Even Stalkers Need A Thank You Note

by admin on October 25, 2011

Dear Ms. Jeanne,

I desperately need your help to determine whether I committed an etiquette faux pas. I have been under the impression that I was wronged, but if I am actually the guilty party, I wish to apologize as soon as possible!

I graduated high school in North Carolina in 2002. About 2 months later, I moved halfway across the country to attend college. That autumn, I was speaking to my best friend, who still lives in North Carolina. She told me that she had received a wedding invitation from a classmate of ours, Hannah. They were on friendly terms, but I felt that Hannah and I were even closer. We had both taken a course our senior year during which we interned as teachers’ helpers at a local grade school. Hannah allowed me to carpool with her, since I did not have a vehicle. During those rides to and from the school we shared many conversations and started doing things together after school, such as going out to eat and shopping. It never moved beyond this (I.E. no sleep-overs, no lending money, etc.) and I had not spoken to her since graduation, about 3 months before. I obviously did not expect to be invited to the wedding, but I wanted to send a gift and my good wishes.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was able to find out that Hannah and her fiance, Joe, had registries that included a chain store which existed in both of our states. I visited the location near me and a saleswoman helped me to look up their list in the system. I explained that I would need the gift to be delivered from a store location nearer to Hannah and Joe, but they did not have a delivery address listed. The saleswoman kindly called the store in North Carolina where the couple physically registered and was connected to many different people before finally obtaining the information we needed. I then selected a gift from their registry at a price point I felt reflected the fact that Hannah and I were once close, I still considered her a friend (it had only been a few months since we had hugged goodbye at graduation, after all), but we now were not involved in each other’s day-to-day lives: a $50 silver-plated tray. For a college freshman living on financial aid, this was a major purchase. It was also an investment in time, since all told I was there nearly 2 hours (over an hour of which was waiting while the dear saleslady made her calls). I worked over the phone with the North Carolina store to select a card and to dictate a message, as well: “Dear Hannah and Joe, I am so happy for you both. May God bestow all of His blessings on your marriage (yes, I knew for a fact that both Hannah and Joe were very religious, this is definitely not the issue)! Warm Wishes, Jo.

I was given the tracking information link where I could confirm that the store had delivered the gift. About 10 days later, it showed that the gift had, in fact, been delivered to the address the store had on file. I assumed, knowing Hannah, that I would hear from her soon. Three years go by, and I hear nothing. Facebook is invented, and I create an account. Hannah is one of the first friends that I locate and add. We send a few messages back and forth and I tentatively say, “I was so happy to hear about your wedding to Joe! I hope my gift arrived in good shape, I was a bit worried having to order it long-distance! lol” I never got a response from her, nor an answer to 3 messages that I sent after that.

Fast-forward nearly five years. A few weeks ago I was speaking to another of our mutual friends, Tanya, who just found out she is expecting. I messaged her to congratulate her and to ask if I could send her anything (I recently baked, froze, and over-nighted several casseroles as part of a schedule set up by a group of us to keep the refrigerator of a former classmate, who had major surgery, stocked with food; I only add this to point out that nobody was put off by my physical distance). Tanya responded, “I can’t think of anything in particular, but thank you so much for asking! Please don’t feel, though, that I won’t be grateful for anything you do send from your heart. I’m not like Hannah! lol” Puzzled, I responded and asked what she meant. After a few more messages it came out and Hannah had been gossiping to a lot of former classmates that I was “strange” for sending her a wedding gift out of the blue when I had moved so far away and that they hadn’t sent me a thank-you because they were afraid I was a “stalker” and they didn’t want to encourage me. I was crushed! I understand not sending something after years of silence, but it had occurred so soon after graduation, I still felt that we were friends.

Please tell me, oh Maven of Etiquette (and I say that with absolute reverence and not a drop of sarcasm), did I do something horrible? Do I owe Hannah an apology? Thank you for reading my novel!

Addendum:  I just wanted to clarify that the store where Hannah and Joe originally registered had put the saleslady on hold while they called the contact number they had (the bride’s mother) and personally received an enthusiastic “sure!” to have the gift shipped to her home. It was in no way a “google” hunt or any other stalkerish nonsense, and I hope it did not come across that way!

Also, the 3 messages I sent to Hannah after she failed to respond were not inquiries about the gift. They were “Happy birthday!”, “came across pictures of us from teacher cadets while packing and thought of you!” and “just dropping a line to say that I hope you are well!”

Maybe, even that being said, I carried out some horrible faux pas and am as clueless as a dunce! I will leave it to your judgment. 🙂    0511-11

I cannot comment on Hannah’s motivation in not wanting any further contact with you but she did have a duty to acknowledge your gift with a handwritten note of thanks.

That said, I’m not too sure about using the internet to search out where a couple’s wedding registry is when one has not been invited to the wedding.   Information as to where a couple is registered should ideally be “pull” information, i.e. guests ask if there is a registry they can use because they have been given an invitation to a wedding.   The disjoint is that you did not receive an invitation which would have entitled you to proceed with an inquiry as to where the registry was.  You should have communicated with Hannah first with congratulations which, if it was acknowledged, was followed by a request for her registry information so that you could give her a gift.   There are levels or steps of communication we need to go through but you skipped a significant step altogether and instead of “pulling” that information from her, you went “rooting” for it instead.    While your intent was not malicious, I can see how someone would interpret that as odd.

Next time, send a nice card wishing them all the best and if you feel you must give a gift, a gift card to a local restaurant would be better idea.

{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori October 25, 2011 at 4:41 am

You sound like a dear and sweet person. She really out on a great friendship. You did nothing wrong.

She could have thanked you and then cut off contact if she wished – but to take a gift and no give thanks? Very, very rude and I would defriend her and forget about her.


lkb October 25, 2011 at 5:25 am

Well, in my own very humble opinion, Jo did nothing wrong and Hannah is clueless.
It’s silly that Hannah seems to have been insulted by a comparatively expensive gift. If I wanted to insult (or stalk) anyone, I wouldn’t spend a major portion of my budget like the OP did.


