The No Gift Dilemma
Paperia | January 2014
How do you politely request that guests not bring gifts to a wedding or special occasion that you’re hosting? It’s tricky…to say the least.
Old-school etiquette once dictated that absolutely no mention of gifts be made on social invitations, especially wedding invitations. Any reference to gifts was thought to potentially 1) call attention to the host’s expectations to receive gifts, or 2) suggest that the recipient not know the occasions on which gifts are customary. But, times have changed – and so have some interpretations of this rule.
You may be thinking: why on earth would anyone NOT want gifts?! Well, there are plenty of reasons! Some may feel that, in tough economic times, the obligation of bringing a gift may preclude certain guests from attending their celebration. Or, if it is a second marriage, the bride and/or groom may feel that they already have everything they could possibly need.
Another confusing gift-giving scenario occurs when a guest is invited to a wedding that he or she cannot attend. Is the guest still expected to send a wedding gift? While there is no hard-and-fast, definitive answer to this question, in general terms, the only social invitation that carries an implicit expectation of a gift is a shower (whether it be a bridal or baby shower).
At a shower, the central event is quite literally to shower the honoree with gifts (and love, of course!) to prepare her or him for the next stage of life. Therefore, one should certainly not feel obligated to send a wedding gift. As suggested by this informative article from The Knot, perhaps a good way to determine how much to spend – if anything – on a gift for a couple whose wedding you cannot attend is to gauge the strength of your relationship and how much time you spend with them.
It is still typically considered inappropriate (by traditional etiquette standards) to mention gifts anywhere within a wedding invitation suite. However, hosts who truly wish not to receive gifts and who do not shutter at the thought of rule-breaking may opt to include a simple, yet direct, statement, such as “No gifts, please,” at the bottom of their invitation or insert card.
Other creative sentiments include:
- Your presence is our present.
- Your celebrating with us is the best gift of all.
- May your good wishes be your only gift to us.
What do you think: do you side with a traditional or modern interpretation of the “no gift” request?