Thank You Note After A Falling Out

by admin on February 2, 2012

Approximately four months ago I attended a wedding. It was an early morning wedding, the lunch reception was lovely and all in all it really was a special day.

The bride was a good friend of mine, we initially met through a mutual friend and hit if off wonderfully. Upon asking her what she would like for a wedding gift (her invitation did not include any note about a registry or wishing well) she stated that anything “housey” would be appreciated (her and her hubby-to-be had just purchased their first home), but if I could not find anything I thought suitable, a gift voucher or money would be fine. I looked around for weeks before the wedding until I finally found something – a hand-blown glass vase at some markets near where I lived. All the vases and other items in the stall were very individual, I knew a gift like this would be a one-off, no-one else could possibly get the same. So I decided to purchase it, but as it only cost $30.00 I added a gift voucher for a shopping chain to it, for $80.00 so their wedding gift totalled $110.00

I’m not 100% sure of etiquette rules when it comes to the giving of wedding gifts, this was the first one I had attended on my own, all other weddings had been attended with my parents when family members were married. However, I was informed that the “general rule” is to approximate between $50 and $100 per plate for the reception and purchase a gift that equates something around that value. As I was single at the time of the wedding and did not have a plus one, I would say that my gift was appropriate if following the “general rule” (please correct me if this is wrong).

Shortly after they returned from their honeymoon (about two weeks after the wedding), the new bride and I had a falling out. We are both straight-forward and to the point people, which is why I think we butt heads, but it was part of our friendship. We had had disagreements before, but this particular one started after the topic of divorce came. It was during a discussion while we were having lunch with other friends, but perhaps it was something to do with just being married, or the fact that her parents are divorced (for about 10 years) but something I said triggered her, and now she won’t speak to me. I have tried contacting her several times, to apologise and explain that perhaps I was being insensitive, but at the time, I was in line with the discussion and didn’t mean to offend anyone especially her. But she won’t speak to me.

As yet I still have not received a thank you for the gifts I gave them on their wedding day. I know that they have been sent (earlier mentioned mutual friend said she received one) but I haven’t gotten one. So my question is: even though we are no longer friends, should I still be thanked? I did not extend my budget in my purchase, and feel that though the gift voucher is nothing special, it is what she asked for and along with it was a unique vase that couldn’t be replicated. We were friends at the time of her wedding and though we have since stopped talking, surely just a generic “thank you for the wedding gift” would be better than nothing wouldn’t it? I would be interested in hearing your advice. 1219-11

Thank heavens the invitation did not include any registry or wishing well information. That would have been intolerably rude.   And your “understanding” that a wedding gift should be of equal value to what the per plate reception costs are is quite inappropriate.  Unless you and other guests have acquired powers of ESP or divine omniscience to know for certain what has been spent on a reception that has not occurred yet,  you really have no way of knowing except to speculate and that is just rude to contemplate what your host is spending on you.   (Conversely, it is wildly inappropriate to speculate, guide, direct or expect one’s wedding guests to give XXX amount of money or cash value of gifts.)

Yes, a Thank You note is required for all gifts one is given regardless of the state of the relationship at the time of the writing of the note.   At the moment the gift was given, it can be assumed that all parties are congenial enough to give and receive gifts among themselves so a note of gratitude is in order.   However, I’m not sure what the letter writer would want to do with that information.   One cannot demand to be given a Thank You note or hint around for one.   My best advice is to wait it out for a few months or a year, try to reconcile the relationship again and if all fails, just chalk it all up as a life lesson and move on.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay February 2, 2012 at 11:11 am

Yeah.. there’s really no question in this question. “Should I be thanked?”? Of course you should.


Enna February 2, 2012 at 11:30 am

I agree with Admin on this one. If she chooses not to send a thank-you card that is rude and immature. However do giver her time. If she hasn’t responded then maybe she doesn’t want to know. HOw did you apologise? If you said “I’m sorry if” or “Perhaps I was insensative” they aren’t real apologies. You have made an effort in tyring to apologise but you have to say it properly.