Janos October 25, 2011 at 6:10 am

My Goodness Hannah is amazingly rude! Not only does she NOT thank her for the gift, but proceeds to bad mouth her to friends?

No OP you didn’t do anything wrong .


Kathryn October 25, 2011 at 6:18 am

I think it was super generous of you, even though you must have known that the friendship would unlikely regain it’s former closeness. I suppose she just didn’t feel that you were that close, despite the car pooling and friendly relationship you had. Which is heartbreaking, and I’ve had to deal with similar situations too.

She really should have sent a thank you note.


FunkyMunky October 25, 2011 at 6:19 am

I can see this from Hannah’s perspective; I’ve been the recipient of an unexpected gift from someone who should not have had my address. And that was quite unnerving. But this is a friend she used to socialise and carpool with (mine was a male admirer with a lack of social skills). Surprised gratitude is the more appropriate response to a gift from a distant friend. And a thank you note is required if you accept the gift; if she truly thought she was being stalked she should have not accepted it (and also told her mother not to give out her address).


Lucky October 25, 2011 at 9:11 am

OP didn’t have Hannah’s address, either. Part of the appeal of registering at a certain store for gifts is that people can send you stuff without needing your address, in case their information is out of date, or if you don’t want your address publicized that much.

That said, this sounds like a mega-awkward case of same planet, different worlds. OP and Hannah were clearly not on the same page regarding the closeness of their friendship. Hannah should have sent a thank-you, and Hannah’s mother should have ‘fessed up (if she didn’t) that she OK’ed the gift, and OP should chalk it up to a learning experience and move on.


Sarah October 25, 2011 at 6:27 am

Maybe Hannah needs a dictionary definition of stalking. Jo, you seem a lovely person and you will have many friends in your life who are not paranoid idiots. I would have been extra touched by a gift from someone I had not invited to the wedding but who wanted to wish me well.


Jenna October 25, 2011 at 7:09 am

I don’t think anything terribly wrong or impolite was done on the poster’s end, but I have to say that I wouldn’t have sent an expensive gift to someone who hadn’t invited me to their wedding (it would embarrass me and make me feel guilty to be the recipient), brought up an unacknowledged wedding gift three years after the fact, or sent three Facebook messages to someone after getting no response to one. It seems like Hannah was sending several signals that she didn’t consider the relationship to be a friendship, which isn’t very nice on her end, but which the poster should consider when she encounters similar behavior in the future. Not that this is an excuse for rudeness, but based on the information, it also sounds like Hannah would have been eighteen at the time of this wedding, which I know for me and others was not a high time for appropriate, thoughtful, non-catty behavior.


Amber October 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

Would that I had such generous stalkers!


Harley Granny October 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

I’d love to be a fly on the wall of Hannah’s brain.
If someone went to so much trouble to congratulate me on my wedding and send me a beautiful gift I would be touched.

The only thing I can think of was that the OP thought that she and Hannah were closer than Hannah did.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and defriend Hannah..personally and cyberly. It sound like you have a life full of good friends you don’t need one that makes you feel like you’re begging for her attention.


Ashley October 25, 2011 at 8:48 am

OP, I don’t think you did anything wrong. Apparently, your relationship was not as close and important to Hannah as it was to you, which is unfortunate. But that doesn’t excuse Hannah’s behavior. Not only should she have sent you a sincere thank you for going out of your way to purchase a nice gift for her, but she should NEVER have bad-mouthed you to other friends. The “stalker” accusation reminds me, for some reason, of a scene from the movie “Mean Girls,” where Lindsey Lohan ditches her friend, Janice, to throw a party with the cools kids. And when Janice gets upset, Lohan accuses her of being “in love” and obsessed with her. Janice tells her that that’s the problem with mean girls; they think everyone loves them when actually everybody hates them. Okay, so it’s not exactly the same thing, but it takes a pretty big ego to think that someone is “stalking” them when they’re actually just being nice.


Kovitlac October 25, 2011 at 8:57 am

The OP did absolutely nothing wrong, other then be friends with an incredibly rude and ungrateful person.


alex October 25, 2011 at 8:59 am

I don’t think you did anything wrong at all. When you go into a store you can pull up any registry and see what was registered for by having the bride’s name and location. I don’t think there was anything stalkerish about that.

I honestly think Hannah was immature and stupid. Just because someone moves far away doesn’t mean you stop talking to them or associating with them. Is this a small town? I also think since Hannah did get married right out of high school that maybe it was immaturity. I would just leave her alone and not send her anymore messages as she obviously has no idea what a stalker is.


--Lia October 25, 2011 at 9:30 am

When I first heard the word “stalker,” it had a meaning of spying with a clear or implied intent to do violent harm. An example would be the ex-boyfriend who watches his ex leave for work, follows her there, and watches again as she enters the building, all without speaking or interacting, but just making sure she knows he’s watching her. Definitely creepy.

Some time later, I heard the word used humorously as anyone who is interested in seeing what someone is up to without interacting. An example would be checking an old classmate’s facebook page without writing a comment or even friending them. Not really creepy, though some might think so.

Now I’m hearing the word used to mean any overture of friendship that one wishes to reject. Example: The above letter. For whatever reasons, Hannah does not wish to have a friendship with the LW, not even a long distance one that would be only exchanging Christmas cards. She made that clear when she didn’t invite the LW to the wedding. (I actually see nothing wrong with that, though I’m usually the one who would rather continue friendships despite all the ways people grow apart and have different interests.) It would seem that Hannah is the one with no social skills. If you want to distance yourself from a potential friend, you write a bland thank-you note. You take longer and longer to answer each letter. You become too busy to get together, and you don’t friend someone on facebook.

