QUESTION: I'm a guest, and at a recent wedding I got the couple a present that I thought was perfectly acceptable. However, the couple has recently responded expressing dissatisfaction at the gift they've received. What should I say or do?
From Kaella: When I first heard this was a common occurrence, I was astonished, no mortified. One such incident became an internet sensation when the guest wrote the spectator with his situation and asked for readers’ advice. Basically the newlyweds were extremely ungrateful for the gift basket he and his date gave them as a wedding gift. You can read that saga here.
More common are less extreme cases in which the newlyweds express displeasure with their gift. First, let me just say that expressing displeasure with one’s wedding gift is extremely rude. While it is common practice to give a gift when invited to a wedding, it is by no means mandatory. The couple really should have bit their tongues and written a thank you note.
However, if you find yourself in such a situation, I suppose I would say to be the bigger person. Is it really worth the drama? You might just respond with, “I’m sorry you do not like it.” And done. I’m sure you have a reason for why you bought them said gift. Maybe you are short on funds right now or maybe you truly thought it was a fun and unique gift idea, but you don’t need to go into all that detail if you don’t want to. You can just apologize and then decide whether or not you want to continue the friendship later. Probably not if it’s as bad as the couple who received the gift basket referred to above.
From Allison: Gifts are a touchy subject for couples. The couple spends at least $100 (often times much more) per person. Couples tend to think if they spend $100 on the guest, the same should be reciprocated. But that just isn’t right. Everyone has a very different financial situation and hopefully if your friends are inviting you to a wedding, they want you to be there more than they want your gift.
Even if you don’t spend a lot of money, a really thoughtful gift should go along way. I can’t exactly comment on [situations like] this text fight that occurred because I find it so ridiculous. I would hope that this is a very out of the ordinary situation that has only happened a few times ever. And if that happens, I think it says a lot about your friendship, and the best thing to do is ignore it.
Need more wedding advice and etiquette tips? See our previous posts here.
Kaella Wilson is the founder of Kaella Lynn Events, a wedding planning and design boutique based in San Francisco. She believe the difference is in the details. Whether you’re planning a grand event or an intimate celebration, Kaella combines artistic design with meticulous planning and management to produce a memorable event that represents your style.
Allison Silber is the founder of the wedding publication, Engaged & Inspired as well as a wedding planner/designer serving the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves Carmel Valley, drinks too much coffee, and styles everything she can get her hands on!