Do You Need To Send A Gift If You Don't Attend The Wedding?

You know you're not able to attend the wedding you've just been invited to. But do you really have to send a gift? Follow our etiquette tips to get it right.

White Gift Box with Pink Ribbon
Photo: Neirfy via Getty Images

There are some years you might have more wedding invitations on your refrigerator than you do magnets to hold them up. Though some invitations are to weddings you're eager to attend, others may be save-the-dates for weddings you didn't realize you'd even get an invite to in the first place: Wait, when was the last time I actually talked to Linda? Have I even met her fiancé?

Don't Worry About Headcount

Remember that it's understood: Every guest invited to a wedding may not be able to attend, so don't fret about trying to fly across the country for a couple you don't know that well. You do not need to feel obligated to be there.

Gone are the days when a wedding invite equated a guarantee of attendance. Out-of-town guests are only given around a 55% expectation of showing up. If the bride and groom are going to flip a coin on guests traveling in for the nuptials, let yourself off the hook.

wedding cards and gifts sign

Photo by Jana Williams; Event Planning by RO & Co. Events; Floral Design by Of the Flowers; Paper Products by Copper Willow Paper Studio & Prim & Pixie

The RSVP Is Not Optional

The one thing they all agree on? A wedding invitation should be acknowledged with a congratulations (beyond your RSVP card), no matter how close you are to the couple. This card may be your opportunity to offer a gift in the form of a check. Trust your instincts on the amount you feel is appropriate, and even take a look at the wedding registry to view the value of the gifts if you need help deciding.

If you're able to include a small gift from their registry along with your warm wishes, that's wonderful. The couple and their families thought enough of you to send you an invitation to such a momentous occasion, after all. Acknowledging the registry by choosing from this list means you paid extra attention to the needs of the couple.

To Gift Or Not To Gift?

The bottom line on gifting from a distance is that it is all up to you. You can go as big or as small as makes you comfortable, but ultimately it's your decision. Did you RSVP? Check. Have you chosen a card of congratulations to send separately from the RSVP? Check. Your obligations are fulfilled. Or, that is one school of thought.

Some feel a wedding is the one circumstance when gifts aren't optional. For example, Lizzie Post, Emily Post's great-great-granddaughter, believes a wedding invitation is a "big deal invite," and proper wedding gift etiquette requires guests to honor an invitation with a present no matter what.

There is a chance you may literally have to flip a coin on this matter.

Wrapped blue and white wedding gifts
Tooga/Getty Images

Other Rules To Consider

Couples often establish a web link for guests. You will more than likely see a link to the registry here, but there might be other options on how and what to gift. For example, some couples are more interested in having experiences rather than things. If they would like contributions for a trip, you will see that through their special link.

Another option for giving might have to do with donations. Couples have been know to choose their favorite charity or cause as a target for giving. This information can also be found on a couple's wedding site, should they elect to offer a link. Exploring all of the information a couple has offered on their event should lead you to the right gift-giving answer.

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