Ashley February 2, 2012 at 11:36 am

I have never understood the whole idea that guests are supposed to somehow know how much their plate costs and to try and cover the cost of it with a gift. It’s a rather rampant idea actually. I am a frequent user of Yahoo Answers, and quite often in the Wedding section of that site there are people asking how much to give for gifts. If five answers are given, at least two of them will tell the person to try and cover the cost of their plate. It’s crazy really. I always respond to those answers by saying “Unless the couple has been bragging about how much they spent, or the asker of this question has suddenly developed ESP, how are they supposed to know how much their plate cost?” It’s a silly “rule” and should be ignored.

As for the thank you note situation, I agree with admin. You can’t really go fishing for a thank you note…you are entitled to one, but given the status of your friendship with this woman, I’d be awfully surprised if you get one. Who knows though, you might get lucky, she might just be one of those brides who feels like she can send thank you notes whenever she wants.


MoniCAN February 2, 2012 at 11:47 am

I agree with Admin, you should be thanked and the bride is in the wrong for not thanking you, even if she hates your guts now. You just have to move on if she doesn’t ever show the grace to thank you.

In regards to this statement, “I was informed that the “general rule” is to approximate between $50 and $100 per plate for the reception and purchase a gift that equates something around that value…. ” I have to join in with admin in a loud chorus of you were VERY misinformed.

Who made this general rule? And why do people believe it? I just got into a discussion at work about this. A coworker said (with much authority) this same ‘rule’ –basically “your gift should cover this cost of your plate.” I asked her why that is and how she could possibly know the cost and she couldn’t really tell me.

I blame morning news shows, women’s magazines, and general mob mentality of believing whatever your friends and family tell you. ‘They’ have perpetuated this stupid idea for too long. It’s wrong wrong wrong and I LOVE the admin for her campaign against it and clear way of presenting why it’s stupid concept from the start (you really would need psychic powers to know the cost of your plate – a lot of weddings cost much less or much more than they appear to).

The worst part of this “rule” is that brides and grooms start to believe it and expect a certain amount from each guest.
You guests don’t have to give you anything.
If you’re having a wedding and spend any time thinking of what people “owe” you for the party you’re throwing, you’ve got it all wrong.

Maybe we can all chip in and buy a Superbowl add next year to at least help dispel this myth in the U.S.


Wink-n-Smile February 3, 2012 at 10:01 am

I would donate to that ad, and I don’t even watch the Superbowl!


Gracie C. February 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I would chip in, too. LOL! I love that idea.


Smiling Charmer February 7, 2012 at 9:14 am

I don’t live in the US, but I’d definitely chip in!

A few months ago my significant other and I had the honor to be invited to a friends’ daughter’s wedding. It was a lavish affair in a 5 star hotel. Well, just a few months before I had been planning my parents’ 50th anniversary and had actually contacted this same hotel. Consequently I happen to know that their simplest option of dinner would cost 170 dolars/person. My friends’ daughter’s wedding was waaaaay more than just a simple affarir, so let’s say, 280 dolars/person. So, I have a question for those who believe a gift should cover the cost of dinner. Do you REALLY think my husband and I should have bought a 560 dolar gift???


Wink-n-Smile February 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Yikes! If that’s the case, they should invite people based not on their relationships, but on their portfolios.

“No, dear, you can’t invite Aunt Martha, even though she practically raised you for those three years your parents were in prison, and who taught you everything you know about being a good person, and you can’t invite Cousin John, who introduced you to your fiance, and you can’t invite your best friend, either. None of them have the money to cover their plates. You CAN, however, invite Uncle Bob, who you have never met, but who made a fortune in *mumblemumble*, which really ought to be legal, dontchaknow!”

Ummmm, no.


Gracie C. February 2, 2012 at 11:52 am

Well said, Admin – so many wrong assumptions in this post it made my head spin. The whole gift priced to “pay” for the cost of your meal has to be one of the most long standing and idiotic perceptions in U.S. wedding culture today. It really does infuriate me. I always wonder if there are brides/grooms out there that believe this and then only invite people who they know can afford to cover the cost of their meal – sadly my guess is yes.