None of this business about getting addresses, sending gifts, and writing thank-you notes gets to the real etiquette horror, and that’s gossiping about someone who has tried to do you a kindness. Gossiping that the LW is “strange” for sending a gift? That’s outrageous.

Imagine that a young man likes a young woman and asks her out. Let’s say she doesn’t choose to go out with him. Okay, she turns down the date. He thinks she’s being coy and asks her out a few more times before getting the idea that he’s been rejected. Fine. That’s the way it is sometimes. Rejection (whether you’re the rejector or the rejectee) is never easy, but it’s part of the human condition. But a polite young lady would never brag about crushing his hopes, and she wouldn’t insult him for having the audacity to make the overture. That’s what we’ve got going on here: an insult on top of a rejection. No wonder the LW was crushed.

No, LW, you didn’t do anything wrong. Nor should you be dissuaded from sending gifts in the future. You just ran into the someone who did the wrong thing. Let’s hope she grows up and some day comes to realize that she rejected someone who had the potential to be a nice friend.


Shoegal October 25, 2011 at 9:46 am

I have to honestly say that if I received an unexpected wedding gift from a friend I would be delighted and I don’t think I would automatically assume that this person was stalking me. I would question where she got all her info from but I would then only assume that she used the internet to find out – it was rather nice to send a gift and warm wishes.

Perhaps if it was a random picture frame it would look less stalker like – but the OP managed to find the exact sliver plated tray the couple had registered for – perhaps a little over the top. Regardless Hannah should have acknowledged the gift and thanked the OP even if she felt uncomfortable about further contact.

What is unfortunate was that it was an act of kindness and done only from the goodness of the Jo’s heart – but it was twisted and made ugly by Hannah. Here is some advice though – don’t go apologizing – and stop conversing on Facebook to her. Anything you do from this point will look like stalker moves from people who have already have those glasses on.


Hemi Halliwell October 25, 2011 at 9:52 am

Hannah should have written a thank-you note because she did accept your gift.
I do not use Facebook but from what I have heard, you have to accept friend requests in order to be able to communicate with someone. If Hannah felt your behavior was “stalker-ish”, why did she accept your request?
Also, talking about you behind your behind your back to former classmates (basically gossiping) and making fun of the fact that you sent her a wedding gift is, in my opinion, extremely tacky and rude.
At this point, OP, I would just leave it be, not contact or communicate with Hannah any further and enjoy life with friends who truly appreicate and care about about you.


Just Laura October 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm

You do not need to accept a friend request (or even submit one) in order to message someone on Facebook, unless their privacy settings have specifically been set to that.


MonkeysMommy October 29, 2011 at 3:56 pm

But she does specify she added Hannah to FB. I’m with others, defriend and forget!
You did nothing wrong!


Monica October 25, 2011 at 10:24 am

Am I really supposed to call and bother the family to ask about registries (after I receive a wedding or shower invite) when 5 seconds on Google will give me the answer?


Ehelldame October 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm


If you cannot afford a few minutes of your time to call someone to congratulate them and chat then I can certainly see how you would view as “bothering” them since it obviously bothers you to even think of doing it. What kind of relationship is it when casual, friendly communication is viewed as an annoyance?


Monica October 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I understand and agree that ideally, yes, getting registry info would be a good time to call and chat with the happy couple. But when you have a gigantic family like mine, chances are there are hundreds of family members invited and I would hope they won’t all call to ask where to buy gifts.

Once I get the official invite – which is when I usually start thinking about the gift, chances are I’ve seen this family member or friend multiple times since the engagement and have congratulated a-plenty and registries just never came up in conversation. To call them to ask a question I can find the answer to on my own seems redundant.

It’s not that I wouldn’t call them for other reasons, I just don’t think looking online for this information should be considered skipping steps and rooting for information, especially for people who actually receive invitations.


Maitri October 26, 2011 at 9:39 am

The difference is that you were invited, Monica, and the OP wasn’t invited to Hannah’s wedding and looked up her registry info anyway.


Jamesy October 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I’m with you, Monica. I don’t think it’s rude to find the couple’s online registry and it does seem redundant when you can simply congratulate a couple and then this information out for yourself. They created it, they received a gift from a friend. Thank you, you’re welcome. Done. No steps skipped.


B October 25, 2011 at 10:43 am

It was very kind of Jo to send the gift. I can see how Hannah might have thought she was angling for an invite, so it might have been better to send a gift after the wedding. But I think Hannah should have assumed good intentions, and to call someone a stalker for doing one nice, and not truly intrusive, act is odd. I recently got married, and I would have found it sweet to receive a gift from a faraway friend. I might feel guilty about not inviting her to the wedding, but that would be my problem, not hers.

A friend of mine who lives in another part of the country recently had a baby. It occurred to me that she was probably registered somewhere, so I checked a couple of the big stores (online), found her registry and sent her something. She saw it as a fun surprise, not an intrusion. Additionally, the way registries are set up, the recipient can hide their address, so the gift giver doesn’t even always know where the gift is going.


Jay October 25, 2011 at 10:52 am

I assume the writer is female? I think this does make a bit of difference in the story interpretation..

But in any case, weird though it may be, it deserved an acknowledgment. And she DID accept the friend request from facebook, so it wasn’t like Hannah was REALLY worried about being stalked.


LovleAnjel October 25, 2011 at 10:56 am

I don’t think the OP did anything wrong. I received a gift from people I had not invited, but were family of one of my long-time friends, who was a bridesmaid. They received a very enthusiastic thank you card (I also asked my friend to extend my thanks when she saw them next).

That’s not creepy, that’s awesome.

As time passed, and no further attempts at communication were made, did Hannah and Joe begin to feel embarrassed by their actions? Did their consciences bother them? Perhaps the later cool reception was because they were embarrassed by what they did and preferred to forget about the whole thing (if not, then there’s no hope for them).


Clair Seulement October 25, 2011 at 11:01 am

Did the store furnish the couple’s address, whether by providing it directly or as a feature of the e-mail tracking notice? If so, that’s inexcusable.

