Tracking The Elusive Gift Giver

by admin on March 26, 2014

I have a question that would most likely be at home on the Hells Bells site that hopefully you or your readers will be able to help me out with.

I recently got married at the beginning of this month, and thanks to my extensive reading of your site, hopefully we didn’t commit any blunders that will cause us to end up in your infamous halls. However, now that we are back from our honeymoon and working industriously on getting thank you notes written and in the mail before the end of the month (not only to be punctual, but because stamp prices are going up in April!), we’ve hit a bit of a sticky point:

DH and I threw a small-ish wedding (70 people invited, around 55 people attended). Because we were paying for the wedding ourselves, and because DH is a rather introverted person, we wanted to host an event where we actually knew everybody who was going to be there. When we were building our guest list our rule was couples who were married, engaged, living together, or who had been in a serious relationship for over a year were invited together – single guests were not invited with a +1. We made an exception for our best man and our maid of honor. BM and MOH had actually been a couple for about 4 years before our wedding, and were actually the ones responsible for introducing DH and I, and setting us up on our first few dates. However, about 6 months before the wedding, they broke up. A little while later, BM reconnected with an old high school girlfriend (who had been friends with DH for years as well), and MOH started dating another guy. DH and I discussed it, and we decided that even though the separate couples hadn’t been together for over a year, like our rule said, that because they were standing up for us, it would be OK for them to bring dates. So we invited them, they accepted, everybody came and had a good time, and it was a pretty awesome wedding.

The day after the wedding, my parents hosted a gift opening lunch, and we received lovely practical gifts from both BM and his new girlfriend, and from the MOH and her new boyfriend.

DH and I get back from our honeymoon. We had been without phones and computers for the past 10 days, and hadn’t had contact with anybody back home except calling our parents from a pay phone to let them know our plane had landed safely. I texted a few of my closest friends letting them know we were home safe and ready to get back into real life. MOH texted me back enthusiastically. I asked how everything had been with her while we were gone, and she told me that the biggest news item was that she had broken up with the new boyfriend. I haven’t heard the whole story yet because she wants to tell me in person, but he was apparently kind of a jerk about it, too. I expressed my sympathy, but MOH didn’t seem really broken up over it, so we moved on to other topics of conversation, and it didn’t really bother me until I sat down later that night with my gift list, address book, and thank you cards to start churning them out.

Do I write a thank you note to MOH’s short-lived ex-boyfriend? I don’t have his home address (we had sent the wedding invitation directly to MOH’s house, addressed to both of them), and I’m not sure how I would get it. He was invited as a guest of my best friend, but his name was attached to one of our gifts. Aside from Facebook, I don’t know any other way to get in contact with him. I am tempted to just leave it alone, but I feel like it would be rude to not at least acknowledge his presence at our wedding. What is your advice? 0321-14

I would send him a private Facebook message thanking him for his contribution to the wedding gift and be done with it.   While it is good to have an attitude of gratitude regarding the gifts one receives, etiquette doesn’t demand that you walk over glass shards, bend in two and twist like a pretzel to find people in order to send them a thank you note.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Decimus March 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm

This is interesting because I’ve got a similar problem. We had a small wedding (~30 guests) but my parents asked to throw us a reception in their hometown for their friends and family who weren’t invited or in a few cases were invited but were unable to attend our wedding (I hasten to add, all the invitees DID know we were already married). My parents were hosting; my wife and I were just the guests of honor. We received a number of gifts, but while we send thank-you notes to everyone whose address we knew, we don’t have addresses for about a half-dozen gifts we received. I did tell my parents who we couldn’t contact, but they haven’t sent us the addresses and I don’t have any contact information for these people because they’re mostly friends of my mother. Yet I also know some people were wondering if we got their gifts because they know thank-you notes were sent out to other people (the ones we did have contact information for). I’m not quite sure what to do.


Redblues March 26, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Are any of them friends of people for whom you do have contact info? If not, call your parents and don’t get off the phone until they give you the addresses. Surely they have them, in order to have sent the invites in the first place.


RC March 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I agree with Admin – a private Facebook message is within your abilities, as you don’t have his other contact details. This is not someone you plan to further cultivate a relationship with. You are making an effort to express your gratitude, and it is good that you do.

Congratulations on the marriage, wishing you both happiness and a many happy years ahead!


NostalgicGal March 27, 2014 at 1:01 am

Yes at this point I’d say the stamp is better saved; had the fellow been a part of her life for several years he deserved the full thankyou but if the encounter has been that brief, and it may take more effort than is reasonably humanely possible to track him down; I’d go for facebook. That’s not the total excuse for an out but. Circumstances have to be weighed!


Aly March 27, 2014 at 7:07 am

I kind of had this situation. I received a gift from someone I didn’t recognize around my wedding (it arrived in the mail, I asked my husband, my parents, and my in-laws, but no one knew this person). I sent back a standard thank you note to the return address, which then was returned to me as undeliverable. I gave up after that – was I wrong?


OP March 27, 2014 at 10:31 am

OP here. That is good advice. Of course, when I went to send him said facebook message, it appears he blocked all of MOH’s friends in order to “get back at her for breaking his heart” (????) So I guess he will not receive a thank you. I feel a little bad about that. Of course, this is the same guy who, when I took some time during the reception to sit and chat with him for a few minutes told me, “You know, this wedding really isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”

…Thanks, dude.


Library Diva March 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I wouldn’t waste much more energy on this if I were you. Given that MOH had only been with this guy for a few months, the gift probably really came from MOH anyway. I’m sure she chose the present, found the card, probably fronted the money and just signed his name as a courtesy to him. That’s what I did whenever I attended a wedding for one of “my folks” with my now-husband. You tried to do the right thing, and this guy isn’t in any of your lives any more, anyway.


kingsrings March 29, 2014 at 6:10 pm

After reading this, I guess I need an etiquette refresher on gifts. Are dates of guests (the plus ones) supposed to give a wedding gift? Is that a usual thing? Because I thought only the invited wedding guests usually gave a wedding gift. Their guests didn’t have to from an etiquette POV. After all, unless they also knew the wedding couple, that could be potentially awkward since they don’t know the couple.


OP March 31, 2014 at 11:50 am

The gift was most likely from my MOH. Both of their names were on the card, though (signed by MOH), and I was writing thank you notes to everybody who attended our wedding, regardless if they brought a gift or not.


Kat April 2, 2014 at 12:53 am

Here’s what this tie-dye-blooded hippie would do: Leave an extra dollar or two tip next time you’re at your favorite coffee place or similar to put an extra dose of gratitude into the universe, and while you do it, think, “Okay, this gratitude is for you, elusive giftgiver. Walk in peace wherever you go.” (Kind of a joking suggestion, kind of not — I get upset when I’ve made a blunder or else am incapable, as OP is, of doing all I’d like to do, and being a little extra nice in someone’s honor is one way I can feel right with myself again.)


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