But on to the rest of the post. Of course the OP is due a thank you note, but again, I agree with the Admin. Other than confirmation that she is right, I can’t imagine what else she’s hoping for here.


jena rogers February 2, 2012 at 12:30 pm

It sounds as though you put a great deal of consideration into your gift to the couple. Your one-of-a-kind vase sounds just lovely, and though not necessary, the added $ gift was quite generous. It also seems like you are going out of your way to make amends. If the bride can’t see past her anger to send a thank you, and also to try to mend this friendship (given your good-faith efforts to make things right), then I would say that is her loss. You really do sound like someone willing to hold yourself accountable and work hard for the sake of your relationships. Sadly, for some folks, that just may never be enough. If she remains tenaciously distant, you have my condolences and my good wishes that you find or have other more deserving friends…


KITTY LIZARD February 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm

When I had my daughter, quite a few years back, she was 3 months premature, and immediately placed in the Neonatal unit. It was touch and go as to whether she would live. I had a C-section
and was hospitalized for a week. After I got home, I was spending my days at the neo unit, with,
obviously, little else on my mind, except watching my very sick baby fight for her life. A week after I got home, a friend left some homemade chocolates on my doorstep. I brought them
inside and made a mental note to write a thank-you note. In fact, I did write a thank you note,
while I was at the hospital, about a week later. I received a blistering letter a couple of weeks after
that, berating me for not being more thankful that my “friend” went to all the trouble to make
the chocolates for me, and had to wait 2 weeks for a thank you note. She never spoke to me
again. My daughter, thankfully, came home after three months in the neo unit. I never
missed my “friend”, who apparently didn’t realize that a desperately ill child transcends
an immediate thank you note. By the way, she had just gotten into making chocolates, and
they were just awful.


Wink-n-Smile February 3, 2012 at 10:03 am

Please tell me this friend is not a mother.


Angela February 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I’m always amazed to hear that actual adults won’t speak to someone else after a disagreement. It seems so middle school.


Cat February 3, 2012 at 11:41 am

You are so right. I am always amazed that these women don’t run down to the local restroom to write nasty things about their victim on the stall walls. I could tell you stories about this sort of behavior among “adult” women!


Wink-n-Smile February 3, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Oh, please do, Cat! Fun, fun!


Cat February 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Read some of the things I have written on this website in response to some of these postings. My family alone could fill a series of books: the niece who emailed me (I’m adopted and this was my birth family I finally found when I was 52.), ‘You are probably wondering why you have never met any of your sisters. They have agreed there is no reason for them ever to see you. They are getting all of the “news” about you from a ‘third party” and are happy just talking about you among themselves.’
She told my aunt that she had “reached out to me and had invited me to her brother’s baby shower”. I didn’t know she had a brother or that he was married or that they were having a child.
I am sorry I never got the invitation. It would have read, “You are invited to a baby shower for some people you have never heard of. They have never heard of you either. You can’t come because no one wants to see you. Send a check.”


Wink-n-Smile February 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Now that would be a good invitation to post here.

So, basically, your niece told you that your sisters gossip about you, but don’t want to actually meet the person they’re gossiping about?


I’m so sorry for your situation.

Jay February 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm

@KITTY LIZARD: Okay, see, now your story trumps all these other horrible etiquette stories. Argh! (I had a 30-weeker in the nicu myself, and I can hardly believe you got out a thank-you note in the first MONTH..)


--Lia February 2, 2012 at 10:09 pm

This letter makes me sad. It’s the sort of thing that gives etiquette a bad name. Etiquette gets a bad name when people come to the conclusion that adherence to rules, arbitrary or not, takes precedence over actual consideration for people’s feelings.

Should your friend have written a thank-you note? Yes, but you knew that.
My questions are:
Would it make any difference?
Is that what you really want?

I suspect that on some level you’re hoping to prove that she’s a bad person for not writing the note and that her being a bad person makes you the right one when it comes to the argument. Nope, doesn’t work that way. I wasn’t there to know who said what in the argument, but I do know that both of you are failing at disagreeing, stating what you believe in a respectful way, and remaining friends despite disagreements. Learning to do that is the basis of true manners and graciousness.

In some ways, I almost respect her honesty. I do realize she’s wrong not to thank you, but the truth is she’s not feeling a lot of gratitude towards you at the moment, so she’s not making a mockery of the thank-you note by sending one that has no sentiment behind it. From her point of view, sending one would be an exercise in passive-aggressiveness.

Your emphasis on following the “rules” as far as the cost of the gift make me think this all the more. Your thinking as to the vase was perfect. You thought about what she would like, what would be appropriate, and you bought her that. But you lose me as to the rest of your reasoning on how much the gift card should be. Obsessing over how you followed the rule (as to the cost of the gift) and she didn’t (as to the thank-you note) just sounds childish.

