Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Should Wedding Guests Bring Gifts?

DEAR NATALIE: My youngest son married recently, and as you know, weddings are truly expensive these days. Nonetheless, we wanted to provide a special day and had a lovely wedding. We painstakingly went over the guest list many, many times to assure that we kept to our budget and yet did not leave out anyone near and dear to our hearts that we wanted to share the day with.

Imagine our shock when we found several guests did not bring a gift. We reached out, thinking that perhaps a number of gifts had been lost or misplaced. Several of his "friends" did not respond, and so we knew the lack of a gift was intentional. Others stated that they had forgotten or still needed to send the gift.

Do you think these guests only sent a gift after they were "called on" their faux pas so to speak?

I take it quite personally that one would show up and partake of a free bar and fabulous meal without even a courtesy acknowledgement. Because we have now experienced hosting a wedding, we have heard where it is not uncommon for guests to show up and party all night and never bring a gift. I am still in shock at the crassness of people these days. And now for the most concerning question: My oldest son is getting married later this year, and I am on the fence if we should even invite someone who thinks so little of us to the wedding. I don't want to offend anyone, but I do think it is beyond comprehension for someone to show up empty-handed. What do you think we should do? -- WEDDING FAUX PAS

DEAR WEDDING FAUX PAS: Not only should guests bring gifts to the wedding, but they also should bring a card with a monetary gift. I would never show up to a wedding as an invited guest without a gift and card in hand. This is a special moment, one of the few sacred traditions left in our society that still means something to so many people, and it should be treated with respect.

I have one question for you, though. Did you put the gift registry on the wedding invite? That is a good way to ensure that people know where you are registered so they can get the appropriate gift for the bride and groom. Having assumed you did so, I can't imagine why anyone would show up without a present. (Even if it was coming late, write that inside your card to the couple so they know a package is on its way.) Weddings are very expensive, and while you chose to throw your son a beautiful party, there is a social exchange that happens. I do believe that your son's "friends" only sent gifts after it was brought to their attention to do so, which is sad in and of itself. This is the biggest moment of their lives and the idea that someone would RSVP, drink, eat and dance all night and leave without showing any kind of love for the bride and groom is rude, ignorant and warrants being put on the "not invited" list for the next big event. And if they ask why, explain to them how social mores are a thing, or send them a copy of Emily Post's "Etiquette."

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)