Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Invisible Gift

My husband and I have recently celebrated our two year wedding anniversary and we were chatting today about some of the funnier elements of weddings and we ended up talking about wedding gifts.

I'm sure you all have some funny gift tales to tell? Please post them here. I love hearing about strange wedding gifts. We had a bridal registry so the majority of our gifts were things we actually picked out so none of those were funny. Well maybe a few of them were but that was just because I chose them in a semiconscious state thanks to my pre-wedding diet.

The funniest gifts of all were the invisible gifts. Also known as the thin air gifts. Two lots of guests actually attended our wedding and didn't bring a gift, not even a card, not even a sticker, not even an email. For me, and the way I was raised, this was ghastly behaviour! See it isn't about what the gift was, it was the fact that these two groups of guests (who are actually pretty close friends of ours) didn't even have the manners to write a quick note saying congratulations.

When it comes to etiquette particularly with weddings and so on, I am very particular so as soon as we got back from our honeymoon I was fastidiously handwriting our thank you cards. Making sure I thanked each guest for their gift and I went into detail about how wonderful and thoughtful each item was- I made up a spreadsheet so that I wouldn't make any mistakes with who gave what.

When I finished my list I noticed we were short a few gifts. I began to panic, had the gifts been left at the reception? Had I attributed the wrong gifts to the wrong guests? What was I going to do? I must have messed up the list! I was ever so stressed about it. (yes, I know. I needed to get a life!) After some very George Costanza-ish moments I decided the thing to do was to thank these guests for something that didn't exist.

That way I figured they would reply and say "oh no I didn't give you the knife sharpener, I gave you the BBQ tongs". I thought it was such a clever plan. That way I'd get to the bottom of the mystery and I could thank people for the right gifts. It never really occurred to me that this particular investment banker who earned close to a million bucks a year could have attended our wedding without even a card.I was certain it was just a case of "mistaken gift" not invisible gift.

Well I sent out the thank you card. Dear Mr Big, thank you so much for sharing our special day. We cannot wait to use the stunning decanter, perhaps you will join us for dinner and a good drop of vino to christen it? Lots of Love, blah blah.

Well what do you know? Mr Big replies. I'd love to come for dinner, how is next Sunday? I'll bring Miss So & So my new girlfriend. P.s I didn't get you the decanter, actually I didn't get you a gift. I totally forgot, sorry!

So he came to dinner and there was no mention of the gift. The next time we saw Mr Big following the dinner at our home he actually picked us up in his car. I sat in the back next to a large box, beautifully gift wrapped. I assumed it must have been our gift. After dinner he dropped us home and I invited him in for coffee. he came in had his coffee and left. The gift wasn't for us.

Yep this is a totally true story. Strange, yes? Please share your wedding gift funnies with me!


  1. I like the way you dealt with that...and actually admire his honesty, but he should be ashamed that he didn't buy you a gift, either on the day or after prompting!

  2. Hubby and I planned an amazing honeymoon in Africa and created a honeymoon resgistry explaining our plans for our trip. We have lived together for years and had no need for toasters and the like. We still laugh about the fact that someone decided to give us a very large ceramic statue of a Masai Tribal Family... what made it even more amusing was the fact that there was no card so we still to this day have no idea who it was from and the fact that we were going to Africa so why would we need an 'African statue' with a very obvious 'Made in China' sticker across the front? Oh dear...

  3. Oh Jessica, that is gold! I'm so sorry I had to laugh. What did you do with the lovely statue? I guess it could have been the guest's way of dealing with the "money please" gift option. I have to admit I'm not a fan of "money please" but I wouldn't go as far as to tease you with the giant statue. That said, we did get a few VERY odd gifts but I won't say what they are because I'd hate to offend those that gave them. I know they read this blog!

  4. Sweet. Jesus. I am absolutely flabbergasted. So much so, that I'm sure I just spelt flabbergasted wrong...

    NO GIFT? What a disgrace!

    I come from a Balkan background, so to not gift? Is literally a spitting offence (well, not in Oz. But probably in my parents' village back home).

    Balkans give lots of money as a wedding gift. To even give a present INSTEAD of money, in some families, is seen as cheap. In fact Balkan culture is all about bringing something whenever you drop by someones's place. You never go empty handed and you never request a BYO. Regardless of how many people you invite. That's just cheap. As you can imagine, we throw fabulous parties...

    We had some reeeeally good friends of ours bring just a card to E's christening party. We kept on wondering where the gift was, because in NJ land, um ... you bring a gift people? I was so embarrassed about it afterwards.

    StepfordDreams, you've inspired me. I have a whole book's worth of stories about hideous and cheap gift giving behaviour. This is blogworthy, dammit.


  5. Oh P23 gift-giving stories always amuse don't they? I'd love to go into more detail because there were some VERY funny gifts for our wedding. All I'm going to say is that one involved a black texta, yes it was a home made "gift". No I am not joking. Very very funny indeed.

  6. Not a wedding gift story, but a baby gift. My first husband's grandmother loved the color pink. She bought our new SON a very pretty pink DRESS. To not hurt her feelings, I took a picture of him in the awful thing and sent the picture to her.

