The one rule I haven't been following
I’ve attended enough weddings to know what to expect. I know when to opt for an AirBnB over a hotel, I know it’s never a good idea to miss the free shuttle, and I know to load up on heavy apps in case the filet sits in the oven a little too long.
Until recently I thought I knew it all. Then I declined a wedding invitation and had to be reminded that I should still send a gift. It’s not that I’ve never sent a gift in this scenario, but I will admit I wasn’t under the impression that it was de rigeur.
According to a FiveThirtyEight survey a few years ago, I’m not alone. Only 38% of men and 45% of women said that there was an obligation to send a gift in this situation. It’s unclear if that means they’re unfamiliar with the expectation or just don’t agree with it, but either way, our patron saints of etiquette at the Emily Post Institute say wedding invitees have “an unspoken obligation to give a gift, regardless of whether or not [they] can attend” and that’s about as hard and fast as it gets in this arena.
After speaking to a few women in my life this week who agreed that this was a widely known custom, I wondered whether the gender difference in the FiveThirtyEight poll is indicative of a larger gap in awareness between the sexes. If so, is it because women are more conscientious or because they’re under more social scrutiny? Unfortunately, I think this another area where men can afford to claim ignorance of the rules and not suffer as much reputational harm.
No matter your sex, we’ve all committed a faux pas or two. The important thing is to get better with age and experience. Better at showing up whether that’s in person or with a thoughtful gift. However we can, we should celebrate our friends and family, big occasion or small, near or far. My apologies to anyone I didn’t celebrate in my younger years.1 I’m finally old enough to know better.
If you or a loved one has invited me to celebrate with you in the past, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Like and share this post for a chance to win a set of candlesticks.