New This Month

Here's What to Do If a Guest Doesn't Give a Wedding Gift

Handle this etiquette faux pas with the utmost grace.

Contributing Writer
thank-you-postable-8342-2.jpg
Photography by: Mike Krautter Photography

You're busy penning your thank-you notes when you realize that Aunt Sally hasn't given a gift. You say to your new husband, "It's okay if she didn't give anything, but it seems so unlike her. Maybe it's lost." In this situation, what do you do? Should you say something? If you did, what would you even say? Are you being rude? Is she being rude? In an effort to end the never-ending spiral of awkward questions related to wedding gifts, we consulted etiquette expert Lizzie Post, President of The Emily Post Institute and host of the Awesome Etiquette Podcast, to get the step-by-step guide on handling this situation with grace.

 

Related: Tips for Writing Thank-You Notes for Wedding Gifts

 

Say nothing.

That's right: You shouldn't bring it up with your guest, even if you think the gift could be lost. As the host, there is no good way for you to broach the subject without seeming like you're fishing for a present. "Asking for it is rude," says Post. "It's really on the guest who hasn't received a thank-you note to call and ensure that the gift was received."

 

Be patient.

Post says it's true that guests have three months from the wedding date to give a gift without being on the wrong side of etiquette law. But if you thought it was a year, you're not alone. "One of the big conundrums we have in etiquette is that it's not like on January 1st the rules change and we put out the rules for 2018-2020," she explains. The result? "You have a lot of people who live by old etiquette standards by no fault of their own." Ultimately, it boils down to is being patient with your guests, and understanding that what you see as a slight, they see as a perfectly acceptable gift-giving timeline. 

 

Pen precise thank-you notes.

As the newlyweds, this is your one and only opportunity to subtly alert a guest that something has potentially gone awry. Post says to thank your guests for attending the wedding, and make no mention of a gift. "If you're not thanking them for the gift," she explains, "it means there was no gift to thank them for." Any observant guest will pick up on the subtle clue, and it becomes the catalyst to take matters into their own hands and make contact. "I encourage the guests to call and ask—this is your place to step up," encourages Post. "Shoot a text message, shoot an email, just double check."

 

Parting gifts.

Unless the host indicates that your presence is the only present necessary, it's generally considered poor etiquette to attend a wedding empty handed, Post explains. But what a guest chooses to give should be based on two things: their budget and their comfort level. Additionally, there is no such thing as matching gifts (you give me $200, I give you $200 back) or covering your plate. "That is not how that works," she urges. "It's none of your business how much your host is spending on you at their dinner." Though the etiquette of gift-giving can often be misunderstood and complicated, Post reminds couples to not get caught up on the bottom line. "Don't let the gifts become the focus of this event," she says.