Do You Give a Gift If You Don’t Go to the Wedding?

Wedding gift etiquette can be both straightforward and perplexing. When everything goes according to plan, it seems easy to navigate. However, unexpected situations can complicate matters, such as deciding whether to give a gift if you can’t attend the wedding.

Do you need to give a gift if you don’t attend the wedding? While it’s not obligatory, it’s a kind gesture, particularly if the couple is close family or good friends.

But why should you give a gift if you’re not attending? Is it rude to skip the gift if finances are tight? We’ll explore these questions and more as we delve into the nuances of wedding gift etiquette below.

Do you give a gift if you don’t go to the wedding?

There is no strict rule that dictates what you should do when it comes to wedding gift etiquette. A wedding is a celebration of the union of two people who will spend the rest of their lives together. It’s a beautiful occasion centered around cherishing life and love. Wedding gift etiquette can sometimes be complicated, especially with many pre-nuptial celebrations and events occurring between the engagement and the wedding. Does this mean you need to give a gift for each of these events? You don’t have to, but you can if you want to.

For pre-wedding events and celebrations, you are not required to get the couple a gift. If you attend these events, it might be polite to bring a small gift, but it doesn’t need to be expensive. However, if you cannot attend, sending a card wishing them well is more than enough. For a more personal touch, consider including a handwritten note with your card instead of just a generic printed message. The level of your gift-giving will also depend on how close you are to the couple. If you are best friends or close family, you might want to get them something special.

A wedding party is slightly different. You don’t have to give a gift if you cannot attend, but since the couple graciously invited you, you might want to send them something as a gesture of appreciation. Again, it doesn’t need to be expensive; the thought behind the gift is what matters most. You don’t even need to spend much money apart from postal or courier fees. Your imagination is the limit, so be creative.

Why should I send a gift if I won’t be attending?

Weddings are often expensive, and thus are planned to include only those important to the couple. However, there are cases where guests may not personally know the couple but are invited through mutual friends or family. Regardless, the wedding couple has graciously invited you, and not attending or sending a gift might be considered rude.

If it’s the wedding of an acquaintance you barely know, you have some leeway regarding wedding gifts, as there is no strong connection between the parties. If you cannot attend the wedding, remember to always return the RSVP card, preferably with a handwritten note congratulating them, and personally call to explain why you can’t attend.

If you are in a difficult financial position, you are not obligated to send gifts. No friend or family member would want a gift that burdens you in any way.

How much do you give for a wedding gift if not attending?

When you’re unable to attend a wedding, there’s no set rule for the type or amount of gift you should give. Your choice should reflect your relationship with the couple. If you decide to give money, consider sending between $100 and $200, depending on how close you are to them. Alternatively, you can look at their wedding registry and contribute something they need. If a financial gift isn’t feasible, consider a personalized, handmade item. The most important thing is that your gift comes from the heart.

Is it rude not to give a wedding gift if not attending?

No, it isn’t rude to not give a wedding gift if you are not attending, but that doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same way. Some people might completely understand, while others might feel that you don’t care about them enough. Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer here, as it all depends on the individuals involved. To reduce the chances of anyone feeling ignored or snubbed, you can personally call and inform them that you won’t be able to attend the wedding. By doing so, they will not only feel better because you chose to speak to them directly rather than sending a text message, but they will also be able to understand your position.


July 3, 2024


Michael Gabler is a portrait photographer based in the Philadelphia area, dedicated to capturing timeless moments that will be cherished for generations. His sessions create stunning portraits that highlight your unique beauty and personality. Each photograph tells a story, preserving precious memories for a lifetime.

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