  7. The ex-husband and I received a glow-in-the-dark dragon statue as a wedding gift. No idea who it came from; it just appeared.

    The funnier story is that as we were opening gifts the night after the wedding and discovered the bright green piece of plastic, I went to turn the lamp off (to discover if the thing was, indeed, glow-in-the-dark) and was startled to find a centipede the size of a small rodent stuck in the lamp.

    I screamed and ran into the bathroom and shut the door.

    Actually, that's kind of a good metaphor for our entire marriage. Heh.

  8. I have the craziest wedding gift story. My uncle got married for, I dunno, the third or fourth time just before we announced our engagement. We’re Jewish and were planning a fairly traditionalish wedding, including having a chuppah (wedding canopy). One day my uncle’s new wife, whom I had never met, called me from her home three states away. “Hi, I’m your new Aunt Susie. I’m a textile artist and I’d love to make your ‘hoopa’ for you!” (She’s not Jewish.) I don’t know you, but sweet! I have an art history background and we had lots of great discussion about colorways, influences, design elements. It was fun.
    The day of the wedding came and we hadn’t seen the chuppah – it was to be a surprise. Thank goodness, it was stunning. Quilted strips of silk in so many colors, glass beads, hand-painted text. We had hoped we would like it enough to later hang it up in our home, as so many of our friends have done with theirs.
    The wedding came and went, beautifully. So many guests commented on our gorgeous and unique chuppah. At the end of the night we left for a few days at the beach and my mom was, I thought, going to gather up the chuppah, gifts, whatever, and take care of everything for us.
    A few weeks later I asked her for the chuppah. I wanted to hang it on the wall in the landing to the stairway. “What do you mean? Susie took it back. Wasn’t she supposed to?”
    Susie never once told me she’s a furniture artist. After the wedding she took the chuppah down and pieced it an upholstered an antique armchair with it. She painted the wooden arms and legs with jewel-toned enamels and covered it with more glass embellishments and beaded fringe. So now our chuppah is not hanging on a wall, like most couples’, but instead adorning the most interesting chair in our dining room, which is so delicate I don’t even let anybody sit on it! I think it’s possible we have the only chuppah-chair the world has ever seen.

  9. And how close a friend is this ? I do not understand not having manners. The weirdest gift I got was a garlic pot. I wrote a lovely thank you even though I didn't have a clue what to do with it since I didn't really want to have garlic sitting on my kitchen counter.

    What gets me lately is no thank you notes from gifts you give. I have a distant cousin who is going on one year and no note yet. It was a really nice gift. I like to give gifts that someone wouldn't buy for themselves.

    We also have someone who never sent a thank you card and it's been twenty some years. A very close friend of my husband.

    You never know ....

  10. The gift my husband and I are still laughing about is a "mirror ball" vase that I guess you can put flowers in. My Aunt gave this to us and it is VERY tacky. It looks like the award they win on dancing with the stars. I haven't gotten around to throwing it out yet, can't think of anyone who would actuall like it! (LOL)


  11. Ha ha! See, my plan is to avoid this mess. I already live with my boyfriend, we have everything we need and we're not interested in getting anything we wouldn't use, so when we get married we are going to register at a travel agency!

    That way, everyone can just go and give money towards our trip, doesn't that sound like fun?

  12. love the blog! i have great stories of wedding gifts too - some without tags and no one said anything later; close family and friends who didn't even bring/send a card; and one of my favorites - my sister regifted free gifts...literally... she got a set of knives free from a local grocery store and gave them to me and also a pampered chef trivet from 3 years before that someone else gave her (i know because she wouldn't be caught dead with something pampered chef). my mother-in-law was freaked out that her oldest and dearest friend bought my hubby and i a painting - unframed and no idea who the artist is - when i am an artist myself and the friend had no idea of our styles. it's truly ugly and i won't even hang it in a bathroom.

  13. You know, this is one of my favourite stories from your wedding (you know, besides the wedding itself). And it was fresh in my mind when we got married, and I never thought it would happen to us, especially as we had a registry. I grew up with similar sounding morals to you C, and i was sure everyone else did too.

    Well, not one, but SIX, yes six, couples showed up with nadda, not even a card. There was an extra couple who we made an allowance for, as they flew from the other side of the country to attend our wedding, which meant the world to us, as they aren't that well off. But I cant even say the others are distant friends, 1 couple is Brian's best mate, 2 couples were my own family! The rest we arent really friends with now, and were only invited for politness.

    Makes me wonder what we will do when they get married though...


  14. LOL probably a bit unpopular but I always ignore gift lists....they are always too pricey and I hate being told I'm not close enough to these people to buy an appropriate gift lol So I have a tradition I started with a couple of friends and now it has become renowned amongst those we go to weddings for....I always give the same thing (a fire extinguisher) to every couple. It's got to the point now where we don't even have to put a name card on it, they know LOL
    We didn't get any weird pressies for our wedding but one guest bought the same thing as another and the sulked and took hers back , which was a tad bit awkward, especially as we didn't mind having two lol

  15. Our wedding was several years ago and we went to a lot of effort to spoil our 130 guests - with transport provided, band, dj, extended drinks package, beautiful venue, lovely favours etc etc.. We were urprised with the following gifts:

    1. The wealthy guest who gave us $40 then put "anonymous". We knew exactly who it was!
    2. The duvet cover with a tacky "underwater" theme, the wrapping was all dusty - like it had been hiding under their bed for years!
    3. The set of six coffee mugs with horrible cat images all over them! We don't even like cats.
    4. The couple who gave us nada and weeks later said it was coming from overseas. 3 years later, no gift.