I’m not trying to excuse her for not speaking to you. That sounds childish too. The two of you did hit it off at one time. I hope that in time you both realize that you have more to gain from the mutual friendship and you get together again.


Bint February 3, 2012 at 9:17 am

“I do know that both of you are failing at disagreeing, stating what you believe in a respectful way, and remaining friends despite disagreements.”

How exactly do you KNOW that, Lia? How can you possibly know that based on the limited information given? The OP has already owned her fault and apologized several times, so am I missing something or is this the massive assumption it looks like? You also give the OP’s concern about how much to give and whether it is appropriate the worst possible slant (it’s ‘childish’ that she cares about doing the socially expected thing, admitting she doesn’t know what it is?).

“In some ways, I almost respect her honesty.”
Spare me this kind of mean-minded, petty ‘honesty’ that involves keeping the gift when you apparently hate the giver. If the bride has some kind of moral objection and doesn’t want to look passive-aggressive, as you suggest, then she can damned well give the present back. That’s when I might have some respect for her behaviour.


Wink-n-Smile February 3, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Yep. Either do the right thing and thank the giver for the gift, or else hold your grudge agains the giver and give the gift back.

After all, if the bride hates OP that much, you’d think the vase and money would just be a constant reminder of a painful past. She should give it back.

Or do you think she should continue her current course of “honesty,” and use the money, and break the vase, so that it isn’t a constant reminder to her?


Wink-n-Smile February 3, 2012 at 10:10 am

Lia – it would not be hypocritical or passive-aggressive for the bride to write a simple Thank You note.

“Dear OP, thank you very much for the vase and the money. Signed, Bride”

It’s not an elegant or heart-felt note, but it IS proper. By closing the loop, as it were, she can then walk completely away from the relationship, with neither owing anything to the other. As it stands, there is still this string that connects them.

If the bride is the sort who doesn’t care about thank you notes, then the string won’t have any hold on her, just the OP. However, if the bride does care about these notes, and wrote thank you notes for all her other gifts, but not that one, then the string is still there, and will slowly and surely exert a power over her. Like the tell-tale heart, the guilt will get to her, one day. Whether it’s guilt over the argument, or guilt over her own faux-pas, she’ll feel it.

OP, let karma take its course. Let go of the string, and let go of her. Just lead your life. You’ve done your part and tried to make amends. If she won’t let you, you can’t force it. Someday she’ll see that you were a good friend, and be sorry for how she treated you.

Perhaps in a few years or decades, you can find friendship with each other again. But let it go for now.


Kate February 2, 2012 at 10:23 pm


Friends of mine had a baby six months ago, full term, but with a long list of genetic issues that they were unaware of right until he was born. They’ve been in and out of the hospital ever since with a bunch of close calls, and I didn’t receive a Thank You note until last week. And I think that was perfectly acceptable!!!

I agree that the LW should have received a note from her (former) friend, but I wouldn’t hold my breath anymore.

I come from a different cultural background (where the mentioning of cash please on the invite is perfectly acceptable, common and expected – shocking, I know LOL) but to me the “right” amount for a wedding (or other) present is what the guest can and want to comfortably afford.


lkb February 3, 2012 at 7:07 am

The OP should have received a thank you note, absolutely.

I don’t understand all the posts rather beating up on the OP about the “general rule” about “covering the plate”. Yes, I know, no gifts are required (nor should they be expected by the happy couple). Yes, I know, people should give from the heart — if a home-made gift is what the giver wants to give and feels that the couple would be happy with it, fine.

I prefer to think that the “general rule” was an attempt to establish a guideline for those who, like the OP, had not attended a wedding on their own before. That way, the happy couple won’t end up with a drawer full of dollar-store spatulas when they shelled out for filet mignon and Lobster Thermadore. It’s just an attempt at a guideline. The OP did not try to weasel out of it or anything. She gave what I thought was a very appropriate gift.


Wink-n-Smile February 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm

We’re not beating up on the OP about the rule. We’re venting our frustration at the common misconception which is, practically speaking, IMPOSSIBLE to meet. You don’t KNOW what the price per plate was, and asking how much it’s going to cost is rude. Therefore, we hate the rule.