Also, the admin’s comments on the internet registry search resonate with me. I had a small-ish (100 people) wedding, for which I created an online registry. At the time, I was managing a project at work that also employed a freelancer who, in the year and a half that I’d worked with her, I’d only met in person once and communicated with exclusively about business. In fact she only knew I was getting married because I had to tell her that I would be out of the office; because I usually take my vacation at another time of year and for a shorter period of time, I found it prudent to mention that I was going on my honeymoon. Also, my name would soon change, so I found this all relevant to business in some way. Anyway, she expressed her well-wishes; shortly afterward, I was shocked to receive a package at my home containing one of the more expensive items from my registry, purchased by her.

I was grateful for the gift and thought it was incredibly generous and thoughtful, but I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward after that, like I’d misinterpreted my relationship with the woman or owed her something more in return (beyond the thank you note I’d sent). It also was not lost on me that she could only have found the registry via Google–she doesn’t know anyone that I know, and no one from my job was invited to my wedding. Given that these feelings can’t help but creep in, I definitely think a card or a note is a better gesture.

Lastly, I may be reading too much into the post, but I wondered whether the OP’s motivations might have been construed as self-serving by the bride, as though the intent was to make her feel bad.


Cat October 25, 2011 at 11:05 am

I have been considering this very problem. An adopted child, I found a birth half -sister just over a year ago. I have met her daughter on several occasions and I know she is getting married. I am not invited to the wedding though I would have loved to have been. I would like to send a gift/money to my niece, but I am afraid it would look as if am either “fishing” for an invitation or am trying to make them feel bad for not inviting me.
I find the charge of your “stalking” them by sending a gift one step on the paranoid side. If you were calling and hanging up or peering through their window, you’re a stalker. Sending a long-distance gift, even from their registry…not so much.


Vrinda October 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Cat, can you send the gift after the wedding? No one will accuse you of angling for an invitation then.


Danielle October 25, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I concur with Vrinda. Send her a gift after the wedding.


Cat October 26, 2011 at 12:09 am

I could send a gift post-wedding, but the message then might be taken as something along the lines of, “Well, you didn’t invite me, but I am giving you this anyway”. It’s hard to know what one should do without offending my niece or my sister. I am rather on the side of doing nothing.

The OP was trying to be nice to a friend and she was accused publically of being a stalker.


Gracie C. October 26, 2011 at 10:21 am

Could you just send a nice, heartfelt card?


Vrinda October 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Then, I think the best thing is – depending on how well you know your birth sister – to ask her. Tell her that you understand that you cannot be invited, but want to send her daughter a gift – out of kindness, and not because you want an invitation. If you contact her afterwards, emphasize that you are doing it as a gesture of kindness to her, and are not upset about not being invited. Being honest is the best way to go, in this matter. You know your birth sister. We don’t, so you know whether or not you can speak to her this way.


Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Tone makes a HUGE difference. If you can, get one of those recordable cards, and speak your message of well-wishes, with as much enthusiasm as you can. I agree that you should send the gift after the wedding.

If you do send the card/gift before the wedding, you might make it a more lengthy letter, in which you can wax enthusiastic about your plans for that same time period. “I’m really looking forward to my family trip on the week of X. We’ve been planning it for months! Although we couldn’t possibly make it to your wedding, knowing that my sister and her family are also having a wonderful time on that same day will just make our time so much better. We’ll be thinking of you. Oh, and by the way, I want to send you a present after the wedding, and all the craziness of the event has died down. Would you like me to send it care of (sister’s name), or is there another address you would prefer?”

Make sure it’s obvious that you are already unavailable for the wedding, so you can’t really be angling for an invitation you’d just have to decline, but you are definitely happy for her.

If you have nothing planned for that weekend, plan something, even if it’s just going to a high school play. “The local high school kids have worked really hard on this production, and I want to support them.” And remember – enthusiasm!

MellowedOne October 25, 2011 at 11:08 am

So this occurred when both OP and Bride were just out of high school? I suppose that could account for the actions of the bride. A mature adult would (hopefully) realize the necessity to send a thank you for a gift even though she was concerned about the OP’s stalker-ish qualities.

I am more worried about the OP than anything else. Her actions bespeak a lack of friends, as she is making serious effort to reach friends that she basically lost contact with after high school graduation. The biggest clue to this was her comment about Facebook. Speaking from experience, when you sign up for Facebook, the first people you look for are good friends. However the OP states that the bride was one of the first people she looked up and added. And this was after the wedding.

I know people like this, and it can feel suffocating to the one on the receiving end. I am hoping the OP will discover a positive change of circumstances in her life to bring true happiness and caring friends.


Jen October 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I’m failing to see your point in your assumption of her lack of friends.

She made a nice gesture that went unacknowledged and then later was ridiculed for it by the recipient.


Serenity S. October 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I agree with Jen. You can’t assume based on that statement that OP has few friends. Also, I don’t see what is wrong with wanting to get back in touch with old friends as long as one doesn’t keep pushing it if they are not interested. Besides from what I understand at the time OP added Hannah to Facebook OP did not realize that Hannah had been bashing her as a stalker.


MellowedOne October 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I do agree that giving a gift was a nice thing, and I definitely feel she should have been thanked for it. And of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to reconnect with old friends.

But these are the things to think about. Why didn’t the OP just contact the bride? They were such ‘good friends’ and had only parted ways 3 months prior, she didn’t have a phone number?

And, as I mentioned, the Facebook issue. The OP joins FB and one of the first people she looks up is a person she hasn’t spoken to in 3 years?

I don’t see the OP as some sort of weird stalker, only as someone reaching out for a friendship that apparently doesn’t exist. The OP sounds like a nice person, I hope she finds friends worthy of her efforts.


