meticulously plucked out of your family and friend circles to share your special day with you.
After all the money that was thrown at the wedding, which covered the cost of many free dishes and drinks that those trusted invitees enjoyed, it only seems fair that you’d get a bit back in the form of gifts to take off the financial pain.
Alas, there is almost always one or two people who showed up empty-handed. And it usually isn’t until gift wrappings are being torn open and thank-you cards are being written that you realize it’s happened.
Now, the crucial thing to remember is this: although gifts are a tasteful and considerate custom, they are not obligatory. From your perspective, they could have gotten you a gift but chose not to – that can feel offensive, and it’s easy to get stuck there. But chances are, they’re feeling extra terrible – maybe too terrible to talk to you about it, even if that’s the right thing to do.
Try to give them the benefit of the doubt and think of what could have caused this in their circumstances. Not everyone is in the same financial standing to pay for the gifts on your registry, which can be a very awkward and private thing to bring up. But not being able to afford a gift shouldn’t stop someone from coming to enjoy the special day of two people they love.
Of course, the respectful thing to do here is have the conversation with the bride and groom letting them know about their circumstances ahead of time, as uncomfortable as it might get. But a lot of people just don’t have the social wherewithal to bring it up and face the disappointment. And now that you find yourself in the same situation, and instigating this conversation with them feels just about impossible, you can probably understand how they felt better than ever.
So…what does it mean in the end, and what can be done about it? Here’s the process that we think will ultimately have the best outcome.
1. Give it a month.
Just in case they wrangle out the strength to fill you in on their side of the story – or, the gift you thought they skipped suddenly turns up somewhere else – you don’t want to jump the gun and write them off.
2. Send them a thank-you note for their attendance.
Let them know that you appreciated them being there; if a gift somehow got misplaced, they’ll be sure to inquire about whether you received and/or liked it. If they don’t, you can safely assume that there isn’t one coming (although it still could in the future, as technically it’s appropriate to get a gift up to a year after a wedding). They probably hoped that in all of the heyday, their gift-less appearance would go unnoticed among all of the other gifts…but this will gently let them know.
3. Forgive and forget.
Okay, so the forgetting part is easier said than done. But the forgiveness is a must. If you love and cherish someone in your life, a wedding gift shouldn’t be what stops them from being there. Focus on all the other things they have to offer and ways in which they make your life better. You won’t forget that this happened, and maybe it will shift your expectations of them in future situations. But if you can’t forgive them for this, your friendship won’t stand a chance.
Trust us, you’re better off with the elephant in the room than putting their holdup and your hurt feelings on the table.