Yes, sorry for yelling, but I hate it when people assume I psychic. It bothers me. It happens way too often in my work, and I don’t need it seeping into my social life, let alone into “etiquette rules,” which really aren’t.

As for the OP, I just feel sorry for her. Even if she said something egregious, it does not excuse the bride’s behavior.


Kendra February 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I don’t think anyone is “beating up” on the OP for trying to follow the “cover the plate rule”. They are just, rather vehemently, explaining that there is no such rule, and that the “rule” is rude. Speculating on what the host is spending to entertain their guests IS rude.

Also, the part about the HC not ending up with a drawer full of spatulas when they “shelled” out for Filet Mignon is, I think, part of the misconception. What the hosts choose to serve their guests is their business and no-one else’s. The idea that the guest has to “cover” the cost of their plate with their gift changes the event from a party to a business transaction. If that is the case, the HC might as well charge admission to ensure the meal is covered.

So, the “general rule” is that the appropriate gift is whatever the guest feels is appropriate whether it is a simple “Congrats” card, or a “dollar-store spatula” or a $3,000 blender. It is as inappropriate for the HC to speculate on what was spent on the gift as it is for the guest to specualate on how much the host spent on the party.


Gracie C. February 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm

They shell out for filet mignon and lobster out of choice. No one is required to buy a gift at the same price level. Weddings are a hosted gathering. Costs are determined by the host based on what they can afford, not based on how much they expect people to give them. If you can’t afford to provide filet mignon and lobster, you don’t. Guests are not required to give a gift because they were given a meal, and any gift the guests choose are based on what they can afford. An individual’s budget and how they feel about the couple are the only guidelines that ever need to be taken into consideration.

As for her gift – I agree it was appropriate – it is her reasons for giving it (and the false guidelines she was told) that people are taking issue with.


June February 3, 2012 at 8:20 am

Ok, OP. I’m curious–what exactly did you say about divorce as part of a conversation that alienated a friend who knew your tendency to be blunt???

Other than that, I don’t know who your sources are, but for wedding etiquette you should stick to Miss Jeanne and Miss Manners.


Library Diva February 3, 2012 at 9:51 am

I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating to reveal how ridiculous this “you pay per plate” misconception is.

Imagine this scenario. You have recently changed jobs, and you’ve hit it off well with the person who sites next to you. She comes from money, and in three months will marry a man who also comes from money at the most expensive venue in the area. She’s invited most of the company, and has arranged for you to come as well, so as not to exclude you, and because you like her, you’ve accepted. Around the same time, however, your sister (who you are very close to, for the purposes of this example) is also getting married, in a very small, very casual backyard ceremony, where your parents will make most of the food. Are you really going to get a larger gift for the woman you’ve known for three months and shaft your sister just because she couldn’t afford a lavish wedding?


Wink-n-Smile February 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Excellent explanation, Library Diva! You give what you can afford, what is comfortable to you (or uncomfortable, if you love someone enough to give till it hurts), and what is appropriate to the relationship.

For example, you don’t give your sister a toaster unless you know she doesn’t have one and she reeeeaaaallllllllyyyyyy likes toast. Instead, you give her something more personal. Likewise, you don’t spend the three months between the invitation and the wedding working on some majestic work of art to give to the co-worker, when you don’t even know her taste in art. For all you know, she really wants a toaster.

And for some people, who have it all, a nice, heartfelt note of congratulations may be all you really need to do.


twik February 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I think the “cover your plate” comes from an idea of fairness, amd that gift-giving, as a social bonding agent, should be relatively equitable. The thinking would be that if someone gives you something (say, a dinner) and you respond by giving them less, you show yourselve either a user, or someone further down the social tree who can’t afford to reciprocate. If you respond by giving them more, you are either showing off or showing that you consider them less capable of reciprocating.

But this thinking, though understandable, does break down logically, as people have said. You can’t predict (without being nosy or psychic) how much your plate will cost. You should not, as Livrary Diva put it so well, feel obligated to give a larger present to someone throwing a blowout wedding than to a close friend/relative who was celebrating with a small one. And it feels strange to find the perfect present but think, “This is great, they’ll love it – but it’s not expensive enough! I have to throw in a gift card to make things even!”


lkb February 4, 2012 at 5:46 am

Twik’s first paragraph is exactly what I was trying to say earlier. Twik said it much better, thank you! Some people are users, plain and simple. Other people aren’t users and want to do their best not to appear so.