Joy October 26, 2011 at 10:54 am

When you get a facebook account, the first thing that happens is it will pull a list of “people you may know” from friends you’ve already added, email contact lists and college/high school class alumni so you can find new friends easier. It’s very possible this is how Hannah was found and added so quickly — seriously, making a mountain out of a molehill here. I am “friends” on facebook with dozens of people I rarely speak to, if at all and haven’t seen in years and if I joined FB today as a new account owner I’m pretty certain I’d be more interested in finding people I haven’t seen in a long time and catching up with their lives vs. adding people I see all the time.


Lilac October 25, 2011 at 10:46 pm

The OP simply seems to be someone who really tries to maintain connections. Some of the first people I looked for first on Facebook were some very good friends from the past with whom I had lost contact over the years. I see and speak to my other friends regularly so connecting with old friends was one of the reasons I joined Facebook. Different people have different priorities.


Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm

When internet social networking came out, I didn’t want to look up people I saw all the time. Why should I? I see them, face to face, all the time. That’s way better than online communication. I was more curious about my old school friends.

Eventually, I might add the closer friends, as more and more people make their announcements online, rather than in long, handwritten letters to all their correspondents. The world has changed. Attitudes change at different rates than technology.

Nowadays, if I joined an online networking site, such as Facebook, I would go ahead and look for all my social circle, because I know that they make announcements there. However, I have not joined such a site, and really don’t care to. I prefer my face-to-face interactions.

So, yeah, I get it with the OP. She has up-close-and-personal friends, and Facebook is for quick communication with the long-distance ones.

A sweet woman like this surely has lots of friends. For example, the mutual friend who told her of the wedding in the first place. And the friend who was having a baby, and promised gratitude.


Bint October 25, 2011 at 11:45 am

I think you sound a very sweet, generous person and I’m sorry Hannah was so rude, unkind and unappreciative.

Although truthfully, in her place I would have been pretty freaked out that someone I hadn’t spoken to for months nor invited to my wedding had sent me an expensive present off my list. I’d be mortified I hadn’t invited that person to the wedding! I also wonder if back when you carpooled, she didn’t think you were friends, but more someone she had to give a lift to every day? That might explain her discomfort a bit more. That’s not wrong, it’s just a misunderstanding.

You sound like you do huge amounts for people, as you just have with Tanya, and this can be overwhelming for some at times. This doesn’t excuse Hannah though. You didn’t do anything wrong – at worse you were a little naive and over-enthusiastic, and she was pretty awful about it.

Fortunately it sounds from what Tanya said that Hannah’s friends weren’t impressed at her attitude!


No Wedding October 26, 2011 at 8:56 am

That’s what I was thinking after reading this – Hannah didn’t think of her as a friend, but as someone she rode to school with every day, maybe occasionally grabbed lunch with on the way home, whatever. And yes, Hannah comes off sounding like someone who is full of herself with the “stalker” thing.


Meegs October 25, 2011 at 11:48 am

A friend sends you a lovely wedding gift and your thought process immediately goes to OMG she’s stalking me? Um, no. Get over yourself Hannah.


Mary October 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I personally don’t see what the OP did wrong, except I would have just gotten the contact information from the mutual friend that was actually invited.

I don’t find it too creepy to look up the registry information on the internet. I have done it in the past for weddings I’m attending. I find it easier to just look up the four major store sites (Target, Macys, Kohls and Crate and Barrel) in our area that a couple would most likely be registered and search the registry than to try and get ahold of the couple.


Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I don’t usually bother with registries. The only time I do is when I feel the urge to give a gift to a newer acquaintance, with whom I do not have all the information I would need to plan a gift on my own. For example, if there’s someone I met recently, and like, and I find out she’s getting married, I’ll find out her registry information and get her a small trifle (like $20 or less trifle) off her registry. That way, I don’t have to worry about her taste (something I’d consider with a close friend), or her address (registries usually have options to deliver the gift, and you never even see the address. Even the delivery confirmation is a simple email, stating it was delivered, not where). It makes it all quite simple and easy, and simple and easy is about all I’m willing to do for a new acquaintance.

Therefore, OP’s behavior in getting a gift doesn’t seem so over-the-top, to me. Well, the $50 does. I would have gone with a pizza slicer or ice cream scoop. That shows that I care, but not too much.


Maribeth October 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm

If she was all that creeped out by the unexpected gift, she should have returned the gift. Accepting the gift means she needs to send a thank you note.


Ashley October 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I’m kind of split on this one. I realize OP meant no ill will towards Hannah, but if the relationship had reached a point where you weren’t getting invited to her wedding and didn’t even know an address to ship a gift to, it might seem a bit odd if a gift suddenly shows up…but regardless, Hannah’s reaction to badmouth you as some kind of stalker over one very slight misstep in the grand scheme of things, yeah, wow. If you had shown up at the wedding uninvited, yeah, then maybe call you a stalker, but just sending a gift out of good will because you are happy for her, that barely qualifies.


sv October 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm

What a strange response to a heartfelt gesture!


Serenity S. October 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I think OP didn’t do anything wrong. Perhaps it was a bit socially inept to send a gift without being invited, but it wasn’t rude or stalkerish. OP felt that she and Hannah were somewhat good friends. It seems like you are better off without Hannah’s friendship though, OP. She seems like a backstabber. Someone who pretends to be your friend to your face, but gossips about you behind your back.


Serenity S. October 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Oh, and I agree that it was rude of Hannah to not send a thank you note. I agree that she should have had the gift returned to sender if she really felt it was an attempt at stalking.


Ashley October 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I agree with the idea that she should have sent the gift back if it made her feel stalked somehow. That would have at least been better than flat out not acknowledging it in any way


ElegantErica October 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm

My husband sent two of our wedding invitations to co-worker friends of his. He did not ask them for their addresses; he looked them up on the internet… he wanted it to be a surprise. I thought that was weird and stalkerish.

