DEAR ABBY: My 22-year-old niece, "Brittany," married her boyfriend of many years last month in a lavish production of a wedding financed entirely by her father (my brother). On the invitations, it was mentioned that their home was fully furnished, so in lieu of gifts, they'd appreciate money for their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic.
Most family members generously complied and chipped in $300 to $500 each. My widowed grandmother, who lived on a fixed income, even sent them $50.
Four days after their return from the honeymoon, Brittany threw her husband of two weeks out of the house and moved in with her new boyfriend, whom she'd first met when he "entertained" at her bachelorette party three weeks prior. To say we are all surprised is putting it mildly.
No one has heard from Brittany since, and no explanation was offered. My mother recently got her on the phone, and Brittany quickly ended the conversation by claiming that all the money had been "spent" and that her now ex-husband had any funds that remained. (We know this can't be true because the distraught groom recently approached my brother and asked him to pay for the annulment.)
Doesn't etiquette dictate that Brittany return all gifts -- including cash -- as the marriage ended just days after the checks cleared the bank? Is this why there's a 12-month window in which to send wedding gifts? -- ANGRY IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR ANGRY: Your feelings are justified. The answers to your questions are yes and no.
The rules of etiquette do dictate that unused wedding gifts be returned in a case like this. However, if the checks didn't clear the bank until after the unhappy couple returned from the honeymoon, the money was probably spent to pay off their credit cards.
Your assumption that there is a 12-month window in which to give wedding gifts is a popular misconception and incorrect. Wedding gifts should be given at the time of the wedding, or after the couple returns from the honeymoon at the latest.