I do agree with the second paragraph also.

Thank you Twik.


June February 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm

I completely disagree. You’re inviting them to the wedding because you want them at your special occasion, not because you want to “balance” the cost of the dinner. We’re planning our wedding, and if someone gave us something that didn’t cost much, we’d be happy. I can’t imagine going through the gifts (which are optional, remember) and thinking, “Excuse me, we had lobster, not Swedish meatballs! I can’t believe you didn’t spend more on us!”


lkb February 6, 2012 at 6:16 am

I wasn’t coming at this from the head couple’s point of view but from the guests. This was the OP’s first time attending a wedding on her own, as she said. It sounded to me like she needed a guideline as to what was an appropriate gift (as Twik said, so as not to appear to be a user).

It’s rather like being showing up a party in T-shirt and jeans when everyone else is in a Halloween costume (or vice versa). No one wants to be out of place (or to appear ungrateful to the hosts for their hospitality). That’s all the OP was trying to do in my opinion. And she did just fine.


Bint February 6, 2012 at 10:31 am

What’s wrong with being someone ‘further down the social tree’ (yikes!) who ‘cannot afford to reciprocate’? Downton Abbey apart, perhaps the bride and groom don’t care about the social tree or reciprocation from the people they love. How horrible to presume otherwise.

And this one is just dreadful.
“If you respond by giving them more, you are either showing off or showing that you consider them less capable of reciprocating.”

Or perhaps the person is just generous. Really, this is the first thing that would spring to my mind and I am no Pollyanna. I would actually pity the people who could read something so negative into this without any further information.

And all of this presupposes that presents are valued on their monetary worth, which is sadder than all the rest. Some of the most priceless wedding presents cost the least.


Lynne February 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Just what I wanted to say, Bint.

Some people can afford to be more generous, and some less so. The *spirit* of hospitality should be reciprocated in relationships, but it also tends to arise naturally between two people who care about one another, and should not be based on an attempt to match one another’s expenditure.

As for a wedding, I also think that the refreshments provided for guests can’t be viewed as gift-giving in quite the same way that taking a friend out for dinner is — it is simply part of the celebration that the couple or their families create to commemorate the occasion.

Attending a wedding without even a token gift seems thoughtless, but it does not make somebody a “user” in the same way that it would if somebody consistently accepted dinner or party invitations without any form of reciprocation whatsoever.


Wink-n-Smile February 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm

How do you reciprocate for a wedding, if you don’t get married, yourself?

Dinner invitations, Barbecues, and the like should be reciprocated, yes. However, weddings are not something that should be. If you feel indebted, due to your invitation, then give a gift, make something, help out in some way, or invite them for a nice stress-relieving dinner. You’re never going to be able to truly “reciprocate,” though.


MellowedOne February 3, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I think the OP is obsessing over a lack of a thank you card. Really, after 4 months she is still wondering if she’s going to get a thank you card?

Should she have received one? Yes, but that doesn’t take a degree to discern.

Time to move forward, and stop looking back.


Katie February 4, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I think that what’s happened here is simply that she has decided that you’re not speaking any more, and this has over-ridden (in her mind) any obligation she has to thank you. Sadly, if she’s not willing to listen, then I don’t think you can do anything except try to forget about it and get on with things. TBH it sounds like she is angry and upset about other things, and you just happened to say something that she perceived as being the ‘wrong’ thing.

PS- I don’t understand why some people singled out your comment about how much you spent on the present- clearly, you were just trying to do the right thing! I’m in the UK, so we don’t really have that kind of convention (as far as I’m aware!!), but to me it just sound like you were trying to figure out what a suitable amount to spend would be. Nothing wrong with that!


Lynne February 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm


I think most of us who are responding to this idea are not criticizing the OP as an individual, but rather the idea of “paying for your plate” when attending a wedding, which to me seems vulgar and contrary to the whole concept of hosting anything.

Unfortunately, many couples who are getting married DO believe that this should be the case and are offended when they think that they’ve been “under-gifted”, and some of them have even told guests (before or after the gift-giving) what a more appropriate amount should be!!