I can understand Hannah’s point of view, but since she accepted the gift then she should have sent a thank-you note.


ferretrick October 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I can kind of see where searching out their registry and buying a fairly expensive gift for a friendship that was probably over and done with was a bit over the top. But I think Hannah has watched too much Law and Order. And-if she truly thinks you are a dangerous stalker, the thing to do would have been to send the gift back unopened. Not keep it, fail to offer proper thanks, and then badmouth the person to mutual friends.


ladycrim October 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I’ve searched online for both wedding and baby registries. Last year, two friends got married in a relatively small wedding. Due to the restricted guest list, I was not invited and did not expect to be. However, I still sent them a small gift from their registry and got a nice TYN in return (along with a “That was so sweet of you!” from the bride next time I saw her in person).

LW might have been a bit pushy with all the notes she sent Hannah afterward, but I don’t think she committed a faux pas by looking for the registry in the first place. Also, it’s odd to me that Hannah and Joe didn’t have a delivery address set up with the store. I thought that was standard practice. (Of course, stores usually hide the address – but in this case they had permission from the MOB, and it wasn’t the bride;s address that was given.)


Kaiti October 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm

It seems to me that Hanna either has a paranoid streak, or is a bit full of herself. If she didn’t want a gift from OP, she should have marked it return to sender.


TheVapors October 25, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I don’t understand how so many people can think this is weird.

Jo went out of her way to send an old (not even that old!) friend a wedding present, and everyone suddenly thinks it’s odd. It’s not odd. It’s thoughtful.

She sent a present as a heartfelt gesture, expecting nothing in return except maybe a thank you card (which EVERYONE deserves if they send a gift), and this Hannah girl goes around gossiping and doesn’t even send a note.

Hannah ACCEPTED the Facebook friendship. They sent a few pleasant messages back and forth, if nothing else. If Hannah truly thought it was stalking, she would have not encouraged any friendly behavior.

Hannah is the only one burning in the fiery pits of EHell. What a selfish, odd person that Hannah is.


Anon October 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I’m split on this one. OP sounds a little overbearing, but send a thank you note. Send it without a return address if you have to.


Baku-chan October 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I’m surprised anybody would find this creepy. It’s not like Jo and Hannah hadn’t seen each other in years. 3 months really isn’t that long; it’s not really weird for her to want to acknowledge Hannah’s wedding. As for not asking for a registry, why should she have to if she could easily find it on her own? Judging from the fact that Jo even found it, it was a public registry. I’ve had people give me money on Amazon. I didn’t tell them I had an account on Amazon, they just looked it up themselves. I didn’t find it creepy and was very grateful.


Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm

You can give people money on Amazon? I didn’t know that. That’s wonderful! Now I can contribute to a wish list without worrying that I can’t cover the full price of an item.

Amazon is amazing.


Danielle October 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Ms. Jeanne, I agree with you that generally speaking, you should speak to someone and ask them before sending a gift, but I still think Hannah overreacted. She probably thought the poster was edging for a wedding invite that she couldn’t give, so she decided to see the act of friendly generosity in the most negative light she could. I don’t think she honestly believed that the poster was a “stalker”…rational people who didn’t want to “encourage” that sort of behavior would have sent the gift back if they really believed malicious or creepy intent was behind it.

It is really sad too, that people don’t realize that you don’t have to be invited to something to send someone a gift. Those of us with social graces realize that often times we will not be invited to friends’ weddings: budgets often make these events just for close family members, or people don’t invite those who live far away so they don’t feel obligated to attend or send something. Those of us with a generous spirit will send gifts just because we care to do so, even when we aren’t getting anything in return. Folks like Hannah do not know that, because it wouldn’t occur to them to do the same thing in that circumstance.


admin October 26, 2011 at 10:26 am


I agree that generous people give gifts regardless of whether they are invited to the wedding or not. In our church, there has been a shift from these huge, “cattle call” weddings of 350-400 guests to much smaller affairs of 100-150 guests. That means many people are not invited who do have some friendship connection to the bride, groom or parents. I encourage people to give a gift as if they had been invited. But the difference is, there *is* a relationship that while lacking the intimacy of a close friendship, is nonetheless an active interaction.


Laura October 25, 2011 at 7:59 pm

We also don’t know when Hannah complained to Tanya (which is rude in and of itself.) Maybe she grew up some in the five years after the wedding?


b-rock October 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm

yeah, i agree with the majority of the comments, hannah’s behavior is odd to me. it had only been a few months, and many friends go that long without contact, particularly after high school when everyone is moving on to college or work and learning how to be an adult. it was a nice gesture to send a gift to someone the OP considered a friend. whether or not hannah had the same view of the friendship does not exempt her from sending a thank you note or excuse her from badmouthing the OP to mutual friends. OP, you did nothing wrong, just write off the “friendship” as a lesson learned and move on with your life!


Lilac October 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I am very surprised that proper etiquette would dictate calling the bride or a member of the family to find out where the bride is registered. It doesn’t seem polite to require the family or bridal party to field many, many phone calls or to require the guests to phone the bride about the gift registry when the information is usually readily available. My understanding is that it is not proper etiquette to impose upon your guest ANYTHING that has to do with a gift. No registry cards, wishing wells, begging poems, etc. Guests are not required to bring a gift. If they aren’t even expected to even bring one, should they be required to phone the bride about one? Of course, they could buy off registry but usually this invites a call to the bride or bride’s family too. Personally, I would rather chat with a bride about the wedding or honeymoon than the sometimes awkward topic of gift registries or gifts in general. Clicking on a few popular store websites at my leisure to search for a registry seems much more polite and definitely more convenient for myself as well as the bride.


Marie October 26, 2011 at 1:59 am

Now I’m wondering if I have also been “odd.” A few weeks ago, my mom mentioned attending the wedding of my dad’s friend’s daughter. We used to see them often when our parents got together, but I don’t think I’ve seen or talked to her in a decade, and I’ve never met her husband. When my mom told me about the wedding, I just felt like sending a gift. I asked my mom where they were registered, ordered a gift online to be delivered to them, and separately sent a congratulatory card. Just something like “My mom was telling me how much she enjoyed your wedding, and I wanted to pass on my best wishes.”

