YOU ASK! WE ANSWER! YOU DECIDE!
By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace
QUESTION: A friend and I decided to go together and purchase a really nice bridal shower gift and do the same for the wedding gift. The friend and I had delivered the shower gift together, and neither of us received a thank-you.
For the wedding, we purchased an online gift from a bridal registry from the two of us again, and according to an email that I have received, the wedding gift was delivered to the bride’s home on a certain date. This month, they will have been married for a year, and neither of us have received a thank-you for either of the gifts. Together, we spent $200 on the gifts.
We both know and respect the parents of the groom, and his mother would be mortified if she knew we did not receive a thank-you for either gift. Now they are expecting a baby, and we both have decided we will not be giving gifts for any baby showers.
So, should we say something to the bride and groom (whom we do not know well) or mention it to our friend — his mother? Or should we just let it go and not say anything to anybody? I don’t want her to think we are complainers. Are we wrong in not wanting to go to another shower for this couple and then not receive a thank-you again?
I have sent many wedding gifts and sent many online and have usually received thank-yous for my efforts. What do you think?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: I think you have every right to ask your friend or even ask the bride or groom. “Did (insert names) receive our gift from the wedding? I haven’t received a note, and I just want to make sure it wasn’t lost in translation.” Thank-you notes are appreciated and expected. Shame on them for not thanking you both! I would give a baby gift, though; you don’t want to be spiteful. Be excited for them and their growing family!
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: Yes, the bride and groom should have written thank-you notes to you. You are absolutely correct in that, if that affirmation helps any, and receiving one now would be better late than never. But you can’t control what they do or compel them to write one, so you’re stuck with figuring out what you should be doing next. Also, to determine what to do about the baby shower, it would help understand why you wanted to give them a gift in the first place. Typically, we don’t give gifts in order to receive thank-you notes — but in order to celebrate happy occasions with people we care about. It is important that receivers acknowledge that effort in some way, but for whatever reasons and breaches of etiquette, sometimes they fall short. Before boycotting the baby shower, determine why you would or wouldn’t give a gift; in this case, even a congratulatory card would be nice.
If you know the parents of the couple well, I think it’s OK to ask out of concern if the not-so-newlyweds ever received the gifts you sent. You can also ask the couple themselves. After all, you could say, maybe you had the wrong address when you sent it or the card fell off. Your question might be enough to get the ball rolling. Maybe the couple didn’t get to the notes right away, and then they feel guilty that they didn’t and don’t know what to do. Or maybe your gift got overlooked inadvertently. Don’t assume the worst. By kindly and casually mentioning it to their parents, it opens the door for them to write you. And if they don’t, scale back the next gift or effort and focus your friendship on the parents that you know. But don’t keep score about this. It isn’t worth the mental time it takes to be mad, nor is it worth withholding joy for a new occasion (if you normally would want to celebrate it) in order to teach an etiquette lesson.
HELEN’S ANSWER: Brides should thank people who have taken time and money to help celebrate their day and who have helped get their marriage off to a good start. I don’t blame you and your friend for wanting to know if the couple got the wedding or shower gift and/or if they liked it. Ask the bride or the groom about it. That way you don’t have to bother your friend. The couple need to be held accountable for their actions and need to know that a thank-you is definitely in order. Worry about the baby shower whenever it happens. You might change your mind and want to send a small gift.
The bride’s mother-in-law cannot make her write the notes and probably is mortified that this much time has gone by.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Hilarie Blaney, etiquette and international protocol consultant: Emily Post’s Etiquette says “after three months, you are free to ask if the gift was received and you may ask the couple — or one of the parents — if you know them well.” In addition, “be sure to inquire in a tone of concern, not annoyance.” Your story says that the mother of the groom is your friend, and if asked with concern, she would not think you are a “complainer.” You will be doing her a favor; imagine how many others were treated the same way.
Although I have always received a thank-you note for a wedding gift, I have not been thanked, or acknowledged for baby gifts, ones that took time to mail to other states. I have decided not to send gifts to baby No. 3!
If the mother is a good friend, I would send a small gift, and if you are not thanked, I would tell her.
Callie Gordon is 20-something; Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.