    How odd!

  16. My Auntie said she contributed to our travel registry. Strangely, when the travel agent gave us a list of those who had contributed, her name was absent. Hmmm. Another 'invisible gift'. Also, we got a cheque from one couple for $25 at the reception, which was fine, except her sister and partner added their name to the card...Also got a truly hideous sea themed quilt cover that still had it's sale price from Big W on it :(

  17. Oh gosh there are some GOLD wedding gift stories here. From the downright feral umm hello $40 "anon" who was not anonymous to the amazingly gerenous "hoopa" chair.
    What is it with weddings, they really bring out the best and worst in people and provide for years and years of comic relief.

  18. I'm SO horrified people attended your wedding with no gift! Unheard of! And to think - I was totally appalled when a little girl turned up at my son's 6th birthday party without a brass razoo - nada, nothing. But a WEDDING?! Come on! Have you ever seen these people again???

  19. Well a few years ago once aupona time when i was married... my very close friend discribed my wedding gift that they had got for me and asked me wether i licked it or not anyway i told her i didnt get it but maybe it had arrived later and i didnt c it anyway to cut long story short there was no gift and she had never got one but just lied .. how did i find my other frieeds where pooling in to pick up a few things for me and she didnt want to poitch in etc ......... i still cant be as warm as i was to her once upon a time since for her wedding she got a diamond bracelt from me it isnt the value but the thought that counts ....... i was gutted she was a good friend ....... nice blog

  20. I don't have a wedding story, but one from my high school graduation party. My parents gave me a party at a banquet hall, so it was pretty nice. I wasn't expecting lavish gifts, since it was only my graduation, and most people gave me money instead of gifts. Except my cousin. My mom (his aunt) was furious that he came with his wife and 5 children and didn't bother to even bring a card, especially when we paid for dinner by the plate and it cost over $100 to feed them all. Some people just don't think.....

  21. My husband and I also had a few no-gifters. Worse was a gift we got at the bridal shower hosted by his family. We received a toaster with an attachment on the side that cooks an egg. It was in a cloth tote with crumbs in it. Perhaps we deserved it though since after many arguments with my now mother-in-law she demanded that she be able to invite people to the bridal shower that were not being invited to the wedding. I felt that it was rude but I finally caved figuring it was her friends she would be offending.

  22. American etiquette is very different. As much as you'd like your guests to give you presents, you shouldn't expect them to and they don't have to give you one. The mere fact that they came is supposed to be enough. That clashes with ideas of how much your gift should be depending on the wedding ("cover your plate") and how well you know the couple, but in the US you still aren't supposed to expect gifts.

    I usually buy a few of the less expensive things off the registry for my friends since I'm a poor student and it makes me feel less cheap than giving the equivalent in cash. Most of our family and friends will be traveling between 300 and 2000 miles, so we're not really expecting anything.

  23. Really? I don't care how much money you have - you should still have enough manners to give something to the couple! One of my favourite gifts from our wedding was given to me by a poor student - some of his own home-made beer, which was yeasty and we couldn't drink it, but it was something that we had talked about and I think it was a very thoughtful gift. I even gave him back the empty bottles so he could make some more.

    We had a few no-gifters too. At first I was stressed out that we had lost the gifts, but now I've just accepted that some people are like that...

  24. Hi, I'm new to the blogger community. I'm just reading through blogs and this caught my eye! I have to be honest, I'm a little shocked to hear/read that people EXPECT gifts for anything. Even a wedding. I mean...isn't that a little selfish? Maybe it's an American thing. When I got married, of course I hoped for gifts (and we recieved numerous wonderful ones), but the fact that people took the time to come in from wherever they came from just to share in such a special day with us meant more to me than receiving a gift. In fact--that WAS the gift! I think this whole expectation of a gift thing just shows how shallow and materialistic weddings have become.

  25. Gifts and weddings are just too much of a minefield. I agree with the sentiment that you shouldn't expect gifts, and that having your friends and family come to share your special day should be enough. Especially when you know that many gifts are sniggered about behind the givers backs. Then again, what I think and what I feel seems to be very different - a very good friend of mine got married last year and insisted, repeatedly, that they didn't want gifts, and no, they didn't want cash either. I took him at his word, and didn't give the couple a gift. And I have felt desperately guilty ever since. It just doesn't feel right.

  26. Yep, I'd say it is a cultural thing. It's not a materialist thing it is about wishing a new married couple blessing for their life together. Over here, you must take something thoughtful to a wedding, a card congratulating the couple. Most take a gift as well but the main thing is the thought. So that the couple have something to keep from the guest who attended the wedding.
    To turn up empty handed, like I said in the post without even an email message is poor form!