As a guest, the OP seems to have been trying to be thoughtful, and her gift was lovely, but as a “general rule” this idea is terrible! The OP says “correct me if I’m wrong” — I find no fault in her gift-giving, but I would hate for her to continue to follow this “general rule.” The vase would have been lovely enough!


politrix February 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Sorry, but I disagree with pretty much all of the Admin’s advice, and a lot of the posts that followed. Weddings, birthday parties, showers, and all sorts of celebrations are expensive. Yes, the hosts are shelling out that money by choice, but it was also their choice to include me in their festivities, and in order to repay them for the honor of participating, I want to make sure they get something nice and at least worth the money they spent on their guests in the first place. (Not to mention the time and effort they put into a nice party, which obviously has no monetary value.) If it makes me “rude” to give a nice gift that costs approximately the same as my place at the wedding tabe/birthday party/ what have you, then consign me to e-hell…. but best believe I’m gonna be invited to quite a few more parties before I go there lol!
As for the thank you note, I had a terrible fight with someone at my own bridal shower, to the point where I refused to speak with her up until my wedding day. Not only did I NOT revoke her invitation to my wedding (although I was sorely tempted to) I made sure to send a very nicely-worded thank you note for the shower gift… and cut her off immediately after my wedding. In my world, the whole point of etitquette — and showing true self-control — is that even after the worst. fight. ever. you remember basic decency and good manners.


Kimstu February 7, 2012 at 11:42 am

politrix: “Weddings, birthday parties, showers, and all sorts of celebrations are expensive. Yes, the hosts are shelling out that money by choice, but it was also their choice to include me in their festivities, and in order to repay them for the honor of participating, I want to make sure they get something nice and at least worth the money they spent on their guests in the first place.”

You “repay” people for the honor of their hospitality by offering them thanks and hospitality in return. Not by treating an offer of hospitality as an implied bill for entertainment costs which you are supposed to “cover” with a correspondingly priced gift.

If it makes YOU personally feel better to PRIVATELY calibrate your gift spending with (what you assume was) the amount your hosts spent on you, that’s your business. Since nobody else will know about it, nobody can condemn it as rude. What’s rude is to declare or promote any such personal yardstick as a guideline for guest gift-giving in general.

Etiquette (in the persons of Miss Jeanne, Miss Manners, and similar authorities, as well as general consensus) is emphatic that wedding entertainment expenses and wedding gift prices are NOT linked. The purpose of hosting a wedding celebration is NOT to break even on the deal financially, but to offer hospitality to people who are important to you on a special occasion. If you wind up somewhat out-of-pocket on the party expenses, that pretty much comes with the territory of throwing a party: it does not mean that your guests have somehow cheated or “stiffed” you.

(Even if it were, the dubious logic of the cover-your-plate system would completely break down in the many, many instances where the hosts spending money on the wedding festivities are not the same as, or not limited to, the wedding couple receiving the presents. There’s no sense in trying to “repay” the bride’s parents for giving you a $100 dinner by bestowing a $100 gift on their daughter and son-in-law—unless you imagine that parents spending money on weddings is just a substitute or proxy for parents simply handing over money to their children. Which is another whole level of tacky.)


Wink-n-Smile February 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm

You said:

If it makes me “rude” to give a nice gift that costs approximately the same as my place at the wedding tabe/birthday party/ what have you, then consign me to e-hell….

Of course it’s not rude to give a nice gift that costs approximately the same as *your estimated of* your place at the party.

What is rude is the expectation that your guests will 1) know how much you’re spending on them, and 2) give the same amount or more.

It’s rude because 1) the vast majority of people aren’t psychic, and 2) a lot of people can’t afford that level of gifting.

So, no, it’s the expectation of the gifts, the entitlement, the gimme-pigness that is rude. Your plan to always “cover your plate” is quite lovely. Good luck with that.

Also, kudos to you on the proper thank you to your ex-friend.