Now I’m wondering if I should have just stuck with the card. It felt totally normal at the time for an “old family friend,” but now that I’ve read this, it does seem pretty weird that I sent a gift when they had not sent me any information about the wedding and we have been out of touch for so long.


Gracie C. October 26, 2011 at 10:26 am

I don’t think we should all have to modify our behaviors to the level of someone who thinks a person they had a relationship with 3 months earlier is stalking them because they sent a nice wedding gift. It’s funny – people will invite people they barely know to rake in the wedding gifts, but someone who sends one just out of the goodness of their heart is a stalker? Whatever.

I think it’s lovely you sent a gift, Marie, and I wouldn’t give it a second thought.


stephanie October 26, 2011 at 2:15 am

So now not only are registries putting pressure on people to buy gifts that are out of their price range, or inappropriate, or otherwise gift grabby, but apparently you are NOT ALLOWED to purchase a gift from a registry if you are not invited to the wedding (ie specifically told to buy one of these specific gifts?) I totally disagree with the Admin here. The ONLY information that is normally needed to look up a registry is the couple’s names and a wedding date- this is public info! The couple puts the address on the registry, therefore it becomes public info. If the OP felt moved to give a gift, and considerately thought of using the registry so as not to send a double gift or whatever, she should be graciously thanked, and we all should be proud of her. The fact that you are dictating that her friendship was only worth a gift card (not always apreciated, quickly forgotten) seems pretty rude to me.
Honestly, there are quite a few people with whom I have not spoken in far longer than 3 months that I would be overjoyed to hear from, and if it were thought a wedding gift, a stalkery thought would never cross my mind. In all likelihood, Hannah was not being genuine with OP, and acted to her face like they were friends while not enjoying her company. That’s fine as long as you keep it to yourself, but as soon as you start spreading nasty feelings about someone, it WILL get back to them.


Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 4:00 pm

As a teen and young adult, I was often told by my parents that I should be friends with someone. I was told to spend time with them, and carpool with them, and what not, and it was expected that I would behave in a friendly way. Whether I felt that friendship or not, of course, could not be forced, only behavior. Sometimes, a true friendship grew. Sometimes it didn’t. Either way, I learned how to behave well, even if I didn’t feel it. It was a life-lesson my parents wanted me to learn: be kind to everyone regardless of your relationship.

Perhaps it was a similar situation with Hannah? Her parents told her to carpool with the OP, and told her to be friendly with her, as well. It was only a little while until graduation, so she should be able to maintain a “friendship” that long, and perhaps a real friendship would blossom from that.

This may sound hypocritical. The idea was not to live a lie. The idea is to fake it till you make it, and if you can’t make it, you can at least learn to control your behavior. This skill has served me very well in life, teaching me to smile when I wanted to scream and cry, and behave in a properly respectful and civil manner, even when I really didn’t like a person. I can always be counted on to be civil at a wedding, even if you invite someone I HATE, because it’s just for one day, and I know HOW to behave as if we are not enemies, for that short time.

So, the idea of it being a feigned friendship doesn’t surprise me. That does not, in any way, excuse Hannah’s behavior. The thing to do, if she had been ordered to befriend the OP, is to express her gratitude for the present, and then just let the friendship fade away, naturally.

True friendship will blossom wherever two compatible souls interact. It’s getting that interaction going in the first place that is difficult. We’ve all heard stories about unlikely freindships. Many times, the people are forced together, and it is not until they get to know each other that they realize they are kindred spirits.


stephanie October 31, 2011 at 2:12 am

Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant. Where it goes wrong is when you start talking about it, like “I only talk to so and so because my parents make me,” or “She thinks I’m her friend but she’s annoying.” I believe in being friendly with everyone, and if someone rubs me the wrong way, I will either distance myself from that person as neutrally as possible, or bring it up in a constructive way if it’s appropriate. There are times when I just need to vent, but I try to keep that to just my family, and keep gossip for the sake of gossip out of my life.
Anyway I don’t think OP was wrong to send a gift, but sometimes people are just not on the same page regarding friendship. Just a little example of how different the same behavior can seem depending on the perspective: I was talking to my mom recently about kids being mean to each other, and she brought up a girl I knew in elementary school, who she thought was very mean to me. Actually this girl was desperate to be my friend, to the point where she went to the principal when I did not want to play with her at recess, which of course was very embarrassing for me, and to my mom it came off as very mean. She probably thought she was being nice to me, but it didn’t come off that way. There may have been something else about the situation that contributed to the reaction, but Hannah still should have sent a nice thank you note, and refrained from gossiping about it, however she felt.


Library Diva October 26, 2011 at 9:55 am

This story makes me sad. OP sounds like a lovely person, and was made to feel as if she’d done something creepy and wrong, when all she was attempting to do was congratulate and honor someone she viewed as a friend. She tried to send a lovely message with the gift, to make a statement that although they’d lost contact in the few months since graduation and Hannah hadn’t sent her an invitation, all of that was forgiven and OP genuinely wished her happiness and hoped the friendship was continued. Instead, her effort and financial sacrifice was ignored, and she was gossiped about behind her back. OP, focus your efforts on those that appreciate it and don’t waste any more energy on Hannah. Don’t let the experience with Hannah sour you, either. As the comments show, most people appreciate nice gestures like the one you tried to make.


--Lia October 26, 2011 at 10:37 am

(My earlier post in this thread was not put through by the moderator, though I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was too long. Here’s the shorter version.)

“Stalking” to mean an overture of friendship that one wishes to reject? I’ve never heard the word used that way. For whatever reasons, Hannah does not wish to have a friendship with the LW, not even a long distance one that would be only exchanging Christmas cards. She made that clear when she didn’t invite the LW to the wedding. (I actually see nothing wrong with that, though I’m usually the one who would rather continue friendships despite all the ways people grow apart and have different interests.) It would seem that Hannah is the one with no social skills. If you want to distance yourself from a potential friend, you write a bland thank-you note. You take longer and longer to answer each letter. You become too busy to get together, and you don’t friend someone on facebook.

