I got married over a year ago. Which means, in theory, I should have received gifts from everyone on our guest list. I have not.
This isn’t a huge surprise. With every wedding there are some guests who don’t deliver. I don’t know if they don’t think they have to, or it slips their minds, or what. I assume that it’s usually a case of forgetfulness—either they think they’ve already given you something or they planned to do it just after the wedding and then they totally spaced.
I’ve been thinking about this because a friend of mine—let’s call her Phoebe—was in town this weekend. Phoebe wasn’t able to attend our wedding and hasn’t gotten us a gift yet. She is horrified at this fact. Much moreso than I am. She actually tried to buy us a gift when she visited last time but there was a credit card mixup and the charge didn’t end up going through (long and not-that-interesting story).
While we were hanging out (read: making cleanse-approved broth), we got to talking about the gift thing. The “rule” is that you should get a couple a present within a year of their wedding.
“I’ve actually seen a friendship fall apart because one guy didn’t get the other a wedding gift,” Phoebe said.
It seems a silly thing to lose a BFF over. But one small misstep snowballs into bigger drama, until suddenly there’s built-up resentment rotting the whole relationship. (To be clear, my friendship with Phoebe is not falling apart. In fact, she told me what she’s getting me. Fun!)
With Phoebe, I really don’t mind. (As to the handful of guests who fall in the no-gift category, I have varying degrees of annoyance. It’s case by case.) She knows, she’s apologetic, whatever. Her friendship is more important than her gift. And it’s not like I invited people to the wedding just for presents. You invite people because you want to celebrate with them and because you want them to witness your special day.
So the question is, does traditional etiquette apply when it comes to close friends?
Take the thank you note. Personally, I couldn’t care less about receiving them. When I do, I read and throw away. The best gift I can give a close friend (along with the actual gift) is to let her off the thank-you-note-writing hook. “Part of my gift is that you don’t have to write me a note,” I told my new-mommy friend earlier this year. “You saw me, you said thank you, that’s enough.” She looked as if I’d given her a pot of gold.
When I send a friend a gift, all I need is a quick email or a text saying, “I got it! I love it!” Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. A thank you note seems so formal, and close friendship is about comfort and informality.
Phoebe totally disagreed. “If I go to the trouble of buying a gift, I want them to take the time to write a note.”
It comes down to where you fall on Emily Post-style manners line.
For me, when it comes to close friends, traditional thank-you notes are unnecessary. I don’t need ’em. As for wedding gifts, I say people should follow the one-year rule. Will I end the friendship if they don’t? No. Will I notice? Yes.
What do you think? Should close friends adhere to old-school etiquette? What are the exceptions?