Steph February 9, 2012 at 2:06 am

“but best believe I’m gonna be invited to quite a few more parties before I go there lol!”
Unless I’m reading this incorrectly, you are implying that because you give nice gifts you will be invited to more things. You’re buying friends? Not even friends, you’re buying the temporary affection of a person that only cares about the material things you offer.
I hope that I’m reading this wrong or that you misspoke, because otherwise I cannot help but pity you.


politrix February 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm

LOL you read it wrong. Or reading too much into it.
Last time I checked, no one ever was crossed off a guest list because the gifts they brought were “too nice.” I didn’t get why people were jumping on the OP for being happy to find a gift that might be close to the same cost as her “place” at the wedding… I for one do that, and I don’t see why it would be an issue. Obviously, it’s not the only determining factor in my gift selection, but it certainly comes into play. Sure, I could just write a beautiful, heartfelt poem and call it a day, but since I have the economic means, why shouldn’t I indulge my gracious hosts in a manner similar to the generosity they’re showing me? I usually write the heartfelt poem on the card that accompanies my gift. That makes me a bad person? A rude guest? Someone who’s “buying” friendship? Umm… ok, take it how you like.
If, as Wink-n-Smile said, it was somehow expected that the OP would buy a gift of equal or greater monetary value to the cost of her being at the wedding… well, sure, that’s tacky… no argument here!
But this is the OP’s story, and what I’m reading is that no demands were made by her friend, just that the OP was surprised that after all the trouble she went through to get her friend a nice wedding gift, she never received a thank you note. And then on top of that, it seems a lot of people on this board are honing in on the OP for even mentioning the way she chose her friend’s gift — based (partly) on monetary value — when to me it seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do.


MellowedOne February 11, 2012 at 10:37 am

politrix, although I commend your generosity, I believe the point is that the motivating factor behind the cost of a gift should not be dependent (either wholly or in part) on what one is receiving. Of course, what one personally feels is one thing. But in the OP’s case, for example, she was told the general rule was spend on what is being spent on you. (She stated, “I was informed that the “general rule” is to approximate between $50 and $100 per plate for the reception and purchase a gift that equates something around that value.”)

What would she have spent if she had not been told that? She relates that she had already spent $110 before being informed of the “rule”. This was what she personally motivated to spend. But after finding out about this “rule” she indicates she would have spent more if bringing a guest. You see where it goes from being sincere to one based on what one receives?

Say you have two best friends, each getting married. One will have a lavish, catered reception, the other a modest ‘cake and punch’ reception. IMO I can’t see how the sincere generosity of giving a very nice gift present to the first friend is possible when a person you are equally close to receives a lesser gift simply because they are having a less costly reception.


bloo February 25, 2012 at 10:02 am

Politrix: Let’s put you on the other side; as a host.

When you got married/will get married, what is/was your expectation of your guests?

Since you’ve made it clear that AS A GUEST your gift should, at least, cover your plate, I would logically assume that you might be miffed if your guests do not meet your expectations of HOW your plan on hosting. Will you have your wedding party circulating the info of per-plate costs along with your registry info to make things clear to prospective “guests”?

I can appreciate you trying to show the opposing view of the admin, but your fundamental basis for what a wedding reception is…is fundamentally flawed.

To, essentially, repeat everyone else: a wedding and reception is a celebration of a wonderful milestone in someone’s life. How the couple chooses to celebrate that is totally on them. The ideal is that the couple chooses to celebrate with the people who mean most to them and NOT in a fiduciary sense. The ideally gracious guest feels honored to be invited to witness and celebrate with them. If it is within the guest’s means to give a gift, great, if not, a card wishing them the best is perfectly acceptable.

Your reasoning on gift=plate could lead some to believe that your ‘friends’ are, in fact, simply business associates.

But you’ve done an excellent job at explaining your viewpoint.


Yvette April 6, 2014 at 7:32 pm

In general, I am so fed up with the lack of thank-you’s notes for wedding gifts that I have found a way to give wedding gifts without breaking the budget. Many couples send out a “Save the Date” invitation months before the wedding. I periodically check the wedding registries – Crate & Barrel; Target; Bed, Bath, and Beyond – to name but a few – and as soon as I see the couple’s name pop up on a registry, I go to the store site and peruse that same registry for a gift that isn’t pricey but feels like it. Case in point: set of everyday drinkware – 6 juice glasses, 6 tumblers – around $10.00. Easy, quick, weighty (glassware is heavy) and first out of the block – I get the “looks-expensive-but isn’t” gift, it’s what the couple wants since it is on their registry, and buying the gift in-store saves online shipping costs. And no, we have not received thank-you’s notes from the couples of the last 3 weddings we’ve attended. Sigh.


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