None of this business about getting addresses, sending gifts, and writing thank-you notes gets to the real etiquette horror, and that’s gossiping about someone who has tried to do you a kindness. Gossiping that the LW is “strange” for sending a gift? That’s outrageous.

No, LW, you did nothing wrong. Nor should you be dissuaded from sending gifts in the future. You just ran into the someone who did the wrong thing. Let’s hope she grows up and some day comes to realize that she rejected someone who had the potential to be a nice friend.


Enna October 26, 2011 at 11:02 am

It would have be better for the OP to get in touch with Hannah first. However that does not justify Hannah’s actions in not sending a thank-you note or gossiping.

If someone is being sent gifts by a stalker e.g. real stalker then gifts should be returned. If Hannah felt she was being stalked by the OP she should have returned the gift as accepting gifts can encourage real stalkers. Hannah couldn’t have been that offended or concerned if she kept the gitft. The OP is clearly generous, she shouldn’t waste it on someone like Hannah who won’t appricate it or interpets it in the wrong way.


Merry Mrs October 27, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Sorry no real stalker gifts should not be returned or acknoledged in any way. Let’s say I’m stalking you and send you a daily gift , do you really have to go through the expense and time to mail them back to me? Not to mention the most important part do I as your stalker get to froce you to remain in contact with me by making you return gifts.

Note : to spite my following post I still don’t actually beleive OP crossed anywhere into stalker range , it’s possible but I think it’s more likely Hanna was just mean or extremly paranoid about stalking.


Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Just as no one is obliged to give a gift, whether or not they have been invited, no one is ever wrong for giving a gift, whether or not they have been invited.

The choice of gift may be wrong (frozen meat to a vegetarian or something that would be personally instulting or frightening), but the *act* of giving a gift is not wrong.

It seems to me that Hannah is one of those people who doesn’t believe in any form of long-distance relationship. You moved away, ergo you no longer have a relationship. It’s a sad belief, but it does exist.


Wink-n-Smile October 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Another possiblity:

Hannah is one of those brides who doesn’t do thank you notes. Three years pass, and she communicates with an old buddy on Facebook. Suddenly, faced with the accusation that she has been remiss in her social duties (writing the thank you), she decides to deflect blame by accusing the OP of “stalking” her. She does not accuse the OP directly, via their Facebook communication, however, as that would be too easy to refute. She takes the coward’s way and talks about the OP behind her back, to discredit the OP and “excuse” her own behavior.

I’d be very curious to know when Hanna first began calling OP a stalker. The timing would explain a lot.


Merry Mrs October 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I am going to very strongly disagree. If you actually think someone is a stalker you under no circumstances send a thank you for a gift.

I don’t think sending a gift to friend you had just parted company with 3 months ealier was weird or stalkerish in anyway. There are a few clues though that this was a little more then just sending a gift …………. OP went to High School with this girl and in that year she didn’t get her address (ok I can see that) but she didn’t call thebride or even ask a friend for the bride’s address she found the bride’s contact info through a store and sat there for a hour while the sales lady made sevral calls to get the information. That is where it became a little odd, it’s not that OP sent a gift it is the odd method of tracking information she used. I wold be suprised to recive a gift at my home from someone who never ha my address , I would be even more perplexed if they obtained my mother’s address though a store half way across the country, and a little creeped out if I knew they spent a hour in the store trying to get the address(there is no particular reason to think Bride knew how long it took OP). I’m not saying OP was creepy but she was more persistent then most people would have been.

I’d want to hear Hanna side before I concluded she was overreacting , if for example OP never had even Hanna’s phone number/email/myspace (myspace was around in 2002 , right?); Then I would say sending a gift was slightly inappropriate. If OP asked HAnna for additonal contact information and was turned down then sending a gift was widly inappropriate , but no OP should not apoligise. If the only way you have to contact someone is waiting outside a class room sending a wedding gift to an address(this was Bride’s mother’s address pressumely it was Hanna’s still or 3 months ago when she was still in HS) , you need the internet and a hour of phone calls to get could be considered stalkerish.

Secondly , it’s possible Bride did not have OP contact information the shipping address may have been the orignal store , the card was also sent from the store.


Courtsmad October 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I will say that if a person who I had one class with and carpooled with, went out of their way to track me down after I didn’t invite them to my wedding would freak me out a little. The stalker comment was a bit much (and who knows if its really true or if Tanya just wanted to start some drama)…But if it is obvious that Hannah has no interest in engaging in a friendship with OP then let her go. Its her loss right 😉


Xtina November 4, 2011 at 9:31 am

Hannah is surely flattering herself if she really thought Jo was being stalkerish. And whether or not Hannah did think it, she owed Jo a thank-you note. That would have been the minimum amount of proper contact she shoud have kept it at if she thought it was weird that someone would send a gift without being invited to the wedding. I had a few people send me baby gifts who had not been invited to my shower, and I just thought it was very thoughtful, and communicated with them as such.

The only thing I’ll fault on the part of Jo here is that perhaps a $50 tray and having searched out their registry was a bit much for a person with whom you had not kept up with and who had not invited you to their event–maybe a little cheaper, more generic item such as a picture frame, or simply a card, would have been more appropriate in this case.

Unfortunately, you’ll cross paths with many “friends for a moment” in life; people with whom you have a seemingly close relationship with for a while, and then they disappear completely out of your life, and act as though all that you’d shared was nothing–or as Hannah did, act like you’re a nut for thinking that you were still friendly enough to initiate contact. Obviously, these people are not worth worrying about and you can’t really tell who among your circle of friends will turn out to be that person, but just enjoy your relationships while you have them and don’t be surprised if some people don’t feel the same way as you about them.


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