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Do I Have to Bring a Gift If I Was Only Invited to the Reception, Not the Wedding?

Ask a Savvy Bride: Do I Bring a Gift If I Was Only Invited to the Reception?

Wedding etiquette can be tricky. If you have a conundrum like the one below, be sure to ask our Savvy Bride for help in the Ask Savvy group. Reader Natty recently posed this question.

Dear Savvy Bride,
My cousin recently had a "destination wedding". During the planning it was made very clear that it was going to be a small wedding and that no one but immediate family was invited. I recently learned that nearly 40 people attended the wedding, (including some co-workers). My feelings are hurt since he is more like a brother than a cousin.

During the months building up to the wedding, the bride would not even talk with us about the wedding details. When my sister asked her about the wedding dress, she rudely responded, "Ugh! I don't even want to talk about it!" So, 1. we're not invited to the wedding, and 2. we can't even ask about the wedding!?!?! Come on!


Next month, they are having a reception. I'm not sure what to do for a gift. My cousin is very close to me and I'd like to do something nice for him, however my feelings for the bride leave something to be desired. My sister tells me that since we were not invited to the wedding, we do not have to give a gift. Is this true?

Can anyone offer suggestions for a gift idea? I don't feel like giving something off her greedy gift registry.


To see the Savvy Bride's advice,


Savvy Bride says:

I'm sorry to hear that you and the rest of your family were shut out from your cousin's destination wedding — while it might not make sense to you now, I'm sure there were some ground rules that they had to stick with to make it fair to both the bride and the groom and their guest lists. It's pretty clear that you still have hurt feelings, and while you're entitled to have an opinion about your cousin's new wife, she's not going anywhere so I advise you to overcome what happened during their planning process.

Now that they are husband and wife, think of them as a package deal — if you want to do something nice for him, it'll be impossible (and not very nice) to exclude her from the equation. I'm a firm believer in never going to a party empty-handed, especially a wedding, so if you're headstrong about not buying something off their registry, you should at least bring a bottle of wine or a small celebratory gift. Hope this helps!

Ask anything budget-, etiquette-, or planning-related — well, almost anything — by posting your questions in the Ask Savvy group, and I'll find the right expert to help you out. If you are planning a wedding, already happily wed, or still looking for Mr. Right, start sharing your big day with our community. Don’t forget to check the wedding content box on your post.

—Additional reporting by Alexis Nordby

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
lsyrek0505 lsyrek0505 6 years
Wow I am surprised about all these comments. You totally need to get them a gift they invited you to the reception. You should also ditch the feelings on being excluded, they had a very small destination wedding, and probably had a terrible time figuring out who to and who not to invite. And your judging a bit here on getting pissed over co-workers -- these are people they see day in a day out and might be very very close with. Get over it, and be happy for your cousin. Dont give him any guilt or grief about not being invited if you are that close with him it had to have been really hard for him not to invite you and he's already dealing with that. Dont be sour and make him feel worse.
Natty Natty 7 years
Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the suggestions. Thanks Chloe Bella, you gave me another perspective that I didn't consider. As for the gift giving, I plan on giving a gift (my sister is not). I was having a hard time coming up with a personal gift idea. Thanks for your input sugars!
insanitypepper insanitypepper 7 years
I think you should be the bigger person and get them a gift. I don't think you have to get them anything particularly expensive, but it's an important gesture. You buy the happy couple a present to help them get off to a good start in their new life together, not because you were invited to an event. If this is still bugging you in a month or two, then have an honest talk about it with your cousin.
brindey brindey 7 years
I agree with the others, get them a nice gift. Then, say something to the effect that you really wished you-and the rest of your family-could have been there to share in their wedding. Feel free to tack on that you heard from Corky Coworker that the wedding was a blast. Say the whole thing with a big smile to both of them.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Wow, I feel really bad for you. That is pretty hurtful that they invited co-workers but not first cousins. However, to play the devil's advocate, maybe the bride wasn't trying to be rude to you. Maybe she felt that it would be rude to discuss her wedding and then not invite you, so refusing to talk about the weddind was just her socially awkward effort at not being offensive. Also, maybe they were in a situation where they felt that if they invited some first cousins, they would have to invite all the extended family and that would up the guest list too much. To answer your questions - yes, you have to bring a gift. If you're so upset with the bride that you would consider not bringing a gift, you should probably skip the reception altogether.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
yes, you have to get them something. this "reception" is as good as a wedding invite, especially since it was destination. you maybe don't have to spend as much as you usually would, but you have to get them something.
Kellanawida Kellanawida 7 years
Wow, that's just awful! I wouldn't get something from the registry, but something personal for your cousin. Or go with SFCA's suggestion and get something revolting!
SFCA SFCA 7 years
Wow. I would be hurt too. Since you weren't invited to the wedding, I don't think that you need to buy something off of the registry. I agree with Lauren, get something that your cousin would use/enjoy more. Or if you're still angry, buy something totally hideous!
lauren lauren 7 years
Oh that is tough. I would say since you love your cousin you should get something for him. Maybe since you know him so well, you can get him something more personal rather than a gift off the registry! Good luck and hopefully the reception will be fun.
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